Longer Speaker Cable or RCA: Which is Better?

I'm connecting my Asus Xonar Essence STX (Desktop) directly to my amplifier via an RCA cable (5ft) and then running about 20-28ft of speaker wire (14ga) to my towers.

Just out of curiosity, which would be the better way to hook them up? Shorter speaker wires and a longer, higher gauge RCA cable? It would need to be about 20 feet. Or a shorter RCA cable and longer speaker wire?
Computer nerd diving head first into quality audio.
«13

Comments

  • BlueFox
    BlueFox Posts: 14,672
    I am not aware of a larger gauge RCA wire, but you can buy shielded RCA cables. Not sure which of the longer (RCA or speaker wire) is better, but the signal on the speaker cable will be larger than the RCA, so that should give a better signal to noise ratio.

    I will say go with 12 gauge for either a short or long speaker cable.
    Lumin X1 file player; Sony XA-5400ES SACD; Pass XP-22 pre; X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers; SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on source, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • Speedskater
    Speedskater Posts: 495
    If the amp and your desktop both plug into the same AC power wall outlet it won't make much difference. But any long RCA coax (say 20 feet or more) should have a heavy breaded shield. One of the very best choices for long RCA cables is the Blue Jeans LC-1.
  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 46,126
    The longer RCA cable would be preferred due to the shielding. Of course, MIT makes the best, but on your budget the Blue Jeans will be the more affordable.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 46,126
    If one is parroting what they read off one audio site, then it is expected that one would say that. However, the majority of users would disagee.

    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • Nightfall
    Nightfall Posts: 9,500
    Enjoy your zip cord and coat hangers.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • pjd2011
    pjd2011 Posts: 49
    Hmm, here I always thought Mono Price was the way to go with all my cabling! Thanks for the additional information guys. Always something to learn.
    Computer nerd diving head first into quality audio.
  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 46,126
    xcapri79 wrote: »
    No need to parrot anything.

    And yet you did.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • CoolJazz
    CoolJazz Posts: 559
    If sound quality and basic engineering (not simplified junk science) is consulted, then it's obvious that long interconnects and short speaker cables should be used.

    Component interconnection is based on voltage transfer. The rule of thumb is 10 times the impedance for the driving source over the input and you should be good. The thing to watch out for is the capacitance being driven. Too much capacitance and you start lowering the high frequency response. So as you go to longer cables, simply try to select lower capacitance designs to begin with. Noise, often brought up, should not be a problem as long as you pay attention to cable placement and the way it crosses higher noise (AC) sources. When you wire thousands of runs, as I have done, you find out that just paying attention to placement and using decent wire, you rarely run into trouble.

    On the other hand, the amplifier to speaker interface is much more troublesome. You have a source driving an unfriendly load which includes a motor (the voice coil) trying to appose what your asking it to do. The cable and it's length have everything to do with the distortions that result. Long length can yield a pleasing result or not, depending on many things. The stiffness of the driver suspension and how natural it sounds, the phase angles resulting from the drivers and the crossover while navigating the impedance curves. It's not just a simple matter of voltage delivery any more in this portion of your system.

    The low-fi crowd, trying to not get more out of their system and the money spent, focuses instead on simple RLC parameters of the cables and tends to not pay any attention to the use of the interface and the resulting implications. Or instead bring up the test that never shows any differences and isn't sensitive enough to yield any meaningful results. Missing the whole show.

    CJ
    A so called science type proudly says... "I do realize that I would fool myself all the time, about listening conclusions and many other observations, if I did listen before buying. That’s why I don’t, I bought all of my current gear based on technical parameters alone, such as specs and measurements."
  • ZLTFUL
    ZLTFUL Posts: 5,483
    CoolJazz wrote: »
    If sound quality and basic engineering (not simplified junk science) is consulted, then it's obvious that long interconnects and short speaker cables should be used.

