Silver-plated or single metal IC's?

With regard to single-ended interconnects (RCA), there seems to be two schools of thought about the merits of silver-plated copper versus single-element conductor (ie. pure silver OR copper etc).
I've been led to believe that Silver-plated cables only benefit very high frequency signals (like video), and not audio. Any opinions?
(I'm nowhere near a store that allows try before you buy, so comparisons would be tricky for me).
Don't forget your 5th Golden Rule of Hi-Fi : )\

But seriously if you have access to a telephone then you are as close as you need to be to a dealer who will enable you to try before you buy- call The Cable Company.

Home Grown Audio will allow you to audition as well. gives you a 45 day trial period. Full refund if your not happy with the purchase.
Silver plated conducts better but adds in many cases a stridency that some people don't like.
I have generally found that all-copper IC's sound very natural, with a laid back treble, whereas silver coated copper sound faster with a hotter treble. I did not expect that. I kind of figured that you could engineer any kind of sound with any kind of material - it all comes down to the measurable attributes (capacitance, inductance, resistance).

So I don't know if the issue is the material itself or the engineering decisions that tend to accompany certain materials.

I've also noticed that IC's with higher capacitance are more prone to round off the treble at longer lengths. Again, is this cause/effect or association, I don't know.

Of course, it may not matter whether it's cause/effect or not. The point is that you want to know what to buy for what kind of sound.

I do second the recommendation of the Cable Company's loaner program, with the one caveat that I've not worked with them for several years (I've been pretty happy, having settled on a mix of Audience, Nordost, Cardas, Goertz, and Monster).

ps: I have found myself sometime initially enthralled with silver-plated IC's but over time preferring the (to me) more natural treble of copper. The one exception is Quattrofil where I have settled on using that as a primary IC, either preamp to amp or CDP to preamp. Again, I don't know if the issue is material or engineering that tends to accompany certain materials.
How do silver-plated copper interconnects compare to pure silver interconnects?

i have reviewed many cable products. some of my reviews included cables wihich use silver coated copper. others were pure copper and one was gold.

there are no generalizations that are meaningful. all copper cables do not have common sonic attributes. read my reviews. one cannot necessarily distinguish a copper cable from a silver coated copper cable to a pure silver cable.

there are many factors beide metals which affect the performance of cables. i have noticed characteristics of silver, i.e., upeer mid/lower treble coloration as well as lower mid dips. but i also have experienced the affect of replacing the connector, e.g., rhodium-plate with a brass connector where conductors were silver coated copper.

the idea is to listen and not generalize.

any statement regarding silver plate vs all silver is purely hypothetical.

by the way, my latest review is on, namely the MAC products.
Copper good..silver bad. Gold connections good...silver bad. Try before you buy at The Cable Co....ask for Robert Stein, mention Dave Borda. Over time, copper and Gold will sound like music..if you know what that is like...some people don't!!
Thanks Mrtennis, nice succinct review:

How did the MAC products specifically compare to those listed in your system: Maple Audio Whisper, Soundstring Audio, & Element Cable?
Something to consider: Silver Plated Copper was never developed for hi fidelity home audio. It was originally developed for harsh environment applications.

I believe it began to be popular for audio back in the '80s when at least one company I'm aware of saw an opportunity to sell "silver" cables more competitively by promoting their silver plated copper as "...silver cables" - pretty misleading. Not sure if that company is around anymore.

Silver plated copper exacerbates the skin effect phenomena and usually sounds kind of "zipper" to my ears. I suppose that can work to advantage if one is stuck with an overly warm system.

Really, in my view, copper plated silver would offer a better balance sonically but then that introduces other problems.

Simply plating silver over copper does not give the "best of both worlds" as some might conclude. There's more at play than just trying to combine the perceived virtues of silver and copper.

In my opinion and experience, high purity silver (done right) or a high purity copper will have a better tonal balance compared to silver plated copper.

Ah....forget it. I'm probably all screwed up. ;)

Happy Holidays!

