Thoughts and musings on DIY silver solid core speaker cable

#1
I have just ordered some 12 AWG 2mm solid core 999.99% silver bare wire from a wire suppliers in the UK.

I am using DIY solid core copper 12 AWG at the moment, and they sound pretty good. I was wanting to try silver but made up speaker cables with pure silver, often multi strand, and very expensive.

So I figured I would try making some myself.

I dug around for a couple of days to drill down to a good price. Many sell for 80 USD + per meter, and I got it down to half that. I found a supplier in the UK who sells bare 999 silver wire. And I would use 12 AWG PTFE sleeving. I will use 2 screw type banana ends for the set. And it will be bi-wired to 8 wires in total, 4 per speaker.

I wonder what folk here think about multi strand, or solid core?
I can't find much in the way of facts on that. There is measurements of pure silver v sterling silver 925 conductivity, and pure is a lot better. It makes we wonder if copper with silver plating would also be worse than just pure copper. True, there is sonics as a separate issue v conductivity of course.

So the whole project is going to be under £700. If I bought off an audio supplier you would be looking at 3K upwards for this amount of silver content. I am ignoring fancy jacketing and such.
 

DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
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#2
It's really hard to generalize with speaker cable. Speaker and amp electrical characteristics can vary a lot and best SC can vary a lot too. If you got 5N silver that can sound really nice, but 12g wire isn't intended to be bent repeatedly so over time the wire will crack. IMO, you're best off using multiple runs of smaller gauge wire, maybe 24g or so. Or see what you can get Neotech UPOCC silver/teflon for. It's 6N+ and far better vs regular silver, but it can be pricey.

I would recommend to get some inert gas, maybe just something used to fill wine bottles, and flush as much air out of the teflon tubes and seal the ends to prevent corrosion. Sealing the ends isn't easy though, there are some primers that allow cyanoacrilate to stick to some degree, but the best adhesives are very expensive and not for sale to the public.

Another option would be to use enamel to paint the wire and thus prevent corrosion, this is how magnet wire is insulated.
 
Apr 23, 2010
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#3
DIY can be done well with a severely open mind , That being said many here would scoff at the idea , DIY to most is hackers and when in reality It can be done quite well. The big issue with DIY wires is the same as thge big speaker manufactures. They have bulk driver buying power and have many more custom options to have made or order that the average DIY cant get.. I run a well made set of DH Labs silver coated copper in a front room system and have tried many manufactured cables that just dont beat the\m System synergy has a lot to do with it and Luck to
 
May 30, 2010
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#4
If you find that solid core copper 12 AWG sounds pretty good IMHO you really must listen to other cables to get proper references. I know that this is a subjective hobby, but in my experience even a cheap cable such as the Mogami 3103 sounds much better than solid copper 12AWG .

Grading of silver for jewelry or investment is useless for audio. Aspects such as which impurities, surface quality, the specifics of the way the wire is manufactured and insulation matter a lot.

Decades ago Martin Colloms carried listening tests with different section solid wires in Hifi-News. I can not be sure of the exact values anymore, but he concluded that .6mm was the optimum diameter for ICs and around 1.1 or 1. X mm (?, not sure anymore sorry ) was the choice for speakers. At that time many friends and I tried all types of cables with these dimensions, thinking we had found nirvana. A couple of months later we returned to serious cables, or simply good quality professional wires from Mogami or Canare.

If you want to have a good time playing with wires Audiophonics from France have a good stock of quality wires for DIY people. See https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/search?search_query=wire

Surely IMHO, YMMV!
 
Apr 15, 2017
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#5
The absolute minimum worth wasting any time with is OCC silver, preferably bare. Cheap silver is just nasty. Add nice termination, or even none and cotton/silk/poly tubing and you are in business. Teflon? Only if you know for a fact that you like teflon. Make sure to mark it for direction before cutting as it is severely directional. This type of wire certainly has some worthwhile qualities, but can it seriously compete with any halfway decent cable? IMO no. What is even worse i seem to prefer cheap copper OCC Neotech in PVC for musicality.
 

andi

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Apr 9, 2012
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#6
When I dealt with high effinciecy speakers, I tried cheap silverwire and it was worse. Even magnetwire was better.
Then I got in contact with Mr. Schmidlin in Switzerland.
http://www.audio-consulting.ch/?Parts:Silver_Wire
For speakers = One wire for + and one for - , not (!!!!!) twisted.
This wire is much superior to any other wire I have ever tried. No brightness! Instead an astonishing cleanness from bottom to highs and big soundstage.
You have to use the cottonsleeves!
Meanwhile I use it as IC only, because my Magnepan need much thicker wires.
BR
Andreas
 
#7
Thanks guys. A few observations. Resistance of mixed metal has been proved to be less conductive than pure copper or pure silver.
999 silver is pure and certified as such. Unless a speaker cable company has some control / magic sauce on how it is made / drawn I question if the electrons / crystals are better?
Many speaker cables are silver litz multi stands, it is more practical and flexible, easier to sell to the masses.
The amount of silver content in manufactured cables is limited by profit and cost. I question the science of less volume, as smaller gauge = more resistance and negative effect (in theory).
The sheer amount of jargon in this subject is immense, and it is contradictory across manufacturers. I question how many can measure / prove their scientific sounding data / construction and if it works.
Anyway, my thoughts. I could be wrong, but I'll report back once I have it installed and tested.
I am 12 AWG solid core 999 silver and bi-wiring to end up with 9-10 AWG in total.
 

