Silver DIY Interconnects

I got some 0.6mm silver wire and wan't to make some interconnects. What recipee/s is/are the best based on your experiences?
What gauge does that equate to ? Is it "pure" silver or is it silver plated copper ? Any jacket on the wire and if so, what is the dielectric material used ? Sean
Greetings, .6mm equates to about 22.5 awg. With 23 awg being .584mm and 22 awg being .635 mm. Probably some Cardas wire. George uses a lot of in between gauges. That wire is a bit large for my taste. It my have a bit too warm sound and lack dynamics. Other than that you might want to try the Chris Ven Haus design. It is excellent IMHO! Happy Listening! John
0.64mm is 22 gauge That's too thick for interconnect. Good for speaker cable.
You guys crack me up with 22 gauge being too heavy for interconnects. Then again, i'm sure that the feeling is just the opposite on your end when i talk about "too much power is not enough" : )

For the record, 20 gauge is "linear" up to and slightly above 20 KHz. 24 gauge is linear up to appr 100 KHz. By "linear", i'm talking about a minimum of skin effect, etc... With that in mind, the 22 - 23 gauge wire should be good up to about 50 - 60 KHz or so. Should anyone want to challenge those figures, talk to Walt Jung and Richard Marsh, not to me. They researched and documented all of this in the late 1970's with papers submitted to the AES during that time frame.

Having said that, there are two schools of thought on wire. One is to keep it as simple as possible and use one solid conductor per polarity with as little dielectric interference as possible. Greg Weaver, formerly of Soundstage and now with Stereo Times, made "signal tape" in his February 1998 article following this formula. I also think that Chris Venhaus aka Chris VH has some similar recipes, at least in basic principle, on his website.

Many claim that one runs into smearing when running multiple conductors, primarily due to unequal length signal paths, phase / impedance non-linearities, increased dielectric absorption, strand jumping when using stranded wire, etc.... I guess that these folks believe in the old acronym "K.I.S.S." ( Keep It Simple, Stupid ). Along those lines, they probably feel that the less that touches the signal and the straighter & shorter that the path is, the less there is to go wrong. There is a lot of validity to such a belief in my book.

On the other side of the coin, you have those folks that believe that one should have the lowest possible series resistance and pay special attention to physical geometries / electrical impedances in terms of trying to reduce RFI, etc... Their thoughts are that any series resistance involved may be more deleterious to the signal than the majority of effects mentioned above. On top of that, a cable that acts as an antenna and allows more noise into the system will surely result in lower performance. By using multiple conductors arrayed in specific patterns, one can reduce series resistance and minimize the potential for the cable to act as an antenna.

Obviously, there are those that fall somewhere in-between those two extremes and / or want the best of both worlds. Personally, that is why i think that there are so many different cable designs on the market. Each designer / builder feels that their approach is "most correct" in terms of how they specifically go about things. Most all designs incorporate various aspects of the same beliefs but tend to concentrate on some aspects more than others. The end result is a product that has strengths and weaknesses rather than a "mighty conquerer" that delivers all of the goods in a totally uncompromising fashion. Then again, some folks DO have specific sonic preferences in terms of "flavouring" their system and they build or use products to suite those tastes. Obviously, there is enough room in this field and diversity of products available for everyone to find what they like and be happy with it : )

Other than the above, I would suggest building a couple different designs and see what you like the best within the confines of your system. You might find that one design works well between CD and preamp and a different design works best from preamp to power amp, etc... Don't be afraid to experiment as that is how you will learn. If you find that you like one design much better than any of the others, it is not that hard to unsolder the wires and re-configure them into that design. That is, so long as you didn't go crazy and make things "permanent" when building them to begin with : )

One more suggestion. Most silver that i'm experienced with takes noticeably longer to break in than does copper. If you have some way to pump high level signals through them prior to really giving them a serious listen, you'll be better off. Otherwise, you might experience higher levels of listening fatigue and / or a sense of tonal balance that is lean and tilted upwards in response.

