Short vs Long Interconnect vs Speaker Cables, Pros and Cons!!! - AVS Forum

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Tweaks and Do-It-Yourself

Steve Bruzonsky's Avatar Steve Bruzonsky
10:15 PM Liked: 24
post #1 of 8
06-20-2002 | Posts: 17,671
Joined: Jan 1999
I just thought I'd resurrect an "old" topic for hopefully some fun discussion.

Regardless of the objective merits of having long balanced interconnects and short speaker cables, this just isn't a practical solution for most of you. But it does work for those few of us with mono amps at each speaker!!!!

When I first setup my then brand new Aerial speakers and Bryston 7B amps in my then brand new home theater room back in March 1997, I had leftover long Kimber flat speaker cable from my downstairs system that I used, so I went with short interconnects and long speaker cables.

Then I demod some Transparent networked cabling from my local dealer and was interested in that. I talked with Transparent and was advised that they adjust their cable networks to compensate for length, so long speaker cable from a subjective standpoint sounds virtually identical to shorter speaker cable. Transparent also recommended that even if I used long balanced interconnects and short speaker cable, that the speaker cable be no less than 8 foot long as that was necessary engineering wise to sound as it should. Well, this persuaded me to go with short interconnects and long speaker cable, and to put the amplfiiers in my main equipment racks, not by the speakers. And we don't wanna discuss what I spent for the new Transparent cabling. Or how much I '"lost" when I sold it early 2001. There is no doubt that when I demod several levels of Transparent speaker cabling, both I and my helpers, my wife's sister and her friend, heard the differences. Problem is that with more listening and tweaking we become more experienced and learn that some differences are not necessarily overall "better" or monetarily worthwhile. A hard lesson to learn. And a lesson I have no doubt some of you tweakers are learning at times, too.

In early 2001 I moved the Bryston 7B amps to my Aerial speakers, using long Meitner Bybee balanced interconnects (a thin wire Ed Meitner picked up from a Canadian company, Ed cryod the wire, and Jack Bybee then
terminated the wire for me), and I used external balanced Bybee devices at the end of each interconnect. And I initially used some short about eight inch Legend Apature speaker cable fashioned by my friend Jack Bybee
into biwired on the speaker end. And yes, it sounded better than my prior setup, just more musical and more real life texture to the sound.

Then, by summer 2001, I had completed my Granite Audio Odyssey (Get it, 2001: A Space Odyssey!)! I had Granite Audioized my system, with their 560 10 guage toroids each end power cords, long balanced silver interconnects, and short speaker cables. WOW! What a difference! I now play my system at a real reasonable, somewhat low level yet its so clear and dynamic. When forum member Mark Davis came over a few months ago, he was blown away (please excuse me for bragging) because he expected my system to be loud and have to be turned down, and instead found it relaxing and totally non-fatiguing. Amazing what some fake Granite can do!!!

I'd like to hear experiences of anyone else who has gone on a similar odyssey.

And of course, I think that over the past several years on the web, especially here at AV Science, and as a member of the Az Audiophile Society, I have learned a lot from folks such as Don Hoglund of Granite Audio, Alan Maher of Perfect Cable, Bob Williams of Audionut, Peter Bislewicz of Symposium Acoustics, Glimme, Jack Bybee, and others -
so I've become better objective based in my decision-making, not just subjective.

And some good questions to discuss objectively pertaining to this subject:

- Are long balanced interconnects carrying a line level signal objectively going to have much less loss of signal quality over long lengths, then that amplified signal going through a long length of speaker cable? Why?

- If a cable company says that you need at minimum an 8 foot cable length for speaker cable, or it won't sound right (I've had two companies tell me this when I asked over the years), is this pure fluff, or is there anything to it?

- One reason touted by some companies to go with longer speaker cables is that they use networks which compensate for length and/or impedance.
So that subjectively long speaker cables sound the same as short speaker cables? Does this make any sense objectively? Why or why not?

- I've seen one cable company which has some sort of box near the interconnect end and claims its ten step adjustable based on the impedance of your amplifier. The company claimed at Audio Asylum that this is not a network. Is that possible objectively? Wouldn't you have to use some sort of network to have this sort of variability???

Anyway, I think this is an interesting topic - that is, if anyone is interested???

