Are silver cables on the way out?

I have read a few comments recently in the forums stating concerns about silver or silver coated copper interconnects and speaker cables. Is there a contingency out there moving away from silver? What is the science behind this?

thanks, gary
Gary-I used to be an advocate of silver until one day while listening I realized what I was hearing wasn't music, it was sound being reproduced. Silver gave my system a very forward sound, too lean, and very un-musical it was fatigueing to listen to(which at the time I thought was a power supply problem, ie power cords and line regenerators) I pulled the silver out of my system and a very relaxed musical precense returned. Silver tends to blow you away at first, I thought it made my system sound better then ever before-then I realized what I thought was better was just different. Silver does weird things to frequencies in the upper octaves, which can be confusing to an unsuspecting listener, knowing what I know now the only system I would try silver on would be a system that uses a SET amp, which also does weird things in the upper frequency range, which silver complements.
Hope that sort of answers your query though I am sure more help will be right behing my theory.
Tim; well said, I agree. You might want to check my thread on the FIM 880 outlet (It's still on the front page). I wrote a review that pretty much compared a good copper AC outlet to a good Silver plated one. Cheers. Craig
I've gotten good results with Goertz Silver Saphire interconnects. My Nordost Quattrofils are, I think, silver over copper and are superb. But older models of silver cables sometimes sounded extremely un-natural, particularly in the treble.
Seems like there is a trend in this direction. I recently spoke with the chief engineer a Pure Note audio cables as to why they went from pure silver to their new bonded silver/copper. Basically he told me that no matter how well you make the silver there is still some hardness in the sound. I have to agree as I find the Pure Note Epsilon Reference warmer than other silver cables I have tried.
I've used many copper and silver speaker cables of the Audioquest line. And the ones with the most silver always sounded better. But, you can argue that it is the cable's geometery and insulation material that made the biggest difference.

Is it really a trend that silver is losing ground to copper? This is bad for Homegrown and Bearlabs. But this is good for bargain poachers who are going to buy up all the silver cables that the people who are hopping on the copper bandwagon are going to sell at used bargain prices.
Silver is a very revealing conductor and if properly used, yields the finest portrayal of sound I have heard. It does require a long period to settle in and using a break-in device greatly helps. If you want to hear deep into the material, my choice is silver. If your system is bright I suggest copper.
I have gotton very good results with Bear Lab Silver Lightning and Granite Audio #470 Silver interconnects (the cables sound correct to me, not bright). As technology improves it's possible that other companies will improve upon their product as Sonic_genius states. In some cases such as the Pure Note Epsilon Reference Series I find their interconnect and speaker cable to be an improvement.
I think there needs to be some distinction made between several variables we have here. First, silver and silver coated copper are very different. Next, solid core silver and stranded silver are also very different sounding. In addition the dielectric used, whether PTFE(teflon) or PE(polyethylene). Lets not forget simple geometry of the design with variables of capacitance, inductance, resistance, resonance, and other poorly understood variables. Some very popular speaker cables I have measured are the equivelant of putting a 400mic capacitor across the speaker leads. This will change the sound. Is it accurate?....I doubt it. Back to the topic. Silver has come and gone as the tastes of audiophiles change. Me, I use only silver interconnects stranded and solid core , and stranded silver speaker cables. They must match your system, and sound best with analog in my system. They bring the worst out in digital unless you have very top flight digital. With analog, they are warm, detailed, delicate, and sound like real music. When I hear copper that sounds like this, I will switch. Silver, unfortunately is not cheap. If I could buy silver at copper prices, I would. Jallen
I've been selling high end cables in audio retail stores for years, and can say first hand, that the silver they've been using over the years wasn't that good sonically really. The older stuff by the top companies, involving siver, usually tended to be zippy and grainy on top compared to the newer stuff I've heard.
For instance, the likes of Audio Quest and Acoustic Zen are using pure 7/9's silver(99.99999%) stuff, that is just amazing! You can tell that the silver is just way smoother and well balanced, yet retains all the detail you don't seem toget with ANY copper cables!
I think this new ultra pure stuff coming down the pike makes a big difference in terms of balance of spectrum. Sure cable designs have immproved, but the materials I think are just getting better.
Heck, the new 6/9's purity copper is even way better. I use 6/9's copper jumpers on my speakers, and they don't oxidize!! The old OFC stuff was just a wast, and oxydized right away...yuck.
I use copper, silver coated copper (Nordost), and Siltech cables which also incorporate gold into the mix. Never cared for pure silver, but as some have said, it depends on your system.
I tried out Silveraudio Hyacinth - incredible detail but it was bleached and had that hard edge to it.

I use Harmonic Technology SIlway which is silver and copper, and Cardas GOld Cross to great results - very detailed yet tonally balanced and neutral

I have heard some of the new silver cables are nice, but I won't be buying anything I can't audition first

Thanks for the feedback all. I am understanding a bit better the qualities of silver and copper. I am presently connecting tube pre and amps with copper (golden cross) and driving speakers with silver (alpha core ag2. I appear to be in reasonable shape, maybe....

thanks again!

