Why Palladium in cables, wiring, etc. . .?

There seems to be a growing aura around Palladium. A perfectly good noble metal, Palladium came to popular fame during the now very dubious episode of cold fusion, proposed by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Ponse. But the word Palladium itself has a much older and classical origin. A Palladium was originally a statue bearing the likeness of the goddes Pallas, and only much later it referred to buildings inspired by the neo-classical style of Andrea Palladio. Today the word bears both connotations of classical understated elegance as well as hinting at quasi esoteric neo-science and mysteries. Hence it is easy to understand why savvy marketing consultants may warmly recommend that products and brands aspiring to prestige may be named after the metal.

Yet, when it comes to discovering a physical reason why engineers may opt to actually employing this fine metallic element as a conductor in interconnects, chords, wires and electrical contacts, things become rather murky and unclear. For example, SilverSmith Audio now advertises some of its products as containing Palladium. And the newest iteration of the Dodson 218 DAC, by virtue of the company having been purchased by SilverSmith, now sports internal Palladium-alloy wiring.

What is it, besides its resistance to tarnish and corrosion, and the obvious aura in the name, that is causing such engineering choices? Palladium's disconcertingly high index of resistivity does not seem to justify its selection. Per the list below, Palladium is 6.65 times as resistive as
Silver, 6.28 times as resistive as copper, almost 4 times as resistive as Aluminum, and
approximately 10% more resistive than Iron. The good news is that Palladium appears
to be a little bit more conductive than Tin, and almost twice as conductive as Lead.

Silver: (20 °C) 15.87 nO·m
Copper: (20 °C) 16.78 nO·m
Gold: (20 °C) 22.14 nO·m
Aluminum: (20 °C) 26.50 nO·m
Rhodium: (0 °C) 43.3 nO·m
Zinc: (20 °C) 59.0 nO·m
Nickel: (20 °C) 69.3 nO·m
Iron: (20 °C) 96.1 nO·m
Platinum: (20 °C) 105 nO·m
Palladium: (20 °C) 105.4 nO·m
Tin: (0 °C) 115 nO·m
Lead: (20 °C) 208 nO·m

Any ideas?
Metallurgically speaking, I can't help you but from a "...how it actually sounds point of view..." my admittedly limited exposure to palladium tells me it's a champ at detail retrieval and refinement without edginess.
Not to stick my neck out too far, but I think a large part of the reason is inductance, specifically inductance at frequency. I know XLO, and probably others, feel that DC resistance isn't the overarching factor that it might seem based on the 'numbers game', since audio deals with AC. If I speculate that some of these precious metals feature a higher increase in self-inductance with frequency compared to copper, that might explain why some feel that gold and palladium sound more 'natural', perhaps because these metals slightly reduce harshness and glare.
Just a guess.
Don't kill the messenger.
Once upon a time aluminum was the coolest, futuristic marketing item around. More recently, I suppose, titanium made a showing. Why buy a phone / headphones / book-end / widget made out of "metal," when you could have one made out of titanium? Who doesn't want that? It's lighter, better, faster (and in some applications, it certainly is), so it clearly would make a better pen.

Knowing nothing of its electrical characteristics (save the eloquently simply stats above) I vote for the hypothesis that the palladium fascination is more of the same.
This post is interesting. Pure Note just announced a titanium jacketed palladium-silver cable line. The metals are not cheap and neither are the cables. Looks like a new trend. From what I have read, the palladium-silver mix is similar to gold-silver alloys. See this post on the Asylum.


Good guessed TPLAVAS. Are you saying there is AC in the circuit beyond the rectifiers in the power supply?

I suspect manufacturers are just experimenting with different metals and alloys. Sometimes they strike. . . Gold, sometimes they just strike out. There may be much more empiricism in the metallurgy than we are lead to believe. Ultimately, our ears will be judges, regardless of underlying metallurgy or other technology.
I feel that I've been called out (albeit sub silencio yet rightly so) regarding my snarky cynicism. Metal-o-the-month dubiousness aside, if it sounds right it's right by me. Lord knows, the last thing I want is to spark another of those all too familiar cable debates. In the interest of not doing that, a big old prophalactic mea culpa. Palladium. Interesting. Let's do learn more.
" Are you saying there is AC in the circuit beyond the rectifiers in the power supply?"
All audio electrical signals are alternating current, as described by their frequency (DC = 0 Hz).
Marketing apart (i.e. "the new kid on the block" so to speak), Palladium has been used in connections.

