Silver plated copper


Please explain to me the theoretical basis of using silver plated copper in cables. Seems counter intuitive to me. Signal would have two paths with different conductivity which would cause distortion.
crwindy
I doubt there's much measurable.

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.

Of course, I'm probably nuts.

Best,
E
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crwindy:
Resistance does not affect the speed of propagation. No distortion is introduced.

dweller:
Skin effect is frequency dependent and negligible at audio frequencies.
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.
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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
That link was about as clear as mud. No offense to you personally.
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.

What is in the black box of skin effect?




There is no reason why you want to use 2 different conductors (of any type) in a cable. In fact I am also not in favor of any plating on surfaces which attach to equipment. FWIW.
Many textbooks on electrical engineering have the word "theory" in their title and I consider skin effect to be one.
Many topics in science use the word "theory."


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.


Best,

E
There is the theory that much of the audio signal - I.e., the electromagnetic wave - travels outside the conductor which, if true, could explain why the skin effect is audible at audio frequencies. 
Personally, I think it's hooey. :)


The silver coating on the copper is barely there, but commands a major premium in price.


Personally, at least for interconnects, I buy pure silver cables and make my own, and stick to pure copper for speakers.


As I've mentioned, I've used silver plated copper in speaker cables. And, with ZERO explanatory theory, it was not better. In fact it was worse. For days, and then finally as good as copper.


I have no model or theory to explain this.
Explanation: it was installed in the wrong direction. 😬
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.
So what about tinned copper?
Silver will oxidize just as copper will, but silver will not corrode like copper.
What is the difference between oxidizing and corroding?
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.
I have built many cables which have employed copper, solid silver and silver plated copper.

For my ears...
  • Stranded Copper was the least dynamic of the three
  • Solid Silver provided the best  dynamic performance and provided more details than the plain copper
  • Stranded Silver plated copper seemed to be as good as the solid silver but also provided a fuller/warmer, more complete sound.

All wires were 24 guage with teflon insulation and cryo treated

I did also try Tinned copper cryo treated  (NOT Duelund wire) as the neutral for speaker cables and compared to similar gauge Silver plated and copper wire it sounded less dynamic and detailed.

It's very much a personal preference when it comes to building cables, so I would recommend trying some different wires to see which materials suits you ears best

Regards - Steve
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.
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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.
That’s what Deoxit and similar products are for as well as contact enhancers like the graphene paste. No big deal. Audiophiles are pretty well versed in electrical contact housekeeping protocols.
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.


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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....
Riddle me this, Batman. Does the signal travel entirely in the conductor, entirely outside the conductor or part inside, part outside?