Has anybody tried using single solid core cables?


At a recent hi-fi show an exhibitor auditioning $47K speakers repeatedly asserted the following: "Any solid core wire, even $0.03 a foot is better than any multi-strand available. Experiment for yourselves, you will be amazed."

My question before I ditch my multi-stranded Audioquest Indigo cables in favor of 4 individual single solid core 18 gauge cobber cables from Home Depot for my newly acquired SA Mantra 50s, has anyone tried using single solid core wires?
arcamadeus
I've been wanting to try it out for years. I have rolls of solid core 12 gauge house wire doing nothing. No spades, just fold a loop around a pair of needle nose pliers and try it out.
Would'nt it be a pisser if I liked it better...?
Tears of sorrow or tears of joy...?
-John
Solid core has its advantages..
i would not go so far as to say any old solid core crap is going to beat any good stranded cables..
But for those interested in experimenting.. Worth doing.
And seriously all you need is something 14 gauge or smaller. ten gauge would be not so great.
I have found solid core copper sounds better than stranded based on my experiments both as speaker cable and hook up wire inside tube amps.

Stranded is softer with less focus and reduced dynamics. This is something I have heard in my DIY cables and branded cables. Just my experience.
I, too, have found and prefer, solid core cables to stranded. Also, try and forgo the connectors and go bare wire (commando, for those who eschew underwear) since all connectors impart their own sound signature.

All the best,
Nonoise
Might be a dumb question (wouldn't be my first) but isn't solid core part of Paul
Speltz's story re his Anti-Cables? The virtue of solid core is not a new assertion,
I don't think...although it is often coupled with high purity, continuously cast,
"single crystal" claims as well.
Arcamadeus,
I try to avoid all encompassing statements or proclamations as there are always exceptions.
I will say I presently use solid core silver IC and speaker cables(bare wire to the speaker and amplifier terminals)and they are beautifully natural sounding, a joy and an asset to have in my system.
Charles,
Yes, I now use solid core silver cables all around and my experience mirrors what Charles just said.
YMMV but I also prefer solid core.ClearDay works best for me.I actually did hook up some 12 gage Romex(house wire) as speaker cables out of curiosity one day.The result was a smooth sound and no dynamics.Just as well,that stuff is so hard to work with!
I have the Clear Day solid core silver speaker cables. I also have the Morrow SP-6 and Anti-Cables. The Clear Day is much much better than the Anti-Cables and better than the Morrows.
12-30-13: Charles1dad
I try to avoid all encompassing statements or proclamations as there are always exceptions.
+1. Well said, Charles. To me the main usefulness of an unequivocal all-encompassing statement such as the one quoted by the OP, that not only excludes the possibility of exceptions but also fails to take into account the possibility that component dependencies may be involved, is that it helps to (negatively) calibrate the credibility of the person making the statement.

Arcamadeus, I'm not sure from your post if you mean four 18 gauge wires total (one for + and one for - on each speaker), or four wires for each speaker (two for + and two for -), or possibly even four wires for + and another four for - on each speaker.

Given the low impedance of your speakers (nominally 4 ohms, but most likely lower than that at some frequencies), if the length of the run is typical, say 6 to 12 feet, I would recommend that you use at least two of the 18 gauge wires for each polarity (+ and -). Or else use heavier gauge wire.

Also, you may find that you obtain better upper treble extension if you twist the + and - conductors together, say 3 or 4 times per foot. That will lower inductance, which if the + and - solid core conductors are physically separated might be high enough in relation to the speaker impedance to have perceptible effects in the upper treble region. The longer the run, the greater the likelihood of that effect being audibly significant.

Regards,
-- Al
My question before I ditch my multi-stranded Audioquest Indigo cables in favor of 4 individual single solid core 18 gauge cobber cables from Home Depot for my newly acquired SA Mantra 50s, has anyone tried using single solid core wires?
Arcamadeus

