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Thread: Silver tonearm wire

  1. #1
    Senior Member scifi's Avatar
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    Default Silver tonearm wire

    I recently tried replacing the tonearm wire in my Realistic LAB-430 turntable with some silver tonearm wire. The LAB-430 isn't exactly high end, but it isn't junk, either. I also took out the connecting cable (included a set of RCA phono plugs) from the LAB-430 and put in a pair of gold plated RCA phono jacks on the back. I ran the silver wire all the way from the connectors at the back of the cartridge adaptor, through the tonearm, into the turntable and to the RCA phono jacks and soldered the silver wire to the phono jacks. I was trying to decide whether to use copper Litz tonearm wire or silver tonearm wire and decided on the silver tonearm wire out of curiosity. I never used silver wire for anything in audio electronics before. Both should give good results with a turntable. After installing the silver tonearm wire I connected an oxygen free copper cable between the turntable and my Sansui QC-04 (Ed Saunders CD-4 cartridge on the tonearm) and played some stereo records. I noticed better dynamics, somewhat better dynamic range and a brighter quality in the treble. Later, I tried playing some CD-4 records, first using a quadradisc test record. I mentioned before that I put in some switches into my QC-04 so I can turn on and off the stereo preamp board and/or the carrier demodulator board. The matrix (mixer) circuit remains on all the time when the QC-04 is on. The carrier signal didn't seem high enough when I first tried it (using the oxygen free copper cable) and I got the idea of trying different connecting cables. I tried two other sets of cables and found that a thin lower quality set of cables seemed to work the best. The thin cables seemed to pass the carriers better. I could turn the carrier level down about a quarter to a third turn on the QC-04 and the green light would still remain lit on most CD-4 records. This was better than before the modifications.

    One thing I found out was that the quality of the sound from the carrier signal depends a lot on the tracking force. Setting the counterweight to about 1.5 grams seemed to give the best results. I also had to loosen the screws on the cartridge adaptor and put in a small piece of sheet brass as a shim to level the cartridge. I used a test record to set up the system (adjusting carrier levels, etc.) and was able to get a lot better separation. Before changing the tonearm wire and tweeking the system, the right front and right back channels didn't seem to have much separation, but the left front and left back channels did. I thought this might have been due to the speakers and their positions in the room. After the improvements, there was better separation in all channels. I could hear for the first time the swooshing quad panning on Zappa’s Overnight Sensation album, Black Sabath Paranoid sounded powerful, Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers album was beautiful, with better separation of the vocals and instruments and better dynamics and lower distortion.

    One problem I noticed, though, was a whistling sound when the carrier light came on and there was no sound playing, which I could hear before, but might be slightly louder now compared to the premod system. This apparently is from cross talk between the left and right carriers which is a known problem with CD-4 records. Before I put in the new tonearm wire, I twisted the four wires together. After I got the wires in the tonearm and put it back on the turntable, I got the idea that twisting all four wires together might produce some cross talk, but instead of taking it back apart again, I just separated the wires inside the turntable and twisted the left and right wires into two twisted pairs, and left the ones in the tonearm twisted together. When I have time, I’ll have to take the tonearm off again, untwist the four wires and twist the left and right wires into two twisted pairs and see if that reduces cross talk. I also have a Grado F-1+ CD-4 cartridge which I want to try out later with the new mod.

    I found a link where they discuss cross talk in tonearm wire. It appears according to mishak’s calculations, cross talk would be worse at the 30 kHz carrier frequency compared to audio frequencies. I also found some patents where they talk about cross talk between twisted pairs and CD-4 record cross talk.


