Long Cables w/Short Speaker Cable or Vice Versa?

Assuming your equipment (other than power amp) is located a considerable distance from your speakers (15 feet), which is better:

(A) Long Interconnects with a Short Speaker Cable run; OR
(B) Short Interconnects with a Long Speaker Cable run?

Ideally, I want to seperate my McIntosh MC2301 monoblock amps so that they flank both sides of the cabinet built-in's that are on both sides of my fireplace and TV. Even if I put the amps together (in the left-side cabinet built-in), I will have at least a 15 foot run of speaker cable to reach the right speaker.

I have a decision to make on whether I should invest in a long run of interconnect OR speaker cable.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Everyone has an opinion on this subject, with equally valid arguments on both sides.

FYI: I too have monoblocks, so using that fact, I went with long interconnects, and short speaker cables. Since you already have monoblocks, and you want to separate them too, I think you fall into the same category as myself.

Good Luck with your decision.
(B) Short Interconnects with a Long Speaker Cable run? I would consider this option.
Yes, as Kurt tank said, you will probably want to go with longer ICs and short speaker cables since you are using monos. It seems to be common knowledge that the ICs should be of identical length, same for the speaker cables.
My experience is that short speaker wires work better, but YMMV.

I tried both ways with my equipment and strongly preferred having long interconnects and short speaker cables. This was not a casual decision, since I preferred having equipment out of the way, versus having monoblocks on amp stands next to the speakers. But other variables could have contributed to my preference. For instance, the amp stands, versus the cabinet the amps were in when using long speaker wires.

In desperation, I also tried different brands/types of wire (thanks to loaners from The Cable Company). I found no combination of interconnect/speaker wire with short interconnects that was better than having good long interconnect.

This held up with two different amps; one stereo amp -- an innersound ESL300 and two monoblock tube amps 120wpc KT-88 McShane-mod Citation-II amps. I conducted this testing over a three month period. As I said, I was disposed to prefer having long speaker wires, but it was not to be.

I even tried with two types of speakers: Vandersteen 3a speakers and Magneplanar 1.6qr. I could find no instance where the longer speaker wires were better given the same brand/type of wire.

I'm sure you'll find some people with other experience, but I spent a lot of time getting to this answer, so i thought it might be helpful to you.
shortest possible interconnects, just because they send lower level signals which can be more prone to interference and such.Depending on the speaker load if its an easy one to drive then most times longer cable is best.
Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. From the research I have gathered, it is my understanding that speaker cables carry a much larger signal than interconnects and are more prone to distortions.

The challenge I think that I may face is where to find 15' long interconnects! Ouch!
More often than not, speaker cables are more expensive than interconnects. On the other hand, if you are considering long interconnects, your preamp needs to have sufficient gain to handle the long IC's. I've tried both approaches and I favor short IC's and longer speaker cables as long as the speaker cables have low impedance and low capacitance.
My 2 cents worth. If the IC's are XLR (truly balanced input and out) the long 15' run is not a problem.Then I would pop for a better but short speaker cable.
I don't think the reasoning follows from your idea that because speaker cables carry a higher signal level they would be more prone to distortion; I have never heard this idea advanced. In fact any effect will be much more critical at LOWER signal levels because it will take much less to affect the signal. The higher the level of the signal the more it will take to affect it.
From my experiences, I STRONGLY DISAGREE with both Schipo and Alexs.
All things being equal, it is MUCH better to have your high-level signal (Speaker wires) runs longer than your low level signal (Interconnect). It is not an opinion, it is simple physics.
A fundamental reason for the divergence of opinion on this question is that the answer depends on the characteristics of the equipment that is being connected. See this thread, in which there is discussion of some of the equipment characteristics that make each approach more desirable or less desirable.

The bottom line: Usually, but certainly not always, long interconnects/short speaker cables are the best approach.
The challenge I think that I may face is where to find 15' long interconnects!
Not sure why that would be a challenge. There are many good choices, in all price ranges. Would you want balanced (xlr) or unbalanced (rca) cables, and what would be the upper limit of what you would like to spend on them?