I just upgraded to silver interconnects(not plated) from copper (PSC+) and find the silver much better. They are more detailed with better defined frequency extensions and very smooth and revealing. Certainly not bright or harsh in any manner. Can't comment on plated.

Skin effect The signal DOES penetrate through the plating at audio levels, thus SMEARING the signal.
And as they said, the plating type was NOT developed for audio use.
At video frequency levels the signal does not penetrate through the plating depth into the copper substrate.
What about any comments on the sonics of hybrid interconnects that use individual copper and individual silver strands in each interconnect,[NOT silver-plated copper], such as Harmonic Technology Pro-Silway Mk.3?
Advantages or Disadvantages over pure silver or pure copper interconnects?
Thanks alot.
I have owned HT Magic cables and they are some of the best non-networked cables made bar none. Pure silver is not musical, nor are plated formulations. Pure copper is musical..pure silver is for the hard of hearing. If you do not frequent live concert halls, then your opinion should be suspect.
Everyone is forgetting one fact, you cannot have copper wrapped with Teflon. If you want Teflon surrounding copper, the copper must be silver plated.

There are cables that are silver plated that have a reputation for being neutral to dark, Purist Audio is an excellent example.
12-06-07: Albertporter
Everyone is forgetting one fact, you cannot have copper wrapped with Teflon. If you want Teflon surrounding copper, the copper must be silver plated.
What's the explanation for this? What's the sonic imprint?
it is difficult to compare brands of cable without having them in my system at the same time. usually, after a review, i will return cables as soon as possible, unless i decide to purchase them.

the element cable signature series is my reference for line cords and speaker cable. i am still searching for an interconnect.

the soundstring interconnect , 6 meter pair is my reference between preamp and amp, while one soundstring line cord is used with a dac.

i will try to make some broad statements regarding some of the cable products you mention.

i find the soundstring a bit attenuated in the treble and the deep bass. otherwise they are very rounded and listenable. the element cable -- line cords and speaker cable i find a bit warm of neutral, but not to the point of significantly affecting resolution.

the whisper cable i returned. i liked the interconnect to some extent. there were no egregious flaws, but there was a bit of noise or grain i noticed when listening to female voice. the speaker cable seemed to be a bit top heavy.

the mac cable i found very balanced, as indicated in my review. for my own enjoyment i prefer a cable somewhat less focused. for typical audiophile sensibilities, i think the MAC cable a very good value and it delivers a presentation that should satisfy many serious listeners.

i hope this helps.

currently i am auditioning a pear cable anjou interconnect, an all gold cable, an ixos cable and a whg audio design solid core copper cable.

i also have cable from a company called ear to ear, which is silver plated copper. i will be reviewing interconnect, line cords and speaker cable from that company.
there are too many generalizations. one must be an empiricist and audition many cable products before reporting such tendencies of metals or combination of metals.

forget about what was said about silver plated copper, silver and copper.

any cable can sound spectrally imbalanced and there is no way to predict in advance whether a copper cable will sound "warmer" than a silver plated copper cable, or silver cable.

have an open mind and listen to cables.

i have probably auditioned a greater variety of cable products than most people who post on this forum.

forget generic product descriptions. a cable is a cable. listen and decide what it is. the next time you audition a cable, don't ask about the wires. listen and then decide for yourself. do not be influenced by prejudices or a small sample of experiences.
Some of the best cables I have are copper with a teflon insulation and cover...
Copper/teflon = bad is just bullsh!t. I have NEVER heard of this in all the time I waste looking at audio related info...
The BS is most likely misinfo from some marketing campaign selling palstic crap insulated cables!
Sorry to be so slow, I've been on location photographing a pharmaceutical plant.

Regarding your question "why" about my post (pasted below):

Everyone is forgetting one fact, you cannot have copper wrapped with Teflon. If you want Teflon surrounding copper, the copper must be silver plated.

Teflon allows oxygen to partially pass, resulting in oxidation. Too, the physical act of bonding Teflon to copper causes corrosion.

