Unequal speaker cables

December 4, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

15 comments on “Unequal speaker cables”

  1. So Paul, my own experience fully supports your opinion. In the year 2002 I bought some very expensive pure silver speaker cable. Because I always have my stereo rack closer to one speaker than the other I did not want to pay for having a lot of silver lying in useless coils near one speaker. Therefore, I opted for a four foot and 12 foot run (the equivalent of two eight foot runs). So for the past twenty years I’ve been listening to unequal lengths of speaker cable. Never have I heard any difference between the two. Further, I’ve had many audiophile groups come to my house for critical listening. No one has ever commented on any difference between the two speakers.

    1. Good morning everyone!
      Listening to Paul explain unequal linkths of speaker cables, reminded me of the many times that I upgraded car stereo systems for people.
      But each time that I went in to the dashboards and trunks, I saw this one common thread.
      One pare of speaker wires were always longer then the other.
      Most car stereo systems, have the wires for the speakers power and remote connections on the rear left side of them.
      Which means, the left speaker in the dashboard, is closer to it then the right speakerr is.
      But when you have to run speaker wires to the trunk to connect the speakers that are in the rear windo right behind the rear seat of the car, you have to run one pare of wires longer then the other.
      That longer pare of wires, will allow you to connect the rear right speaker to the AM FM cassette or whatever kind of an in dash unit you have.
      But I agree with Paul on this one.
      I didn’t hear any diffrences.

  2. Maybe the best audio advice I have ever received from Paul is to remove your gear (and anything else, except for power amps perhaps) from between your speakers. My speaker cable length are 12′ and 8′ (maybe 6″) and the improvement from that move is immense – and never noticed the slightest difference in speaker output.

  3. Agreed Paul! I was in a similar setup as Ronan…components along the left wall with 4.5m left speaker and 6m right speaker wire length needs. The speaker cable manufacture I use (Morrow Audio) stated that in general, no one will “Hear audible differences” if various lengths of the same cable are at or less than double the shortest length…maybe measurable, but no issues with real world performances!

    I measured mine and the 4.5m length had .0337 ohms of resistance and the 6m length had .0413 ohms of resistance, a Difference of just .0076 ohms or if my math is correct(?), potentially just .00253 of a DB, certainly inaudible for Most humans!! 😉

  4. Hi Paul, thank you for telling the truth and not snake oil. If there is a slight difference in sound by one of the stereo speakers it may be that the speakers itself are not perfectly matched. It is almost not possible to get exactly identical speaker chassis in production quantity. Last, even location of speakers in a room can make a difference, more than not too much unequal length.

  5. Hi Paul,

    I’m planning to move my rack too on the side wall but with amplification (M1200s) on the front wall between the speakers. You always suggested that longer interconnects (XLR) are better than longer speaker cables.

    So my question is: what about different lengths in XLRs cables from Preamp to Amps? Do they matter here?


  6. I have just over 1 metre of loudspeaker wire on the Right-hand side & 1.55 metres on the Left,
    & it makes not one Iota of difference to the SQ or the sonic timing of the music coming out of my home-audio rig.

  7. I know no one is going to believe this – but it is true – when I upgraded to Nordost Frey2 speaker cables – to save money I bought a 4meter and a 2 meter speaker cable for the left and right speakers respectively (Wilson Sashas). Now as soon as I did this my Classe power amp (250 w) after a few minutes turned off. So it would play for a while and then the protection circuit turned it off. I sent it to a amplifier repairer (it was out of warranty) who could not find a fault, he played it for about 4 weeks off and on, (I was out of the country at the time) and it performed faultlessly. I took it back home and after playing for a few minutes, turned off again!. So in desperation I bought another 4 meter cable (traded in the 2 meter one) and never had a problem since.

    Can some one explain this?

    1. Hi, denaroc. For your system I looked at the technical data and there were two points which I want to mention. First, the Classe has the ability to go up to 600 kHz which means that it could be used as a longwave radio transmitter power amp. Second, the Wilson has an impedance dip down to 2.8 Ohms. So, either the amp starts to oscillate in high frequency and thus shuts down or which I prefer, the shorter speaker cable plus speaker is a load to low for the amp, although it is rated down to 2 Ohm load. Therefore a longer cable provides a slightly higher load resistance for the amp which it can handle without problems. Perhapy you may ask Classe for a clue?

  8. Thanks for the replies. In regard to Theo’s comment – when it did play it sounded fine and like Paul’s comment I could not tell any difference.

    Sven perhaps that is the correct answer – to make it even more compelling for the second possibility – my memory of the original Sashas was the impedance dipped to 1.8 Ohms at around 80 hz. I have now traded up to Sasha DAW where I believe the lowest impedance is around 2.4 Ohms. I should have asked Classe for an opinion – but once I fixed it – it was not relevant. I now have VTL 450 monos which is a clear step up – but the Classe was still pretty good.

    Thanks – much appreciated

    1. Good morning denaroc!
      Just one curious question about your VTL 450 mono blocks.
      Did you buy those dirrectly from my friend Bee?
      Or did you get those from a high end stereo shop?
      If my membery serves me correctly, those have 16 KT88 power tubes in them each.
      That’s 32 KT88 tubes man!
      They will keep you warm on cold winter days and nights.
      But to the person that brought this up, you’re partly correct on the speaker maching thing.
      It’s not just the baskets you have to look at, it’s also the voice coials you have to take an even closer look at.
      I’ve had speakers where one played a tad bit louder then the other speaker did.
      I thought that something was wrong with one of the output channels of my receiver then.
      And so I swopped channels with the speakers.
      The loudness moved from the left to the right.
      And so, I took the speakers apart and tested each one.
      One of the woofer drivers read 2.3 volts higher then the other.
      But you couldn’t tell this by just looking at them.
      I called the company that made my speakers, and told them about that problem.The man had me to read him the partt numbers off of each driver.
      When I got thru doing that, he told me what the problem was.
      One of the numbers I gave him, was ment for another moddle of speakerrs.
      And so, he replaced all of my drivers for me, free of charge!
      Hints hints, they were still under warrantee.

  9. Thanks John – I bought the VTLs from a high end shop. They only have 8 tubes per monoblock – either KT88s or 6550s. Still get very warm. I think you are referring to the VTL Siegfrieds which have 16 each.

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