The AQ Indigo+ is solid core construction.
http://www.audioquest.com/archives/

Speaker cables >> Spiraled Hyperlitz >> Indigo+
.
Another + for the Clear Day Double Shotgun speaker cables.
.
I'm not sure why cables have to be thick since speaker source impedance for back EMF is mostly resistive but it will lower inductance of straight wire. Skin effect starts at gauge 18 in copper at 20kHz. Stranding wires will make it worse because current will flow toward outside jumping from strand to strand thru impurities while skin effect still exists. Better solution is to use insulated strands. Placing them in regular fashion puts them in magnetic field of each other still allowing some skin effect. Better solution is to place them either on hollow tube (like in Indigo) or as a tape so that each strand is only in magnetic field of neighboring strands. I don't know what is audible and what is not but Indigo was great improvement over thick stranded Monster Cable (that was plain horrible). Later I found Indigo to be thin sounding and replaced it with Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun that I will likely keep forever. It is total of gauge 6 and I have no idea why.
Jea48, good call on the Indigo. Maybe the OP has a counterfeit.
I'm another who has come back to solid core cables and at this stage am no longer searching. My preference is copper and am happy with the older Audioquest cables such as Crystal or any in that vein.
Not sure about using household wiring but if you have it on hand and are curious, give it a try and let us know.
Jea48, am I missing something here? The Indigo diagram at the link you
provided seems to show 8 strands of 17, 19, & 21 gauge solid copper conductors
per cable. Not a single solid conductor that the OP seemed to be interested in.
This might explain their description of Indigo as being stranded. I guess the less
desirable alternative would have been if the individual conductors themselves
had been stranded rather than solid. Have to say the number of cable offerings
from AudioQuest (current and archived) really has me scratching my head.
Could all those offerings really represent significant technical/sonic differences?
Solid core singular conductors is why I prefer Cabledyne cables. They are also available in copper or silver wire. I have always found multiple or stranded conductor cables to sound phasey in the mid-high range.
Jea48, am I missing something here? The Indigo diagram at the link you
provided seems to show 8 strands of 17, 19, & 21 gauge solid copper conductors
per cable. Not a single solid conductor that the OP seemed to be interested in.
12-31-13: Ghosthouse
Look at the AQ Link again. Each of the solid core wires are individually insulated. If stranded each group of + and – would be bare wires with only a covering of insulation over each group.
The equivalent wire size for the Indigo cable is 12 ga.

As for the OP feeding his speakers with only one solid core #18 ga wire for each + and - terminal I would not think that would work too well for the sound of the speakers or for the amp. I will leave the technical why nots to Almarg and Kijanki.

SA Mantra 50 speakers.

This might explain their description of Indigo as being stranded.
Could you please point out where AQ says the Indigo uses stranded wire.

I suggest you reread Kijanki post again. What he says is basically what Bill Low of AQ has been saying for years.

AQ cable theory

http://www.audioquest.com/pdfs/aq_cable_theory.pdf
.
Great question!! I've tried the expensive firehoses, multi-threaded, and the stuff from Home Depot - yes, the solid core - I think it's the 14 gauge. The solid core from the hardware store wasn't bad, but I much preferred the solid core Anti Cables. I currently use MapleShade Helix solid core. Very small gauge compared to the Anti Cables, but both sound good. And the price is right too! More than the solid core from Home Depot, but for $150 or so, you get about a 12' pair.
Re the Indigo cable and the solid/stranded question, while a case could be made for referring to it as solid core, IMO (based on what I perceive to be the most common usages of the terms) cables employing any form of Litz construction (i.e., a single overall conductor consisting of a group of individually insulated conductors) should not be referred to as either solid core or stranded. It's simply a different animal than what both terms are generally used to refer to.
As for the OP feeding his speakers with only one solid core #18 ga wire for each + and - terminal I would not think that would work too well for the sound of the speakers or for the amp. I will leave the technical why nots to Almarg and Kijanki.
I agree, as indicated in my earlier post, unless perhaps the cables are unusually short. Simply put, the resistances of typical lengths of 18 gauge speaker cable are high enough to conceivably/perhaps/maybe under some circumstances result in sonic effects that are at least slightly audible.

First, the combined resistance of the two conductors in a 10 foot run of 18 gauge solid core wire is about 0.128 ohms. For the OP's nominally 4 ohm speaker impedance, that would limit the damping factor seen at the speaker terminals to no more than 31, no matter how high the amplifier's damping factor may be.

Now a case could be made that damping factors above a few tens of ohms are overkill with most speakers, and that happens to be my opinion FWIW. But I don't consider my opinion to be the last word on the subject, and a lot of audiophiles and designers believe otherwise.

Second, when cable resistance is high enough to constitute a non-negligible fraction of speaker impedance, the interaction of that resistance with the speaker's impedance vs. frequency characteristics may conceivably affect tonal characteristics. 0.128 ohms is 3.2% of 4 ohms. Is 3.2% a "non-negligible fraction"? I don't know. But it seems high enough to suggest that it would be best to not take any chances, given that the percentage can be easily reduced.

