Each Pair of Speakers- Same Wire Length? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 05-21-2006, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Polk says each pair of speakers, Front or Back, should have the same wire length, is this true? What if it doesn't?
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post #2 of 34 Old 05-21-2006, 11:37 AM
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I say same wire runs for front L, R, C and match the 2 rears to each other would be fine. Lets say you only need 10' runs to the fronts but the rears need 20' I think it would be insane to use 20' on the fronts. The front 3 should match because different length wires have different resistance. The rears matching the fronts not as critical to me.

Mike

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post #3 of 34 Old 05-21-2006, 11:42 AM
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Don't worry about that at all. Just make sure you use sufficient guage wire for the lengths of runs you're making and you'll be fine. What would happen if your left speaker had 6 ft of wire and your right speaker 12 ft ?? Well, the sweet spot might shift a few microns =)
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post #4 of 34 Old 05-21-2006, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard11
Don't worry about that at all. Just make sure you use sufficient guage wire for the lengths of runs you're making and you'll be fine. What would happen if your left speaker had 6 ft of wire and your right speaker 12 ft ?? Well, the sweet spot might shift a few microns =)
What is "sufficient guage wire" for a 15ft run? a 20ft run? a 30ft run?
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post #5 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 07:11 AM
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Here is a link you can use to learn much about speaker wire.

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire.htm

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post #6 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 07:46 AM
 
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The speed of electrical signals is so inconceivably huge compared to the speed of sound that the wire length cannot possibly make any difference at all. 14 guage is good for runs up to 50ft.
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post #7 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM
The speed of electrical signals is so inconceivably huge compared to the speed of sound that the wire length cannot possibly make any difference at all. 14 guage is good for runs up to 50ft.
I second that, you beat me to the punch.

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post #8 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 09:58 AM
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It is understandable that some people do different things. However, this is my thinking, even if you CAN’T hear the difference. Lets sat speaker R needs a 5ft run and speaker L needs a 20ft run. The wires at those lengths will have a different resistance and capacitance then each other. Even if the sound difference is not apparent is make little sense to purposely run different lengths based on that.

This is why….. and lets say you have good speakers, who’s engineers will match drivers, caps and inductors all within 1% of each other (and YES some company’s do this and sell their speakers in matched pairs). You are feeding them with a well made amp with matched left and right circuits. You will throw all that away and use wires 15’ difference in length?

I can care less if you can’t hear the difference, why do something like that is the point and when the run is different enough you WILL hear the difference in volume output because you have changed the resistance to one speaker….

Well, the original poster and many of us, including me, will not hear any real difference but to me making your left and right runs of equal length is good practice and for other reason then that will be good enough to do it.

I just can’t imagine buying good amps and nice speakers and giving them wires of different resistance and capacitance and disregarding all the effort by engineers to match everything to begin with. Who CARES how fast electric will travel, it’s a matter of being logical is all and keeping resistances the same if possible.

So the original poster does not have the highest level of equipment, maybe his passive-x-overs are not matched to within 1% or even 5% but if the guy is reading Polk Audio’s manual that says to use same wire length and they do NOT sell wire did they print that because they want to help monster cable sell more wire??? Even a smart person building speakers a hobby (forget about high-end) uses the same wire length in his internal speaker wiring will actually make the runs from the amp to the speaker in different lengths as well?

I am NOT saying he will hear ANY difference in his application but if he is able to do it and at a small cost I feel it better to give sound advice based on logic of wire resistance, not how fast electric will travel.

THE REAL POINT….. He has not told us what the runs will be, right? OK, so one wire is only 2’ longer then the other, then I would agree it’s not a big deal. But if one is 15’ or more longer or more then it’s PROPER to balance them out!!! At the very least, sound advice in my opinion.

So based on what others think would it be ok to have a 6ohm speaker on one side and an 8ohm on the other? Yes the speakers may sound the same, but output from the amp to each speaker WILL BE different because you just changed the resistance to the amp at each channel. However, I do not see anyone running out and doing that either. Its Better and smarter to keep the resistance equal on each side if possible, no matter how small.

Good Day,
Mike

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post #9 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 11:36 AM
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The difference in resistance between a suitably heavy guage speaker wire (say 14 ga or 16 ga) over 14 feet is completely inconsequential. Just don't worry about it.
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post #10 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 12:29 PM
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Again, have you asked the poster what his runs are? What if one side was 30 feet longer or 50 feet? So what limit do you have before making things equal? I am curious If the poster said a few feet I would not even bothered to say anything.