    Component interconnection is based on voltage transfer. The rule of thumb is 10 times the impedance for the driving source over the input and you should be good. The thing to watch out for is the capacitance being driven. Too much capacitance and you start lowering the high frequency response. So as you go to longer cables, simply try to select lower capacitance designs to begin with. Noise, often brought up, should not be a problem as long as you pay attention to cable placement and the way it crosses higher noise (AC) sources. When you wire thousands of runs, as I have done, you find out that just paying attention to placement and using decent wire, you rarely run into trouble.

    On the other hand, the amplifier to speaker interface is much more troublesome. You have a source driving an unfriendly load which includes a motor (the voice coil) trying to appose what your asking it to do. The cable and it's length have everything to do with the distortions that result. Long length can yield a pleasing result or not, depending on many things. The stiffness of the driver suspension and how natural it sounds, the phase angles resulting from the drivers and the crossover while navigating the impedance curves. It's not just a simple matter of voltage delivery any more in this portion of your system.

    The low-fi crowd, trying to not get more out of their system and the money spent, focuses instead on simple RLC parameters of the cables and tends to not pay any attention to the use of the interface and the resulting implications. Or instead bring up the test that never shows any differences and isn't sensitive enough to yield any meaningful results. Missing the whole show.

    CJ

    english-idioms-hit-the-nail-on-the-head.jpg

    "Some people find it easier to be conceited rather than correct."

    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
  • tonyb
    tonyb Posts: 32,322
    pjd2011 wrote: »
    Hmm, here I always thought Mono Price was the way to go with all my cabling!

    Think again....many threads on cables, see what others are using and buy used to save a buck.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • SCompRacer
    SCompRacer Posts: 7,220
    edited March 2015
    If you want advice based on actual experience, long RCA's works just fine. I used shielded coax, stranded center conductor for flexibility. They are 18 or 20 feet long and still in use connected to R and L subs as I have since went balanced to amp with different gear.

    The system was dead quiet and as dynamic as shorter RCA's. Period.

    room_3.jpg
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo IIISE Pro ES9038 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 46,126
    ^ Rich has spoken ^ B)
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,272
    You can do it either way.
    I have ran long RCA's with no issues at all. Also running longer speaker wires is also just fine.
    I have used twisted pair with a 2nd ground at very long lengths and no issues unbalanced. I have used Twisted pair with no issues and also a Coax design with solid core copper center and stranded shield or Negative conductors with no issues.
    Unbalanced runs at 50 ohms but cables designed at 75 ohms seem to also work just fine. In this area it's difficult to get an actual answer as to what design is better to transfer analog unbalanced signals as both designs work very well with no measurable loss due to design ( not quality in this case ).

    With the Length your running assuming you have some polk towers lets say RT series which are 8 ohm load , 14 gauge will get the job done just fine. Going 12 gauge is also fine and would have less resistance IF your running full range. If your running your towers in small , then stick with he 14 gauge. Either way the full signal at those lengths should be perfectly fine assuming above.
    If you have 4 ohm load speakers lets say LSI series , then I suggest 12 gauge wire at those lengths. 14 still would work but I would feel more comfortable at 12 gauge due to the 4 ohm load.
    As noted above , the basic's always come into play first. You have to have the proper gauge length ohm's and amp power figured out first then you can spec the proper gauge.
    Quality is another entire thing as above likes to use MIT quality cables and I prefer Audioquest. You can pick your own brand depending on the depths of your bank account and care about the quality of your cables.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • Speedskater
    Speedskater Posts: 495
    mantis wrote: »
    .................................
    Unbalanced runs at 50 ohms but cables designed at 75 ohms seem to also work just fine. In this area it's difficult to get an actual answer as to what design is better to transfer analog unbalanced signals as both designs work very well with no measurable loss due to design ( not quality in this case ).
    ..............................................
    ..
    This 50/75 Ohm value does not apply to analog audio interconnects or even at audio frequencies. It's a Radio Frequency Characteristic Impedance measurement that only starts to kick in in the 100 kHz to 1 MHz range.
    So this impedance measurement applies to digital SPDIF interconnects but not to analog interconnects.

