Silver vs Copper cables

I've been reading the forums and noticed a few comments that silver made ic's and speaker cables sound better with solid state equipment. Would this mean copper cables sound better with tubes? Why is this? Thanks.
Silver vs. copper is one of those endless debates. Some make claims that silver is be bright; if silver is done right I do not find this to be true at all. I wouldn't be as concerned with the metal as much how well the cable reacts in your system.
I would agree witht he previous post. Silver done right (Ridge Street Audio for example) can sound very good in the right system. I have a mixture of silver (RSAD) and copper (CRL/FIM) ICs in my system and use copper speaker cables (Alpha Core).

Not to confuse matters but there are some vendors who even have hybrid cables that mix multiple metals together. I'm trying a pair of copper/silver hybrids from Xtreme Cables now and they sound great hooked up from my preamp (tube) to amp (solid state).
This will be good.
I think I will make some popcorn and grab a beer and watch this thread. :)

Cables are witchcraft. Period.
Silver, Copper, Palladium, Carbon. Thin wire, thick wire.
Ceramic connectors, plastic connectors, plated connectors, solid connectors, gold connectors, silver connectors, copper connectors. Teflon, cotton, foam, or air insulation.
Lots more design elements...magnets, no shielding, heavy shielding.

It really does come down to what works in your system I think as stated. Try different ones from companies that allow a money back trial period.
Buy used ones that you can resell if they don't work.
Find out the generally believed characteristics of a certain cable which might suggest how it will mate in your system.
It also matters where in the chain it is placed (source>preamp; or premap out>amp).

Very generally speaking-your above example of tubes&copper and SS & silver is opposite of common thought, but it depends on the cable.

Have fun with it.
I think you have it backwards. Since silver is more transparent, and copper is warmer sounding, in general, copper will sound better with SS and silver will sound better with tubes. This is not an absolute, there are too many variables, just a general rule of thumb.

In my opinion about all you can say concerning this subject is that silver is a better conductor than copper all things being equal.

"In my opinion about all you can say concerning this subject is that silver is a better conductor than copper all things being equal."

Yet, there is significant debate as to whether this quality of being a better conductor necessarily correlates (or is even a critical factor) to a better outcome.

Wait, I need to fill up my popcorn bowl again.
Pass the butter, Lkdog!


You thrill-seeker, you! Nothin' like stirin' up some good controversy and watchin' the chunks fly. Get in there!

Anybody needing some technical info on cable testing by a non-cable manufacturer, take a peek at Pass Labs web site, and locate the "articles" page (under "products"). Amongst several good topics, is one about speaker cable interaction.

Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with, nor a personal friend of anyone who works there. Although, I do own several of his products.

Okay, continue with the carnage!
It seems to reason if silver conducts an electrical signal better, the end result will be better sound. How about driving your car down a bumpy road versus a smooth highway at 60 mph, which would be the better ride? Unless you're churning butter for Lkdog.
Timrhu, actually the point is, is that some of us PREFER the bumpy road. :)

My 99 M3 has an aftermarket performance suspension that makes the ride in my car...well, bumpier. I prefer a firm ride to a soft pillow-like ride. I drive fast, and like the feel of a planted car with snappy turn-in. Sure, as with silver vs. copper, there are trade-offs for each, as there is in choosing to live with a car like mine. Those LA potholes suck.

Silver cabling may actually pass a "truer" signal, but I've picked my components and combined them in a way to create an illusion I like. I'm not too concerned with accurately reproducing the live concert I just attended or what the artist intended to portray. The absolute sound is not a single standard for the masses, it has to do with our own personal taste which becomes our own goal.

In some cases I've preferred silver over copper, and in others the opposite.

Kate Beckingsale.

Eva Longoria.

Naomi Watts.

Halle Berry.

Which would you choose? Each of us could make a case for which one is better, but all that matters is which one we prefer.

Audio equipment, cars, food, a favorite color. BETTER can mean different things to different people.
Halle Berry with Kate Beckingsale's voice.

Grant, it also depends on which Halle Berry and Kate Beckingsale movies we're talking about, heheh.
Thanks for your input guys. I guess I screwed up though. I own a Levinson 380 preamp and a Levinson 431 amp driving my Sophias. I bought silver made Nordost Frey ic's and speaker cables. The sound is somewhat bright but I thought it was my cdp. I am going to audition some Cardas GR cables which are made of copper. Are there any other cables someone can recommend I try? Thanks.
Cardas GR should help smooth things out. You may also try some Jena Labs Symphony interconnects. Yes, I wouldn't recommend silver with that equipment, not w/o shades anyway.

