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January 2000
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Audioholics Anonymous Chapter 6
Interconnects And Speaker Cable Part II
Article By Bill Gaw 

 

  Hello, fellow Audiolics and welcome to another meeting of Audiolics Anonymous,† our support group for the insatiably tweaked. Well, believe it or not, Iíve gone a full two weeks without tweaking a thing on my system. Thatís close to a record for me. Of course, this may not count, as I have been away on vacation during that time, and couldnít have done anything. I did have some wonderfully lascivious thoughts on what I could do to my system if I were there, but I havenít acted on them yet, so I guess they donít count.

To continue where we left off last month, I think you† feel the seething hostility Iíve developed over the years to high end wire manufacturers. While I do thank the pioneers, like Sal Demicco, Bob Fulton, and Ray Kimber, I do think some of the ones in business today are money grubbing swindlers,† for the outlandish prices they charge. And I guarantee you can build wire equaling their best for a few hours of sweat equity and very little money. I know because everyone who has heard my system has marveled at itís sound, and I run several long cables, all of which are home made.

So I went ahead and ordered some Silver Bezel (a thickish silver 1/8Ē wide band) from †Myron Toback, Inc., †New York, Tel (212) 398-8300, and some 3mm wide Teflon spaghetti tubing from† Berghof/America, Tel # 800-544-5004,† or www.berghofusa.com, and made up some interconnects by† running the pos. and neg. legs in separate sheaths of Teflon tubing, and adding some audiophile RCAís and listening. The sound after a couple of days break-in was very good, with great bass and midrange, but a rolled off high end and some smearing of the soundstage.

Then I read an advertisement from somebody named Allen Wright, of Vacuum State Electronics, living in Munich Germany, for a book called† The Super Cable Cookbook. And this book was my road to cable Nirvana. It, and his equally wonderful The Preamp Cookbook, can be purchased from Allen by going to his web page at www.vacuumstate.com, or by e-mailing him at  100240.2562@compuserve.com, or by calling Clark† Johnsen at† (617) 423-4590. I can guarantee you the book is worth every penny.

In the first part, he gives homage to and describes the writing of Dr. Malcolm Hawksford of the University of Essex in England, who was the first to come up with the reasoning behind the use of flat wire for transmission of audio signals. These pages, some of which were published in Audio magazine several years ago, go into theory which is probably best left to the physicists in the audience, but in the next chapter, Allen condenses out the important parts, and constructs the process and reasoning behind his designs. It seems that these were developed several years ago by Allen, and spread among his friends, one of which, Mathew Bond of Tara Labs used some of them in his wire, and Goertz labs, some others. In the final section, he goes into different methods of constructing wire, from the very simple and cheap, which are pretty good, to his final piece de resistance, his SILVER FOILS.

Since the book came out he has changed the way he constructs these from a very labor intensive use of Teflon pipe doping tape, to a much simpler way with heat shrink kynar wrap and† thin Teflon spacers. You can read about his methods in the book, but below I will describe how I have built mine, and why I think mine top Allenís, at least in my system.

 

First, Some Points:
  1. Use only Allenís silver foil. I have tried the silver bezel, and some foils from other dealers (no names mentioned), and have found Allenís to be superior, and not worth changing. I have no idea whether it is the thickness (0.05mm) or the makeup and purity of the silver, that makes the difference, but his is best. And right now there is an added value to buying from Allen, as the D-mark, which he uses as currency from his base in Munich, is down 18% for the year.

  2. Use heat shrink Kynar, not polyolefin or some of the other heat shrinks. The Kynar is very similar to Teflon in itís properties, and is much easier to shrink than Teflon heat-shrink, which requires a very high temperature. The heat shrinking part is very important, as it is necessary to have the foils be consistently the same distance apart along the length of wire, otherwise the capacitance and inductance, and therefore the relative impedance will change along the wire.

  3. Either use Allenís spacers which are cut to match the foils, or if you want to save some money, and are handy, buy a length of Teflon laboratory sheeting form Berghoff, and cut it into 3 to 4 mm. wide strips.

  4. Instead of hand polishing the wire, like Allen, to remove the silver oxide from the surface, get a bottle of †Tarnex silver cleaner from the local hardware store, soak the foil in this, then wash the foil off with a couple of baths of distilled water, followed by wiping dry with paper towels. This shines up the foils beautifully, removes all oxide, and saves hours of manual labor.

  5. Instead of polyurethane to coat the wires, use Ennemoser C-37 Speziallack. This is a varnish which Dieter Ennemoser originally developed for a coating for string instruments, which in some way changes how the objects it coats respond to vibrations. It is being used at present by a couple of speaker developers, and by Vaic in his tubes, and I have found it to take away the glare I have heard from wires coated with synthetic lacquers. It does a great job at preventing the reoxidation of the wires, but does a very poor job of electrical isolation, so donít use the stuff in your home-built AC transformers, unless you put on several coats. It costs an arm and a leg, but is well worth the price, especially when you consider what you are saving on the wire. You could try other organic lacquers, and if you do, let me know the result.

