Speaker cable length


Hey y'all,

I'm thinking about changing the setup of my rig so the equipment rack is off to the side and nothing is between the speakers. However, that's going to entail a much longer set of speaker cables. Is there anything about speaker cable length I should be aware of? And and am I right in assuming that I need to keep both pairs of cables equal length?
simao
You are going to give up far more in sound quality due to crap wire than you will gain by marginally improved acoustics. 
They do not have to be the same length. 
I would make them the same length.

The only thing to be aware of is it's gonna cost ya.
Most people probably can’t hear the difference between two different lengths or is their system capable to reveal the difference. How long of a set are you needing? If it’s a fairly long stretch and you have to watch the budget I’d suggest Canare 4s11. It’s very affordable and extremely flexible. Used in pro audio and live settings so the geometry is designed for longer runs to not pick up noise. It’s a very good and a great cable to start with as it might be the end of your journey. Can be purchased online and even Amazon. Does take a lot of hours to burn or settle in so do not rush to judgment.
The biggest issue with mismatched cables is resale as you swap them out, cuz in this game you will, just part of it. Resale is not going to happen unless someone has your specific configuration. If you do inexpensive, or DIY doesn’t matter.
I just swapped out my Benchmark speaker cable with SpeakOn termination for some Audience FrontRow also with SpeakON terminations (you can get any termination). I only need 1 meter lengths because I have monoblocks right beside each speaker. I use 15 or 25 foot of Benchmark XLR cables to connect my amps to my preamp. This way my rack is sitting beside me and nothing is in-between my speakers.

Comparing my FrontRow and Benchmark cables are an apples-2-apples comparison. One cost $200 and the other cost $3600.  The Audience is a bit better but I was very happy with the Benchmark prior to the FrontRow. I only bought the FrontRow because I had saved so much on my other gear that I had some extra cash in the stereo budget to splurge.

If you are going to use very long speaker cables I suggest you use some pro cables like the Benchmark so that you do not get killed by the cost. They are excellent.
Post removed 
I've heard and seen a lot of systems with equipment between the speakers. It shouldn't be stacked "between" the speakers. If you go low and against the front wall, there is nothing wrong with that.. HECK just low and streamline works perfect for me..

As far as between speakers one of the best setups I EVER heard was a 3 speaker Trainural analog system. It had a 3rd speaker dead center, and recommends an equal or BETTER speaker for the center..In other words BIGGER.

Like MC said the give away compared to gain, you've lost ground..
Move part of it to the side. Pre, TT and amps leave them by and between speakers, just LOW...

My monitors the lowest driver "used" is 18" off the ground. That make a BIG difference too. What exactly is being messed with when drivers are that high? Something above 18"? Use the 18" and below. No problems for me.. Folks have better ears than mine, for me it's maybe a change, but not an improvement in SQ.. There is always a work around.. Just fruit for thought..

Regards
I moved my vertical rack to the side wall. I was using Purist Audio cables and changed to Canare 4S11. Both cables are 15ft. At this length nobody will hear the difference between same length and one long, one short.
I like them more than the $2500 Purist, and there's no noise or RFI being introduced.


Mr.  simao

Speaker cable is all about resistance.

R = (ro x L) S
When R is the cable's resistance in ohms.
ro is the material's constant conductivity figure.
L is the length in meters.
S is the cross section in mm2.

If we talk abou your system, that for some reason, is not specified, what makes or breaks the deal is your Amp's DF.
If you own a tube amp or a HT receiver, cables won't change much.
If you own a good power Amp and pre, it might have XLR (balanced) in/out. Use a balanced cable (as long as you wish, up to 500m, and place your Amp's (monoblocks) as close to the speakers (speaker cables can then be reduced to 1/2 meter!), and place your source and pre. where you like it. That's the optimum solution, if you look for one.

@b4icu. My amp is a line magnetic 518. My speakers are spatial audios M3 turbo s's. I would be doing the switch of the components off to the side purely for aesthetic purposes. I'm using a pretty narrow salamander rack and a low amplifier stand for the line magnetic, and my spatials are about 5 ft off the back wall, so I doubt the component stands are doing anything for the sound since they are way back behind the spatials. And I would definitely go with XLR, except the line magnetic only has RCA inputs.
I recently bought new speakers, new speaker cables and changed the speakers location. I now need one 5meter speaker cable and one 7 meter speaker cable. Was concerned the length and also length mismatch would be an issue. Unfounded worries, sounds great, soundstaging is terrific.
Amp=Conrad Johnson MF2250A .. speakers Magico A3 .. cables Morrow SP4.
It’s more important to keep your TT cable(s) short.