Good luck,
OK, Ok....I am just as deranged as everybody else here in searching for that Holy Grail of an IC for my specific system (only I have kind of a modest budget).

I have a pair of Reality Cables copper IC's on the way to try out for use between my TRL modded Sony source and TRL modded Musical Fidelity A300 integrated.
Also considering trying a pair of the new Decware silver IC's, and the Xtreme AV copper/silver hybrids, and VH Audio silver/copper Pulsar hybrids.
Just not sure where the journey will stop.

Clio09 above is mentoring me a bit as he has much more experience than I owning and auditioning IC's.

I am presently using RS Audio silver IC's. Time to experiment a bit-who knows I may end up not changing.

FWIW-I use DH Labs silver plated copper speaker T14 and Q10 wire in a biwire setup.

Oh, and Halle Berry all the way.
I use solid-silver-conductor cables for both IC and speaker. I compared the silver IC with 2 hi-end copper-conductor cables and the silver won*. I use HomeGrown Audio's IC-4 with either WBT nextgen silver or HG's silver-plated RCAs. At $11 - $12/foot, it's a bargain.

I use HG's SC-16 for speakercable, with AQ's silver-over-copper spades at the amp end; it's soldered at the speaker end.

My system has never sounded better.

* But I'm no GEA; I have to work hard at hearing differences. But the silver still sounded SLIGHTLY cleaner, smoother (= not edgy), and more detailed and revealing of small differences.
Dean- If I had Halle Berry cables I'd just spend all my time checking connections. Snug fit? Check. Recheck.

Oh yeah- I like copper cables better.
You are all wrong. Gold is the answer! Copper is dull, silver is bright...
The Nordost Frey cables are copper with silver coating. You may want to try pure silver speaker cables also. I've owned some Nordost silver clad copper speaker cables and noticed they are a little glarey sounding. I thought pure silver would be worse but it isn't. Pure silver speaker cables actually sound better in my system.

I also agree with Gunbei. There's no rule to this cable stuff. Mixing and matching a variety of metals may yield a better sound than just using one metal. I like copper, silver clad copper and pure silver in different parts of the audio chain. It's all about balance.

That being said, a tubed preamp will probably give you more of a definite result than changing the cables.

As for the lovely ladies, I'll take a bite of them all..variety is a good thing!LOL

If you are into DIY at all. Making your own isn't a bad idea. Joesph Levy of Laventure websites did a comparison using DIY 16 awg extra soft temper cables against Kimber pure silver 8AG loudspeaker cables retail $600 a foot..he chose the DIY.

Why do I believe this guy? Well he has nothing to gain. :-) And I've heard the difference myself going from expensive retail to DIY.

Here's the link Make Your Own Home Audio Cables . If you're skiddish about making them. There are plenty of cable making gurus right here on Agon that can make them for you at a fraction of what the big names sell for.
Yes, I wouldn't recommend silver with that equipment, not w/o shades anyway.
As I stated above, these are the comments I simply do not agree with.

I will make an observation, take it for what you will. Many cables makers top cable is silver.

Hopefully he will not mind, here is a comment from HP that I agree with. " many urban legends start, this one has some basis in a kind of "perception" -- many silver cables have an extended high end which might well be perceived as "bright" by those unused to hear any top octave, thus the flaws of the transistors or tweeters."
As previously mentioned, not all copper cables and not all silver cables are created equally. I very much like both Acoustic Zen's silver and copper inconnect offerings as well as Ridge Street Audio's silver speaker cables. The RSA Poiema is the only silver SC I've tried that didn't recess the midrange in my system. Amazing in that it is revealing as I would have expected, but it's also decently full sounding. I'm now in the process of breaking in some silver and copper interconnects from Z-Squared.
Brianmgrarcom, so you are saying that his Levinson gear and Wilson speakers are very smooth in the highs? Have you heard this equipment?

My comment was not meant to bash silver cables, I own all silver cables myself. However, Levinson and Wilson is a combo that could use a little toning down in the upper octaves, in case you haven't heard them. Silver would not be the best choice for this combination, IMHO. There is a difference between natural highs and high end companies that create artificial highs to try and sound detailed. I'm not bashing ML or Wilson either, but to put Nordost cables on that gear is to achieve bright sound, as our thread starter, Gjbianchi can attest.

