will different lengths affect sound

Just trying to gather some opinins on this. Will different lengths of the same speaker cable adversely affect the sound and timing of the source material?
It's too hard to know the cause when your system is not performing up to your expectations. Why take a chance with something like different lengths of speaker wire?
Of course they will. Point is if you can hear it. And that depends. I doubt that anyone can in case one cable is 6ft and another 8ft. But..maybe someone can. I cannot.
I use 8' and 14' cables and I cannot detect a difference. One wonders though. If I could at all avoid it, I would, if only to stop the voices.
>>12-07-11: Inna
Of course they will<<


You will not hear a difference unless, as Kal says, there is very large difference.

A few years ago at CES AJ Conti of Basis Audio connected one speaker with 6' of cable and another with 75' of cable. Not a single attendee could identify which speaker had the longer length.
Funny about 25 yrs ago I was at a dealer playing with different length cables. If I remember correctly he used a 5' and 15' cable. It took a while but I could hear was what sounded like a ever so slight reverberation with the mismatched cable lengths. Some people in the store actually preferred that sound. Anyhow that was 25 years ago when my hearing was better.
No, but you might imagine they will--which, if you have a good imagination, will make the difference real!
If you believe that one speaker cable has different sound from another then this sonic signature will be proportional to the length of the cable. Sonic difference will be very small and you can probably convince yourself that there is or isn't any difference - becomes issue of faith. Take into consideration that it is more difficult to sell uneven cables.
Audiofeil, And not a single attendee was familiar with the system you mentioned, including AJ Conti.
First of all, it was a system that AJ configured including Pass electonics and his own cables.

The fact that no one else was familiar with the components is irrelvant.

You need not be familiar with the components in order to hear a difference between A and B.

Nice try though.

I hope that helps you to understand better.
A corollary to Kijanki's good comment is that if the longer cable behaves in a neutral manner in a given system (which is dependent on the impedance characteristics of the speaker as well as on the cable characteristics), the shorter one will too!

One thing is for sure, IMO. Timing differences, which were asked about in the OP, won't matter. Electrical signals propagate through wires at a large fraction of the speed of light in a vacuum (186,000 miles per second) at treble frequencies and higher, and even the slowest propagating audible frequency (20Hz) propagates at more than 3000 miles per second. Since 3000 miles/sec is roughly 15000 times faster than the speed of sound in air, the arrival time difference at the listener's ears resulting from a 10 foot difference in cable length would be the same as the difference that would result from his or her head being 10/15000 = 0.0006 feet closer to one speaker than to the other (and far less than that at mid and treble frequencies). In other words, not likely to be audible!

-- Al
RE: 6' / 75' and Rrog v. Audiofeil

If the difference in cable length had a serious effect on sound quality, it should have been audible in a disrupted stereo image. Familiarity with the system would not be important.

In a 2 speaker system, the phantom center image and 3 dimensional quality of a stereo recording is created by differences in arrival time, volume, frequency shading and phase balance at the left and right ears.

If the difference in the speaker cable significantly disrupted these qualities, it would be audible in a poor or distorted stereo image.

Not all theoretical differences are audible, even if we'd like them to be.
Rrog - trying to throw some ca-ca into the discussion.

So what that no one knew the system. All these self-professed golden ears should certainly been able to tell if something was amiss, but they couldn't.

Next trial - power cords......
Mlsstl, However, I will continue to use equal length cables and so will you.
The sound will be most affected if the speaker wires cost more than $1 per foot.
Rrog, actually mine aren't equal. They are custom cut to accommodate the in-joist run. I didn't measure them when installing, but one's around 18' and the other probably 23' or so.

Seems to work fine.
I used to have 25' runs of cable to my system. When I was able to move to a 7' run I noticed a nice improvement in the sound (not as rolled off on top and tighter bass).