McIntosh guidance: for 18 awg: 4 ohm speakers:15 lf; 8 ohm 30 lf; 16 ohm 60 lf.

I finally made my new speaker cables (16 ohm speakers) two days ago, 16 lf each. I always keep speaker cables the same length. I needed to reach the further left side,

see 2nd photo here, system in background of ’cleaning’ photo

https://www.ebay.com/itm/133640511355

16lf gave me extra length at both ends: to leave them connected and pull my speakers forward, spin around, take the back off; and to pull the separate cabinet on the right side (with preamp and amp on it) forward, spin around.

I bought direct from Asia thru Wish, total 32lf for $215. delivered ($6.72/lf).

OFC Cat 8 S/FTP 22 ga, (8 strands equal 13 ga.) Pure Copper Spades, Pure Copper Connectors at Speakers.

My hands are a bit sore from stripping 64 strands, twisting, compressing the strands, attaching 8 spades with 2 set screws.




If your line magnetic 518 is this:  https://www.stereophile.com/content/line-magnetic-audio-lm-518ia-integrated-amplifier-specifications
Than you should not be worried about the cablelength...just keep it with low C. The nature of Tube Amps is of low to very low DF. As so, cable's resistance is insignificant. 
II use Canare 4S11 speaker cable.  Left speaker has an 18 foot cable, right speaker has a 15 foot cable.  Can’t hear any difference.  Won’t set you back more than $200.00 total.  The bested a pair of cables that were $1500.00 each. 
So I did the measurements just now. The right speaker is going to need 18 to 20 ft. The less speaker is going to need maybe 8 ft at most. Because of my triangle ratio with my listening position, a specials are about 11 ft apart and that accounts for the big discrepancy in the speaker cable length if I do move everything off to the side.
Here’s one discussion that will probably have divided reactions. https://youtu.be/WXPAjnmhK_g
If you ever have cause to sell them, a pair of SCs of matching length will be much easier to move.

Also, if you reconfigure again, there's the possibility of halving them to creating bi-wires.

If you're going to purchase long cables, at whatever price point, Blue Jeans, Audio Envy, whatever, I wouldn't save the few bucks by skimping.
@hilde54   Thanks for the link. that was a fascinating video and explanation.
@b4icu  - thanks for the amp update as well.
My rack has always been on the side, and recently purchased new speaker cables. I was told that I should keep the speaker wire short as possible, so, I moved my amp onto the floor between my speakers, thus allowing for shorter speaker cable runs. But, I then needed a longer IC from my amp to pre in the rack. I’ve read that if you have a choice, go with a longer IC cable vs speaker cables, and that’s what I did. Overall cheaper too, even as with the longer IC purchase.


@bkeske  interestingly, everything i've heard says the complete opposite - that the IC's should be kept as short as possible while speaker cables - which carry a very weak signal, can be much longer.
All my other IC’s are short to my pre. All I can tell you is everything sounds very good, and better than the old long cables/set-up. Of course, the speaker cables are better too. The cost of 15-16’ (length I would have needed) good biwire cables was going to be expensive vs. 8’ lengths, and a 10’ IC.

Yea, everyone has an opinion, but I do remember a video Paul McGowan put out on YouTube saying the same; keep your speaker cables short, and run a longer IC to your amp near the speakers. I always stored that video in my memory banks. Also recommended by a couple others I trust. Before, I just wanted everything, including my amp, on the rack. I change my mind with my recent speaker cable purchase.

I have a separate amp, so if you have an integrated amp, this may not be a good option for you.
My understanding too is that if i had to choose for the shortest cable that should be the speaker one. Now having xlr's for ic's helps a lot but still.

G
@bkeske,

my main system has a pair of 22 foot Canare 4S11 speaker cables going to my speakers. There is no loss of current.  My 11 gauge speaker cables are good with no loss up to 50 feet away.  My speaker cables go under the floor as my rack is across the room in an alcove.  I would never run an interconnect under the floor as the signal is just a few volts.  I have had numerous systems over the years with this configuration and I have always gotten excellent results. 
If you have a basement, consider doing what I did.  I put my amp in the basement to reduce hum in the listening room.  My preamp and its power supply are also in a room adjacent to the speakers, in an equipment cabinet, with balanced IC's running through the floor to the amp.  Thus, the speakers are the only equipment in the listening room.  The power supply/vacuum for my SOTA Star Sapphire TT are also in the basement.  I didn't want that vacuum unit anywhere near the rest of my equipment.

All of this physical separation is important.  And, yes, there are plenty of holes drilled in the floors.

