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Gold or Silver - what's best?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Gary, Apr 6, 2002.

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  1. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff Thread Starter

    I am looking at RCA plugs, banana plugs and such things that are connections for one's stereo. Most modern connectors are gold plated.

    I have old equipment with silver (tin? steel? Anyone know what they are actually made of?) connectors. Connecting gold RCA plugs to it somehow seems incompatable. And since I met a guy yesterday who claims there is a small loss in signal between gold and 'silver' interconnects, I thought I'd ask the experts here!

    I am having my own custom interconnects built, 'sound' designed for my stereo - and my tastes, I guess! Additionally I'll be copying the recipe for my own experiments. Should I specify 'silver' (tin? steel?) ends (RCA plugs) for my interconnects? Or would gold be better? Remember, I have 'silver' female plugs in my amp.

    I really don't care to change my hardware to supposedly upgrade the female RCA plugs to gold on the amp. But if someone knows if it's a worthwhile / significant upgrade, I'd like to hear about it!

    Thanks, all!
  2. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialistâ„¢

    Greater Vancouver

    The main reason that gold is used when it comes to plug ends is that it doesn't tarnish and oxidize, unlike our silver counterparts. As a matter of fact I don't recall seeing silver used before myself. I think that it was steel that was used.
  3. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    South Plymouth, Ma
    Gold just makes a cleaner connection. There's nothing wrong with using tin. The good thing is, most gold connections and accessories can be had for a few dimes more. Might as well go for the extra ;)

    So, using inteconnects, even with CAT5, I used the Rat Shack connectors and silver berring solder. Great combo.
  4. Claviusb

    Claviusb A Serious Man

    Most female RCA connectors are plated with Nickel (not tin). There are a lot of different thoughts as to which metal works best (for instance, IIRC if the male and the female are plated with different metals-- we'll pretend one is gold-- the connectors corrode much faster than if they are both plated with nickel, for example).

    When the connector is gold, you can always expect that the plating is very thin and always an alloy (gold in and of itself is too soft to be used alone) So the gold might not corrode, but the other metals in the alloy will. This merits the question how much gold is really there-- pretty safe to assume that the amount of gold in a Rat Shack is not the same as in Harmonic Techs.
  5. Richard Feirstein

    Richard Feirstein New Member

    Albany, NY
    As a youth one summer I worked in Brooklyn for Belden Wire. The guys there told me never never never mix metals used in interconnects. If Monster and the other expensive wire venders had any knowledge and integrity they would offer sets with gold at one end and non-gold at the other for the common situation where your inputs and outputs are made from different metals. They don't, so you can guess what I think of their claims and intergrity. In reality, if you live in a rain forest or swamp you should consider an antioxident coating on your connections. This is standard procedure in many locations.

    (When some bright PC memory vender decided to gold plate the metal connects on its DRAM chips, in time, PC's all over the world went belly up because the slots used in the motherboards were not gold plated. Your hardware is not as critical mind you; but the point is made.)
  6. rickjames

    rickjames New Member

    The rule of thumb is to not mix disimiliar metals to prevent electrolysis. However, I have used gold plated interconnects on the tin plated male RCA's for years without any problems. One particular gold plated IC was connected for 14 years between my preamp & tuner. I removed the IC's when I sold the tuner and both the tin plated male & gold plated female RCA's were as new.
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