hello Rushton,you have convinced me to give SST a try,,
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I also applied Extreme SST this weekend. As I plugged the main powercord in and fire came out of the outlet, I knew that this was going to be interesting. (Make sure everything is off when you plug it in!)
I have not tried the originial version, but I'd agree with what you say. It will take several days for my equipment to break-in after unplugging everything. Immediately I noticed an increase in detail. The soundstage became more focused, the background became blacker, the decay of the instruments more apparent, sound of the instrument was richer, and an increase in the ambience of the venue. There was also a little more leanness, but I suspect this will go away once the equipment is on for several days.
I'd say that this is a worthwhile tweak, particularly when factoring the price. I've also been very happy with Walker's Vivid Enhancer, and apply it to all my CDs to a subtle but worthwhile improvement.
Okay, this is my primary thought:
I'd love to *measure* the psycho-acoustical impact of SST.
I know Rushton to be one of the more responsible posters on the 'gon. I also know these tweaks do make a difference. But when I read:
"...after two hours I'm beginning to get a sense of a system that sounds like the windows have been newly washed for dramatically improved clarity."
I think: I've heard this before....
Then when I attach a catch phrase to a manufacture statement like:
"SST's ultra-pure micro-flaked silver treated with a special deep immersion cryogenic treatment. Amazing!"
I ask: how far a jump is it to attach a stock phrase to a suggested improvement? And even stipulating the fact that SST offers improvement, is it that dramatic? Enough to pay $150?
There is little doubt the topic of psycho-acoustics has been discussed here *many* times. A part of the discussions always swings over to double blind testing, and of course, the problems with such methods. Still, there is ample evidence that we are creatures prone to exaggerate facts, and in this case, such exaggeration costs $150 dollars.
Now, there's no questioning Walker's commitment to audio, and attempting to bring products to the market which increase our pleasure. Yet it is also clear that Walker's products fetch a huge price premium, thus, the attempt to reconcile the value of that cost is warranted (I offer Walker Vivid v. Shinola as an example). Therefore, I feel one is justified in bringing this topic up - on this thread - and the raising of this issue is not trolling or flame-bait or any other destructive activity.
In other words: I'd like to discuss this.
Not trash Rushton, SST, or me :-)
Ncarv, while I believe you are on to something...namely the re-
packaging of a pre-existing compound with an enormous retail mark-
up, you should look at the following web page from Artic Silver in which
they specifically state that Arctic Silver is "not electrically
Check it out. Look near the bottom of the page; http://www.arcticsilver.com/as5.htm
Jtinn, a reasonable caution. SST is highly conductive. I encourage anyone trying it to read carefully Walker Audio's cautions about how to apply SST. A VERY light painting of the surface is all that is required, don't apply it like a paste.
Mprime, you raise good points we should all be cognizant of in this hobby of ours. I certainly take no offense in you raising them, because they are very pertinent. Placebo effect is real, and we are all prone to hearing what we want or expect to hear from time to time. This is the reason my listening partner/spouse and I agreed to write down our impressions of what we were hearing and only sharing those impressions after we'd finished; and those written comments are what I shared above. That doesn't mean we weren't both fooling ourselves, but you'd need to meet my no nonsense spouse to understand why I don't think that was the case! :-)
What I find so interesting about many of Walker Audio's products is that so many who share this hobby have heard precisely the same changes in our systems when applying many of his recommended modifications/tweaks.
One final thought, it's easy to try one of Walker Audio's products in your system with no financial risk: if something you buy from Walker Audio doesn't work for you, send it back within 30 days for a full refund, less shipping. It's that simple to try it for yourself and see whether you think it's a real improvement or a "psycho-acoustic" event.
I have found the positive effects mentioned above in my own system, using the original Walker Audio SST, and such a tiny amount is needed for coating connections that 98% of the jar contents remaining. Mint condition box, jar, and special supplied applicators available.
If anyone wants to buy my "virtually new" setup, so that I can move on up to the newer Extreme SST, happy to let it go for $53, delivered in USA.
This product really does confuse the issue of how much more unsuspected or potential sound quality is available from a particular brand of power cord, interconnect, or speaker cable. So far, has only increased listening pleasure with any contact I have coated.
Ncarv and Tvad, just "for the record" the Walker Audio SST is a unique formulation, it is manufactured in-house by Walker Audio and it is not a repackaging of anything else. As to the contents, as stated on the Walker Audio web site about Extreme SST:
We start with ultra-pure silver that is specially processed and made into long micro-flakes. The silver flake is subjected to a deep immersion cryogenic treatment and then suspended in an organic fluid chosen for its dielectric and temperature characteristics.Cheers,
Rushton, nothing in the statement above is proof that SST is made in-house. Nowhere on the website could I find a statement to that fact. The manufacturing process Walker describes on the website could be done in any facility by a qualified manufacturer.
