Interconnects: Silver, Copper or Silver Plated?


A new discussion on an old topic: your experiences with interconnect metallurgy.

I've recently tried several different cables of different metals: Cardas (Twinlink -- all copper); Nordost (silver-plated copper); and Lieder (all silver). Each has a different sound. My speakers (Snell A Reference Towers) are known for having somewhat dark highs. I found that the Cardas multiplied this tendency, and the music sounded muted and dull.

The Nordost -- for my ears and my system -- were far better. I'm currently using their Red Dawn balanced for the IC between the CD player (Sony XA7ES) and preamp (Plinius CD-LAD).

Then it came time to fiddle with the turntable's interconnects. Cardas again made the music dead. Nordost Blue Heaven was an improvement ... but with the cartridge's low output, and the Nordost's minimal insulation, I found that noise easily entered the signal path running from 'table to phono stage (Plinius Jarrah).

Then I came across a real find. One of the guys who put Siltech on the map is Jaap Gunter. He lives in the Netherlands; while no longer affiliated with Siltech (whose products he designed), he now makes his own cables, called the "Lieder." These are all silver, heavily insulated, with locking RCAs. WOW! What a difference! The 'table now has sound quality approaching what I like best about CDs ("clean" sound with incredible range), while retaining all the warmth and beauty of analog. Even my wife (whose favorite expression is "Turn that DOWN!") was amazed: "Come on ... that isn't one of your super Mo-Fi gold CDs?" she asked.

I understand that system synergy is everything ... but I wonder ... has anyone else tried Jaap's Lieder cables? What was your experience with them? How about your experiences with copper vs. silver-plated copper vs. all-silver?
paul_frumkin
Ask the guys who design these. Metal by itsself doesn't necessarily have a distinctive sound.
Yet I found myself recently selling my Red Dawn, ro-Silways, and now my Siltech (new Gen3 ST48b 1m XLR currently on auction) because they ALL sound a little too bright in my system whereas the all-copper Discovery Essence DON'T. No less detail...just a meatier midrange.
You gots to experiment, man!
The Siltech have gold as part of the cable mix, to add your list of silver and copper.


I've had a similar experience as Subaruguru, but with the Blue Circle BC95 interconnects, which are also all copper.

Hi Subaru and Sugar ... I've communicated with both of you before, so a "Howdy!" to you both. Yes, Subaru, geometry and insulation have a huge part to play in a cable's sound ... as much as the specific metallurgy. But I think just about everyone is using some type of spiral geometry, and some type of teflon insulation ... no? Sugar, doesn't Siltech use some gold only in their top of the line series ... the rest being all silver?

Have either of you heard the Lieder? Compared to Nordost Red Dawn balanced, I felt it had more realistic "shimmer" to cymbals, etc., and that vocal harmonies -- which can easily blur with lesser cables -- were more distinct with the Lieder.

Best regards, guys.
Paul
If haven't heard the new sonoran mircro bearing interconnects, your missing a real treat. For the money these are incredible. They may be incredible for any price. Absolutely transparant. Its a nitch company whose techical whiz has been developing cutting edge audio stuff for years.
Check out their website at audiopoints.com.
Hey Ksales, any idea what type of wire is used in the Sonoran interconnect (copper, silver, mix)???
I like carbon as in Van den Huls but then I like a really laid-back sound.
Paul it's whatever sounds best to you - don't worry about the physics.
My .02: Pure Note (www.purenote.com) uses silver cladded copper in their new Epsilon Reference cables. They originally used pure silver. I own both i/c and the new copper/silver has less HF ringing and no edge. The trend seems to be going away from pure silver with Siltech, Nordost, etc. using alloyed metals.
Anyone heard of the SonicLink Violet and SonicLink Maroon Interconnects from the UK? They are constructed using pure nickel conductors.
The reality is that first "geometry" then insulation
and then metal effects the sound - then solder, then
the connector being the least (given reasonably good
solder and connectors, of course).

If you are not comparing *identical* cables in terms of
*everything* except for a single change, then it is
impossible to know what is causing the change that you
hear. (notwithstanding any DBT-ers out there)

I've done just that - manufactured identical cables except
for the metal, keeping the gauges all the same too. I came
to the conclusions below - and figured out what to do about
pure Silver and get the best of all worlds.

In general, most of the manufacturers who use pure Silver
are getting the "silver signature" sonics, IMHO. That's
the really sweet highs, and kinda washed out middle and
bottom.

If a mfr has (again IMHO) gone to Silver Plated Copper wire
to "improve" the sound, then perhaps they don't have a handle on how to work with Silver in the first place.

It's not so simple, which is why most pure Silver cables,
(again IMHO) don't really work across the board. But on
the other hand, SPC and regular copper seem to introduce
their own problems. The ideal is to keep the best of the
silver and come up with a "Natural Timbre" and "balanced"
sound!

That's the quest. That's what I aimed for when I designed
Silver Lightning. You can ask others if I hit the mark or
not.