On the other hand, I am aware that over the years there has been some advocacy for narrow gauge solid core speaker wire, even 20 or 22 gauge. I believe some of the writers at the British publication HiFi News & Record Review advocated for that twenty or more years ago. While I don't doubt that in SOME systems the results of that approach may be subjectively preferable, I would have to think that what is happening in most of those cases is that the cable is altering the sound in a way that is complementary to the colorations of the rest of the system. In other words, IMO it amounts in most cases to applying a band-aid.

Happy New Year to all!

-- Al
Hi Jea48

Sorry for the confusion (trying to be genderless by use of [their] rather than
[his]). I was not saying AQ claimed to use stranded wire. I was referring to the
OP's description: [My question before I ditch my multi-stranded Audioquest
Indigo cables....]. Multiple solid conductors vs multiple stranded conductors vs
single solid core and their equivalency or lack thereof appears to be the issue.
Al, perhaps you're right (as usual) because if there is any chance of smearing sound because of small cable resistance vs frequency change (caused by skin effect) when wire is too thick, then it has to apply to changing (vs. frequency) impedance of the speaker loading, when wire is too thin.

Perhaps solid gauge 14 can be a compromise (AQ type 4 etc) without paying too much.

Happy New Year!
Thanks, Kijanki. Good analogy.

A slight correction to my previous post. When I said:
Now a case could be made that damping factors above a few tens of ohms are overkill with most speakers ....
Damping factors are of course not measured in ohms. They are a ratio of two values that are each measured in ohms, so they have no units. Therefore delete the words "of ohms" from the quoted sentence.

A happy and healthy 2014 to all,
-- Al
Innocent question: are the Anti Cables directional, I.e., do they come with arrows indicating direction of signal?
Re the Indigo cable and the solid/stranded question, while a case could be made for referring to it as solid core, IMO (based on what I perceive to be the most common usages of the terms) cables employing any form of Litz construction (i.e., a single overall conductor consisting of a group of individually insulated conductors) should not be referred to as either solid core or stranded. It's simply a different animal than what both terms are generally used to refer to.
12-31-13: Almarg
Al,

I have to disagree with you on this one. I see a difference between a conductor made up of several bare wires that are in direct contact with one another covered by a single insulation covering to that of several insulated solid core wires grouped together under a common jacket.


Here is an example of a stranded wire conductor made up of several solid core bare wires covered by an insulation covering making up a single conductor. (Example, look at the 500 awg conductor. It is made up of 37 #12 awg bare solid core wires.)

Here is a 4 pair CAT6 data cable made up of 8 insulated #23 awg solid core wires.
If we were to connect all the bared copper ends together at each end we would now have a single conductor made up of 8 individually insulated #23 awg solid core wires.

If you go to the Audioquest and look at the DRAGON speaker cable you will see it is made up of 14 insulated solid core FPS silver conductors.

2) #21 awg Polyethylene insulated wires.
2) #21 awg Carbon Loaded Polyethylene insulated wires.

2) #19 awg Polyethylene insulated wires.
2) #19 awg Carbon Loaded Polyethylene insulated wires.

3) #17 awg Polyethylene insulated wires.
3) #17 awg Carbon Loaded Polyethylene insulated wires.

I see the raw cable as a 14 conductor multi wire cable.

Jim
I see a difference between a conductor made up of several bare wires that are in direct contact with one another covered by a single insulation covering to that of several insulated solid core wires grouped together under a common jacket.
Hi Jim,

I do too, but I don't see that that conflicts with what I said. What I said, in essence, is that it would be misleading to refer to the AQ Indigo cable as either solid core or stranded, as those terms are generally used. It is neither.

All the best for 2014.

-- Al
Geoff - FWIW - the AntiCable interconnects I have ARE directionally marked. Don't have speaker cables from them (yet). I'm guessing those would be marked as well.
Innocent question: are the Anti Cables directional, I.e., do they come with arrows indicating direction of signal?
01-01-14: Geoffkait
Innocent question???
.
They appear to be.

http://anticables.com/speaker-wires/2-channel#!/~/product/category=3449817&id=14618506

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I have been through the speaker wire journey and settled on DNM Stereo Precision speaker cables. DNM has used solid core copper in their designs since the beginning about 25+ years. If your amp uses feedback look into the HFTN add on and I'm pretty sure you will be very happy.
Do a searh they are worth looking into.
Good luck,

R
Hey everyone,

Thought I would chime in since I just did this upgrade. From my experience, I can agree with the blanket statement quoted in the OP's posting. But that's just my experience, so far, FWIW.