Best wishes and let us know what designs you try and what you like best. I'm always curious as to others' results when "home-brewing". Sean
Someone reading this thread contacted me and took my comments re: "you guys crack me up" as being somewhat of an insult. As such, I'd like to clarify what i meant when i said what i did.

My comments were NOT meant as an insult to anyone participating or reading this thread with the point of view that supposedly "cracked me up". It was strictly meant to say that we have different points of view and that different points of view are sometimes humourous when sitting on the other side of the fence. What is "believable" or "fact" to one may be "humorous" or "silly" to someone of a different persuasion, especially if they don't agree or fully understand where the other person is coming from.

Having said that, i think that many of us take this way too seriously. I hope that those of us with opposite points of view or points of view that sometimes conflict can overlook these differences and continue to share our experiences REGARDLESS of whether we agree or not.

As a case in point, while it may seem that Albert and I have been disagreeing a lot lately ( and we have been ), Albert knows that i have the highest amount of respect for him that i can. Both as a human being and as an audiophile. Albert is a true gentleman and displays nothing less than "class" and "elegance" in every way that he handles himself and deals with situations. Having said that, we simply have different points of view and experiences and i "think" ( or at least "hope" ) that Albert understands that i'm not trying to "do battle" with him. Quite the contrary. I'm trying to encourage others to share what may be opposing points of view to what is being posted here, be it my post or Albert's.

I can see how someone could take my posts as being "totalitarian" or "confrontational", as i have a "matter of fact" type of writing and conversation style. With that in mind, i'm not above learning or being reprimanded. Just bare in mind that if something does fly in the face of my own knowledge or experience, i am one of those people that will say "show me". I really do WANT to learn and one learns by di-secting information and breaking it down to the root of the situation. This may come across as being confrontational to some, but it is not meant to be that way at all.

The person that contacted me privately did so out of respect as they did not want to disagree with me / attack my point of view publicly. My response to them was, and i quote from the email that i sent them, "Other than that, i'm just a bigmouth that loves the "hobby" and wants to share my joy & experiences with others. I'm honoured that you find my posts at least "interesting", as that is about all that i could ask for. I've learned a long time ago that you can't please all of the people all of the time, so i simply try to share an honest opinion and hope that someone can either learn from it or help me to learn otherwise."

Later in the same email, i stated:

"Other than that, feel free to blast me or share your comments in public. I would rather have others join in and share their experiences in public for all to see and learn from than to keep such information "hostage". While i do appreciate your effort and the amount of respect that
you demonstrated by contacting me privately, i'm nobody special and am not above "public flogging" if the conditions warrant it : )"

Having said that, i hope that some of you may have a better understanding of who i am and how i operate. If you don't, just tell me to shut up and i'll get the message : ) Sean


Lurking on the sidelines as I often do, let me just say that your willingness to post your last message underscores that you are a gentleman in my book. I've appreciated your willingness to share your knowledge and experience, as many of the veterans here do.

This is not the first time I've seen a well-intended (and veteran) 'Gon member have to clarify his post. Part of that will always be directly attributable to the text-only nature of the forum...we don't get the benefit of your vocal inflection, body language, or your quick offer to buy us all another round of Lagavulin.

It also seems that as more and more new members become active on the forums, veterans who are familiar with the same recurring topics, as well as with each other, sometimes post casually as in a room of old friends. Then someone who does not have the benefit of months (or years) of forum discourse with this veteran takes umbrage. Old friends cut each other more slack.

I have no idea if this is a "good" thing or a "bad" thing, but it does seem to be a "recurring" thing.
I would only add that I was not the person who contacted Sean outside of these threads. I always voice my opinions in the open and based solely on my experience.

As to audio cable, there are many things that lie beyond explanation or the ability to measure. Some things measure well and sound good, some measure well and sound bad. We can all think of examples.

As far as Sean and I, I am not as technical a person as he is. My only goal as an audiophile is to achieve the highest possible musical performance from my audio system within my financial restraints.

I read specifications if the manufacturer lists them, but I only make judgements based on trying the item in a known situation. Even then, I generally will not voice an opinion until after long term listening.