However, in the interest of Audiogon brotherhood, I'll let the debate go, and assume it is produced in-house by Walker.
Hi Tvad, thanks for the courtesy. But what I said was that the "contents" are described in the statement I quoted from the web site; and this was in response to Ncarv's comment that he didn't have information about the contents of Walker SST. The in-house production comment is purely from me, not the web site, and is based on personal knowledge. Sorry that part was not clear.
If you do a google search on "conductive silver grease," you'll find many other products with seemingly similar claimed benefits at much lower prices. Arctic Silver is one I happened to see that guarantees real silver content. Many others do not have real silver in them, but are merely silver in color. Also, as far as I know, there is no electrical transmission over interconnects and speaker cables. I could be wrong, but I've never received a shock from handling them.
Additionally, Jonathan Scull desribed a similar product in Stereophile over three years ago:
Finally, a friend came to me with some "silver grease," which he has used on all metal connections in his system and claims tremendously increased resolution and liquidity (of the music!). He has used it on everything from power cords to tube pins.
Also, Flitz metal polish has been recommended specifically for treating the prongs on power cords for stereo equipment for better sonics.
I'm not knocking the Walker product; in fact, I accept that it is effective as claimed. I just wonder if there are other similar (or even identical) products out there that would yield the same effect.
I recently applied the SST on my tonearm cables and cartridge pins and was surprised to hear a very positive improvement. Next up was the tonearm cable to RCA box (I own a Scout) and again noticed a similar improvement but to a slightly lesser degree, regardless it was a big enough improvement to make me a believer. I always try and make sense of this stuff and I'm sure a low output MC cartridge could benefit from this stuff at any connections along the way to the pre-amp.
I would not have believed it if I did not hear it myself, and get some friendly pressure to try it out in the first place. I for sure will use this on any other cartridge/tonearm interface that comes through my system.
One of these days I'll try it out on my amplification components.
If anyone wishes to try this concept for less money, there is SilClear from Mapleshade Records. The website description resembles Walker Audio SST.
By tweaking the product, creating Extreme SST, Walker Audio still seems out front in the silver grease audiophile olympics quest for the gold medal.
Probably, the next frontier is a world filled with platinum, or other exotic conductors, suspended in virgin coconut oil. I'm off to my favorite health food store to begin my research and development program :>)
Rush, first of all, it's exciting to know that you have reaped these types of benefits from this material!
In an ironic twist, it is fitting for Lloyd to be making this stuff. The Philadelphia area is home to three of the four companies who manufacture thick film electronic materials in the world (ElectroScience Laboratories, EMCA Remex, and Herraeus Cermalloy). The fourth, DuPont, now located in Research Triangle, NC used to be here. Most of the technology was developed by TRW, which was located in Center City Philadelphia up until the 1960s.
I used to be employed in this industry, as an R&D chemist - material scientist. It was tremendously fun and rewarding, if not a great field for me financially. I personally met up with a pair of guys who came from Limerick, near Lloyd in Audobon, who I wonder about maybe having a hand in this. It's definitely a black art, and those of us who understand are tremendously rare. I know that Lloyd is a talented, creative individual, but one just doesn't happen to get into this field, it requires ridiculously specialized equipment, which has little use outside of this sphere. Getting something right the first (or, even 4th) time, is unheard of.
I have a theory on why the improvements are so drastic. Whenever I tested a thick film resistor, I printed it on a variety of test conductors, such as silver, palladium/silver, platinum/silver, gold, etc. Invariably, the resistance of each would be drastically different from another. It was quite shocking, to be truthful. Gold was always the worst, and by a long shot, as compared to the silver bearing materials.
The lower resistance one got, from the highest concentration of silver of course, the closer one came to the true properties of the resistor - little influence from the conductor. In technojargon, this is called getting an "ohmic contact". The contact resistance of gold and/or copper is several orders of magnitude higher than silver, and the results can be heard.
I feel the SST is providing a tremendous boost in getting closer to an ohmic contact in audio components. This is quite audible as you have pointed out, and as I have experienced, easily measured.
On the cautionary sides, silver, oxidizes, but slowly(being one of the eight precious metals). Over time, the benefits of this ohmic contact will dissipate as the silver becomes silver oxide. Though silver oxide is still a fairly good conductor.
To be truthful, 45%silver/55% palladium, would be my choice for the long run, it probably has the finest stability of any electronic contact, and has proven the "gold" standard since WWII. The immediate effects, however, would not be as dramatic as silver, as it is not quite as conductive. Also, the price would be A LOT higher. Back when I used to buy, silver was $4/troy ounce, palladium started at $300, and got to be $1000/troy ounce.
