What's the deal with palladium??

I've noticed an increasing number of manufacturers claiming the use of palladium in their cables. I know that corrosion and oxidation are virtually nonexistent with palladium, but what are the sonic characteristics? Is it even a good conductor? Always assumed the silver, copper, and gold hierarchy was accurate...
Without actually knowing, I would guess that it is used to convince potential buyers of the value of their cables, by using some rare and expensive metals. Whether it actually improves the sound may be less important(to the Mfr.) than the psychological marketing aspect of being more exotic than the other competing brands.
I am waiting for some Kryptonite ICs to come out!


Agree with TWL. If professional RF conductors don't use it I doubt that audio needs it. Pro RF is all silver plated, or gold plated. Have you heard my new plutonium interconnects ?

I got this off a web site for the periodic table :

"Palladium compounds are encountered relatively rarely by most people. All palladium compounds should be regarded as highly toxic and as carcinogenic. However palladium chloride was formerly prescribed as a treatment for tuberculosis at the rate of 0.065 g per day (approximately 1 mg kgÑÚ) without too many bad side effects."
Hey, I'm waiting for...
Mil-spec grade spent uranium interconnects run in a conduit filled with liquid nitrogen! The ultimate!
Palladium is a poor conductor but... in audio, conductivity is not THE most important thing. The hardness of the metal and the frequencies at which it resonates play a large role in the sonic characteristic of any given cable design.

When building cables, you can twist, pull, braid and weave all you like but the fundemental sonic signature will not change much unless the materials of the conductor change.
Soft metal makes a different sound than hard metal.

Palladium may have an interesting resonant frequency - I don't know.

BMI recently introduced "The Shark" power cord made from Platinum. People claim its great but we would all assume that conductivity is important in power cords wouldn't we??

Okay... the standard for conductivity is based on an annealed copper wire having a density of 8.89 g/cm3, 1 meter long, weighing 1 gram, with a resistance of 0.15328 ohms. This standard IACS is assigned the value 100% at 200 degrees C (680 degrees F).

Given that if copper is 100%, Silver rings in at about 105%, Gold at 70%, Aluminum at 61%, and Platinum at 16%

Now... how could a power cord with 16% conductivity (that's 84% less than copper) sound better? Palladium is a wee-bit better conductor than Platinum, it's IACS is 17%

Mysterious isn't it?
He was on "Have Gun will Travel" wasn't he?
I just got my new palladium power cord and there's so much bass slam, in fact I'd say my system, hang on I'm not feeling so good, I wonder aaaaaaarrrrgghhhhhh ....
Seandtaylor99, Is that the "London Palladium" model that you got? I heard that one was very musical.
Palladium electrodes are used in electrolysis demonstrations to show how electricity splits water into oxygen and hydrogen gases. Strong acid is added to the water to speed up the process. While palladium is only 16% as conductive as copper, palladium will easily survive this currosive demonstration. A copper electrode substituted in this demonstration would last about two seconds. Yes, palladium is used for it's noncorrosive nature. I can see palladium being used in termination plugs and jacks which are exposed to the harsh environment, but wire is protected from corrosion with insulation. Should palladium be used in the entire cable? I don't think so!
Formerly, I was a chemist/material scientist producing conductors, resistors, dielectrics, encapsulants for the electronics industry. Some of our customers are highly esteemed hi - end audio companies.

Palladium(Pd) was one component which was included in many of our conductors and resistors. It is one of the 8 precious metals(Silver, Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Osmium, Ruthenium, Iridium, and Rhodium). In the mid 1990's, the cost of Pd ranged from about $70 - $100 per troy ounce (31.1 g/oz as opposed to the typical avoirdupois ounce where 28.8 g = 1 ounce). Then, the cost spiked. It reached $1000 per troy ounce.

I developed a product line of lightning arrestor resistors(0.1 Ohm to 100 Ohms, I think the company extended the line upward since I have left) which used a Pd/silver(Ag) alloy. Normally, Pd is alloyed with Ag to produce what(along with Ag/Platinum(Pt) and Ag/Pt/Pd) are the highest quality conductors and resistors. By the way, a resistor is just a conductor with a higher level of resistance.

