How Does Gold Wire Handle?


Thinking of building a pair of XLR interconnects using 26-28 gauge, 99.99% pure gold wire, 2-3 strands per conductor. As soft and malleable as gold is, I'm trying to imagine how it behaves--if you hold a 3-foot length by the ends and bring your hands together to bend it in a wide arc, I am imagining it just stays there, without any return. It would have to be carefully straightened out again, is this correct? It seems you wouldn't want to be bending these interconnects back and forth once made. How about silver and copper strands in these gauges? I hear the OCC in silver and copper handle/move better than non-OCC. I would be running any wire loosely in cotton and then teflon, much like the more successful designs out there. Thanks!
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&policy=eyjlehbpcnkioje1mdewmde4otqsimnhbgwiolsicmvhzcisimnvbnzlcnqixx0%3d&rotate=exif&signature=f589eaf36aed23aee9b59153985041c24895f52bcca37919ae1d4acd3c5a63f9&w=128jafreeman
Compared to copper, gold is a poor conductor - you would be building an
inferior cable

If you use a single strand then either copper or silver would be much better

Going to multiple strands of copper you have to think about stopping the
conductors from tarnishing inside the insulator.

This is not such a concern with silver, since the black tarnish also conducts
electricity almost as good as untarnished silver believe it or not.

See this PDF for details http://www.avoutlet.com/images/product/
additional/f/iacs_of_metals_n_solder.pdf

So why do they use gold to plate RCA plugs etc...? Because it does not
tarnish and it looks like a quality product. Not because of its electrical
properties. Rhodium is even worse, but it's a lot tougher than gold and
doesn't wear off as easily.

Good luck :-)
Agree that gold is a poor choice for conductivity and durability. People are conditioned to think it is the best...
Jafreeman, gold is very fragile and kinks much easier than silver and copper. It has memory, but not as much as silver and copper, but it will stay coiled if that is how it is stored. When threaded through cotton, the cotton adds stability and helps keep the wire from kinking.

Willewonka you are correct that gold is not as good a conductor as silver and copper, but conductance has little to do with the sonic result of the cable. Gold is the richest, most dimensional sounding metal I have used. In the gauges that are being discussed here, the slow often syrupy sound often associated with gold will be alleviated. In fact these gauges will provide a fast, transparent bottom end without the fatigue you would get from silver.

Good luck with your project, done right gold will provide you the best result available.

JD
I believe Jadem6 is guiding you straight. The results you will likely obtain in this case should be stellar. Nice bass articulation, some welcomed warmth and smoothness in the mids and highs with good extension at either end.

A couple things I would add though: many people on the bleeding edge of the metallurgy scene are now beginning to embrace tungsten in preference to gold. It is said to be even more dimensional with even more bloom and even smoother - in fact rather liquid sounding from the lower mids on up...all without sonic downside. But, I myself don't yet know how to source it or how much it costs.

Also, and although it's possibly a bit of a moot point really, but (just in case you don't know it already) in your OP you talk about OCC wire moving better than non-OCC wire. OCC wire has far fewer crystal boundaries, which of course they say is what makes for better group delay (in the conductor) and lower resistance. But, keep in mind (at least for future reference), that under a microscope, every time you bend the strands you introduce micro-fissures - no big deal per se with OFC - you have all those crystal boundaries per inch impeding the flow anyway. But, OCC wire is a different animal - almost no boundaries to start with at all. Introducing micro-fissures all along the length of this wire creates impedance (raises resistance) and introduces smearing. This is why you often don't (or shouldn't, at least) see OCC wire tightly braided into aggressive geometries. At that point about all you can really expect to have is an OCC design with just about equivalent performance with the same wire made from OFC - only more expensive...! I would bet the same holds true for either copper or silver (and bending probably doesn't do gold too many favors, either...but, I suspect gold is at least pliant enough to not incur as many micro-fissures from bending as copper or silver). Regards and good luck.
Ivan, very interesting about introducing micro fissures by too much bending of OCC wire. Could pure gold be beyond grain boundaries in its cohesive malleability? Gold can be rolled out to a nearly transparent film--this has to be a good sign in thinking of a wire as a continuous molecular structure without defect.

Jade, very informative on the fragility of a gold wire--I am leaning toward placing each wire into its own 2-3 mm inside-diameter cotton tube, then all into one teflon tube for each of pins 2 and 3. Thanks for your endorsement of gold as sounding best--exciting stuff.
Ja -

stick w/ either copper or silver.
I have used two gold based interconnect - Jade Audio pure gold and Tempo Audio hybrid gold/silver interconnect.

Gold has definitely a hause sound. Trebles are free from any grain, but at the same time bass lacks articulation and punch. After extensive listening I dropped an idea of gold cables.

