Do Wires Running to a Pair of Speakers Need To Be the Same Length?

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Q Do all speaker wires running to matched sets of speakers need to be the same length? I’m using 12 AWG wire to connect my AV receiver to speakers with an impedance of 6 ohms. My plan was to use 3-foot runs to my right and center speakers, a 10-foot run to the left speaker, and 26-foot and 36-foot runs, respectively, to the left and right surrounds. Will this create a problem? —Dan Donna / via e-mail

A No, it won’t. Unless we’re talking about large differences (and by large, I mean 30 meters and up), any length mismatch of the speaker wires in your system shouldn’t negatively impact its sound. When it comes to length, what does make a difference is the gauge of the speaker wire.

For long cable runs with lower-impedance speakers (6-ohm models like yours, for example), it’s recommended that you use a relatively thick-gauge wire such as 12 or 14 AWG, which presents less resistance to the flow of current through the circuit. If you were to instead use the more common 16 AWG gauge wire in your configuration, it’s possible that the increased resistance and related signal loss created by the long wire run might reduce output and dull the sound coming from your surround speakers.