There are likely as many ways people arrive at what they want as there are members at Audiogon. Sharing experiences has value, even among those of us searching for different end results.
Sean, I would agree with you on the specs for the gauge. I've tried 24 gauge and it sounded muddy in the upper mid range. I tried twisted pair of 30 gauge ( equivalent to 27.01 gauge.) and it works great for me. I'm still experimenting with slightly thicker gauge to see if I get more lower frequency response. I think working from Chris's web site is a start. Finding your own gauge to fit your own system will be base on trail and error experience.
Sean: The voice of reason...


Sorry for the delay.
The wire is "pure" silver with no "jacket" on it(got it from a Jewelery store). John gave the clarification (thanks)what gauge 0.6mm is. What about the insulation, what materials to use (i won't use teflon as the insulation mainly for cost reasons)? Any further comments are welcome.

Oh, by the way i've red many posts from you Sean and belive to have a "feel" and understanding of your point of view. I know that you don't mean to insult nobody being a Gentleman - you are. Do not worry, there are many (and then some) of us that apreciate your (and others) well meaned and honest opinions and experience.
Hey guys and gals! We realy don't need to "fight" about it. Let everybody pick their choice based on their preferences, needs, etc.

Feel free to recommend specific recipe's of the cable configuration and perhaps give a description how they "sounded" to you.
Many thanks, David.
There are a lot if interesting observations and cable recipies on Jon Risch's web site:
Jon posts a lot in the cable forum at Audio Asylum. He definitely prefers teflon as a dielectric, and I think he has a link where you can buy teflon tube for not much $$.

As to other discussion above, I always enjoy Sean's posts. I am an engineer, and I like to apply science where ever possible. But I find the issue of audio wire and cable to be very humbling. No matter how good the theory may be, in the end it needs to soung good to Albert (and the rest of us) or we need new theory!

Other than ebay, the cheapest place I found for teflon tubing and cardas RCA connectors is
You can also buy the "color coded" teflon tubing for smoother sound
They ship the same day.
Use teflon tape from Home depot. You'll need 520" roll per 4 ft of the cable you're making.
I also use the pure silver 99.9% from the jewelry store and it works fine for me.
I agree with Sean, 22 gauge will be fine, however, smaller is better when it comes to silver. Silver's skin-effect is more pronounced than copper.

Be aware that you might be able to achieve some of the parametrics, such as RLC, but your DIY IC will not sound like a high-end cable such as Empirical, Purenote or Acoustic Zen. This is because the silver purity and processing steps are what sets the better cables apart from the rest.
Jewelry store silver will be "fine silver", which is 99.95% pure at best. Much lower purity than that used in most high-end cables.
I've very much enjoyed the insight provided by these discussions, especially when they remain civil, as this thread has; and appreciate Sean and others who try to explain how different parameters influence sound without getting into "my way is better than your way" matches.

Now, I'm fairly new to this and am still trying to learn; but here is where I'm at along the DIY IC path:

My system tends to be bit too bright, probably due to the NHT 2.9's that I'm using (Rotel power, Chiro pre, Cambridge Audio CD500SE), and the tile floor that they're sitting on; so my objective is to bring in a little more bass and mid-warmth. Actually, achieving more bass and warmth is probably the result of reining in the highs, rather than an increase in the former.

1) I've become indoctrinated in the signal jumping problems of stranded wire theory, primarily from Greg Weaver's writings, so I've stuck to solid core wires. I realize that there's no consensus on this.

2) I'm using copper, again for warmth.

3) I often read that capacitance is bad for IC's, though some respected commercial cables have fairly high capacitance. I believe in another thread that Sean indicated more capacitance provides more warmth; so it seems that maybe some capacitance is OK for some situations. I've tried Weaver's RS wire and tape IC's, and Chris's recipe substituting copper for silver. Both approaches result in cables which are very low in capacitance; but they're both too bright in my system.

So, the geometry that I'm using now (not my idea, but I'm not sure who to credit) is cross-wrapping two 30 ga. teflon insulated copper wires on a 10 gauge teflon core, with about a thumbnail's spacing in between each coil. For now I'm just using the cheap plastic RS RCA's, figuring that once I get a geometry that works well in my system, I can upgrade the plugs. For me, this has helped the bass/mid-range without any noticeable detriment to detail. I'm thinking about adding two more runs of the 30 ga. along the same cores, offset 90ยบ from the existing two, to see how far I can go before capacitance, time smears, or whatever else might cause a problem, surfaces.

