Which is the optimal length of speaker wires?

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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anthony
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Post by anthony » 2013-11-11 16:06

usjaz wrote:
lejonklou wrote: I used Linn Majik, Linn Akurate, Tundra and Tundra Mono power amps. I used Linn Majik 109, Akurate 212, 242 and Klångedang T1 loudspeakers, both single and multi-wired. On a few occasions, I also used aktiv 242's (no passive filter involved). All of these units appeared to perform best with the same length of loudspeaker cable, which leads me to believe that the length I found optimal is a property of K400 itself.

In addition to any component's "quality in itself" there is however also a degree of interaction with the environment in which it operates.
Linn has always suggested multi-wire & shortest speaker cables to a passive speake, so amps have more controls of the drivers units. I noticed the same thing described here. Shorter the cable, more unrest the music appears.

I have each solo/d located next to 350P, quad-wired (w/ 1.1m K200s) at the moment. Too bad, Lejonklou, you haven't tested on solos. Akurate/majik/Tundras are not nearly as powerful as solo/d. Also solos are Class AB design right?

Wonder if the result will be different in the case of a more powerful class AB solos/d.
Well I use solo and 350 and I definitely prefer 5m single wired, I will try 2.48m at some point. I did not enjoy short cables.

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Post by Charlie1 » 2013-11-11 18:59

anthony wrote:I did not enjoy short cables.
They seem OK in my setup...
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Post by hcl » 2013-11-11 19:02

Music Lover wrote:
hcl wrote:
If considering the wide band electro-magnetic field properties of the complete design I would think it to be possible to make a different kind of optimisation. This approach could be used to take full advantage of an integrated design as the new integrated active Linn speakers.
We all know the limitations having cables, PSU's, source components, Xovers, power amps and speakers close together. And to make matters worse, in a small vibrating enclosure.
Basically the main optimization would be reducing the number of short cables/sockets by using an integrated design of the mother board as in Akubarik.
BUT, this going to affect the performance in other ways!

It's going to be rather difficult to manage the various electromagnetic fields and it's impact on other objects.
If you have any ideas, I'm eager hearing them.
I think You miss read my posts. I was only addressing the transmission line properties of the cables. The other, more or less obvious obsticles of such integrated designs, is a different matter, which also has to be addressed...

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Post by Music Lover » 2013-11-11 20:00

ok, I give it another try ;)
Are you saying that it should be possible to compensate for a short cable with an circuit redesign?
It's all about musical understanding!

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Post by rowlandhills » 2013-11-11 23:41

I haven't yet managed to measure my own cables, but I was rather pleased to find this message from Anthony when I bought them:
Rowland the k400 is the last off the reel and is 5M.

Shall I lop off 1M or are you happy wth 2 x 2.5M......no extra charge!
Sounds like I not only got 0.5m extra length free of charge, but better sounding cables too! :)
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Silvers, K400, Hutter rack

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Post by usjaz » 2013-11-12 06:16

anthony wrote:
usjaz wrote:
lejonklou wrote: I used Linn Majik, Linn Akurate, Tundra and Tundra Mono power amps. I used Linn Majik 109, Akurate 212, 242 and Klångedang T1 loudspeakers, both single and multi-wired. On a few occasions, I also used aktiv 242's (no passive filter involved). All of these units appeared to perform best with the same length of loudspeaker cable, which leads me to believe that the length I found optimal is a property of K400 itself.

In addition to any component's "quality in itself" there is however also a degree of interaction with the environment in which it operates.
Linn has always suggested multi-wire & shortest speaker cables to a passive speake, so amps have more controls of the drivers units. I noticed the same thing described here. Shorter the cable, more unrest the music appears.

I have each solo/d located next to 350P, quad-wired (w/ 1.1m K200s) at the moment. Too bad, Lejonklou, you haven't tested on solos. Akurate/majik/Tundras are not nearly as powerful as solo/d. Also solos are Class AB design right?

Wonder if the result will be different in the case of a more powerful class AB solos/d.
Well I use solo and 350 and I definitely prefer 5m single wired, I will try 2.48m at some point. I did not enjoy short cables.
5m? K400 are slow to start with. I was reluctant to have long K400s. My racks are to the side, so instead of long K400, i opt for longer XLR ICs.