    Tonearm Internal Wiring Capacitance And Crosstalk
    http://www.vinylengine.com/turntable...c.php?p=304717

    US 4202550 Stereo lead wires and arrangements thereof for connecting pick-up
    device to amplifier

    US 6433272 Crosstalk reduction in constrained wiring assemblies

    US 4204091 Cancellation of interference distortions caused by intermodulation
    between FM signals on adjacent channels

    Google patents
    http://www.google.com/?tbm=pts&hl=en

    A picture of the silver tonearm wire is shown below.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Yeah, it would probably be better not to twist the left and right channels together. In fact, why twist at all? True, this would minimize external interference, but the tonearm would provide good shielding if the wire goes through the tube on your model.
    If the wire is twisted together, even if both channels are not twisted together, it would increase capacitance it seems. Maybe a light twist would be best. (Not tightly twisted)

  3. #3
    1K Club - QQ Shooting Star Doug G.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    I agree. I wouldn't twist any of the wires together. Just let them run straight to avoid capacitance and crosstalk.

    Doug

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Last night I took the tonearm off, untwisted the wires and made the left and right wires into twisted pairs while trying to avoid lining them up exactly in phase (see patent links above). I also cut off a couple inches of excess wire. When I played a couple CD-4 records, the whistle was so low, it was almost inaudible. After playing some more records, it seemed like the whistle got a little louder, but was still better than before. This might be due to the constant adjustments I kept making. I need better back speakers. They sound too distorted, especially the midrange speaker.

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    Senior Member scifi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    I found something here
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=us
    that says:

    Silver-Plating greatly improves high frequency performance for a fraction of the cost of solid silver.
    I noticed the conductors of some RG187A/U cable I have look silvery. Some links I found discuss silver plated cable. I'll have to try making some interconnecting cables with this RG187A/U. It typically has a capacitance of 19.4 pf per ft according to some links.


    See, for example:

    http://www.lapptannehill.com/supplie...r/har-coax.pdf

    http://www.mitron.cn/product/Cables/...al_catalog.pdf
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Senior Member scifi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Last week I tried soldering a gold plated RCA phono plug to each end of a 14 inch piece of the RG187 cable and connected it between the Espey AM/FM radio and the Pilot stereo demodulator discussed here:
    http://antiquesci.50webs.com/Espey200.htm
    The sound is a lot less distorted and I'm able to pick up WMUC with less interference. Today, I soldered some gold plated RCA phono plugs to two 12 inch lenths of the RG187 cable and connected them between the turntable and QC-04 demodulator and played two different CD4 records. The distortion was a lot lower and I found I could turn the carrier level adjustment down more than half a turn and the radar light would remain lit. This shows that the RG187 can pass the carrier better than the other cables that I tried before. Below are some pictures of the cable and some silver items to compare it to. I got a roll for $1 at Terrapin Traders near the University of Maryland. They sell U of Md. surplus.

    This is written on the spool:

    Microdot
    cable division: South Pasadena, California

    and the tag includes this information:

    RG187A/U
    Cable # 275-3926
    M.D. # 7757
    Date 11-8-67
    etc.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by scifi; 05-21-2012 at 08:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    A list of related patents http://www.google.com/?tbm=pts&hl=en

    US 4874436 Method for producing high purity electrolytic copper

    US 4964738 Electrical conductor of high magnetic permeability material for audio circuits
    preamp -> amp
    column 3 lines 66+
    Unfortunately, the only metal with higher electrical conductivity than copper is silver, and the improvement in skin depth is only approximately 3 percent--a negligible improvement at great cost.

    US 5099518 Electrical conductor of high magnetic permeability material for audio circuits

    US 5510578 Audio loudspeaker cable assembly
    copper and/or silver column 3 lines 2-3

    US 5523528 Interconnection cable for low frequency signal transmission
    The inner conductors insulated from each other are shielded by a shielding layer made of copper fabric woven of high-purity copper wires or silver plated copper wires (column 1 lines 50-51)

    US 5900589 Silver ribbon cable

    US 6231637 Process for producing high-purity silver materials
    column 1 lines 19-32
    With copper wires having purities on the order of 99.9 wt %, signals cannot be transmitted correctly without phase differences and, as a result, only blurred images or unsharp sounds are produced. To solve these problems, high-purity copper wires produced by working raw materials having purities of at least 99.999 wt % have recently been introduced into the market.
    Similar effects are exhibited by silver wires that are produced by a process which comprises solidifying silver with a purity of at least 99.95 wt % in one longitudinal direction to yield an ingot, drawing it by either cold or warm working and further working the wire under conditions that will not cause recrystallization.

