DIY Cable Options
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blip

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I've been thinking about building some DIY interconnects to connect my (soon to be built) CMoy to my sources (A PCDP and computer sound card). After doing a lot of digging, I've come up with a couple of options but I need help deciding which one to go with.

First of all, what I'm looking for is a high-quality interconnect that will not be total overkill for my fairly poor sources. (Something a little forgiving might be nice.) I'm also trying to find something fairly cheap and easy to do.

The Contenders Are:

1) MCM DIY Interconnects (http://home.new.rr.com/zaph/audio/audio-cables.html)
Wow! These things are really simple! I mean they are solderless interconnects! (A definite plus because my soldering skills are okay, but not exceptional) Besides that they are fairly cheap. The author seems pretty enamoured with them, but their sheer simplicity makes me doubt their value. Has anyone heard these?

2) Piano 6
(http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/piano6_1_e.html)
These look pretty cool. I've heard good things about the twisted-pair design that these use. Also, they shouldn't be too hard to build. I haven't been able to find any Type 6 cable, but I'm sure that some will eventually turn up. Any opinions?

3) Venhaus DIY Interconnects
(http://www.venhaus1.com/diysilverinterconnects.html)
These seem to be fairly popular. While the design calls for silver, that is way out of my price range (besides being overkill for my sources) so I will probably use regular copper cables. (Maybe some cable stripped from CAT V cables) It is probably the most complex but shouldn't be too hard. What do you think of them? How do you think using copper will effect the sound?

So which option do you think is best?
Is there another one I really should consider? Has anyone done a comparison of these?

Thanks.
 
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post-200115
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CaptBubba

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post-200448
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blip

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Quote:

Originally posted by CaptBubba
Have you seen these? http://www.soundstage.com/synergize/synergize021998.htm


Cheap, easy to make, and they sound better than the cables I had from radio shack at least. Some people feel like they are bass-shy though, but I don't really believe them.


Those do look pretty good. They are certainly easy and cheap and the reviewer certainly gives a glowing review... I guess I have a fourth option!

So how do the rest of you think these four stack up against each other?
 
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post-200906
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Dev

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I make my DIY cables form professional microphone cable (~$1 per metre of Proel, etc). It is shielded twisted pair of OFC wire, excellent isolated and enhanced by fabric material.

My cable use Proel goldplated RCA connectors (~$1-2 per item) and it have whole cable by one of RCA-RCA cable pair (mono cable) - I soldered brinks of twisted pair together inside of their shield.

So, it sounds
. I have Nordost Black Knight (~$80 per 0.6m) cable and my creation sounds excellent with it (Nordost to source-preamp and my to preamp-poweramp)...

There is the photos:
http://dev.azz.ru/pic/cables/dev_rca_cabels.jpg
http://dev.azz.ru/pic/cables/proel_mic_cable.jpg
http://dev.azz.ru/pic/cables/proel_mic_hank.jpg
 
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post-201024
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Gariver

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For the Chris Venhaus Silver Interconnects...

I used XLO 30 AWG solid copper wire (with purple Teflon insulation). Michael Percy sells this wonderful professional wire for only $0.30/ft! It is the same wire that XLO uses in their top of the line interconnects, and it is 6/9s pure copper.

http://www.percyaudio.com

I bought the Teflon tubing, as Mr Venhaus recommends, but this tubing does not bend much. I mean, I could not use it behind my components due to lack of space. So I used 1/4" polypropylene rope instead from McMaster-Carr (see below).

The Teflon plumbers's tape I used is 3/4" Colored-Coded Military Grade Teflon Tape from McMaster-Carr. The price is $3.50 for 43ft. And the part number for this Teflon tape is 44945K13. You will be asked for a color choice: Red, Yellow and Orange. I picked yellow, and I loved it. It stretches up to 50%. However, if you want maximum stretch of 75%, you then pick the orange tape.

Results? My DIY XLO copper interconnects are fantastic! I get plenty of detail with a touch of warmth. I like them better in my system than the DIY interconnects built with A-M Systems Silver Wire.