So something on that level of difference I can understand, but not if one is 7' and the other 8'.
I'm certain that the impact of cable length over arrival time is imperceptible, but not the same could be said about the overall resistance, inductance and capacitance.
These will vary with length and be more likely to produce larger differences than arrival time.
Audible? Some will say 'yes', others 'no', like everything else in this hobby...
Bill, Yeah, I remember Ocos advertising there would be no audible difference in using different lengths of their high efficiency speaker cables.

Does "Nice try though" mean the same as better luck next time?
Not only does Ocos advertise no audible difference using different lengths, they also state that with their cable, there is no difference between long versus short runs. I never tried a short run of their cable, but I use an 18' long run and have been very.

I have not met anyone with speaker cables longer than (20Hz to 20kHz) 1500 meters, let alone 150,000 meters.

Maxwell and Kelvin says, for simplicity sake, and I quote ..."the length of the wire is important when the signal includes frequency components with corresponding wavelengths comparable to or less than the length of the wire.".... (i.e. Transmission Line Analysis)

But here in Audiogon, everything is possible he,he,he....or should I say there are people here with excemplary hearing abilities! Enjoy your un-common gifts he,he,he!
It depends what jeans you have on. (sorry, that old post still makes me smile)
Much simpler explanation than transmission line analysis:

Inductance of straight wire runs in order of 400nH/ft. Inductive reactance of 10' of speaker wire (20' counting both ways) at 20kHz is Xl=2*pi*20e3*20*400e-9=1ohm.
Difference between 10' and 100' of speaker cable at 20kHz is
9 ohms. You can argue that tweeter has higher impedance at 20kHz but often there is also compensating network of capacitor and resistor across the tweeter to even it out. Let assume that we care only about 10kHz range - the difference is still 4.5 ohm. It is not even an issue of signal divider but phase shift. 4 ohm of inductive reactance with 4 ohm of resistive load would shift phase by 54deg.

Let's assume 10' and 20' cables. At 10kHz difference of reactance between them would be 1 ohm while difference of phase shift with 4 ohm resistive load would be about 3 degree. I'm not sure what kind of load different speakers present at 10kHz but all I'm saying - it might be audible.
I screw-up numbers in my last post - 54 deg should be 45 deg while phase difference between 10' and 20' cable comes to 12.5 degree (assuming resistive load of 4 ohms).

arctan(2/4) - arctan(1/4) = 12.5deg
Snofun3, Since I am accused of throwing "ca-ca" into the discussion let's cut the crap. If you are not intimately familiar with the sound of a given system these tests mean nothing as do measurements. For a moment I thought I was reading an old Stereo Review Magazine.
>>12-08-11: Rrog
If you are not intimately familiar with the sound of a given system these tests mean nothing as do measurements.<<

No, that's wrong.

You needn't be intimately familiar with a system to hear an "A/B" change that's been implemented.

Actually it might be best you haven't heard the system at all, as the change(s) could be more apparent.
why do people always think the rules and laws that govern physics are suspended when it comes to 'high-end' audio? When you hit the light switch in your house, many lights come on at the same time, although the length of wire connecting them to the line source is very different. If you cannot detect a difference with your eyes, why would you think you would be able to hear a difference?
Sorry, I disagree. You may hear obvious differences in an A/B comparison in any system, but there are subtle differences you will not hear unless you are more familiar with the system.
Rok2id, Your analogy makes no sense. Electrical wiring in a house has nothing to do with audio.
I have heard differences in sound between a 1M and 2M interconnect, so I would not write off the possibility that a significantly different length of speaker cable could sound slightly different.

However, the issue for me would be moot; the design/quality of the cable would trump the effect of shortening the cable. If one has a poor sounding wire shortening it will not save its performance. IMO, one would do better to pay attention to the sonic quality of the cable as paramount vs. the length (within reason).

If comparing cables of two different manufacturers and different lengths I would not assume that a poorer sounding longer cable might be much better if shorter, i.e. 3-4 feet.

There are enough compromised systems and compromised ears out there that this issue will never be resolved. :)
'Rok2id, Your analogy makes no sense. Electrical wiring in a house has nothing to do with audio.'