Now, whether the resistive loss energy is counteracted by a balanced signal transfer -- I don't know. The only thing I can say is that between a copper IC & a palladium (0,8 mm), IC as per Jade's "tape supported conductors experiment", the palladium was definitely slightly less "loud". The high frequencies sounded... well, there was energy there, some slam, and the detail while acceptable was not "in yr face"... Overall, rather vague, I know -- but the palladiums are not mine anyway.

BTW, JD (jadem6 -- one of Agon's resident master tweakers:)) said soemwhere he'll be experimenting with palladium...
There is a lot of "cable neurosis". Cables are intended to fine tune a system and to bring out the full potential of a system. A cable can only sound as good as the system in total. A balanced sounding system will benefit from good cables, but a system that is not "match" appropriately will not sound better with even the best cables in the world. If a system is well matched, it doesn't really matter which brand of cable one is using. The only important thing is that the cable is of high quality and has been engineered appropriately.

Thank you all! Keep the interesting info coming. In the meantime, here is a tidbit about Titanium. If I am getting my conversions correctly, Titanium is almost 4 times as resistive as Palladium and almost 26.5 times as resistive as Silver.

Titanium electrical resistivity (20 °C) 0.420 µO·m

If your comment regarding the resistivity of titanium had to do with the mention of the Pure Note Titanium cable, note that only the jacket of this cable is titanium (as I understand it).
I have been told by powers much smarter than I that for the best overall electrical performance, a palladium/silver alloy has proven through testing to be the best possible metal. These tests were conducted strictly on electrical characteristics on a large cross section of test standards for the electrical industry.

Resistance is just one aspect to concider, and in "our" relitively short cables, this may not generate the best sound. It might have a low resistance if all silver, but resistance does not define sound.

The reason for audio people exploring palladium is no doubt because of its success in industry for electrical transmission when alloyed with silver. It's only natural to assume we audio nuts in search of the Holly Grail would try palladium, platinum, rhodium and what ever is next.

Concerning Titanium as a structural material for jacketing cables, the metal may very well be a good choice. Titanium combines ductility so it can be easily braided, Strength so that overall mass of the jacket is relatively small, and relatively low conductivity. One interesting property of Titanium is that of being paramagnetic--or weakly magnetic. It would be interesting to find out how this particular property influences--if at all--the sound yielded by such a cable.
Titanium combines ductility so it can be easily braided, Strength so that overall mass of the jacket is relatively small, and relatively low conductivity.
Guido, you forgot flammability... Might produce that "real hot" sound!!!
Titanium & palladium together offer many advantages; one is the happy combination of low flammability point and toxicity.
Serus, you might have something going there. . . from Wickipedia:

Titanium burns when heated in air 610 °C (1,130 °F) or higher, forming titanium dioxide.[6] It is also one of the few elements that burns in pure nitrogen gas (it burns at 800 °C or 1,472 °F and forms titanium nitride, which causes embrittlement).

I guess that if Titanium starts burning in Nitrogen, embrittlement of my cable jacket may end up being the least of my concerns. True about low toxicity of Titanium. . . its dioxide is used as a whitening agent even in toothpaste. Haveing said all of this, we still do not have any idea if Titanium has any sonic benefits when braided into cable jackets.

As for Palladium-Silver alloys, it would be interesting to find out more about its preported benefits in conductor design and construction.
Man, this thread is way off in left field. Let's get back to the basics. Palladium is over 6 times more resistive than copper or silver. It makes no sense whatsoever to use it in audio cables except for the following reasons: (1) greed; (2) marketing hype; (3) audiophile neurosis.
I think Palladium's not oxidizing is its attraction. I have heard two different Palladium ics and find they have a soft and overly midrangy. I guess I just prefer silver or copper. I think it draws easily also.
Kevziek, I am afraid you are being too simplistic. There is the fact that copper oxide is very resistive and silver much less so. I don't like palladium's sound and for that matter gold's sound, but neither oxidizes.

There are substantial differences in the sounds of various interconnects and no one has a handle on what material, what gauge, what geometry, what conductivity of the connectors, what termination, what dielectric, what length etc. are needed for the best sounding.

