Are silver coated cables a bunch of hype?

I'm looking to upgrade some cables (digital coax/comp. video), and I've seen recomendations re: Canare. Originally I looked into a few silver coated copper cables. I spoke to a tech at Canare cable and he said none of their cables are silver coated, and that silver made no difference when it came to signal transfer. Is a good quality copper cable as good or better than a silver coated cable? Does the silver coated copper have a cheaper copper grade/purity to cut cost when adding silver? Thank You, Chrisrn.
While I would tend to disagree with a blanket statement that "...silver [makes] no difference", there are a lot more factors in cable design than whether the copper is coated or not which affects what they sound like: cable geometry, conductors, networks, shielding, dielectric material and mechanical connections to name a few. IMO, everything is hyped to a certain degree - it's just the age-old sales ploy to get your attention. Only your ears will tell you if it's worth the scratch.
Coating a cable with silver is going to change the sound, but I bet a good part of the silver-coatedness is marketing. Most interconnects of that type are all in the same price range, and no really high-end cable I can think of uses that hybrid. I have used a pair. They were okay, but an all copper pair that was about the same price was better for most applications. There may be some nice silver/copper ICs, just depends on the design.
Like anything else, it will depend on the design and quality of materials used. Many people complain of heightened yet "hashy" sounding highs with silver / copper hybrids. I think a lot of it may have to do with the amount or "depth" of silver plating used. I also think that Silver takes longer to "break in" than copper does, so they may be basing their opinions on cables that are still "settling". Either way, i don't think that i have any silver plated copper in any of the systems that i have. I do have silver, i do have copper, but none of them are plated hybrid's. Sean
Since silver is a better conductor than copper, the silver plating causes any frequencies on the "skin" of the wire to travel better and faster than the frequencies in the "core" of the wire. Since it is well known that the "skin effect" is a result of high frequencies traveling on the "skin" of the wire, and low frequencies traveling in the core, adding silver plating to the "skin" of the wire will only make the "skin effect" worse than no plating. The high frequencies will travel better and faster, and arrive at the speaker before the low frequencies will, thereby "smearing" the coherence of the signal. The effect will be bright and brash, with added time-distortion, that IMO, will do nothing good for the system. I personally would not use it.
hmmm... Bear makes silver plate cables, and they sound awesome.
So far(only 20hrs. of break in)Twl's comments are unequivocally correct.CAPITOLE MK1 PRO SILWAY MKII INTO VTL MONOBLOCKS TT25'S INTO DECAPO I'S LATEST VERSION.QED CABLES SILVER ANNIVERSARY are quite bright but it may be singing a different song two hundred hrs out.The strong point of this system is the right down the middle between solid state and tube qualities I am experiencing.On ART GARFUNKELS album Breakaway the track Waters of March has a sibilance that wouldnt be so readily apparent in all copper cables esses and pees pop out and you can tell if a pop screen was used on most recordings more easily.It still comes down to horses for courses silver plate may work better or worse in your system...fetlocks vary.
Dennis, I never said that nobody would like silver-plated cables. I just stated their typical characteristics. Since different people have different systems, and have different needs, sometimes a bright cable is needed to offset some other deficiency in the system. Cables seem to be used as tone controls these days. I don't know if every system is coherent enough to show the time distortion they produce. Hence they may sound good on certain systems.
Twl, do you really belive that frequencies no where to travel. What a bunch of crap. Like people who belive that in a biwire set up the highs go in one end the highs in the other. Man you must think Audiophiles are a bunch of fools with balanket statements like that.
I don't want to prejudice anyone against my favorite cables, but Purist Dominus is ultra high purity copper with silver coating.

Purist Audio never mentions this fact in advertising or specification sheets, nor do they make any claim as to the technological or performance benefits.

I only discovered this when a roll of Dominus conductor was shipped to me to use in various components that I was modifying.

Soundlab wired my U-1 with this conductor and the comments were that the insulation (Teflon) was the most uniform and predictable to strip they ever worked with. The exposed silver plated copper was free of any adhesives or synthetics and easy to solder. The final results set solidly, ultra clean without any debris or puddling in the matrix of metals.

As already mentioned here by others, implementation is more important than subjective discussions of the impact of the materials selected.

