In praise of tinned-copper speaker wire


#1

I was perusing positive-feedback.com the other day and I happened on an article written by Jeff Day in which he extolled the use of classic tinned-copper wire for speakers and interconnects. Apparently guitarists have started a trend whereby they are re-wiring their modern guitars with old Western Electric tinned-copper wire with cotton insulation that were present in vintage guitars in order to achieve the “classic tone” of those old guitars. And that has led to further use of the old WE wire for speakers and interconnects, to great success and enthusiasm by certain audiophiles. The problem is, that Western Electric wire is no longer made so it’s getting harder and harder to come by. So Jeff Day convinced a friend of his to reproduce this wire not only in 16GA but also 12, 20 and 24GA. The company that does this is called Duelund Coherent Audio and distribute it through partsconnexion.com. They’re from Denmark, I think.

After reading his article, I was intrigued as I’ve been meaning to replace my old Audioquest basic 16GA wire for quite some time, but haven’t gotten around to replacing it, mainly due to the fact that I was afraid of the expense of approximately 27 (!) meters of wire for my front speakers. You see, my system is in the back of my room and speakers, obviously, in the front with the wire fished through the walls. So I was left replacing my mediocre at best Audioquest wire with 27 meters of, well, something expensive. The rest of my system is mainly rigged with Nordost and the thought of running 27 meters of Nordost gives me the chills. We’re talkin at least $10k and that’s not even the good stuff! So after Jeff talked so glowingly about the Duelund wire, I said why not give it a try? It’s only $10 per meter per strand (the wire is not paired).

So I went ahead and ordered the wire and it arrived today, which was pretty quick. I hadn’t realized that the wire isn’t paired so I really now only had 13.5 m of paired wire! As it turns out, I was lucky in that I couldn’t easily run the new wire on the back of the old wire by just pulling it through the wall. There was too much friction because of the other wires going through the walls and joists and such. So I just ran the wire under my carpet and actually had enough after pairing up the wire for both speakers. Whew!

And I must say I’m pretty floored at the sound of the tinned-copper wire. Everything Jeff said was true. They are very transparent and resolving with incredible detail, especially with percussion, without being tilted to treble. The bass is full and well defined and there is a better defined soundstage compared to my old speaker wire. Vocals and acoustic instruments are rich and clear. And that is without any break in at all. I can only imagine how they will sound after they finish breaking in. It is true that this wire sounds far superior to very, very basic speaker wire, so it’s not surprising that almost any wire will sound better. All I can say is that I read comment after comment on Jeff’s blog detailing how wonderful this speaker wire is, even compared to incredibly expensive speaker wire. So there really must be something to this, I think. The cool thing is that Jeff details on his blog (jeffsplace.me) about how to make you own interconnects, USB cables, and even headshell wires using the Duelund tinned copper wire. Think about it; you could make a shielded high quality interconnect for less than $20. I don’t know about you, but I have thousands of dollars in interconnects in my system. Maybe it’s time to make my own and sell off the high dollar ones. I’m going to try the headshell wires, for sure. Time to fire up my soldering iron!

So if you have been thinking about getting new speaker wire (or interconnects, etc), give this a shot. It’s super cheap, relatively speaking, so there really isn’t much to lose. I figured I may have saved myself at least $5k by going this route, maybe more. I’d love to hear anyone’s experiences.

Adam


#2

Fun!


#3

Very interesting Adam. What gauge did you use? Did you twist the pairs or space them apart?


#4

I used the 16GA. I marked one with painters’ tape (all I had) and used small zip ties every 4 feet or so to keep them together. I was a little worried that doing that might cause electrical interference, given the cotton insulation, but I didn’t notice anything like that. I really can’t get over how good they sounded. I’m tempted to try the headshell/tonearm wires with Duelund DCA 26GA next. I was going to spring for a $300 set of Cardas silver headshell/tonearm wires, but if I can do this for less than $30, why not try it and see what happens? Here’s a link on the headshell wires:

http://jeffsplace.me/wordpress/?p=11901

EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention is that the cotton insulator is soaked very lightly in oil which you can feel a little bit. I did stain my pants with the oil when installing the wires, but not badly. Those with light carpets or clothes might want to beware when handling these wires.


#5

It would be well worth trying the headshell wires given your success so far.

