Something interesting about gold

From: Solving a nanotechnology riddle – what makes gold atoms stick together

“The electrons in gold travel so fast they become heavy, an effect more important for gold than other atoms … so gold has the appearance of a metal, but with a strange colour and many more properties like those of non-metals such as sulphur.”

Gold apparently, in itself has the property that its atoms have a self-adhesive property that makes it stick covalently to itself with very little energy required. I don’t think this property being attributed to nanoparticles especially has limitation to how this could be used to easily avoid solder with gold conductor used. I’d wager gold is the easiest metal to cold-weld to itself.
Actually this has been utilized in a pure gold interconnect, Teresonic if I remember correctly. They actually explicitly mentioned that they have no clue why their gold interconnect sounds (according to them, and yes, a reviewer) much better than their copper interconnects with the same geometry. They hypothesized it could be the total lack of oxidation and no solder, a straight wire from end to end, connectors included.
What Teresonic missed in their hypothesis was what reads in that phys.org article: “The electrons in gold travel so fast they become heavy, an effect more important for gold than other atoms”
Now, this concept is certainly not readily understood just by reading that sentence but it does sound promising considering gold as a conductor in cabling. And the promise has been fulfilled, as mentioned - though the Teresonic interconnects are certainly costly at 3k$. There are other manufacturers of (revered) gold interconnects for cheaper but I’m not sure if they’re such “single-piece” cables.

It might be that gold isn’t necessarily ideal for speaker cabling, at least alone, but it has been used in hybrid speaker cables by Stealth Audio. I’ve only every read good things about Stealth. They actually offer even quite affordable products with gold, though their speaker cables are again, of course costly and due to meticulously complex design too.

So… I know this will cause dispute, since there is general confusion about resistivity. I’ll just quote: resistivity is NOT a problem with good design (unless we’re talking mains transmission). L and C are problematic.
Again, I’m not implying gold is a magic material but it IS a certainly peculiar one that should be given more consideration and attention in the audio world, not just as a plating.
Interestingly even as plating, as thin as it is, even in power cords (!) people are reporting differences in sound compared to, say, rhodium. Why might this be? A plating’s apparent purpose would be just to prevent oxidation and one’d think the base metal made all the difference, but no, there’s more to it.
Don’t know what to say about that. Might be some quantum trickery!

Let’s talk about Aurum, seriously.

You just got your Iconoclast TPCs …and now the gold?

Ay ya yaaay…you got it bad … :grin: :grin: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Best wishes

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I can’t understand this obcession with gold. I guess it is like those who sit on gold toilets. In reality what can possibly be the benefit?

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I’d buy a pair of cables made of spaghetti noodles if they gave me the sound I wanted. But to intentionally look toward one of the heaviest, softest, most expensive substances a cable can be made from? I’m likely to refrain.

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I have yet to be convinced of any real sonic difference between good old OFE copper and rhodium plating. Except for cable manufacturers charging more for rhodium connectors compared to good quality copper connectors. That’s where my head is at. One of my personal favorites, Analysis Plus, offers gold plated variants of their solo crystal copper and silver plated cables at an enormous upper in price. Not biting. Not interested in paying extra for silver plate, either. My experience is very high quality copper (e.g. ohno) in a properly designed cable delivers the goods without the premium in cost for silver or gold plate.

Don’t get me wrong. If solid gold cables opened the gates of heaven into my listening room and I was both able to and comfortable with spending the money for them, I absolutely would. As it stands, however, my system is nowhere near that resolving or relative in cost. My intention is not to knock someone else, but there must be another metal (maybe even more expensive than gold - I’m no cable denier) that makes a better cable for high fidelity home audio. I’m just opposed to something that is supposed to be functional, celebrated simply because it was made of something that made it less so. Get it? If a solid gold steering wheel was superior to one made of plastic or wood-wrapped metal, I’d say “go for it.” But perhaps asking why is the real crime here.

What can possibly be the benefit?
I’m not implying gold is the superior metal for voltage transmission, it’s just that every review of golden interconnects give it merit for being very distinctive in its sound as a material. A colored one (!), yes… But apparently very aural. I wonder if they were being paid with gold to say that… (Could be! I haven’t heard any golden interconnects. I’m just interested because it’s apparently something very different from copper.)

I’m emphasizing - it’s that gold is being described as distinctive that drives my interest. All materials will have their sonic characteristics that today aren’t fully understood as to why. If this thread was about silver, no one would be asking “what could possibly be the benefit?” because silver is already common enough - we could still all be asking “why?” - it’s not just the resistance, that much is clear.

