Whats wrong with short cables?

Hello Fellow Audionuts!!!!

Just curious....

Why should speaker cables be 8 feet and over? I hear that sometimes shorter cables can cause blown tweets and such during extended guitar solo's and stuff like that.

I always kinda assumed the shorter the run the better.

Im researching into building my own Pre, SS Amps, Speakers, and cables. I was planning on running a stereo amp pair for each speaker and bi-amping them. The amplifiers will be on thier own stands between the pre/cdp/tuner and the speaker. That means i will have a speaker cable run of probably less than 4 feet.

Would it be better to tailor the legnth of the cable to the distance needed? or would it be better to use a cable over 8 feet in legnth and just have it coiled behind the speaker?
To make it real simple, you don't need to worry unless you're aiming to use 20...30' of speaker wire length.

Most of the commercial or so-called audiophile calbe manufacturers do not provide a reactance of wire. It requires an engineering signal analysis through the responce measured by oscilloscope at particular calibrated freequency. It's not just you can measure it presicely with DMM that has capacitance or inductance scales. It's the one you should measure depending on freequency or group of tested freequencies to make your conclusion. In case with audio applications you'll just have to assume that it realy doesn't matter or every audio equipment should be made not to proccess any RF in the signal path.

In all other cases you should refer to length, current and gauge neccessary for the best signal transfer between amp and speakers. Another words are if you're planning to get longer speaker wire length than you'll probably need to increase the gauge.
The shorter the better, within reason. You don't want cables stretched as taunt as guitar strings now. You also don't want to coil cable, as this will increase inductance. It's best to tailor the length to the application. Have enough slack as to not cause tension on the connectors, but remember, shorter is better.

The conventional wisdom is to keep all cables as short as possible. The contrary theory is espoused by Ron Bauman in the context of his Omega Mikro cables. His experimentation has confirmed, to his ears, that his cables sound best at a length of at least 8 feet. There is some theory behind this, but the real test comes from critical listening. I've spoken with Lloyd Walker, who sells the Omega Mikro cables, and Lloyd says that his own listening tests with different lengths of this cable confirm what the designer says about this particular design. This may be true of other cables, but this is the only specific instance of which I'm aware.

Unless you have a specific recommendation from the manufacturer, keeping all cables as short as practical is a pretty good rule of thumb.
Good. Then they wont be long at all.

I thought i remember seeing a thread about cable legnth, but i couldnt find it.

the cable legnths i will need will be about 2-3 feet tops. The amps will be on stands next to the speaker. I really diddnt want to coil the slack, nor did i want to have it laying all over the damn room. hahahaha
Hello Slappy,

Perry from Mapleshade Records is another Guru that insists on nothing less than 8' for speaker cables. I am using 4 1/2 foot cables spade to spade, w/ my mono blocks. I had the same exact cables inhouse in a 12'length prior to selling them. The shorter ones didn't sound any less musical. Most manufacturers do not like to sell anything under 6' in length. I guess it's a matter of lost profit on their end? So confusing us into going longer, keeps their pockets lined? Sometimes in life Shorter is better! IMO
THanks Prag. Good stuff.
HMMMM. Guess I better sell my 8 inch lengths of Cardas golden reference. NOT!
Take your 2-foot speaker wires and wrap them tightly around a wad of $100 bills. The effect will be exactly like long expensive cables.
Nothing is wrong with short cables, IMO. I run 6 foot lengths to my speakers. . .always have with excellent results.
Yes, shorter is better, and the LAST thing you should ever consider doing is coiling any leftover! Nothing like a high-pass to ruin your woofer's bottom octave....
The consensus among the experts such as Martin Colloms or the designers at Audio Synthesis is that the speaker wires are the weaker link. I have found this to be true in my experience. Pierre Sprey at Mapleshade has the opposite opinion. I know Pierre and his opinion carries weight so I have ordered a pair of his speaker cables to see. The whole question may well be system dependent. As to the short cables causing tweeter damage, I have never heard this in 42 years in audio. It would seem to assume that(1) the amp would somehow be unstable without a sufficient length of wire to load it, or (2) that without a longer run of interconnect to attenuate the treble the signal would be too strong. Neither seems likely. Stan
Most speaker cables are deficient in design and using a longer length gives you more of a problem. By keeping poorly designed speaker cables as short as possible, you redue the effects that they have on the system. As such, the logical deduction would be that longer speaker cables = lower performance. This is true when you start off with something that is sub-standard to begin with. If one were to purchase "real" speaker cables that are correctly designed, you don't have to worry about running longer lengths with their signal degradation creeping in. Sean

