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Does speaker cable length matter?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by thejumpcat, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    Does the length of the speaker cable matter?

    I've got a Monster cable -- a Prolink Performer 500 Ultra Wide Bandwith High Power Speaker Cable with Magnetic with Magnetic Flux Tube. Yeah, that's a mouthful.

    It doesn't indicate anywhere on it what the guage is. I've had the thing forever, and it sounds fine. It's probably 20 feet long, but I've always got it coiled up with a velcro strap.

    I just picked up a Thunderfunk 550-B, and on page 11 of the manual, speaker guages and lengths are mentioned:

  2. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    It if matters, I'm running the Thunderfunk into a Low Down Sound 1x15, 8 ohm cabinet.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I stopped reading once he recommended using ESP power cords, which are grossly overpriced AC cords that do nothing for the sound of the amp. He may make a nice amp, but this power cord thing flies in the face of everything I've ever heard from actual electrical engineers. I've also AB'd one with a $5 cord that came with my computer in a blind test, and could tell no difference whatsoever. Your speaker cable is fine.
    Al Kraft likes this.
  4. thejumpcat

    thejumpcat thejumpcat

    Sep 30, 2007
    Yeah, I don't think I can afford that power cord .... even it does make a difference. If they make a cord that gets rid of the ringing in my ears, I'm in.
  5. dhomer

    dhomer Commercial User

    Apr 9, 2009
    Hickory Corners, MI
    Owner, Gigmaster Soundworks, Auth. greenboy designs builder, MI
    Generally the length of the cable won't matter, unless you have over like 100 feet.. but I wouldn't run it coiled.. It turns into a choke, just like the coils in crossovers. Running from head to amp, you shouldn't have to have more than 3 feet, and 14-16 gauge would be plenty..
    Al Kraft likes this.
  6. Mehve


    Jun 2, 2012
    Kitchener, ON
    Minimal cable reduces any chance of tripping or tangling. Even concerns of capacitance are minimal at the lower frequencies involved with bass sound.

    As far as gauge is concerned, even 14 ga cable will laugh at anything under 1000W, nevermind the heavier 12 ga stuff.
  7. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    For a length you can fit into a speaker cabinet, 14 gauge will be fine. I looked into the issue of "delay" that some cable maker had brought up, and discovered that the signal propagates at very nearly the speed of sound, meaning that your cable would have to be many kilometers long to have any effect.
  8. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Speed of LIGHT, I think you mean.

    And being in a coil affecting the sound? Since it is air, I don't think there would be any effect on audio.

    Ha! Delay in audio cables? What a joke that is. From here to the moon, maybe!

    It IS important however, that it is not too small for the power you are running vs. the length. I know that there are some good charts about this available online. 16 ga. is probably safe and 14 ga. better, but even 18 is fine for a short run.
    Al Kraft likes this.
  9. repoman


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    What is this "choke" problem with coiling that is mentioned a few times here?
  10. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    An electronic inductor or coil is also known as a "choke". They are made of a coll of wire, usually around an iron core, but can be air core as well. They work with the electromagnetic energy to pass low frequencies and block high frequencies, just the opposite of a capacitor. They are used in speaker crossovers, tone controls and effects boxes.

    Theoretically - your speaker cable wound up in a coil IS some kind of a choke, but at that low impedance and low inductance of just a few turns it is highly doubtful that it would have any effect on your sound.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I've run a 20' speaker cable with the excess (about 12') coiled on the floor in a coil approximately 8"-10" wide with no problems that I could hear. But, this is the first time I've heard of it creating a choke, so I'll test it to see if I can hear any difference.
  12. Keep in mind a choke or inductor is also a single wire coil, not a coil of wire that contains a second opposing wire in the winding (canceling the induced magnetic field).
    T_Bone_TL and agedhorse like this.
  13. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    A little knowledge is a terrrible thing.... :)

    It first of all depends on the gauge of the wire. While I would run a 20' 14 ga cable, if it were only 18 ga I'd stay away from anything over about five feet. But then I don't have anything as light as 18 ga.

    As B-string points out, a choke is a single wire while your coiled speaker cable is both sides of the circuit. That cancels the induced field so it's not an issue.

  14. I got the biggest laugh when I first saw the hype about the power cable.

    The shorted the better.

    Speaker cables should be considered part of the speaker.

    Amps have a little known rating called "Dampening Factor". Pro Audio guys know what this is. Basically it's how well the amp controls the speaker below 400hz or so. If you have a long cable it throws this off and you hear it as floppy low end.

    This (long cable runs for concert subs) is why Crown has insanely high dampening factors (50,000 in some cases) on their amps and why they are great bass amps.

    By comparison bass amps generally have a 500 dampening factor. They expect you to use a short cable.
  15. Great information that few ever think about.
  16. gumtown


    May 7, 2007
    New Zealand
    The length of cable is a very serious problem when it is too short. :D

    I like my speaker cables long enough that if the speaker stack fell over, the sockets won't get ripped out.
  17. What can I say? I'm a tone freak and electronically curious.
  18. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    There's a nasty rumor going around which says Monster prices it's cables by by how many words they can get into each name without sounding totally ridiculous. ;)

    "I've got a Monster cable -- a Prolink Performer 500 Ultra Wide Bandwith High Power Speaker Cable with Magnetic with Magnetic Flux Tube. Yeah, that's a mouthful".:eek:

    Let me guess. This one runs at least $40 or $50 bucks right? :eyebrow:
  19. Monster cables are great cables, but you're paying for name brand hype more than anything. Actual cost on Monster Cable that street prices for $50 is about $20.

    Cables are a high mark up item in stores. Quality cables are important, but don't be stupid about it. A $150 cable will not sound much if any better than a $50.
  20. You think the store pays that much?
    My son used to work at a big box store, I bought a 50 ft $120.00 roll of Monster speaker wire for less than $20.00. He told me to buy it because the same gauge wire in the other brands were more with his discount.
    Monster= monster waste of cash. ;)
    T_Bone_TL likes this.