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DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables (Read 14335 times)
BadWolf
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DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
07/18/18 at 20:15:51
 
Over the years I have never invested much in speaker cables, mostly because I’ve always intended to make my own. What I’ve been using isn’t horrible, but pretty bottom barrel as far as most audiophiles would be concerned. Well now I’m going to attempt to change that starting with two 10 troy ounce silver bullion bars.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #1 - 07/18/18 at 20:17:23
 
The silver.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #2 - 07/18/18 at 21:06:27
 
To make the bar into a ribbon I’ll be running it through a rolling mill. Each time I’ll make it a few thousandths of an inch thinner and a little longer.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #3 - 07/18/18 at 21:13:07
 
After a few passes through the mill the metal will work harden and need to be annealed. This involves heating the silver to around 1,200 degrees F and quenching in water. Failure to anneal the metal will make it increasingly hard to work and eventually lead to cracks.
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #4 - 07/18/18 at 22:58:21
 
How thin are you planning on going?
How do you control the width?
I'm intrigued.
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Archie
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #5 - 07/18/18 at 23:01:44
 
How will you keep it from getting wider too?  A few years ago I made speaker cables out of 14 gage silver wire.  I read on one DIY site that "dead soft" silver gave the best sound.


EDIT:  Donnie beat me to it!   Angry
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #6 - 07/18/18 at 23:55:15
 
Actually the rolling mill only lengthens in one direction, so as long as I don’t put it through sideways the width will stay the same. I hope to get it to about 10 feet long, I’m not sure what the thickness will be by then. Hopefully thick enough, if not I’ll stop before then.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #7 - 07/19/18 at 00:01:36
 
Wow, this is exhausting. The rolling mill is not powered, so all the energy to thin and lengthen the metal is coming from me.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #8 - 07/19/18 at 00:03:56
 
Some progress.
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Archie
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #9 - 07/19/18 at 00:10:15
 
What is the advantage of ribbon over wire?
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #10 - 07/19/18 at 00:27:02
 
I’m not sure as far as audio goes. I have seen some ribbon cables used on really high end systems. I’ve also read their praise here and there. For me though, the advantage is I can make ribbon from an ingot, I’m not setup to make it into wire.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #11 - 07/19/18 at 01:48:57
 
Sometimes the metal gets kind of wavy.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #12 - 07/19/18 at 01:52:01
 
I’m starting with just one of the ingots to see how it goes. I’ll include the untouched one in some of the photos for comparison.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #13 - 07/19/18 at 02:57:37
 
Some good progress. It’s gotten a bit big for the annealing pan.
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deucekazoo
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #14 - 07/19/18 at 14:22:52
 
That's going to be a lot of work. Looking good so far. What are you going to cover it with?
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #15 - 07/19/18 at 16:15:27
 
Yeah it really is a ton of work, and to think I’ll have to do it all again for the second one. I am planning on covering them with fabric.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #16 - 07/19/18 at 16:22:59
 
Some significant progress.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #17 - 07/19/18 at 16:26:44
 
I’ve marked it to cut in half.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #18 - 07/19/18 at 16:35:47
 
Now cutting it in half. This was obviously a mistake waiting until it was this thin to cut it. I did it because I thought it would be less work to roll one piece than two, but the issue is the shear really doesn’t like to cut metal that is this thin and soft. It’s harder to cut accurately and the cut is a bit more like a tear than cut. Oh well, it’ll work, and I won’t make the same mistake on the next one.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #19 - 07/19/18 at 17:14:45
 
Ribbons! Finally. Although still more rolling to do as they aren’t long enough yet.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #20 - 07/19/18 at 18:17:09
 
It fits in the annealing pan again.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #21 - 07/19/18 at 19:18:20
 
Close enough… Just under 10 feet. It picked up a bend around 5 feet that I hoped I’d be able to fix when I cut it into two and with a rolling mill adjustment. I think the adjustment helped but the damage was already done. Hopefully with the adjustment the next one will be straighter.

So it seems that despite being as thin as it is, because of its width, it is roughly equivalent to 10 gauge wire. As in one foot of this weighs about the same as one foot of 10 gauge wire.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #22 - 07/19/18 at 19:23:12
 
Now to do it all again…
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #23 - 07/19/18 at 19:37:01
 
Nice work Badwolf.  They look great!  Do you know how you will terminate them?   Also, I hear silk is a great insulator.  

