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Gold plated connectors - does it really matter?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've noticed that pretty much every connector for pretty much any audio equipment is gold plated.  However, especially with standard TRS headphone plugs, I've found that the gold tends to wear off in a matter of months, leaving only a very, very faint gold tinge left. It makes me wonder if it really does anything at all or if it's just a marketing scam.  Of course, I've never seen a gold plated plug oxidize before, whether the gold is visible or not, but it's still rather disconcerting that the gold wears off so quickly regardless.

post #2 of 11

Audio plug is generally either nickel or gold plated for their corrosion resistance property. Everything will wear off in time, but at least gold looks better than nickel.

post #3 of 11

Well, gold-plated plugs became the standard. Almost everything above an iBud will have a gold-plated connector. It has absolutely nothing to do with the sound quality, of course, since gold is not that much of a better conductor than other metals - in fact silver is much better. If a gold-plated conductor costed 30+ than a nick-plated one, it would be a scam, but since it's like 2$+, it's just cheap bragging rights =)

post #4 of 11

I like the gold connectors.  Nickel may wear longer.

 

My vintage stuff has aluminum connectors and they have become oxidized.

post #5 of 11

 

It depends on the gold.

 

If you plate with pure gold, it will indeed wear off rather quickly. However for connectors, where you want something more than just cosmetics, the more appropriate plating is what's called "hard gold," which is gold alloyed with cobalt or nickel.

 

se

 

 

 

 

post #6 of 11

Also, sometimes what may look like gold plating is really brass. 

 

 

My favourite is the gold plated TOSlink connector biggrin.gif

 
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoga Flame View Post

Also, sometimes what may look like gold plating is really brass. 


Oh yeah. Give brass a good polishing and it can be hard to tell from gold.

 

Quote:
My favourite is the gold plated TOSlink connector biggrin.gif

 

HA!

 

se

 

 

 

 

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

...yes, I have a gold-plated optical cable, at least it says it is...but it was the cheapest one I could find at the time, so I had to buy it. :P  That's one of the more retarded things I've heard in awhile though.

 

But yeah, it seems to me that the only time when gold plating is truly necessary to maintain a good connection is with little connectors like in an HDMI cable, USB cable, SD card and the like...I've seen lots of corrosion on these before, if they're not gold plated and especially with old NES cartridges it's pretty easy to suffer the consequences of this.  Still, I don't see how a tiny bit of corrosion would affect sound quality at all with a plug as large as an RCA cable or TRS connector...but who knows, I'm no electrical engineer.

post #9 of 11

The plating is to keep the bass material from oxidizing (which is bad for connection performance over the long term). The best jacks use billet copper or silver as the bass material (rather than brass) which is then plated with an appropriate "sealer" that resists the effects of corrosion. A  good hard plating a few microns thick using X material of choice (silver,gold, nickle, rhodium etc) should last a long time. The price tag can be somewhat daunting for some of the stuff out there but there are cheaper solutions available that are just as good (IMO at least). Two brands I like are Edison Price and Cardas (their version of the pure copper base material jack).

 

I remain unconvinced by the pure silver offerings (plated with Rhodium) as being any better than a solid pure copper base type plated with gold or otherwise.

 

How many folks remember the days when jacks and speaker outputs were nothing more than pot metal ( screw strips and RCA jacks ) and what happens to that metal after a few years. One of the first things I replace on vintage gear are the jack's and speaker posts (and the mains cable if it's 18 AWG zip cord) for an IEC socket. The internal wiring gets an upgrade as well (among other parts if needed).

 

Peete.

post #10 of 11


 

Originally Posted by Yoga Flame View Post

My favourite is the gold plated TOSlink connector biggrin.gif

 


Especially when it's plated right over the end of the optical cable...

 

post #11 of 11

Working man internet digital infallibility logic is fail.  Gold sounds better than copper or silver as all 3 have extremely high conductance values(try to explain Van den Hul Carbon chain interconnects! extremely high resistance but very clean interconnects because geometry of the transmitted signal is more important than electrical properties. Working man can't even fathom that every detail in physics matters!!!) but if you test the 3 on a wire the gold has the right frequencies(sound), but its extremely expensive because of its historical value as is silver when its made into any kind of electric component.  People complain of sibilance with silver and it's probably better suited for high frequency data or power transmissions. Copper is good, cheap, and widely available; good for bass but tends to lack a little on the top end.  All people have listened to is copper for most of their lives so that's what they are accustomed to and that's what they like.  Price and availability dictate preference.  I haven't been able to test other exotic metals but something else might be better and cheaper and the geometry of the metal is also important.  Ultra pure copper was not invented for audio it was invented for digital(scoff at that digital infallibility computer weenies!) component miniaturization.


Edited by ColdFlo - 9/25/13 at 6:34am
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