Silver-plated inductors & transformer windings

To the few who have (perhaps even comparatively) heard the impact that silver-plating of inductors or transformer windings have on system performance, I’d like to hear your comments.
Common sense tells me that this should be a thing.

I think you’re right…!

I am afraid that my common sense just asks me what difference it is supposed to make, and if so why?


I don’t know if this means anything in real world listening but this is the difference in conductivity & resistance of the two:

The conductivity of silver clocks in at 63 x 10^6 siemens/meter, roughly seven percent higher than the conductivity of annealed copper, which stands at 59 x 10^6 siemens/meter. Measured in ohms, the difference in the resistance (the amount of electricity lost as a current travels from point A to point B through a material) of 24-gauge, 1000-foot-long silver and copper wire is minor. The resistance of the copper wire is a mere 2 ohms higher.


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Well, silver being the best metallic conductor, even when oxidized. I can’t agree with the statement about silver being “bright” or such things, more like “less blunt” than other metals because it has the least resistance.
Having silver plated transformer windings would obviously lower the impedance, right? That’s what we want, right?
As for inductors, well, it’d decrease their power losses, wouldn’t it? There is a statement somewhere on this forum where someone recoiled their crossovers’ inductors with silver plated wire and gained substantial audible benefit. Seems very natural.

I think silver should be used everywhere where it’s reasonable because it’s simply the best metallic conductor and there’s no going around that. If someone adds silver to their system and finds “brightness” that’s just the high frequencies having an easier path to travel and I’d wager that most audio components / systems are originally designed and evaluated with copper at the factory, obviously the tonal balance will shift if the consumer adds silver.

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The higher frequencies ride more toward the surface of the conductors and the lower frequencies travel deeper in the conductors so silver has less resistance and the more higher frequencies gets through with less resistance when the surface is silver. Therefore the balance is tilted upwards and the sound should sound clearer and brighter from a silver plated wire. With a pure silver wire, all the frequencies have the same resistance and the the sound should be more balanced.

Yep, it’s just that pure silver wire is really, really expensive. What might a hefty 1kVA pure silver toroidal transformer cost…
A silver plating of appropriate thickness takes pretty good care of skin effect resistance for the very highest frequencies that would suffer most, no? I haven’t actually even seen that many cables available as pure silver, I guess it would be terribly costly… I really only recall some pure silver headphone cables.

WireWorld uses Pure 7N solid silver in their top cables. Their Silver series which is really affordable uses 7N silver clad copper which is a very good performer. I’ve tried both and no doubt, the top series is world class sound, but the silver series is also very good.

While it is well known that silver is a great conductor, the “oxidation” part of your statement is actually not true. What happens to the silver in our cables that turns black is not technically oxidation. It is tarnish caused by the silver reacting with hydrogen sulfide in the air. The chemical compound formed, which is responsible for the dark grayish or black color, is Silver Sulfide and it is NOT a good conductor. The compound Silver Oxide is a great conductor, but that is generally not what is found on our silver cables that have discolored due to tarnishing.

Never found that on the ones i use(d), in my experience pure silver cables can only get better over time. Convinced of the benefits of synergy the signal between all components in my chain from etherregen to speakers now travels exclusively through pure silver/silver-gold.

Pure silver does not tarnish and does not rust. Alloys of silver, which does account for a good amount of “silver” in the industry, does. If pure enough, and protected from “air,” silver cabling will not tarnish.

If I’m wrong, can someone please correct me?

How thick is that silver layer, what is the copper quality on which it is plated, what is the surface roughness of the copper on which it is plated?

Even if that is all well figured out:
With transformers, the winding insulation, art of stacking the windings and winding configuration and the properties of the ferromagnetic core have a much bigger impact on SQ.

For me it is more critical that a tube amplifier manufacturer has the transformer production under its own control, than the silver plating on stock transformers.

I know of Octave Audio and Luxman that they produce their own transformers / inductors.
If these companies would see a benefit of silver plating, I’d trust their judgement. They are the only ones that can truly tell that the difference in SQ comes from the silver plating or not.

Silver looks good in the brochure and that’s it. For me the, least of the decision makers.

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Audio Note make virtually all of their components, many of which they sell. They’ve made a thing about different grades and the use of silver and all sorts of metals. Their price list lists 75 pages of products, my favourite being 100m of Sogon speaker cable for about $350,000 - unterminated.

Will make a nice fence. And now the house?!

I don’t believe it would make any difference to the impedance of the transformer.

EAR Yoshino wind all their own transformers. Billingham (now Music First) are also someone to look at, they do high precision transformer volume controls and are very pretty and very good by all accounts. My valve amps had split core transformers made by E A Sowter Ltd. Very good, but still wooly bass. Sowter was run by only two generations from 1935 until this February when Brian Sowter resigned at the age of 80. He’s apparently moved on to another business to do with car chargers. No rest for the wicked.

A Music First unit - silver everything

Very nice silver step-ups for about $6,000

Alright, I’ll have to believe that.
Would it make any difference? I mean, surely it would but what?

Steven I think you are right that for a ultra low voltage cartridges every micro Ohm counts as it ideally acts as a current source and they need lowest impedance possible.

The big difference in SQ there is determined by the primary winding and wiring of the step up transformer.

The for the secondary side of the transformer I think it is a bit academic and the concept is just consequently implemented.

Till date it puzzles me why there are manufacturers who treat the output signal of the phono stage which utmost care like providing XLR balanced outputs but then leave the vulnerable (balanced) input exposed (unscreened) without XLR, utilizing a separated ground wire between the chassis of turntable and phono stage.

Thorens, TEAC, Yamaha high end turntables provide standard balanced XLR connections for the typically balanced (floating from ground) cartridge output. Linn, and other tonearm / turntable manufacturers like Transrotor, ClearAudio provide balanced phono cables.

Yamaha, TEAC, Linn, Phasemation, Transrotor, Clear Audio, Octave Audio provide phono stages with balanced input.

What has this to do with the subject?

Silver picks as much noise up as copper, and I am convinced that a balanced, screened XLR input provides more value. It is better to avoid noise then to filter it out.
Prerequisite is obviously that the turntable and phono stage them self don’t generate noise internally.

It is worth looking at Origin Live’s website. There is a lot of interesting stuff. In their assessment (Mark Baker) the single most important element in a vinyl system is the phono stage, even more than speakers. It is arguable.

I use one of their tonearms. It is silver wired, with the internal and external (shielded unbalanced) cables joined with a silver/gold solder inside the arm mount.

Vinyl is an endless pit of money and a Music First SUT would be nice, but so would a Brinkmann system.

My Devialet has an MM/MC phono stage inside. I use the MM for one arm , but for the other I now have an external phono amp, the EAR Phonobox. It only cost me £1,000, dismounted from £1,200, compared to £2,500 for the Stellar Phono. It might be considered cheap given my turntable rig, but it’s dead quiet and sounds lovely. There are no loading switches, but it is at the correct levels for my cartridge. It has 71dB of gain. There is no need for a silver version, it sounds fabulous.