Just like your favorite HP comment says 'thus the flaws of the transistors or tweeters'. I tried silver cables several times over the last 15 years w/o success. When I purchased my current speakers, Verity Audio Parsifal Encore's, I found a speaker that loves silver. Some don't care for the Parsifal's claiming they are too soft. They were probably listening to them with copper cables, in which case I agree with them. I sold my Jena Labs cables and bought RSAD cables in the speaker move.

My point is, there is no right or wrong cable. It just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If your system sounds a bit slow or lifeless, try silver. If your system sounds a bit hot or bright, try copper. That's worked for me anyway. It may not work for everyone, but I'm not trying to please everyone. The thread originator claims his system sounds too bright with ML/Wilson/Nordost, I offered the suggestion that copper from Cardas or Jena Labs would help. What do you suggest (supposing he doesn't wish to change equipment)?

When we say manufacturer's top cables are usually silver I wonder if we're confusing cost with quality.

I guess it would be a difficult sell if as a cable manufacturer I said the $40 Gunbei Clokey Sig7 mkXIX copper interconnects were our top cable and not our $110 Gunbei Blockhead Climax 5 silver ICs.

"Clio09 above is mentoring me a bit as he has much more experience than I owning and auditioning IC's."

Thanks, for the compliment, not sure how good a mentor I'll turn out to be though. I am definitely interested in hearing your impression of the Reality Cables (especially on the 900 as mine should be getting to me soon). I heard both the ICs and speaker cables in the Reimer room at RMAF last fall. Greg Staley was there as well and is a really great person to talk to. I haven't had the time to pull the trigger on these myself, but I may have an opening coming up after I try out the Creative Cable Concepts ICs.

Oh, BTW Grasshopper, you may want to check those cables out as well as they are offered by Essential Audio in Chicago which should be near you.
Regarding the RSA Poiema's relative full-bodied sound compared to other silver speaker cables I've experienced, I'm wondering if that's due to the flat design of the cable which results in more surface area than with a round cable.
Hi John,

I understand your points, and we may not be to far apart. I do not think it is right to say silver cables are bright or cause brightness; some may be but that's more of a design issue IMO.

It seems to me that Nordost cables are known to be a bit on the bright side, copper or silver, so I would agree to not using those cables in his system. I do believe there are silver cables that could be run in that system just fine. Now whether the gear and speakers are a mismatch causing issues, this I cannot attest to.

You had mentioned trying silver cables many times w/o success until a speaker change, I offer two things to think about. 1) The cables simply revealed "weaknesses" in your system, or maybe 2) not the best designed cables. I am not saying it has to be one or the other but rather some possibilities.

Correct me if wrong, but you are suggesting using cables as tone controls? If so, I suppose if one enjoys the results, no harm no foul.

You ask for suggestions, as can be seen from my system, I like Audio Note cables. Their AN-V can be purchased relativly cheap and I think it is very good incomparison. If someone wants impressive looking cables though, these are not it.
When we say manufacturer's top cables are usually silver I wonder if we're confusing cost with quality.
I figured someone may suggest this. Let me clarify my statement by saying it is usually marketed as their best cable.
Anyone who doesn't think that we are using cables as tone controls is kidding themselves. You may believe that silver cables are more transparent and reveal the faults in the equipment, as that's what many manufacturers would have you believe.
All cables impart their sonic signature into your system. Whether you like the cables sonic signature as it interacts with your equipment is up to you to decide. Copper warmer? Silver leaner? It only depends on your equipment and musical tastes.

Some companies may market silver as their top cable, an this may fool newbies. The fact is that silver is different, not necessarily better. Silver does cost more to source than copper, but in cableland, spending more money doesn't equate to better sound. It's more akin to chocolate or vanilla, which is your favorite flavor? To believe that one flavor is superior to the other is foolish. You're certainly able to say that you prefer one over the other, but to believe that your flavor is superior, or truer to the actual 'ice cream' would be silly.

I guess I am foolish and silly. (For the record, I don't care what the make up is, simply the results.)
Brianmgrarcom (and any others who have the expertise), You have referred to some folks using cables as tone controls as opposed to seeking something else, I assume you are referring to neutrallity and transparency/resolution.

Can you identify a set of cables that are neutral, transparent and don't get in the way of attainable resolution without regard to the speakers and the amps its to be used with. A benchmark, so to speak, with out regard to the application.

Don't get me wrong, I clearly hear differences between cables, silver and copper, but how much of the differences that I hear are due to synergy as opposed to something absolute in the construction of and materiel used in a cable which can be specifically identified.

And, if it is truly synergy, how can anyone draw any conclusion about the nature of a cable without knowing its application.

I'm so confused by all of this........
I guess I am foolish and silly.

You're not foolish or silly, you just believe that your favorite flavor is everyone else's favorite flavor too.

(For the record, I don't care what the make up is, simply the results.)

Now you're getting it. There is no absolute reality, only perceived realities. When listening to the same live recording, two individuals may very well have differing views on the presentation. We are all different. The equipment is different, and cables are different. There is no right or wrong. It all boils down to trying to find cables that make you happy with your equipment, that's all. There are no absolutes.


My perceived reality is that Roselyn Sanchez thinks I'm the hottest guy on earth. If you'll excuse me, it's time for my daily shock treatment.


Be sure the rubber mouthpiece is ALL THE WAY IN before the current is applied...that's the secret to having a great ECT and beautiful dental work all at once!
I don't know who the above imposters are (certainly not electrical engineers), but any real audiophile could tell you the difference in a sentence: Copper sounds more "coppery", silver sounds more "silvery". See? Right. Next, on to the sound of components with black-anodized aluminum faceplates vs. those with gold-anodized or natural-aluminum ones...
Man, I need a beer!! Lkdog, where's the popcorn?

I must not speak (type) clearly. From the outset my point has been this, I don't believe copper or silver cables need to be put in their own "box", ie. silver does this and copper does that.

John, you are accusing me of things that are just not true. I have never said that what I like is the only way. I am just not sure of your flavoring system.

Newbee, as far as tone controls, I am saying I do not believe in telling someone they have to tone down their system by using copper cables. I guess I'd rather go another route than mask the problem. BUT, as I said before, if one is happy, that is all that matters, and I mean that when I say it, I am not being smart.
I would agree with some of what everyone has said, especially Dean!

I don't think it is that easy to attribute sonic characteristics to a particular metal. I have had silver cables that were bright and etched, and ultimately undesirable. So I replaced them with another silver cable from a different company. Everything the former did to annoy, the later allowed me to enjoy.

I wonder if some of it has to do with the quality of the wire itself. I'm not a metalurgist, or any other urigist for that matter, but all the talk of 'crystals' and crap like that makes me wonder if lesser quality wire is more problematic.

Why does some wire sound great while others sound... less great. There is not the consistancy there ought to be if it was just 'metal' dependant.
The quality of the wire (silver or copper), shielding, and the dielectric along with construction is what makes the difference. Another tibit, along with silver being the better conducter, is that silver oxide conducts current while copper oxide does not......not sure what it all means, but it is good trivia.

Well, I got my well regarded Reality Cables today.
100% copper (or some variation of 99.99999999% give or take a few nines). They have OFC connectors.

I have been using the well regarded RS Audio Silver IC's.
100% silver (or some variation of 99.99999999% give or take a few nines). Silver connectors.

I have a source with two sets of Audio L/R outputs so can have them both hooked up and switch the selector on my integrated amp instantly to A/B.

This is like Ali/Frazier, Bird/Magic, McEnroe/Connors.

Let the games begin.
This will no doubt prove once and for all for all aduio enthusiast which is better between Cooper or Silver IC's; with my source, with my amp, and with my speakers, in my room, on my couch, with my ears....

Well, I guess it will not prove a damn thing except which I might like better in my setup-but I will report back nonetheless for entertainment purposes.

Lkdog, it would have been pretty damn boring without Ali, Frazier, Bird, Magic, McEnroe, and Connors. That's when it was about the competition and not about the money.
Got to see Bird in person in college twice play against my university.
Old school, baby.

The cable battle is quite interesting so far. Will report back tomorrow as Gregg at Reality suggests a couple days run in even after his extensive burn in.
Brief update on the copper Reality Cables IC's as compared to the silver RS Audio IC's in my setup.

The Reality Cables have the recommended 48 hours of additional run in after I received them on Saturday. The company already does a 15 day break in on the wire and connectors before they send them out and they feel they are already broke in when received. The 48 hours is to allow them to settle in with your electronics.

Short answer impression at this point-no significant difference. Both cables are neutral, balanced across all frequencies, extended, and devoid of an edge or glare.
I wouldn't call either warm, nor would I call either analytical. They are going to present what your electronics does truthfully.

It is funny but both seem to have avoided the stereotypes of the typical characteristics of silver and copper. Both present an honest balanced presentation. The silver is not etched or edgy at the upper frequencies, or lean; the copper does not lose detail in exchange for warmth or fullness.

Both are nice cables and I would not hesitate to recommend them for a trial as both companies offer a money back trial period.

If I had to state one difference-the Reality Cables might be very slightly rounder in presentation.