WBT Nextgen RCA connector evaluation & shoot-out

Introduction: Several weeks ago I changed my connectors on my two sets of unbalanced interconnect to the WBT nextgen (WBt--110Cu). I changed the two most critical male RCA's going from my preamp to my Convergent audio JL2 amp and another set of interconnect going from my Dynavector phono headamp to my modified MFA Lummesence preamp phono stage. The phono interconnect is Silver Audio Appassionata which is very similar both in design and construction to the Kimber Select 1030 and both use the WBT-0108 topline crimp connectors. Both the silver audio and KS-1030 are excellent cables as I have used both on my system but have a slight preference for the Appassionata over the KS-1030 due to it's smoother overall presentation. The other set of interconnects going from my preamp to my amp is a 2 meter pair of Discovery Essence and I removed the stock clearaudio male connectors which looked nice from the outside but after taking them apart was disappointed with the lower build quality inside of the male clearaudio RCA's. Also changed was one set of female RCA's in my CAT JL2 amp to the (WBT-0210Cu). My Convergent Audio JL2 amp had the stock Cardas female connectors and changing them to the WBT nextgen was fairly easy once I turned the 180 pound beast on its side and removed the base cover plate so I could solder the new connectors on inside the chasse. A total (10) WBT nextgen connectors were were installed at once with a total of (20) new solder joints. I used the WBT 4% silver solder and a 30 watt Weller soldering iron to make the new connections on the nextgen's and the whole operation took me about 2 1/2 hours to complete.

Listening impressions: After all of the expence and time to change the (10) RCA connectors I was very interested to listen and hear any changes in my audio system. My analog front end consists of a Basis 2500 Signature turntable, Basis Vector M-3 tonearm and Benz LP phono Cartridge. I kept my note pad and pen next to my chair and played some very familiar source material for evaluation and took some careful notes. My first reaction was very positive with no breakin for the nextgen connectors. The notes I first wrote down on my paper were "more spacious, open and detailed. More precise with great bass impact and definition". I also wrote "much more lively and engaging with a cleaner and purer sound". With 3-4 more hours of continuous play time giving the connectors time to break-in in the sound improved further and became more dynamic with greater detail. Since there are (20) new solder joints I knew it would take some time for the new connectors to settle down and break-in so over the last several weeks I played music and listened as the sound continued to improve. Based on my listening impressions it takes at least 100+ hours to fully break-in these new WBT nextgen connectors. After several weeks the sound became more relaxed, open and dynamic. In a nut shell the new WBT's have a purer sound with much cleaner note tones compared to my old connectors I was using before the upgrade. I also noticed much better bass extension on the lower frequencies and vocal material had a much more clear and detailed (in a natural way) sound that was very pleasing and musical. Was the upgrade worth it? In one word Yes, Yes, Yes. I always suspected I was loosing musical information using heavy alloy Brass connectors and my listening tests prove it. Using pure copper or silver instead of Brass like the WBT-0108 and other similar connectors on the market and shorting the signal path creates a purer, more detailed and natural sound. I believe these WBT nextgen connectors using purer metals and minimizing surface contact with the signal path is the way to go and provided a very nice upgrade to my whole system.

WBT-0108 vs. WBT-0110Cu shootout: Not leaving well enough alone I just had to know the difference between these connectors. Both are topline and both use completely different designs. The WBT-0108 uses a crimp connection and as previously mentioned used a brass alloy, 68% copper with Zinc and other metals to add hardness so the male connectors so they can be more easily machined by the manufacture. The nextgen (WBT-0110 Cu) connectors use much smaller 100% pure copper contact pins and are plated with 24 carat Gold and are soldered not crimped. I used one pair of Silver Audio Appassionata with the WBT-0108 and another identical pair with the WBT-0110 Cu for comparison. I switched the two pairs of interconnect several times during the shoot-out and the experience was quite interesting and educational as both connectors sounded quite different. All other components of my system remained unchanged with only the connectors changing. The interconnect was used in the very critical phono cable going into my MFA preamp from my Dyanvector phono headamp. Any slight change in the signal could be heard in this position and thus it was ideal for doing direct comparisons.