Is 5m too slow? Let us know how you like 2.48m in comparison.

I made 2 single wire 2.48m K200s last night. will solder plugs and try it in the weekend...
Klimax RDS -> Kisto -> Klimax Solo/D -> 350P & REL B1
Oppo 103 -> M6100/D -> M140, M112, 2xC102

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Post by hcl » 2013-11-12 07:52

Music Lover wrote:ok, I give it another try ;)
Are you saying that it should be possible to compensate for a short cable with an circuit redesign?
No worries :-)

Yes, I would expect that it would.

If the performance changes for the worse while changing cable length from the lengt Fredrik now have found to be optimal and then again changes for the better, at another optimum. That would indicate (to mee) that there are some transmission/reflection properties influencing the amps performance and as such it would be perfectly possible to match the output of the amp to the cables.

Doubling the cable length would likely also be good.

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Post by lejonklou » 2013-11-12 09:03

hcl wrote:If the performance changes for the worse while changing cable length from the lengt Fredrik now have found to be optimal and then again changes for the better, at another optimum.
So far I haven't found this to be the case. If you listen to the differences, they appear to be linear in their relation to cable length.

There could of course be two or more factors at play at the same time. If so, there could be another, but lower, peak of performance at around 5 m. I doubt this but it could be investigated.
hcl wrote:as such it would be perfectly possible to match the output of the amp to the cables.
There are many other details that affect how you tune an output stage to achieve the best results. I find the interaction with the preceding stages crucial to the point where it dictates all the matching. Do you have any concrete suggestion of exactly how the output stage could be matched to different cable lengths, or is your "perfectly possible" just speculation?
Doubling the cable length would likely also be good.
This has been suggested from as early as I can remember, but I have never heard of anyone attempting to verify it. Do you have any indication that it's pracically valid for any of the cables that we use in our HiFi systems?

Let's think about other cables for a second.
Power cord length: There appears to be an optimal length for each model of power cord. I have not noticed that twice that length is any good - just like with speaker cables the effect on sound appears rather linear in its relation to the length.
Power cord matching: Regardless of whether the power supply in the receiving end is a 10VA E-core transformer, a 1000VA toroid transformer, a 25W switch mode power supply or a 500W switch mode power supply, the effect on which model of power cord sounds best is virtually nonexistent. The same few models win every time! I used to be convinced that it was possible to match the power supply to a particular power cord, but in practice I have been unable to.
Ethernet cables: Optimal lengths have been found by trial and error between NAS and switch and between switch as DS. Any indication that twice the length is also good? Not that I've heard of. Any indication that the optimal length is related to type and model of cable? I don't know. Many here are using the same model of cable.
Ethernet cable matching: Any indication that the optimal length is related to the type and model of NAS/switch/DS? Not that I've heard of. But many are using similar NAS/switch/DS units.

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Post by hcl » 2013-11-12 23:44

lejonklou wrote:
hcl wrote:If the performance changes for the worse while changing cable length from the lengt Fredrik now have found to be optimal and then again changes for the better, at another optimum.
So far I haven't found this to be the case. If you listen to the differences, they appear to be linear in their relation to cable length.

There could of course be two or more factors at play at the same time. If so, there could be another, but lower, peak of performance at around 5 m. I doubt this but it could be investigated.
Most systems appear linear when observed within small intervals. It is also possible that a recurring effect will be negligible in the context of the other effects in play (I find it unlikely though). My interest and commitment is limited to contemplating about these matters. I have not the time nor the fundings to investigate these things myself. I can understand if You find my comments to be too speculative as I have done no testing of this kind on hifi cables.
lejonklou wrote:
hcl wrote:as such it would be perfectly possible to match the output of the amp to the cables.
There are many other details that affect how you tune an output stage to achieve the best results. I find the interaction with the preceding stages crucial to the point where it dictates all the matching. Do you have any concrete suggestion of exactly how the output stage could be matched to different cable lengths, or is your "perfectly possible" just speculation?
I have no reason to think that You are not right about interaction between the drive stage and output stage of the amp. Impedance matching of output stage and cables is compulsory in high frequency designs, but almost allways completely neglected in most low frequency designs. It becomes increasingly important with increased bandwidth, but the effects is there (but small) allready in the low frequency designs. How important it is in a sertain amplifier totally depends on the design and the components used. I would guess that these effects are quite small in most cases (well designed amplifiers - as the design is then made not to be upset from the poor impedance matching between the output stage and the cables - this is controlled by limiting the bandwidth of each stage, the power supply as well as the feedback loops - improved matching would make it possible to increase the internal bandwidths - if that would be beneficial I do not know).
lejonklou wrote: ... Let's think about other cables for a second.
My matching comments only conserned signal and loudspeaker cables, I think the requirements on power cables are different, at lest in some ways.

