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Speaker Cables - Minimum Length?

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  • Speaker Cables - Minimum Length?

    Is there a minimum length for the best sound quality? I’ve heard it said that an 8’ run of cable will sound significantly better than a 4’ run of the same cable. What if you only need 4’? Do any of you have thoughts on that?
    Horning Eufrodite Ellipse III Speakers - Silver Circle Audio 300B Monoblocks - TW Acustic RAS-100 Line Stage - TW Acustic RPS-100 Phono Stage - TW Acustic Raven AC w/ Black Knight Anniversary Upgrades - Kuzma 4-Point 14" and TW 10.5" Arms - Air Tight Opus-1 & Miyajima Zero - Playback Designs MP-5 to Bricasti M1 DAC - Tascam 42B-NB (Refurb by Soren Wittrup) + Doshi V.3 Tape Stage - (2) Silver Circle Audio TCHAIK 6's - Furutech PC's & IC's + Inakustik LS-4004 Air Speaker Cables - Stillpoints Aperture II Panels and Ultra 5S under speakers and Ultra SS's sprinkled about - SRA and Symposium platforms - Audio Desk Pro Ultrasonic & VPI 16.5 RCM

  • #2
    I have heard it said I have not tried it to see if it is true nor if there is any science behind what they say if you could borrow two lengths of cable from your dealer give it a try these things can be very system driven . close your eyes listen for a few hours at lest you will have some music LOL


    • #3
      Originally posted by timztunz View Post
      Is there a minimum length for the best sound quality? I’ve heard it said that an 8’ run of cable will sound significantly better than a 4’ run of the same cable. What if you only need 4’? Do any of you have thoughts on that?
      The signal cable length topic usually comes up in terms of longer v shorter interconnects and speaker cables, but not so much in absolute terms as you positioned it. Sometimes the question of balanced vs single-ended ICs joins the discussion. And occasionally you'll hear that if you want to use a passive preamp the ICs should be as short as possible, with part of the rationale for an active preamp being to drive the interconnects.

      Sometimes you hear a case against a longer IC based on longer = greater opportunity for EMI exposure. Then again longer speaker cables can mean increased resistance and added impedance. Most will say, the shorter the cable the better in all instances. Those manufacturers who make cables with network boxes (eg Transparent) usually 'tune' the network in part based on cable length.

      People I've talked with about the who's longer and who's shorter topic usually want to either save money on cables, or get the rack out from between the speakers. Ime, taking the rack out of the sound field is a good thing if your room allows for it.

      But I've never heard the case for longer speaker cables regardless of IC length. If you've heard a reason, could you say what that is?

      Paul McGowen tackles that topic here. His conclusion: Longer ICs, Shorter speaker cables.

      Caelin Gabriel makes the case for longer power cords. or a minimum of 3 feet. (Link cf. Power Cord Misconceptions)

      I did an experiment years back when I had Atma-Sphere amps and Audio Physics speakers. I put the amps right behind the speakers, connecting with a 1 foot length of speaker cable with 6 foot ICs. I could not hear a difference between 1 foot vs 6 foot speaker cables.


      • timztunz
        timztunz commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you. I was referring specifically to speaker cables. I’m moving my 300B monoblocks closer to the speakers and wanted to see about using shorter speaker cables so I’m very happy to hear about your experience in doing the same.

    • #4
      Originally posted by timztunz View Post
      Is there a minimum length for the best sound quality? I’ve heard it said that an 8’ run of cable will sound significantly better than a 4’ run of the same cable. What if you only need 4’? Do any of you have thoughts on that?
      you have monos, Id place them near each speaker and go as short a cable run as practical. The output impedance of SET amps is high and the damping factor is abysmal, speaker connections longer than necessary will only exacerbate these issues.
      Linn Kilmax LP12 | Linn Uphorik | Innous ZENMini | Kii Three


      • timztunz
        timztunz commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you!

    • #5
      The overwhelming preponderance of evidence supports using speaker cables that are as short as possible and practical. I have heard some people suggest that certain lengths of speaker cables are resonant, but I've never seen any evidence this is true.
      SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.


      • timztunz
        timztunz commented
        Editing a comment
        I’ve also come to realize that most of the people suggesting that longer speaker cables sound best are also selling speaker cables by the foot.

      • mep
        mep commented
        Editing a comment
        Imagine that.

    • #6
      Isn't that largely related to the output impedance of the power amp and the impedance curve of the speaker? I remember Naim used to specify a minimum length of their own cable with their amps.
      Steve Lefkowicz
      Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback


      • Rob
        Rob commented
        Editing a comment
        early Naim gear doesn't use an inductor at the output stage to prevent oscillations and relies on the speaker cable's inductance to keep the amp stable under load.The olive and chrome bumper era amps req. a minimum of 13 ft pairs of Naim's own NAC A5 cable.

    • #7
      Lets add another thought; crossover components.

      Inductors are very long runs of continuous wire. A cored inductor might be 10 - 20+ feet of wire, while an air core might be 30 - 100+ feet of wire. Their DCR resistance is part of the crossover calculation. As Steve pointed out, amps have varying output impedances. A certain length of speaker cable, along with it's own inductance/capacitance will slightly alter the signature of a crossover (and therefore speaker). Some 'systems' might sound better with a lower guage (10 - 12awg), smaller length, and therefore a lower resistance wire, while some might benefit from a thinner (higher awg) wire, and longer length wire.

      Capacitors are very long foils. Two foils per cap, not touching, separated by a dielectric. They have their own set of parameters. In a crossover calculation, the impedance of the speaker driver/drivers formulates the basis for their value. However, the output impedance of the amp is also a factor. Same as above, experiment for yourself.

      In conclusion: I haven't got a clue what I'm trying to conclude.


      • #8
        I chopped my Anti Cable down from 6 to 3 feet. Never heard a difference. Altec 1570 B to a PAP trio 10.
        PAP Trio 10/Voxativ & PAP Trio 15 Horn speakers, Ampsandsound Casablanca monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI preamp,
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        • #9
          The length of any speaker cable and how it acts in each system is complex. There are too many variables we can measure then add what we hear and what we hear is the reason we do this.
          I have made many many custom cables my self nothing I sell. What I can say is this. Length keep it short
          long is never a good direction to go in.
          You should listen for a few days to make a sound judgment
          if the cable sounds bad at first note I'll say it's bad lol.
          But give things some time.
          For me my small brain has its fast response and is right mostly. But over some time it forgets the old and forms new views
          change your amp new sound and all in the chain now vary.

          ps if the Cables are very short as in amp right in back of speakers they have less of an Effect. So if your looking for them to have a so called sound they will have little to none at tiny lengths.

          Just as a caveat I made a simple pair of 12 gauge silver plated wires
          each was 4 feet.
          I used it as is meaning side by side as made
          i used it as separate wires twisted at varying turns
          i then used each as made but each pair as one conductor. Same a above twisted or side by side
          I even tried one wire of each pair
          they all had there own sound
          some rolled off Highs , some bad bass
          most unbalanced my setup.
          The best of this trial was two wires as made used as one wire per post
          so I needed two pairs of lamp cord gently twisted
          over each other. It had the least effect. This was with 3 amps but same speakers
          its all trail an error but you can measure many parameters but again how does it sound ????
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