Vintage DIN phono cables, any good?

The question is about old DIN tonearm phono cables for the top of the line vintage Japanese tonearms. 
I wonder how good those old cables are compared to the mid priced new cables ?

For example an old Audio Craft, SAEC, Fidelity Research, SONY  cables made for their top of the line tonearms are good? It's easy to replace an old RCA connectors, but what about the cables? Some of them are silver and must be a good quality. 

Any thoughts? 
10076406 d6c5 4854 a751 76cefa9d8a70chakster
It depends.
I have PIoneer Exclusive P3 and P10 and both din to rca tonearm cables sounded excellent.  I had to go to Nordost Tyr and Valhalla to better the sound.

recently technics SL1000mk3D - the tonearm cable is very ordinary and beaten by $3-400 tonearm cables.

The Kenwood L07J tonearm on my L07D turntable pretty much mandates that you use its supplied cables, because of the one-off connector built into the base of the L07J.  Inside is what Kenwood deemed to be state of the art Litz-type wire, in around 1980.  It certainly seems OK, but I plan to bypass the whole shebang by running wires from the phono direct to the cartridge.  I never did care much for Litz wire; it tends to homogenize the sound so everything is "nice".
Interesting question.  I just purchased a FR-64S from the original owner who still had the straight DIN RCA cable. I will listen to it compared to the my Audioquest Leopard cable.  
FWIW, I use an aftermarket DIN to RCA phono cable on my FR64S with solid silver wiring.  My FR64S has the "silver inside" decal, so I thought it would be interesting to go all the way with silver.  An eBay vendor sold me the wires for a very reasonable price.
The old (original) cable of my Sony PUA-7 tonearm was dead quite with low output MC, better than more expensive new phono cable. That’s why i think for the top models of the tonearms they should supply their very best cable (not suppossed to be replaced by the user at that time).

I’m curious about the sound quality of the Audio-Craft low resistance ARR-T din phono cable designed for MC cartridges.

My impression by the most Japanese tonearms ( I was tonearm

collector earlier) was /is that they all used Din 5 -RCA cables

provided by the same supplier. All of them with copper wire which

coroded as function of time. There are of cource exceptions but

the most of those cables are worthless. It is not difficult to make

our own if one can handle soldering bolt. One can then chose

among many obtainable wires. But one need to be cereful with

their dimensions. The wire need to fit in those (damn) Din 5

connectors (grin).

@nandric do you mean corrosion of the old connectors or corrosion of the whole copper signal cable inside the isolation material? How about silver then?

If the old copper is corroded (just because it's old) then each time we have to fully rewire every vintage tonearm we have, but for some reason many of them sounds great in stock condition with original old cables. Why?   

Dear chakster, I meant corrosion of the copper wire but assume

that everyone changed those old RCA connectors(grin). I also

stated ''with some exception'' by tonearm producers who made

their own phono-cables. For example Ikeda produced silver cable

which was available as separate and usually bought for the FR-66.

Micro and SAEC also produced or ordered , say, better cables

for their (more expensive) tonearms. But speaking in general

those old Din 5 cables are worthless despite the fact that our

dear chakster thinks otherwise.

@nandric ok, did you re-wired all your tonearm collection?

I have rewired a few vintage tonearms, but the reason was a broken cable, not the upgrade. I already have expensive cryo treated cables, like the one which goes with my Reed 3P (from headshell pins to preamp) and others supplied with the best WBT RCA plugs etc. But some inexpensive vintage tonearms with removable headshells and DIN connectors in between are so good in stock condition that makes me feel a bit sceptical about rewiring. I think most of the new (expensive) phono cables are nothing special and this is the problem. I think $250-300 is expensive for a 1m phono cable. Just curious about cost effective alternative with the vintage cables.       

Dear chakster, There is some truth in the old Roman confusion

between the truth and the autority. Aristoteles still rule in some

social ''sciences'' with his autority. Well as Rauls best student

you should be sensitive for his argument. You of course know

why he refuse to buy any cart with inbuilt headshell. The reason

is corroded (headshell) wire. My own argument is about the

money. You stated that $250-300 is expensive for 1m cable.

But I guess that the most of your MM carts are more expensive.

I seldom use my MM carts while my MC carts are much more

expansive than the MM kind. Why should I then mess with

those old mediocre cables from the 80is?

BTW my SUT's adventure started recently. To start with I bought

Ikeda's  FR -3. He uses uitput cables instead of output connectors.

