Tonearm Wire

There is "a lot" of discussion in the Cables section regarding different interconnects and speaker cables, but very little in Analog regarding the choice of tonearm wire used in various tonearm brands. Since this wire connects the cartridge to the termination box, and carries the lowest-level signals in any system, it is arguably the most important link in the cable chain, which makes it curious that there is not more discussion on this topic.

I own a Triplanar III from 1990. I bought a Hovland phono interconnect a few years later, and was so impressed that I asked him to rewire the arm using his wire. The result was a major improvement in clarity and openness of the sound. (I believe the original wire in the arm was Cardas.)

More recently, a friend has made interconnects and speaker cables that are similar to anti-cables in that they have no shielding and only minimal insulation, but are made of Litz wire, which is of generally higher quality than the wire used in the anti-cables and uses teflon as the insulation material. (My friend tried the kind of wire used in anti-cables, and concluded that the Litz wire worked better.) My friend agrees with the anti-cable theory that shielding and insulation interfere with the proper dielectric, and therefore fail to transmit the audio signal properly.

The interconnects and speaker cables I was using previously are well-known and highly-regarded, but the results from using the new interconnects and speaker cables have been nothing short of astonishing. There is so much more music, detail, better imaging. In particular, the crashing of cymbals and the sound of bass drums are so much more present than before, by many magnitudes. There is nothing subtle about the difference. The sound from my system is miles better than it was.

I have not (yet) had the tonearm re-wired with the new wire (it would of course have to be much smaller gauge), bnut I am thinking about it.

Which leads me back to my topic: the wire used in tonearms. Does anyone know: Is it generally shielded or damped, or instead just bare wire running through the tonearm tube? I note in Michael Fremer's review of the Caliburn/Cobra that the wire in the tonearm was Litz wire and was undamped, just sitting in the tonearm tube, and he thought that the arm could be improved by adding damping. Could it perhaps be that it is precisely the bareness of the wire that contributes to the sound being so good?

And could it be that even running bare wire through an arm-tube creates adverse dielectric effects, so that theoretically the best set-up would be to have the tonearm wire suspended above or below the tonearm?

It would be interesting to know how much of the difference in performance among tonearms is due to differences in (i) what kind of wire is used and (ii) how much insulation, damping etc is used in the tonearm tube. Undoubtedly there are crucial differences among tonearms as to their mechanics, but ultimately the wire is what carries the signal from the cartridge onward.

Unfortunately, I know almost nothing about different tonearms or how they work, but I was hoping that the very knowledgeable contributors to this board could provide their thoughts.
I prefer to use the thinnest single strand wire I can get and work with. Michael Percy Audio sells Acrotec 6n 46 guage copper wire insulated with a very thin coating of polyester varnish. It's sound is very transparent and neutral. Regarding the thickness, remember that the cartridge signal is miniscule. Current capability is not a big issue at that level. One of my favorite cable companies used to make their interconnects with wire significantly thinner than this and it sounded phenomenal even with line level signals. Dielectric issues, including that of the arm tube itself as dielectric are definitely significant. There is definitely a case to be made for suspending the wire outside the arm tube. As usual, there are up sides and down sides to shielding, especially with such low signal levels. Priorities may vary with different localities and equipment.
I've had excellent results with Cardas 4x33 which is four twisted 33 gauge wires shielded and encased in a rubber jacket.
I never had any luck with Cardas. I have all Ayre components and the recommended Ayre cables are Cardas with Ayre nameplates. I originally had everything wired with these cables, and the more I got rid of, the better the sound. I am using totally Anti-Cables which I am very fond of. The Litz wire may be better, but the anti-cables in my system bettered the best from Kimber, Audioquest, Purist, etc. Note also, that the VPI arm is wired with Nordost Valhalla, very well damped, and much above the arm and not in it.