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August 2005
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Audiolics Anonymous Chapter 70
Home-Built Interconnects
Article By Dr. Bill Gaw
Click here to e-mail reviewer

 

  Welcome to another meeting of the Audiolics Anonymous Society. It's the middle of July as I write this, and one of the two weeks each summer that it's hot in New Hampshire. Even with whole house air conditioning, with six tube and multiple solid-state amplifiers, the media room still get warmer than the comfort level, which certainly does cut down on listening time.

I'm still receiving mail about my review of the Golden Sound GSIC chip, discussed in AA Chapter 67, the most interesting reproduced below:

Mr. Gaw, My name is Kent Phillips, of Yuuki, Ibaraki, Japan. I read your May article online in which you gave a favorable review of the GSIC. I am an incredibly skeptical person when it comes to these things, and am a huge supporter of the James Randi Foundation and his attempts to debunk frauds and pseudoscience. In fact, he offers a prize of US$1,000,000 to any person that displays abilities which cannot be explained through rational, terrestrial means. Detecting the difference in discs treated with the GSIC and those which are not qualifies. In two subsequent tests taking less than one day each, if you can accurately discern between identical discs treated and untreated, you would be given the million dollars. I am not affiliated with the organization other than reading its reports and message boards, and I would gain nothing by you paying any attention to this challenge. I just stumbled upon your article as I was searching for impartial reviews of the GSIC and was intrigued to see if you could do it. You don't need to explain why or how the device works or contact the manufacturer, and you can do the test using the location and equipment you prefer. All you need to do is sit, listen, and complete a survey in which your correct answers net you a million dollars. Here is more information on the challenge: Here is a message board thread highlighting a previous challenger who did not test due to his own vanity but can show an idea of how the test would take place: And here is the thread of someone else about to take the challenge. Should this person fail (the test is in less than 2 weeks) or not test, you would be able to do so: If you decide to look into this.

I wish you the best. -

Kent,

P.S. I see that you are a physician in OB/Gyn, and my mother has been a nurse in that field for many, many years. In fact, I was adopted, and when I was delivered the first person to see me and hold me was my own adoptive mother. :) I grew up with and still have a great respect for the kind people I have been privileged to meet in your field.

 

I found this letter most interesting for several reasons:

1. It was flattering that this column reaches all the way to Japan. The web is truly amazing as a means of spreading information worldwide.

2. Mr. Randi was mentioned when discussing another letter in last month's column.

3. Deciding to keep the pot boiling, I submitted this letter to an audiophile discussion board, figuring a small discussion would occur, and the board was inundated with replies. Most were, as usual, the skeptics who, while never having used the product, state over and over it can't possibly work, and deride anybody who tries it as gullible. Then there were the ones who've tried it and found, like me, to find a significant difference in their digital playback. Finally, there were several individuals who have either attempted to or done previous debunking exercises with Mr. Randi, none of which have had much success in being able to work with him towards obtaining the prize.

 

Anyway, I'm still happy with the results I've obtained from the chip and will continue to use it until I'm proven to be as gullible as the naysayers claim I am.

 

Homemade Interconnects
Vacuum State Electronics SUper Cable CookbookSeveral years ago, I got fed up with paying for the latest atrociously expensive brand of interconnect, and after much experimentation settled on making my own out of silver foil and plastic tape supplied by Alan Wright of Vacuum State Electronics, formerly of Munich, Germany, and now doing business out of Schaffhausen, Switzerland. This was written up in one of my first articles, AA Chapter 5 & 6, and you should review them first before continuing. Since those article, he did make a change in production of the wire, using single and double sided tape for insulation and to keep the foils as tightly bound together as possible, and his method is very well described at his web site.

Alan based his design on work done by Dr. Hawksford, of Oxford, the principles of which are spelled out in Alan's Super Cable Cookbook. While not cheap at $125 for the first meter pair, and $50 for each extra meter, they still beat the pants off of anything going for several times the price and allow you to do the work yourself, which is half the fun.

Interestingly, Alan found that there were still people out there who thought that that was an exorbitant price, but the cost of the silver foil to Alan precluded him from charging less. Thus, he decided to experiment with very fine gauge (29) high purity silver wire, continuing to use inexpensive plastic tape and RCA's, and sent some to me for a trial.

Interestingly, as I was building a 3 meter length of balanced interconnect, I found an auction on Audiogon from a Don Hillebrand from Largo, Florida ,who was also offering 29 gauge silver wire interconnect kits. So I ordered a 3 meter balanced kit.

Alan believes in making the wire or foils approximate as close and as tightly as possible so that there is absolutely no movement between the conductors, and thus uses single and double-sided plastic tape as the insulator. Don, on the other hand. uses thin walled Teflon tubing slight lower in gauge and in a braided pattern, ala Kimber. Both supply all of the essentials, with Alan including the wire, tape and RCA's, and Don, the wire, Teflon tubing and Silver Solder of his choosing.

Building a set of one meter interconnects should take no more than an hour with both kits and is very easy, but pushing out to 3 meters with each had some problems. With Alan's, it takes some patience to make sure that the wires run perfectly parallel and as close as possible to keep the impedance and capacitance the same along the entire length. With Don's, it becomes a pain in the butt trying to feed the wire through the Teflon tubing without kinking it. Both can be accomplished with time and effort and patience. While Alan recommends using his double-sided tape in the center, I found that single sided worked well for me.

As Alan's foils have been in my system for five years now, one can guess that they've kept me very happy with their sonic attributes. They are very clean, impervious to RFI due to their construction even though they don't have any shielding, and allow all of the sound through. Their only weakness is a slight tendency toward brightness, especially with sources that are bright to begin with.

Alan's new wire is as easy to build as the foils, taking about an hour per meter interconnect, and slightly more time for longer lengths. While the wire itself is very fine and easily breaks, when embedded in the tape, the interconnect is very strong. The RCA's are very light, per Alan's feeling that the large expensive plated heavy connectors can only detract from the sound. I use his Redel plugs between my preamp and amplifiers, which actually spec out to the gigahertz band.

Don's interconnects take about two hours to build due to the difficulty of feeding the wire through the tight Teflon tubing, and the necessity for braiding the wire. As I've never done braiding, my wife volunteered and did an excellent job. Break-in was very quick or non-existent with both, as there was no difference in sound over my several days of testing, probably secondary to the minimal capacitance of their minimal insulation.

Sound-wise, the two are no match for the foils, but come close. Alan's wire is a little less open than his foils, not quite letting as much background information through. On the other hand they do not have that slight tendency towards brightness of the foils.
Don's on the other hand, while also not letting through as much information, do have a upper frequency peakiness similar to the foils. Both are very good at the deep bass, but both do lose some feel for the hall sound carried by the very low volume cues in the recording.

Don's wire is significantly less expensive, costing me only $50 for a three meter balanced pair plus the cost of the RCA's. I am unsure as to Alan's final price for the wire kits as he had not decided on it the last time I emailed him. After completing the evaluation, and thinking that my digital reproduction from my modified Denon 5900 was also a little peaky with Alan's foil interconnects, I rebuilt his wire interconnects into 3 pairs of 1 meter each to run between the Denon and my EAD Theatermaster's direct six channel inputs. That did the trick. The peakiness was gone, but for some reason the 1-meter interconnects let through all of the information that the foils had. I have no idea whether 3 meters was just too long for the very thin 29 gauge wire and that's what decreased their openness or not, but they sure sang in the one meter configuration.

So go ahead and build your own interconnects. Any of these products will built the majority of high end more expensive pre-builts out there and you'll get the double satisfaction of having constructed them yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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