Copper, silver, or gold MC cartridge coils?

Copper coils seem to be the most popular.

Silver coils seem to have the general trait of warmer midrange and extended high frequencies, by those that prefer them.

Copper has lower mass than silver, and much less mass than gold. Better transients?

Silver has the best conductivity, followed by copper, then gold.  Gold has the best corrosion durability.

Can we draw any conclusions as to the type of sonic traits and preference of each type?

Any preferences and why your choice of type, or is there no big differences sonic wise?
Copper only for ALL audio signals.  Coils, cables....  Everything.  Other metals are colored.
OCC copper. But there are those who make very expensive tube amps with silver wire transformers who would argue that silver is the best wire. I digress; maybe not in cartridges.
Dear @don_c55 :  Everything is important in the cartridge quality performance and certainly the kind of wire in the coils it's but not so important to define the cartridge signature because all depends of the whole cartridge design and in particular the cartridge motor where the coils are part of it and let me to tell you that even the coil wiring shape could be even more important that the coil type.

A cartridge designer design his cartridge to a very specific quality performance level characteristics and it's through the rigth and precise combination of each cartridge part and quality level build excecution of that design as he will achieve those targets/characteristics targets.

In the other side each cartridge is designed with a market price point in mind.

What kind of value can has for you if I tell you that silver wire is the best or if other gentleman tells you that cooper is the one to go?, for me has no value at all because what are you or we evaluating behind that kind of coil wire?: just nothing at all.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

One is preferable over the other two, IMO, as chosen by the designer and user.

Not all cartridge brands give you a choice.

I was thinking of ZYX brand.

Has anyone tried all three types in one brand. And which did you prefer and what were the perceived sonic differences?

Just looking for opinions. Everything in art and audio is subjective.

To Add to the list of Coil Wires being used.
Aucurum Wire,
( Gold Plated Six 9's Copper) known to be used by 
Ortofon for approx' 20 Years in some of their designs.

Koetsu Urushi,
( have a model that has a Silver Clad ' not plated'  Six 9's Copper )

I have been impressed with Ortofon Cartridges that have coils wound  Aucurum , as a result I now own a Cadenza Black, that I intend on having rebuilt to a change of Specification.

There are also Cartridge Tag Wire Pins used of different Metals, 
I am sure the combination of Coil Metals and Pin Metal will also have an
Sonic Signature.   
Since you asked for ZYX:

 I can say that tried both Silver Coil (Airy 3) and copper (Premium 4D) I think the last one (copper) is better, you can’t go wrong with copper coil from ZYX. 

Silver is definitely not warmer. 

For ZYX  i would prefer copper coils though silver could match rock pop material a bit better.
Never heard any of their gold model so i cannot comment.
@chakster 4D is somehow different to Airy so coil material there would not be easy to compare.
I agree though that you cannot go wrong with copper.

Rock music and Pop music is not the same, completely different genres of music. I don’t even understand how one person can listen to rock and pop. Rockers hates Pop music. 
very small statistical sample at this point but I find that both the silver and gold are more musical than the copper.  The silver tends toward a clean clear dynamic sound and the gold has a musical quality that can just sound "right".   At this point putting an actual character on the "gold sound" has been elusive.  I have heard from many people that a touch of gold in their system can be sublime but any more that quickly becomes too much.   On a scale from 1-10 with 1 being syrup and 10 being fingernails on a chalkboard, the silver is a 6 and the gold is a 4 so it may simply boils down to what kind of flavor your system needs at the moment.

On the above scale many would expect the copper would be the center  at 5 but another metric needs to be added for clarity since the copper is several levels below both the silver and the gold in clarity.  The lack of clarity isn't something you immediately notice and when switching from copper to Ag/Au the both seem to sound a bit "soft" at first and it isn't until you return to the copper that you realize that it was indeed a bit lacking or dirty.  In some systems the "tone" of the copper may be just what is needed so there aren't any absolutes here.  Case in point, Art Dudley had identical silver and copper SUT's and preferred the copper.  