Alloying Pd and Ag yields many benefits. This alloy is especially immune to oxidation, corrosion, and almost any form of deterioration. These forms of deterioration take place as a result of exposure to various other compounds, like oxygen, sulfur, acids, etc.; heat; high voltage(like a lightning strike); in other words, the ravages of time. We are all aware how silver and copper degrade over time.

Also, the Temperature Coefficient of Resistance(TCR) of metals themselves is highly positive(eg: +3500). This means as temperature rises, so does resistance. Conversely, the TCR of nonmetals(ceramics, glass, etc.) is highly negative(eg: -3500). In this case, as temperature rises, resistance drops. The goal, of course is to have a TCR of 0, where resistance is unaffected by temperature.

The ideal alloy of Pd and Ag is 55/45, and is one of the few instances where 0 TCR, or close to it can be achieved. There is another low point for TCR(memory has faded, maybe +40?) with a 25/75 Pd/Ag alloy, which is much cheaper.

0 TCR is desired in electrical components(thermistors excepted, of course - temperature is calculated via their change in resistance), and almost always pays dividends in the long run. Most equipment and the components that are used to build this equipment are designed to operate at specific temperature and electrical conditions. Fluctuating TCR guarantees that the electrical conditions fluctuate. 0 TCR protect components from the damaging surge which occurs during equipment turn on. The reason behind this is that since metals are normally highly positive in terms of TCR, when a component is cold the resistance is much lower than it will be during its normal operating temperature. In audio equipment, I would think it would very desirable in circuits, conductors, resistors, etc.

For the record, Palladium is a good conductor. I'll assume that the data that Bwhite has provided is accurate, but that will only prove my point. Resistivity/Conductivity is compared in terms of orders of magnitude. For example, each product in a conductor or resistor product would be one order of magnitude greater than the next. The figures above show that Pd is within an order of magnitude. When we talk about metals, they are all basically good conductors; it's one of the definitions of a metal. Move to semi - conductors(from hundreds of KOhms into MOhms), and we can begin to talk about things which are not good conductors. They are many, many, many orders of magnitude higher in resistance(like going from -3 to +6 or more). After that would be insulators, where there is no conductivity.

I believe the point he was making is that relative resistivity is not a good barometer of good sound, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Impurities, both in level and type, I would think would be far more critical. While one could assert that an alloy is in itself an impure material, I would counter that with if the Pd and Ag are pure, and the alloy's content does not contain anything other than trace quantities of other elements, it CAN be considered "pure".

Further, to those hung up on resistivity, the alloying of Pd/Ag would guarantee a lower resistance in the long run than silver(converting to silver oxide) if the material was at all subject to change in resistance(which is normally the case). Pd/Ag would be several orders of magnitude more conductive than silver oxide.

Also, Pd/Ag is much easier to solder, and takes to the process in a much more friendly regard than pure silver. That could translate into many things chemically(I am sure someone at a place like DuPont has analyzed this via AA, X - Ray, EDAX, Flame - IPC, etc.), which I am sure have sonic correlation. I have always felt that the solder joint was a focal point of sonic degradation. Nasty things must be going on during the process. If the joint can be improved(less impurities, lower thermal shock, decreased degradation, formation of something closer to the theoretical eutectic) via the starting material, I would think we would reap benefit in the audio world.

Sonically, I have not had the opportunity to listen to cables containing Pd. But, in the opinions of most materials scientists, Pd always improves silver, other than the areas of cost and increased resistance of the virgin material(when that is even an issue).

Hope I didn't bother too many out there with all this babble...
My question was in part prompted by the recent opportunity to purchase some palladium wire with the intent of building an interconnect. If the results are good, I may even bring the palladium I/C cable to market.
I have read s/where that palladium is hard enough to allow for tight connections -- an extra benefit when used as a termination for, say, speaker cables. Trelja would be better placed to comment on this.
My little sister loves it! It's THE most famous salsa nightclub in the world!!!
Gregm, pure elemental metals are generally very soft. This is why the term "malleable" is often used in descriptions.

However, upon being alloyed with other metals, a very hard material can be produced. It's kind of a paradox that normally when two metals(soft) are combined, the resultant material can be so different in this way. Palladium is most often alloyed with silver, but combines well with platinum, iridium, gold, etc. You guys are inching me closer to go looking up some phase diagrams(tells how different materials combine) on palladium!