I wanted to change the connectors but was shocked with the

state of wire. So, it seems, even Raul is sometime right (grin).

One need to compare FR SUT's with, say, Denon AU-S1 to

see and hear the difference. Anyway I hope you deed not spend

mucho dollars for your speaker wire(grin).


Anyway I hope you deed not spend mucho dollars for your speaker wire(grin).

I did, long time before, tried various brands and stopped on Stereovox Firebird designed by Chris Sommovigo, same with interconnects (Stereovox Colibri with Xhadow RCAs) and finally managed to get Stereolab Master Referense Phono RCA cable here on audiogon. Chris has moved from USA to Japan and excluded all distribution chane from his business, he sells direct. His cables are the most impressive ones that me and my local hi-end mates has ever heard. It’s like changing the component in your system. I think the hi-end business is in big chrisis now. Luckily we can buy them all used for 50% off. But i’m not intended to buy $600-2000 high-end cables for each of my vintage tonearms anymore.

Maybe you're right about vintage cables, i will try, if they are crap i do rather buy signal cable from Frank, but they are all silver (i have no silver cables in my system). 

BTW those German guy (i forgot the name) who supply cables for Reed makes the affordable phono cables, i use one of them, it was replaced with Cryo one with better RCAs at Reed factory. The old one was removed directly from Reed tonearm Then i have soldered DIN connector to that cable to use it with one of my vintage tonearm and that's ok, but not special.  

Dear chakster, It is a question of preference while we also need

to save on something or other. So I use, for example, Bullet RCA

instead of WBT (grin). Thanks to my brother Don (Griffiths) I can

get those Signal cables with discount and use for both; IC's and

phono-cables. Pure silver or silver coted copper wire. One of

my FR-64s has silver inside the other copper. I think that the

armwand wire is better isolated than the (old) phono-cables wire.

This may explain the fact that there are not much complains about

(inside) wire by the ''old tonearms''. Except by Rega 300 for my

son I never changed inside wire by any of my tonearms.

BTW I am not a wire fetishist.


So I use, for example, Bullet RCA instead of WBT (grin). 

Those Eichman Bullet RCA are ok to use (i have 2 pairs), but they are not good for re-soldeging as the pins inside are very fragile and it's easy to destroy them in case of overheat while soldering. Now they call them KLE, that's what i have on my Reed phono cable. The WBT nextgen are much better and extremely well designed, but very expensive (got them on my Zu Audio Mission mk2 phono cable). But the ultimate RCA connectors are the Xhadow in my opinion.  

BTW I am not a wire fetishist.

That's good :) 

I never changed inside wire by any of my tonearms.

This is interesting and that's a proof you're not cable fetishist. Not sure about your headshell leadwires. 

Dear Chakster, I needed some time to answer your last question.

Curious but true the most frustrating ''part'' in our system chain

are those damn ''tags'' or ''pins''. Consider those expensive tonearms

(Reed,Triplanar,etc) with fast headshells and worthless tags. That

is to say when the invoved tags break or drop. I would be sorry

for whomever is in your vicinity. Anyway I compare this state of

affairs with Armani suit in combo with Nikes. We, the decent people

would not like to be associated  with such kinds. Well there are

only two kinds of decent tags in our known universe. Clearaudio and

Cardas. Alas both very expensive and , curiously, sold as 4 samples.

We of course need 8. Depending from the number of your Armani

suits you need to multiplay with 8. This means using those tags

for our most expensive and beloved carts.

BTW I noticed that our dear Lew does not like Litz wire. He obviously

 forget headshell wire or overlooked the problem (grin).

Dear chakster, you divided my (former)  post in different issues

or questions. You last question was about headshell wire. But

you also questioned my preference for Bullet and WBT (RCA)

connectors  and put your own opinion about ''the best one'' as

Xhadow kind. But you obviously missed the ,say, ''essence'' of

Eichmanns innovation. That is ''one point'' grounding and as less

metal as possible. WBT copied Bullets invention two years

later probably because Eichmann deed not protect his invention

by patent. However WBT kept its complicated construction with

fastening mechanisme for both (opposite) connectors which

meant the use of more metal for the connector. Consider those

thin wire , needed for those (damn) Din 5 connectors in relation

to ''abundance '' of metal on the other side. ''Your Xhadow'' looks

like the old WBT connector. Ground on both sides of the connector.

From this follows that you don't believe that Eichmanns innovation

is actually  ''innovation at all''. Or you missed the ''essence'' (grin).