-- Al
Almarg is correct. And you should have no difficulty finding 15' runs of interconnects - there are almost always a lot of used long interconnects available at any given time on Audiogon (and they're usually cheaper than speaker cables, which use a lot more conductor).
Some cables such as OCOS are designed to be used in long runs. I use 5.5m lengh with no problems.
Listen to Almarg.


Simple physics? Since when has cabling physics been simple? For that matter, when have all things been equal either?
4est: cable's speaker or interconnect is a simple science.Its the cable manufactures that turned it into alchemy.A very famous cable supplier of high end cable admits that there is no truth to cable direction coding. And the only reason the arrows are placed on cable is that there is a high demand for it.
i have tg audios that sound terrible when you reverse the direction.

they are my favorite speaker cables otherwise.

i think there are a lot more variables to these things than can be put into sound bites.
I received this email response from a dealer:

Interconnect cables can be either RCA single-ended style or XLR balanced types. The XLR balanced type reduce the noise character and have negligible signal degradation over length. So these would be the preferred cable whenever possible regardless of length, when connecting source components, preamps and amplifiers.

RCA single-ended types are prone to noise pick-up whether from electromagnetic interference or from radio frequency interference and will have high frequency degradation once over 6 feet in length. If you have no choice but to use this style, keep the lengths closer to 3 feet if at all possible.

The least signal degradation will be associated with speaker cables since these are carrying a higher power signal where effects of resistance, capacitance and inductance are easily overcome with the stronger signal. If there is a choice between longer interconnects versus speaker cables. choose the longer speaker cables for better results.
RCA single-ended types are prone to noise pick-up whether from electromagnetic interference or from radio frequency interference and will have high frequency degradation once over 6 feet in length.
The reference to high frequency degradation for lengths longer than six feet is misleadingly oversimplified. The length beyond which high frequency degradation will occur is directly dependent on both the output impedance of the component driving the cable, and the capacitance per unit length of the particular cable. If both parameters are reasonably low, high frequency loss will not occur until the length becomes much longer than six feet. If you indicate the model number of the preamp, I can probably ascertain its output impedance, and provide some specific calculations.

These high frequency losses, btw, can occur with balanced as well as unbalanced interconnects, if the output impedance of the driving component is too high in relation to cable capacitance.

Emi/rfi problems, and also ground loop problems (which unbalanced interfaces can be susceptible to, and which can be sensitive to cable length), are dependent on unpredictable factors, but commonly do not occur in setups with considerably longer runs, and sometimes do occur with shorter runs.
The least signal degradation will be associated with speaker cables since these are carrying a higher power signal where effects of resistance, capacitance and inductance are easily overcome with the stronger signal.
This is simply wrong, and reflects a lack of understanding of both the amplifier/speaker interface and line-level interfaces between electronic components. Resistance, capacitance, and inductance are not "overcome" by signal strength. They have effects that may or may not be significant depending, among other things, on the impedance characteristics of the components that the cable is connecting.

Under most circumstances, capacitance is not a significant factor for speaker cables. Resistance and inductance can be significant, depending on the impedance characteristics of the speaker (including the manner in which impedance varies as a function of frequency), the damping factor and output impedance of the amplifier, how sensitive the particular speaker design is to damping factor and amplifier output impedance, and other factors.

Under nearly all circumstances, resistance and inductance are not significant factors for interconnect cables, while capacitance can be, as explained above. Signal strength has nothing to do with any of that; it is a matter of the relation between those parameters and the input and output impedances of the components.

Please do read the thread I linked to in my earlier post.

-- Al
It depends. If your preamp can drive long IC cables (some don't do this well), I recommend short speaker cables. It has to do with impedance, inductance, resistance and other mysterious and magical things we mortals can't understand. Active speakers can sound superior to their passive counterparts. My uneducated guess is it may have to do with this very issue.