My system is rigged with 100% Anti-Cables for Speakers, ICs and Power Cords. Since I have WAF considerations, my speaker cable lengths are absurd: 33ft and 40ft (I know, that's like an audiophile horror movie). With those lengths, I can submit that in my very revealing system, supremely pure solid core copper wires definitely trump stranded cables of similar size and length.

I had been running the original anti-Cable Speaker Cables for many years and they sounded so sweet. But I just installed Paul's Level 3 cables, which are now directional, higher purity and beautifully woven. The difference, ROOTB (right out of the box), is not at all subtle. What the level 3 cables have shown me already, is that especially for long runs, going to 9 gauge of solid core is definitely an upgrade that's easy to justify.

Paul just came out with solid silver phono cables, which I heard at a friend's place... Nice!

Side note: I'm trying to get some forum traction for this acronym ROOTB since I write it often. If you do as well, please pass it on.
On the house wiring, #14 gauge. I'm an electrician and I was surprised to find that Audioquest Type 4 solid core cables are much stiffer and stronger yet not brittle as you would expect. The type 4 has 4 conductors, 2 17 gauge and 2 20 gauge. Whatever Audioquest is doing to the copper seems to work, they are much superior to the stranded copper #12 they replaced in my system.
My entire system is solid core AQ stuff, and it works as advertised. Some things in cable theory make sense, and others not so much (to my addled brain anyway), and spiraled solid core done well does make sense as a noise reduction idea. Anti cables work well for some people, but the fragility of the merely painted bare wire seems dangerous territory so my rig looks like it's being attacked by bungee cords...and that's fine with me.
Wolf, which IC's do you have, what do you think of the Big Sur or the Syndey interconnects from Audioquest?
Wolf,

I like AQ a lot and am thinking of getting another pair for my Thiel 2.7's Which ones are you using? I have had the Rocket 33 and Rocket 88's with DBS. Thinking of getting another pair of 33's.
Type 8...bought used. Haven't tried the DBS stuff but I assume it works well.
After many years of trying every brand and geometry of cable within reason. I have always found myself settling with solidcore cables. Generally they always seemed to sound more focused and direct sonically.

I like the AQ DBS cables I have tried, but they seem to focus more on treble extension and speed. I just find they don't do timbre and 3D depth so well when compared to others. A little solidstate sounding if you know what I mean?

I too have ended up with DNM after many exotic cables (analysis plus golden oval/AQ WBY/ Virtual dynamics Genisis/Kimber Black pearl/ etc) Although I do like MIT cables very much for their 3D depth.
Hmmm, Wonder if DNM would be a good match with my Thiels?? I will look into them as well as the Rocket 33's.
I use Diamondback XLRs for balanced runs from my DAC and from the preamp to amp, RCA King Cobras from my phono pre to the preamp (Mogami Neglex from my turntable to the phono pre), a VDM5 silver sp/dif from my streamer and a VDM3 from my CD player. Nothing fancy, just things that seem to work well in my rig, and most all bought on the used market. I also use a cheap solid core AQ IC to my second amp which is a rarely used outdoor speaker driver. All of these cables are beautifully built and finished...but it's bungees...all bungees. I think generally AQ makes well executed stuff, but haven't used any of their newer things.
Solid core is all I use now. I make my own from home depot wire.

Actually last night I made some solid core 12 gauge romex power cords for my mono amps. I'm blown away at how much the sound improved. Super fast and tight, very detailed but natural, a lot more open and airy with a much better soundstage. Better bass. Everything was just so much nicer.

I already had solid core interconnects I made
I have the SA Mantra 10s. They are your speakers as monitors (one step down). Before I had the SA 505 there entry stand mount. I have always used solid core exposure wire due to having an used exposure amp. I have had great results with these solid core wires. While researching newer cables someone on another fourm told Me his SA 505s were great behind solid core wires. This leads me to believe soild core are a good match for System Audio Speakers.

I would try the cheap wire first. If good go to a nicer pair used before you go crazy. I thought I saw 8 ft pair of exposure wire for 100 bucks. PM and I can direct you to ad. (No affiliation with seller).
So I decided today to change to stranded wire for my power cords. The solid core were way way to stiff.