You may be making the usual non-sensical argument that wire is wire. Since few would agree with you, I wonder why you would be posting this.
Tgb: I don't think that was Kevziek's argument, but regardless, since when is the expectation of agreement a prerequisite for posting one's opinion? Personally, I'm probably more likely to post my opinion if I think it it runs counter to the grain.

Anyway, though I know or have heard nothing about palladium's use in cables, I suspect DC resistance may not be a terribly important criteria in cable materials sound. I say this for three reasons:

1) Audio is AC, not DC. While I don't pretend to know the technicalities of all this, I do believe that AC resistance is determined by not just the conductor material but also by the geometry, and that it's usually higher than the DC resistance and is therefore more of a factor in determining a conductor's losses to heat. So when was the last time anybody noticed their system cables running too hot?

2) Even if we stipulate that conductor material resistance (AC or DC) is a factor for cable design, who's to say that lower resistance necessarily equals better sound? If the resistance is uniform with frequency in the audioband, then it seems to me other factors will be more important.

3) To point #2, all of my interconnects use carbon fiber as the conductor material, which is many times higher in DC resistance than the metals discussed here. I chose these cables because I think they sound better than any of the metal cables I've used, so it's clear to me that this out of context materials spec isn't a valid way to prejudge a cable's audio performance.
Your post makes sense. Ultimately it's how the cable sounds not how it "should" sound. Just read the reviews of Silversmith Audio Palladium series cables. Seems Palladium can indeed sound superb. Don't know why, don't really care.
Tbg, I never made the argument that wire is wire. I question using a resistive metal. I should be free to post my thoughts just as you are yours, so your challenging why I posted this is out of line. Zaikesman, it is true that carbon fiber is highly resistive, but one needs to remember that it is not a metal; it is a totally different material and has its own particular sonic qualities that some like and other don't. As far as whether it is necessary to transmit signal with the lowest possible resistance, many designers would say yes, whether they are right or wrong, I can't say.
Kevziek and Zaikesman, sorry I misinterpreted what Kewziek was saying. I guess I spend too much time reading on Prop Head on AA.

I once had the carbon First Wire and now use the non-metal Cerious Technologies interconnects. I had to abandon the First Wire because its high resistance was causing me ground loop problems. The Cerious does not have such high resistance.

My initial posting was merely to suggest one reason why some designers are using palladium wire and to mention my impressions of the "sound" of palladium.

I heard of a guy who was achieving quite low resistance by using liquid nitrogen poured into the channel between his amp and speakers that was filled with mercury. I never really understood why he used mercury as copper would have also approached absolute zero and no resistance. Too bad that the superconductivity at more normal temperatures proved impossible.
Tbg: Yes, all-carbon cables can be more susceptible to hum (although it's of the induced environmental variety, not caused by a ground loop), and this is the result of the higher resistance of the shielding in combination with the run length and what gear it's connected to. For certain runs in my system I use carbon conductor cables with metal shielding instead of all-carbon.

Will: Resistance is less of a factor for interconnects (in normal length runs), more so for speaker cables and of course power cords.
Zaikesman, I this is caused by ground loops through the grounding of interconnects. I tried metal shielding with no benefits.
Tbg: Then I think the fact that the conductors happened to be carbon was probably incidental (assuming the metal shields were correctly grounded), maybe the overall design of the IC's you used in combination with your particular system configuration and/or gear was more the cause. For instance, I use vdH carbon interconnects, and The Second, which is a balanced twisted-pair design with metal shields, shows no hum problems in my system with any gear, and in fact is marketed as a studio microphone cable suitable for very long runs despite its carbon conductors. The First Ultimate on the other hand, a single-ended coaxial design with only carbon shielding, works well in certain situations (where it works better than anything else I've tried) but not others, and isn't offered in runs longer than 2m. So all I'm saying is that carbon conductors per se is probably not the reason for hum problems.
It may also have been the efficient horn speakers I had at the time.