Performance wise, Purist Dominus typically is described as liquid, dynamic and seductive. I have never heard a criticism of phase or brightness problems. Again, implementation is everything.
Some of the best sounding cables I have tried are Silver Coated Copper. I am currently using the QED Silver Anniversery speaker cables. My system is all tube based.
These are the best I have tried. They replaced much more expensive cables and are staying in my system. There is a reason they were voted product of the year twice according to HIFI magazine.
Brucejel, It is my understanding that the Pro Silway II uses both copper and silver conductors instead of the silver over copper stuff. I use them myself and really enjoy their sound.
Also, has anyone ever looked up how much better silver conducts over copper? I think it is extremely small. I do know the resistance of copper vs. silver wire is extrememly small. I think i read somewhere the capacitance is the big thing.
To me, silver over copper has always sounded harsh. Of course, I have certainly not listened to all of these cables.
Not hype. Try the DH Labs cables (, they flat work, an all around good cable worth their weight in gold, er, silver. There seems to be lots of criticism from folks that have never tried them or any such cables, but I really feel they are worth a try, they displaced many popular cables in my system from Analysis Plus, Audioquest, Kimber and Canare. You can get them dirt cheap (relatively speaking) and they are easy to resell if you don't like them....
Topheavy, apparently you are unaware of the phenomenon of "skin effect" and therefore think that everyone else is ignorant about it. Perhaps if you studied it, as I have, you would be aware of it, and wouldn't make statements like you just have here. Not only do the frequencies "know where to travel", there is published data in engineering manuals that specifically quantify the depth of the "skin effect" in different conductive materials. In copper, it is approximately .4mm. So, yes, the frequencies do "know where to travel" and it is measureable and documented. Cable makers are aware of this and generally make their cables to minimize this effect. It is also well known that silver is a better conductor than copper(documented) and a silver coating on wire will enhance travel on the skin of the wire. Draw your own conclusion. I have done listening tests on my own equipment and others', and my listening results are in accordance with the scientific data.

You must think that audiophiles are a bunch of fools to make blanket statements like you do. Of course, you are a newbie here, so we expect you will learn something after a while. I don't take too kindly to attacks from newbies, who are ignorant and agressive. If you want to get a less pointed response from me, then engage me in a civil manner.

Albert, I didn't know that Dominus was silver plated. I have never heard Dominus, and I would expect it to be a great sounding wire. What they are doing with the plating and other possible design characteristics to "balance" the sonic signature, I don't know. I do know that if the individual conductors' cross sections are sufficiently small(below the nominal skin-effect depth), the wire behaves as all skin-effect, so the coherence phenomenon is mitigated with that type of construction.
I have used pure silver solid conductor AudioTruth LapisX3 interconnects for my tubed poweramp driving Dynaudio A72 speakers. Both low and high extensions gone missing.
TWL, your comments about cross section of wire and skin effect may explain something I had not previously considered.

Dominus conductor is multi stranded and TINY. When the Teflon jacket is stripped away, the strands seem inseparably bound together, until the nudge of a fingertip spreads them. Only then it is obvious they are instead a very soft and tightly bound bundle.

The construction obviously has a bearing on sound, combined with the fact these conductors are then housed in hollow tubes and suspended in a soup of chemicals and water. Certainly a departure from all the other high end cable designs.
I use silver-plated copper in my speaker wires because they are uninsulated and I dont want copper oxides on the surface of the conductors. Does not seem to impart any undesirable sounds.
Until I heard Analysis Plus cable, I was always of the same opinion as Twl.

My experiences had always shown silver plated copper to be harsh sounding. I became a fan of silver, and felt a big reason many felt silver to be harsh sounding was they were instead speaking of silver plated copper. A lot of companies will market their cables in a manner in which the potential customer may not know. In fact, I believe that Pure Silver Conductor's cables are silver plated copper. Doesn't sound like they picked the correct name.

Low grade silver, or silver cables with substand terminations can sound bad.

Silver, executed correctly, does not exhibit these nasties.

Well, for years, I walked around with a distaste for silver coated copper. As I said, when I heard Analysis Plus, I found the cables to sound very good. As is always the case, I need to tip my hat to Megasam for turning me on to this wire. I have yet to try it in my system, but probably will at some point.

AudioQuest has always marketed copper cables and silver cables, but not silver coated copper. They used to provide some evidence and opinion as to why silver coated copper was a harsh sounding cable. All of which bore out in my experience. Interestingly enough, they now market silver coated copper. I guess what sells is more important than what they believe in.