_-_-bear (bearlabs.com)
Lat International does not like silver or copper. They resolve the debate by using a metal that is proprietary to them they call it siverfuse. I thought I would try their IC-200 MK II analog interconnect. Great results. Here is an excerpt I copied from their web site which is latinternational.com "Silverfuse is a near alloy of silver and copper. IT IS NOT SILVER PLATED OR SILVER CLAD. Plating (or clad, which is the same thing as plating) causes a dioding effect when signal is passed through resulting in brightness and distortion. The Silverfuse process starts with seven nines OFHC copper wire with a diameter that is slightly larger than the required size. It is then pulled through a trough of molten silver. The wire with a silver deposit, is then forced through a compacting die where it is subject to tremendous pressure. The silver and the high purity copper are fused together into a near alloy. The compacting fusion also reduces the wire diameter to the desired size. No dioding subsequently occurs with this process. The result provides for the benefits of silver; which are excellent definition and clarity, with the high purity copper benefits of warmth and mellowness"
Silver no doubt.
But you have to find a brand that uses enough of it to avoid thin sound.
Check out the Argento cables at www.argento.dk
I have used these cables for some years now and I have never heared anything like them!
Extremly detailed, but absolutly no listening fatigue.

Regards,

Ulrik
I believe Nordost and Pure Note use cladded silver/copper. This is not the same as a thin plating. By definition cladding is two pieces of metal fused together. In both the mentioned brands, sonics are much clearer than pure silver alone IMO. Of course there are many other factors like dielectrics that are important.
..."The Silverfuse process
starts with seven nines OFHC copper wire with a diameter that is slightly
larger than the required size. It is then pulled through a trough of
molten silver. The wire with a silver deposit, is then forced through a
compacting die where it is subject to tremendous pressure. The silver
and the high purity copper are fused together into a near alloy. The
compacting fusion also reduces the wire diameter to the desired size. No
dioding subsequently occurs with this process. The result provides for
the benefits of silver; which are excellent definition and clarity, with the
high purity copper benefits of warmth and mellowness..."

is what was posted.

This is nonsense - this is precisely how "Silver Plated Copper" is made - the drawing process *is* what makes the final gauge in all wire, it is never drawn to size and then plated, afaik.

As far as drawing through a bath of molten silver, I am skeptical that this will permit the copper to be wetted properly, and for the silver to bond properly and that a
thickness of the silver deposit can be controlled in this manner. Perhaps, but I'm not sure if this is in practice any
different from the plating process.

It would make sense to check the melting points of silver and copper - if copper happens to be lower than silver, that would make this claim quite questionable in some regard.

_-_-bear
"...But you have to find a brand that uses enough of it to avoid thin sound..."

was posted.

This too is not likely to be correct. Unless you are using
a really long length of very thick wire, the self inductance that would be created is too small to make much of a difference in the sound *compared to* the other factors that
I mentioned in my earlier post.

There are some tonal differences when you go to extremely thin gauges, and there may be some if you go to something like 12ga and up but the other factors tend to dominate.

I use a stranded nominal 19ga. wire that is pure silver,
and found a unique and proprietary geometry and construction
technique that results in a very balanced tonal quality without sacrificing the upper register clarity that almost any silver wire will exhibit. That's a large part of what makes my Silver Lightning interconnects different than the other attempts at silver cables. (IMHO, of course!)

As I mentioned before it is important to compare cables made with the *identical* construction and geometry if you want to have a shot at identifying the effects (if any) of the actual metal. In other words, to make a valid comparison of these factors, one must only change one parameter at a time, otherwise it is entirely unclear what caused or did not cause a difference. I did this during the development of Silver Lightning.

So, while one cable may be better sounding to your ears, it may or may not be due to what seems to be most obvious at first look. Caveat Emptor!

:- )

_-_-bear
Some of the comments sound like a dealer for LAT Cable.

I own the Lat cable and it does not compete with AZ, Synergistic,JPS,Electraglide,Kimber Select,AudioQuest, etc, etc.
It is all there hype that there cables are as good a $$$ cables.

I use mine from my cassette Player don't waste your money.
I would like to clear up the doubts expressed by Bear concerning our Silverfuse process. I am Lou Tumolo president of L A T International.
Concern:
"if copper happens to be lower than silver, that would make this claim quite questionable in some regard"

This concern implies that if copper has a lower boiling point than silver, the copper would melt when pulled through the bath of melted silver. This does not occur because silver has a boiling point of 1762 degrees F and copper has a boiling point of 1981 F. We actually maintain the temperature of the silver close to that of the copper. This improves the wetting effect and and helps to control an even thickness of the siver coating achieved through surface tension.

Concerning drawing of silver plated copper, it is true that silver plated copper is plated before being drawn down to its final size. However, in the case of the silverfuse process, the bonding of the silver to copper is achieved by forcing it through a compacting die after being coated, not by simply puling it through a drawing die as is the commercial process of drawing wire to achieve it final size. Forcing through a compacting die, that applies tremendous pressure, is done not only by pulling it through the compacting die, but also by pushing through at the same time. Pulling alone, as is done in commercial drawing of wire would cause the wire to break. The wire comes through at the desired size which is a nominal size and is later drawn to the various sizes required for the manufacturing of all of our cables. The point is that there is no plating anywhere in the Silverfuse process.
Bear hit the nail on the head and I agree with his analysis completely. To make a high-performance interconnnect, it takes geometry (to optimize R,L,C), optimized dielectrics to reduce dielectric absorption and finally good metallurgy (this can be achieved several ways, but can involve fabrication, treatment and assembly of the conductors). Similar to Bears designs, I use 20 gauge stranded silver.
Can I surmise then (from Bear's remarks) that copper is more forgiving than silver?