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Long interconnect runs (or the lesser of competing evils)

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  • Long interconnect runs (or the lesser of competing evils)

    I was motivated to think about this topic lately based on experiences while setting up components in existing systems. In professional studios what is considered a "long run" is quite a bit longer than what is typical considered long in home audiophile systems. I have previously owned a vinyl mastering studio and currently work with home systems, vinyl especially, so I have had a foot in both camps. [Please let us not make this about pro vs audiophile ]

    By far the typical layout I encounter is a pair of speakers with a big stack of gear behind/between them. Sometimes this makes a lot of sense. Sometimes not as much. I often wonder why people seem so unwilling to consider other layouts, especially when a turntable is involved. Of course almost any other layout involves a longer cable run somewhere...

    I had three instances recently where this came up:

    1) Setting up a turntable for a client with active subwoofers/speakers. The subwoofer is the 'control' point for their up-till-now digital only system. Putting the turntable next to the (large) control subwoofer was plainly silly. So we ran a 15' balanced cable and used a Phonolab with balanced out. We did not try a shorter cable because it would have introduced a lot of nasty vibration into the turntable system.

    2) Calibrated a tonearm / cartridge for a client with a superb sounding, yet very small, listening room. Typical layout: speakers and electronics on far wall. This system uses open baffle speakers. Two factors came to mind: 1) the turntable was very close to the backside of some large woofers. 2) the rather large stack of gear was certainly not helping the imaging of a system using the rear wave of the speakers in this way. We chatted about changing it up, and the fact that the preamp to amp cables would need to be 12' to 15' to achieve a more open space on the back wall. Time will tell how any changes help. (client was very open to this so in this instance willingness was there). No this wasn't your room Rex

    3) Consulted on how to improve a media room for a client with a rather minimalist 'art gallery' style home. The partially open media room was visually and acoustically 'polluted' by a large rack of control system components, AV receiver, etc. Below the room is a basement that is largely unfinished. I casually wondered why the gear wasn't wall mounted below the room so as to be invisible. To my surprise this came as a novel idea to the homeowner who was under the impression that would negatively impact sound quality. To make this change would require speaker cable runs around 20' each and a long hmdi cable to the wall mounted tv. This isn't even a real hi fi system but they do care about sound.

    These, and other experiences, made me realize how strong the short-run design philosophy is. Any comments from personal experiences? Either going short to long or long to short. For me there are times where runs longer than the usual 2-5' help overcome bigger obstacles.
    Erik
    http://solypsa.com
    North American distributor for: Aidas cartridges, RADA, STST turntables, Audiospecials. USA distributor for: Tedeska Cartridges

    Available for in home setup and calibration of fine turntable systems

  • #2
    There was time when i only used 20+ ft cable runs from my main rack housing the TT and preamp going to my power amp(s) which were on the far, short wall between or next to the speakers. Later iterations of my system used balanced cables, other than the 6 db bump going balanced, the sonic changes were not night and day. For practical reasons, today everything is on the same wall and my IC runs are all ~3 ft (1 meter).

    Comment


    • #3
      I wouldn't hesitate running a well shielded unbalanced cable 20', I consider balanced as in venues where equip is 50' to 100' or so away,inside someones
      home system it would need to be a big room. There are instances where I am using balanced cables by necessity, my eros speakers use
      a DBX driverack Venu360 room eq/xover that only accepts xlr connectors. I make all my cables anyway so the price difference is negligible which ever I use.
      Amp-McIntosh MC501x2,ATI 2505,ATI 1505,Innersound amp
      Preamp-McIntosh c2200,Marantz AV7005
      Phono Pre-Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE
      Speakers-Innersound Eros w/new panels and woofers,
      Von Schweikert VR4 HSE,Paradigm 80's 60's and CC350
      Crossover-DBX Venu 360
      Analog-Hanss T-60/SME V,Hana SL,2-Sony APR 5003,Revox B77
      Digital-Sony SCD XA5400ES, JRIVER Media Center
      Wadia DI122 DAC
      Subs-2 Velodyne HGS10's,2 Velodyne 1200's
      Tuner-Revox B760 McIntosh MR74 Sony XDR F1HD
      JVC Projector,Draper electric 92" screen
      Room dedicated 27'x16'x10', Bass traps
      VPI 17 record cleaning machine

      Comment


      • #4
        Practicalities always come into play as you've outlined.

        I think much of the way we physically set up systems has to do with habit

        1.Its the way it was in 1977 with our Sansui or Marantz receiver systems

        2. Space considerations- by far the most common opportunity I see is conformance of the system to the small space... most systems are set up to look or fit a certain way in the space. Most rooms are inadequate or need much help to deal with nodes etc.

        3. Cost. Good wire costs money. Its often less expensive to group everything together to save on wire, When 1 1/2 M of interconnect runs $5k its tough to move things and have a 5M run.


        If you happen to have a large room you can certainly get away with equipment in the middle. as you move speakers forward....I think the imaging argument is valid for equipment between speakers but is over rated and can be dealt with in other ways

        I believe the vibration considerations are very important regardless of what kind of front end you have and play a big role in placement. Most people have few if any options because of #2 above.