Instead of that I would go for quality silver cables and add a gold wire Bybee purifiers.
Ja, that's a good question, although there is copper- and silver-leaf foil as well. But, I don't know because I don't have any hard info on how gold wire is made - if it is usually cast like OCC or drawn like regular wire. Then again, I've never heard of "OCC gold" wire. But, it may actually be easy enough to cast with its lower melting point and the fact that since it need not be made, because of price, in large quantities like copper that perhaps it could conceivably be made by more local foundries worldwide (AFAIK, there's only the one OCC foundry in existence located in Japan). My best guess at this point is that gold's crystal boundaries are likely of no real issue.
Why don’t any of the big cable companies use pure gold as their conductors in their top line?

24k is solid gold, but far from pure. Can you get 6N pure gold?
14k will suffice beautifully.
Because gold has inferior conductivity compared to copper and cost a lot more.

While I may believe that any objective difference between silver and copper is likely well below the threshold of being audible at least there is some science to support that fact that silver is a better conductor compared to copper (all other things being equal).

The purpose of the cable is to conduct the signal as perfectly as can be achieved and using a conductor that is known to be inferior makes absolutely no sense.
11-14-13: Brf
Why don’t any of the big cable companies use pure gold as their conductors in their top line?

24k is solid gold, but far from pure. Can you get 6N pure gold?

In a word....cost.
Analysis Plus offers their Golden Oval interconnects and speaker cables, which are gold-plated copper, and they list for $5,000 for a 1 meter pair of interconnects and $19,200 for an 8 foot pair of speaker cables. I can only imagine the prices if we are talking about pure gold. LOL!!
11-13-13: Jadem6
... gold is not as good a conductor as silver and copper, but conductance has little to do with the sonic result of the cable.
+1.

For line-level analog interconnect applications, differences in conductivity, and its reciprocal, resistance, are vastly too small in relation to the input impedance of the component that is being connected to have anything to do with whatever sonic differences may exist between cables made of the three materials.

Conductivity/resistance may of course have some significance in the case of speaker cables, depending on cable length, speaker impedance, criticality of woofer damping, and other factors.

Regards,
-- Al
Almarg - Good points. Any input on what sonic factors may be effected by the various materials?
Agree that gold is a poor choice for conductivity and durability. People are conditioned to think it is the best…

Well, I am one individual who is conditioned only by what I hear in direct cable comparisons in my own system. So far for me, the metallurgy combination that makes me dance is a combination of 24k gold and platinum.
11-14-13: Mceljo
Almarg - Good points. Any input on what sonic factors may be effected by the various materials?
I have no idea whatsoever :-)

I don't doubt that the different metals have a significant tendency towards having different sonic characters, to a greater or lesser degree depending on other aspects of the design of the particular cable, and on the characteristics of the components they are connecting. And considering the source, the rest of the paragraph from which the comment I previously seconded was taken strikes me as particularly credible:
11-13-13: Jadem6
... gold is not as good a conductor as silver and copper, but conductance has little to do with the sonic result of the cable. Gold is the richest, most dimensional sounding metal I have used. In the gauges that are being discussed here, the slow often syrupy sound often associated with gold will be alleviated. In fact these gauges will provide a fast, transparent bottom end without the fatigue you would get from silver.
But my feeling is that technical explanations that may be proffered for the sonic tendencies of the three metals will usually be highly speculative, and unprovable as a practical matter. There are too many variables that can affect cable performance other than the choice of what metal is used as the conductor, related to both the design of the cable and the characteristics of the components that are being connected. And explanations will almost inevitably not be amenable to QUANTITATIVE analysis, that can provide some perspective on the likelihood or lack thereof that a claimed effect is great enough to be audibly significant.

Best regards,
-- Al
Jafreeman, your design should produce excellent results with each strand separate. Are you planning on using gold for all three pins? You will want to protect all three with Teflon tubing. If your not considering using gold in pin one, you might want to think that through. I use a 24 gauge as well as some finer gauge in the one pin. For what ever the scientific reason, it matters.
Thanks to all--opinions vary according to experience with the different metals. There is a lot of testimony in favor of copper and silver--understandably, especially with copper, due to its low cost and nearly universal application as the metal of choice for electrical conduction. However, we are trying for high performance in this hobby, so nothing in our systems should be ordinary, even if traditional in industry and residential wiring. There is such a path dependence on copper wire, other metals are nearly regarded as experimental. Using gold and silver as wire is something of a shock to the psyche, it seems--gold more than silver, which is hailed as more conductive but also less forgiving in its results.

Perhaps wise if one proceeds with a design first using copper, then silver, and finally, gold--expensive in the end, not so much in the beginning. Once you start down a path, it's not easy to turn back or stop short, so I will ultimately try pure gold wire. Besides, there is too much testimony here extolling the virtues of gold, and this from established makers of gold cables and their customers. Sometimes, one has to act on what others have found.