I enjoy listening to good music, and I enjoy finding the right components that go together to make good music. In the past I have had systems that included the best of Audio Research tube amps, Wilson Watts /Puppies/Whow, Double KLH 9 Electrostatic speakers, Fulton Premiers, Magneplanars, Wadia digital, Theta digital, and the very first prototype of the Khorus, and etc.
I have used some of the best in cables with these high end components ... ARC, AudioQuest, Cardas, NBS, MIT top end Terminators that cost me over $7,000 for the interconnects and speaker cables. And, I could hear the difference that every single component produced in the audio chain, whether good or bad.
I now enjoy putting together much more monetarily sedate systems that I seem to enjoy much more.
So, now, I have an Arcam FMJ CD23 player, an ARC CA-50 Integrated tube amp, and Silverline SR-17 monitors on SoundAnchor 4 posts stands. And, up until 3 weeks ago, I was using copper conductor interconnects made by Talon that replaced JPS Labs SuperConductor Plus interconnects; and speaker cables crafted by Silverline with the same copper wire that was used in the speaker enclosures.
But, when Alan (Silverline) sent me the speaker cables, he asked me to try a silver solid wire jumper, and compare it with the copper wire jumper. These jumpers were only 2 inches long. So, after I burned in the speaker cables with the copper wire jumpers (100 hours), I decided to try the silver jumpers. Wow! What a difference ... better focus and quieter background were the first notable improvements!
This was my very first experience with silver in audio. But, now, I had to try more! So, I bid on Ray Valentine's silver 1m interconnect, and I won. For the past 3 weeks (140 hours), I have listened in amazement with Ray's silver IC taking the signal from the FMJ CD23 player to the ARC integrated tube amp.
The background is so silent that I hear much more of the nuances of the music. So much grunge has disappeared! Focus and transparency are superb ... each instrument has its place with space. The soundstage is wider and even has a little more depth. Listening to Danny Wright's "Black and White" solo Steinway piano, I can hear the hammers striking the wire, and his pedal work ... all the nuances are defined. The Steinway is there!
Eric Clapton's "UnPlugged" is so life like ... the picking and plucking nuances are revealed, and yet his voice is warm and the right size and in the right place.
Ray's silver interconnect has made the most dramatic improvement of any cables that I believe I've ever heard!
Now, I've got to try Ray's silver speaker cables in my system ... I am compelled to do that!
Even if you don't win a low-bid auction, his prices are very low. You are not buying a name brand ... you are buying an outstanding "unheard of" product. Right out of the box, you will see the build quality ... and then you will hear it!
And, by the way, I don't know Ray ... except for his interconnect.
There is nothing inherently wrong with silver-- as is well known, it is the best electrical conductor of any metal on the planet at room temperature. Any "problems" in silver wire are almost certain to be due to implementation, i.e, other factors such as cable geometry, dielectrics, gauge, winding, etc. Again, as is well known, silver is highly prone to oxidation and if it is not protected from this problem (meaning varnished or otherwise molecularly coated), it will be adversely affected. Many silver-wire makers simply don't address this problem. In addition, where gauge matters (i.e, speaker cable), it is far cheaper to use bigger copper wire to lower the resistance than it is to use a silver wire of equal resistance. Many silver speaker cables probably got a reputation as "zippy" because they were just plain too small.
Snooks' observation matches one that I heard a couple of years ago in my home. We had a new speaker being demoed for the NJ Audio Society in my home, which used a copper jumper between the bass section and the separate tweeter-midrange module that sat on the bass cabinet. As we were positioning the speakers, for fun I put in my Kimber Black Pearl jumpers I then used for my speakers in place of the copper jumpers (a 6 inch length). The speaker designers were stunned at the better clarity, dynamics and overall tonal and harmonic truthfulness resulting from the change; we used the jumpers for the demo.

My system currently uses copper interconnects all throughout (I'm pretty sure the NBS Omega is copper) except for the Graham IC-70 arm cable; in the past I've not liked the sound of silver in my system for the reasons Tim (Tireguy) mentioned. I'm now re-thinking that, and I'm trying Siltech's new G5 interconnect between my phono stage and preamp. The latest silver designs seem, at least in limited demos I've heard and definitely in the new Graham armcable, to have become far more natural and full-bodied than the older designs I remember. Ultimately, the differences I'm hearing are probably more a result of other factors in the cables' design than the type of wire involved, though, as many of the other posters here have noted.
I continue to use Red Dawn silver-over-copper for long IC between pre and monos, as well as speaker cables, but have found that I prefer Discovery Essence XLR pure copper over the RD, HT Pro-Silways, and Siltech ST48b between my digital source (EMC-1 MkII) and pre. Detailed but fuller.
Great balance and bloom without loss of air. Kudos to Discovery....