Hi @rower30. On one of the other audio enthusiast sites, there’s been an interesting discussion about cables, value, how many manufacturers makes how much of their own cables, so on and so forth. The discussion veered briefly to construction architecture, and a remark was made that cables built around air core construction - with naked conductors surrounded by an air core (however that winds up getting done) is a bad idea. The claim is that this type of construction will eventually cause the conductor to degrade - corrode, oxidize, fill-in-the-blank - and that it is just a bad idea regardless as to whether this creates a better sounding cable. Wondering if you had any observations on such.
If you use air core, sometimes called semi-solid core, cables the problems from oxidation are not too common if at all (I’ve never seen it in proper use). I can take an RG8 50-ohm cable that uses a semi-solid insulation and has been outside for 40 years, strip it back and the wire is as bright as the day it was made.
Water can’t diffuse in quantity through dense HDPE or FEP at ambient temperatures and pressure. In a burial situation water pressure and the changing atmospheric pressure can pull water into a cable, but this doesn’t happen above ground with equal air pressure on the cable ends.
To mitgate burial cable water ingress, the core and braid is gel filled with a polar/non-polar barrier for water. It may get in, but it can’t get against the conductors.
Above ground and outside 99% of the time if we see problems it is from the CONNECTOR leaking. Don’t use poor quality connectors outside!
Above ground air core cables have been used for a very long time with no ill effects at all when used right. Highest speed RF application semi-solid RG62 A/U digit cable performs perfectly even after decades of installed use. If a change in performance is to be experienced the skin effect properties of RF will give it away with higher attenuation first. Outside of submersion you’re good for decades with air-core cables.
I always learn something from your posts.
Thanks Galen. Like Elk, I always find great info from your replies. So is it safe to say that claims regarding degradation of audio cables built with bare conductors in an air core - are essentially much hand waving about nothing?
The connector is the weakest link, not the cable. Outside of cable that has been submerged, I saw few examples during my career of conductor oxidation that wasn’t attributed to chemical attack or the like.
Here is an easy way to verify all this. We do have a major maker, Nordost, that uses a thread suspended silver plated and polished wire in a clear fluorocoploymer plastic and in parallel arrangement.
Look for any signs of surface ozidation, silver is far, far worse than bare copper I might add. What do we find? Shiny silver plated copper over and over again for the same reasons I mention above, water vapor molecules can’t diffuse through high density plastics at room temps and pressure. The “holes” in the plastic are too tight for water to fit through.
Sure, if I stick one end of the cable in a water underground, and the other end above ground to change the temp and pressure water will enter like water sucked into a straw over many severe temperature cycles. But just try not to do that!
Water migration isn’t the same as diffusion through the plastic, though. Even SOLID core cables can migrate water down the wire/insulation interface under the right circumstance, and it is not diffusion, it is migration with temperature and pressure. Manufacturers can coat the conductor with a special coating to prevent this corrosion from happening and to keep water away from the copper.
Users of this cable can expect to see a LONG service life. Decade after decade. The use of an air dielectric is not a problem at all. The benefits designed in by the manufacturer will stay for long time and work as intended.
This is a bit of a bummer, Galen - as ever since I heard Electric Ladyland, I’ve wanted to live underwater…
Except for 1 little detail…Nordost speaker cables are warranted
for life…the likelihood of this surface oxidation in a typical
environment controlled atmosphere is very very small.
And again should this occur Nordost speaker cables and
interconnects are warranted for life to the original owner.
Also Nordost does periodically offer trade up cable program.
Any other cable manufacturer offer these values?
Any other cable manufacturer offer these values? - Yes.
Does Iconoclast offer lifetime warranty or a trade up program ?
Yes, we have a trade-up program, and yes cables are warrantied for workmanship defects. I can’t say this is unusual at all. Most cable’s should work for decades used properly. Cheaper plastics do have a “life” if under UV light for long periods as this degrades cheaper plastics that get hard and brittle.
ICONOCLAST is all FEP so UV life is a LONG, LONG time as is any cable that uses this material.
Lifetime warranty…? With replacement as needed for life of the
product with original owner ?
Uv damage in a controlled music room environment?
Yes, UV light from many light sources. But less so inside. Pigments can also be molecularly unzipped with specific types of light from LED, fluorescent and the sun. It’s a matter of time with exposure.
We cover the original owner for any workmanship problems that might ever arise. This is unlikely as they are so well tested. Most repairs are courtesy repairs from mis-use. We’re pretty lenient of the issue doesn’t keep popping up over and over. This is pretty typical of the market. We even re-terminate for a nominal fee, but remember…we can’t make the cables longer again!
Thanks for sharing and teaching as we go along. It is appreciated!!