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Solder?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Considering how many soldered joints there are in the audio chain from the medium, through the CDP or Dac to the amp to the headphone socket, is there any proof that using one kind of solder over another in the headphone cable would make any difference?

Is high silver solder more "audiophile"?? I'd imagine with a decent soldered joint, there'd be no measurable difference.

Could anyone explain how the solder in one joint could make an audible difference?

Thanks.
post #2 of 22
Solder with silver has better conductivity than solder without, simply because silver is much more conductive than the tin and lead which usually makes up solder. Its the same difference you'd hear upgrading your $.50 steel rca cables to copper ones, or copper ones to silver plated copper ones.
post #3 of 22
I found this from the Cardas website.

Q.) I'd like to know what makes Cardas solder better than all other solders for audio work. What advantage does Cardas solder have over other eutectic solders that makes it worth its much higher price? On the one hand, there is Jennifer of Jena Labs claiming that no other solder should ever be used, and on the other hand there are people in DIY chat rooms that say these exotic audiophile solders are a waste of money and no better than products like Kester. Thanks for your response. - Michael

A.) Hi Michael. The vast majority of solders in the world are slurries or mixtures such as 60/40 tin lead solder. They go through a slurry stage as they solidify wherein one component solidifies first and then another. The result is a solder connection rather than a joint. Eutectic solders such as Kesters Ultra pure Tin/lead Silver are in fact excellent because they solidify at a temperature lower than any of the component parts thus they form a solder joint rather than a connection - the key here is the eutectic formula which must be very precise - the solders are obviously different in that they set up with a mirror finish rather than a dull finish, the reason they do this is because they solidify as a unit. The week link in the solders is contamination - the molten solder easily dissolves other metals, this is no problem if you are soldering to a metal that is part of the eutectic mixture (such as tin or lead) you will get contiguous flow right in to the joint (easy to see) but if you solder to a dissimilar metal (such as copper or silver) you will see an obvious dulling at the connection where the eutectic formula fails and and the continuous joint becomes a connection. Cardas Quad Eutectic is tin, lead silver, copper, eutectic. The results are obvious. Most highend products use this solder and other cable manufactures have been using it for over a decade - to them it represents good sound and absolute reliability. - George
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by compuryan View Post
Solder with silver has better conductivity than solder without, simply because silver is much more conductive than the tin and lead which usually makes up solder. Its the same difference you'd hear upgrading your $.50 steel rca cables to copper ones, or copper ones to silver plated copper ones.
In most cases the silver content is 2%, so the analogy comparing steel and copper cables doesn't really apply. I'm also not convinced that silver plated copper cables are better than pure copper. That being said, here is an excerpt from a how to solder tutorial:

"Silver bearing solder: (that is, contains silver, not for roller bearings) Silver is used in one of the leading alloys for lead free solder (An96.5% Ag3.0% Cu.5%) and also as an addition to tin-lead solder, usually in the 2-4% range (when you se 62/36/2 this means Sn64Pb36Ag2).

People claim that it flows better, has a lower melting point, is stronger, and has a higher conductivity. According to Indium's solder wire data sheet, their 2% silver solder has an electrical conductivity that is 11.9% of Cu compared to 11.5% of 63/37 tin-lead solder, a shear strength of 7540psi vs. 6200psi, and a tensile strength of 7000psi vs. 7500psi for 63/37. So, yes, the claims are true, and also mostly insignificant. Silver was initially added to solder to prevent silver platings on component leads from dissolving into the solder ("silver migration") and forming brittle joints. Having silver in the solder reduces migration, so you may want to use it on silver joints. (Note: this logic doesn't entirely make sense to me. If silver getting in the solder caused embrittlement, how does adding more silver prevent this?)"
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm talking strictly about the effect on the audio (well electrical really if you think about it), not the workability, all this assumes one knows a cold soldered joint from a good joint.

I appreciate there *might* be a tiny difference if ALL the solder was of the same resistance, but really, would a couple of joints make a difference? Would one or two joints in a chain of maybe 50 make a measurable(or audible) difference?

Obviously, if you cant get a good connection (go practice!) then that might make a difference, but with good soldered joints, just how big of a difference are we talking here?

