I need to share what many other audiophiles may have missed. About me Im a 52 year old critical listener to the point I have to make myself just listen to the music and enjoy. What prompted me to write is a very long article in Audioholics and one thing stuck out was there is no difference between copper and silver.
Ok well there is. Im not a PhD or scientist but a very observant listener. One day I replaced my Silver Kimber KGAC with Tara labs copper interconnects. I listened noticing the sound become a little richer and full. I then put BTO "Hey You" on vinyl and something happened. I did not startle as the song starts. I always play it loud and I always jump just a little. I restarted and turned up volume as much as I dare and still no body reaction. I switched cables and bam, the dynamics returned and I was startled when song starts even though its about to begin.
It is scientifically known silver is a faster conducter. Hence maybe why it can be harsh on some setups. I have only 2 full sets of interconnects like above for the last 10 years. I have changed them out many many times and have noticed small differences each time. I have a cable burner also. My advantage is by not having many different sets of interconnects to confuse I can zero in on the 2 I know.
Interesting....the fact that some feel there is no difference between silver and copper. I definitely agree that there is a difference, though I prefer copper to silver in general. I have owned speakers and electronics which worked better with silver, but for the most part I find silver to be a bit too bright for my tastes. I would also note that gold sounds entirely different as well, as do cables that use some mixture of any of the above.
Silver hook-up wires should logically be thinner vs. copper due to their superior conducting abilities. That also gives more possibilities of the skin effect which can trim the bass frequencies. Today's copper wires are optimized for the best and balanced performance. If you're shopping for silver wires, you can research the best gauge for audio application weather it's for speaker or components hook-ups. The best sounding I found silver coated copper wires that give a great advantage of equal distribution of the electrones.
Viridian, that is exactly how I have come up with my conclusions on silver conductors versus copper conductors. I have heard silver and copper offerings from the same company, like Kimber, Audioquest, Acoustic Zen, Ridge Street Audio Design. Granted, these are only my impressions, and as usual, YMMV.
I don't see how a comparison of cables with differing geometries, sheilding, connectors and dielectrics can lead us to the conclusion that the type of metal in the wire is the determiant of the resulting differences in sound quality.
I don't think comparing two sets of cables, one copper and one silver, can be used as the basis for any conclusions. Regardless of the metal used, all cables have different resistance, capacitance and inductance, which may or may not have a profound effect on the frequency response, depending on the amplifier and speakers.
Silver is a better conductor of electricity than copper. That's a scientific fact. Any other comparisons between cables must be done either by measuring the electrical characteristics or by listening. IMO
Does any audiophile think that two cables identical in every way--plugs, dialectric, shielding, quality of the wire, guage--except that one wire is copper and the other silver--does anyone think they would sound identical? I don't. I suppose this prediction could fall into the category of common sense, which we audiophiles are known to have from time to time.
It'll most likely be different to some degree (how much and in what ways is always the question) but there is no guarantee that a better conductor results in better sound. The opposite is quite possible.
Its true though that having multiple data/reference points can be beneficial to help find the right solution in the end, even if it might end up coming from Home Depot.
Common sense is usually untrue. It is a meaningless concept. In my experience, I have had two where the cables were identical save for the metal used. One was Audionote and the second Exemplar Portals. In both cases I preferred the silver. What does that prove? Only that I should initially listen to silver cables if both are available.
But there is no consensus about cables. What would I conclude from the two examples above that others might find valuable? Nothing!
Schubert, as rare as unicorns! I like that. You will very seldom, if ever, hear a scientist say something just makes common sense.
However, I do trust my ears. Using an alloy like mu metal, the High Fidelity cables have higher resistance and encourage conductivity with magnets. The sonic character of these cables is unique and to me exceptional.
I used to be a poor graduate student and made Dyna and Heath kits but then as an associate professor, I heard the Infinity ServoStatics and ARC electronic. I heard what I heard and had to buy both. I still do hypothesis testing in audio. This is otherwise known as A/B comparisons. Audio is not the world of common sense, nor is it of science. We just do not know enough to assess what would sound best. Trial and error are the real name of the game.
Human psychology is a curious little maze of twists and turns, corkscrews and loops. Hand someone a warm beverage in a warm cup, and they'll have a completely different take on the next person they meet, without having any idea that the beverage in their hand is having a huge influence on their impression. Wine decanted from a clear bottle will, across the board, get poorer grades than the same wine decanted from a dark green bottle, and so on. Eyewitness testimony given by good, honest people on matters that would seem to be relatively clear--5'7" or 6', blue car or brown?--on matters of life and death is notoriously unreliable.
I love my tube amps. Am I positive that my perception of their "warmth" and their sounding "open" and "alive" isn't as much as anything else a matter of my seeing their warm orange--and sometimes blue--glow inside a glass bottle (like a soul inside a body), and that my perception of the deadness of solid state isn't just a matter of my not seeing any glow, not seeing any space between filaments and glass, but on the contrary, seeing plain old "solid" transistors, with no space, no air--you know, like a corpse?
Like the original poster, I think copper sounds richer too. But of course copper is a richer color than silver, which is bright, and in some lights, even harsh.
Stewie, you stand above the crowd in admitting that some of your listening choices could have a bias based on other factors. That is a seriously self-aware and mature viewpoint, the admission of which would have most folk on a forum like this feel emasculated. My guess is that knowing the potential bias makes you a better, more neutral listener than most.