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Gold/silver cable contacts.

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
There's something that is puzzling me about cables that I was thinking about when my Total Bithead came in the mail a few weeks back - the supplied USB cable has "gold" connections, as do some of my headphone and mini-mini cables, however the USB ports and the headphone contacts on all my amps are aluminum/steel/nickel-plated copper/God-know-what.

I understand that different metals have different conductive properties, but wouldn't all connections in the series need to be gold/silver to make a difference? I personally can't tell a difference, but then I may just have copper ears and not golden ones. It also seems that it shouldn't make any difference for USB at all. What gives?

If anyone could shed some light on this, I would appreciate it.
post #2 of 22
The point of gold plating connectors is not to chance the conductive property. It's simply to make the connector corrosion-resistant.

I am pretty sure the regular alloy used for connectors is pretty resistant to corrosion as well, so I don't think you really need to worry about them either. Gold is just a traditional sign of a quality connector.
post #3 of 22
Its pretty as well. The gold plating stays shiny longer.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones13 View Post
Its pretty as well. The gold plating stays shiny longer.
That's all gold do.
post #5 of 22
Supposing there's an audible difference from having one cable with gold-plated connectors, you won't need to have gold contacts on everything to hear it.
post #6 of 22
I have made 2 cables one with gold connectors and one with Rhodium. Same Belden 19364 cable and the connectors were the Furutech FI-15's just one set of gold and one set of Rhodium. 2 different cables.
post #7 of 22
could you hear a difference between the rhodium and gold?
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by xuan87 View Post
could you hear a difference between the rhodium and gold?
Yes and it was easy, had a couple buddies that noticed the same thing. Gold is lush and wide sounding, Rhodium is clear and tall sounding. Prefer Gold with Solid State and Rhodium and Silver with Tubes.
post #9 of 22
Well, there are really only four considerations when it comes to metals. Essential properties are best categorized as hotness, coldness, dryness, and moistness. If you can change these properties, then you can alter their basic properties. Hence, you might be able to transmute base metals - such as lead - into gold. A philosophers' stone can be of assistance. Further, some believe this is the key to immortality.

After all, alchemy was pursued for centuries and some great minds spent their lives trying to turn base metals into gold.

So there must be something to it, right?

Funny thing is that the claims - no matter how many centuries they were pursued - never panned out.

This could be due to the "hate" of the scientific community, as we all know that there are still unknowns in the universe.

Or, perhaps, alchemy was just a bunch of bunk put forward by people who didn't know any better. Shockingly, some even profited and scammed money with alchemical claims.

Imagine that. Making money off folklore claims with dubious scientific merit. Would humans ever stoop so low?

You might want to give some serious thought to the mythology and folklore you hear in this forum. Otherwise, someone might try to sell you a stone that will transmute lead into gold.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
Well, there are really only four considerations when it comes to metals. Essential properties are best categorized as hotness, coldness, dryness, and moistness. If you can change these properties, then you can alter their basic properties. Hence, you might be able to transmute base metals - such as lead - into gold. A philosophers' stone can be of assistance. Further, some believe this is the key to immortality.

After all, alchemy was pursued for centuries and some great minds spent their lives trying to turn base metals into gold.

So there must be something to it, right?

Funny thing is that the claims - no matter how many centuries they were pursued - never panned out.

This could be due to the "hate" of the scientific community, as we all know that there are still unknowns in the universe.

Or, perhaps, alchemy was just a bunch of bunk put forward by people who didn't know any better. Shockingly, some even profited and scammed money with alchemical claims.

Imagine that. Making money off folklore claims with dubious scientific merit. Would humans ever stoop so low?