Its just one of those debates there will always be different views on, like the Bi-wire or not debate. On that one I think bi-wire is a waste because in that case proper wire guage is all that is needed. Bi-amping being a whole different topic.

I have seen much on this over the years and there 2 sides to this topic.

But I have said my piece so I will let it be....


Mike

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post #11 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 01:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Polk says each pair of speakers, Front or Back, should have the same wire length, is this true? What if it doesn't?
No.

Therefore, you don't need to concern yourself with the relative length of speaker wire.

This assumes wire of a sufficient gauge, 14 and 12 does more than fine in most any reasonable application. Electrons move at near the speed of light. Length is not a concern unless you are using grossly inadequate speaker wire for the application, in which case the relative length is not really your main concern at all.
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post #12 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Themanthatisi
Again, have you asked the poster what his runs are? What if one side was 30 feet longer or 50 feet? So what limit do you have before making things equal? I am curious If the poster said a few feet I would not even bothered to say anything.

Its just one of those debates there will always be different views on, like the Bi-wire or not debate. On that one I think bi-wire is a waste because in that case proper wire guage is all that is needed. Bi-amping being a whole different topic.

I have seen much on this over the years and there 2 sides to this topic.

But I have said my piece so I will let it be....


Mike
I'm assuming we're not talking about runs of hundreds or thousands of feet here.
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post #13 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 02:49 PM
 
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Belden 1860A 12-gauge speaker wire specs 1.6 Ω/1000 ft. So again, that's correct, not an issue unless you're running very long runs of wire.
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post #14 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello all, great discussion. Again, Polk says speaker pairs' wires should be identical. Now, I will be using 12 ga. wire, eventhough it might be too much. Center is not a pair, of course. My Front speakers are equidistant. It is the Back speakers that right now are generously calculated at 29' and 40'. So, according to Polk they both should be 40'. The extra cost is fairly insignificant, it is just more wire to have coiled up.
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post #15 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 03:48 PM
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What We Can Measure in Speaker Cable?

Resistance (in ohms):

This effect turns electrical flow into heat. It affects all frequencies equally. Changing the size (gage) of the conductor changes its resistance. Resistance usually is specified per unit length (i.e., 100 feet, 100 meters, 1,000 feet etc.) and is additive.

Capacitance (in picofarads):

With speaker cables that are paired, or coaxial, the two conductors with insulation in between form a capacitor. Capacitors hold an electrical charge. The capacitance is small and measured in picofarads. It is additive and usually displayed per foot or per meter and must be multiplied by the actual cable length to get the total capacitance. Capacitance affects the signal level and is frequency-dependant. The higher the frequency, the greater the reactance caused by the capacitance and the greater the signal loss.

Inductance (in microhenries):

Inductance is the ability to hold a magnetic charge. All conductors have inductance. It is also frequency-dependent but is in series with the cable, as opposed to capacitance, which is in parallel. The inductance of a cable is small, and the effect is cancelled out by the capacitance. Therefore, inductance rarely is specified in manufactured cables.

Impedance (in ohms):

The total of resistance, capacitance and inductance. As frequencies get higher, resistance becomes less and less of a factor. At frequencies above 10 MHz or so, only capacitance and inductance are left, so the impedance settles to a "characteristic" value.

I did not write this but its good reading to educate us all, its also the same things that go into a speaker design on the internal passive x-over so why employ these values inside the speaker and match the left and right but ignore them when we add our external speaker wire?....

I can care less what the human ear can really hear or not, I just like to give sound advice based on simple principles of how electricity works is all. I did not intend to make a major debate about it, just trying to be as good as I can to the poster that created this thread. On that note I have read posts by many of you and have respect for you all and we do all have good points on many things. I like this forum and will continue to do my best to provide good info to others as you all do to. We all can learn something by being in a forum like this.

Enjoy!

Mike

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post #16 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QZ1
Hello all, great discussion. Again, Polk says speaker pairs' wires should be identical. Now, I will be using 12 ga. wire, eventhough it might be too much. Center is not a pair, of course. My Front speakers are equidistant. It is the Back speakers that right now are generously calculated at 29' and 40'. So, according to Polk they both should be 40'. The extra cost is fairly insignificant, it is just more wire to have coiled up.