Copper oxide is a poor conductor, silver oxide is a good conductor. Silver does not react to Teflon and oxygen passing though results in silver oxide which is a better conductor than copper oxide.

There may be more to it than my short explanation, but these are the two basic reasons.

Here are a few links that cover the topic in a round about way, without resorting to the (easy to find) claims by dozens of cable manufacturers :^)

Printed Circuit Handbook

Permerability of Teflon to oxygen
Some thoughts.....

Silver plated copper tends to sound bright and aggressive at analog audio frequencies. It's great for digital and video because the frequency range is much higher, which means the signal primarily rides the silver layer near the skin

High purity solid copper can sound excellent

The dielectric, or lack thereof, can have a bigger effect on sound quality than the conductors themselves.

All of the very best (and most musical & not harsh or bright) cables I have heard are pure silver.

While Albert is correct about copper oxide and the potential issue of the permeability of Teflon, in my own experience taking apart 10+ year old copper cables, the actual degradation is so minuscule as to be non-existent. Even air-dielectric copper w/ Teflon tubes are ok for many, many years.
Purist Venustas cables I had were never bright or aggressive and they are silver plated copper. In fact, they were a bit too muddy in the lower midrange/upper bass area and not fast enough for my new speakers that I had to switch to all silver. Not that I needed aggressiveness, but the Purist's were too warm.
Dennis, perfect example of how cables plated with Silver are not necessarily bright. Purist is indeed neutral to warm tonal balance and if your system is already neutral to warm it may not be the best match.
Thanks folks. And Leica man, wow what a memory. I'd forgotten my own post!
I'm in Australia, and most audio stores here sell stuff prepackaged. There's a few places that are serious about their hifi, so I will try to follow my own advice and find some silver cables to listen to.
Most of what any of us say is baloney at the end of the day. You must try before you buy...and try alot for an extended period of in day or weeks if possible. One last comment on silver cables however...ever been to Boston Symphony Hall? The sound is rich, warm, textured and sparkling like fine china (not broken dollar store glass). The live sound envelopes you with layers of auditory colors and tones..bass huge and deep, mids gloriously robust and full with power...smoothness is an understatement. Silver cables or flat line cables do not sound like music...closer to nails on a chalk board perhaps!
My cables are all sliver and silver alloy and they are anything but nails on a chalk board- definitely "try before you buy"- good advise.
hi leica man:

perhaps you could inform me what silver cable you are using that you feel is not fatiguing. is it possible that these cables are euphonic and a band aid for poor recordings ?

i am currently evaluating an expensive cable. before making a decision, i may want to evaluate the cables you are using.

Leica man, what cables and what system? Music?
Some of the best cables I have had in my system are (not listed in order of preference):

1. CRL/FIM Silver - these are actually high purity solid core copper designed by Paul Weitzel originally for FIM (not the current CRL brand being marketed). They are not flexible so will require careful pre-molding to fit in your system, but they are quite musical. I use the power cords in my system and have a pair of the speaker cables as a spare set.

2. Ridge Street Audio Designs Poiema!!! - solid silver and some of the smoothest cables I have ever heard. I have also hear Roberts Alethias Cu speaker cables which use solid core copper and these are excellent as well.

3. Purist Audio Design Venustas - enough said about these already and Albert Porter is the best source of information on them. These are currently used in my system between phono stage and preamp.

4. Gabriel Gold Revelation - sold here on Audiogon and a combination copper/silver/gold alloy. Well designed and a fine sounding cable in my system.

5. Alpha Core Goertz MI-2 Veracity - solid core flat design and IMO the best bang for the buck speaker cable out there.

6. Mosaic Chimera - stranded copper using a Litz geometry and other proprietary design concepts by Dale Pitcher at Intuitive Audio Design. These are currently my reference and I use 2 pairs of ICs and speaker cables. Pricey, sure they are, but well worth an audition at 30 days risk free.

