How important are equal cable lengths?

I've got a 16' double run of Kimber 8TC and an 8' single run for my combined 2-channel/HT system. Because my equipment rack is located in the front left corner of the room, I'm using the 8' run for my left channel, and the 16' for the center and right.

Could this compromise my 2 ch performance using unequal cable lengths for the left/right? Also, do you think replacing the 16' with a 20' run would matter much? The 20' would allow me to run the right channel cable behind the TV instead of in front.

kenl: you might review this archived thread to see if it helps address your concerns:

Thanks, Kelly. I'm heading for the the archived thread you mentioned.

There is a guy named Frank Gow over at Audio Classics, whose father was the president lof McIntosh for 7 years. I say this to give credit to my statement, which is that Frank is a VERY knowledgable guy in audio who told me that speaker cable DOES NOT have to be run in equal lenghts!
At these low frequencies (audio range) it probably does not make too much of a difference because the wavelenghts are so long. The purists will probably disagree but my cables are not equal and I can not hear and discearnable difference.
Theoretically you should not run unequal lengths, for all practical purposes I have NEVER discerend anything detrimental, when I did so. But then, I may be tin-eared
Besides having the time alignment messed up with unequal lengths, you can throw the natural balance of the strength of the signal off. It may not manafest itself in lengths that are similar; but, the bigger the difference in length between the speaker cables, the bigger the difference in the loudness of each speaker will be if the balance is not adjusted. I have experienced this problem first-hand in wiring a multi-channel music system for an office complex.

I guess whether or not you find it acceptable depends on how hard-core you are about the hobby and what you are trying to accomplish.

Best of luck!

Thanks to all for your input. While I don't think I can discern any difference either, I've decided to play it safe and re-wire so that the L/R speakers will use the same length and have the center use the shorter 8' run.

I just hope I remember this the next time I pull the TV out to get to the wiring behind. With the shorter cable, it's a good bet the center speaker which is sitting on top of my RPTV will get pulled off. Since it's a 45lb Aerial CC-3. . .ouch!