Or you missed the ’’essence’’

Maybe, i just said they are fragile, not the best construction for re-soldering if needed. The benefit of the Xhadow is the bolt inside (to screw-in the signal wire to the connector pin) to pass on solgeding, so no soldering needed at all (or it can be soldered and screwed). But i guess if we pass on soldering it’s a benefit if you know this theory. The Xhadow is available in two size, but both are bigger than WBT Nextgen.

What i like about Eichman / KLE is affordable price, but the internal design of the WBT or Exadow is way superior to any connectors i have ever seen, except maybe the new Love Craft RCA from the Xhadow designer (Chris Sommovigo). I also use the Xhadow Banana for my amp and the Xhadow Spades for my speakers. 

Here is the review of both Eichman vs. Xhadow:
Chakster, I just skimmed the review on 6 Moons.  Thanks for providing the reference.  I guess it's just me, but after 30-40 years of audiophilia, reviews like that make me gag.  At the same time, I have been using the Eichmann silver bullet plugs for as long as they have been available, because I see a sound philosophy behind their design, and because from the beginning, even with the copper Eichmann's, they just sounded better than the traditional "heavy metal" connectors, most notably the Cardas that I had been using prior.  (I make all my own ICs and power cords.) The only issue I have had with Eichmann Bullet plugs is that with some female RCA jacks, the ground connection is not readily made or is unstable.  Whenever I now use a Bullet plug, I try also to install a female Eichmann RCA jack to receive it; they work well together.

The Xhadow connectors may be competitive with Eichmann, but I will have to see for myself.  What I dislike about the review is the precision of language where precision of sonic memory and freedom from memory bias is impossible.  And I dislike that horrible term from Jonathan Valin, "tone colors".  It has now permeated the lexicon of every other second and third rate reviewer. 

The reviewer seems to dislike solder joints, preferring screw pressure connections.  A "good" solder joint should have the wire and the connector in contact with each other, in fact wrapped together when possible, so that the solder is only serving to hold the two elements in place.  If that's done properly, I don't see why it would not be at least as good as screw terminals.  Not only that, with screw terminals it is typically a good idea to "tin" the ends of the wires, especially if the wire is stranded, so as to keep the screw pressure from pushing the strands out of the way, instead of making the intended connection stable. Thus you end up with a screw pressing on solder. Moreover, does the reviewer realize that inside his Leben preamplifier, the signal is traversing dozens, if not hundreds, of solder joints?

Dear chakster, The Germans have a curious attitude about

philosophy. They collectivly admire their Hegel and Kant but

also state: ''there is nothing so easy as to refute an philosopher.

The only thing one need to do is read some other''.

Compare this with ,say, HIFI reviewers . Lew already suggested

my intention but when I become member of our forum (2007)

I terminated my 5 HIFI Magazines subscriptions. BTW I had no

idea that my membership would be so much more expensive. Think

of the number of my carts (grin).

''Re-soldering'' of the RCA connectors? This, my young friend,

is not done. As I already mentioned ''your Xhadow'' connector

looks like the old WBT connector. But they changed their mind

and copied Eichmann. I would not dare to ever contradict Lew so I

agree with his opinion about Eichmann's.

Well, in my 40, i’m not on the same high-end levels as you gentelmans to hear the difference between two good RCA connectors, i’ve never done such tests. When i first checked that review, many years ago, i decided to buy both (Eichman and Xshadow) to make some cables for myself, the Eichman was new brand to my ears (and cheaper), but the Xhadow was already on my Stereovox Colibri interconnect cable that i’ve been using for years and the only cable that is better is the Stereolab Master Refference Phono RCA from the same designer. Actually they are both very well shielded and dead quite, so both can be used as phono RCA to RCA. The branding of Chris Sommovigo’s products is a bit confusing, first it was Stereovox and Xhadow, then it was Stereolab and Black Cat. The construction of the Black Cat cables is very interesting and can be viewed here The philosophy behind the Chros Sommovigo’s brand is here. I’m a big fan of his cables, each time i brought them to a friends it was a huge improvement in sound quality.

Back to connectors:
Practically the old Eichman is not on the same level at all, maybe for those "masters of soldering" they are ok, but practically plastic that holds the pins can be overheated and damaged if something goes wrong (that’s why i said not good for re-soldering). While the Xhadow are bulletproof reference connectors, same about WBT nextgen.

I got old Eichman copper bullets on one of my interconnects, also new KLE on one of my phono cable, so i know this connectors very well. The feeling of use WBT Nextgen is totally different. And Xhasow is something else.