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@rower30
Hey Galen, could it be possible that different metals’ lattices have different effects on the propagation of reflected EM “error waves”? I’ve understood that these do play an audible role in even analog cables, though minor in sensible, and especially minor in good designs.
I know you have no clue why your cables’ copper varieties have their effect in the time domain, but you could throw us some kind of hypothesis.
(Please don’t consider this a magic material thread… joke)

RL refelections (reflections into a FIXED resistive load) or SRL (lowest reflections when moving a VARIABLE resistive load to match the cable STRUCTURE) are only important at RF where we couple at least 10 wavelengths into a transmission line. We don’t get true transmission line properties until we get that property. Less wavelength coupling can look “iffy” at best. Analog is out of the question a transmission line, and what is called simple reflections.

A tidal wave in the ocean is called a Tsunamis, and is a wave traveling at many, many miles per hour. They need ROOM to be a Tsunamis. Analog audio is in a swimming pool. We do a cannon ball and we make a SPLASH. The waves against the side of the pool are simple reflections, not a Tsunamis hitting the beach.

We can address the waves in the pool, yes, with mesh barrires to break-up the splash. But it is still not a Tsunamis wave moving hundreds of miles with little amplitude loss and at great speed of up to 500 miles/hour YIKES.

So let’s not try to make analog into RF. Mother nature puts up barriers between the frequencies so don’t mess with her.

Analog uses the wire far more efficiently than RF, so the inner workings AND the wire surface will be important where just the surface matters in true RF. Does this mean a wire’s grains are important? Sure. How? No one’s repeatably shown how it impacts the EM wave form…and that is what we hear, it is the signal. So until we show a CHANGE to the EM signal, it can’t technically sound better.

Sometimes a constant level of distortion IMPROVES a signal. We have that. Does the grains make it better or worse? Audiophiles randomly gang up on less grains is better. We stand behind the great marketing wizard afraid to venture out as a heritic on copper’s adopted structure superiority claims. There is no good reason why less grains sounds better, or worse, and resistivity is a passive distortion and we have short lengths. I use all TPC copper in my speaker cable…it sound best in my designs. This doesn’t mean less grains might be better for EM wave verses just mechanical properties, where single grain UP OCC is the best T&E’s (tensile and elongation). Mechanical is NOT electrical, though.

The grains of any drawn metal will likely follow the same science; copper, silver or gold as examples. The draw speed and temperature mainly determine the metals grains size and orientation.

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-m&q=dithering+digital+audio&oq=digital+dithering&aqs=heirloom-srp.1.0l4
“So, what is dither? It’s a form of low-level noise that is intentionally added to a digital audio file as it’s rendered to a lower bit depth. … Dither noise actually masks what’s called “quantization distortion,” which causes noise and artifacts in digital audio.”

Best,
Galen

The EM wave travels at the speed of the DIELCTRIC, not the metal! It is 1/SQRT(dielectric constant) at RF. The metal does not matter. No where is the metal in EM transmission speed, nowhere.

Once you have a vacuum as the dielectric the speed is as fast as mother nature allows, 100% @ RF, The metal can’t change that. A gold, silver or copper signal wire coaxial cable in the same design dielectric will have the same Vp at RF. That of the dielectric.

As we go down in frequency we will see a SHIFT in Vp based on the metals resistance at each frequency. The lower “R” in silver or gold will see Vp be slightly faster at the higher frequencies than Cooper but this makes group delay WORSE not better! Thus the composite EM signal is MORE distorted, not less.

We have group delay to consider. Jump over to the ICONOCLAST thread and read up on what’s happening there. SPEED is NOT the answer, it is group delay mitigation based on what we understand about low frequency signal transmission.

Best,
Galen

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I’ve been following along.
Is what you wrote just now just as relevant in voltage transmission (interconnects) as it is in power delivering cable?

And this I’ve been wondering about.
Material-specific impedance, how is it defined exactly? We only see static resistance values for metals, though it seems obvious they have unique impedance, not just resistivity for the whole band.

Also…

Doesn’t this imply that the metal does affect the speed? I was talking about Vp when I mentioned the effect in time domain, the workings of which aren’t understood.

VERY small change in DCR between the metals keeping the CMA the same. The capacitance has a far bigger influence if you use say three metals and keep the cap the same. The low frequency Vp is pretty much the capacitance, and that’s determined by the dielectric, and the frequency mostly. So the Vp is placed with frequency in the low end and the small DCR difference in metals is pretty small. Not worth the price to go after at all. You could jigger it to not be WORSE than copper but why? People want to pretend that the metal is the sound, and it isn’t, it is the time domain distortion and that’s the Vp differential. The metal itslef other than DCR doesn’t change that any at all between say OFE, and UP OCC or TPC.

