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February 22, 2011

Using Silver Plated Copper for Speaker Cables

We've all seen the restrictively expensive speaker cables out there on the market. Most of them look incredibly awesome and have sophisticated, patented geometry, but sometimes you'll notice that there was some scrimping done with the quality of the conductors. When you're paying good money for cables, why settle for Polyethylene or Poly-Vinyl-Chloride (PVC) dielectric when Teflon (PTFE) is better?

I went into a brief explanation regarding the dielectric constant of Teflon in my post regarding Kimber TCSS wire, but briefly, it's a synthetic fluoropolymer that was developed by DuPont and has a dielectric constant of 2.1, lower (better) than all other noted cable dielectrics.

Silver-plated copper is a type of wire covered with Teflon that's widely available for industry applications. Belden offers it, among a number of other companies, and you'll find a number of military spec varieties of different vintages. The cost is relatively low compared to audiophile boutique wire and the quality is generally high. You do have to keep an eye out for tin covered wire though, it looks quite similar but sounds different, and not preferable in my experience. The reason these wires have silver or tin plating has to do with the extrusion process of Teflon, it's much easier to extrude it over silver or tin than copper from what I've read.

I've built a number of interconnects and speaker cables using silver-plated copper. While there is a vast variety of Teflon coated interconnect wire floating around out there (Neotech, Mundorf, Kimber, Legenburg, etc.) but when it comes to big, thick, burly speaker wire, that variety really dwindles away, I'd imagine due to production costs. So enter the silver-plated copper; you can snag some nice thick 10-12 gauge wire under a buck a foot, whether you're running one or two conductors per terminal, it's still works out to a lot cheaper than fancy boutique wires.

You can always dress it up and make it look nice too if you want ;) Here's a few I've put together:

2 x 10 Gauge - Black Nylon Covering, Rhodium Bananas

4 x 12 Gauge - Copper Bananas and Spades, Carbon Reflex at the "Y" Split

Above in Detail

2 x 10 gauge - Cotton Reinforced Hose covered with black Techflex

If you're looking for some nice quality bananas and spades, I've found that Homegrown Audio has a nice selection for reasonable prices. The sound from a silver-plated copper speaker cable is crisp and clear. Give it a shot before you lay down some serious dough on boutique wire.

1 comment:

  1. Those look great, I love the second to last photo where you can see the twists, very cool.

    ReplyDelete