Shorter speaker runs or shorter IC Runs...Which is the better set up and why?


Hello all!

So I am setting up 2 Bryston 28b Mono Amps and I would like opinions on which is a better way to do it? Should I place the amps close to the speakers with longer XLRs/shorter speaker wire OR longer speaker wire with a shorter XLRs and why? I think I know what conventional wisdom says but I am looking for the best option.

Thanks in advance!

rikintpa
Shorter speaker runs. Performance and cost.

Best,
E
The consensus, through empirical testing across decades... seems to always be: longer interconnect, shorter speaker cable.
If the components adhere to the balanced design, then using long XLR's have no effect upon sound quality.
Keeping the speaker cables short, say under 6-8 feet, would be the best way to keep costs down, and minimize effects from the cable itself.
B
I don't have a real preference as to the length of either, but more towards the connection being made at each end. Interestingly, Maple Shade strongly recommends the opposite, i.e. long speaker cable (no less than 8'), and short interconnects. I would think that both should be as short as possible, but not too short! Heh, heh, you ought to see me try and make something reach when there is a safer choice at hand. 
 When I think about it though, the interconnects are trying to send a 1-2 volt signal on to the next in line, whereas the speaker cables don't have that same issue coming right out of a power amp.
When I went to long XLR connections and short speaker cable runs decades ago the improvement in clarity was immediately obvious! Better bass impact too- the improvement was across the board.

If your gear supports the balanced standard (AES48) then the length and cost of the interconnects is almost immaterial. OTOH speaker cables have a big effect and the shorter you can make them the better.
Longer speaker wire (unless talking >50ft) only effect wattage loss and lower damping factor, which can be negated by using a thicker gauge.

Longer interconnects do have worse crosstalk and jitter (if talking digital), but a good DAC should take care of the latter and crosstalk has to be immensely bad (above -40dBFS) to be noticeable, which I don’t even think a 50ft RCA would have audibly poor crosstalk; but frequency response, THD, IMD, etc. are almost always near identical to a short interconnect.
@mzk,
The OP stated he is using XLR cables. Length will have no impact on sound.
Longer speaker wire (unless talking >50ft) only effect wattage loss and lower damping factor, which can be negated by using a thicker gauge.
I disagree totally. How the cable is designed, what materials, etc. contribute to how they will reproduce sound.
B
@gdnrbob

No, what materials being used has no negation that the only difference is loss in wattage and worse damping factor. You could say a better speaker cable has better EMI rejection, but then you are assuming you live in an environment with heavy EMI. 

Also, sorry to burst bubbles, silver is only better than copper in one way, it conducts electricity a bit better, meaning less wattage loss for the same distance, but 12awg copper conducts electricity much better than 14awg silver, so the premium of silver is not worth it.
Ok it definitely looks like the short run speaker cables win!  Now for a (albeit entry level) follow up question.  When connecting the PreAmp to the Amp VIA XLRs should I opt for equal lengths of XLRs or just the shortest?  As example:  The preamp will be approximately 4 feet from one amp and say 13 feet from the other so should I do 2 lengths of 14 feet or 1 of 4 and the other of 14 or both 14?  Both the amp and preamp are balanced...Thanks!
 
XLRs when used in a truly balanced system are generally zero signal loss and low distortion, and some do sound better than others, but generally not by much (many decades of live sound work taught me this). So if balanced cables come in pairs, simply get what fits and yer done, and don't worry if one cable is too long as placement of your stuff can change. Shorter good speaker wires can save some bucks.
Post removed 
Decades of live sound work doesn't presume you've heard a good cable.
The whole point of going balanced is to get off of the exotic cable merry go round.
Imagine a technology where a $100 cable can sound as good as a cable that's $1000/foot. That's the balanced line system. So in effect, if one has been doing decades of live sound, the cables have worked as well as the best out there for the simple reason that the balanced line system works that way.
One caveat: pro audio gear supports the balanced line standard. Most high end audio stuff does not. In order for the cable to not have a sonic signature of its own, the equipment must support the standard. In a nutshell, here it is:
1) pin 1 is ground, pin 2 is non-inverting, pin 3 is inverting2) the system is low impedance; the source must have  the ability to drive 1000-2000 ohms without worries3) the system ignores ground (pin 1); no signal currents are passed through the pin 1 connection (shield of the cable). This is where most high end audio stuff misses the mark.4) the impedance to ground from either pin 2 or pin 3 is the same.
5) the signal travels within a twisted pair usually within a shield.
Ralph, can you explain why on Earth some designers and makers of consumer electronics go to the trouble and expensive of providing balanced connections (if not circuits), and then don't do it "correctly", to conform to the AES standard? To do that defeats the whole purpose of balanced! It costs no more to do it right, either. Just connect the correct wires to the correct XLR pins. Duh.
Missingtime...or "missing the point"...I was recording performers for a TV musician interview series a while back and noticed that better balanced cables sounded better, period. Using great headphones is an easy way to hear this, as simply live reinforced sound masks those benefits as they are relatively small. Understand? Good.
Ralph, can you explain why on Earth some designers and makers of consumer electronics go to the trouble and expensive of providing balanced connections (if not circuits), and then don't do it "correctly", to conform to the AES standard? To do that defeats the whole purpose of balanced! It costs no more to do it right, either. Just connect the correct wires to the correct XLR pins. Duh.
My guess is that they don't know about the standard, don't care, don't want to the expense and stigma of an output transformer or some combination thereof.


The only other way to really do it right (so the output really does ignore ground) is the way we do it, which is patented.
For those wanting true balanced connections (for all the benefits afforded, including the elimination or at least minimization of cable artifacts), know that beside all of Ralph Karsten’s Atma-Sphere products, others doing balanced correctly are Roger Modjeski in his Music Reference products and Tim de Paravicini at EAR-Yoshino. Paravicini does a lot of pro studio work, and his pre-amps are designed to drive a 600 ohm load (the recording studio standard), a brutally-demanding task.
Without a doubt put the amps by the speakers and use long interconnect runs.  It will sound amazingly better and certainly save a ton of money vs doing it the opposite way.  Depending on what brand of speaker cable you get and at what level it is, many people generally get longer lengths for the ability to resell.  You may only need 3 or 4 feet, but again, depending on the cable and particularly if you think this is not going to be the last set of cables you’re going to own, then you may want more like 6-8ft lengths that will be easier to sell to a broader range of people.