This comes up pretty regularly here at Audiogon. I have seen posts answering both ways.
In my opinion you are better off with low loss interconnect as that signal fairs well in long runs, compared to high power through speaker wire. A good example of long interconnect is microphone cables in recording studio's, 100 feet and longer is not uncommon.
Too, long interconnect is much cheaper than equal length of speaker if your using any popular name brand cables found here at Audiogon. Personally I run nearly 40 foot runs of interconnect in my own system with short speaker and my performance is excellent.
Old Brass Ear Albert we call him.... :-) Good to see you around the old campus Albert, your vast experience gives you a level of expertise that really makes a difference for many audiophiles on this site. Thanks for that!
Still, I don't many A'philes from Texas that don't have Brass Ears!
To Albert's point the expense alone in a high quality speaker cable makes a 40 ft run cost prohibitive in most cases, go with the IC.
What would be a good low cost interconnect, say under $750 for a 30 ft run?
Not worthy of Albert's system, but I used Neutrik connectors and Canare wire from Markertek to make 40' balanced cable for well under $100 (I forget what it cost exactly). I followed DIY directions that were posted and discussed here. The DIY aspect worked well -- I would have had a hard time running pre-terminated cables through the spaces I had. I was relieved and pleased with the results. It sounds at least as good as the unbalanced interconnects had before.
Albert's advice seems to be pretty much the consensus view here, which is why I went this route. I also found that getting the amps out of the listening area (and into the basement) freed up some space.
In the YMMV department -- I had previously listened to several $100 to $300 short unbalanced interconnects in my system, and not been able to discern a signficant difference in my system vs. "Radio Shack Gold" unbalanced interconnects (I could hear a difference between truly cheapo interconnects -- the kind you get free -- but not between the "Gold" and the more expensive ones). So I am not a cable expert, but again, I was relieved and pleased at how good the DIY cables sound.
I'll find and post the link if you're interested. Only relevant if you have the option of doing balanced connections, of course.
Mogami and Canare are two of the best sounding budget and DIY options. Lots of places will build them to desired length w/your choice of termination.
Frank can certainly make you Signal Cables within your budget.
If you switch amps, going to balanced configuration is worth serious consideration. Balanced longer runs are quieter if the gear is truly balanced. Not all gear w/XLR connections is really balanced, but that's a story for another thread. Cheers,
I think you're better off with a 40' interconnect, which should be balanced if possible.
If you have balanced circuitry go for the long IC. If you have ordinary RCA then stick with the longer speaker cable.
I don't think it is worth replacing a bunch of equipment for the sake of 15 extra feet of speaker wire. You could try a blind test (with a friend) to prove to yourself what is very likely; the effect will be inaudible.
I agree with Ghostrider.
I am using Nordost Valhalla, 30 ft runs, and am very satisfied with the results (although not a cheap solution here ....).
While my amp is balanced (Bryston 5B-ST) I'm driving it from a Denon 3806 receiver (obviously unbalanced.) I went through a bunch of gear including Outlaw 990, Halo C2, Sherbourne 7/2100A and Gemstone to arrive where I am now. I wanted a good sounding setup while the whole HDMI thing gets settled. Therfore, using balanced would required some new gear (pre/pro and amp for the other channels.)
I've compared the cost between Frank's Analog 2 interconnect and the Basic speaker cable. "Frankly" (couldn't resist) its a wash....the cost is about the same. I'm sure you could spend more in either application if you wanted to.
Thanks for the input so far!!! :-)
The Blue Jeans Cable LC-1 is what I chose because of the same situation. Plain vanilla, but I wanted a shielded cable due to running it very near other interconnects, AC lines and outlets. The cost for 40 foot pair is $110 plus shipping. I placed the amps right next to the speakers and used short speaker cables. It worked for me. If it doesn't suit you, you can return them in 30 days for a full refund. Have fun experimenting!