  I want to be clear that from a silver perspective, I believe the actual pedigree of the silver matters.  Simply buying fine (0.999) silver from a jewelers supply will almost certainly assure you of the "bright" "harsh" "brittle"  sound many associate with silver.  Count me in the group who bought an ounce (around 150') of #30 fine silver from Myron Tobak for $20 and some teflon tubing from mcmaster carr to make the ultimate silver teflon kimber PBJ clone.  Dear god that was one of the most dreadful sounding IC's I have ever heard and had every bad quality people associate with silver.  Who knows...maybe I got 0.925 (sterling) silver by accident.  The same purity silver from a known source (MWS, Elektrisola, HPC, CalFine) has a very different sound.  The best sounding silver I have heard to date was from Chris at Jupiter Condenser and it was sourced directly from a mine.  

Sorry for going off on a tangent here about the wire but they all sound different and have their own characters.  My guess is wire type preference may need to be chosen to compliment the rest of the system and there will never be a universal "this is better than that".  

As it stands now for cartridges, I am in the gold camp with silver being a close second but I reserve the right to change my opinion at any time.

Dear @don_c55  and friends : I think that this example could help to support what I posted about the importance priotiy of cartridge wire type that I said is not so important as we could think.

This gentleman own several top phono cartridges including the Anna, Goldfinger, Etsuro and others ones:

I understand that he owns not one but 2 Etsuro really expensive model and things are that the Etsuro use cooper wwire in its coils but ask
@mikelavigne about the Etsuro quality level performance and even against the other top tiers he owns and owned.

Here another example with the Hana top line cartridge with cooper wire in its coils where and Agoner just posted that he left it gone his Koetsu Onyx in favor of the Hana one and like @mikelavigne he owns the Anna too:

I insist in my point of view due that I can see you are just tilted to look for the superiority of each kind of wire in a cartridge design and for me just that " superiority " does not realñly exist because you can't prove it the superiority either way.

Btw, even its high price differences between the Hana and Etsuro shares one " thing " in common that were designed by Excel.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

Important to remember that all posters are listening/posting on their differing systems, so this isn't a reference debate.
Gold is better. Its something like 90 times the price of silver. Also its much lower price volatility. The contrarian view however is the ratio reverts to more historic levels around 20, in which case silver rises more than gold. Granted we are talking about the salvage/recycle value of some tiny fraction of a gram. Still, it's a lot more than the sound difference you were asking about. 
Don : Do you think that these kind of music lovers/audiophiles buy or bought their cartridges because the cartridge coil wire type/kind?, no way almost no one decides on a cartruige thinking on that specific characteristic because it's just unimportant against the whole cartridge design.

@slaw  obviously as you said it's not a reference debate because there is no true reference about. We are just audiophiles not cartridge designers that are the ones that probably have something to say but I'm not sure they could have a debate about because  ( again ) the whole desig/sum of the parts is the really important ( what it counts. ) main issue.

I had a gold wired cartridge, a Clearaudio DaVinci. I thought the Ortofon Windfeld Ti was a better cartridge. But I could not say it was because of the wire. Do the metals really sound different? They all work harden but I think copper does this easier than the others. I tried searching for the answer. This would mean copper wires that are being vibrated will break sooner. The other metals may be more durable. I have had two cartridges that fractured copper wires, a Denon D103 and a Sumiko Talisman S. They were decades old when they did it. Both with copper wires. 
There is a slight difference in conduction but will that effect AC at audio frequencies? I can't find that answer. The wire runs are not very long either. You would have to compare and measure three identical cartridges just with the different wires. To my knowledge nobody has ever done this.
Schroder offers his tonearms with either copper or silver wiring. I chose the copper. The tonearm wires are scary fine. They look like they would snap if you sneezed on them. 

The key is not the wire in the cartridge but how the cartridge reacts with your arm, table, and phono stage. You want to pick the best cartridge for your system and that can be a challenge but a big reward when the magic happens. You also want to play your choices for at least 6 album sides because low output moving coils take a long time to relax.
The closest I got to comparing coil materials in a more or less level playing field was hearing three different vdHul Colibri’s in the same arm (Reed 3P 12" Cocobolo) in immediate succession: XCP (copper coils, plastic body) XGW (gold coils, wood body) and XPW (platinum coils, wood body). As far as I know there never was a Colibri with silver coils.

In my system I had a clear preference for the platinum coil version (a limited series and no longer made). It struck a nice balance between the fast, dynamic, punchy sound of the copper version and the smoother, more refined presentation of the gold coils, while adding a superior 3D stage neither of the others could match.

Disclaimer: the Colibri as a breed are known to be temperamental and the word goes they all sound different. So a similar comparison with three different samples might yield a different outcome!

