Long speaker wires can be a pain or hassle to untangle, they’re also expensive, heavy, or bulky, and you need to make sure they don’t get tangled up.
Most speaker wire sets come with 25 feet of wire or more, which is way too much for most people’s needs. If you have your speakers set up in the optimal position for listening, then there’s no need to go any longer than 10 feet in length. You’ll save money and time by getting shorter wires.
While more speaker wires have been perceived as value for the money, sometimes less is better as there have been concerns about long speaker cables causing sound issues. The cable length you select may have an effect on the sound quality. However, for a quick explanation of the question, can speaker wires be too long?
Overall, speaker wire can be too long than necessary. Audio experts recommend that the maximum length of speaker wire should not exceed 50 feet, and anything more than this will have an adverse effect on the sound quality of your home theater system.
This implies that, although the wire’s thickness is critical, the distance covered by the wire is equally critical. Even when the wire thickness is sufficient, speaker wire lengths exceeding 50 feet must be avoided whenever possible. This is because as the length distance grows, the audio quality degrades.
For connections involving longer lengths from the audio amplifier to the speakers, it is important to note that speaker cables with lower gauges/thick wires perform better.
Because larger speaker wires have a lower resistance, they can be run over greater lengths and distances. Overextended distances, using larger speaker cables may actually assist in minimizing or eliminate power loss and dampening.
For long distances, larger speaker cables also perform better in mitigating the effects of resistance on the produced signal. Additionally, long speaker connections may be a source of worry. To begin, in terms of the additional impedance that a lengthy run cable may provide, the higher resistance may result in power loss in severe instances.
Some cable manufacturers may disagree (particularly those that produce cables for use with in-line networks), however, in the overwhelming majority of cases, lengthy interconnects combined with shorter speaker cables sound superior.
Additionally, comparable quality speaker cables are often much more costly per foot than their line-level equivalents, allowing longer interconnects/shorter speaker cables a more cost-effective option.
How long must cable lengths be? Is there a “general rule”?
Generally, it is recommended to keep speaker wires below 10 feet in length, 8 feet is the most common and practical length. One-meter wires are the standard in systems with close-coupled components, however, 3 to 5 meters is not unusual if the amplifiers are located farther apart.
At such lengths, can you hear the degradation? Yes, you can, but it may be necessary to make a trade-off to accommodate other factors.
Certainly, you can also hear excellent sound from systems with a wire length of 5 to 10 meters between the amplifier and preamp. Balanced wires (when used to connect genuine differentially balanced equipment) perform better over long distances than single-ended cabling.
It is especially essential to utilize high-quality cables when running long distances (whether interconnects or speaker cables) due to the extra signal losses introduced by longer lengths, the greater the cable’s ability to “guard” the signal, the better the sound.
If longer cable lengths are required, attempt to increase the cable budget somewhat to offset the negative effect of signal loss.
When to use a speaker wire that is too long
There are certain instances in which this is not the case. A digital cable, for instance, is an example of a situation in which a shorter length is not optimal.
According to many producers of digital gear (including cables) say 1.5M is preferred over shorter lengths, like 1M or less. This principle holds true for all types of digital cables, such as USB, SPDIF, and AES/EBU.
There are a variety of reasons why length is critical, but a frequent one is that reflections between the two linked components are much less harmful with longer digital cables. Comparing a 1.5M cable to a shorter length of the identical cable, you find that the 1.5M cable sounds somewhat better in most instances.
Some cable manufacturers reject this notion, believing that there is no such thing as an optimum length and instead utilize whatever length is suitable for the purpose. Perhaps this has anything to do with the distinct design ideas used by the different manufacturers. For whatever reason, the industry is divided on this concept.
In the case of cable manufacturers that design their products with a minimal length in mind, the rule of “shorter is better” may be applied to their products.
Specifically, this may be true for specific cables that make use of in-line networks, as well as for some power cords that are designed to function best at particular lengths.
What happens when speaker cables are far too long?
Clearly, long speaker wires are required to link speakers located at greater distances, but how long is too long? Primarily, this is dependent on the amplifier, the speakers, as well as the cable itself.
A longer speaker wire increases the resistance between your amplifier and speaker, which will have an effect on the damping factor of your amplifier.
This results in modulation aberrations, the loss of certain highs, as well as a more open bottom end. In a nutshell, you will be able to distinguish the difference. The issue may be mitigated by utilizing thicker wires.
Can speaker wire be too thick?
A thick speaker wire allows the flow of more current. The thicker speaker wire you have, the lower resistance you get with the current flow, having a thick speaker wire shouldn’t be much of a worry.
The thickness of a speaker wire depends on the size of the inner copper cable inside, this thickness is known as gauge. The thickness can range from 12 – 18 gauge, the lower the number the thicker the wire, the higher the number the thinner the wire.
Thick speaker wires are better than thin wires because they help to enhance damping and to stop power loss. For a long-distance wire run, you need a thick speaker wire to drive a low impedance speaker. The low impedance of about 4 ohms, then 250 watts and above for a high-power amp.
- Ideal for low impedance
- Ideal for 250 watts and above for high power amplifier
- Too thick and heavy
- More expensive
- Hard too bend
Is it safe to cut speaker wires?
Yes, it is safe to cut speaker wires, but before you do that, make sure the wires are disconnected from every connected device and not connected to any power source.
There are few reasons why the need to cut the speaker wires may arise, either the cables come in bundles which will require to cut to size, or when relocation occurs and there’s a need to adjust speaker wires to fit the space. To cut a speaker wire you need either a pair of scissors, pliers, or a knife.
Can you use thin wire for speakers?
Yes, you can use thin wire for speakers provided the speakers are close to the amplifier. The space between the speaker and amp is very important if you plan to use thin wires.
Remember, 12 gauge is thicker while 18 gauge is thinner, thin wires have more resistance which is also proportional depending on how thin or thick the speaker wire is.
The length of a speaker cable has an impact on the quality of the sound produced. While an excessively long speaker wire may be appropriate in certain situations, there is a higher possibility of audio deterioration when using lengthy speaker wires or longer audio couplers.