P.S. I thought you’re soldering everything direct to the component as Raul did.

BTW Frank of the Signal Cable company simply use Neutrik professional connectors for his cables now instead of Eichman Bullet or KLE for some reason. Why?

In my praise of the Eichmann, and now the KLE, bullet plug, I did not mean to slight the Xhadow.  It looks to be very well designed and certainly influenced by the Eichmann design.  Yes, I think I overheated at least one bullet plug in my lifetime, but I think I salvaged it.  I did melt an XLO XLR connector, but good.  Which is to say, I had to trash it.  I am not sure, but I think "Anti-Cable" Company recently switched from KLE to Xhadow connectors on its top line of cables.  I know and trust the owner, Paul Speltz; he is like we are, a serious listener, but he happens to be an EE and very smart in this field, as well.

I like comical stories if they can enlighten the issue involved like

a kind of introduction. Two Serbian hunters are walking in the

montain searching for animals. ''Look there at the top of the

montain: a (montain) goat''. ''You must be blind'' say the other ''it

is obviously an eagle''. The disagrement lasts till the ''thing on the

montain top''  started to fly. ''Do you see an eagle!'' say the ''eagle

man''. ''Still a goat'' say the other.

i remembered this story by reading the 3th post of our dear

chakster about the RCA connectors.

@nandric i wonder why Frank, the designer of Signal Cable Silver Sesolution (beloweb by your brother Don), don’t use ETI Bullets anymore? It’s stated on his site. His new choice is not KLE from Eichman, but the "standard rca" or more expensive traditional Neutric ProFi RCA and there is no other options for some reason.


 I know and trust the owner, Paul Speltz; he is like we are, a serious listener, but he happens to be an EE and very smart in this field, as well.

Meanwile the designer of that old Xhadow RCA made his own new LoveCraft RCA and claimed they are even better, the good news (i just noticed that) the price is cheaper than Xhadow and they are available direct from the designer just for $80 (pair) here. I use the LoveCraft RCA on my best phono cable (Stereolab Master Reference) and i love it. Strange that each time i talk about Chris Sommovigo products (cables) his name is still new to the audiogonners, while he was in business for 25 years. I don't think that his idea to make Xhadow connectors comes from Eichman, those Xhadows are pretty old design. I think this 6moons review expain very well who's Chris Sommovigo. The reviewer is Srajan Ebaen.    

Dear chakster, I am not Frank but guess that the price difference

between Neutric and Eichman is the reason. One usually don't

ask his butcher about the quality of his meat. There is even a

Dutch saying about this: ''the bucher should not value his own meat''.

But why should you refer to others? You have your own ears.

The fact that your hands are not ''born'' for soldering ''art '' you

can't ascribe to Eichmann. Anyway if one looks at both kinds one

can easylly see the opposite philosophy of their making: one point

ground and thrifty use of metal by Eichmann and the opposite by

Hhadow. Read the first post by Lew about this ''philosophy'' and

wonder about his last post . I think that he never considered carrer

in diplomacy. Even with Raul he keeps friendly relation. This is,

alas, not given to us the ordinary humans (grin).

I don't think that 10 euro price difference is important:
Neutrik ProFi - 20 euro pair (retail)
KLE Copper Harmony - 30 euro pair (retail)  

I think the quality should be the most important for cable designer, not the minor price difference. In other words if Signal Cable Company taking care about the quality and uses different connectors in newer products, then it must be equal of better. Even if the well known Neutrik Proffessional connectors are equal to plastic Eichman then it ruins the theory of superiority of advanced Eichman plastic design over the traditional metal connectors. Or the designer just downgrade his products to sell more (hard to believe).

I have asked Frank about possibility of using different connectors (i could supply connectors by post), but he said he only sells what's on the website (standard or neutrik, no more Eichman).  

When i asked Chris Sommovigo to change standard connectors on one of my old Stereolab cables (designed by him), he said he could solder whatever connector i want if i will supply them. I was going to ship Xhadow to him by post (pretending it's the best rca), but instead he offered me his new LoveCraft RCA (for free) and said it's even better, but i had a choise. This is what i call customer service!   

P.S. I don't ask butchers for anything, i'm vegetarian
Chakster/Nandric -
I have used the Neutrik Profi - they are garbage in terms of sound quality - I have a bagful to prove it. The newer range of Klei are a new design and better than the earlier Eichmann bullets. The Klei and WBTNextgen are both good sound wise, and I have used them. Nevertheless I prefer a vintage plug from the 80’s, lightweight, minimal metal and robust.