One decision process in medicine is called empiric treatment. Say a patient has symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, diminished lung sounds, elevated white count. An MD is not sure yet if this is pneumonia, but without further evidence and, based on prior experience, he or she will treat that patient with an antibiotic as if they do have pneumonia. This is called treating the symptoms--the patient--empirically. There's a lot of prior experience here on 'gon, shared by those of you who build things, and I appreciate every word put down, especially from Jadem6, who must be regarded as the pioneer of gold cables.

JD, yes, I will use Teflon tubes over cotton tubes. I want to use three strands per pin--would you suggest laying all three in one cotton tube, or each in its own very small tube? I don't know why, but I am leaning toward the three small tubes into the Teflon tube. And, yes, the ground pin--what to do about that. I like to think it doesn't carry signal, but then, your experience says otherwise, and therefore, gold is needed there, as well? I'm going to run these cables from a Wadia player, so I only need one pair. I suppose I could spring for gold on the gound pin, per your recommendation.
As you may assume, I have tried every possible combination of materials for all three pins. I have tried copper, silver, palladium, gold and platinum. For what ever the reason, the materials in the #1 pin mater and have just as significant an affect as on the other two pins.

I have found all gold works best for all solid state equipment, and gold/platinum combination when used in a tube system. This is of course a generalization, and different ears will prefer different cables. It might be worth experimenting with platinum too, but only if you don't mind spending the extra money.

Now if you promise to not tell anyone my secrets, I will share what gauges I use in my reference cables. The #1 pin I use 1-30 gauge, 2-28 gauge and 1-24 gauge wire. In the #2 and #3 pins I use 2-30 gauge and 1-28 gauge wire. All wires are of course 99.99% pure gold solid wire.

I sleeve all three wires in the #2 and #3 pins into one 2mm cotton sleeve and sleeve the 24 gauge in its own sleeve for the #1 pin. I use Teflon tubes for all three pins to add strength to the assembly.

As you probably know I use 3/4" cotton piping to keep the three conductors approximately equally apart from one another.

I wish you luck on the project.

Jade
I suspect a proper evaluation of the various alternatives would be a little tedious given that all cables really do need to undergo both burn in and cryogenic treatment. Otherwise it's just a pig in a poke. Not to mention system and location eccentricities. Sometimes copper just plain sounds better than silver no matter what you do.
Amazing, Jade--kind of mind-blowing, actually. That you are mixing gauges in the #2 and #3 pins tells me the addition of a 28-gauge there has probably added something beyond three 30 gauge wires you have previously mentioned along the way. Seems traditional thinking around here suggests using the same gauges in each conductor, but then, advances come through experimenting on the same themes until something breaks through. I will follow your sage advice on the #1 pin by adding more wire mass to chassis/signal ground. I won't ask why--I'm sure someone else here will have some input on this.
In the interest of the thread, I should have stated my project goal--to exceed the performance of my Transparent Reference 1.5 meter XLR interconnects, purchased, about eight years ago for 4K. I have actually been fairly happy with these cables, but I really believe that, with the continued introduction of high-quality components on the DIY market this can now be achieved with careful technique and quality control.
Regarding the significance of how pin 1 is wired, I don't find it surprising that it can make a difference, although I would expect the magnitude and character of that difference to be dependent on the designs of the particular components that are involved.

Inter-chassis noise currents will inevitably flow through the pin 1 connection to some degree, due to ground loop and other effects. The magnitude and frequency characteristics of that noise will vary as a function of the resistance and inductance of the wiring that is connected between pin 1 of the two connectors. Depending on whether each of the two components connects pin 1 to its internal signal ground (which would be improper, but is often done nevertheless), or to chassis, or to chassis and then to signal ground through some impedance, some fraction of that noise current will inevitably find its way into audio circuitry, where it may intermodulate with or otherwise affect the audio signal.

Regards,
-- Al
Al, thanks for your concise explanation of what may be occurring through pin #1. This is very enlightening to me and, I presume, to others. There is so much opinion batted around on DIY cable threads that only seems to confuse rather than clarify. I would have continued to regard pin #1 as something of a nominal requirement, a connection made for the sake of continuity, for safety, a default run that allows me to ignore all the shielding opinions, ad nauseum. More so, congratulations--your paragraph is golden for me, the novice, and should be regarded as a breakthrough in relieving confusion for many.

Cheers,
Joe
Why don't you buy 300 grams of gold and make a cable your self?
Joe, thanks very much for your eloquently worded response. And best of luck on your project!

Best regards,
-- Al
Good luck on your project. Sounds like an interesting quest.
Why don't you buy 300 grams of gold and make a cable your self?

From a DIY perspective, I would say that would be almost impossible to do.