My audio system...
I have an Audio Valve RKV amp and the AKG K-1000 headphones. These headphones have a slightly metallic sound to them. So you must use the headphones with with copper interconnects to make the sound smoother. Results? With my DIY XLO copper interconnects, I was able to get rid of the metallic sound completely without losing details. The sound now is 1st class! I really doubt I can improve it. It's perfect right now!

Polypropylene rope....
I recommend that you use 1/4" Samson Supreme, Polypropylene Solid Braided Rope (white). At McMaster Carr that's part #3873T23, and it sells for $13.64 (100 ft). It is perfect for Chris Venhaus Interconnects and headphone cables.

Warning: With some RCAs, such as Neutrik Profi RCAs, you need to buy a smaller diameter polypropylene rope. Otherwise, you will not be able to fit the end of the IC into the RCA. In this case, buy the 3/16" Polypropylene Solid Braided Rope (white). At McMaster that's part # 3873T21, and it sells for$9.30 (100ft).

Why this particular rope? Well, this is a pulley rope. So it does not stretch much. Why is this important? If your rope stretches, it starts to pull apart the Teflon and wire inside. Results? You end up with a messy cable with all sorts of unwanted bumps. Believe me, dealing with this problem can be frustrating and time consuming.

BTW, Mr Venhaus recommended polypropylene rope. Out of dozens of polypropylene ropes, I picked this pulley rope because it will not stretch. Yes, I feel it is the best possible choice. So don't look for substitutes.

http://www.mcmaster.com

Advantages of Polypropylene over Teflon tubing....
--It's cheaper.
--It does a better job of damping.
--Stuffing cotton for damping in Teflon tubing is difficult.
--Polypropylene Rope is very, very flexible.
--Teflon tubing is not flexible!
--And so on and so forth.

Highly recommended....5 Stars!

That's it! That is my way of building the Chris Venhaus Interconnects.
 
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post-201254
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blip

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Wow! Thanks for that mini-review Gariver. It's much appreciated. Right now I'm leaning towards the Venhaus, but I'm hoping to get some feedback on the others before I start ordering.

I did have two questions though:
1) Is there an advantage to using solid copper instead of stranded copper of the same purity?
2) The Polypropylene Solid Braided Rope sounds great! Do you think I might find some at a hardware store? If not do you have any other ideas about where I might find it? (I'm trying to avoid paying S & H. I know, I'm cheap
)

Keep the responses comming guys... I'm really curious about this.
 
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post-201523
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BDA_ABAT

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blip: thanks for starting this thread! I was just about to ask similar questions.

I'm a total n00b... have never held a soldering iron, but am interested in starting. Saw the link for the silvertape IC and was very intrigued. They look easy, cheap and are supposed to sound good, all of which are important for me right now.


I'd appreciate hearing about folks that have tried these to hear their impressions or about other DIY cable options.

N00b Question: Gariver mentioned using Teflon tape as an insulator... and, after reading about the Silver Tape story and the difficulty Greg had with Teflon tubing, sounded like Teflon tape would be the way to go. Thanks Gariver for the info! Has anyone else tried this? Was the Teflon tape wound around the cable or laid flat a la the Silver Tape?

Q: is there a difference for audio vs video interconnects (aside from the number of cables needed)? Could I just build another cable using the same process or would there need to be shielding for a video IC?

Thanks all!

Bruce
 
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post-201579
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Gariver

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Caramba, caramba, caramba!

You guys want to change the recipe! OK! Instead of Percyaudio.com's XLO copper wire (Teflon insulated), you can try Alpha Wire's 30 AWG solid copper wire (Teflon insulated) from Mouser.com. The Alpha wire is half the price of the XLO wire. On the solid vs stranded wire question, I would stick to solid for better transmission of the signal. Also, the solid wire will move less than the stranded inside the interconnect. That's good! Anyway, if you buy an Alpha Wire, they are both the same price. So buy solid!

100 feet of XLO @ $0.30/ft costs $30.00
100 feet of Alpha Wire costs around $15.00 plus change.

