I will say that when I have tried them, I preferred pure copper. I felt the silver/copper cables took a long time before they sounded less harsh, and when they finally did, sounded no better than plain copper.
All hook up wire is going to distort the signal in some way inevitably.All we can do is find wire that presents distortion we find pleasing to our ears.I don't care for silver plated copper either but other folks love it.I remember seeing a chart somewhere that listed the speed that various metals passed a signal.Silver was fastest,copper a very close second.I don't remember how gold and the other metals fared.
The primary original reason to silver plate copper wire was corrosion resistance. Military, particularly aviation like silver plated copper..Plenty of Mil Spec Silver plated Teflon insulation wire for sale on eBay. I have purchased plenty of it. No special reason in audio use, particularly up against long grain OFC single crystal 99.999 etc copper. Silver plated copper is better for digital, computer and video in general.
Now you've got me curious Elizabeth.Silver and copper both oxidize quickly so I wanted to understand how the silver could actually protect the copper....Anyway I found some info about it in case anyone is interestedhttps://www.finishing.com/461/41.shtml
Some of the most expensive cables made, such as Jorma and MIT use copper exclusively. IMO, some cable makers may use silver-plated wires only to be able to use the word "silver" in their marketing. I don't think we, as consumers, have the opportunity to compare the exact same cables with copper v. silver-plated wire, so it's probably impossible to tell for sure. But I'm open to the concept that silver-plated wire may sound different than pure copper.
Silver is the "best" electrical conductor of electricity, marginally better than copper regarding conductivity. Silver will oxidize just as copper will, but silver will not corrode like copper. Unless I could have silver wire throughout my system (including internal wiring of components and speakers) I would not bother with just interconnects or speaker cable in silver.
Skin effect is frequency dependent and negligible at audio frequencies.
This is not exactly true, although it is common to think of it that way. So common that the fundamental was lost.
One might say that the skin effect consideration is affected by the wire or path of transmission, and that the formula we use is specifically tied to ’wire’, or lengths of pathway that are longer than they are wide..
Then that formula is ’made up’, regarding ’black box’ analysis of AC flow in said geometry of the flow.
Or, that the phenomena of skin effect, has been applied to transmission lines, the formula is created for application to transmission lines in engineering and design.... and then people take this simplistic single point and misapply and call it skin effect, when in fact, it is not. Far from it.
Skin effect is indicative of a greater consideration than the simplistic transmission line formula suggests. That the complexity of Skin effect and it’s origins were and are ’black boxed’ for simplistic engineering work.
That the black box is a far bigger thing than the simple formula or it’s generic and common application.
It does not mean unproven. It means there is an explanatory model.
For instance, the "theory" of gravity. It is not up for ephemeral debate, nor is the "theory" of relativity or flight. While both the theory of gravity and relativity continue to be improved upon, they are the equivalent of "scientific fact."
However, going back to skin effect, it is real but I’ve never seen any models which explain why this would matter at audio frequencies with common conductor sizes.
Good afternoon, I queried Nordost as to their derision to use silver plated conductors. Here is their response.
We use silver plated copper on all of our conductors. The reason main reason is copper is a porous material and if you look at it under a magnifying glass you will see pits in the surface. Coating it with silver fills in all the pits and provides a surface better suited for signal transmission.
In our opinion you want the signal to travel as fast as possible to avoid changes. Especially in Norse level products where mono-filament technology is employed you have created the ability for the signal to travel faster because the dielectric is suspended off the conductor. Now in addition you have a better surface for the signal to flow as well.
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-oxidation-and-corrosion They are the same thing.As far as tinned copper , also soldered connection vs crimped,and using yet a different metal for connectors, it affects the signal minutely and measurably.But is it audible?I know that I don't care for silver plated copper wire in my system but I honestly don't know if it was the wire itself,the connectors,the dielectric,all in combination.
What is the difference between oxidizing and corroding?
I am no chemical engineer but I think oxidation is primarily a result of being in contact with the atmosphere over an extended time period. Corrosion, to my way of thinking, is the actual destruction of the material due to any number of factors. Consider a penny before 1984 (mostly copper instead of copper plated zinc now). A penny will eventually actually disintegrate if left fo lie outside in the dirt.....it may take years but it will happen. With a silver coin (90% silver, 10% copper) the coin will turn black in color but won't decay as much as purer copper. I believe also that copper loses its conductivity over time whereas I read somewhere that silver will not.
I am no chemical engineer but I think oxidation is primarily a result of
being in contact with the atmosphere over an extended time period.
Corrosion, to my way of thinking, is the actual destruction of the
material due to any number of factors. Consider a penny before 1984
(mostly copper instead of copper plated zinc now). A penny will
eventually actually disintegrate if left fo lie outside in the
dirt.....it may take years but it will happen. With a silver coin (90%
silver, 10% copper) the coin will turn black in color but won't decay as
much as purer copper. I believe also that copper loses its conductivity
over time whereas I read somewhere that silver will not.
So why do you think that a copper cable will corrode in a stereo system which is kept in a climate controlled atmosphere? At most, it will just oxidize.