Out of curiosity, what did you pay for each bar of silver?
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #24 - 07/19/18 at 20:26:45
 
Thanks! I was planning to cut slots in the ends so they could be clamped in binding posts. I like that because there would be no additional connections of any kind. I’m not liking it so much now because when annealed (which is apparently most desirable) it is extremely soft and fragile being so thin. So I’m really not sure now. When I cut the ends off I’ll do some experimenting with those pieces to see what might be best.

I like the idea of silk. As shown in the picture above they are about half hard. They are a little springy and don’t want to fold and would work pretty well just covered in a fabric. If I anneal them, making them dead soft, there are some issues. They easily twist and fold under their own weight. It’s hard to think of any comparison, but if you ever saw the Mythbusters make a lead balloon, it’s kind of like that. It’s thicker and stronger than the lead, and not prone to tearing, but it really just collapses under its own weight. I’ve worked with silver a lot and was shocked just how soft it became in this configuration.

So the two options I have thought of to solve this problem are to leave it half hard like it is and insulate it with fabric, or anneal it and reinforce it somehow possibly using tape or something like it. I don’t really like the tape option as it seems kind of cheap and would breakdown in a few years and just make a mess.

I bought the sliver years ago and am not sure about the price, probably around $130 a bar.
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #25 - 07/19/18 at 21:16:27
 

This is friggen amazing! I'm glad I clicked on the forums today!

I'm looking forward to you finishing this up, and maybe stopping by for a listen!

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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #26 - 07/19/18 at 21:23:54
 
I bet you could use a sharp pizza cutter on a wood cutting block to cut in half since it is so thin.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #27 - 07/19/18 at 22:28:50
 
Thanks LR! I do hope to finish in a few days. That’d be great if you want to stop by and have a listen. You’d also be better able to describe the difference they make.


Jeff I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be cut with a sharp pizza cutter. Thanks for the suggestion. Although I think I’ll try halving it while it’s thicker. It means more rolling, but the rolling is easier because of the reduced width. It might help me control the bending a bit better too.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #28 - 07/20/18 at 00:48:40
 
I couldn’t help it. I just had to do a measurement out of curiosity. Just how much resistance does 10 feet of pure silver ribbon have? Well, less than this can measure. The meter’s leads have been removed from this measurement by connecting them together and then using the delta function. Otherwise they’d add .16 ohms.

I expected a low resistance, but I didn’t expect it to show zero on the meter.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #29 - 07/20/18 at 00:53:52
 
Silk it is for the covering thanks to my girlfriend! Who will also be kind enough to sew it on.
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #30 - 07/20/18 at 17:25:40
 
Can't wait to see these finished and what you think of the sound.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #31 - 07/20/18 at 18:26:58
 
I’ve decided how I’m going to terminate them. I’m going to cut a slit in the middle and then fold them to fit in the binding post. It’s a delicate and time consuming process. I like it though because it keeps all the metal involved all the way to the binding post, it also gives some much needed strength to that area. Short of using a micro press brake it’ll be very hard to do this and make it look good, though I hope to do better on my next attempt.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #32 - 07/20/18 at 18:28:42
 
A closeup.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #33 - 07/20/18 at 18:32:46
 
A really closeup.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #34 - 07/20/18 at 21:05:04
 
A detail of the folding in progress.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #35 - 07/20/18 at 21:06:47
 
Another.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #36 - 07/20/18 at 21:14:24
 
One more. This one shows the sides in the process of being folded over with a gradual taper to the connection point. This gives some added rigidity near the connector and makes the connection point narrow so as not to cause a short. So far I’m happy with this way of doing it but only time will tell if it was a good way to do it or not.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #37 - 07/20/18 at 21:25:25
 
Well there's the first pair. Now they just need the fabric covering and I can try them out. The rain has delayed the rolling of the second pair, as I anneal outside. The bar is about a foot long right now, so still aways to go.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #38 - 07/21/18 at 02:56:41
 
Second pair to length. These are much straighter than the first pair. The mill adjustments worked. The difference between these and the first pair was accomplished by adjusting one side of the top roller by one thousandth of an inch down relative the the other side.