Ray Kimber has also always sold copper cables, and silver cables. He also sells cables where some of the wire is copper and others are silver. He feels that silver coated copper is subject to a unique, long term degradation. I can see where he is coming from, as silver normally will migrate through other materials, most notably soda lime glass. I can see this migration occurring through the copper's impurities, and having long term consequences which may not be beneficial.

Albert's good experience with Purist Audio Dominus and me with AP show me that a silver coated copper has the potential to sound good, but the category should be viewed with a keen eye. Given the choice, apart from these cables, I would opt for copper or silver over silver plated copper.

To answer the question of this thread, yes silver plated copper cables are a bunch of hype. It is purely a marketing ploy to fool some people into thinking they are getting a better cable. In most cases, it is solely for the purpose of the company charging much more money for what does not cost them much more money. Silver coated copper was developed for the military, to protect copper wires from various forms of environmental degradation. Silver is dirt cheap, ~$4.25/troy ounce. You may remember that an ounce of gold, when hammered out, can easily cover a football field. The amount of silver involved is inconsequential. The process of plating is dirt cheap. It a win - win for the company.
Never been a fan of silver cable. Thanks to Trelja, Albertporter, and Twl I will keep an open mind on silver in the future.
Topheavy, maybe when you contribute valuable information to this community as Twl has, maybe then someone, somewhere, somehow, will give some credibility to your opinions.
I applaud your civil responce Twl to an uncivil rude poster.
May I second the cogent responses of twl and also say that the pro silway is a fine example of silver copper done right.The qed silver anniversary is very inexpensive,about 3.00 dollars a foot and represents to me a way of testing the sonic signature of speaker wire without getting hosed(pun intended).Thats the great thing about this game...look long enough and be patient enough and you can come seriously close to mega buck systems on relatively speaking a song and a dance.
Bear's cables are suspended in a way too. They are three thin wires taht are braided inside a fat tube of air.

Twl, as for tone control, his cables are meant to be as neutral as possible. That, along with a low inductance and relatively low capacitance, were his design goals.

Maybe this is another example of specs on a sheet of paper vs. real world implementation. As Albert said, design is everything.
Yes, guys, and as I mentioned above, the skin-effect problems are not present, either at all, or to a much less degree, in a properly designed cable. When the diameter of each conductor is less than twice the figure of the skin-effect depth in that material, the entire conductor becomes "skin-effect", and the frequency anomalies do not occurr. However, when high amplifier power is needed, a single small conductor may not be sufficient. That is why multiple small conductors are wrapped together in a bundle. They must be individually insulated from each other, or there will be "strand-jump" and the entire bundle will behave as a single conductor(worse actually), and the skin effects will again take place. This bundling of wires has it's own problems associated with it too, which is why, in my low power system, I use small guage, single conductor wiring for everything. All DIY. Whenever possible, simpler is usually better, as long as it is done right. I'm sure that the wires you all mention above are well-designed cables and provide excellent sonic quality for your systems.
I could be wrong, but I thought I read some years back that one of the key reasons for coating copper with silver was to eliminate problems of copper being corroded by certain formulations of Teflon. I know that Teflon/Copper cables exist, so perhaps it is either a small issue or different formulations of Teflon present more or less of a problem.
Redkiwi, good to see you again. Hope you intend to stick around.
Redkiwi, I have read that silver oxides are still conductive, so that they still sound good after being oxidized, whereas copper oxidation is not conductive/less conductive, and adds bad sounding artifacts. So this could be a good point for using some silver coating. At one time, when wires were inexpensive, this was not a problem because if they had corrosion/oxidation, you just got new ones. But at several thousand dollars a set, we don't want to just go out and buy new, when any oxidation takes place. So for long term use, silver plating may have its advantages over plain copper.
I like the sound of pure and simple copper. Melding of two different metals never seems to become as coherent as a solo one..
And it is good to see you are still here Albert, and Jadem6 on this same thread too. I have been too busy work-wise to visit here recently, but hope to rectify that. Twl, you are right in your observations on conductivity and it had not occurred to me that this was also a reason for coating copper with silver, but it makes sense. I have some old Straightwire Virtuoso cables that have corroded quite badly where they are terminated in the RCA plugs. I can see it, and believe I can hear it too - unless they really were that bad to begin with...
I see that you had called Canare and spole to a tach there.

I recently posted my impresions of their newest cable at AR.Just was not a good source IC for my CDP.I reinserted a run of AQ Ruby and the problem was eliminated.

If it was COAX you were going to use look elsewhere for an IC and do not use COAX.

There are good Silver coated cables out there like Audience Au24 but they are truely expensive.I have read several opions on the coating Q and from what I gather is the thing that it does is minimise corrosion or the transfer for highs travel on the outter surface while the bass is mre torwards the center of the conductor.I believe in the former.

If you are thinking of going to Silver in any respect I would go with Solid Silver.There are some that are not going to cost a real lot,but I went with 47Labs OTA instead.Seems the purist philos. won out.If you are going to spend up to $600 on IC's and speaker cable it is the choice I would go with.

Other than that be prepared to do alot of mixing and matching to find what will work best in your system.

A cheapest route is Knu which was pretty close to much more expensive Audioquest stuff.$43 for 10ft of speaker cale & 2 IC's.

Hope that helps,good luck.
Red, I may very well be wrong, but I believe that silver coated copper predates the use of teflon insulated wire.

Twl, you are correct, silver oxide is conductive. Copper oxide is a semiconductor(can be conductive or non - conductive, depending on circumstances). Semi - conductors almost never exhibit good conductivity.

The point of a wires insulators is to (1)keep the conductors from shorting & (2)protect the wire from the outside world. I would say that if a wire is not being protected, the manufacturer is not doing his job. Even if they are using a material which does not provide that protection because of sonic reasons, at today's prices, they more than owe it to their customers to insulate the insulator. Provide some means of protecting their wire and our investment.
Cardas recommends against silver. Check out his web site, I forget if it was in the FAQ or "insights". I think the category was "construction".
Hi Trelja - seems you are like an old buddy after I have been away from these forumns for so long. You may be right about the Teflon thing, but the thing I read was definitely talking about using silver purely to avoid corrosion of the copper due to interaction with the dialectric, not for any 'sound' reasons.
Red, I think I speak for a lot of us here when I say that I wish you came around more, like things used to be. That goes for you too, Bruce!

Upon thinking of your post, I am tending to agree with your premise. Teflon and copper would have no interaction with one another. However, I can see how the plasticizers(almost always pthalates) in the teflon tubing, added to make the insulation flexible, probably have an acidic, therefore corrosive effect.

Copper reacts readily with all manner of materials, and this reaction(corrosion) would definitely be detrimental in the long run. Now, I believe I finally understand the reason behind many copper cables deteriorating over time, most notably the wire used inside Legacy speakers exhibiting their notorious green degradation(copper sulfate?) despite being protected from the outside elements. The copper is being attacked from inside the insulation.

Silver coating on copper would provide a useful means of protection. Silver is one of the 8 precious metals, a main characteristic of this category being its members resistance to reacting with other compounds. So, I now see a potential long term benefit to silver coated copper. Those old engineers again get a tip of my hat. I think the cable world needs more material scientists designing products and less marketing/salespeople.

Now, I leave it to the cable producers(uuuggghhhh) to produce good sounding silver coated copper audio cables. While I admit to taking a step forward in this thread towards this material, I still maintain that the material is used mostly as a tool to sell a cable at a higher price/markup.
It was asserted in this thread that silver-plating will cause the high frequencies to travel faster than the lows, and thus smear out the signal when it arrives at its destination. Like a lot of things, this sounds good at first inspection, but let's see . . .

You're really talking about something called group delay here. I haven't looked up the propagation velocities for cable, but let's make some really, really outlandish assumptions and see how it works. We'll have the 20kHz signals travel at lightspeed (can't get much faster than that!), and the 20Hz signals at just 10% of that speed. For a 10 meter cable (again, several times beyond ordinary), it'll take the 20kHz signal about 33 nanoseconds to make the trip; in this exagerated example, the 20 Hz signal takes about 330 nanoseconds. Now, a 20 kHz signal has a period of 50 microseconds, so the 300 nanoseconds late arrival of the low frequency signal corresponds to less than a 2.5 degree phase shift in the 20 kHz signal! This is virtually guaranteed to be inaudible.

Going to real-world numbers reduces the phase shift to maybe 0.1 degree. Unless your amplifier is in one county and your speakers in the next, group delay in cables is not an issue. Love silver-plated cables or hate'em, phase/group delay is not the cause.