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Longer IC vs. longer speaker wire

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Is it better to place amplifiers closer to the speakers and run longer IC's or use shorter IC's with longer speaker wire? I guess it's less of an issue with stereo speakers since they're usually placed close to the source, but what about surround speakers? What about balanced vs. unbalanced? I've been searching high and low for a good answer to this question. Please help!
post #2 of 5
surprised you haven't found information to solve your query yet, this is an old topic thats been discussed several times on several audio forums (aa has some cool insight from some cool people as i recall).

most people feel long ics and short speaker cables, personally i pretty much do the same (speaker set up is down at the moment but my speaker cables are somewhere between 4ft and 5ft a side, run long ics from the amp to the preamp). keep your amp close to the speaks and place the rest of the components where needed, assuming that a)your ics are well shielded and b)your preamp can drive them. keep in mind that there are very few absolutes in audio, and this is something thats going to depend on your gear and enviorment: trying and seeing is costly but of course will give you the best answer for your system.

for surrounds you obviously don't have the same options unless you place a surround amp near them, in which case i assume thats a hell of a long interconnect. once again you're worried about shielding issues, but in the case of surrounds i'd use a decent ga wire (probably 16ga), do some twisting to help with some rfi issues, and forget about it.

post #3 of 5
I agree with Carlo provided your preamp can drive the interconnects its better to get longer interconnects and shorter speaker cables. However, if you tell us your amp, preamp, speakers, and cables you are considering we can give you better advice.

Your profile indicates you are using a denon receiver in which case you haven't got balanced connections so you do not have to worry about that.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Here's the long story

Thanks for all the advice so far. My plan is to gradually build up a respectable music / home theatre system over the next few years. I want to avoid getting stuff that I will throw away in the long run (ie. wasted $$$), but they also have to be purchased incrementally (no more than $2500 CDN per increment).

For speakers, I've settled on Paradigm's Studio series speakers because they are good quality speakers that are affordable (under $2000 CDN per pair). Being a Canadian company also helps with price (no exchange rate or international shipping). First goal would be Studio/40 (Front which I already have), Studio/20 (Rear), Studio/CC and a Servo-15 sub. I really wish Paradigm still made their Active series speakers From what I hear, they are *extremely* good and can give $10000+ speakers a good run for their money. But alas, I'll just have to live with what I can buy. Hopefully, this will last me through the appartment stage of my life.

As for the Denon, I bought it mainly out of necessity. Not much sense having speakers with nothing to hook them up to . Source equipment evolves just about as fast as computers do, so I know the Denon will eventually have to go, but it will be the last component to change and hopefully the only one that's thrown out.

As for amplifiers, I'm looking at Bryston. Again, respectable, affordable and local. Not to mention their 20 year warranty doesn't hurt. Their PowerPac 120 monoblocks look very attractive. I can use them to make a poor man's active speaker, or place them wherever I want. But most importantly, at $2500 CDN a pair, I can buy them incrementally.

We now come to why I'm asking about the speaker wire vs. IC advice. It's about 30 feet around the room to each rear speaker. When I get the Studio/20's, I'll have three options:

1) 120 feet of good speaker wire (for bi-wiring)
2) 60 feet of heavily shielded unbalanced IC (do such exist?) to the Brystons
3) 60 feet of balanced IC with an RCA -> truly balanced XLR converter (do they exist and are they any good?) to the Brystons
4) Find some way to run a digital siganl all the way to the speakers (a la Meridian DSP5x00 speakers) without the $40000 USD price tag (yeah yeah, this is a pipe dream )

Which of the above four choices would give me the highest quality sound (ie. smallest loss in fidelity) at a reasonable price?

If I go with XLR, are there surround processors that could drive balanced IC's for that distance?

Also, what do you think of the overall plan? Any suggestions for improving it?
post #5 of 5
truly balanced XLR converter (do they exist and are they any good?)
No. Changing XLR to RCA just leaves out one of the pins. It would be the same as using a single ended cable. However, I believe most of the Bryston stuff has XLR inputs and outputs.

What I would do is get some decent speaker cables for the front and then get some plain old 16 gauge OFC copper for the rears. (Under $1 a foot.) These are rear speakers we're talking about. You dont need to spend lots of money on them cable-wise (IMHO)

However if you use the bryston monoblocks you could run a balanced cable directly to each monoblock (the bryston Power Pac 120s have XLR inputs and do not need a convertor of any sort.

As for finding an affordable processor for $2500 CAN with balanced outs I cannot help you there. I think Classe may have one. They are a Canadian company aren't they? The Bryston SP1.7 is an excellent preamp and processor with balanced outputs, but I have no idea what the price is.

I always buy audio equipment used because it is so much cheaper. Have you looked at used Bryston gear in your area?
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