Rsachek, in terms of building cables with palladium, I have several comments. Number one, there is always a system that something will work well in. Cables are the one component that prove this. There are so many differing constructions and materials. Copper, silver, gold, carbon, alloys. Paralled, twisted, braided, flat, thin, thick, solid core, stranded. Each method has its fanatics and its detractors. Would a palladium cable sound good? I am sure that if you build it, some people will think it a revolutionary product in cable, others will find it horrendous. You should pursue this if it interests you, someone will like it.

Second, a palladium cable is very different than a palladium alloy cable. And, they will sound different. That needs to be clearly understood. How will each sound? I don't know, I haven't ever listened to either.

Palladium is very expensive, and the cost of using it purely will be waaaayyy up there. Even an alloy will ending up being quite a high end cable, if nothing more than in its price.

I am avowed in my belief that cable is way overpriced. Obscenely so. As I used to work in the industry, I know how much metal costs. When I see copper cables sell for $2000, I don't know what to think. Would you believe me that a set of gold interconnects, which I am sure a lot of people think are good just because of the price tag should not really cost more than a good set of copper interconnects from the standpoint of the materials cost.

Have fun in your experiment, and be sure to let us all know how things turn out.

By the way, palladium is my favorite precious metal.
Trelja, you're the man! Thanks for giving such a fantastic overview on this!
Trelja, wonderful, thank you.

You just ruined the hopes of many psuedo-scientists out there just dying to jump on the wire-is-a-hoax bandwagon and beat bwhite over the head with their borrowed rulers..
Thank you, T!
On a frivolous note, how about building an "A'gon palladium special" cable, and make millions selling 5-6 cables? There I go being consumerist again, sorry.
Actually, I am going through with building a er, prototype 1.0 meter interconnect using 99.95% pure 24 gauge solid core palladium. The price per foot is by no means cheap, but it's not prohibitively expensive either. Stay tuned...
Wow, such undeserved words of kindness. Thank you so much.

I no longer work in the field, although I do miss it. Stupid story, if you all will allow. American manufacturing is about as bad as things can get. In my previous job, I developed a product line that would return the company to its former self sufficiency from a materials standpoint.

The two facets of our business which no foreign company could touch(and only one in the USA could - 3M) was our chemistry and our process. The chemistry I developed was given to our supplier, because it was better than theirs. The supplier would sell to anyone who ordered it.

The day that the Chinese came in with pictures and video cameras to film our process, I knew it was time to go. I argued with the bosses that if they had our product and process, and could sell for 10 cents on the dollar, we would be sunk. They called me an alarmist.

I immediately switched into the IT field, and have been stable in employment since. The company which numbered over 150 is now a bit over over 10.

I would like to see how Rsachek's investigation of palladium turns out. This is an exciting experiment! As I stated above, and Rsachek reaffirmed with his assessment of the cost, we are absolutely RAPED by those who manufacture cable for the most part.

I would also state that to get the true feel of the way Pd sounds, be wary of the terminations. I have found they can do a great deal to influence the sound. In fact, I would investigate initially going with NO RCA plugs at all. Just hook the wires, positive and negative, insulated of course, up to both pieces of equipment. Otherwise, you may be clouding a great discovery via the gold plated brass plugs which are the norm. Once you get a handle on whether this metal offers something worthwhile, you can then seek out a termination that maximizes its strengths. At that point, you may want to consider Audio Note solid silver RCAs, which may offer you increased performance over the typical brass or copper plug(including WBT).
Trelja, as a (small) cable manufacturer myself, I am lucky enough to have a wide variety of RCA's on hand, including several models from Cardas, WBT, and a few generics. I am going to make the cables a little longer than necessary so that I can try many different terminations, simply trimming the previously "soldered" section off the wire ends as I move from plug to plug.

Unfortunately (well... fortunate for me!), I have been exceedingly busy filling orders lately, so a full report on the Pd interconnects is probably at least a few weeks away.
And yes, the profit margins earned by some manufacturers makes those of the perfume industry pale in comparison.
Rsachek, T, there was talk about optimum length (eletrical) of a wire, something like multiples of 63 (?) cm. This corresponded to the length of a wave ??? being transported? I'm not making much sense. I think Sean had mentioned this -- but don't quite remember...