Listening impressions: Again I had my note pad and pen ready and my first impressions with the 0108 are as follows." Softer sound than nextgen with more fat but less defined. Bass a bit sloppy compared to WBT nextgen. Less precise and clear overall."
I then switched back to the Appassionata with the WBT-0110 Cu nextgen - " More impact and forceful with greater mid-bass clarity. More dynamic from left to right on the soundstage. A cleaner picture with more punch and impact. Vocals are more vivid and lively" I also noticed the older WBT-0108 RCA's had a certain bloat ness to the sound that was not present in the nextgen.

In conclusion the 0108 connectors had more fat and body than the nextgen connectors but the WBT-0110 Cu outperformed the 0108's in every other way. The greater clarity, detail, slam impact and overall purer sound from the WBT nextgen's made them the clear winner in my system.

Johnny, have you compared to WBT-0201 and the Next Gen WBT-0210 female RCA plugs?
I heard the first batch of 0210 had defect.
Also, it is made out of cheaper material than the good old 0201/0208 type. I noticed a big improvement from Cardas to the 0201 but not yet trying the 0210 because it is not as strong as the older model.
Very interesting and well done. However rather than comparing WBT's with other WBT's I might sugest a comparison with the Eichmann Silver Bullet Plugs, which are currently the best sounding connector I've heard though I haven't heard the WBT Nextgens, so I would love it if you could make that comparison, since I can't solder!
Actually I am quite impressed with both the design and quality of the WBT-0210 female RCA plugs, they are similar in design and construction to the WBT-0110. Last week I ordered (5) more sets from parts express to be used in my preamp. There have been several design changes since the beginning of 2004 to the WBT- 0210 mainly having to do with the housing and nut that tightens the RCA to the metal chasse of the component. The female nextgen rca's I have are the current model and work great. After removing the female cardas GRFA plugs from my amp and doing a careful examination I want them all out of my system. The Cardas RCA jacks are heavy brass plugs with Rhodium plating and are terrible conductors for a audio signal and I believe they are not very good sounding connectors despite there shinny and polished finish. I looked at the design of the WBT-0201 RCA sockets and they do appear to be better than the cardas but they still use a brass alloy and at this point after two weeks of listening to the WBT nextgen's I want all Brass connectors and metal impurities OUT of my signal path and that includes most of the crappy speaker binding post on the market today. Unfortually both my preamp and Nakamichi cassette deck use the Cardas female connectors so they are my next target for upgrade and removal ASAP. As previously mentioned my view on audio connectors has changed going from big shinny nice looking brass alloys to much purer metal with higher conductivity and a shorter signal path for less signal loss.

You're wrong about the WBT-0201. The Center pin for the positive signal is E-cu 99.996% It is identical as the WBT nextGen. So I don't see why the NextGen verision is better in terms of signal transfer.

The External socket for the ground connection is 68% copper alloy on the 0201 vs the plastic/metal body of the NextGen. Now, this is debatable. Can the Eddie current really play a big role here? You need to install both and test them side by side to find out.
As far as structure goes, the 0201 is far more superior than the 0210. Not sure you rather purchase the made in Taiwan 0210 or Made in Germany 0201.
Anyway, I believe WBT already ceased production in Germany for these connectors since it is much cheaper to make the NextGen version. I wonder if Eichmann and WBT were manufactured from the same factory in Taiwan.
According to the spec sheet for the WBT-0201 I downloaded from the WBT web site only the internal socket is made of 99.996 copper and I can not tell without additional detail views of the socket if the entire socket is one solid piece of copper or if a number of separate pieces make up the complete internal socket assembly. The problem I have with the design of the 0201 is the "minus contact" , which is a critical part of the signal path, is a copper alloy (typically brass which has non conductive impurities) which distorts and changes the delicate signal path. Although imperfect the WBT-0201 is still better than the poor quality Cardas female jacks that come standard with much of the high end equipment today. The Cardas jacks are all brass for both the "plus" and "minus" contacts providing the worst of both worlds. If you are happy with the 0210's that fine but again in my view the new 0210 is a superior design. I believe the high-end audio connections (i.e.: rca jacks) are the last frontier to be addressed and are so important in the signal path for our music. With many people spending big bucks on interconnects and speaker cable claiming 99.99999% purity many give little thought to the connections these 99.99999% wire must go thru. In industry standard of Brass connectors has been around for many decades due to the fact copper alloys are cheaper and much easier to manufacture and work with in the machining process. You can silver plate a copper alloy connector and it will look very attractive but the signal must still travel thru the metal impurities in that connector and there lies the problem. My listening test in my system shows the elimination of these alloys in copper improves signal transfer and provides better, clearer and more natural sound and for me that’s all I care about. The Eichmann plugs were the first design to recognize this and the new WBT nextgen products builds upon this philosophy. As far as where the connectors are make I really don't care where on the planet they are manufactured as long as the metal used is of high purity and the signal path is kept short to minimize signal loss and/or distortion.