Also, again, having made the stuff, there are precious few organic materials which do not break down over time. Most of these things that reside in the oxygen of our environment DO break down (typical recommendations to "real" users - GM, Ford, Fujitsu Asahi, NGK, Siemens was 1 - 2 years, depending on product. I can say you can comfortably double or triple this in most cases). Obviously, storing them in a nitrogen or reducing (5% hydrogen/95% nitrogen) is not an option, but be mindful of the myriad chemical reactions that I have personally witnessed(cross linking, "drying" - not what it sounds like, breakdown of the polymer chain, etc.) in these materials. I did quite a lot of research into prolonging shelf life(I think work that was beyond what anyone else in the industry conducted), and can say that the materials that fared the best were not in use in these applications - I'm sure that has yet to change.
A good recommendation is to keep the stuff in the freezer, if possible. And, ALWAYS, run around the gap where the jar meets the lid a few times with any kind of electrical tape.
Thank you for the kind words guys!
Actually, I want to correct something I said. Three of the four companies in the US are located in the Philadelphia, PA area. I incorrectly said the world. We had a couple of competitors in Japan and in Europe. And, one of the reasons I left the field was I saw things on the horizon in China, with us not taking agressive steps to thwart the barbarians at the gates (I am a software engineer now, and despite it not being nearly as fun, it is a much more stable, well paying career). Still, the actual number of sources for this stuff worldwide can be counted on one hand.
Again, I wish I could show everyone how dramatic the differences in resistivity were with the same resistor in terms of each conductor with an ohmeter. What I was trying to say about the ohmic contact is that the contact resistance of the meter's probes was INCREDIBLY influenced by the termination of the resistor we used. With no termination, a resistor would often read open. With gold, it could read several ohms. And, with the silver based materials, it got down to fractions of an ohm.
Not to turn this too technical, but resistivity is measured in ohms/square. So if you silk screen printed a thick film resistor, such as we would sell to Holco, Sfernice, or Vishay in a 1 mm wide by 4 mm long trace and measured 4 ohms, you would divide by 4 to obtain the resistivity - 1 ohm/square. Each of our test patterns would have a lot of redundant prints, so that we could average things to get a better insight. Of course, printed/dried/cured/fired thickness played a crucial role.
So, in total, I have no doubt that Lloyd's product has the potential to make tremendous improvements. Science is definitely on his side. The contacts of our audio equipment are pretty bad, just take a look at them. My only regret is that I am not still in the lab so that I could actually maximize the performance of this type of material. Various shapes (spheres, platelets, flake) and particle sizes (via surface area) of the silver powders used in these formulations result in very different characteristics. It would be fun to see which sounded the best.
Trelja, Thanks for such a thorough, personally informed presentation. It is amazing how much specialized knowledge you have conveyed to Audiogon non-techies, where we don't even know what questions to ask.
Before refrigerating, would placing Saran Wrap under the screw top lid on the jar be a bad idea, instead of outside taping? I often use this to "seal" contents, but would this accidentally promote unpredictable changes in the Walker Audio SST due to the film of wrap inside the screwed down cap?
Listener57, you are very wise to bring up Saran Wrap. However, please note that Saran Wrap is a truly special product (polyvinylidene chloride - PVDC), and should never be confused with the typical polyethylene plastic wraps that you find in the same section of the supermarket. Here is an interesting, high level read on Saran http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blsaranwrap.htm
I think it would be an excellent idea to use Saran Wrap. But, again, I recommend wrapping it, or electrical tape (what we used to use, but I think Saran would be a much better material now that you have brought it up) around the area where the lid and jar meet. Do it two or three times. Putting it inside the jar will be messy, and you could get air gaps in the seal of the jar.
The reason behind the freezer recommendation is a rule of thumb chemists use, for every increase of 10 degrees Celcius, reaction rate doubles. Going with that, you can see how much more shelf life a 10 degree F (-12 C) freezer provides compared to room temperature - 75 F (24 C) via extrapolation.
I asked Lloyd Walker about storing and re-storing SST, and confirmed with him that he was okay with my posting the following...
For storage, Lloyd agrees with Trelja's suggestion to wrap electrical tape around the seam of the lid and jar, and to store the sealed jar in a plastic bag in the freezer.
If the SST has gotten stiff or partially dried out, Lloyd recommends taking a toothpick and stirring the material well. That will restore some of its viscosity. If the material has gotten too dry to apply, and stirring doesn't help, call or email Walker Audio. Lloyd has a recommended procedure he'll discuss with you.
Hi Audiofire5228, I've heard very positive reports from a number of people who have applied SST on their electrical connections from the circuit breakers themselves all the way through to wiring the power outlet. I haven't done it yet myself, but it's on my list to do sometime (is there ever enough time?). If I were installing my dedicated circuits now, I would have my electrician apply Extreme SST at every contact, including the circuit breakers.