  • mrloren
    mrloren Posts: 2,386
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    If you want advice based on actual experience, long RCA's works just fine. I used shielded coax, stranded center conductor for flexibility. They are 18 or 20 feet long and still in use connected to R and L subs as I have since went balanced to amp with different gear.

    The system was dead quiet and as dynamic as shorter RCA's. Period.

    room_3.jpg

    nice setup you have there
    When I was a kid my parents told me to turn it down. Now I'm an adult and my kids tell me to turn it down.

    Family Room:
    Samsung UN75RU710DFXZA,
    Denon AVR-X4400H, Emotiva XPA3 GEN3
    Oppo BDP-93,Sony UBP-X800BM, WD Live HUB.
    Main: Polk LsiM 705
    Center: Polk LSiM 704C
    Front High/Rear High In-Ceiling Polk 80F/X RT
    Surrounds: Polk S15
    Sub: HSU VTF3-MK5

    Bed Room;
    Marantz SR5010, BDP-S270
    Main: Polk Signature S20
    Center: Polk Signature S35
    Rear: Polk R15
    Sub: HSU STF-2

    Working Warehouse;
    Sony 2100ES AVR, Sony DVP-NS3100ES for disc
    Cerwin Vega AT-12 (blasters) Advent Prodigy (listening)
    Old sony 12" Sub
    Mini tower PC with 400GB of music
  • mrloren
    mrloren Posts: 2,386
    You can always call Doug at http://douglasconnection.com/main.sc or for less cash bluejeans cable.
    When I was a kid my parents told me to turn it down. Now I'm an adult and my kids tell me to turn it down.

    Family Room:
    Samsung UN75RU710DFXZA,
    Denon AVR-X4400H, Emotiva XPA3 GEN3
    Oppo BDP-93,Sony UBP-X800BM, WD Live HUB.
    Main: Polk LsiM 705
    Center: Polk LSiM 704C
    Front High/Rear High In-Ceiling Polk 80F/X RT
    Surrounds: Polk S15
    Sub: HSU VTF3-MK5

    Bed Room;
    Marantz SR5010, BDP-S270
    Main: Polk Signature S20
    Center: Polk Signature S35
    Rear: Polk R15
    Sub: HSU STF-2

    Working Warehouse;
    Sony 2100ES AVR, Sony DVP-NS3100ES for disc
    Cerwin Vega AT-12 (blasters) Advent Prodigy (listening)
    Old sony 12" Sub
    Mini tower PC with 400GB of music
  • Emlyn
    Emlyn Posts: 3,188
    Good advice from Dan (Mantis) above as usual. I've done both types before myself and recommend doing it however is most convenient. Audio systems are set up all the time with speaker wire running from a centrally based amplifier to speakers at speaker wire distances of greater than 28 feet. Another consideration, and one I've encountered before with locating an amp and preamp at different ends of a room connected by long interconnects, is that type of setup may introduce a ground loop hum into the system if the gear is on different household circuits. You should also protect your computer and amp with a surge protector/voltage regulator, and it's cheaper to protect at one spot rather than two. I would recommend using OFC 12AWG speaker wire at those distances simply because it's cheap. It's also likely to be much cheaper to run generic speaker wire rather than RCA cables.
    1. Polk L800 + L900, L400, LSiM-703 x4; Dual SVS SB2000 subwoofers; Marantz AV8805A processor; Parasound A31; Outlaw 7000X; Oppo 205; Sony 65" 4K TV; FIOS; PS Audio Power Director 4.7; MIT S2 cables
    2. Magnepan 1.7i or JM Lab 920.1; Sonic Frontiers Line 3 SE+ preamp and Parasound JC5 amp; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Marantz SA8004 SACD; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio P500; MIT S1 Cables
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 7,659
    If you consider the Audio Research SP3a preamp, which uses a cathode follower to lower the output impedance, it has an output impedance (at 1kHz) of 600 ohms. If we connect this output to a 10m (32.9') cable made of RG59u the total capacitance would be 670pF. The cutoff frequency would be 395kHz which is considerably higher than the upper limit of human hearing.
    With a solid state preamp, such as the Parasound P5 with its output impedance of 100 ohms the same cable results in a cutoff frequency of 2.3mHz, certainly way up there. Usually only passive preamps, where the output impedance is dependent on where the volume control is positioned and can be relatively high and coupled with fairly high capacitance cable of a long run presents an audible problem.
  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 46,126
    So, x and willy are now using the LOL button as their latest troll tool. Obviously, the two of you are slow on the uptake, but then again trolls aren't known for their intelligence.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 7,659
    edited April 2015
    xcapri,
    I'm sure you didn't intend to, but you seem to be supporting my post. I think having an attenuation of .0002dB @ 20.kHz would be something inaudible, correct? And having an output impedance of 4.7k ohms would be just about right for a passive preamp with a 10.0k volume pot turned halfway. And 75pF/foot is a bit on the high side for a cable and it's only down by 1.28dB (assuming these numbers are correct). There are plenty of cables that are less than 25pF per foot.
    There have been some excellent sounding recordings made on location where the microphone runs go across the stage, through the back of the auditorium, down an alley and into the recording truck, several hundred feet of connecting cable and they have superb upper frequency response. Granted they were probably balanced cables, but that is necessary to minimize hum pickup from crossing power wires.
    This is all easy enough to test, use a signal generator and a true RMS voltmeter and measure the voltage @ 1kHz at the preamp output and at the power amp's input with a long length of low cap cable in between. Keep raising the signal generator's frequency until the voltage begins dropping (the meter will have dB readings as well (probably not to be able .00002dB). I'll wager a month's worth of bubblegum money it won't change much until you reach well above 20kHz.
    Cheers, Ken
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 7,659
    I believe what I objected to was your statement:

