Short S/C's long I/C's.
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One of the great benefits of balanced ICs is that you can run them a long way (over 100 feet). That is why all pro audio cables for live shows and studio work are balanced.
Urban legends and audiophoolia aside, the quality of the IC does not matter as much with a balanced cable though I would still look for quality XLR plugs like Neutrik (the standard) or Vampire.
Practically speaking they are also a lot less expensive then biwires.
Personally I run uneven length speaker cables and can't tell...
Don't forget that if you are going to locate the amps by the speakers you are going to need to get power to the amps - hope that's not coming out of the $500 LOL
Agreed that it's an advantage to have short speaker cables(still go with the best you can afford). Don't for a minute believe that, "the quality of the IC doesn't matter as much with balanced cable"! We're discussing a complex musical signal here, not the input of one microphone or instrument. At VERY LEAST: go with Mogami cables (http://accessories.musiciansfriend.com/product/Mogami-Gold-Stage-Mic-Cable-with-Neutrik-XLR-Connectors?sku=338011), which are built with oxygen free copper, polyethylene dielectric and use Neutrik XLRs. If you skimp on your interconnects: You WILL lose a lot of musical information. If the rest of your system is accurate/resolving, and you do a comparison between pro and high-end balanced cables: The differences are quite audible. Of course everyone doesn't have the same aural acuity, or knows how to listen for differences. Consider how big Stereo Review's readership was(compared to any of the high-end magazines), and it's primary reviewer never heard a difference in anything(in thirty years of writing). Keep the speaker cables lengths short as possible, and you probably won't notice a difference between bi-wired and not(with good jumpers). It's best to keep all cable lengths as close to equal as possible, but don't neatly coil anything, and don't run any power lines parallel to your signal cables(not within 8in anyway). Happy listening!
The $15 fifteen foot Hosa's are well made with silver contact Neutriks. When I had them I always felt shortchanged somehow. Now using long Kimber XLR PBJs with no urge to change them. Wire characteristics are typically described by the linear foot or metre so I'm inclined to believe the shorter the speaker cables the less relevant their quality. You've got a nice system and if you van get the new blocks close enough to the speaks now's your chance cheap out.
Guys - thnx for clarifying my point - no one here is recommending unobtanium XLR cables - I am not hearing you have to have ___ or you will die.
Rodman - your comment puzzles me a bit. Do you think that the microphone line from the lead singer or the featured soloist does not carry complex musical information? Aren't those the very things that we are looking to hear as they come out of blackness to enter the room surrounded by air precisely placed blah blah blah?
Music reproduction is a long and complex chain. But it all starts with a quality input signal (source). If its good enough to carry an artist to the mixing console its probably good enough to carry the mix to the speakers...
Mogami is good.
What you are sending to the amps is a signal composed of, not just one voice(vocal or instrument), but a compilation of everything and everyone performing, plus the imaging and ambient info contained on the recording, etc. A bit more complex than what is fed through one pro mic/instrument cable to the snake and console to be mixed. Do what you like. I've only been in the live music and home audio game for over 30 years. What do I know?
David Wilson has long runs of speaker cables in his (residential) listening room. Audio Research has long runs of speaker cable (> 40 feet*) in their listening room. Imagine: 40 feet length of the Siltech G6 speaker cable! Or Purist Audio Dominus. Wow!
* The message is: just use runs of good copper speaker cable, not the exotic ones.
Well, I guess that I'm in the minority . . . my system's set up the opposite way. But both are equally valid in a purely technical sense, it all comes down to pragmatics.
Some advantages for longer interconnects:
-Rack of gear is smaller and less obtrusive, because the amp(s) are somewhere else
-Monoblocks look cool next each speaker
-Some speaker cables, with some systems, sound better in shorter lengths
-Long interconnects seem to be cheaper (in many manufacturers' comparable models) than long speaker cables.
Some advantages for longer speaker cables:
-Amplifiers sitting by the speakers clutters up and complicates speaker placement, and may compromise speaker placement options
-Makes a non-dedicated listening room look much less like a "man-cave"
-Some speaker cables, with some systems, can sound better in longer lengths.