Its always better to over guage then under guage...... 12 will be plenty for a 40' run. I have very high current power amps so I like to use 10 or 12 depending on the runs and I do use a larger guage then needed. In the link I sent you in my 2nd post in this thread it talks about this point, Its not so bad to be bigger, just too small a guage can be bad. Its good reading too......


Mike

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post #17 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 04:16 PM
 
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its also the same things that go into a speaker design on the internal passive x-over so why employ these values inside the speaker and match the left and right but ignore them when we add our external speaker wire?....
Why? Because even matched pairs of speakers are not that precise, and second, because speaker wire is wire, and given the resistance characteristics of wire of sufficient gauge, such as simple 12-gauge, you would need very long runs for that resistance to be at all significant compared to the impedance of the speaker itself. Again, unless your speaker wire length difference is on the order of hundreds of feet (unlikely), it's not an issue. That would be good fact-based advice, based on basic principles of electricity.
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post #18 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles
Why? Because even matched pairs of speakers are not that precise, and second, because speaker wire is wire, and given the resistance characteristics of wire of sufficient gauge, such as simple 12-gauge, you would need very long runs for that resistance to be at all significant compared to the impedance of the speaker itself. Again, unless your speaker wire length difference is on the order of hundreds of feet (unlikely), it's not an issue. That would be good fact-based advice, based on basic principles of electricity.
So if you built a speaker you would lets say use a .35mh coil in one and a .32 in the other in your filters, lets say on the low pass for your mid? Why not if it dont matter at all? Maybe the coil winds in each driver can be a little difference as well. I have also made speakers and will have my inductors and caps not only the same value but get them in matched pairs to within 1% not the typical 5% or 10% as from the factory many parts come from and better speaker makers do the same exact thing. If anything I will go as far as having my coils custom wound and matched.

I also guess the people at Polk are idiots for telling him to use same runs for pairs? I must be an idiot as well..... But I will still post here if I feel I can contribute.

Thanks for the education..... So tell me, when you go out and buy yourself some nice Krell mono blocks and a nice pair of top shelf B&W speakers you will feed one with a 30' run and the other with a 10' run to make yourself feel better? I feel better having a nice exact run to each speaker on my left and right.

In the end if we feel better then that is all that counts......

Mike

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post #19 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 05:22 PM
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"In the end if we feel better then that is all that counts...... "

Is that so. I like the way you try to use science to arrive at a primitive conclusion.
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post #20 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Brennan
"In the end if we feel better then that is all that counts...... "

Is that so. I like the way you try to use science to arrive at a primitive conclusion.

Trying to lighten up the mood was all, because if someone feels right even if they are wrong they should still do what they want to feel good...... :)

In this case I feel good matching things and others do not care but feel good anyway.

Mike

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post #21 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Themanthatisi
I feel better having a nice exact run to each speaker on my left and right.
How "exact" do you like these cable runs to be? Within a foot, an inch, a millimeter, a micron or an Angstrom? What is the cutoff point that determines when you "feel better"?

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post #22 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 05:43 PM
 
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I feel better having a nice exact run to each speaker on my left and right.

In the end if we feel better then that is all that counts......
That's fine. It's just that others usually base their decisions on objective science, that is all. If you're going to provide advice, you should state in the beginning that your advice is based solely on your emotional choices, and not on any kind of reason.

You haven't stated what, if any, would be the impact of a length difference of twenty feet of wire, besides your emotional reaction to having speaker wire of different lengths.

Quote:
So tell me, when you go out and buy yourself some nice Krell mono blocks and a nice pair of top shelf B&W speakers you will feed one with a 30' run and the other with a 10' run to make yourself feel better?
I wouldn't base that decision on emotion at all. I would buy wire of sufficient gauge for the purpose, and of sufficient length to reach the speakers from wherever the amplifier were. Having a coherently designed system, I suppose, does make me feel better, because it's logically reasonable, and I suppose I feel better making reasoned choices rather than irrational ones.
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post #23 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Themanthatisi
Trying to lighten up the mood was all, because if someone feels right even if they are wrong they should still do what they want to feel good...... :)

In this case I feel good matching things and others do not care but feel good anyway.

Mike
With sufficient wire, say anything from 16ga to 12ga, the differences in impedance of the speaker circuit (including cables) will be a fraction of a percent until the difference is like 50ft or so considering 8-ohm speakers (using very rough calcs).

If having equal lengths trips your trigger, by all means do it.; but...

