XLR & Spades: Which is best? Pure copper, plated gold, plated rhodium or ?

I’m building interconnects and speaker wires and looking for XLR connectors and spades. If copper conductivity is at 100%, why would manufacturers plate copper with lower conductivity metals like gold, rhodium, brass, zinc, etc? Shouldn’t they only plate with 105% silver?


Material IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard)
Ranking Metal % Conductivity*
1 Silver (Pure) 105%
2 Copper 100%
3 Gold (Pure) 70%
4 Aluminum 61%
5 Brass 28%
6 Zinc 27%
7 Nickel 22%
8 Iron (Pure) 17%
9 Tin 15%
10 Phosphor Bronze 15%
11 Steel (Stainless included) 3-15%

For me base material matters the most, then coating mix.

I always find that pure copper as base material and silver/rhodium plating as coating works great.

What is best, depends on your system, whether you want to push things, mellow or refine.

My preference is for silver plated copper - it provides better transmisson/clarity and faster dynamics

The tarnish does not bother me because

  1. it only appears on the visible parts of the connector that is not forming the actual connection
  2. reseating will re-establish a perfect connection
  3. I do not clean my connectors because it makes no difference to the operaton or sound
  4. I do not use any type of jointng compound 

I am happy with my sound and see no advantage in obsessing over tarnish, because most of the connctors seldon tarnish in the atmosphere of my home

I have tried other types of metals and platings and prefer dynamics and clarity of the silver plated Copper

Regards - Steve

Silver plated Copper is the best choice. Silver plating oxidizing is of no consequence as Silver Oxide is almost as conductive as Silver is itself. There is NO reason to ever use Brass. Or gold plating. Yes its shiny and pretty but silver is a much better conductor and Silver Oxide  is better than untarnished gold. Choose solid Copper connectors with silver plating. Or solid Silver connectors with Solid silver wire. Always use Solid core unless movement is unavoidable. If you want to know why buy a solid core copper speaker cable and then buy a stranded cable of like size and length. Bet you $20 even your wife will be able to tell the difference listening to them. This is seldom talked about but try it before giving an opinion. I think you will agree.