Here's the catch: You must e-mail your order to the Tech Dept. over a Mouser.com! Why? That particular wire is not in Mousers catalog. It is a special order item. You will be asked for a color choice from around 10 or so choices. No problem, really! Oh, another point: The minimum order is the 100 ft roll. Here's the email...

tech@mouser.com

Mummy Wrap...
Ah, imagine yourself wrapping the mummy of an Egyptian Pharaon. Wouldn't that be great? Well, that's what you do! You wrap Teflon plumbers tape in a spiral fashion, moving from right to left. After doing some of these wraps, your dexterity increases. You are then able to move the rope with one hand in a circular motion while guiding the tape with your other hand. It is easy! Once you finish, you will notice that the Teflon stays in place as if glued to the rope. The Teflon tape also adds rigidity to the polypropylene rope.

The rope, the rope, the rope...
I strongly suggest that you get a rope that does NOT stretch much. That's precisely why I picked a pulley rope! Pulley ropes are designed to have the least amount of stretch possible. Why do I stress this point? It makes the work easier! Get it? If you use a stretchy rope, the Teflon tape and the copper wire are going to create bumps inside the interconnect. Not good!

Pulley ropes are NOT usually available at your local hardware store or at a Home Depot. It is a specialized item that you must buy at McMaster-Carr. However, it is really worth the effort. It works like a charm!!!

All the changes mentioned in this post, lower the costs of the interconnects! The pulley rope is cheaper than the Teflon tubing. And the Alpha Wire is cheaper than the XLO or the A-M Systems silver wire. So if you want to save money, this is the way to go!

I will do another post on inexpensive Dayton RCAs. At the moment, I strongly suggest that you stay away from the plastic Eichmann Bullet Plugs. For newbies, these are expensive and rather difficult to solder. You can ruin them easily with excessive heat. That happened to me.

That's it! Adios!
 
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post-201605
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BDA_ABAT

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Gariver: thanks for the info!

Sorry, but I'm still a bit confused (as newbs often are)...

You mentioned using Alpha Wire that's Teflon insulated. OK! But then you talked about wrapping the wire in Teflon tape. If it's already insulated with Teflon, why is the Teflon wrapping needed? Same issue with the pulley rope. If the wire is already insulated, why use the rope?

Rope: from your description, it sounds like the rope is hollow. Is this true? Otherwise, how do you get the wire inside the rope?

Interesting, because the Silver Tape ICs mentioned previously uses no Teflon or rope, just sticky tape to keep the wires separate.

Thanks all!

Bruce
 
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post-201648
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Gariver

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You got it wrong!

The rope is not hollow at all! Pulley ropes are NOT hollow! The name of the rope implies this. I mean, it is a Solid Braided Polypropylene Rope. Get it? SOLID! Plus you don't put the wire inside the rope. You put the tape and the wire around the rope.

The 3/4" Military Grade Teflon tape is mummy wrapped in spiral fashion around the polypropylene pulley rope! Then you spiral wind a length of Alpha Wire solid copper Teflon insulated wire on top of the tape. You don't wrap the wire itself. Get it? The stress here goes on the word "around."

Here's the steps...
1. Do a mummy wrap around the rope with Teflon tape.
2. Do a spiral winding with the 1st Alpha wire.
3. Do a 2nd spiral winding with the 2nd Alpha wire. You should do this one in the opposite direction. Results? You get "crosses" of the two Alpha wires.
4. Do a final mummy wrap in spiral fashion on top of your two Alpha wires.

Once you finish Step #4, you will have a piece of rope completely covered with Teflon tape. The Teflon, of course, adds insulation from RFI and EMI, the kind of interference that introduces noise into an interconnect. In this respect, I prefer the Military Grade Teflon tape since it is a little bit thicker and denser than Commercial Grade Teflon Tape.

What's next? You can finish this rope with Techflex. I bought a 100ft roll of expandable sleeving from Action-Electronics.com of California. So that's what I use. In the action-electronics menu, click on sleeving.

http://www.action-electronics.com

Mas y mas preguntas (questions)....
If you have any more questions, ask them. I will try to help you! This DIY project is fairly easy to build. So you will eventually catch on. I am sure that you will be elated with the results. These interconnects are excellent, 1st class interconnects.

Now, for those that want to save money: I will get you an inexpensive but excellent RCA to buy. And I will post the all the info in another post. OK?
 