    "Unfortunately, what is missing in much of this discussion is a basic understanding of electrical engineering as it applies to audio. If one understood the basics, one would not advocate longer unbalanced interconnects period."

    I was trying to offer a differing of opinion based on a few examples to supply this missing understanding. Others on the forum have given personal examples of how they use long connecting cables with no reduction in fidelity. In truth, with careful selection of components fairly long runs of cable can be used. And with the same level of care fine sounding results can be obtained with short cables and long speaker runs. If this is done I recommend speaker cables that use a type of braiding (such as Kimber Kable) to reduce induction.



  • Nightfall
    Nightfall Posts: 9,500
    edited April 2015
    xcapri79 wrote: »
    I disagree on the use exotic and expensive RCA interconnects that rival the cost of decent gear. They are a waste of money.

    You state that like a fact when it is your opinion.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • SCompRacer
    SCompRacer Posts: 7,220
    mrloren wrote: »

    nice setup you have there

    Thank you mrloren! Had is the word, I went back to conventional speakers in sig.

    My pre at the time was a ModWright SWLP Signature Edition. It was a single ended design. Dan could add XLR's but it would not have been balanced output or input.

    Only reason for me to go fully balanced from pre to amp was due to the dual mono DAC I built. SE out on my DAC used op amps, balanced out was discrete which sounded better, worth keeping.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo IIISE Pro ES9038 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • Nightfall
    Nightfall Posts: 9,500
    I have friends that think a 128 kbps MP3 on their home theater in a box sounds just as good as a HD FLAC on my stereo. To them, I do nothing but waste money. Are they wrong? I say of course but, really, they aren't. What they hear is what they hear.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • BlueFox
    BlueFox Posts: 14,672
    xcapri79 wrote: »
    I disagree on the use of exotic and expensive RCA interconnects that rival the cost of decent gear. For me and many, they are a waste of money.

    While five figure interconnects probably are a waste of money, good four figure interconnects do make a very positive audible improvement, regardless of what 'many' people choose to believe. Just because some people are gullible and believe in something doesn't make it true. There is a big difference from accepting without question what some guru proclaims, and learning for yourself.

