Dumb question #643: should speaker cables last a lifetime?


This assumes I take proper care, normal non extreme environment, etc. and the cables are high quality (shielding, etc). Will cables corrode internally on their own over time or should they last a lifetime?
aberyclark
corrosion will take place on exposed areas - like the connections to the amp and speakers

gold plate is useful on connectors for interconnects, and on equipment, and I always use a Caig product (it is an electrically conductive polymer solution) - Ciag also makes a good corrosion cleaner in a spray can

you always want to break & make the connections periodically - maybe every year(??)

Tweakers will mess with their gear so often corrosion cannot form

I replace my Maggie speakers with a new model every 20 years... that helps with the connections
Thanks for info. I unhook speaker side of cables probably once a year (cleaning floor etc) but have never really unhooked amp side ( bare wire connection). I will unhook that as well and ruffle wife ends next time).

I'm looking at a new pair of Zu Event cables this year and would like them to be the last ones I purchase ($1000 or so- which is expensive to me for cables).

 
Like your car needs a regular oil change - speakers cables pick up all kinds of crap and gunk as well as carbon build up from the power amplifier - best to change cables every six months.
Very good cable will last because of the way its made cheap cable good luck.
Yes, your Zu Event speaker cables should last a lifetime if they are not exposed to long periods of direct sunlight or moisture.
Yes, they will last.....unless you start reading audio forums :-)
Yes, they will last.....unless you start reading audio forums :-)

All sorts of entertaining posts on the various audio forums. Sometimes I have to look twice at some of the snake oil that comes across. 
The wires will last unless you cut them or run over them with the vacuum.  Whoever said you need to replace them every six months doesn't know what they are talking about, just like the president elect.
The Zu are well made cables and should be good for many years.
A lifetime (now about 80 years) might be pushing it. Heck, by the time that happens we probably will have speaker implants in our heads.
@stereo5  shadorne has been posting here an awfully long time I am certain his post was tongue in cheek.
"@stereo5 shadorne has been posting here an awfully long time I am certain his post was tongue in cheek." I see that now he has something like 5K+ posts. In that case, I stand corrected. I’m was reading it on my iPhone and it didn’t show the number of posts. My apologies to shadorne. It did sound awful fishy, lol.
aberyclark-

I am a "cable" guy, first and foremost. This is the forgotten component by many. No doubt that the technology and materials change profoundly every 10 years or so.  To answer your query- yes cables can a lifetime. After 20 years will there be a significant update? Yes as well. At some point in the future your gear will sound dated no matter how good it was brand new.
Cabling will age and/or sound dated too.




2nd note;

there are no dumb question(s) regarding Cabling.  Happy Listening!
Stereo5...Even if you're incapable of understanding satire, at least you were able to jam in your political commentary. Thank goodness for that.

Let's look from technical viewpoint.  Small amount of DC voltage on the amp's output, always present, causes drift of electrons called "drift velocity".  After a while all high quality electrons, that you paid for,  will be replaced by plain ordinary electrons.  
Nice K!   (Pssst ... Stereo5: he's kidding ; )

Thanks for all the info. I'm almost 50, so I'm probably good on the lifetime part. 

Jafant, what you say makes a lot of sense. I guess with anything, stereo, cars,etc, no matter how high of quality, it will eventually be imporoved with something better. 
if you feel a need to replace be SURE you can return the new ones if they don't sound better to you

Beware placebo effect and use blind testing

Distinguish new cables from just making a new connection (see corrosion comments above)

Speakers are most important, followed by room treatments - upgrade those things first.
I had a set of cables with a clear covering and over 15 years all the copper inside the cable also oxidized, turning green, not just the ends. So I assume that even good quality cable might slowly deteriorate over that period of time
clear isn't good

also could have been low quality cable(?)