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post-201661
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mkyy

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Hi Gariver,

Did you heat shrink the ends??

I've thought about DIYing a pair of ICs but somehow not sure if they would work without heat shrinking the two end.

Also, did you tried the Risch's recipe??
 
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post-201666
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Gariver

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Heat-Shrink for the RCAs...
You can use heat shrink on part of the cable and part of the RCA. This will give you some strain relief. Guess what? I do NOT use heat shrink on my interconnects. I feel I don't need it. It is really a personal choice dictated by the RCAs you use.

Important point on the polypropylene rope....
Once you cut the rope, it starts to fray. What to do? Well, you burn the ends with a lighter. Results? The plastic end of the rope begins to melt into one solid piece. This eliminates the tendency to the rope to fray and come apart. If the burning produces a diameter larger than 1/4", you cut off these protusions with pliers. This is important because you want your ends to fit inside the RCA.
 
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Gariver

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Saving $$$....
For those who want to save money on these interconnects, I have an excellent suggestion. Buy packs of Dayton 4 RCAs (two black & two red) for $10.90 from Parts Express. Now that's an audiophile bargain! Please read the specifications slowly. Notice the expensive gold-plating and overall design. These RCAs are nice!

Take a look at these value-loaded, Dayton RCAs...
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/pshow...umber=091-1270

Part number: 091-1270 = $10.90 for 4 RCAs!

Please don't buy and use anything cheaper. It's not worth it. The Dayton RCAs are cheap but of excellent quality and build. You will get in trouble if you get anything cheaper. That's a fact!

Jon Risch's ICs...
At the moment, I am not going to get into Jon Risch's ICs! If I stray too much, I will cause more confusion. As it is, people are having problems understanding these Polypropylene Rope, Teflon tape and Alpha Wire interconnects.

"La lectura se hace despacio para entender."
Translation: Reading should be done slowly to understand.
 
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Gariver

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How about interconnects that you can build fast? Simple! You use microphone cables by Canare or Mogami. These are also quite inexpensive to build, esp. if you use Canare.

Here's the cables to get...
--Canare Star Quad 4 conductor microphone cable L-4E6S. This cable sells for $0.34 per foot over at Markertek.com. So 20 feet will cost you: $6.80. Nice and cheap!
--Mogami 2534, a high-quality, 4-Conductor microphone cable from Japan. This cable sells for $1.15 over at Percyaudio.com. So 20 feet will cost you: $23.00! Hmm...not so cheap!

http://www.markertek.com

http://www.percyaudio.com

Belden also makes a microphone cable, but I don't have the part number at the moment. I've got to look it up!

More info can be found at RJM Audio's site. Richard Murdey has tried both the Canare and the Mogami cables. He likes the Mogami better, and feels the Mogami offers better overall sound. Anyway, take a look...

http://www.geocities.com/rjm003.geo/rjmaudio/int.html

Good luck with this info!
 
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post-201907
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Gariver

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BDA_ABAT:

For some reason, you think that the wires go inside the Teflon tubing or the polypropylene pulley rope. The answer is: No, they don't! Both the wires and the Teflon tape go around the tubing or the rope. Concentrate on the word AROUND! OK?

So what goes inside the Teflon tubing? Cotton balls to dampen sound (see below). Of course, in the case of the polypropylene rope, the rope itself dampens the sound. In this respect, the rope does a better job than the Teflon tubing.

Cotton's drawbacks...
Unlike platics, cotton absorbs water moisture from the air. Now, that is a lousy dielectric. So you get sound damping with it, but you get plenty of RFI and EMI in that cotton. Here in Puerto Rico, our tropical climate is too humid for that solution. That's why I prefer polypropylene rope.

What to do up North? Here's a quote from Chris Venhaus:

"Caulk-backer is a closed-cell polyethylene foam "rope" which is used to "fill" spaces or cracks before you apply caulk to a surface. Home repair centers or Hardware stores usually will carry this item in Autumn and Winter. You will find it in the insulation, caulk, and weatherproofing section of your hardware store."

That's a good substitute for cotton when you use 1/4" Teflon tubing!

Good luck with this info!


 
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