As for ethernet cables, I would be surprised if the performance would not go up and down with incresed length (if starting at short enough cables).

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Post by Music Lover » 2013-11-14 12:56

lejonklou wrote: Ethernet cables: Optimal lengths have been found by trial and error between NAS and switch and between switch as DS. Any indication that twice the length is also good? Not that I've heard of. Any indication that the optimal length is related to type and model of cable? I don't know. Many here are using the same model of cable.
Ethernet cable matching: Any indication that the optimal length is related to the type and model of NAS/switch/DS? Not that I've heard of. But many are using similar NAS/switch/DS units.
After testing almost 100 cables of different lengths, construction and brand - I would say we need more testing to be able to pinpoint ALL important aspects.
Why?
Well, we tested various cables all being around 2m long.
When we found a good one (MicroConnect) we tested different lengths but only using THAT cable.
So even if short MicroConnects (0.5m and shorter) were less musical, other short brands/cables haven't been tested.
And the 5m, 10m and 15m MicroConnect are also quite good.

But we clearly have an indication that too short is not good.

Based on tests using different Ethernet cables together with different NAS/switch/DS in different locations, we have clear indications that a good cable is universally good regardless of brand&model of NAS/switch/DS.
It's all about musical understanding!

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Post by ThomasOK » 2013-11-14 18:05

Don't you think what we really need is to go to MicroConnect and have them build a custom run of 2.48m SSTP CAT6 cables? ;-)

All kidding aside, since 3m has been the best on the MicroConnect and 2m is second best I do have to wonder what a 2.5m would sound like if they made one. I suppose we could get really crazy about it and find the best sounding end and try cutting down various lengths until we found the true optimum. Anybody up to the challenge? (Don't look at me!!!)

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Post by Charlie1 » 2013-11-27 00:51

lejonklou wrote:Seriously, I can trade your 2.2 for a 2.4 m pair. It would be interesting to hear what you think of the difference between them.
Hi Fredrik, finally had a chance to compare my 2.2m K200 against the 2.4m you sent me. I was trying to think how long ago it is since I bought the K200 from you. Maybe 2 years now?

Anyway, I much prefer the 2.4m. It just makes my 2.2m cables sound boring and sluggish. Using Tune Method, the 2.4m is easier to follow what's going on in the music with different melodies playing at once. I also think it sounds a little better. Mine sounds a bit shut in by comparison.

I will leave it in place a few days if that's OK, just to make sure, but it seems very likely I will return the older cables. Many thanks for this opportunity!

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Post by lejonklou » 2013-11-27 11:03

Charlie1 wrote:Hi Fredrik, finally had a chance to compare my 2.2m K200 against the 2.4m you sent me. I was trying to think how long ago it is since I bought the K200 from you. Maybe 2 years now?
It was in July 2011. I used the same equipment and temperature back then (well almost - I increased the tip temperature by 1°C about two years ago), so most likely the main performance difference between your 2.2 and 2.4 m pair of K200 is due to their length.

Regarding age, the 2.4 m pair is not yet burned in and will likely become a little better still. Your 2.2 m pair should be stable and remain so for many years to come. I have a pair of loudspeaker cables that are now more than 8 years old and they still sound as good as a 4 month old pair of the same length. One would expect that eventually, performance of a cable with soldered connectors will deteriorate. My guess is that this doesn't happen during the first decade with the parts and the solder/flux I'm using.
Anyway, I much prefer the 2.4m. It just makes my 2.2m cables sound boring and sluggish. Using Tune Method, the 2.4m is easier to follow what's going on in the music with different melodies playing at once. I also think it sounds a little better. Mine sounds a bit shut in by comparison.
That's great! So between your Akurate 4200 amp and Majik 140 speakers, 2.4 m is better than 2.2 m. Yet another piece of information that appears to confirm my previous results.