However I went up a gauge. And made them a foot shorter. So they are now 10 gauge that I bought at home depot (14 feet for $25!!). Copper is copper.

The sound is better, more natural, and better imaging and depth, clarity. Basically everything rounded up a notch.

Pretty much wire thickness is king. Solid core is best but thicker gauged stranded can beat it out since it's got more conductive area. Which the 10 gauge does and sounds amazing. Another reason is I think the stranded gets a better connection when screwed down, it forms into the clamp better. And also the cord can bend and it's not tweaking and sits better in the outlets.
If you want to see how good some cheap solid core cable can be, try the new DNM Resolution, which is 1.30mm width, and has a fixed spacer for consistent distance between each leg.

As Nonoise said earlier, try wiring the solid core cable direct (especially speaker cables) because the connectors often really color the sound.
I've listened to single strands of every gauge there is. Use 22 gauge solid core for speakers and use 26 gauge solid core cable for interconnects. Any smaller for interconnect and the frequency response shifts upwards with not enough weight. Same thing for 22 gauge for speaker cable, 24 gauge is to small. I can guarantee with absolute certainty this is so. Larger single strands do not transmit full frequency bandwidt. In the early 80's an English company exported these very same gauges laid side by side like 300ohm antenna cable and charged a lot for these. Try these two gauges and tell me how much you liked it.
What exactly are the sonic benefits of solid core cables?

I've re-read this thread and don't have a clear picture of how they sound different from other designs. If someone could take a shot at a general description, it would be appreciated. I've actually just switched from a Kimber cable to a solid core JW Audio cables and it sounds different but I don't want to generalize based on one experience & system.
I see most Acoustic Revive cable products are solid core. Anyone have a lead on where I might find some Acoustic Revive bulk AC cable? I want to try some as an experiment.
Jult52,

Solidcore sonic virtues. - clarity, focus, dynamics, bass.
Also, coherence, which there is not a lot of nowadays. Most folk confuse some added body (think thickening, like roux) to the music and are willing to sacrifice detail and clarity for it.
I've only gotten more clarity and detail with every upgrade
in gauge. But it becomes more natural and organic. It does
give you more body and bass. But people have designed their
system around cables that left that very last part of the
signal out or thin. So when it's added how it should be it's
to warm for them and to much. The solid thicker cable is
conducting better and getting the signal there more intact
and complete how it should. A system should be designed
around that complete full bodied signal. All electricity
cares about is getting to it's destination the quickest
easiest route with the least resistance. Do that and you
keep the signal the most complete.

Anyway, today I upgraded my interconnects. I hand made some
with 14 gauge solid core wire from Home depot. VERY thick
and heavy duty. Can barely budge it. It's kind of tough to
work with but well worth it. Everything I said above
applied, more detail, clarity, but with a more organic
natural feel to it.

I also upgraded my speaker wire. I can't handle solid core
for that. To stiff. To hard to get to lay down and look nice
too. So I got 10 gauge stranded with 4 wires in each. So
doubled up at the spades on each end. It pretty much equals
an 8 gauge now I believe. I used solid copper spades and
solid copper banana plugs (with no coating, just solid
copper). These ends are awesome. Found them online. Brass is
horrible to use. It's something like %25 as conductive as
copper. It's like the signal hits a brick wall when it hits
brass.

Same thing, more natural, more full, more clarity, more
detail (but organic and real). The soundstage at this point
is incredibly large and deep and dynamic. Can hear so much
of the room it's in, where recordings were made. I can hear
the traffic outside of a closed room in one. I can hear a
guy saying to turn the mic up behind the glass in the
control room in a Metallica song. I've had thousands of
dollars of cable and these hand made cables that cost me
less than $300 would play with all the big boys. I'm blown
away I can get this out of my system.

You can build your own speakers at a fraction of the cost or
retail and get the same sound or better, no reason you can't
do it with wires and cords. Just takes your time.

I have some better speakers on the way. LSA Statements, I'll
let you know how everything plays with it.

What happened to the OP? Did you try anything yet?
Thanks for the descriptions.
I could build my own solid core cables, but I might have trouble cramming them into bungee cords so I let AQ do that for me.
I'm using solid soft annealed 14 and 18 gauge,.99999 silver wire to biwire my speakers.
This is the best speaker cable I have ever tried.