You may be right. I was thinking from the point of view of how fast signals travel, and if the human brain could detect the differences in short distances at such high speeds. I did not consider what effect the length might have on a signal. But I just don't think it's worth the energy to try and figure it out, even If I were qualified. And I was not thinking IC just speaker cable. My Bad. Thanks for the correction.
>>12-09-11: Douglas_schroeder
I have heard differences in sound between a 1M and 2M interconnect<<

That is impossible.

12-09-11: Audiofeil

>>12-09-11: Douglas_schroeder
I have heard differences in sound between a 1M and 2M interconnect<<

"That is impossible."

you people are forgetting the second commandment of high-end audio. If they say they can hear it, you must accept it.
There's not a person on the face of the earth that can hear a difference between a 1M and 2M interconnect given the make, model, and time of use is identical.




Bill, you are telling me that what I can do on a regular basis is impossible.

You're not the first to tell me such & such is impossible. I have had industry insiders including designers, manufacturers, repair technitians all tell me at one time that differences in sound pertaining to cables was not possible, or that it was negligible. To a person I demonstrated to them in my room that they were wrong - politely, of course. I am not naming names because if I were in their shoes I likely would not want my name associated with such a situation publicly.

In one case it was in regards to power supplies, as the other party said power cords cannot influence the sound of a power supply for an electrostatic speaker. Well... when in my room he heard differently he admitted that yes, power cords could influence some types of power supplies.

BTW, prior to the demonstration for him others taking his logical tack threw their derision my way, but amazingly after he posted that I had been right they changed their mind based solely on his testimony.

Another manufacturer proudly stated that he used cheapie cabling because they didn't matter that much. Well... after a demo in my system that manufacturer bought new cables for his audio show system.

You can feel free to doubt, but as they say, "While some are saying, 'It can't be done,' others are out doing it."

As for you, Rok2id, I recall you stating that you can't get your hands on the majority of equipment by which such things would be tested. I believe you have previously admitted that you are arguing your points from logic, not experience. I used to do that, and I was wrong much of the time. It takes only one or two experiences to show how far off base your logic is from the reality. Occasionally you will see in the threads a theme to the effect, "I just tried different cables," or "There IS a difference in cables..." IOW, they finally tried and found out how easily heard such things can be.

Similar the differences between a 1M and 2M interconnect.
I am not suggesting that hearing the difference would be as easy as falling over, or that even the average audiophile with a moderately capable rig would be able to discern it. In general terms you would need an extremely fine rig, perhaps in the $80-100K range and up. It has to have truly exceptional definition and clarity. If not you likely will not hear the difference. Now, simply because most people don't experience it does not mean it's not possible. Is it a more elitist excercise? Yes, because it pertains to a level of peformance most people will never achieve. But if an audiophile with good hearing were to compare they would hear it.

'I believe you have previously admitted that you are arguing your points from logic, '
hahahaha Its a strange feeling to be ACCUSED of using logic. But Yes, I do plead GUILTY to using logic. And a lot of people do say they can hear wire, same length or not. I would be able to understand a lot better, and maybe others also, if, you would give DETAILS on exactly what you mean by 'I can hear a difference' describe the difference, what were you listening to, music, a test tone, what? how did this difference manifest itself? could you hear it as soon as you walked in the room? Was it a blind test? Were the IC's changed without you knowing which IC was playing? Did you get it right 100% of the time? did you have to put a stethoscope on the speaker? Take us through the process you went through. This is important. A lot of people are on the fence about this. If you could hear this difference with music, what CD did you use?
Douglas, one does not need $100k system to clearly hear the difference between 1M and 2M interconnects; it gets a little tougher, at least for me, comparing 0.5M and 1M interconnects. Also, I suppose it depends on particular cable. But no I didn't compare 0.5M, 1M and 2M Purist Dominus or something like that. So, I think the general answer would be - it depends.
I do enjoy cable threads, don't they just pull us all together into one happy family :-)..