It's enjoyable to me anyway, and inexpensive, to try different geometries with essentially the same materials and achieve different results.

Hi Wdi!
Interesting! I'll keep that recipee in mind so i can compare with other "constructions".
Wdi: If you are looking for a cable that is characterized as sounding "warm and smooth" or "musical" by many folks that have heard them, try building a pair of Jon Risch's SSTP ( Solid / Stranded Twisted Pair ) cables. This makes use of copper cores extracted from what starts out as Belden 89259 and Belden 89248. The 89259 is a stranded copper / teflon cable and the 89248 is a solid copper / teflon cable.

Jon was originally using two of the stranded cores and Thorsten Loesch and i suggested that he try using solid core wire. Jon experimented with two identical gauge solid core / teflon wires and said that it sounded very good, but had a noticeable "honk" to the midrange. He then tried two solid copper / teflon cables of different gauges, but the "honk" was still barely present. He began experimenting with mixing / matching solid stranded wires of various gauges and came up with the design that i mentioned above.

His thoughts on this were that by using two completely different wires, the cable would not have any one significant factor to reinforce specific sonic characteristics or contribute to a distinct sound. By taking this approach, one would stagger any resonances / electrical characteristics of either cable far enough apart from each other so as to minimize their individual contributions to what one heard as an end result.

The cable uses two different gauges and styles of conductors ( 18 gauge solid and 22 gauge stranded )and offers very reasonable impedance characteristics. It is low enough in inductance to reduce the potential for RFI yet low enough in capacitance to not roll off the frequency extremes. Unlike speaker cables whre high inductance is bad, high capacitance is the enemy in interconnects.

Jon recommends using the stranded 22 gauge wire as the "hot" and the 18 gauge solid as the "ground". I tried that configuration and found it to be a bit tizzy sounding. If one has a dull sounding system, one might prefer this method since it does sound a bit "hotter". I then reversed the wiring i.e. the 18 gauge solid for the "hot" and the 22 gauge stranded as the "ground" and liked it a LOT better. While i know that music is an AC signal and that it must pass through both conductors, and that theoretically, the sound should not change with either configuration, it has been my experience that the sound DOES change.

Having said the above, i know of several regulars on AA that have tried building the 89259 / 89248 "SSTP's" using both methods of construction. All of those that i know that have compared both methods have always chosen the method that i suggested to them. That is, they thought that using the 89248 solid core wire as the hot sounded better / more natural than if they used the 89259 stranded core as the hot.

Personally, i think that this is a very good sounding cable when properly built. That is, so long as one uses good quality connectors and solder and follows the directions. It may lack some "sparkle" and "air" up top if one is used to a very bright and / or lean cable, but it is basically a very neutral performer that performs to a level that is WAY beyond the expenses incurred. I think that most people find it "warm" simply because there is a complete lack of upper midrange glare or sibilance present. That is, IF the gear that it is connected to is of good quality. Otherwise, i think that the cable is neutral enough to pass on whatever is fed into it.

If one were looking for a bit more top end extension while retaining the basic "neutral" characteristics of this cable, one could substitute the core of a Belden 1506A cable for that of the 89248 in the "hot" position. This moves the solid core conductor from an 18 gauge up to a 20 gauge and still achieves Jon's goals of staggered gauges / resonances.