Now I should preferably ship you a 2.6 m pair. If you still prefer the 2.4 m, we'll continue with 2.5 m. And then one cm at a time. Perhaps a bit costly with all the shipping...

Many thanks for testing and reporting, Charlie!

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Post by Charlie1 » 2013-11-27 19:16

lejonklou wrote:Now I should preferably ship you a 2.6 m pair. If you still prefer the 2.4 m, we'll continue with 2.5 m. And then one cm at a time. Perhaps a bit costly with all the shipping...
Let me first see how much it is to send back to you, but in all likelihood, I'll enter another Lejonklou cable challenge!

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Post by Charlie1 » 2013-11-29 00:22

I checked again and 2.4m is much better. It does all those things we value so much. All the musicians are clearing more in sync with each other, like they belong together. With my old cables they seem to be drifting around like lost souls without much purpose. It's boring and meandering. This is all by comparison, of course, where the Tune Method can magnify our impressions - my system and the 2.2m cables didn't suddenly sound rubbish as a result. I have also been enjoying a small day-to-day lift in enjoyment in my normal listening, since leaving the 2.4m in place.

So, nice one Fredrik! Old cables coming back to you and definitely count me in for round 2.

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Post by Freddy » 2013-12-12 23:36

Interesting information about cable lengths! I have M140:s with K400 cables ca 2,5 m in lengths. They are bi-wired due to the facts that the speakers have cut connection plates (hope you understand what I mean). They are also soldered on the amplifier side because I have a Tundra stereo. When reading this it seems to me that it might not be an ideal way to connect the speakers.

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Post by Charlie1 » 2013-12-12 23:41

I seem to recall that you can buy replacement plates from Linn

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Post by ChrBea » 2013-12-13 11:31

and they are not very expensive. My Linn dealer even provided me a new set for free

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Post by lejonklou » 2013-12-13 12:02

Freddy wrote:Interesting information about cable lengths! I have M140:s with K400 cables ca 2,5 m in lengths. They are bi-wired due to the facts that the speakers have cut connection plates (hope you understand what I mean). They are also soldered on the amplifier side because I have a Tundra stereo. When reading this it seems to me that it might not be an ideal way to connect the speakers.
Good length! Try single wired when you get new connection plates. And use the inputs Treble + and - on the speaker, not diagonal as the manual suggests.

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Post by Lemmy » 2013-12-13 12:49

lejonklou wrote:And use the inputs Treble + and - on the speaker, not diagonal as the manual suggests.
Interesting. When you say Treble, you mean the input Tweeter and not Supertweeter, right? Thats how they're labelled on Majik 140.

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Post by lejonklou » 2013-12-13 13:41

Lemmy wrote:Interesting. When you say Treble, you mean the input Tweeter and not Supertweeter, right? Thats how they're labelled on Majik 140.
Yes, Tweeter. Best input when single wiring 109, 140, 212, 242 and many other speakers.

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Post by Freddy » 2013-12-13 18:46

You right, I need to get new plates! When single wire K400 are you splitting the cable into two or do you just leave one pair unused?

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Post by lejonklou » 2013-12-13 23:39

Freddy wrote:When single wire K400 are you splitting the cable into two or do you just leave one pair unused?
You can leave one pair unused if you like. But it needs to be disconnected in both ends.

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Post by Freddy » 2013-12-23 00:47

I´m now running single wire and very happy with the result, clearer and more distinct sound. Actually the cables are 2,75 m so can still cut down. Thanks!

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Post by lejonklou » 2013-12-23 23:45

Freddy wrote:I´m now running single wire and very happy with the result, clearer and more distinct sound. Actually the cables are 2,75 m so can still cut down. Thanks!
Good to hear, Freddy!

With kind help from Erik, I am attempting to confirm or fine tune the optimal K200 length of 2.48 m. We've made 2 cm variations and once they're all fully burned in we'll see if 2.48 m wins or needs a tiny revision.

Recently cut down a 2.80 m pair of K200 to 2.48 m and Wow, what an improvement! Quite surprising.

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