Speaker cable length L/R differential

I know this has been discussed before some time ago, but I was wondering if more recent opinions can be posted regarding whether or not to use different lengths of cable for left and right speakers respectively. And for that matter, whether one might attempt to use different lengths between top and bottom of a biwired or even biamped setup. Some local boutique audio shops differ and insist that it doesn't make a difference. If it does, to what extent, and to what limitations on say percentage of difference.
Its very common to use two different cables for highs and lows... ( Silver top and Copper for bottom ) Its nice if you stay with the same manufacturer,which might help in matching..As far as lengths as long as they are not extremely different in length I wouldn't be too consurned..However must just get them both the same length and deal with the extra cable length for the shorter run...
Length should not differ by more than a kilometer.

I have always heard 50%. Meaning if you have 1 cable that is 10ft then the other cable can be anywhere from 5 to 15ft. That being said when I got my sub it came with a 35ft cable and my speaker cables are 10ft. It didnt sound right as if the sub was playing off in its own little world. BTW I thought the cable was 30 ft so I cut it in half. Sounded better but still not right. Then when I cut it to 10ft it all sounded right.
I know your question is regarding right and left. The last time I played with R&L speaker cables I will admit at 50% I could hear a difference. Kind of like a quick echo or reverb (not sure if thats the right term). Me personally - since then have always kept my cables the same length.
Difference in length of cables doesn't matter, if you don't measure the difference. Now isn't that a different way of saying that measurements don't matter, only listening!? OR, in the case of cables, if you don't measure the difference in cable length, you won't be able to hear the difference.
Bob P.
Kal, Thanks. I love it!


Cables are a part of the load the amp sees. Adding or subtracting from that load can and usually does make for different loads. Consequently timing and phase can be skewed.

With separate gain controls for each ch. this imbalance can be ammended, but the safe bet is to keep to the same size/load for each ch. Just spend the added bucks and have some peace of mind instead of worrying over cable shortcomings. IMO
AJ Conti (Basis Turntables) demonstrated how little, if any, different speaker cable lengths make at CES in Las Vegas January 2008.

One speaker was connected to a monoblock using a standard 2M length of cable. The other speaker was connected with a 75' length. No discernible difference was reported by any listener.

The results might not be identical in your room and your system. However, it seems to me that disparate lengths of cable should present no issues in most systems.
If the load is significant, then the cable is not thick enough for the length. That's not the same thing as saying the length, itself, is too great. As for timing, figure out how long it takes for a signal to go a kilometer at, say, 60% of the speed of light and tell me how that can mess up timing.

Kal...The signal travels at about 300,000 Km/sec. But one kilometer is ridiculous! The speed is 300,000,000 m/sec, and 150,000,000 for a round trip. A speaker wire one meter long will cause a delay of 0.000,000,007 second. For a 1000 Hz signal this is a phase shift of 0.0025 degrees. I don't doubt that some audiophiles will claim to hear an effect.
Yes, Eldartford, I should have put in a smiley!

"The speed is 300,000,000 m/sec, and 150,000,000 for a round trip".

Speed is always the same round trip or not (about 60% od speed of light) - it's like saying "distance to bathroom is 100 feet walking and 50 feet running".

Issue of speed is more complicated - electromagnetic wave is moving with high speed but electrons are moving only about 0.5"/s - does it make a difference?


2/3 the speed of light, huh?

Well there you have it. Just pick out your fav wire cobbler and place the order.

this business of having speaker wire all the same lengths may well have stemmed from 'back in the day' when speakers were wired with very light guage wires.

... and since that time I've held onto that precept... figuring it's better to be safe than sorry.

... then there's that resale issue too.

I really would like to see a few folks do some investigating on this notion... and square it up once and for all. In spite of solid evidence, I doubt the trend will be halted, given that previously mentioned "resale" item though.
Resale value will remain an issue since many setups are symmetrical. OTOH, I specifically ordered the speaker cables for my weekend system to suit the distance to each of the 5 speakers. Since the equipment rack/power amp sits to the left of the left front speaker, the lengths range from 6' to 35' (for the rear right). No excess to coil or hide.

Cable has inductance, capacitance, resistance dielectric constant etc. All of it affects the sound. If you think that cable does not make any difference then length of the cable should not make difference either, But if you believe, like I do, that it changes the sound then change would be proportional to distance and the absolutely worst thing you can do is to make them different and screw-up imaging.

In addition, it is a little bit the same as buying house next to power lines - it is always real estate suicide no matter what you believe. Uneven cables is difficult to sell.
I will not argue the issue with you, Kijanki, but you are introducing more variables. If the cable is chosen such that the longer run is a sufficiently benign load/medium, it should not be distinguishable from its shorter brother. If that means you can only get away with a great length disparity with well-designed and carefully-chosen cables, so be it.

If you take typical 20ga wire its inductance runs in order of 0.5uH/ft. It means that 10 feet of discrepancy is equal to 0.6 ohm at 20kHz - it can make substantial difference and there is also capacitance, resistance - quite complex. Manufacturers use foamed teflon in oversized tubes to absolutely lower dielectric constant close to one (air). The longer the cable is the more influence it has on the sound. Mylar (polyester) capacitors (dielectric constant=4) in series with the tweeter are the main reason for harsh sounding highs. You might find very expensive cables with 3pF/ft capacitance and 40nH/ft inductance but its not cable sold by foot and it will be virtually impossible to find unequal length and sell it in future.