My point in all this is that while the metal used is important, there are other design factors that will affect the end result. While I tend to prefer copper designs, I have definitely heard some very nice cables using other metals in their designs. I also feel the connectors are equally important. Bocchino are the best IMO, but I also like the Eichmann copper.
Dave and Tennis,
Hey guys just click my "System" link. (I agree, advice should be given in context- that's why I have my system linked to my profile : )
Agree with Clio09 on the MI-2; one of the all time high value products.

The silver/bad and copper/good position stems from a lack of experience with cables in general. Nothing more.

There are excellent and poor examples of both. To deny this is disingenuous.
Audiofeil, I must disagree with you...I have purchased and demo'd many fine silver cables. They simply have a cooler touch and not as warm a presentation generally speaking. Live music is so vivid and bold and warm and rich and full of dynamic life without any sense of edge or stridency...I truly beleive most people go by what they fantasize real music sounds like and not out of experience sitting in front of instruments being played live in a fine hall!
hi leica man:

i have reviewed synergistic research cable, but not the tesla. i heard the tesla cables this past january. i received a personal audition from ted dennehy.

sound was very very detailed. no romance or bloom.

i think that unless you have excellent recordings one may get fatigue. cables seem to be ruthlessly revealing.
I recently spent quite a bit of time A/B comparing Audio Art IC-1(copper) vs Audio Art IC-3(silver plated copper) interconnects.

For me, it is just real hard to hear much difference at all. Maybe just a very slight bit more HF with the IC-3.
Tennis anyone?

In my system the Tesla cables are musical, transparent, detailed, and dynamic with "presence" - much like listening to master tapes in a recording studio. (I've had the good fortune to listen to master tapes in a mastering studio and that's pretty much what my red books sound like to me in my system). They do not however cover my recordings in a rich carmel nor are they subtractive in nature if you know what I mean.

Context as it relates to listener bias is just as importiant as knowing that persons components and speakers.

Mr Tennis wrote:
i like a dull, veiled, laid,back, boring sound capable of putting me to sleep. i hate treble and i don't like detail. i like subtractive coloration to such an extent that all recordings sound the same. you can talk about detail, neutrality all day long.
if you don't tap your foot, it doesn't matter.

i want to relax, not bothered by detail or dynamics. veil the sound and cut off the highs. darkness and dullsville is my motto, by choice. thick caramel syrup makes me happy.

hi leica man:

you are correct in indicating my personal preferences.
however, i stand by what i hear. i also reviewed synergistic cables, but not the tesla.

i agree with your description of the tesla cables, except for one word, namely musical. the tesla cables are relatively uncolored. musical implies a coloration.

all recordings reproduced on a stereo system will not sound musical. if a stereo system always sounds musical, it is probably subtractively and additively colored.
"Lean" or "accurate"?
"musical" or "colored"?

Davies Hall or Tanglewood?

Maybe it's personal taste but I had just about given up on live concert halls (such as Davies) until I tried Tanglewood last summer. I just sat there thinking "Wow, that sounds like music!)

So, is Tanglewood "colored"? I don't know. To me it's substantially more "real" than Davies Hall, but strictly speaking both offer live events.

Art, halls may vary but live music is full, smooth, crazy dynamic, distortionless, full of bloom and tonal shadings and alive at any volume level. It is also rather rich and subdued on top..probably because it is ripe with texture and lacking in overemphasis as well as distrortions. Bass is always a deep and full and seemingly out of control at times! Can't get it at home but one should have a goal. What it is that people expect they should hear is often the hall it is an enveloping sense of sound as a living thing...a living organic presence that you feel but are never offended's just effortless yet powerfull. You also hear coughs and some do not hear the fingering of every musician nor the breath of everyone playing a woodwind. At least if you do hear non musical information it should not stand out in bold should not distract from the performance.
Music= "musical"