You might want to give some serious thought to the mythology and folklore you hear in this forum. Otherwise, someone might try to sell you a stone that will transmute lead into gold.
?? You lost me? How does all this apply?
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

placebo effect

He's being witty and pointed.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG POPPA View Post
?? You lost me? How does all this apply?
You turned left at the Metaphor, didn't you?
post #13 of 22
Simple guy. Metaphors were never my strong suit. Ask my wife? It is what it is.
post #14 of 22
Different metals have difference resistances. Silver and copper having the lowest resistance, but oxidize when exposed to air. Gold isn't as low, but doesn't have the problem with oxidation.

Now looking at the audio chain, there are resistors everywhere. Resistors are not bad at all. However, resistors that change in value are bad. Oxidation can change resistance values. You may hear an intermittent connection. Intermittent or bad connections sound like the volume control going up and down. (The volume control, of course, being a variable resistor and the only resistor that should vary.)

There are ways to clean dirty connectors. Sometimes simply disconnecting and reconnecting does the trick to fix a poor connection. There are also contact cleaners.

Further, there are some problems with dissimilar metals that don't mate well together and causing fretting, but this gets more complicated. For more information, this looks interesting: Contact Fretting of Electronic Connectors. However, manufactures of components and systems have generally avoided using the bad combination of metals.

-

The above link quit working for me. It did work once.

.
post #15 of 22
Yet another audio mystery, and I thought that Gold was the philosopher’s stone of Hi-Fi!

My own feelings - for what they are worth, is that ‘connection goodness’ is far more to do with the cleanliness of the contact interface and what lies under any plating applied than the material used for the contact surface. Providing of course that it is a reasonable conductor and you have ‘gas tight‘ contact points. Of course gold won’t tarnish or corrode (providing the plated layer is thick enough) and it does look very nice, which is fine for the salesman and also perhaps for the placebo effect.

A long time ago when most chips were plugged into sockets I remember reading an article on how IC socket contacts were plated and the advantages and disadvantages of gold plating.

It seems that gold plating (and I am very happy to stand corrected in any of this) is not usually applied to a contact’s base metal but on top of a layer of another metal for best adhesion of the gold. (Copper I think was mentioned but there may be many others, and this may apply to silver plating as well.) So, say with a 3.5mm plug we have a base metal of machined brass, then a layer of copper or something else, and then the layer of gold. Now the plating process itself uses various electrolytes and wash baths that may introduce some contamination between the plated layers as well. So while gold plating on the face of it would seem to be a good and simple thing, nothing is ever simple and one may end up with an extra layer (or layers) of metal and possibly a mixture of contaminants, depending on how clean the platter’s baths were.

Plated gold is also very soft as I believe that one can only electroplate pure 24 karat gold, so every time a connector is mated there is a chance that the contact surfaces may be damaged. Indeed cheap gold plated 3.5mm plugs can and do lose their plating in time.

I don’t think much research has been done on the audible effects of different contact surfaces. Yes of course anecdotally gold plating can sound better, though I wonder how much this has to do with just disturbing the contacts than any inherent ’goodness’ in the gold. As we know gold has become the de-facto standard for ‘quality’ connectors at least in the Hi-Fi arena, though in telecoms and other professional electronics this does not seem to be the case.

DIN connectors were never gold plated, and I am not sure what ‘Bantams’ (standard studio patch panel connectors) are plated with, but I don’t recall is was gold. XLR connectors (standard studio line and mic connector) are available with or without gold plating. And many high frequency connectors such as the BNC have a silver (electro less nickel?) or silver plated outer and centre conductors, though I have some video BNC patch leads with gold plated centre conductors. Indeed and at the risk of sending all the readers to this post to sleep, broadcast video MUSA patch connectors and ’U links’, which are specified to pass a composite video signal (0.75V with a frequency range of 50Hz to 5 MHz) use silver plated contacts.

So gold would seem not to be the universal answer to electrical contacts, and for frequently mated and un-mated connectors it may be a bit marginal. Perhaps that’s why the old Equinox cable (Nutrik plug) for my HD650s and the Senn. IE8s that I have just bought use ‘silver’ plated plugs.
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