Al, again, has clarified the situation regarding speaker cable length, and with reference to the OP and real life situations, a few feet of the same cable won't be audible. How many of us place our head in a 'brace', precisely measured from each drive unit/panel or whatever? The time the wave takes from the transducer to our ears will have more impact in what we hear and when.

The interesting part of the AJ Conti / Basis thing is that no one perceived any difference in the 12 fold increase to one speaker of the inductance and capacitance values of the speaker cable, also the resistance, but if the gauge was large enough and volume not too high this may not have been an issue anyway. So, as Al correctly pointed out the length would not be audible, but the characteristic impedance difference maybe? Also, how was that 75' length laid out? in a coil? That should have made some audible channel imbalance i would have thought?

Regarding interconnects, as the signal is so small, doubling the capacitance and it's effect's may well be audible, ie 1m to 2m. I know that using a longer single ended cables, 5m + is definitely degrading, so 1-2m will also, just proportionately less.
PS68, thanks very much. I should further clarify my earlier comment, however. As it appears you realize but others may not, I was not saying that the effects of a considerable difference in speaker cable lengths will necessarily be inaudible. I was saying two things:

1)There will be no audible effects AS A RESULT OF the difference between the two channels in propagation delay/arrival time.

2)If the longer cable is chosen such that it behaves in an essentially neutral manner with the particular speaker and amplifier, the shorter one will also behave in a neutral manner, and therefore they will perform identically.

As you realize, for item (2) to occur the resistance and inductance (actually, inductive reactance) of the longer cable have to be insignificant in relation to speaker impedance at all frequencies that matter, and capacitance has to not be excessively high (in which case it might affect the behavior of the amplifier). Also, it is conceivable that under some circumstances the amplifier may be sensitive to rfi (radio frequency interference) that may be picked up by the cables and enter its feedback loop, if it has one. That pickup would figure to be length sensitive, although of course with essentially no predictability.

Other less readily explainable effects may come into play, as well.

So while I would approach claims of audible effects due to speaker cable length differences with a good deal of skepticism, I would not completely rule out the possibility that they may be perceivable under some circumstances. Especially if the cables are not chosen such that their parameters result in neutral or near-neutral behavior in the particular application.

Best regards,
-- Al
Rok2id, this is not an evasion; I have many times wanted to post extended discussion of my philosophy of testing and thoughts about blind testing. I have been writing about this for years but have not posted my thoughts here.
For now, in response to your question (and more than a bit of skepticism) I was changing cables on a system I had been using when I noticed the distinction in sound between the shorter and longer ICs. If that is not good enough for you, then so be it. Feel free to discount my observation.

Inna, like a medical test I try to ensure the testing equipment (stereo) be sensitive enough (the rig have enough definition/detail) to avoid false negatives (to avoid non-detection of differences).
>>12-09-11: Douglas_schroeder
Bill, you are telling me that what I can do on a regular basis is impossible<<

You can't do it.

But neither can anybody else so don't feel bad.

However, an alien abduction story like "Cocoon" would be more believable. Got one of those?
"I have many times wanted to post extended discussion of my philosophy of testing and thoughts about blind testing"

I wish you would post your thoughts. This is the kind of info that is sorely needed. Someone who thinks!! A lot of us, are here to learn, although most of our systems are not sophisticated enough to be used to decide much of anything. BTW, your system is awesome!!

"Feel free to discount my observation"

I would never do that. To discount a personal observation is stupid. I am skeptical, but, I remember the time when I thought JBL made the best speakers in the world. :) We all learn and grow.
Bill, When you have something of value to contribute I'll be willing to hear it. I'm not interested in speaking with you if all you can do is mock and insult. Find someone else on that level to converse with.

BTW, I believe sufficient microbiologic and probibilistic evidence has been shown to preclude the existence of Aliens in the universe. If you wish to rest your faith on such things you'll have to turn elsewhere. :)