Highly Polished wire????

Here's one for all those Mat Science gurus..
OK we have all read this... "polished to a mirror finish to further reduced surface impurities.... Polished with what?

Seems like the cure worse than the disease? Wouldn't you introduce more impurities by polishing with a foreign substance. What's the secret formula to remove "impurities" without introducing new ones???

Is it just marketing hype?

- Dan
According to Dr. Strassner, the cable and current physicist and engineer behind HMS cables, polishing cables to a "mirror like" finish is nothing more than a marketing hype.
Like the Nordost Vlahalla cables, his copper conducters used in the Grand Finale line of cables are silver plated with a special bonding process. This is, according to him, the only way to get a good sounding conductor. And Nordost with the Valhalla and HMS with the Grand Finale cables have proven this. Audition these cables and you will understand.
Interesting Tekunda, you waltz into this thread and inform us that your main squeeze (Dr. Strassner) says polishing cables to a "mirror like" finish is MARKETING HYPE.

And then you screw with our minds by informing us about some super fancy "Special Bonding Process" by which Nordost and HMS silver plate their wire - is this not marketing hype as well?

Suddenly I feel strangely compelled to buy Tekunda's cables simply because of the special bonding process.
IT's the bonding!
IT's the bonding!
IT's the bonding!
IT's the bonding!
IT's the bonding!
IT's the bonding!
Oh snap out of it.
Resistance cannot be futile.
As a former chemist/material scientist, I have done a lot of work with metals and electricity. From whatever has not been forgotten by me, I can say that polishing metals does change a component's electrical properties. This is easily seen via resistivity/conductivity. We often burnished our contacts(a pencil eraser or fiberglass brush can work well), and the differences were certainly measurable.

The way two materials mate together is a very esoteric thing. The overriding goal is to achieve what is referred to as an "ohmic contact". That is techobabble for saying that the two materials marry well. No two disimilar materials ever marry as well as the same material to itself.

Silver was always far better in making connections than gold, and silver alloys(platinum/silver or palladium/silver) were better than silver as time goes by. In fact, 45% silver/55% palladium has been used for about 80 years when it comes to REALLY critical connections(military, not audio). This alloy is able to very nearly achieve a TCR(temperature coefficient of resistance) of zero. Which means that when put through mil - spec testing, in this case measuring resistance over a range of -55C to +125C, the resistance almost does not change. And, that holds true over time/use/fatigue.

As far as how all of my useless experience translates to audio, that is a bit more complicated.

I will say that AudioQuest sure markets the importance of the surface quality of a conductor. But, I feel that the sonics of their cables are no more or less superior to anyone elses. They have always maintained that the music rides along a wire's surface, hence its importance. Theoretically, if that is true, doing away with the impurities(such as oxides and sulfides) on a wires surface would pay real dividends.

However, many a cable manufacturer asserts that what their cable offers is the key to good sound. Whatever that technology may be. Also, if Nordost's technique is being held up as the only way to produce a good sounding cable, then I certainly cannot buy into any of this argument.

While copper and silver do combine well(check out a phase diagram), the real reason copper wire is plated with silver is to make it last longer; economics. The long term effects of silver(or any material) coming in contact with another material is in question.

For example, current flow will cause silver to strongly migrate through soda lime glass. Think this is not a real world example? Well, many high end resistors(Vishay, Holco, etc.) are cermet(ceramic - metallic) in composition, using glass as their bonding mechanism. That glass can be made of anything, as electronic glasses are infinite in number. Hopefully, it isn't soda lime glass, but as it is dirt cheap, it is prevalent. The industry can show SEM(scanning electron micrograph) after SEM of silver migration through a conductor/resistor it is joined to.

From an audio perspective, I have heard Ray Kimber worry about the long term effects of silver plated copper. It was a degradation question, from what I remember. Both he and AudioQuest have always disparaged silver plated copper as sounding horrible; bright, irritating, splashy. Although, now I think AQ is selling a silver plated conductor. I guess whatever sells...

Personally, I believe that better sound can sometimes come about by using the same material from a cable's stem to stern. I have heard cables with silver plugs, solder, and wire, and the sound was quite special. Natural, smooth, grainless. Not that this is a do or die statement. There is no such thing in audio, or wire. And, I think, that is my real overall point.

I am very impressed with that post. So if you were to get some fine silver wire, would you polish it? With what and then how would you clean it after polishing. You wouldn't happen to have a SEM handy would you .. :-)

- Dan