What kind of solder for terminating cables?
Nov 24, 2021 at 7:43 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

Semper HiFi

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I've got a nice headphone cable that I would like to re-terminate. Is there a particular type of solder that anyone would recommend using? I've only worked with typical 60/40 and 63/37 tin/lead rosin-core solder before.
 
Dec 3, 2021 at 12:54 PM Post #2 of 17

cinemakinoeye

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For making audio cables, I would recommend what I've been using for decades: 60/40 (Tin/Lead) rosin core solder, which is pretty much the standard for soldering wires to connectors. I'm not convinced exotic formulations with silver and other materials offer any measurable benefit.

There is a trend in the electronics industry to move away from solder-containing lead since it is poisonous and therefore both a health and environmental concern, however, lead-free solder melts at higher temperatures and thus is harder to work with.
 
Jan 18, 2022 at 3:07 PM Post #4 of 17

gimmeheadroom

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For making audio cables, I would recommend what I've been using for decades: 60/40 (Tin/Lead) rosin core solder, which is pretty much the standard for soldering wires to connectors. I'm not convinced exotic formulations with silver and other materials offer any measurable benefit.

There is a trend in the electronics industry to move away from solder-containing lead since it is poisonous and therefore both a health and environmental concern, however, lead-free solder melts at higher temperatures and thus is harder to work with.
Plus, I've been using lead solder since the 1970s ahahahaha and I never had <hysterical laughter> any effects ahahahahahah from lead ahahhahhh

Seriously, if you're worried about lead use rubber gloves, work with reasonable ventilation, and wash your hands after you take the gloves off.

Lead free solder is brought to us by the same clowns who fly to Brussels in private jets to attend eco-conferences and is just bad for more reasons than just melting temp. Use what works...
 
Jan 22, 2022 at 9:25 PM Post #5 of 17

AudioCats

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Yep 60/40 works well. I like 63/37 a little bit better, and I like Cardas Quadeutectic most of all but it's expensive. Just an FYI, but if you are rewiring a driver, be careful not to leave the heat on it too long or it can damage it.

agree, Cardas Quadeutectic flows well and make good solder joints. I bought a small amount from soniccraft a long time ago and reserve it for connector type works.
 
Jan 22, 2022 at 9:46 PM Post #6 of 17

HiGHFLYiN9

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Glad you like it too Audiocats, and as you mentioned Soniccraft has it: https://www.soniccraft.com/product_info.php/cardas-solder-qe-lb-p-522

I like it enough I get the rolls at quantity discount. It's surprising how fast a 1lb roll can disappear. Cardas also has one of the more pleasant (read less-fussy) lead-free solders to deal with if anyone is looking for one.
 
Jan 27, 2022 at 2:26 AM Post #7 of 17

Semper HiFi

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Thank for the responses, I picked up a very small roll of the Cardas quadeutectic solder. I'm doutful as to whether I would be able to notice any difference from 63/37 but I figured why not! The price difference for how much I need is minimal and honestly it will probably be one of the cheapest things I have ever bought for this hobby.
 
Feb 12, 2022 at 9:04 AM Post #8 of 17

bagwell359

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Lead solder is the easiest to work with and likewise I go way back with it. However since the 90's I use 70/30 with no reisin. I bought some part silver stuff from Percy in the 90's. Harder to work and very toxic. Temp requirements mean you better watch out for pad lift on pc boards.

For speaker cable I use 6-10 GA O2 free wire with pure copper lugs one size bigger than wire and then use polystyrene Q dope to keep O2 out - after of course I use red and blue Cramolin to prep the lugs - or tweek if I want to preserve my Cramolin.

Headphones - I don't mess with internal wire unless there is a problem or I am going to keep can and cable forever. Then I remove the wiring and pin holder being ultra careful to be sure about ID of wiring, solder splash, and no melting the driver with your iron (if you don't have temp control iron do not attempt). Then I cut off the cable pins and any packing and wire directly - your manner of keeping the cable in place is crucial. Will it help? Maybe but the purist in you will agree it's brilliant.
 
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Feb 13, 2022 at 5:12 PM Post #9 of 17

blackgreen15

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Plus, I've been using lead solder since the 1970s ahahahaha and I never had <hysterical laughter> any effects ahahahahahah from lead ahahhahhh

Seriously, if you're worried about lead use rubber gloves, work with reasonable ventilation, and wash your hands after you take the gloves off.