Obviously, the basic design that Jon came up with can be used as a food for thought. Other types of wire ( various gauges & materials ) can be substituted as one desires to suite their systems and "wire beliefs". One can use a 24 or 26 gauge copper wire with a 30 gauge silver conductor ( for example ) and "fine tune" the design until they find what they like. Hope some of you find this idea intriguing enough to try it out for yourself. It would be WELL worth it : ) Sean
Audioengr: Even if one were to find "100% pure silver", I would not consider the difference of .05% over the 99.95% purity level of the jewelry store wire to be "much purer". I know that there are those ( probably you included ) that will tell me that such differences are clearly audible, but i have a REAL hard time believing that. Sean
Sean is absolutely right about purity of silver. Since we're not talking about over 100 feet interconnect, there is no real difference between the 99.9% fine silver from jewelry store vs the medical grade 99.999%. I have many different brands of top of line silver cables out there and they claimed that it's 99.999 and 99.99 percent and I don't hear much difference in terms of silver sonic character. The real difference is geometry, thickness, connectors and build quality. Like sean said, play around with different gauge for both ground and signal.
Sean - I have heard the difference between "fine silver" and 99.99% and it is noticable to me in my system. If your system is not as resolving, you might not notice. Crump tells me that he has 6-nines silver and it is even better...
Audioengr, I would probably agree with you if I'm a cable manufacture who can affort high tech cable making equipment. For DIYs, I don't think there is much difference if one choose to use 3N or 6N. For 30 Ga solid core wire, assume 3N silver cost $0.10 a foot, 4N silver is around $0.80 a foot, and 5N silver is around $1.25 a foot and the 6N silver would cost about $4.00 a foot.
For 40 times the cost for DIY folks, I don't think they can really appreciate the difference of that 0.0998% purity. They might just break the hard to handle 6N cable due to its softness.
Sean, perhaps this is what you were referring to in your two camps discussion above, but at what point does capacitance become a problem? George Cardas states on his website “…Ray Kimber, Bill Low, Rodger Skoff, and myself…common use of multiple parallel conductors…if you measure the capacitance of each of our cables, they are all about the same, 45 pico farads per foot more or less.” I believe the capacitance of Goertz is even higher. Comparing this with Venhaus’s assertion that his IC is 3.5 pf/foot, it appears that maybe there’s some room to work with before problems occur? (I’m a chemist, not an engineer, so I’m a bit weak on electrical theory. Maybe the difference between 3.5 and 45 pf is not significant?)

The Cardas site goes onto say “Capacitance by itself means little unless viewed in the light of conductor inductance and resistance.” Unfortunately, I don’t have a way to measure these parameters on my DIY trials; so I have to rely on what it sounds like to me in my system.

Someday, I’ll have to get some Belden cable and try Risch’s design. I’ll have to get over my phobia regarding stranded cables first. In the meantime, the idea combining different gauge solid cores sounds intriguing…
I have tried to build DIY cables with mixed results. I did like the challenge. Fact is that the cable mfgs have the edge because of custom fabrication. In many cases you cannot duplicate the best cables because of specialized designs (patents), custom dielectrics, custom cable cores, 6-7 nines hot die wire, special windings, cryo, etc.
Audioengr: I can't say that i have knowingly listened to / compared "low purity silver" directly against "high purity silver". With that in mind, my thoughts are that the difference in sonics between the levels of purity that we are talking have little to do with absolute purity but more with how the wire was drawn and the texture of it. My thoughts are that one can have a road constructed with the finest of materials yet still suffer from massive pot-holes and uneven surfaces, etc... Just as such a road does not make for smooth or fast travelling, i would imagine that the same thing could be said for electrons with "jagged" conductors. Just a guess though as i'm not a metalurgist and i don't play one on tv : )

Wdi: I would venture to say that your "phobia" of stranded cables is probably pretty well based, as i too normally prefer solid core conductors. Having said that, all i can tell you is that a Mobie or other "good quality" burner can work wonders on "fixing" many of the problems that we associate with stranded conductors.

Other than that, i would HIGHLY encourage you to experiment with whatever raw parts you have available. It is quite possible to take one interconnect and work through quite a few different configurations with a little soldering. That is, if it uses more than two conductors : )

As far as capacitance goes, how much is "too much" will vary with the components that you are using. Some IC based SS designs may have a fit with a short run of "reasonably high" capacitance cables whereas most tube based gear will sing and dance under the same conditions. With that in mind, most braided / multi-conductored / heavily shielded interconnects end up right around 30 - 45 pf / foot and i don't think that this amount is really too much of a big deal on a "decent" component. Most "basic" interconnects are well under 25 pf / foot, which means that you could literally run two to three times the length of "generic" interconnect as some of these fancy ones and end up with the same appr amount of capacitance.