Uk Paul

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Sep 27, 2012
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#8
Hi Astro,
Please keep us posted. What length are you using, and what lowest impedance are your speakers?
I use a Silver supplier here in England, quite possibly the same company you have found, and their pure silver is fine, I use it in some IC's and digital interconnects.

I have to agree, in my experience, plated wire in longer length's seem's to add a slight hardness to the sound (though not unbearable by any means) that unplated does not, just my opinion though, not scientific!

Rgds,
Paul
 
Apr 15, 2017
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#9
Unless a speaker cable company has some control / magic sauce on how it is made / drawn I question if the electrons / crystals are better?

Chemical purity may be important to a degree, but it is certainly not all. The way the wire is drawn and the way its surface is treated is way more important. Furutech call it Alpha-process, Neotech used to use the continuous cast process, which i fear is now obsolete. No one really uses just pure untreated silver as it is mechanically brittle and does not sound good at all, irrespective of the number of 9s. This stuff has been know for decades.
 
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#10
And btw: people assume that silver or teflon are really great for sound as they read lots of hype. Not only related to wire, but to capacitors as well.

Ime only a tiny fraction of the silvery devices are fit for human consumption. Same goes for teflon.
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
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#11
Context and application in audio is everything... Very non specific generalisations on silver v copper are as useful imho as generalisations on tube v SS or generalisations on analogue v digital. We all have our preferences just not let ourselves fall into the trap of assuming these translate in any way to anything absolute.

Great silver cables are fab beyond belief in appropriate applications, just as are great copper cables in their best circumstances. Gold or palladium alloy mixes also have their awesome place in the scheme of great cable potentials. I have optimised my setup around Wireworld Platinum Eclipse and Platinum Starlight signal cables and the balance comes together for me (I believe) because of the also balancing warm purity of the coppers within the Shunyata power cables that I also have. I have spoken with others who have also gone the high quality silver for signal, high quality copper for power cable route and also have found long term musical/sonic happiness. Too much just of copper of itself can in some systems just be a tad woolly... which isn’t for me at all musical but rather just a bit numb. But everyone’s mileage differs... so it then comes back to finding just what cable combo works for you... in your system... with your priorities... and getting happy but then also stop assuming that this happy outcome then in any way ever could become the singularly universally right approach for all of us. Just imho.
 
#12
Hi Astro,
Please keep us posted. What length are you using, and what lowest impedance are your speakers?
I use a Silver supplier here in England, quite possibly the same company you have found, and their pure silver is fine, I use it in some IC's and digital interconnects.

I have to agree, in my experience, plated wire in longer length's seem's to add a slight hardness to the sound (though not unbearable by any means) that unplated does not, just my opinion though, not scientific!

Rgds,
Paul
Hello Paul
It is this supplier in the UK:
https://www.wires.co.uk/acatalog/ag9999_bare.html

I am using with speakers of 6 ohms, tube SET amplifiers, and bi-wired. My speakers are 95dB efficient.
My thoughts were in a hard wired circuit the best wire seems to be solid silver, never multi strand copper in high end gear. So possibly solid silver for speakers will work well? My run is 2.5 meters, and I will bi-wire so 4 wires 12AWG per speaker which would be a bit more than 10AWG I think.
 
#13
And btw: people assume that silver or teflon are really great for sound as they read lots of hype. Not only related to wire, but to capacitors as well.

Ime only a tiny fraction of the silvery devices are fit for human consumption. Same goes for teflon.
There are major cable manufactures that have solid silver sat at the top of their range, with technology and design / research to back it up. So I don't think you can say silver is bad or hyped. I would say possibly, the price asked for silver cables or any 'high end' cables is too much. If it is possible to build DIY then that is worth trying. 3 meter cables costing 4K is a step to far for me, if the silver material in it costs a 1/8th of that price.
 

Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
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#14
IME the wires.co.uk 4N silver solid core sounds a bit different (‘stiffer’ and tonally ‘whiter’’) than identical spec wire from other suppliers; perhaps they do something different in their drawing / annealing process?!? The skin effect sets in at @4khz on 12awg solid core, so maybe look to bunching together thinner gauges for the midrange / tweeter runs. Or is it all too late?!?
 
#15
IME the wires.co.uk 4N silver solid core sounds a bit different (‘stiffer’ and tonally ‘whiter’’) than identical spec wire from other suppliers; perhaps they do something different in their drawing / annealing process?!? The skin effect sets in at @4khz on 12awg solid core, so maybe look to bunching together thinner gauges for the midrange / tweeter runs. Or is it all too late?!?
Interesting. Have you measured that on this exact product? How do you know this batch is the same as the one you had. Can you supply the data?