Cutting before it got really thin was a much better way to go as well.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #39 - 07/21/18 at 21:15:54
 
One pair done. Preliminary impressions to follow.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #40 - 07/21/18 at 21:57:41
 
Wow! The difference is staggering! I have the ribbons on one side and my normal cables on the other. I’m struggling to find words to describe this. The detail and clarity on the ribbon side is breathtaking. It actually reminds me of the OTL (I’m using my Torii MKIV). The side with my old cables sounds dull, quiet, lifeless, and actually kind of unpleasant to listen to in comparison. I honestly thought I might have a hard time hearing a difference. I should have made these years ago…
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #41 - 07/21/18 at 22:14:06
 
Nice Badwolf. Pure silver that gauge without skin effect must be amazing!
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #42 - 07/22/18 at 00:37:53
 
How will you keep it from tarnishing? Or does that even matter? Maybe a layer of oxidation will help.
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #43 - 07/22/18 at 02:15:34
 
I can’t imagine the oxidation being a good thing but I’m sure someone has figured that out by now and has reported on such. But then again, this industry is full of assumptions so maybe the natural assumption is that oxidized Silver is a bad thing. Where’s the A/B test data? The silk sleeve has room. Simply disconnect, slide out of silk insulator, remove oxidation with appropriate cleaner, re-insert in silk and reconnect.  Probably a 6-month maintenance task.
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #44 - 07/22/18 at 03:30:57
 
I thought about trying to prevent tarnishing but decided against it because I didn’t want to chance altering the sound. I’m not sure if tarnish itself will have and effect or not. I can take them out of their fabric coverings easily and remove tarnish if it seems to be an issue.

I may have to do some experiments with shorter runs of silver wire or smaller ribbon. Such as chemically tarnish one pair until it’s black, polish the other pair, and then cover both so I can’t tell which is which and see if I prefer one set over the other.
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #45 - 07/22/18 at 03:32:13
 
Here, in the dry desert, tarnish on silver just has not been much of a thing. I have a remnant spool of raw, soft/pure silver that has been sitting out since 2011 or 12 and only has a little yellowing, so little I can wipe it off with my fingers. Some silver in cotton from 2008 shows a little more corrosion, a little darker, but not looking threatening to me...still looks like silver with a film on it, more oxidized though. Silver oxide is said to be a good conductor. Silver sulfide, supposedly caused by sulfur in the air or handling without gloves, not so good of a conductor.

I wear cotton gloves, and lightly polish with fine steel wool before putting on a covering. I also have a bunch of stuff to experiment with to protect and seal silver in teflon...nitrogen gas and different ways of sealing the oversized teflon, but have not gone there yet.

Edit: BTW, those silvers I mentioned are in several ICs and speaker cables that still sound amazing! On my speaker cables I did wrap the ends of the oversized teflon tube where it met the raw wire  with teflon tape to mitigate air transfer. And some old silver/cotton wire from VHAudio, the cotton cover is a complex weave and seems to be effective to some degree, the wire cleaner under the cotton. These days, whether cotton or teflon tube, I am wrapping/"sealing" the ends in teflon tape once a wire seems a solid improvement in my amps or cables.
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #46 - 07/22/18 at 19:37:31
 
Seems I remember a conversation with Steve regarding the silver tarnishing and he said it did not effect the sound one bit. Basically that it was just something that audiophiles obsessed about. Roll Eyes
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BadWolf
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #47 - 07/22/18 at 20:05:12
 
That’s excellent to hear lazb. I won’t worry about it then.
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Zen OTL, SE84UFO25, Mini Torii II and III, “El Camino” MTM speakers, Schiit Gungnir Multibit, DIY "Zbit", dedicated circuits.
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Archie
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #48 - 07/23/18 at 00:37:05
 
I've always read that silver oxide conducts electricity even better than the silver.  Which seems to say that it is a non-issue.
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Technics 1200G TT w/ Ortofon Jubilee MC cart
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ZR2 (25th A Mods)
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Homemade Big Betsy Speakers
Silver Cabling
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Lonely Raven
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Re: DIY Pure Silver Ribbon Speaker Cables
Reply #49 - 07/31/18 at 16:11:11
 
Yeah, I agree with Archie, oxidized silver doesn't weaken the quality of connection like it does with gold or especially copper.

Next time I come over to listen to the OTL, I'll bring some Zen Styx wire so we can compare. If you're flatwire surpasses that, I think I'd be asking you to flatten a couple Oz for me! (I can sew the silk covers myself).
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