With regard to the WBT’s - one of my preamps had Nextgen chassis mount RCA male sockets - the surface coating has long gone, whereas the other RCA’s for the other inputs are still like new. I question their longevity.
PS I used to distribute WBT’s in the 80’s and their quality control at the time was appalling.The centre pins on the original RCA’s were very short and on many top end components the WBTs could not actually make proper contact.

The Eichmann chassis mount RCA male sockets I have installed on my Marantz tube pre - they are ok sound wise, but no better than the original teflon/gold I had installed 25 years ago.

As far as cartridge pins go - the Cardas etc are garbage. I prefer sonically cartridge pins that are phosphor bronze base rather than the tinny brass used by most, including name brands.

Best connectors are copper or silver body ( no brass ) and minimal metal and non internal joints. If you are in the habit of melting Eichmanns or Klei’s then I suggest you go to soldering school and learn how to solder properly.

I have no experience with the Xhadow apart from 1 pair of interconnects, which, after about 4-5 years, the connector surfaces were tarnished to eternity. Not very impressive on the longevity front, given the cost..


Nevertheless I prefer a vintage plug from the 80’s, lightweight, minimal metal and robust.

That's interesting! Which one, i'd love to see the images if possible. 
And what do you think about vintage phono cables? 

If you are in the habit of melting Eichmanns or Klei’s then I suggest you go to soldering school and learn how to solder properly.

Haha, definitely not in the habit, but i'm in my school here on audiogon. 

I have no experience with the Xhadow apart from 1 pair of interconnects, which, after about 4-5 years, the connector surfaces were tarnished to eternity. Not very impressive on the longevity front, given the cost..

I use my Stereovox Colibru RCA (Xhadow) for 15 years, still very impressivle cable, but the connectors are not like new in color, same with Xhadow Spades on my Stereovox Firebird speaker cables.  

Dear dover, I quote from  Lew's post ( 06-27-017) :'' I have been

using the Eichmann silver bullets, etc. ''because I see a sound

philosophy behind their design''. I refered to this philosophy

as ''one point ground'' and ''as less metal as posible''. I also

assume that the plastic body has the same function as isolation

of the wire in front of the connector. Lew  obviously changed his

mind about the ''desing philosophy'' by his later praise of the

Xhadow which design philosophy  is totally different (aka ''abundance

of metal''). This was my reason to assume his diplomatic

capabilities (grin).

Can you explain in technical terms why ''one point ground'' and

''sparing use of metal'' is important? If the plastic body instead

of metal body is also important please explain. I need this to

convince chakster: ''not a goat but an eagle ''.

Passing an electrical signal through a metal tube creates an inductive effect which distorts the signal. Changing your metal plugs to plastic will minimise this effect. The downside of using plastic plugs would be that that leaves the joint exposed to rf ( now unshielded ).

Same principle with interconnect - if you use a symmetrical twisted pair with a shield, the shield creates an inductive element. If you take such a cable and physically strip the shield off, you will find in most instances improved speed and resolution. The downside again is that if you live in an rf heavy environment you may get added noise.

My system is optimised for speed and resolution, but when I had a top end audio shop I found that some folk prefer a slow and smooth sound, so as with many audio components listening preferences often trump science or truth.

With regard to Lewm's comment on the Xhadows I took it from his comments that they are based only on review, not experience.

Minimum metal will minimise skin effect and distortion resulting from the signal passing through a big lump of metal. The worst example I have had in 30 years was changing the phono sockets on my ET2 air bearing tonearm - I lost the bottom end completely and had to reinstall the cheap ( 25yr old teflon ) sockets, even though both RCA sockets had similar construction. Other examples are the original WBT's which had steel covers, later replaced with lightweight aluminium that reduced distortion, then ultimately they developed the Nextgen.

I use either the Kleis or some proprietary MIT plugs produced in the 80's which were never available to the public. I was an MIT distributor along with Siltech, Kimber and a few others at the time.
As regards vintage cables they are hit or miss in my experience. I use only MIT ( mostly Oracle series ) in my system. The only exception is between MC transformers and preamp as the MIT is quite capacitive. I would also expect MIT cables not ideal for MM's as a phono cable due to its highish capacitance. I have some high end cables from the 80's that still beat most out there today, but they have not oxidised or deteriorated, and that may be indicative of their inherent quality.