All cable pairs are of equal length.  The rule I learned decades ago was to keep IC's short and worry less about speaker cable length.  But with your amp in the basement,  speaker cables can still be kept relatively short, saving money.

Other than convenience and tradition, I have never understood why folks spend so much on high quality equipment, then place it all so close together. 


The best speaker cable performs at a maximum distance of zero.  Any longer than zero colors the signal.   

That said, you can usually get away with a couple of feet, no more than 4 feet, if the cables are of sufficiently heavy gauge wire.  Any cable less than 14 gauge should be avoided at any length greater than zero.
I don't mean to be acrid here, but those of you is spousing really short speaker cable lengths seem to be out of touch with a lot of systems reality. I know if you have monoblocks and it isn't a problem, but I don't and I don't think many other audiophiles do. plus, setting up your speakers so you are in that .83 ratio of the triangle means at a forefoot cable is virtually impossible.
I can assure you, my feet are firmly planted in reality. I simply provided another alternative should you have equipment that would make it easy for you, and perhaps provide an opportunity of spending a bit more for better cables themselves. You didn’t specify your equipment, so....


It worked for me, and was able to spend a bit more on speaker cables vs my previous setup of 20’+ (ran under the floor and through the basement to make things ‘tidy’).


One thing is for sure, removing your equipment from between the speakers will probably be an improvement regardless. So, get longer speaker cables an enjoy the music.

cheers.
@bkeske. Nah, I wasn't accusing you directly of not being grounded. You add a valuable voice that I'm taking into consideration. It's just that 4' or less speaker cables are not going to happen. 


My system is:

Line Magnetic 518ia

Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S
Oppo 105

VPI HW-19 Mk4
LFD LE phono stage
Very nice integrated, and speakers.

Yea, to start, I would go with the shortest/longest best speaker wires you can, and start there. You definitely don’t want multiple long length IC’s from your front end stuff.
@bkeske interestingly, everything i’ve heard says the complete opposite - that the IC’s should be kept as short as possible while speaker cables - which carry a very weak signal, can be much longer.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

NO OP the speaker cable need to be short, not the line level, no one here is giving you bad advise.. The heavy load is the Speaker cable, and the power cord for the power amp, not the line level amp feed.. You literally got your wires crossed. But 4 foot cable off a stereo isn't gonna happen either.. 2 or 3 meter will work though..
I use 2, 3 and 4 meter cables. not in the same room.. Great cables though, are gonna be the same length..
This is not a surround system...

Do what you will, but running longer speaker IC will degrade speaker performance. The question is, will you hear it? I can tell the difference in a 1 meter and a 3 meter of the same construct.. I have used .5 meters and gone to 1 meter and gotten better results on SS amps.. Same construct. There is TOO short.. in some cases.

Zip cord who cares double the run for each one (20 x 2) and (8 x 2) used #12 save your money..

Regards
@oldhvymech. Interesting. I thought that signal amplitude is much lower across speaker wires than across interconnects. and thus you would get less of an LRC loss. But hey, as you say, maybe I've been wrong all this time. Wouldn't be the first time that's happened. 
12g zip cord works fine and different lengths do not matter. These guys can spend a ton of your money for little to no, mostly no, gain. I run bigger wire than really needed but there are times I am working on 200 to 600 seat theater speakers and if the customer wants them cranked up I do so. Yes these are high fidelity speakers and poor components would be noticeable.
simao;
With the lengths you mentioned, audiophool BS aside, two different lengths will make no difference that any human ear can discern. The only real consideration is the gauge you use as it has more of an effect on the sound than length does. From my personal experience, 10 gauge tends to favor bass at the expense of highs, and 14-16 tends to be brighter. I have always had the best results using 12 to 14 gauge wire. If you are into making your own cables, check out http://www.knukonceptz.com/. They sell quality wire and connection accessories at realistic prices.
OP you can setup a simple experiment as I did years ago to determine the effect of speaker wires. Get a simple analog toggle switch and two sets of wire to compare. Have someone else switch back and forth without you knowing which cable is being used. A blind A/B test with instantaneous change from one to the other. It doesn't get any better than that. Everything else is just hearsay. I did this hundreds of times on Apogee Diva's and Klipschorn's along with other curious golden ears. We all came to the same conclusion.
There are a lot of other audio set-up aspects far more relevant than fretting over unequal speaker wire lengths. I saved considerable money on my 12ft/20 ft pair.
I don't mean to be acrid here, but those of you is spousing really short speaker cable lengths seem to be out of touch with a lot of systems reality. 