If reasonable, I would try keeping the + and - wires separated an inch or so for the entire run between amp and speaker. Given the light insulation, I would be interested in trying keeping them of the floor as well but this gets to be a lot of work.


#6

I share your concerns re: the thin shielding, Elk. Unfortunately, separating them would be pretty unwieldy, no to mention confusing! And since I haven’t noticed anything like EMI/RFI at all, I won’t worry about it. For now, anyway. Maybe an electrical engineering type can chime in with regards to how much these speaker wires could interfere with each other as I have them zip tied together?

I can only imagine how my wife would react if I suspended the wires in little wooden bridges across the floor of my media room. She already thinks I’m crazy as it is! surprised-014_gif


#7

I’ve seen it done. :slight_smile:

I have also seen bare wire run as interconnects and speaker wire, where the wires are placed an inch apart and placed between two strips of lightweight transparent tape. It looks odd but those with this setup love it.


#8

This approach reminded me of the Speltz anti-cables. As I recall, they recommended either separating them as ELK suggests or putting a slow twist in the wires.


#9

Long story short, I made a set of 3 meter 20 gauge Duelund speaker cables for $81.00.

For the mid and tweeter horns on my Duo’s, just a single run.

Phenomenal sounding!

Can’t comment on deep bass performance, but vocals are incredibly detailed and the highs are airy and extended.

Wires are just laying as they landed for now, no twists or deliberate separation.

When I have time I will space them apart with popsicle sticks and rubber bands, too busy listening right now.

I did condition the wire for 24 hours prior to connection on a AudioDHarma cooker, the only settling in that I noticed lasted about 4 hours and was more than likely the terminations settling in.


#10

Cool!

Without pictures, it did not happen. :slight_smile:

Which Duelund cable did you use? The tin-plated or non?

How did you terminate them? And why not just leave them bare?


#11

^ Yes, more details and pictures, please!


#12

I used the 20 gauge tin plated.

Sorry for the incorrect wording, connections not terminations!

They are connected bare.

I will remark that when you tighten down a binding post onto 20 gauge stranded wire, it just smashes and disappears.

Pictures?

I have a fear of loose metadata.


#13

I was interested in pictures as I wanted to see how you terminated them. Since they are not terminated, nothing to see here. :slight_smile:

(You can easily edit and remove EXIF data from pictures, just as you can edit and remove metadata from a FLAC file. Windows has an EXIF editor/remover built in. Right click and choose properties. There are also free stand-alone programs.)


#14

For what it is worth, in my own reading the other day on the virtues of classic tinned copper wire for connecting speakers to amplifiers, I came across one fellow who did a comparison of the 16-gauge Duelund product with two fairly-similarly-priced tinned-copper-wire products from Belden, the 9497 and its Japanese version, Belden Studio 497 MkII. He claimed the Japanese wire when untwisted outshone both the Duelund and the untwisted American Belden wires in his listening tests.


#15

As an experiment, I’m planning on building my own shielded interconnects using Duelund 20GA tinned copper wire. The materials are arriving soon so I should give it a go in a little bit. This should be interesting as I have little soldering experience. I think I can figure it out, tough! I’ll keep you guys posted on my findings.


#16

Soldering and building cable is fun. There are great easily fund little how-to solder videos/descriptions. I suggest practicing a bit on some extra wire, etc. just to get a feel for it.

Let us know how it goes and what you think of the cable once you get it built.


#17

I will. I’m really looking forward to it. Here’s a specific description by Jeff Day including what you need to build one with the Duelund wire.

http://jeffsplace.me/wordpress/?p=11158


#18

Nice instructions.

I would first build a non-shielded pair, both for relative ease of construction and because I have found shielding can alter the sound


#19

Very true. I am planning on building one of each. One for my TT and another set for my DS DAC. I wish I had the FryBaby to burn the cables in, though. Really don’t want to spend another $225 or whatever it costs. Supplies will hopefully arrive today!


#20

Well I built the shielded interconnects with Duelund DCA20GA wire and they work! I gotta tell you that working with silver solder isn’t easy. It absolutely doesn’t want to stick to the wire I’m soldering it to. Some of it is definitely due to poor technique, I’m sure. But hey, passable sound is coming through them, so it’s a win! The only problem is that the bass is pretty lean and they sound a little congested. I haven’t burned them in yet, so there’s still hope. I have actually ordered a FryBaby2 from Hagerman labs and will burn them and give another listen soon. Will keep you all posted.