I will say that the Goertz "flat" interconnects are VERY high in capacitance ( much like their "flat" speaker cables ) and can throw some designs for a loop very quickly. I measured a 6' run of their Silver Sapphire's as clocking in at appr 1320 pF total !!! That works out to appr 220 pf / foot !!! In comparison, the reading that i took off of a run of the Belden 89248 / 89259 combo mentioned above worked out to about 8 - 9 pf / foot. The Magnan 3's that i have worked out to about 30 pf foot, which i really thought would have been higher than that. As you can see, one foot of the Goertz Silver Sapphire would be equivalent to almost 25 feet of the Belden twisted pair cable !!! As such, you have to be careful when working with ANY "exotic" designs as they can be QUITE reactive in very small quantities.

Sonic Genius: I agree that consistency in design / construction is a hard thing to do for a DIY'er. In this regard, the cable manufacturers do have a big advantage in terms of repeatable designs and consistent spacing / impedance due to the use of automated machinery doing most of the labor. As such, one really has to work at paying attention to what they are doing in order to build "consistent" and "repeatable" cables when doing DIY. Having some basic test equipment to compare your results as you go surely doesn't hurt either : )

I'd just like to stress that many "cable manufacturers" are not manufacturers at all. Many are actually "resellers" of pre-manufactured cables that they have their name put on for them. As such, they probably don't have the know how or test equipment to actually verify / compare designs and results. They leave that up to you to do that for them. At the same time, you'll probably end up paying them tall cash for what is basically a commonly available product. As such, be careful what you buy and from whom you buy it. Chances are, they don't have the the knowledge /tools to really make a "better" product.

If you want to know if a cable manufacturer actually "knows" what they are doing and has the tools to design a better product, ask them about their "TDR*". If they have one and know what it is, they'll think that you know what you are talking about and have an electronics background. If they have no idea what it is, you might know what you are talking about. That is, compared to them : ) Sean

* TDR is an acronym for Time Domain Reflectometer. This is a device that can measure just about every aspect of wire / cable performance known to man. Needless to say, they are quite costly and only those that are "hardcore" into designing / building / testing various cables with the knowledge to know how to interpret such data would own such a device. Then again, you can own a hammer and still not be much of a carpenter : )
Capacitance of 45 pF/foot is a bit high IME. I prefer wires with 3-4 pF/foot. The detail is much better on ALL systems. However, low capacitance is not by itself sufficient. To make a world-class cable, you also need good metallurgy (as Sean mentioned) and bare wires - no conformal insulation.
Audioengr: I see that you are basically in the "air dielectric" camp, huh ??? While i have no problem with that, how does one go about maintaining a consistent impedance with such a design let alone minimize the potential for cables short circuiting themselves ? Sean
Sean - impedance is not a problem with analog interconnects. The digital IC's obviously need controlled impedance and I accomplish this using a combination of air dielectrics and expanded Teflon - a patented design. 75 ohms is very difficult to achieve with bare wires and air dielectrics - the wires would have to be extremely close. The short-circuiting thing with bare-wire analog interconnects is what my business is all about. I have spent the last 10 years solving this and getting patents.

Great "Job" done, Sean! Thanks for mucho info and a oportunity for us to learn.
Keep it coming...

Audioengr: I can't say that i have access to the same equipment that you do or the experience that you have designing / testing cabling, but i would think that impedance bumps and the resultant non-linear propagation that results might be something that one might consider important if seeking to build the "holy grail" of audio cables. Is this not as big of a factor as i might believe ? If it is not, then the advantages that i've given to manufacturers in terms of having more consistent production / repeatable designs has been completely negated.

If that is the case, the only differences between a DIY and professionally built cable would be of the quality of parts used. As such, i am even further inclined to encourage others to experiment with DIY based cables using high grade materials. Based on your above comments, there isn't much to be gained by spending more money on professionally prepared versions of similar design / geometry if one were to use an equivalent grade of parts. Sean