When someone asks whether or not it will make a difference, I think it's safe to assume they mean an audible difference not a theoretical difference. So, in that respect the answer is no - until you get some really long differences. Differences enough to change the total circuit impedance by at least a few percent (for the most critical listeners), I'd guess.

Now, that said, I try to keep the wire length to sets of speakers (i.e. F/C/R, SR/SL, BR/BL) similar, but they are not exactly equal. Why? Because it gives me peace of mind to do it that way.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #24 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craig john
How "exact" do you like these cable runs to be? Within a foot, an inch, a millimeter, a micron or an Angstrom? What is the cutoff point that determines when you "feel better"?

Craig
Have fun guys, I think the poster in the thread has enough to read and since Polk Audio is wrong too call them up and let them know so the rest of the world does not follow their bad advice.


Enjoy,
Mike

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post #25 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 06:57 PM
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Light travels at 186,000 miles per second and waves travel through copper wire at about 70% of that speed, or 130,200 mps. This equates to 468,720,000 mph.

Sound travels through air at approximately 700 mph. Therefore, the waves travel through the wire 669,600 times faster than through the air. Once the sound leaves the speaker, it is travelling significantly slower.

Having your ear .01 inches closer to one speaker is like having one speaker wire 558ft longer than the other (.01 x 669600 / 12).

Do you make sure your ears are always in the exact same spot when listening to your speakers?

By the way, how come I have never seen a discussion by HTPC gamers about having their USB mouse and keyboard cables the same length to eliminate mouse or keyboard lag?
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post #26 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 07:23 PM
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Phase is only one aspect.

A more plausible scenario would be that different impedance of unequal length wires could result in volume differences or differences in tonal balance. With the differences in length possible in a typical home listening evironment, even these results are likely to be inaudible.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #27 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 07:32 PM
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It's just a way to sell more speaker wire.
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post #28 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 08:13 PM
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post #29 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 08:28 PM
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While matching cable lengths might seem harmless, just be careful of what you do with all that extra cable. (i.e. Don't coil it around a power cable or some interconnects.) If, like many people, you have a snake infestation going on behind your AV stand, having less cable to manage might be the lesser evil. ;) (In theory at least, it not practice)
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post #30 of 34 Old 05-22-2006, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironmike86
OK,
someone found a link that turned out to be good reading and thank you for providing it. Evidence to attest to the fact the wire run would have to be very different and very long to make a impact the human ear can hear. Perhaps I was stuck in the past on this topic and its been common practice for me and people I know over the years to keep pairs at the same length. Obviously even Polk Audio feels this way so not all of use are fully aware or in to thinking this way…..

My FIRST inclination was to provide what I felt was sound advice, not because Polk audio says so but as a practice I have been doing from my years as a speaker DIY person and others I have dealt with in the same DIY world. Making speakers for many people and taking the time to make matched pairs I never really felt the need to say…. It don’t matter and always suggested same wire runs.

I am a BIGGER man then you may all think though and can see when its pointed out I may not be as accurate as I might like to believe. I went with what was good advice, advice that in practice will ensure no one has a speaker that may be louder then the other or have slightly different characteristics because I gave advice to use different wire runs. I felt it in my best interest for a time to defend what I truly believe to be true and knowing electricity has different properties when it runs through a wire at different lengths. That fact is true though, just not noticeable to the human ear unless its more excessive. Obviously there is a point to where their will be an audible difference, but not so much so as I was believing.

Not knowing this I never really embarked on this path of testing out this idea because I saw no need to. I simply followed good advice, I felt from people I very much respected in the high end audio world some 20 years ago when I first discovered the hobby as a way to enjoy myself and obviously got so involved that I got into speaker DIY for myself and others. I have been away from high-end audio for some 6 years now so when I found this site it kind of tickled my fancy again, I put down my Camera (my current big hobby) and decided, wow, I still have some wonderful audio equipment, now lets go and get some new speakers and listen to my music all over again, not in my car but in my home. My amps were purchased in 1988 but I bet when they see some new speakers on them they will feel like new again. But I am keeping my wire runs the same anyway….. :)

I can still offer something to the community, I am not perfect, but know my experiences will still prove useful to others. Now, forgive me for upsetting some of you who seem to live here and make this their only thing to do but hey, Ill fit in, just give me some time to shake off the dust.

The funny thing is, I bet some of the ones that argued with me have equal runs to their left and right speakers, just because and for no other reason. :rolleyes:

Have a good night, time for bed….Yes, I do sleep.

Mike

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
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