    US 4582545 Method of producing electrical conductor
    column 1 lines 10+
    As is well known, an electrical conductor is generally made of one of two types of copper: tough pitch copper (TPC) and oxygen-free copper (OFC) The copper is generally worked so as to be circular or rectangular in cross section or in the form of a foil and then recrystallized by annealing at a temperature ranging between 300.degree. and 600.degree. C. to produce the conductor.
    It has recently been understood that an electrical conductor made of OFC in a transmisison line for a multi-frequency audio signal, particularly, as an inner wiring conductor or a loud speaker wiring conductor of an audio apparatus, is much superior to one made of TPC.

    US 5574260 Composite conductor having improved high frequency signal transmission characteristics
    Use of silver plating

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    The reason plating copper with silver works with high frequencies is because of the skin effect. The electrons flow on the surface of the wire. But the thing you have to remember is that relatively speaking, 30 KHZ is by no means a very high frequency. Still, it doesn't hurt to use silver, it certainly will not hamper the performance of CD-4. But the improvement in performance may be because the cable is a low capacitance cable. Since I am not familiar with that cable, I cannot vouch for it. It looks like military grade silver plated cable with a teflon dielectric. It would appear to be high quality cable.

    The Quadfather

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Another thing to consider is that the silver cable I'm using is only 12 inches long. I tend to like the last (cheap) cable I was using for somethings, like Frank Zappa and Black Sabbath Paranoid, because the distortion gives them a more dramatic sound. The silver cable sounds more neutral.

    scifi

    still in search of the audiophiles' holy grail (which was silver, BTW)

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    An audiophile would never consider distortion in the playback system a good thing, because it gets between the listener and the artist's intent. I wouldn't consider it good either. However, each listener has his own tastes, but if I did want distortion, I would want to be able to turn the distortion off. Black Sabbath might sound better with more distortion, but Joan Baez wouldn't. In that case, purity would be the order of the day. Use the best sounding cable and get a fuzz box! Though you would need four of them since they are usually monaural devices.

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    I found something interesting here. FM stereo multiplex is similar to CD-4 quad LPs, in that both use an ultrasonic subcarrier or carrier to generate the demultiplexed signals. FM stereo uses double side band supressed carrier subcarriers centered at 38 kHz with a 19 kHz pilot added for demultiplexing the signal in the receiver. L+R in the audio region, L-R on the subcarrier. CD-4 LPs use basically an ultrasonic FM carrier (with phase modulation on part of the signal), centered at about 30 kHz. F+B in the audio region and F-B on the FM/PM carriers.


    On page 58 of this reference, the use of high quality cables is recommended between an FM receiver and outboard stereo multiplex decoder.

    Evaluation
    Aside from poor or no separation, beats & chirps and an odd “reverb” sound are the mostcommon symptoms of poor multiplex alignment. These noises can also be symptoms of poor tuner alignment or functionality, or a bad or incorrect cable. Scott outboard multiplex decoder units are designed to work with cabling of 1 meter or less. Use only good quality video cables, not cheapy audio cables. A cheap audio cable will kill the high frequencies and thus the stereo pilot signal.

    http://akdatabase.org/AKview/albums/...0Alignment.pdf

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Yup, same deal. If you attenuate the carrier(s) below a useful level, the demodulator can't demodulate.