Johnny, you're missing the point. The shell is only for ground connection and it has nothing to do with signal path. If your ground is part of your signal path then you have serious problem in your equipment.
I've recently swapped out most of my female RCA for WBT 0201 Ag.

Be aware before you start that the mounting hole in the chassis will need to be enlarged to almost ½" use these sockets. Easily done, but not reversable. Make sure you don't leave any metal shavings where they could cause a short.

John C.
I am lost here. Can somebody explain. To my understanding RCA connector is part of closed electrical circuit where + and - are 2 wires of same importance. What ever you call a signal it is fluctuation of current/voltage inside the circuit. To my knowledge "-" is connected to ground as well as chassis is. Ground is connected to earth. Why "signal" part of RCA is more important from "-" part of same RCA?
Congrats Johnny I'm 100% with you about this. I've made the same before 7 years with the same results.
But I'm wandering why the Power Cords are not following this?
Oyaide, Furutech, Wattgate all using solid brass bars with rhodium, gold, palladium, even berilium heavy plated surfaces.
Is it possible that as long as they avoid the nickel plating between the brass & the gold (or whatever the outer plating is), (in other words when they use direct gold plating), there is no need for pure Cu or Ag hollow bars ?
I'm ready to purchase some berilium plated Oyaide (235euro for the Schuko & 110 euro for the IEC) but I'm very reluctand & wandering what if this is the very first generation of good quality AC connectors ? and the industry keeps the real thing for later ? (after having our money first).
Have you any thoughts about ?
You are right.
I think there must be a misunderstanding.
Let's pass it.
OK ?
The problem with using pure copper or silver bars on power cords lies in the ductile nature of these metals. Given the amount of cycles of plugging and unplugging, the weight that some power cords have, and the fatigue factors of the metal, the bars would have a high failure rating. Bocchino connectors are the closest that I know of, using a silver plated-beryllium copper for the bars and the IEC receptacles. They are also the best connectors I have heard on power cords, far outperforming many of the Oyaide and Furutech options, but at quite the cost. Oyaide is a good option in my book. Just my opinion, for what it is worth.
Thank you Nvanderstoep, I'll check them but I don't get it :
Why on PC the Next Gen philosophy for as few & pure metals as possible must avoided ? Is all about the possibility for a current arc between the 2 connectors that can deforms a hollow bar ? Or it is because the skin effect is of not concern on PC ? I understand the need for strength in the surface, but why is the need for a solid bar & not for a hollow tube on connectors ?
Some would say that skin effect is not of concern on a PC, and some would even claim to utilize it to make a better PC (LessLoss). I am not sure of the decision on a solid bar and not a hollow tube from Bocchino. On his website he had mentioned the ability to make them out of pure silver, but the cost must be unimaginable. On a completely different end of the spectrum, I am just now remembering that Mike Garner of Tweekgeek.com had commented about finding a pure copper connector for a very low cost. Apparently it was an Oyaide knock-off, and he thinks it sounds better than the Oyaide products. You might talk to him about them, he could give you more information I am sure.
About Solid Silver...
So far I've found this (for IEC plug & chassis but not for Schuko yet) :


This IeGo catalogue has also unplated pure copper plugs. Check it !
I think that maybe the solid 4 nines silver IECs are good enough but I'm confused for the apparently matched Schuko.
I'm tempted for :
Copper Schuko (42 euro) / Silver IEC (84 euro) / Silver IEC male chassis inlet (75 euro).
For the wall AC Power Receptacle I think the SR Teslaplex has tested extensively by many.
Thanks for your suggestions.
Now I might not be the brightest audiophool around but at least I know you need 2 wires to light a lightbulb and thus for signal path for an interconnect. I don't hear many (any) saying to simply fit the best connector money can buy, that is, no connector. Simply solder the interconnection at each end. Small inconvenience and save $1000.00's.