Here is a wiki article on skin effect. It confirms skin effect is higher for silver, but debunks the claim multi strands are better for negating it, or that the levels in domestic situations (30v for a 100 watt amp and 15 meters, has any audible effect. Of course, we can talk forever on the science or suedo science, and there has been years of highly creative and persuasive ways / marketing to get folk to part with large amounts of money for bits of wire and sleeving at enormous markups. I will use my ears once I try my home brew, and am open minded. If it is bettered by any after market cables, I will buy those and admit that fact.

Skin effect[edit]
Skin effect in audio cables is the tendency for high frequency signals to travel more on the surface than in the center of the conductor, as if the conductor were a hollow metal pipe.[3] This tendency, caused by self-inductance, makes the cable more resistant at higher frequencies, diminishing its ability to transmit high frequencies with as much power as low frequencies. As cable conductors increase in diameter they have less overall resistance but increased skin effect. The choice of metals in the conductor makes a difference, too: silver has a greater skin effect than copper; aluminum has less effect. Skin effect is a significant problem at radio frequencies or over long distances such as miles and kilometers worth of high-tension electrical transmission lines, but not at audio frequencies carried over short distances measured in feet and meters. Speaker cables are normally made with stranded conductors but bare metal strands in contact with each other do not mitigate skin effect; the bundle of strands acts as one conductor at audio frequencies.[7] Litz wire – individually insulated strands held in a particular pattern – is a type of high-end speaker wire intended to reduce skin effect. Another solution that has been tried is to plate the copper strands with silver which has less resistance.[8]

Regardless of marketing claims, skin effect has an inaudible and therefore negligible effect in typical inexpensive cables for loudspeaker or other audio signals.[9] The increase in resistance for signals at 20,000 Hz is under 3%, in the range of a few milliohms for the common home stereo system; an insignificant and inaudible degree of attenuation.
 

Sablon Audio

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May 22, 2015
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#16
Nearly all roll off data is based on copper conductors eg http://diyaudioprojects.com/Technical/American-Wire-Gauge.

Does your Wiki source specify the degree of difference for silver v copper conductors of the same size? I’d be surprised if it is more than 5%, which is the difference in resistivity (conductivity) of copper and silver.
 
Apr 15, 2017
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#17
There is hardly any difference in skin depth between copper and silver. Plenty of calculators if you really want to know the depth, but what is the point?

In a hobby which is entirely subjective does it really matter if there is a slight dependence of cable resistance on frequency? It certainly cannot explain in any convincing manner the audible differences between solid core and stranded cables.

https://chemandy.com/calculators/skin-effect-calculator.htm
 
#18
Nearly all roll off data is based on copper conductors eg http://diyaudioprojects.com/Technical/American-Wire-Gauge.

Does your Wiki source specify the degree of difference for silver v copper conductors of the same size? I’d be surprised if it is more than 5%, which is the difference in resistivity (conductivity) of copper and silver.
I have read in a few areas that the difference between silver v copper is 100% v 105% conductivity. But we can hear more than that, there are sonic characteristics to silver that many in this hobby has noticed already. My point is, top point to point audio circuits seem to use solid core silver. That tells me something. Solid core is not as acceptable domestically as it is physically stiff and fragile. Thus it may make design sense to go multi strand, as it can bend more.

The jury is out on using multiple types of conductors, maybe thinking they are tone controls or tuning devices? Also using thin core for tweeters and thick core for woofers. It all doesn't makes sense in my mind. I am motivated by silver used in point to point, and also seeing silver used in the most expensive cables around, thinking they may be best, or at least have some tech to justify the use of silver. Audio Note Sogon uses 80 strands of silver litz, an is supposed to be one of the best, if not THE best ever made.

It is fascinating how the hobby is so complex, or filled with complexity. Maybe sometimes it is good to get back to basics?
 

Sablon Audio

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May 22, 2015
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#19
Best bear in mind that internal ptp wiring is likely to be @20-24awg, which rolls off outside of the audible frequency range, and also that solid core is easier to work with since there are no loose strands to short out. Litz seeks to avoid skin effect by using numerous individually insulated conductors.

Am quite happy to acknowledge that silver sounds far more different to copper than their respective LCR measurements would imply and also that silver has a 'halo' / premium marketing advantage. I wouldn't however assume that silver sounds universally better than copper, in fact I migrated from silver to a copper with greater transparency.
 
#20
If we take on board for a moment (to a given limit) the sheer volume of conductive material = better, then here are some comparisons of mm2 v AWG.

1. 12AWG = 2.08mm = 3.397mm2 = 6.794mm2 as bi-wired. This is my current DIY set.
2. 15AWG = 1.65mm2
3. 20AWG = 0.517mm2

Thus to amass the same conductive material of 12AWG solid core, we would need at least 6 strands of 20AWG silver wires. I note in many cases of silver cables, they don't seem specify the actual AWG of each strand. That would then allow anyone a judgement on the cost of the material at least used in said cable.
 

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