Speaker cable lengths

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Kevin Thompson, May 21, 2003.

  1. Kevin Thompson

    Kevin Thompson Stunt Coordinator

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    Which is more important regarding speaker cable lengths, that the runs be short, or that they be equal in length among the various speaker pairs?

    I've got a lot of slack cable right now, and it won't cost a dime to shorten the runs. If there is no concern about keeping the various runs equal in length, I can simplify cable management and improve aesthetics, while at the same time salvaging plenty of cable for the family room system.

    I'm surprised I did not find this subject in the primer. If it's there, please point me in the right direction...

    Thanks for your input!

    Kevin
     
  2. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    It is not in the primer, but if you search it has been asked many times. The general consensus is that scientifically there is no reason to keep them the same length, outside of resistance, but the resistance thing is speculative at best. If you think scientific evidence is not enough and want to believe there is a difference in sound, there are those that agree with you and insist they be the same length. You can choose whom to side with, but my feelings are with the extremely convincing scientific explanations.

    Do a search on "speaker wire length" for more.
     
  3. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i'm also in the "length doesn't matter" camp.

    i read somewhere that even extreme differences in length don't add up to more than milliseconds of difference.

    if you're ears are *that* good, then you're probably in the wrong business! [​IMG]

    go to the tweaks forum and do a search there. if possible, try to find some posts by chu gai - he's skeptical to the extreme but i believe just about everything he types.
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I think this can be more dependent on the gear in question. Very sensitive (read:expensive) gear *may* reveal a perceptible difference, but for the average listener with typical mid- to upper-fi gear, I doubt it will make a significant difference.

    With basic grade wire, a few feet is NOT going to make a difference. Most wire is cheap anyway...
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    I feel the resistance factor can be valid in certain situations, like
    • If the speakers are rated for 4-ohms (which means they probably have 2-ohm drivers that would certainly be sensitive to small changes in resistance).
    • The differing lengths are extreme (like one being 15ft., the other being 60 ft.)
    • In that situation the resistance factor could also be compounded if thin wire – 18ga. or smaller were being used.

    That said, if large-gauge wire is used and the differing lengths are reasonable, resistance should be a non-issue.

    An aside, I agree with John about higher-end equipment tending being more sensitive, especially since many high end speakers deliver complex loads.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  6. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    We did the math on another fourm and determined you that you get a 1% phase shift if your left/right wires DIFFER by 80 feet. So dont worry about lengths.

    My advice: Measure the speaker wires to length, then add 1-3 feet for play and cut.

    My other stock advice:

    - Put the receiver on the BOTTOM shelf of your rack. This allows the speaker wires to flow out with minimal drop and naturally keeps the wires away from interconnects. You also dont typically touch this unit so save the upper shelves for the DVD/VCR devices that you DO touch to use.
     
  7. Kevin Thompson

    Kevin Thompson Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks everyone!

    I wish I'd read the "bottom shelf" advice two weeks ago, before I set up in the new HT. It would definitely make for a better looking setup. I may well make this change, but maybe not until the next upgrade.

    As for cable length, having reviewed the archives and read the differing opinions, I will defer to my wife, who insists that length does not matter, but that thickness does.

    I'm using 10 ga. monster cable to the mains and center, 12 to the surrounds, so I should be OK. I know this is nothing like the high-tech silver cables and other high-tech setups I've read about on here, but it should be OK. My system will have much more serious shortfalls in other areas for some time to come.

    I think I'll be cutting cable to fit + 3 ft. over the course of the weekend, to see if that doesn't improve my situation. The reason for my post--which I should have stated up front :b , is that I'm picking up some sort of odd noise somehow during playback. It sounds like the interference I often notice when a cell phone placed near my car receiver is about to ring. I think I have too many cables jumbled together, and that by separating my ICs, speaker cables, and power cords I may well eliminate it. Or at least that's my hope. Obviously, this needs to be done anyway, but I asked my question about speaker cable lengths because I didn't want to cut to fit if this will degrade my sound somehow.

    Thanks again,
    Kevin
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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