-There is frequently less chance for hum and RFI interference; the preamp-level interconnect is much more suceptable than the speaker cable, and is shorter.
-You don't have an outlet by your speakers for the amp, (or) you don't have the amplifier AC running right next to your preamp signal for a long run, (or) you don't have to worry about two outlets being on the same circuit, same ground potential, etc. etc. for best performance.
For me, the decision was based on the fact that when I moved, and suddenly needed long cables . . . I liked my interconnects, which were short. But I wasn't really happy with my speaker cables, which were also short. So I kept the cables I liked, and replaced the ones I didn't . . .
Ckorody- Then you should know that THE ONLY benefit of balanced cable is the reduction of RFI/EMI noise via common mode rejection/cancellation. The quality of the interconnect WILL STILL have a major affect on the quality of the audio presentation in the home when used in a fully differential configuration. That is- unless you are of the "everything sounds the same/I can't hear any difference" crowd.
You know Rodman the mystery to me is why you have to be so belligerent. You have a set of beliefs, any challenge to them threatens you.
Fact is that everything you could possibly want to playback in your home environment is done balanced - everything - except home audio.
Beyond the considerable reduction of RFI/EMI from a balanced design, balanced runs at +4db VU compared to single ended -10db VU. That is 14 db difference in noise level - more then many preamps put out.
Home audio is single ended because it is cheaper. In fact the computer guys have tried to make it cheaper yet with 3.5mm instead of RCAs...
But there is a larger point. Balanced with XLR is the global professional standard. So (almost) no matter where in the world you go, and no matter what production environment you work in it is the same.
No one wonders when they plug their Nagra master tape into a Studer through a Neves deck if there is going to be synergy. No one wonders if there Neumann mike will sound good on a DigiBeta dub.
Your music is done that way. Your TV is done that way. Your movies are done that way. And your studio recording and mixdown is done that way.
There is no logic to support your contention that a mixdown requires something different then a source recording. What do you suppose can be different? Magically more bandwidth? From where?
In fact the more times you mix down, process, dub, master etc the worse the signal gets. Not by the way because of the cables alone, but because of the electronics and recording media. That is why one take 2 track is the cleanest audio you can find. And the new cool thing at the high end audio shows.
I believe that this superstitious worship of cables we audiophools all engage in comes from the fact that enthusiast manufacturers do not pay attention to any standards whatsoever.
The reason people spend forever talking about YMMV and synergy is because every system is unshielded, unbalanced, and has an unknown output and input requirement.
How is it that anyone who deals with audio professionally uses tones, yet all too few in our august hobby even know what they are... and absolutely no one uses them?
Cables matter a lot when there is no zero.
The manufacturer of my speakers recommended short speaker cables, so that's what I use: 4 foot speaker cables and 30 foot balanced interconnects.
I used to run 30 foot speaker cables from a stereo amp, and I have to admit that set-up sounded excellent as well, but it was a different pair of speakers and a different amp.
So, my experience has been that either can work, and I have heard no significant benefit or detriment of using one over the other.
If you run long lengths of RCA - say 10 feet or more - then be careful if you use
consumer Hi-fi grade equipment. Consumer Hi-fi equipment preamplifiers may
not have the power supply and solid design to drive long interconnect lengths
properly. (Capacitance can be a problem) The general recommendation is for
low capacitance cables but it is safest to get a pro audio quality component with
XLR to go really long interconnect lengths.