Lead free solder is brought to us by the same clowns who fly to Brussels in private jets to attend eco-conferences and is just bad for more reasons than just melting temp. Use what works...
Honestly, if you are using lead solder you should do more than just minimal precautions. You should use a respirator. It's fine if you want to risk your own nervous system, but it's bad practice and bad advice. I work as a rehab specialist and I have worked with a lot of damaged people who have been exposed to toxins. Bottom line is, you can't really tell what damage is happening until it's way too late. I used to work on cars and motorcycles a lot when I was younger and I had the same attitude towards fumes and solvents, now that I have seen so many people with permanent irreversible damage I wish I had know better. And it varies a lot, I have young guys in there early 50's who are pretty wrecked. And by wrecked I mean like parkinson's symptoms, not being able to walk or control your bladder or swallow without choking on a bad day. Just something to think about. Here is a good reference: https://weldingmastermind.com/can-you-get-lead-poisoning-from-soldering-heres-the-truth/
 
Mar 13, 2022 at 2:22 PM Post #11 of 17

AudioCats

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Honestly, if you are using lead solder you should do more than just minimal precautions. You should use a respirator. It's fine if you want to risk your own nervous system, but it's bad practice and bad advice. I work as a rehab specialist and I have worked with a lot of damaged people who have been exposed to toxins. Bottom line is, you can't really tell what damage is happening until it's way too late. I used to work on cars and motorcycles a lot when I was younger and I had the same attitude towards fumes and solvents, now that I have seen so many people with permanent irreversible damage I wish I had know better. And it varies a lot, I have young guys in there early 50's who are pretty wrecked. And by wrecked I mean like parkinson's symptoms, not being able to walk or control your bladder or swallow without choking on a bad day. Just something to think about. Here is a good reference: https://weldingmastermind.com/can-you-get-lead-poisoning-from-soldering-heres-the-truth/

since you are in that field, what % of the problem you see is caused by lead and what % from the solder fume (and lead just happens to be present at the same time)?

flux fume is a very real problem. I suspect the flux fume from RoHs/lead-free solder might be more toxic than the fume from conventional lead solder. To me, wearing a respirator/N95 mask is a must when doing a lot of soldering.

Lead in metal form is not easily absorbed. I think the RoHs thing is more about the electronics wastes which usually end up in the landfill (and eventually oxidize, turn into some kind of water-soluble salt and leaches into the ground water), it is not there to better protect the electronics worker.
 
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Mar 13, 2022 at 4:34 PM Post #13 of 17

blackgreen15

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since you are in that field, what % of the problem you see is caused by lead and what % from the solder fume (and lead just happens to be present at the same time)?

flux fume is a very real problem. I suspect the flux fume from RoHs/lead-free solder might be more toxic than the fume from conventional lead solder. To me, wearing a respirator/N95 mask is a must when doing a lot of soldering.

Lead in metal form is not easily absorbed. I think the RoHs thing is more about the electronics wastes which usually end up in the landfill (and eventually oxidize, turn into some kind of water-soluble salt and leaches into the ground water), it is not there to better protect the electronics worker.
I was not speaking about specifically just soldering, but occupational exposure to toxins. How any particular person is affected can be a real crapshoot, the human organism is complex. The bottom line is that it typically takes years to decades for the damage to manifest, and by that time it is way too late. The unfortunate thing about that kind of timescale, is that people can shrug and say, "well I do it, my friends/coworkers do it, and I don't notice any problem." One person may start getting nervous system dysfunction in their 40's and one person might get it in there 70's, and one may never get it at all, but if it hits, whenever it hits, you will be very sorry.

As far as what percent of patients I work with are exposed to anything specific, it is often really hard to know. A lot of the patients I work with are former military, and they get exposed to so many things.

If you can't handle some discomfort and inconvenience and wear the recommended protective gear, I would say that you are not respecting your tools. Leaded solder is an excellent tool. So are powerful solvents. Respect them, use them in a professional manner or you may pay a price that is far higher than a little inconvenience.

Or, as I like to say, you can get away with something risky 999 times, and the 1000th time you do it, it may bite you. At that time, you will wish you had never done it once.
 
Mar 19, 2022 at 9:20 AM Post #14 of 17

bibbs

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good soldering requires a good soldering iron, if your doing connectors then a decent fine chisel tip. 60/40 fine wire cored solder. DONT use thick solder wire as it takes more heat to melt and you end up with it all over the place. dont be fooled by audiofool products they are just selling you something that is over priced. its solder it makes NO difference to sound quality. "good" solder applied badly is worse. practice, practice practice, buy some perf board and cheap resistors and practice, practice practice.

spending an extra few bucks on a adjustable iron (i use one of thesehttps://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/272775216145?hash=item3f82ab7c11:g:mbYAAOSwsm1Zy2nP) is better than those straight plug in things.

something else you need is BluTak, its better than those helping had things.
 
Mar 23, 2022 at 9:50 AM Post #15 of 17

dougms3

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I usually use the cardas solder because I had a large roll for the longest time that I haven't gone through but I have noticed a significant difference using mundorf silver gold solder.

IMG_20220305_200934.jpg

I swapped out the driver wires in my Final Audio Sonorous III headphones with 24 gauge mundorf silver gold wire and mundorf silver gold solder with amazing results. The sonic improvements are easily noticeable even to untrained ears. If high quality audio is what you're looking for, its gonna get expensive. High quality things are expensive sometimes, it is what it is. Big difference from cheap wiring and solder designed just to do the bare minimum functionality.

Don't listen to the people who say it doesn't work or they don't hear a difference, meanwhile they've never tried it.
 

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