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A speaker cable to rule them all ?


hopkins

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Ever tried copper foil speaker cables ? I have experimented with a couple recently:

 

- DIY model

- Silversmith Audio's Fidelium cables

 

1) DIY copper foil cables

 

They are easy to make yourself - here is a recipe someone gave me. All you need is:

- Kapton tape (https://www.amazon.com/Temperature-Resistant-Polyimide-Sublimation-Soldering/dp/B08T74TCFS/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&keywords=KAPTON+Tape&qid=1618095371&sr=8-14)

- Copper foil, 16AWG will do (https://europe-audio.com/Product.asp?Product_ID=8636)

 

Its a two person job, and makes for a fun project with your partner or children. You'll need to secure one layer of tape face up on a flat surface (ex: a long table), carefully lay two strips of copper foil (with gloves, preferably, to avoid moisture on the foil), and cover them with another layer of tape. The tricky part is to find a way of securing the cable to your speaker and amplifier binding posts. You can cut out the tips in various shapes, solder wire or banana plugs... I did not do a very good job.

 

Coil.jpg.e038537977a20c18667956dddf2b90c1.jpg

 

The results were very convincing: definition is the adjective that comes to mind; lack of distortion as well.  I compared them to several cables, with a few trusted ears:

- Nanotech SP79

- simple Belden 9497

 

Is there a science to flat cables ? It seems so, and the key concepts are "Eddy Current" and "Skin Effect". Don't ask me more.

 

Being "sold" on the idea, and wanting to have something more "robust", I went shopping for similar types of cables and ended up purchasing a pair of Fidelium cables (https://silversmithaudio.com/fidelium-1/). They are not "cheap" (and in fact are half the price of my speakers!), but the reviews available are all excellent, and I thought I would give them a try

 

2) Fidelium cables

 

Fidelium.jpg.fb2806fc06e1cc901c199414f71ca762.jpg

 

The Fidelium cables appear very similar to the DIY assembly above (they are obviously professionally assembled) but there are some key differences:

- the cable is wider and thinner (less than .001 inch think), lowering overall Eddy current losses

- they are not made of copper but of a "very special alloy that has skin effect properties that are over 30 times better than copper or silver" (manufacturer's claim)

- they offer a convenient and secure way of attaching the cables to binding posts

 

I was nervous when I first tried them, never having spend this much on speaker cables, and weary that they would not offer a significant difference over my DIY build. Disappointed, I was not. The sound quality improvement was so obvious it was hard to believe.  I had some experienced "audiophile" friends over to compare them again to the same set of cables and my DIY cables, and they have not stopped talking about them since.

 

The copper wire cables all sounded "coarse" in comparison (with some minor differences between them). There is simply no going back: unparalled accuracy and refinement without sacrificing dynamics. 

 

I won't be trying other cables - so I have no way of knowing whether these are indeed "head and shoulders" above the rest. The provocative title probably got your attention, perhaps some will be curious to try and confirm my very favorable impressions. I was not a big believer in cables before, I still am not - aside for those.

 

For those interested, the DIY route can be further explored with different foils - it offers a great "bang for the buck".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks.  I’ve been interested in SS Fidelum cables for a while.  No idea one could DIY flat cables.

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On 4/23/2021 at 4:53 AM, RC22 said:

Thanks.  I’ve been interested in SS Fidelum cables for a while.  No idea one could DIY flat cables.

 

Yes, its worth trying the DIY before taking it a step further with the Fidelium, as it is really cheap and the "recipe" I gave above gave really good results (in my system and in a friend's as well).

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Did your DIY wires best any notably good or well-respected brands used by you and your friends?  I’ve not been a wire, cable or cord guy, which isn’t to say I am a cable denier.  Conducting a cable shoot-out of any kind just hasn’t been a priority for me yet.   I’ve put things like room acoustics/equipment-placement, adding my first streamer-server, ahead of that for now.

 

I acquire new cable/wires/cord out of necessity and convenience.  A friend of mine DIY’s all manner of cables for years.  Their performance has spread thru word of mouth.  Many who, unlike me, are way into cables/wires have sold their high dollar items after buying his products at a fraction of the price.  

 

I needed longer wires after moving my gear around, so about 2 years ago I bought speaker wires from him and they are better than the ones I’d used for over 25 years.  I only put the old ones back in to see if I could discern a difference—because I was curious.  The wires are an updated version of Western Electric wire that so many love.  His wires use Duelund tinned copper in oil-impregnated cotton, 12 or 16 ga.  Many rave about these wires and Jeff Day wrote extensively about his experience with them—for anyone wishing to look into them.   I also have some brand new very cheap wires given to me by a friend who does AV installations.  The kind of unbranded wire the cable naysayers absolutely insist sounds as good as high dollar “snake oil” wires.  Lol.  I’ve not bothered to try them yet, but very well may.  I’ve purchase two power cords and a USB (streamer) from my DIY friend because he makes them for me barley over his cost of materials—so why not?  That’s the convenience part.  If I had to spend hundreds on each item, I would have conducted said “shootout” to make sure my money was being well spent.

 

Sorry so long for the set up, but once again I need longer wires.  So, instead of just getting longer Duelunds, I am going to do a bit of a cable shootout.  And the long set up was meant to relay that my DIY (Duelund) are thought be be no slouch at all.  So, if DIY flat ribbons best them, that will be quite something and a very good outcome.   My plan is to bring in one or two commercial brands that offer returns.  So the shoot out:  1-2 branded wires, my duelunds, cheap non-brand wires from AV friend and maybe DIY ribbon from this thead. One of the brands, could be Fidelums.  I definitely intend to bring in Audio Envy.

 

If possible, it would be useful to know how good the DIY ribbons are before making them.  If you can speak to that, I’d appreciate it.

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In my system they bested by a large margin the Nanotech cables, which are quite reputable. In my friend's system, I don't know what cables he was using, but they were quite good. Otherwise, I cannot add more than what I said above concerning the effect it produces.

 

The DIY cables are more challenging to make if you have long lengths. You may want to give it a try with a small length, if you can place your amp not too far from your speakers.

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Thanks for the warning.  I need a good 12-14’ for my right speaker.  My integrated amp and Streamers are left of my seat.  Putting gear near speakers to test DIY ribbon wire would inject at least two unwanted variables:  possible gear vibration in the new spot and inability to use my 10ga dedicated lines with porter-ports duplex outlets.  In case you are wondering, moving my gear from between my speakers to the left of my seat was very audible.  Got that tip from Jim Smith’s book Get Better Sound.  Putting my head where the gear had been to give a listen,  the muddled heavy boomy LF energy was ridiculous.  And the gear had been siting there.

 

Again, thanks.

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