    Lumin X1 file player; Sony XA-5400ES SACD; Pass XP-22 pre; X600.5 amps
    Magico S5 MKII Mcast Rose speakers; SPOD spikes

    Shunyata Triton v3/Typhon QR on source, Denali 2000 (2) on amps
    Shunyata Sigma XLR analog ICs, Sigma speaker cables
    Shunyata Sigma HC (2), Sigma Analog, Sigma Digital, Z Anaconda (3) power cables

    Mapleshade Samson V.3 four shelf solid maple rack, Micropoint brass footers
    Three 20 amp circuits.
  • Nightfall
    Nightfall Posts: 9,500
    I am curious, @xcapri79 , what cables you have tried in your own system that rival the cost of decent gear that you discerned no difference from monoprice IC and speaker wire?
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • CoolJazz
    CoolJazz Posts: 559
    xcapri79 wrote: »

    I wasn't really supporting your post. The example provided from Audio Karma was for 15ft of unbalanced cable. I would not recommend lengths of over 30ft. Others recommend even less depending on the cable. I don't have a problem with much longer speaker cables, longer than 50ft as long as the gauge is sufficient.

    Your example also illustrated the use of balanced cables, which I agree with. This is so with balanced outputs and cables as they have different impedance characteristics from unbalanced outputs and cables. They also operate at a higher total voltage because the signal is carried on the hot and cold wire. These improvements reduce the attenuation. The noise is reduced through differential cancelation.

    The following link to the Hometheater Shack shows the difference between unbalanced and balanced connections, the difference in voltage levels, and impedance between the two.

    http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/av-home-theater/25984-understanding-unbalanced-vs-balanced-audio-signals-difference.html
    A line level audio signal can be looked at as a low voltage signal and unbalanced audio signals are usually between 200mv and 1volt depending on [whether] it is a fixed or adjustable level.
    Given this "lower" voltage signal, long distant runs are susceptible to interference and thus is only good for short runs of usually less than 20ft (50ft can be done if the cable is of better quality).

    [with XLR balanced connections]
    The audio signal used in these connectors is at a higher voltage usually 1.5v and as seen in the graph below has twice the signal as an unbalanced signal.

    There are two alternating signals -1.5v & +1.5v and the shield. The advantage of this connection is that when used for long distances the noise (interference) is not only canceled out by the alternating voltages but because its a higher signal voltage it can travel much longer distances without interference (as far as 1000ft) without a booster. The primary factor that allows longer connections with balanced lines has more to do with impedance than voltage. A balanced line has a low impedance (200 to 600 Ohms) while an unbalanced line typically has a 10k impedance or so.

    Lets see if you can identify where you and the quoted material has gone WAY off the tracks. Can you see the gross error?? Or are you just pulling up info from the never wrong interweb and doing your best to apply it? Give it your best shot.....after Googleein for the answer. ID what is grossly wrong....

    CJ
    A so called science type proudly says... "I do realize that I would fool myself all the time, about listening conclusions and many other observations, if I did listen before buying. That’s why I don’t, I bought all of my current gear based on technical parameters alone, such as specs and measurements."
  • Nightfall
    Nightfall Posts: 9,500
    edited April 2015
    xcapri79 wrote: »
    I have friends that have similar systems to yours. What they say is that mine does sound better, but their systems sound good enough for them. They would rather spend the difference on a vacation, better car, home renovation etc. It is all a matter of our personal choices, however there is economy of choice.
    I'm not talking about budget. I'm saying they straight up say theirs sounds just as good, they hear zero difference. Just in the way anti-cable people say.
    xcapri79 wrote: »
    I wouldn't dream of spending that sort of money on exotic interconnects nor support a vendor that sold such. I'm happy with what I have...
    How can you form an opinion on something you haven't tried? If you're taking other peoples opinions and using them as your own, they aren't really your own. You don't have to spend that kind of money to try it for yourself:

    http://www.thecableco.com/faq.aspx#775

    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 46,126
    edited April 2015
    xcapri79 wrote: »
    I just believe my opinions to maximize performance better rests on the foundation of good economy, engineering and proven science. :)

    What we have here....is a failure....to use your ears.

    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk