I've been perfectly happy with Cardas Tri-Eutectic (Lead free).
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Yeah, lead and tin are quite inferior with regard to conductivity, but why do some high end audio manufacturers regard lead free solder as "The beginning of the end of high quality audio"? One of them is Goldmund from Switserland if I can recall. I think there is a certain dichotomy with regard to lead free solder among high end audio manufacturers, especially the U.S. based ones.
I'm quite interested in this thread, and hope that people will offer some insight as to some specifics of each solder they have tried, from a sonic perspective.
Personally, I have a friend that has tried a lot of solders over the past 20 years, and about 2 years ago returned to the tried and true Kester 60/40 lead/tin solder. His rationale - yes, the silver bearing and lead free solders offer what most listeners discern as additional detail and clarity, but at the expense of naturalness and musicality.
I have no idea if his assertion (and, Goldmund's) is correct, but always try to keep an open mind. Maybe one day, after I get done tube rolling, then fuse rolling, and cable rolling, I'll take up a project for solder rolling...
I really like the Cardas quad eutectic. I bought 20ft. of it and 20 ft. of the new Wonder solder ultraclear recently and did an experiment with each separately on the connections of my preamp output caps as well as the wires to the volume pot. I initially cleaned off all the original solder( not sure what it was) and applied the Wonder solder. I listened periodically for a couple of days. Then I removed all the Wonder Solder, recleaned the connections, and applied the Cardas Quad Eutectic. Although both solders are wonderful to use( they both melt quickly at relatively low heat) and they both flow nicely and give a nice solid joint) I preferred the overall sound of the Cardas Eutectic. It just had a more natural sound with better harmonics and a cleaner, more extended top end. One guy on the Tweak Asylum at AA, as an experiment, actually used a couple feet length of each of the solders you mentioned as interconnects. He preferred the sound of the Cardas as well and used the Cardas as his main source of solder from then on. Just some food for thought. As usual, YMMV.
And many people prefer the "warm", colored, euphonic, "tubey" presentation of Mullard and Brimar tubes over the transparent, uncolored presentation of Telefunken, and Siemens tubes(etc). Yadda, yadda, yadda! Tastes vary, but the laws of conductivity and electron flow don't. Some metals are better with regard to electron flow and some aren't. You can use equipment, cables, tubes, caps, chassis wire, interconnects, and solder as tone controls(to satisfy your particular tastes), or try to find the ones that provide the most transparent(faithful to what's recorded) presentation. Personally, I prefer the latter option. What's "right" to you may(and almost certainly will) vary.
Some further notes(aside from the superior conductivity of copper and silver) on the various metals used in alloy when making the numerous solders out there: Silver provides mechanical strength, but has worse ductility than lead. In absence of lead, it improves resistance to fatigue from thermal cycles.
Copper lowers the melting point, improves resistance to thermal cycle fatigue, and improves wetting properties of the molten solder. It also slows down the rate of dissolution of copper from the board and part leads in the liquid solder.
Bismuth significantly lowers the melting point and improves wettability. In presence of sufficient lead and tin, bismuth forms crystals of Sn16Pb32Bi52 with melting point of only 95 °C, which diffuses along the grain boundaries and may cause a joint failure at relatively low temperatures. A high-power part pre-tinned with an alloy of lead can therefore desolder under load when soldered with a bismuth-containing solder.
Indium lowers the melting point and improves ductility. In presence of lead it forms a ternary compound that undergoes phase change at 114 °C.
Zinc lowers the melting point and is low-cost. However it is highly susceptible to corrosion and oxidation in air, therefore zinc-containing alloys are unsuitable for some purposes, e.g. wave soldering, and zinc-containing solder pastes have shorter shelf life than zinc-free.
Antimony is added to increase strength without affecting wettability.
i have tried many of the current solders mentioned above. One summer after moving to Forida, bored with nothing but time I decided to listen to solder. My conclusions were. WBT, while very easy to work with, added a sheen or brightness to the music. If you listen to their RCA plugs they do the opposite so the solder complimments thier plugs well. When wanting to liven things up a bit I choose WBT. Copper based solder sold by Chimera labs is very good but must be sealed with clean teflon nail polish to prevent corrosion. Cardas is very good but adds a bit of metallic sound to the highs. Very, very slight mind you, but there. Wonder Ultraclear seemed to have the least sonic effect on the sound. ALthough at first listen the Ultraclear sounds muffled slightly. It opens up to give really no signature at all. My conclusion was that the Ultraclear is for someone that wants to hear nothing at all and the WBT is for someone who wants additional life in their system. These experiments took me 1 year to complete. Should probably find something more constructive to do with my time!
Bobby at Merlin wisely led me into Cardas tri-eutectic. Replacing WBT with unleaded Cardas improved everything in crossover-- better detail and bass delineation with less hyped up sound. Perhaps the benefit of unleaded solder is greatest in high-mass joints as found in xover wiring. However to flow well it needs a hot iron with a thick tip that maintains heat, and even then joints look ragged.
For delicate jobs such as surface mount I've been using Radio Shack 4% silver-- its main advantage is availability in fine gauges, and it seems to sound OK.