I get plenty of music through my Tesla cables- I have no idea what you are talking about- sorry.
Yes crazy dynamic is one of the major differences between live unamplified music and recorded music- so too is the sense that music is simply emanating in concentric circles from each individual instrument or singer on stage. I do not however always find live music to be smooth in the audiophile sense of the word- far from it. One needs only to listen to a horn section at the symphony to understand what I mean. I find music mirrors life- some days are sunny, comfortable, and beautiful. Others are cold, windy, and brisk. As with life I enjoy a brilliant and diverse pageant and as with life I prefer not to view my surrounds through rose colored glasses.
Well, we will just have to agree to disagree then Leica man. As for me, I have never heard an acoustic instrument(s) that have sounded brisk or cool...even a high school band playing full tilt 20 paces away sounds wonderfull...deafening maybe, but not harsh or cold. I choose not to inflict an analytical perspective on any of my music. Over the years my experience has shown that it is possible to put together a system that is not flawed by the inherent design errors found in most audio equipment. In fact, for awhile I bought into the notion that the CD was a medium that was seriously compromised...not so! The problems were with the companies designing for an engineering aesthetic and not for musicality. The digital playback gear is undergoing a rennaisance currently and some companies offer state of the art products without accentuating or in many cases corrupting the reproduction chain in the name of accuracy. Accuracy should allow the medium of choice to convey the most natural reproduction possible from a performance. As I have sought out these companies who design by ear as much as by principled engineering, my enjoyment of my vast collection of redbook CD's has increased tremendously. In fact, I have many redbook CD's that would destroy most audiophiles bias toward the need for new formats. Even in my current simplified system I have a hugely layered textured harmonicaly complete and dynamic window on almost anything I put on. It sounds every bit as clear and complex as live music while retaining the sense of ease and lack of harmonic distortion that causes many systems to impart an edge or stridency that is not actually on the recordings. I may go deaf standing in front of a horn section or a drum kit (which I don't recommend),but I would not do so from exposure to the sonic elements.
hi leica man:

musical=timbre, pitch and dynamics. all recordings when reproduced by a stereo system are inaccurate with respect to timbre and probably dynamics. recordings are definitely a problem.

your synergistic cable may emphasize the upper frequencies too much.

we can agree to disagree.
Actually from reading your post I do not think we disagree- at least not on live music. I was not implying live un-amplified music sounds cool or lacking in harmonic over tones. My reference to warm and sunny days vs. cool days was merely a metaphor for the vast differences I hear when visiting different venues of live music or listening to different types of instruments. The example of horn sections relates to the mad dynamics I hear in live music and the "bite" they have when heard live. Or an amplified blues band and it's raw and sometimes edgy nature- hardly "audiophile" qualities but when that's the artistes intention, and if that's what's in my recordings, then that's what I want to hear otherwise I'll be throwing out other details, like subtle inflections from a harp, or the reverberant nuances of a live piano.

A light transparent warmth that does not mask detail, nuance, or dynamics and sound staging but allows me to enjoy my extensive music collection is what I seek and get from my current system- previously I had an all Valhalla system that "spotlighted" upper frequencies at the expense of the mid-range and bass. These cables were also harmonically "lean" whereas the new Tesla cables are anything but and yes, they are silver and silver alloy hence throwing my hat into this ring. With the Valhalla's in my system I enjoyed listening to less then half my music collection- a silver cable, and a horse of a different color you might say.

I feel there are just too many variables related to the final sound of a cable to make blanket statements like "silver bad, copper good." Dielectric, geometry and shielding all play their part and it is the final interaction of perhaps dozens of variables that create the net “sound” in any cable. For example, my cables have two completely different "sounds"- one when the active shields are turned "on" and another when they are turned "off." Therefore, it would be a gross over simplification to place the credit or blame on any one variable, like conductor material, dielectric, shielding, etc since we are listening to a net result of all these variables at once when making any definitive conclusions.

I also agree with you on Redbook CD's- how much better our ten year old CD's sound today when played in a system with modern digital playback and cables compared to ten years ago.
Disagreement on terms such as brisk, cool, musical etc. is natural as there are no universal definitions, only subjective appraisals.

However, anybody with audio experience knows that copper, silver, and plated wires cannot be pigeon holed into categories such as cold, warm, etchy, grainy, soft, etc.

Purity of the wire, geometry, and dielectric are far more critical determinants of a wire's sonic signature.

That is not debatable.