The Science behind speaker cable technology
Subaruguru...I vote for short cables, like 1 foot with the monoblock amp adjacent ro the speaker. However, if you have too-long cables that need to be tidied up, coiling them can be OK. First of all, the air-core inductor created by coiling several feet of cable would be of very low value...especially for the woofer signal which goes directly into a large inductor of the crossover network. Furthermore, for the perfectionist, you can coil the wire in the same configuration that non-inductive wirewound resistors are made. Make a large loop of all the wire you want to coil, and then wind the coiled (2-wire) loop. tightly.
Sean, thanks for pointing to the AA thread. I have a set of your preferred cables sitting around, which I happened to stick in the system (between Pass 150 and Thiel 2.4) the other night. No Zoebel networks, however. Sound was disappointing, but maybe I'll give it a longer audition. --Dan
I asked my Fiancee, she says "short cables" lack depth and definitely have presentation shortcomings. =) Lucky for me, I receive about 100 emails a day on how to "lengthen my cable."
Distortion, not to worry, after your fiancee becomes your wife, you won't be needing that cable anymore anyway, so length becomes a non-issue.=)
Sean, that is the speaker wire I am getting ready to bulid: copper ribbon, cryo'ed, hand polished and stacked on top of each other.
Jmc, Ouch.
Drubin: Like i said in that thread and explained why, if you don't like what you hear, it's because something else in the system isn't up to snuff. Don't blame the messenger for delivering the bad news. It is simply passing back and forth what is fed into it without contributing its' own sonic signature. If the messenger / cable were distorting the message, then you would be fully justified at pointing fingers at them. This cable is both the most technologically advanced yet simple design wrapped all in one. Out of curiosity, are you using MI-1, MI-2 or MI-3's and how long are they?

Having said that, you've probably been exposed to what your amplifier / speaker interface really sounds like now. Many people aren't happy with the results of such an event and go to great lengths to avoid dealing with such things. This is why they resort to using mega-dollar cables with less than optimum electrical characteristics to hide / distort / flavour / the sound of their system. They do this in order to make it more to their personal tastes. Nothing wrong with this so long as one knows that the presentation is not accurate or linear in reproduction and is willing to accept that.

For another conversation that touches on the "neutrality vs personal preferene" subject, try taking a look at this thread regarding integrity of reviewers / integrity of sound systems. This one went WAY off track and gets pretty repetitive, so proceed with caution. Sean

PS... You need a Zobel. Unless you are running a Sunfire amplifier ( these have built in protection ), get some and install them before you do damage to your amp.
Jeez, Sean, you sound almost pissed off. :-)

What I have is 10' M2 biwire. Since the Thiels don't take biwire, I attached both sets of speaker leads to the one set of terminals on the speakers. (This is a common practice, but I wonder if it's a good practice.)

What I noticed about the sound was a shallower soundstage than with my other cables and a less extended treble (this was the most disappointing thing about the Goertz). The other cables I've been using are Cardas Golden Cross and Nordost Valhalla, two very different beasts, but each stellar in its own way.

Where do I get a Zobel, and does it go at the amp end or the speaker end, or both?
Your best bet for a Zobel is to build one yourself or to have someone build it for you. The Zobel should be placed at the speaker terminals in parallel across the speaker terminals. Use of Goertz without a Zobel is not recommended, can cause amplifier damage and will not result in the sonics that the system is capable of. Drop me an email if you like. I've been having problems with both my computer and my email lately, so if you don't get a response in a relatively timely manner, post here and i'll contact you via another source. Sean

PS... Sorry if i came across relatively "harsh". It seems like "bad luck" has permanently taken roost around here. Sorry if my frustration was unnecessarily being passed on down the line.
somehow the notion that wires which impose damaging load on your amp, and need to be counteracted by a Zobel network, are good, is hard for me to accept.
Accept it or not, they do the least damage to the signal due to being constructed of the highest grade materials, using the least detrimental electrical characteristics and offering the widest bandwidth available. The side effect to such a "no-holds barred" approach is that amplifiers designed with a similar approach become susceptible to self-induced oscillation. This is due to the lack of self-induced signal deterioration that lesser, narrow bandwidth cables bring with them to any system.

Some manufacturers, like Naim, count on one using low grade cabling to keep their amps stable. While that is a backwards approach, it is the approach that they took.