  6. Buy the moderately priced RCAís and the silver solder at Radio Shack, as they are as good as Allenís and less in price, shipping costs, and tariffs. If you must use audiophile grade RCAís, get solid silver ones, do the Tarnex bath and use silver solder. Coat the RCAís working surfaces with Caig R5 or Pro Gold (but not where you are going to solder) for improved signal transfer and decreased oxidation. If you are insane like me, get the male and female REDEL† connectors that Allen recommends and change your chassis connectors, as these are solid gold pins and are good out to beyond the UHF range. Or even hard wire one end of the interconnects to your equipment.

  7. Work in a well lit, warm well ventilated area and take your time. If you make up the wires right the first time, you wonít have to redo them several time like yours truly, and therefore will save a bundle of time, energy and cost.†††

 

SUPPLIES FOR 1 METER PAIR OF INTERCONNECTS

For 1 meter pair of interconnects:

4† meters of 3mm x 0.05mm silver foil

4 meters of 3mm x 0.25mm teflon tape

2 meters of Kynar shrink wrap- 5 mm diameter

C-37 or other lacquer

Tarnex silver polish

3% or better silver solder

4 RCA plugs- preferably the better Radio Shack cheapies
or solid silver audiophile ( the lighter the better).

Caig R-5 or Pro Gold

Distilled water

Thin artistís paint brush

Hot air gun

Soldering iron

 

Process
1. Cut the silver foil, Teflon strips, and Kynar into equal 1 meter lengths.

2. Bathe the foil in the Tarnex solution for 5 minutes to destroy the silver oxide coating.

3. Wash in two baths of distilled water, then wipe dry with paper towel.

4. Hang from ceiling, and immediately coat with one or two layers of lacquer and allow to dry ( anywhere from 1 to 24 hours).

5. Sandwich two strips of Teflon between two strips of silver foil, and run into 1 meter of Kynar shrink wrap, being careful to keep the silver foils from touching each other.

6. Use hot air gun to shrink the Kynar, again being careful to align all four layers of foil and tape so there is no overlap. Go slowly and carefully as this is the most difficult step, especially if you are making 2 or 3 meter interconnects.

7.Trim the silver foils so that positive one is 1-2mm longer than negative, and Teflon tape so that it is as long as the positive silver.

8. Place RCA covers over Kynar, followed by 2 cm. length of unshrunk Kynar.

9. Solder positive silver foil to center post and negative foil to ground post on both RCAís.

10. Shrink pieces of Kynar over exposed Foil, and tighten on the RCA cover.

11. Clean post and ground of each RCA with either Caig R-5 or Pro-Gold .

12. Enjoy!

††††††††††††††† 

Youíll find that there is minimal break-in time with these cables, as there is minimal dielectric, and they will probably not need any shielding in the worst RF environments due to their construction. I have done several 3 meter interconnects using this method, and have found that the longer the interconnect, the more difficult they are to build properly, but anybody should be able to do this with practice. Again, I guarantee that the results will definitely be worth the expense and time. It will probably take about 1 to 2 hours working time per pair of 1 meter interconnects. If you are using single ended amplifiers and very high efficiency horns, you will probably be able to use these as speaker cables, at minimal cost.

 

One Caveat:
These cables will be fairly high capacitance, but should not be a problem if the output impedance of the source is low compared to the load. I have had no problems with them in all of the systems and equipment I have tried. Friends of mine, including Kwami Ofori-Asante and Clark Johnsen, have also tried them in various systems with great effect.

 

SPEAKER CABLES
These are even easier to build. For every meter of length per pair of cables you will need:

1. 4 meters of† 25mm silver foil

2. 4 meters of† 25mm diameter Kynar shrink wrap.

3. Possibly 2 meters of Teflon tape.

 

Follow steps 1 to 4 as for the interconnects. Then just run each foil into the shrink wrap. Do not shrink the wrap, as then you will have an almost perfect air dielectric, using the Kynar only to insulate the foils. I have found this method to be best in my system, but in areas where there is high RF, you may want to run the foils in one Kynar sheath, with a 25 mm sheet of Teflon tape between, then shrink the Kynar. This gives better RF isolation, but in my system I have found it to constrict the sound stage and decrease bass impact. Others have found it to sound better, so experiment. Remember you can tear these apart and redo them, reusing most of the material , and experiment to your hearts content for very little cost. If you come up with some new methods that are easier or sound better, let me know for publication in this page.

 

Tweak Of The Month
My pair of Bottlehead parafeed 2A3 amps have broken in beautifully now, and are giving out glorious sound. I have since tried the original Chinese, and Sovtek, KR, and now the latest VAIC C-37 tubes in the unit, and can say that each has its advantages over the Chinese. The Sovtek have a nice balance of bass to mids, and are almost as cheap, the KRís have a fuller mid range and sweeter highs, but are the most expensive, and the new Vaic tubes at $135 each plus shipping from Bob Ungemach RUngemach@aol.com,† have by far the best of the above, plus a soundstage that is the most lifelike that I have heard on my system. They have the bass of† a 300B, with the mid range and staging of a 45 or 50 tube. And they look both beautifully constructed and almost sensual in their style. Highly recommended. Buy them before the price increases. As they break in Iíll let you know if I change my mind.

Thatís it for this month. Have a beautiful Millennium, and MAY YOUR COMPUTER SURVIVE Y2K.

MEETING ADJOURNED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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