        Phono: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
        Brinkmann Balance & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas Lamda, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
        Amps: Custom Direct Drive, Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2. Bedini 25/25
        Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
        Speakers: Beveridge Model 3 Direct Drive amps, REL S/2 x 2, Quad ESL pair
        Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

        Comment


        • #5
          I could not hear a difference between a 1 meter and 3 meter interconnect I had from the same manufacturer. Still, that is a far cry from say a 7 or 8 meter unbalanced interconnect.
          PAP Trio 15 Horn speakers, Custom SET 845 monoblocks, Dartzeel NHB108, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI Paramount preamp, Mojo Audio Deja Vu server, Mojo Audio Mystique V3 DAC, STST Motus II TT, Vertere SG1 arm, Hanna ML, Allnic H1201 Phono pre, The Linear Solution Ethernet Switch, LPS to Modem Router and Switch, Blue Jeans Ethernet cabling throughout network, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire.10 awg dedicated branch circuits to amps bolted to power cords. Significant upgrades to 120 volt main power panel. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis and Inakustik NF2404 Air Interconnects. ADDPower Symphony and Electraclear.

          Comment


          • #6
            The way I think about it is ...

            Interconnects carry small signal strength and therefore even a small drop in quality there affects the sound much more than a longer speaker cable carrying more power. Of course, balanced helps as does shielding on the interconnect. But I bet a measurement of a 20' run of plain interconnect vs a 20' run of speaker cable, if you can actually measure anything that is, will show more signal loss through the unbalanced, unshielded interconnect. Again, balanced is another story.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bobm View Post
              The way I think about it is ...

              Interconnects carry small signal strength and therefore even a small drop in quality there affects the sound much more than a longer speaker cable carrying more power. Of course, balanced helps as does shielding on the interconnect. But I bet a measurement of a 20' run of plain interconnect vs a 20' run of speaker cable, if you can actually measure anything that is, will show more signal loss through the unbalanced, unshielded interconnect. Again, balanced is another story.
              Longer speaker cable vs shorter interconnect lengths runs contrary to every electronics designer i've ever asked. Your amps damping factor is reduced significantly, I think it becomes exponential. At 20' your speaker cable is in effect a series filter and must be considered part of the speaker load when it should be relatively invisible to your amp. I've always run to the shortest speaker cable length that's practical and worked my IC length around that.

              Comment


              • solypsa
                solypsa commented
                Editing a comment
                I agree.

            • #8
              I have some decent enought small wire used to make interterconnect. Let make a 1 meter and 6 meter next time your hear. I may need more small mylar to shield with.
              PAP Trio 15 Horn speakers, Custom SET 845 monoblocks, Dartzeel NHB108, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI Paramount preamp, Mojo Audio Deja Vu server, Mojo Audio Mystique V3 DAC, STST Motus II TT, Vertere SG1 arm, Hanna ML, Allnic H1201 Phono pre, The Linear Solution Ethernet Switch, LPS to Modem Router and Switch, Blue Jeans Ethernet cabling throughout network, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire.10 awg dedicated branch circuits to amps bolted to power cords. Significant upgrades to 120 volt main power panel. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis and Inakustik NF2404 Air Interconnects. ADDPower Symphony and Electraclear.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by Rob View Post

                Longer speaker cable vs shorter interconnect lengths runs contrary to every electronics designer i've ever asked. Your amps damping factor is reduced significantly, I think it becomes exponential. At 20' your speaker cable is in effect a series filter and must be considered part of the speaker load when it should be relatively invisible to your amp. I've always run to the shortest speaker cable length that's practical and worked my IC length around that.
                I always thought that was the case (longer IC, shorter speaker cable). Grover Huffman who makes great cables feels that longer speaker cables are preferable. Here is what he said (no real explanation) "do you mean 27ft long? That length of IC's could cause a high frequency roll off depending on the impedance of the amp. With tube amps probably it wouldn't be an issue. My opinion is that longer speaker cables are better than longer IC's."

                Here is another link discussing this topic.

                http://www.empiricalaudio.com/comput...us-long-cables
                Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Zero; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Pacific

                Comment


                • #10
                  When I was in high school I played string bass with a local college orchestra. One concert night it was being recorded- Neumann mics with cables 100 feet long to the input of the Crown recorder. I always remembered the sound that the recordist got- which was great on his headphones. So when I designed my first preamp I did it entirely balanced differential from input to output, including the phono inputs. The output was designed to drive a 600 ohm balanced line with no worries; the output was also direct-coupled using vacuum tubes.

                  The goal was to have the same sort of neutrality as studio cables usually enjoy; I knew Robert Fulton who pretty well founded the exotic audio cable industry and so was trying to avoid the sort of colorations in cables that cause audiophiles pay big money on cables. But the other issue was speaker cables- repeatedly in various installations I've seen long speaker cables cause a system to lose focus, bass impact and general resolution. So I run long balanced interconnects without such detriments (that is what the balanced line system is for) and use fairly short speaker cables, with my amps near the loudspeakers. It works really well. Even if you use line transformers with single-ended equipment it tends to work better than using long speaker cables. Plus its less expensive, unless you are using a really inexpensive speaker cable.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    I presume we can all agree that shorter cable runs are 'better' than long ones (although my experience puts me firmly in atmasphere's camp). It seems that there is some debate about relative importance of such between line level and speaker level cables (again I'm in atmasphere's camp). However what is more interesting (to me) is how these factors are valued in a system setup against other also important factors.

                    Erik
                    http://solypsa.com
                    North American distributor for: Aidas cartridges, RADA, STST turntables, Audiospecials. USA distributor for: Tedeska Cartridges

                    Available for in home setup and calibration of fine turntable systems

                    Comment


                    • Kingrex
                      Kingrex commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Valued against what other important factors. Getting stuff from between the speakers?

                    • solypsa
                      solypsa commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Basically...although it could also mean placement of speakers in the room, or placement of source gear relative to preamp...just anything about the physical and/or acoustic siting of the gear

                  • #12
                    The only long cables I run are the two output cables (which I will be shortening) to my sub, and the balanced cables between my linestage and amplifier, which places my amp between the speakers. It sounds fine, but I can't honestly say that it's better than when I had longer speaker cables.

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