and.. the surface of the Cu oxidized, but did the core?
Copper oxide slows down further oxidation.
I think the cable hype is just that, but the oxidation thing has got me thinking...  thanks! 
Mitch, stereo5, that’s funny lol..they should last more than a lifetime, here at Agon cables lifespan is only three weeks... Either we retire them or replace them as often than our underwear...
If you clean your cable ends (speaker and interconnects) once a year, you will probably feel less urgency to upgrade your cables. It will likely sound like a good component upgrade. Try CRC QD Contact Cleaner from Home Depot or Harbor Freight. About $7-$8 for a spray can that will last many years.
gammajo has made the observation I have been waiting for:   I too have modest quality 10G fine-strand copper speaker cable with clear sheathing.  Within 5 years, green oxidation is evident over the copper's surface throughout the length of the cables.  
The question for our group is this:  if we keep our connection (exposed) ends clean, does the fact that the surface of the sheathed strands is oxidized matter?  randy-11 makes a point:  is the core oxidized? I would say 'no', but isn't it true that signal transmission takes place primarily on wire strand surfaces, so who cares about the "core"?  
The fact that our sheathing is clear should not matter (light certainly does not cause this oxidation...)...so one might think that this happens to opaque sheath cabling as well...
So, electrophysicists weigh in:  does oxidized fine copper strand speaker cable (with clean connections) impede signal transmission significantly?  Thanks.

Listen, we're talking about electricity.  One of the primal forces of the universe.  A rampaging storm of destruction hurtling down a conductor only a few millimeters wide.  After a few years a speaker cable is a molten pile of slag and has to be replaced.  You've heard of the Tunguska event?  That happened when someone didn't replace his speaker cable in time and containment was breached.  Luckily that was before NEC codes and plenum ratings so it can't happen again
I have owned, built, and used a lot of cables.  The only cables I have that have oxidized to any noticeable extent were old Monster stranded speaker cable covered in their clear, rubbery-feeling PVC casing.   The interface between the wire and the casing turned green and, when cut, the wire was clearly oxidized throughout the entire thickness.  I have other copper cable/wire over 20 years old that show no visual signs of corrosion, even at the ends which have not been connected to anything for years.  My experience is that good-quality copper, in most dielectrics should not noticeably corrode, except maybe at the connections if they are exposed to harsh environments - such as connecting wires in my pool heater.  This could be caused by galvanic corrosion, which requires two dissimilar metals to be in contact and also requires a wet environment (a conductive liquid).  Another type of reaction can occur when sulphur is present in the environment as copper sulfide can turn copper black.  I suspect currently manufactured, purpose-built audio cables using at least OFC should not have corrosion problems.  For the cables I have constructed from cotton covered copper, I wrap the assembly with a thicker-than-typical (and therefore more abrasion-resistant) teflon tape.

I did some internet research on the cause of the greenish corrosion I observed on my Monster cables and found it is related to compounds in the PVC covering, mostly prevalent from about 1965 to 1971.  However, since Monster was not founded until 1979, I suspect the reported time-frame is incorrect.  The text below is what I found that mostly summarizes the commonly reported cause of the green color and subsequent corrosion;
"Flexible PVC contains plasticizers which can be any compatible material that allows the polymer chains to move more easily and impart flexibility. One such material and very commonly used is DOP, di-octyl phthalate also known as DEHP, Di ethylhexyl phthalate. 

Initially when flexible PVC is heated two processes tend to occur (introduction of UV or more powerful radiation complicates matters): 
1 The plasticiser becomes mobile and wants to diffuse out of the PVC, 
2 HCl is released. 
The dominant of these two depends on temperature, the higher the temperature, the more favourable to #2. 

If the flexible PVC is a cable insulation in contact with Cu and heated e.g. highly loaded mains cable, the HCl will react with the copper to form copper chloride which can absorb water vapour if conditions favour and/or complex with the plasticiser (DOP) to form a green "gloop". (the chemistry behind the green colour is complicated ) 

It is the action of HCl which is important as it not only causes corrosion in the copper or other metal components, it also catalyses further degradation of the PVC and more HCl release so that the whole process can "run away with itself". If the HCl can escape, the process is less active; in a cable or unventilated enclosure the problem can be severe."
 
 
Current cable technology is no better than it was 40 years ago.

" Like your car needs a regular oil change - speakers cables pick up all kinds of crap and gunk as well as carbon build up from the power amplifier - best to change cables every six months."....

....Said the salesperson. ;^)
Current salesperson knowledge is no better than it was 40 years ago.
Helomech did we have magnet,liquid cables before 40 yrs ago ?Or are we waiting for air cables...salesman are better 40 yrs ago...now they just tell you Google it..