My thinking is that there is greater resistance to ground on the path involving the vdHs. I thought the was commonly accepted as a problem with them.
Based on my limited experience with certain items plated with Palladium, I'm not too impressed. I also haven't liked anything plated with Rhodium. Some things plated with gold have blended well in my system, however, too much gold can make things a bit veiled and overly warm. Maybe this silver/palladium amalgam might be a different story.
I agree with Sherod 300%. My experience has always been that any any ANY metal that is plated with any other metal has sonic drawbacks. Basically there is a slurring which is most definitely audible usually in a specific frequency range common to the different metals. Silver plated copper is a real good example. Something just doesn't sound tight and correct with the combination. It is advantageous to use different metals to obtain a specific performance level. But, plating is the wrong method to use.
For what it is worth, the Palladium cables were ok for the money.
But are still in the middle of the pack in soundstage, and frequency response at least in my book.
What all the fuss about palladium. That stuff is really mediocre for audio.

The best material for audio cables is Polonium.

An acquaintance of mine had a set of Polonium Ultra 210 KGB Cables installed (a gift from a Russian friend) and although I have not heard from him recently all his friends say he is in heaven!
I'm surprised no one makes superconducting cables yet. All you need is some liquid nitrogen and some of the copper oxide based high-temp superconductors would pass electricity with no resistance at all! True it's a bit of an inconvenience to have to refill the cable jackets with liquid nitrogen periodically, but I've seen strange things in the audio world before(i.e helium plasma tweeters that emit ozone and require a helium tank). Imagine the bragging rights/audio geek factor when the local audio club gets together and you proceed to top-up your cables with liquid nitrogen!!!
Ait, I heard a superconducting cables long ago. It was in northern Alabama and the guy had mercury in a well leading from his amp to his speakers with pigtails at either end to the amp and speakers. He filled the well with liquid nitrogen. I did not know his system at all, but it sounded okay.
Norm, unfortunately Mercury becomes superconductive at 4.2 Kelvin, which is far below the boiling point of Nitrogen, but in fact is also the boiling point of Helium, not very much of a garden variety liquified gas that an audiophile would safely store and handle.
Nevertheless, Guido, the Mercury at least looked solid. I am not sure anyone really knew about superconductivity then. I really don't know why he was vetted to mercury. He never said. He was with the Redstone facility.
Hi Norm, superconductivity was discovered before our time. . . at least as early as 1908. I believe Mercury transitions to a solid phase quite readily. . . in any self respecting Northern winter for example: -38.83 °C, -37.89 °F. G.
Guido, I have been reading about superconductivity. I found that, "Superconductivity does not occur in noble metals like gold and silver, nor in pure samples of ferromagnetic metals." Like everything at the quantum level, funny things happen.
Tbg and Guidocorona,

I just found this old thread. Mercury? You must be kidding. The most toxic non-radioactive metal on the planet in an audio system?
Sabai, when I was a kid we used to play with mercury. I once made a Wood's metal case for my cartridge. It includes mercury. Also I once had the Keith Monk's tone arm that had four mercury baths to lead the cartridge information to wire in the mounting housing. The mercury also helped to dampen the tone arm. It was excellent with the London Decca cartridge.

We used to play with mercury in science class. Mercury exposure in these recreational ways is deadly poisonous. Illness from mercury toxicity can take decades to show up -- the cup slowly runneth over. The worst, of course, are so-called "silver amalgam fillings" that are 50% mercury.
I believe that Iron Man uses palladium in his chest-mounted arc reactor. If it's good enough for Tony Stark, it's good enough for cables. Then again, maybe Adamantium would be better?
As Palladium is a relatively non reactive metal, It is probably not as toxic as Mercury. But if you want a truly bizarre speaker wire formulation, try the semi-fluid Indium Gallium alloy speaker wires from TEO... I heard them at RMAF a few years ago. G.



I have spoken at length about Teo indium wires in another thread. They are toxic cables. Palladium does not come close to mercury. Nothing does.
I will stick to old fashioned highly conductive copper and silver... Except for resisting to corrosion, looking pretty, and being outrageously expensive, Palladium is even less conductive than Iron.


I have no idea about either the physical/theoretical properties of the material, nor the supposed sonic attributes. I find it amazing how much speculation one finds in this thread based on the physical properties of the material when all bets are off when one is talking about alloys.
You are right Larryi, I have no real information about the conductive properties of semi-liquid Indium-Gallium alloys... But I heard a system at RMAF all wired with these kinds of metallurgy... Probably the single worst sound that I ever heard in a "high-end" context.... Was it the wires, the electronics, the speakers? Who knows... The whole thing felt positively horrid to my ears.