I did not say that a copper cable, or any other, will corrode. My analogy was about a penny left out in the elements, especially if exposed to anything having salt content. An insulated cable in a home environment is not likely to experience oxidation or corrosion unless damaged somehow. The connectors on the end of the cable is where this will happen. My comment about oxidation / corrosion in the post prior to the other one was just about the inherent characteristics of silver vs copper as elements. Sorry for the confusion.
Some folks like the sound of tinned copper... particularly for speaker cables. An aside.. I use Mil spec silver plated 12 gauge Teflon insulation wire in a quad twist, 30ft/33ft and a 39ft/43ft set for my system AC power. The fact is, the silver plated wire definitely reduces the bass some to my Magnepan 20.7 speakers. WHICH IS WHAT I WANT. Since I live in an apartment building for old people.(I am an old people) I was worried about buying the Magnepan 20.7 due to too much bass... But with some care I keep the bass tamed... In my experience with the long runs of silver plated copper the AC wire does affect and diminish the bass a bit. As I wrote this is exactly what I want...
This just in! When the surface of a copper wire oxidizes over time the thin oxidation layer seals and protects the rest of the copper wire from further oxidation. Thus, while the effective diameter of the wire is reduced a hair, therefore resistance is increased a shade, oxidation doesn’t appear to be a real issue.
geoffkait you are correct.A coating of oxidation does protect the rest of the wire.But the ends need to be sealed with something or they will degrade and not pass the signal properly.The good news is that it takes a very very long time to get to that point.
Just to clarify for everyone on this post - Copper oxidizes very rapidly but Silver does not.
A clean Copper surface prepared in vacuum forms a monolayer of Copper Oxide within minutes of exposure to air. A clean Silver surface prepared in vacuum forms a fraction of a monolayer of Silver Sulfide within minutes of exposure to air but no oxide within that timeframe. The tarnish observed on Silver is primarily Silver Sulfide.
I can mention the fact when a conductor silver, silver plate or copper is connected to a terminal of any sort.. IF the junction is sealed, the wire will not tarnish. If the junction is somewhat protected from the air, (like in a plug but not sealed, it will tarnish slightly and take much longer to do so. If the connection is in 'open air' it will tarnish rapidly.Plus if you touched/rubbed bare copper strands with your bare hands, (like to twist the strands tight, etc) it will tarnish even faster. And yes using a product like Caig Gold will lessen oxidation. For example, the silver plated wire inside AC plugs even after five years of use, had not tarnished. But the Same wire used for Magnepan 3.6 in the through hole back of the speaker, was very tarnished black in less than two years. (I am assuming the speaker vibrating was moving air back and forth through the open hole of the connector.
As a long time coin enthusiast, I can say without doubt that copper oxidizes much quicker and to a greater degree than silver. Coin grading services even designate pristine examples of uncirculated pennies as a mint state condition with the additional designation of "RD" which means red. A penny so designated will command a price several times higher than one designated "BN" which means brown. On the other hand, bags of uncirculated silver dollars (90% silver, 10% copper, minted from 1878 to 1934) that have sat in bags of one thousand coins in bank vaults and never seen circulation will still have the original mint luster just like the day they were made, even over a century later. In fact, any oxidation that does occur on those dollars many times results in a multi colored rainbow sort of hue, and those coins command a premium over the mint luster shiny ones. Ironic that oxidation on silver coins commands a premium price while oxidation on copper coins degrades the value.
The distortion in an ac waveform as propagated through or via a ’transmission line’, will occur in the DC to AC & AC to DC changes in that given signal.
the bulk skin effect consideration, the real actual skin effect, is not the transmission line addendum formula that all are familiar with (in engineering)..
this real skin effect itself, it transits from being in the core of the conductive bulk (very large bulk conductor--not wire, but a giant block)..and towards the surface, at approximately 400hz.
This means that any approximation of DC that is below 400 hz, will attempt to move and actually move toward the center of the conductor.
All of human hearing is tied to listening to transients. We do not hear the other ~90% of the signal.
Keep this in mind for a second.
Look at the complex sine wave of a music signal as expressed in electrical terms, in conjunction with a transmission line.
Where exactly, does this sinewave have a delta, or rate of change that is at zero? Ie, DC?
There is only one place it does this.
At the peak of the transient. The moment of peak transient is the moment of DC.
At zero signal level, and electrical signal flip (in traditional views), that is occurring at the highest delta, or rate of change - the exact opposite of the DC occurring at peak at the transient. The transition ( ac to dc to ac--at the peak) is not instantaneous and no we don’t get to ignore that short DC moment. It’s key, here.
At the greatest rate of power and signal integration of the signal and wire, that is the point where the signal attempts to retreat to the core, and flip. The time is short, though, so hard reflections and complex distortion generation is the result. The hint of this sticks out in complex LCR phase diagrams, but does not express it directly. That phase diagram is a application aspect, and is engineering oriented for wire and whatnot....it is not truly tied to the fundamental theories that underpin the scenario. In this case the underlying theoretical aspect becomes important. It's the only way to bridge the hearing vs measurements problem.
The bulk of the noise and distortion of a sine signal, a complex wide-band sine signal such as music, occurs in the peak transient domain and pretty well no where else, and the ear is only listening to that part. The ear is wired to solely listen to this part.
So people say they hear changes in cables.
Well, no freaking wonder.
And that is the simple analysis. Then it gets complex....