Welcome then to the Twilight Zone. None of this actually exists. Nor do I. Nor, interestingly enough, do you. None of this is reality. Couldn't be. No real person could ever figure out how to do this. Could they?
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367
@millercarbon 

i'm always sus about people who've claim to have figured it out. no matter how ourt of touch they may be with interior decor
@simao FWIW I have tried the same brand of speaker cables in three different but equal lengths with the same amplifiers and same speakers . (I own monoblock amps.) It's an interesting experiment.

I tried speaker cable lengths of 3.5M, 1.5M and .5M. In my system the length that sounded the best was 1.5M. When testing the 3.5M, I had a 2M IC XLR between the amps and the preamp. For the 1.5M and .5M, I had a 15ft IC XLR between the amps and preamp.
Although the .5M had plenty of jump, it made the high frequencies sizzle a touch and vocals sounded too forward. The 3.5M sounded "slow." The 1.5M made the sizzle disappear, located the vocals realistically in the sound stage and the music pace seemed faster than the 3.5M.YMMV
simao-
@millercarbon  

i'm always sus about people who've claim to have figured it out. no matter how ourt of touch they may be with interior decor

Relax. I still haven’t figured out grammar either.

What I have figured out though, wire length doesn’t matter but wire quality does. You will get only the tiniest improvement moving equipment off to the side. This is not something I claim to have figured out. This is something I actually tried and heard the difference. It is negligible. The difference in sound quality though, for whatever your budget is, if you have $500 it will buy you hugely better speaker cables at 8 ft than 20 ft. No contest. You will crap at what you lost. For all your work moving all that stuff around.

But you go ahead, ridicule me for knowing what I am talking about. Who knows, maybe next time even spell a word or two correctly.
@millercarbon truthfully i’m considering making this move, as i mentioned before, out of aesthetic reasons, not because i’m panicking about sonics diminished by equipment between speakers. my question was about speaker cable length which, i believe, has been answered from many sources, including you. heaven forbid someone gets under your thin skin with casual ridicule.
You really do not want to go over the magic sound of an eight foot pair of speaker cables especially with the sound of a full range system.
Yea about that.. If the cable that's hooked to only one of two main speakers has a so so cable, or for that matter both main speaker monitors.  Then throw three parts of cable building 101 out the window.. You kind of get what you get.. And deserve it..

If I was to use zip cord, vs 12tg 24 conductor a folding weave, I bet the different length will make all the difference in the world. Zip cord length is tough to tell, between 1 meter and 10 meters.
BUT really complex weaves and length are like tuning forks.. Every foot adds, I can't hear that good, but 1 meter vs 3 meters I can..
Zip cord I can't tell the difference only copper vs alu/copper, I can..

The deal is, I don't use anything but SOOW or JSOOW 99.999 copper unless it's a main monitor cable.. BASS is BASS it likes heavy copper.
I get pretty fancy with the main monitor cable though, a helix weave with some goodies and a MY box...Works perfect for me...

So when folks chime in and say "it doesn't matter that much" I wholeheartedly disagree. Cabling accounted for a good 10% in all ranges when I really took the time to listen. ADD another 5% for top notch cabling inside the speaker...Add 5% MORE for GREAT cabling inside the power amp..

Again I would run longer RCAs or hopefully XLRs. You can get either dead quiet. and then shorten the speaker IC..from the power amp..

Happy happy..

Regards
I love this forum! I mean, where else can I ask a simple question more or less out of curiosity and generate ankle biting, learned responses, snarkiness, passionate disagreement, and occasional camaraderie? Sweet. 
@oldhvymec.    Unfortunately my Line Magnetic only has RCA inputs. 
Well, I’m for short everything, but when moving gear off-center is absolutely necessary, I go against the grain - employing long speaker cables and short interconnects.

Given a choice between the "evils" of more resistance as a result of long speaker cables vs. the increased capacitance of long interconnects, I’ll keep the capacitance down every day of the week. Of course, one could argue in favor of long ICs if you’re running balanced.

More here: https://galibierdesign.com/length-matters/


... Thom @ Galibier Design
I've read a bunch about speaker cable length and have ensured that my lengths are identical. I've wondered whether they should be short or long compared to IC's.

However, in the video I posted above, Gene from Audioholics gives an argument as to why speaker cable length does not and cannot matter to how they sound.

Most here are offering advice as if this argument doesn't exist.

So, please inform me -- and the OP: is Gene just wrong? What is the counterargument to his?

I'm really curious to know, because if he's right, it allows us to focus on other issues rather than remain debating this cluster of issues. If he's wrong, then it seriously compromises his integrity as an expert.

So, is Gene's argument flawed? If so, how? 
Going by what Gene says about cables is useless. None of the cable stuff matter to Gene. And a lot of other things.