    Doug

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    For more information on FM stereo multiplex download and unzip FM multiplexing.zip and FM multiplexing II.zip from http://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/s...ad.php?t=66940

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Recently, I tried listening to some SQ records using a Kenwood KSQ-20 and a Fosgate Tate II (QC-04 as stereo phono preamp). There's also a significant improvement in the sound with SQ now. The ambience/reverb is a lot better with the Tate and separation is a lot better, too. Before rehabbing with the silver wire and cables, Pink Floyd's DSOTM SQ record (Yugoslavian, IIRC) wasn't decoding too well. I was wondering if it was really quad, because I couldn't hear much front back separation. After the silver rehabbing, I can now hear different instruments, etc. in different channels. For example, the money effects at the beginning of Money (side 2) alternately go from one speaker to another (all 4 speakers) and the sound is more distinct. Finally, I heard Pink Floyd in good quadraphonic.

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire


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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    On page 8 of the reference (link below), it says that the VCO (in the PLL FM demodulator) has to be adjusted correctly to 30 kHz or beats might be heard. I wonder if you could attach a frequency counter to the VCO to check the frequency without it affecting the tuning of the VCO. Alternatively, you can use the zero beat method discussed in the reference.

    http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/8/...cs/SManual.pdf

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Quote Originally Posted by scifi View Post
    Recently, I tried listening to some SQ records using a Kenwood KSQ-20 and a Fosgate Tate II (QC-04 as stereo phono preamp). There's also a significant improvement in the sound with SQ now. The ambience/reverb is a lot better with the Tate and separation is a lot better, too. Before rehabbing with the silver wire and cables, Pink Floyd's DSOTM SQ record (Yugoslavian, IIRC) wasn't decoding too well. I was wondering if it was really quad, because I couldn't hear much front back separation. After the silver rehabbing, I can now hear different instruments, etc. in different channels. For example, the money effects at the beginning of Money (side 2) alternately go from one speaker to another (all 4 speakers) and the sound is more distinct. Finally, I heard Pink Floyd in good quadraphonic.
    It works even better with a TC-750 preamp (& Fosgate Tate II).

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    Quote Originally Posted by scifi View Post
    A list of related patents http://www.google.com/?tbm=pts&hl=en

    US 6231637 Process for producing high-purity silver materials
    column 1 lines 19-32
    With copper wires having purities on the order of 99.9 wt %, signals cannot be transmitted correctly without phase differences and, as a result, only blurred images or unsharp sounds are produced. To solve these problems, high-purity copper wires produced by working raw materials having purities of at least 99.999 wt % have recently been introduced into the market.
    Similar effects are exhibited by silver wires that are produced by a process which comprises solidifying silver with a purity of at least 99.95 wt % in one longitudinal direction to yield an ingot, drawing it by either cold or warm working and further working the wire under conditions that will not cause recrystallization.
    I found something interesting here about time smear and digital recording. Recording SQ or other matrix systems digitally might affect phase relationships and the ability to demodulate the matrixed signals.

    First, for the theory to be applicable, any frequencies above 20 kHz have to be filtered out, and rather brutally so[12]. Now, loosing these frequencies doesn’t unduly worry me—I can’t hear them anyway. But the sharp or steep filter necessary to eliminate these frequencies—also referred to as brick wall anti-aliasing filter—is part of the practical problem, because it alters the timing of some frequencies relative to others. The "timing" gets "smeared" even before the recording is reduced to zeroes and ones[13].

    http://www.beatstamm.com/ScienceOrSnakeOil.htm

    http://www.mlssa.com/pdf/Upsampling-theory-rev-2.pdf

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    Default Re: Silver tonearm wire

    In this article
    Effect of Phase Shift on Hearing
    Audio July 1962 pages 36+
    they say that phase shifts of the frequency components are inaudible. This might explain why I hardly heard anything with stereo, but it made a big difference with quad because the quad demodulation needs to have the frequency components phased properly to demodulate the quad for best separation.

    http://vintagevacuumaudio.com/magazines-1952-1962/

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