At the advice of the A'gon member who helped me install two dedicated lines, all the electrical connections (at the service box and outlets) were treated with the stuff. Never heard them without, so I can't say if they're better because of it, but my sound is damn good!
While I found very good improvement with the video in my HT system (even on already good HD programming) after treating coax and digital IC's, I did not hear much benefit on the audio side of things.
I applied it to all RCA and power cords a few days ago, it sounds a bit smoother and tamed brightnesss a bit, but to say it is a huge improovement is not even close to accurate,I see so many that seem to get good results from SST and god bless that they do, but some of the words used are a bit over-the-top.
It has may a subtle but positive change in my system.
p.s. Thanks Ray!
For those who have some experience using Walker SST, or Quicksilver, or Mapleshade, how do you clean the tube sockets once the product has been applied to tube pins? I've tried Walker SST on RCA interconnects, and I know the stuff gets into the center socket of the RCA jacks, so it follows that the SST material must build up in tube pin sockets over time. Aren't you concerned about build-up of the material in the tube sockets? Surely, dirty tube sockets can't be beneficial to high fidelity?
Do you clean the sockets each time you replace a dead tube? If so, how?
Tvad, the Walker Audio SST is soluable with isopopyl alchohol and cleans very easily and thoroughly when cleaning is desired. I've used isopropyl and pipe cleaners with no problems in tight spaces, including tube sockets. At the same time, with SST, I've found that the contacts are pretty much pristine when I've disassembled to check: the SST dries and seals the contact area. (And, because it dries, it does not migrate after being applied to some other places where it ought not go.)
Well folks, another happy ESST user chiming in here. I've applied it throughout my system from cartridge pins to tube pins, A/C plugs and cabling. A very noticeable improvement for me. Should have tried this one long ago. It creates a blacker background, more explosive dynamics, more apparent transient speed, and best of all, these improvements are audible across the frequency spectrum.
My advice: apply sparingly...
BTW, one jar could treat many systems. If you can't afford it, go half-sies with a buddy! Cheers,
Hi, Agaffer. Thanks for sharing your experience. I've heard from some other audiophiles that they too did not hear a difference, including some members of our local audio group. Here are two or three thoughts to share, for what they may be worth...
1) no, the E-SST does't just show positive effect because connections may be older and have some corrosion, the metal surfaces should be cleaned well before applying SST, and that's the way I've experimented with it;
2) in my experience talking with various audiophiles who've also experimented with SST, the more highly resolving a system is to begin with, the more immediately apparent will be the positive impact of the SST;
3) for me, sometimes the impact of a tweak is not apparent until I remove it from my system after it's been in the system for an extended period of time, only then do I begin noticing that I'm missing something in the sound -- kind of a reverse testing procedure.
I believe that in a system in which small changes are apparent sonically, the SST/Extreme SST should produce a readily audible difference. While this may seem to be coming from a high handed perspective, I have been through extended periods where changes in cabling and the like were not discernible. At the point I am now, I would be that these products would definitely be noticeable for me.
Again, as I have stated above, I believe this product would produce a significant difference via the contact resistance of silver, which is far superior to what most high end audio components rely on - gold.
Despite all of this, and from a material perspective, I believe the case has been laid out, I personally would NEVER use it on anything beyond a loudspeaker connection.
Agaffer, with your system (very nice, btw), you should hear a positive difference.
Try re-cleaning your contacts with some isopropyl alcohol (to both clean off the first application of E-SST and to clean the metal surface), then re-apply the E-SST according to the instructions. For the alcohol, remember to use isopropyl that does not have any additives in it (e.g., the 92% variety).
The E-SST will have a break-in period. Early on, things may sound a bit bright, but that will pass. Break-in depends on the amount of current going through the connections: for power cords expect about 2-3 hours, for interconnects and speaker cables about 5-6 hours, for phono level signals about 20 hours.
Thanks for the explanations, comments, and suggestions on storing SST. I just bought E-SST. I was having problems with crackling sounds and excess noise, which I thought was coming from the tubes on my amp. I cleaned the tube pins with rubbing alcohol and applied E-SST. They are still breaking in, but my experience is consistent with the favorable responses on this thread. In addition to the standard audiophile accolades, noise was reduced dramatically and I haven't heard any of the crackling sounds. It will be interesting to see the effects on other connections in the system.
I checked Lloyd's website and he discusses gas mileage improvements from using E-SST on his motorcycle connections. Since so little of it is needed to take care of the audio connections, I'm curious if any Audiogon members have used it elsewhere in the house to improve other types of electrical connections.