Nobody said that obtaining optimum performance would be cheap or simple. Make your decisions and live with the results. So long as you attach the Zobel's, which is a one time thing, you don't have to worry about it ever again. Sean
There shoulf be no noticable differences in certain cables for length within reason.If you are going to use 50' for speaker cables then it is only common sense that there would be alot of resistance and you better get garden hose if you want to keep the signal from having alot of loss.

IC's that are .5m-1m or 1.5m or not going to make much differences I think. Shieding does not help .It takes out detail.

I have read that Digital or COAX cable should be made of 1.5m to cut out deflection. Made sense,but have not done any testing and does that show up in playback so you can hear it?

Anyways,I think alot of things are taken to far for measuring and not enough is done in listening test.

Pragmatist thank you for the morrisson link , my friend has
been telling me about this Morrisson explanation,
about cables, but I never bother to search it. I believe
90% percent of what is written, good advice.I like his
preamp though the ELAD.
Drubin. Cannot say I liked the Goertz with either my Thiel 1.6 or Sonus Faber Guarnieri. They are warm and musical cables but obscure detail and roll-off the top compared with many other cables that I have tried with these speakers. I think you may be referring to Thiel 1.6 speakers. If so, I found the Audience cables good with them, similar in overall character to the Goertz but with a whole lot more detail and music coming through.
Red: Have you ever used any Nordost speaker cables? I'm wondering what your thoughts on those are as compared to the Goertz? Sean
sean...I just finished wiring up a pair of MTM speakers using flat rectangular wire, Nordost I think. Each speaker had 5 wires, two ends, with two conductors...that makes 40 wire ends to strip off Teflon insulation. You have to do this carefully with an Xacto knife: can't use a wire stripper. What a job! This stuff better sound good.
Hi Sean

The only time I tried Nordost, I tried Red Dawn, SPM and Quattro Fil and they all sounded a little bleached through the mids to me. However that was with an older pair of Thiels and with some Martin Logans - neither of which were likely to be good choices with the Nordost. In other respects I found the nordost to have wonderful speed, like that saying of "getting out of the way of the music". Now that I have some Sonus Fabers, I have a hankering to try them again. What I am curretly using with them is a local (New Zealand) cable called Sinkylinks. It will not suit all systems, perhaps sounding lean or lacking bass. But with the right speaker they are magical, and the bass is stunning.

I reckon amp/cable/speaker synergy is at the heart of getting great sound and that there are many good cables that can be just the right thing in the right system. It shouldn't be that way - but it is. I think the main reason for this is that none of the components we can buy are anything like perfect - and balancing the foibles/weaknesses is critical to getting the music to flow.
Redkiwi: Actually I am using Thiel 2.4's. but your observations about the Goertz with Thiel is similar to what I experienced.
OK, has anyone tried using wire coat hangers for speaker wire like the "morrison link" suggested (that 'pragmatist' mentioned above)?

Part of Rule 3 in Morrison:

"Just snuggle one monaural amplifier up behind each speaker. You can use a foot of any kind of wire here. A bent coat hanger with the insulation scraped off will do the trick."
I did a few experiments backing my monos up to the speaker terminals and connecting 6 inch links as speaker cables. It became very hard to distinguish the differences between cables, where those differences had been very noticeable with 3 foot lengths. But these were still good cables being used. On the other hand, a link as bad as those horrid brass bridges used on bi-wire speakers is noticeably worse than using decent cable as a jumper.
Redkiwi: What is a "link" in this context?


A couple of good sites on cable theory.

Are zobels necessary for Goertz even if your amps are equipped with zobels? I thought that having zobels on both the amps and the speaker terminals could be detrimental to the sound.

The assumption that cable manufacturers promote longer speaker wire lengths to increase sales is an easy one to make.

If you use short speaker wire, you need long interconnects. Right? Has anyone researched the total cost difference between long IC with short speaker wire vs. short IC and long speaker wire across several makers' products?

I sampled pricing from Harmonic Technology and Audience just as a starting point. The pricing is only a bit higher with longer speaker wire.

A 3m pair of non-biwire Audience Au24 SW is $93 more than a 3m pair of Au24 IC (RCA). Not enough to support the profit motive theory.

In the case of HT, there is more material in their speaker wire than in their IC; so, manufacturing costs may be higher for SW (speaker wire) and thereby justify the marginally higher cost per meter.