I'm of the opinion that the contact joints, eg, LOD pins to Ipod, headphones jack to socket would have a greater effect than the composition of the solder, after all it's still over 60% Tin right?


Odd, seeing as silver has a much higher melting point than tin, that it's supposed to flow better and be easier to work. :/
post #6 of 22
Silver plating on copper cables is supposed to stop oxidation of the copper. Some cable manufacturers use very thick layers of it for sound purposes, such as Apuresound.

I can imagine the quality of joins in a device being important, as some companies sell fluid for putting on RCA and other plugs and sockets to give a better connection even.
post #7 of 22
Yeah I don't think a few joints with special solder is going to make a big difference. However, I recently built a balanced beta22 using all Cardas quad solder. If I made an identical beta22 with 60/40 solder (assuming all my joints were good on both builds) I think I might be able to hear a difference between the two. But can I prove this? unfortunately no. It would be an awesome project if anyone wanted to discover if silver loaded solder truly affected sound quality.
post #8 of 22
the main purpose of solder is to create a secure mechanical connection between the leads and pads (or wires). if done properly, any resistance provided by the solder is going to be negligible, imho.

for a simple experiment, one doesn't need to build two amps (way too many variables, as every component would have to be perfectly matched). just build a cable that will be used to carry the audio signal. crimp the connectors on, and have a listen. then solder the connectors, and compare. if you hear a difference, then move on to trying different solder mixes.

of course, this being the "Sound Science" Forum, you'd then have to subject yourself to a battery of ABX tests, then post statistical results that prove you can audibly differentiate between the various solder joints.

...and after all that, i still wouldn't believe you :]
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightOwl View Post
(Note: this logic doesn't entirely make sense to me. If silver getting in the solder caused embrittlement, how does adding more silver prevent this?)"
The idea is that if there's already silver in the solder, the silver on the component won't migrate to the solder. I'm not sure 100% of the chemistry behind it, but I believe that the extra silver creates a balance between silver on the component and silver of the joint such that when the silver leaches from the component to the joint (AFAIK it's because the silver goes from high-low concentrations) enough silver is left on the component itself. I'm pretty sure I'm explaining this poorly and I'm not exactly a chemist but that's my understanding of it. I think of it as an analogy of osmosis but I'm not sure if that's a proper one.
post #10 of 22
Guys, the idea that the type of solder used could possibly make any audible difference at all is beyond silly.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILikeMusic View Post
Guys, the idea that the type of solder used could possibly make any audible difference at all is beyond silly.
+1

Companies were forced into lead-free (silver) solder because of environmental regulations. The wetting properties are poorer. It also requires higher soldering temperatures, and it's harder to inspect the solder joints. My soldering instructor (IPC) didn't like lead free at all. The telecom sector in the EU even has (or had) negotiated a deal to be exempt from these regulations because of the hassle lead-free solder is.

As for the conductivity, it's negligible, as the quantity of solder between between the components is so small. If you hear a difference between solders, it's likely because you've managed to produce cold solder joints, which is easier to do with silver solder.
post #12 of 22
Given that the leads of most of the components I have soldered appear to be less than audiophile quality, I can't imagine how the solder would be making things better. One of the most popular DIY resistor (Vishay Dale RN55) lists the core as nickel-chrome alloy.

Silver solder, like a two inch thick power cable, is unable to recreate something that has been degraded or lost earlier in the audio chain or circuit.

I guess it's important to consider all components inside a system rather than any one component in isolation.
post #13 of 22
I've got a few large reels of old style banned solder it does flow better than the new lead free solder.
post #14 of 22
The entire point of solder is to make a solid physical joint. I've tried a number of solders, but nothing seems to flow as well as good old 60/40. It works great, the price is right and it's (still) easy to find. Anything more is an expensive pain. I don't care about any supposed sound benefit - no one has ever reliably demonstrated that. There are claimed differences, but those are all based on personal perception. Personal perception is hugely unreliable; I need numbers, charts and graphs. Even if a very small difference is found, it might still not be worth using because it's a pain, doesn't make as good of a joint and the issue of tin whiskers.
post #15 of 22
Odd, I find 63/37 easier to use. I used silver once, its pricey and is just about the same as any other solder to use.
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