Technically yes, the DCR does change the Vp in the low end, but it can make it worse or better depending on if it goes up or down and HOW MUCH.There is far more to work with than the infatuation with metals. For some reason audiophiles are stuck on “materials” and want to stay pretty ignorant on the design aspects to weight the benefits of fancy materials. This leaves you wide open to be taken advantage of.

Why are we so worried about metals when few address the fundamental EM designs? The metal choice can’t even begin to make up for a poor DESIGN.

There is no material specific IMPEDANCE as this is a vector REACTIVE value and includes the dielectric too. How you arrange the wires in space set the capacitance and inductance and thus the impedance, too. Material impedance properties is boring, it is just DCR of R, L and C.

Best,
Galen

Arenith,

Go to the ICONOCLAST BLOG, I covered all this and yes, it is indeed important to have no group delay EVERYWHERE in our circuits. The series II IC and speaker cable both further reduce Vp differential to practical limits.

Best,
Galen

Ah, thanks! Didn’t know about the blog.

What’d you say of wiring, say, an amplifier internally with Iconoclast cabling? I know, that’d be very impractical but surely not impractical electrically… I know the lengths are short in components, of course, but still, that’s the signal going through there.
How much of a bottleneck do you think the internal wiring in general is in the components of an audio chain, assuming the external cabling is Iconoclast?

Hmm yes, material specific impedance might be the wrong term for what I was after. After some thought, I’m guessing it’s simply the material specific skin depth and depending on gauge, will affect wire’s frequency dependent resistance differently for each metal. (I know, better have many smaller gauges for the wanted total cross-sectional area)
I’m assuming there’s not really much more (known) physics behind how the material alone affects the signal, apart from grain structure, but that’s not “known” physics just yet. Right?

(Yes this has nothing to do with the topic title anymore, but I think this is important to know, not just for me)

Any analog signal moving down a wire at a specific frequency will exhibit it’s own Vp based on the loop circuit charactreristics. The problem doesn’t go away because it is not a “wire”. So yes, the internal wiring and circuit path properties of our electronics does impact how good the phase and group delay response will be.

We are fortunate, that most people hear amplitude linearity more than phase linearity, so the pecking order is easier for amplitude linearity which way easier to test and design to. We can do wide band PULSE tests to see how a speaker is flat to single voltage level responses and amplitude variations using white noise that is the same flat signal response at all frequencies and calculate the theory verses what the speaker outputs. Most tests do show we hear this accuracy more than phase, and that’s good since phase is little controlled most of the time.

Not that true PHASE isn’t important, it is, but unless we use DSP filters it is hard to keep low, or changing the source phase. RF has zero phase but we can’t hear that so…

ICONOCLAST cable tries to keep that phase issue to a minimum using what the known analog properties will allow. Phase can be kept low to even zero with digital, but not when we switch to the time / analog domain. Any time we go true analog we are the changing phase some at each frequency and that group delay changes the amplitude voltage when physics sums all the frequencies at a point in “time” and there is the catch, frequencies move at varying speeds so we don’t superimpose the exact right voltages in time at the end of the cable. The speaker terminals will read a voltage, but it isn’t “exactly” the same minus attenuation, as it is at the other end of the wire. That’s because of phase and group delay shifting the signals. The good news is it is small, so it doesn’t kill the amplitude distortion we hear too, too much and we do hear that “more” than phase. Phase distortion of the voltage amplitude is there, though.

The rise in frequency based resistance of a metal “should” help true Vp at frequency as resistance rises, and this helps flatten the Vp change across frequency. It isn’t a lot, but in theory, let’s call it Rs, Swept analog Resistance, does increase as frequency goes up.

You can test this easy enough and it is Rs, the Swept Resistance. You’ll see all cable change with frequency but the changes in the audio band are small compared to RF where we do indeed end up using just the wire’s surface due to the center of the wire getting a large dose of self inductance at high frequencies, and that looks like an open circuit to RF, so it avoids, or is kicked out by the inductive effects, from the wire’s center area. At RF we have a thin layer that is made “better” with more surface area using larger diameter wire. This is why an RG11 has lower attenuation than an RG59, the RG11 has a larger diameter center wire. All that other stuff is to keep the RATIO of the wire center to insulation diameter the same to hold identical impedance at RF.