Alternatively you can get one of these
CK- Belligerent? I merely stated a fact. Of course I acknowledge that everything produced(whether audio or video software) is processed via balanced circuitry. Every live(reinforced) music venue, recording, engineering, or production facility that I've worked has contained a plethora of power transformers, signal cables, power cords, etc, each a potential RFI/EMI(and now digital interference) generator. The whole concept of balanced circuitry was to combat the induced hum and noise that these sources can and will produce. I've yet to encounter a home environment that is that hostile to an audio signal(with even minimal care toward proper interconnect/cable/cord routing). How many home audio pre-amps are manufactured with fully differential circuitry? All but the best that are marketed today with "balanced" ins and outs will convert a balanced input to an unbalanced signal for the pre's gain stages, then back to balanced via active circuits(transistors or ICs). Most power amps with "Balanced" inputs are not fully differential either, which means yet another conversion(and more degradation) for the signal. With all that signal manipulation and additional electronics in the signal path, one cannot assume that a piece of home audio gear will inherently perform better in a "balanced" configuration than "unbalanced". You mentioned the processing and signal manipulation that is so rampant in the industry today(I'd only add "compression" to your list), and I agree completely. It's something we do have to live with though. The cable thing: Hopefully our recorded material was minimally processed and by producers/engineers that did as little damage to the signal as possible. Corrections and EQ's are unavoidable though, and all performed before the stamping process. I've found that the amount correction/EQ necessary depends largely on the quality of the mics and cables in use. Using the same mics: Audioquests in the studio DO make a difference too. From the outs of my BAT VK-D5 to the ins of my TacT RCS 2.2X(both fully differential), I've got a 1m pair of balanced interconnects. My first were Kimber Silver Streaks, then KCAGs and now KS-1130s. Each step yielded better tonal balance, focus, and a wider/deeper sound stage(none were slouches). If a change in a 1m pair of interconnects can provide an improvement in presentation, I have to assert that not going "cheap" on a 5m pair of cables would be a wise decision. YES- Two track: I'll take a pair of B&K 4133's and a Studer A-30 running at 30IPS please! My favorite recordings have always been direct-to-discs. For CDs- AAD made from 2 track masters like the Sheffield Labs(recorded during D-T-D takes) or Dead Can Dance material.
Whatever is "best" theoretically, I suggest you do two things. First, some pricing research to see how both scenarios play out. Generally speaking, interconnects cost more per foot than comparable-quality speaker cables. So you might -- MIGHT -- be better off in terms of bang for the buck by going with the longer speaker cables.
Second, be careful not to lock yourself into something you can't easily change or experiment with down the road if you should want to. For example, if you could split the difference (2- 3-meter ICs and equivalent length speaker cables -- not sure this will work in your layout) you'll leave open more options down the road, since those lengths are plentiful in the used market. Once you get into 5M interconnects, you get pretty short on options.
Thank you all for your comments
Kirkus - you gave me many good considerations to think about. Drubin - I sure am finding that it is true that the market in used 5 Meter cable is very limited.
My summary impression is that of course cable quality matters and probably both long balanced IC or long speaker cable can work, and perhaps avoid long anything if possible. If I do go long IC I will definitely be at least at Morgami quality which seems like a great bargin at thier price.
My house is currently on the market and the non-dedicated listening room is staged for sale making placement of equipment ideal for looks and not for sound. Because this situation is temporary I am look at cheap alternatives now. Once I am settled in my new place I will have a dedicated listening space which I very much look forward to, so as to do proper room treatment and equipment placement - You all helped me think this through. I appreciate that very much.
Mogami XLR interconnects are great values. I tried a 30 foot set and liked them very much. I later replaced them with Oyaide PA-02, which is also reasonably priced and sounds a bit more resolving and extended in my system.
Both are terrific values...the Mogami is almost a no-brainer.
BTW, you can buy Mogami XLR interconnects at Guitar Center and return them within 30 days for a refund. ;)
Here are a couple of sources for Oyaide:
http://www.kosmic.us/equip-cables-oyaide-interconnects.html. I purchased my PS-02 bulk wire from these guys.
You could also contact Ken at Revolution Power. He carries Oyaide products, and I have purchased Oyaide power cords from him. He might be able to order the PA-02. http://www.revolutionpower.com/servlet/StoreFront
Rodman - I agree that the only purpose of the balanced cables is to reduce EMI. Capacitance, inductance, dielectric absorbtion, purity of metal etc. still play important role.
There is one more purpose for the balanced cable - to protect "hot" signal wire. Connectors are locking and exposed end is "female" to prevent touching pin. It would be a disaster if signal wire would come in contact with someting on few kW PA system.
Microphone cables might be long and generic quality at the concerts but not in the studio. Many of CDs provide information on recorder, microphones and cables used in the recording.