John, one thing to keep in mind is the output impedance of your preamp and the input impedance of the amp. I was in the same situation as you last year, and discovered to my dismay that my old amp's input stage oscillated uncontrolably with long ICs. I don't think this will happen with the Bryston, but you may want to call both Bryston and your pre's manufacturer to see if there are any recommendations in this scenario.
I tired last night to get a balanced connector through the flexible conduit but it won't fit. Unbalanced works fine. I don't want to push the wire through and then put a connector on after it passes through. That means I'd need to use unbalanced or speaker level.
Sounds like some thought unbalanced over this long a run is no better than speaker cable. Does that sound like the general consensus?
I recommend balanced interconnects when using long runs. Single ended ones suffer from high frequency roll-off and also can be much more susceptible to noise, which are significant reasons why balanced connections used exclusively in professional applications.
John, long single ended *is* possible. I solved the problem I was having (described above) by moving to a new amp (which I was coincidentally looking to do anyway). My new amp is an AVA FetValve, which has a very high (and stable) input imdedance and makes for an easy load to drive with long ICs. The AVA only has RCA in, so I tried a few things and went with well shielded RCA ICs (Purist Venustas) that are 30 ft long. I compared them to what I was using in my old arrangement (Kimber KCAG at 1.5m) and discovered no discernable rolloff or ill effects in using the Purist cables. The resulting combination works very well for me. YMMV, and I would suggest being very careful to assess all parts of the system in trying to find out if this might work with your equipment - even to where the cables will be routed relative to other sources of potential interference. But it can work.
My results are identical to Tonyptony. I have nearly 40 foot runs between my tube preamp and amps. The amps are VTL 750 (single ended design) so I use RCA connectors at both ends.
Just because an amp has XLR connectors does NOT mean it's balanced.
Many amps have both types of input jack but pulling the cover you discover there are jumpers running from the XLR over to the RCA.
At that point it's merely a convenience jack, providing a place for the owner to use an existing cable. There is no gain to be had wiring the circuit this way, unless you just happen to prefer the XLR connector over the RCA design.
The trick to maintaining performance is choosing LOW IMPEDANCE, low loss interconnect cables. The reason Tony had positive results, the Venustas he choose are approximately 17 pf per meter, meaning a 50 foot single ended run represents a capacitive load of only 250 pf.
I don't have the charts or specs for the input impedance of your amp/preamp, but I'll bet roll off would not occur until about 300,000 kHz. Thats far beyond the range of doing harm to music bandwidth and should provide you with the lesser of the two evils of running signal over a long path.
Whatever brand of cable you choose, be sure the impedance of your amp/preamp interface COMBINED with the total pf capacitance of the cable run do not represent a bandwidth problem. Most engineers understand this, you might call an impartial party such as the maker of your amps for specs and advice for maximum load that can be placed on your equipment.
On doing some more thinking, I've concluded that I really do not want to locate my amp/amps up near the speakers. If this were a 2-channel listening-only system, I wouldn't have a problem. But since it is my combined 2-channel, HT rig in a dedicated theater room, I really want to keep things as clean and open in front as possible.
I did some research and found Roger Russel's page on cable myths. I won't get into the high-end v. lampcord debate, but what I did find useful was his chart showing cable guage/speaker impedance/length interaction. It tells me that if I stick with a good 12 or 14 guage cable, I really should have no problems and not notice any rolloff. If I go to a 10 guage, I gain even more 'breathing room' in the length.
Unless you guys think I'm making a big mistake, I'm probably going to get some of Frank's Ultra Run which are 10 guage or the Audioquest Bedrock which are 12 guage. Frank's cables are always a good deal and the AQ is on special right now at AA.
You could try Sumiko's OCOS cable, which is constant impedence no matter how long the run. It was at one time a Stereophile "Recommended Component". I'm using it as biwired runs of about 40ft to Vandersteen 5's from a SMc modified DNA225.