Or, we now can use silver efficiently at RF over a metal used for other reasons (metal for strength, aluminum for cost). Silver is used well at RF and is a lower resistance so we improve RF attenuation. Since we can remove the central lower cost copper at RF, we re-coup that cost to buy the silver so the total cost increase is kept at a minimum. It still is more expensive, though. When we have big cables, CCA, or copper covered aluminum can work as it is strong enough in larger sizes. None of this RF trickery applies to analog, though.

Best,
Galen

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Galen, I appreciate your thorough explanations of AC behavior in wire and cables. It does complicate things though when you so often write about the RF properties of various materials and geometries in the middle of your discussions of how the Iconoclast cables function in the audio band.
Being a nerd, I enjoy the wanderings, but I’m not sure they help in understanding what you’ve accomplished with Iconoclast.

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I appreciate your comments, but on cable if I don’t set the stage everybody thinks that RF is an actor in the anaolog play. I need to define what the analog stage is, and how RF isn’t in it.

“We” as hobbiests tend to include RF in the analog hobby space, so to push it aside I have to tell you what I’m pushing away and exactly why it doesn’t apply. Sometimes knowing what doesn’t apply better answers what does.

We push a lot of things aside. How does our cable in hand derive the R, L and C and why? What is the DESIGN doing overall that is important? If we do A better how does it change B, C and D? What is the general goal the design intends to change?

We love to look at material of any sort in a completely isolated context to the EM properties of a cable that use them. What are the changes a material benefits? We can’t really love or hate anything until we know how it impacts the overall design. EM is a factored event, every change changes something else, or two!

Once we get true changes in place with measurements and calculation, what impact does this have in a system? Any? A little? a Lot? We need cable designs that are “known” to be different and how. If a cable isn’t really different in some way how can it be a benefit? Our goal is to sell defined “different” cables and let you try the differing DESIGNS and MATERIALS to isolate each variable, and decide if the changes benefit you.

We sell the calaculated and measured cable properties with each design. You get a R, L and C test report with each assembly Your system and ears has to do the rest.

And you are correct, I am no Hemmingway but I’m what you got.

Best,
Galen

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“I’m an engineer Jim, not a writer”, or something like that.
People trained in science have a hard time accepting things that can’t be explained by current knowledge, and the diligent ones go out and try to find answers. I commend you for investigating why different cables sound different in audio systems. I’ll never have a resolving enough system (including my one sort of good ear) to appreciate all the little tweaks that are posted here, and I certainly don’t discount the subjective experience as to what sounds good.
I wonder what’s behind the improvements relayed in the HDMI topic. I have more training in optics, rather than EMF. Maxwell’s equations made my head hurt.

“I’m an engineer Jim, not a writer”, or something like that."

No, exactly like that. No sense clouding that issue! Better, no one likes every writer even if I was one. Being liked by everyone is not my objective.

The last 10% is always tough. When we get to numbers like these, you know if your balance is really working. It will rat you out from cable to cars, ships, planes, electric cars and automobiles to name a few disciplines. The list is endless and the tech lives near the top of the performance chain.

Yes, optics is somewhat easier to grasp but…to get it to the last optical budget level it gets complicated fast. Ever calculate Raleigh scattering floor levels? When is a larger NA fiber better? When is a smaller NA fiber better? Which core size? Is a VCSEL worth it over an LED? A laser? MM or SM? Tight buffer or loose tube? Uni-tube, single fiber per tube or multi fiber per tube and 6, 12, 24 or more fibers per tube? The answers aren’t as clear as we’d like.

There are LOTS of system evaluations with fiber. Bandwidth performance isn’t easy with modal path length and chromatic wave length dispersion factors. Macro and micro bending alter the BW too as does the -3 dB BW value add negatively to the total optical budget. And, the laser has to work with the fiber’s optimal launch pattern to get the tested BW.

Don’t even touch making the fiber. WOW, that’s a process and a half. Just the physics of the acrylate coating can fill ten books.

Connectors another ten books. What surface finish? Flat or ??? Bounceless or ??? And dozens more options. All of which change the optical links RL performance. Yep, same as copper at RF. Opps, wasn’t supposed to mix RF in, sorry.

Yes, I did fiber too and it is a mechanical engineering job to line-out all the thermodynamic expansion properties of all the dissimilar materials such that the cables attenuation acts the same over wide temperatures. Get it wrong and the fiber gets scrunched!

Modern fiber is so, so much better than what I worked with. You can screw up a bunch more and get away with it with bend insensitive fiber.

Best,
Galen