:D :D :eek:
RJinAZ's Avatar RJinAZ
11:04 PM Liked: 10
post #2 of 8
06-20-2002 | Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2002
Well I am interested and want to pose a question to anyone who may know. I tried the same thing that you did ( several years ago), but with much lower end components. I did not see much difference. But, I feel the test was clouded by the low-end equipment I had at my disposal back in those days. Well now I want to build a small tube system and wonder if the same applies to tubes as it does to SS. Any opinions?
Steve Bruzonsky's Avatar Steve Bruzonsky
12:44 AM Liked: 24
post #3 of 8
06-21-2002 | Posts: 17,671
Joined: Jan 1999
I think Don of Granite Audio (manufacturer not only of MY power cords, interconnects and speaker cables, but also tube amplifiers, speakers and a great tube CD player which I also have, here in Tempe, will say that it makes no difference, provided you have a high resolution quality tube or solid state system, that the same objective principles apply. Hey Don, where are you???

And I must add at the last CES, it was the tube stereo systems which really impressed me subjectively the most!!!
rjason's Avatar rjason
05:47 PM Liked: 10
post #4 of 8
06-22-2002 | Posts: 301
Joined: Apr 2000
The theory is that the amount of electricity that flows through audio interconnects from a source to the amp is minuscule when compared to the amount of electricity that flows from the amp to the speaker. Therefore, in theory it would make sense, if you have to choose, to have long interconnects and short speaker cables. If you are using decent speaker cables, and the lengths are what you would find in an average system, can you hear a difference? Many audiophiles say yes. I am willing to believe them but, would be willing to bet that any difference is so slight that it wouldn't be worth the cost of revamping your system to achieve it.
This isn't true with a turntable, however. In that case you need a short interconnect to your Pre amp but, of course the interconnects to the amp can be long.
Don Hoglund's Avatar Don Hoglund
09:58 PM Liked: 10
post #5 of 8
06-22-2002 | Posts: 143
Joined: Apr 2002
I'm a firm believer in getting speaker cables as short as possible, partly for the reasons that rjason outlines above. The improved dynamics is awesome to me. We were doing length listening tests over 20 years ago. As the cable got shorter and shorter we were just amazed. At the time we believed we were hearing improvements with every removed inch. We finally got the cables down to 3 inches. WOW. I left them that way for many years.
RossVTaylor's Avatar RossVTaylor
01:02 AM Liked: 10
post #6 of 8
06-23-2002 | Posts: 290
Joined: Oct 2000
Maybe you can help me clarify this?! I'd asked this very question, although not regarding balanced interconnects, and got responses citing the same information that rjason explains - but they interpreted it differently and told me that, because the voltage/current of the interconnect signal was so much lower than the amp-speaker signal, the interconnect was more subject to interference and noise and that therefore the interconnects should be shorter.

Keep in mind I'm not arguing. I truly don't know and I'm just about to drywall my HT room, so now's the time to make a decision. I can place my amp in the front, near the speakers, or in the rear near the equipment.

Does the "longer interconnect, shorter speaker cable" rule only hold true for balanced connections or would it be best for me too?

Thanks for your insight, fellow zonies!
Don Hoglund's Avatar Don Hoglund
03:14 AM Liked: 10
post #7 of 8
06-23-2002 | Posts: 143
Joined: Apr 2002
Interconnects are sensitive to noise because whatever noise they pick up is amplified by the next stage, be it preamp or power amp. The solution is to make ICs that are well shielded and won't pick up additional noise. Then they can be made quite long. Studios and other pro applications routinely have 75 foot long and longer ICs with no problems.

The other reason that noise in ICs is important is because of the low signal level. Add some noise to an already low signal and you get a lower signal to noise ratio, which is bad.

Noise picked up by the speaker cables is not a problem because the speakers generally don't amplify this signal and the signal is so strong that a little noise will not ruin the already high signal to noise ratio, which is good.
Steve Bruzonsky's Avatar Steve Bruzonsky
10:38 AM Liked: 24
post #8 of 8
06-23-2002 | Posts: 17,671
Joined: Jan 1999
Don, lets BEG the next question. Assume you have a well shielded, well constructed balanced interconnect. And mono amps which can be placed at each amplifier. And assume that thanks to the law of physics, both interconnect and speaker cable are subject to some of that original signal loss. Will you get less of a signal loss with a long balanced interconnect, vs a long speaker cable instead??? Please explain.
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