Short Speaker Cables and Long XLR interconnect or vice versa?

As the title asks, what is the consensus here for best performance?

I have done both with good success. I do not have a real preference.

Long interconnects are typically cheaper than long speaker cables.

Remember to keep the placement of electronics in mind. You may end up needing longer power cables for amps, etc. depending on how you set things up.


What’s the distance for each are you thinking of?

I’m in the process of rearranging my setup to clear the center space as much as possible by moving all equipment to the corner of the room. Will need to buy new set of RCA cables between the preamp and amp, 16 feet. Keeping my amp only in the center of the room, speaker cables are at 9 feet now, would need 24 feet for the further speaker if I move the amp too.

Paul prefers longer interconnects instead of longer speakers cables. So I’m going with longer interconnects, I felt 24 feet of speaker cables are a bit too long anyway, no reason besides gut feeling here, maybe someday I’ll try both. I do plan to compare performance between long and short IC before moving though, not true apple to apple since I won’t be using the same brand of cable.

I can see one advantage of longer speakers cable, only need to buy one set, whereas if you have both single ended and balanced amps, that’ll necessitate purchase of two sets of long cables, and longer power cables too as Elk mentioned, at least for me since I’m keeping my P15 on the corner rack.

Some end up having two power plants, one for source equipment and one for amplification :wink:

Paul has suggested keeping speaker cables 3 meters or less based on his experience:

With my current set up, 1 foot XLR cables and 15 ft speaker cables is what I use. I’m contemplating moving my M700s to the middle with shorter speaker cables if improvement is warranted, mainly because I want to go cheap on speaker cables :stuck_out_tongue:

Guess I’m stick with what I have. Just have to find a cheap pair of good cables somewhere, currently using a DIY pair.

Thanks for all the replies.

When I first got my system some 15+ years ago I was told longer speaker cables. Keep the equipment out of the soundstage and away from the speakers. Let the high power amps cover the distance.

Now it is far more common to read that you should run short speaker cables and long interconnects with XLR / balanced preferred to the amps.

One reason I went monoblocks was to set them next to the speakers and run short speaker cables. I have no way to A/B. I’m happy with the shift in budget though as speaker cables are more expensive than interconnects so I can get better of both now.

Courtesy of Galen and the San Francisco Audiophile Society… You can take it to the bank.

"1. Is it better to run long cables (RCA or XLR) or long speaker runs?

It is better to keep the signal at the load end, and not on the cable itself. A speaker cable has many amps of current, and the current squared times resistance losses go up with the square of the current. This is why speaker cables are such heavy aggregate AWG size, to make the cable look invisible to the current relative to the 2-16 ohm load. If our speaker cable was twice the resistance of the load, most of the signal would be lost across the cable in a ratio between the two load values, with the higher DCR getting more voltage signal. In practice the speaker load is super small resistance, so the cable has to be REALLY small resistance to be ignored. We want the cable to go away as much as we can. We have huge currents in speaker cables, so limiting those currents is really hard. All we can do is attack RESISTANCE, and keep it very low.

An IC cable, on the other hand, see’s little current as it is terminated into an “infinity” load, 47 k-ohm or close to that. Voltage equals current times resistance and if we have “zero” current we drop little voltage across the cable, and the signal is all dropped across the higher resistive load (47 k-ohm resistor). Even with a puny IC signal wire we see little voltage across the cable as the load is the opposite a speaker cable, it is HUGE by comparison to the cable. The voltage drops across the load, not the cable in aratio between the two resistances.

RCA cable can add ground differential noise between the ends of a long run. There is no way around that. If we raise the ground one end to the other we will get current to a lower potential ground point, and noise. The challenge is to keep the RCA shield as low a DCR as possible so any current in the shield times the shields resistance is a very small voltage across the cable. XLR are balanced, and the ground is floating so it is immune from those ground issue, and, any noise that is common to all the wires in the XLR cable are removed, by superposition theory. Equal voltages subtract to zero. Differential voltages add, our signal, add. XLR are superior for long runs."


Short speaker cables and long (but, ideally, balanced) ICs.