The shorter the better. 8Ft. is the longest before degradation is supposed to occur. Jallen
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Haven't really got into it, but some folks, like Mapleshade, claim that 8 foot is the minimum length. It may be true of their wire, and the opposite would be true for other brands, I haven't played with it enough. But, a lot of the things Mapleshade espouses, I am in agreement with.
I have used 5 foot lengths and 8 foot lengths and 10 foot lengths, and they sounded very different, but they were different cables. The 5 (AQ Dragon) and 10 foot (AQ Midnight) are from the same manufacturer and same AWG/construction, but one is silver, the other is copper. They sounded night and day different, with my preference being the Dragon so long as it did not make the sound too relentless(which it did for me at the time, but my system is much more relaxed now).
I too once thought that the shorter the better until I actually tried it. I had some 8TC and monoblocks so I figured why not put the monoblocks directly behind the speakers and use very short cables. Save a bunch of money and not have any colorations from the cables. It had to be better.
I hooked up my CJ Premier 12's and Wilson Witts with 6 inch lengths of the 8TC and it was horrible. There was a major increase in resolution but it was thin, bright, and lacking in bass to the point you couldn't listen for more than a few minutes. Not a subtle difference but a major transformation in the sound. I also experimented with short lengths of various types of stranded and solid core wire and it was the same each time. When I tried 3 foot lengths or longer it was very nice.
I contacted Kimber and they verified my results saying too short will not work well.
I don't know if there is an ideal length but my own experience says that you need at least a minimum amount. As for why 8 feet. I think that many of us have a power amp between the speakers and 8 feet is long enough to get there without spending the extra for longer cables. It also hurts resale to have odd lengths. Shorter cables are harder to sell because they won't reach unless you have monoblocks, and longer cables are harder to sell because you are paying for length most people don't need.