1.0 or 1.5 m digital interconnect, does it matter?

Hi folks, in theory 1.5 m length for S/PDIF should be better than shorter lengths. But in real live does it matter much if the cable length is 1.5 m instead of 1.0 m? I mean, does one hear clear sonic differences between the two lengths? Does one for example hear a grittier sound with the 1.0 m compared to the 1.5 m cable?

From my experiences, I would say that if you really need 1.5m of cable and you attempt to use a 1.0m cable, you will notice a severe degradation in sound.
Someone wrote an artical saying that 1.5m of cable sounded better than 1m...something about reflections or some sort of crap?...I don't hear any difference?

I do see that he sells 1m digital cables at his web site?...I would not sell them if I thought they would degrade someones system...maybe he warns them first though?

Dave you might have missed the humor here. If a user needs 1.5M of cable, 1.0M will physically not reach hence the "severe degradation".

I think.

Too subtle?
Thanks Audiofeil

I didn't read Pawlowski6132's post (more of a quick skim)...I do agree with him though....:D

Pawlowski6132 is right, just get a cable that will reach from the input to the output and stop stressing. There is absolutely NO sonic difference between them, anybody claiming there is has to be a serious whack job.

No difference in my trials... I have had 2 meter vs. 1 meter etc... as well.. Only thing I can say is TOO short like the .5 meter might sound different, I did not do a direct test of the same cable in a .5 vs. something longer but the .5's I tried I did not like as much for whatever reason.
The .5 meter will sound better 1 meter if you use 3 isolation cones under your source instead of 4.
Sogood51 - you missed the point entirely. You should read the WHOLE white-paper:


There are "sweet-spots" in length for S/PDIF because of the way transports are made. I sell 1m cables to customers that have my modded Transports. This enables them to use the shorter cable. Extremely short, such as 9 inches is also a "sweet-spot". Stock Transports can sound better with the 1.5m cable, depending on the cable and the Transport. Most of them do, but there are exceptions. If the cable is not 75 ohms or is very lossy, then it may sound the same in all lengths....

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Rlwainwright - serious whack job eh? It just so happens that an independent Audio magazine in Canada did a series of double-blind tests and published the results in their mag based on the claims in my white-paper. The results matched my conclusions.

The editor of this magazine came into my suite at CES last year and gave me a copy of this article. It was his hope to debunk my article, but instead he became a believer. This is pure engineering analysis, not snake oil. Read the paper.

And BTW, I have lots of inferior digital cables from other manufacturers than sound crappy in all lengths in all systems. Even in 1.5m, they dont deliver the magic. Proves nothing.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Ha good one! I think that is a sarcastic post?, the less cable the less feet the better.. But I never know on these boards with some of these jokers :)

I did read your white-paper on the subject a good while back...I try to retain so much in such a cramped space between my ears but I mostly forget 90% of what I read, (not because I want to).

I do remember that it was a very good paper...thanks for the link (and the other info), I will re-read the entire paper.

Steve, if the cable length is not the optimal "sweet spot" length for a given CD-transport, what is exactly the sonic effect? Does one hear a grittier sound with less air? What is what some experts mean when they say the sound is getting less (with regard to this matter). Can one always hear this sound degradation? Btw, a 0.5 m cable length difference is not very significant for interconnect cable in my opinion. It is therefore difficult to believe that it could make any difference at all.

Whether you can hear a degradation depends on how well the cables are terminated and whether the connectors and cable is 75 ohms etc.. If everything is matched perfectly, then the cable length is less of an issue. It is when there are reflections on the cable that the length comes into play. Most S/PDIF outputs are not 75 ohms, but most S/PDIF inputs are 75 ohms. The cables and connectors vary a lot.

The comparison to an analog cable is not a valid one. Transmission-line effects on an analog cable are usually inconsequential or have small impact. The same effects on a digital cable can make a big difference in jitter.

The degradation is a lot like the sound of jitter. It is high-frequency noise layered on the music that can be described as echoes, halos or sibilance. I do a demonstration at CES each year and most people dont hear anything until the jitter is gone. Then they realize what they have been missing and what the noise is that they have grown accustomed to listening to.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hi Steve, so according to you one can getting accustomed to jitter? I've read jitter can give the sound an euphoric coloration, is this true? Does jitter also make the sound gritty? So, the companies/experts who are recommending 1.5 m instead of 1.0 of digital cable are talking bullshit?

Can this length be longer for a BALANCED digital cable? Say 3m or 4m?