BTW: this comparison was done prior to the introduction of the current Stradivarius and Signature versions. These new systems may have very different characteristics and be more consistent than the previous series.

I have a Airy 3 Gold, silver base to mount, after my Airy 3 Silver, silver base, goes sour (which is soon, after 3 years of use).

Also have a Airy 3 copper, silver base that has 1.5 years of use.

I have two identical VPI JMW 10 arm wands on my TNT 3 that I use.

I will post my opinion later on the gold coil ZYX.

At some point early in the history of the ZYX Universe, which according to legend is a "special" model originally developed for USA distribution only, one or more reviewers opined that the copper coil/low output version of the UNIverse was the best sounding of the optional versions, which included, in addition to the copper/low output version, copper/high output, and silver coils with low or high output.  (Output is either 0.24mV or 0.48mV, depending on the choice of "low" or "high".)  That notion took root among audiophiles, and nearly everyone (including me) bought the copper/low output version.  I don't know the story that goes with all the later versions of the UNIverse, of which there are now too many to keep track of, at ever increasing price points. Other than that one instance, I never thought much about purchasing a cartridge based on the conductor used to wind the coils of a cartridge.  Like Raul says, it is the overall design that counts far more, in my opinion too.  This notion is supported by the fact that there are good and bad sounding cartridges with either copper or silver coil windings.  Gold is more rarely ever used, except by van den Hul and one other brand mentioned above.  I think in considering the "sound" of a gold coil, we have a difficult time divorcing ourselves from the subjective biases surrounding "gold". Gold "feels" warm and lush, just to use the word.

Koetsu "silver clad copper" is almost for sure not different from "silver-plated copper".  I have never liked the sound of ICs made from silver-plated copper, no matter how pure is the composition, because it sounds more bright and edgy to me in my systems than either pure copper or pure silver. On the other hand, Koetsu cartridges, even the ones with silver-plated copper coils, never sound bright and edgy, which brings me to the question: to what degree does the nature of the wire used to wind the coils in a cartridge or in a transformer affect the SQ of the output?  I doubt it is valid to think about that without reference to the physics of a coil of wire. For this I refer to Intactaudio's post above.  Dave knows more about the electronic behavior of a signal in a coil or transformer winding than any of the rest of us can even dream of. I wonder whether his remarks about the sound of copper, gold, silver pertain to wire in a coil or linear wire.  Maybe also Dave could comment on the physical state of the audio signal in a coil serving as part of a transducer, as in a cartridge or a SUT or an output transformer.  Folks pay big bucks for silver windings in a SUT or output transformer; are the results worth it?
The following will offer a description of the Urushi Cartridge Bodies as well as a description for the Silver Clad Copper Coils on a Koetsu Urushi.

There is no such thing as THE URUSHI – because Koetsu delivers different models – leaving out the Koetsu Urushi Vermilion, which I will talk about in a minute. All of the other Urushi cartridges are technical equal – what differs is the amazing lacquer artwork in the traditional Japanese Urushi fashion. Some of the models are made with very old techniques, and they are named after the Japanese cities in which these techniques were invented – examples are the Wajima and the Tsugaru. Others use a more modern twist to the old traditional techniques, the Sky Blue comes to mind. Urushi lacquer is a natural product which is won out of tree resin. It needs a long, long time to get fully dry and as it gets dry it gets harder and harder. Underneath the Urushi lacquer – you might guess it already, we will find – a rosewood body….so the Urushi carts use the same material and body form factor as the Rosewood Signature – the difference is the lacquer technique which gives the body a different behaviour regarding mechanical energy transmission and resonances! Technically there is also something new to discover….we still have a 6n pure copper coil but in this case it is cladded with silver. The cladding process could be explained if you imagine your girlfriend or wife putting on her sexy nylon stockings….. So the silver is not melted upon the copper nor is it a hybrid material mixture – it is still pure copper with a very thin cladded silver layer on top. The magnets circuit uses still smarium cobalt material as we get it also from the entry level Black Goldline, but – SURPRISE!!!! we will have now treaded mounting holes – THANK YOU KOETSU!!!!!

I wonder why nobody plays around with the wiring of MM or MI cartridges. Higher voltage maybe wire has less effect? 
One thing for sure is there is a lot of bent area for a given mc coil if that plays a role for crystal boundaries copper vs none with gold...
Roman who designs and builds the Sensitive Sound carts I distribute recently switched to gold winding / platinum magnets for the top models after a long while using copper / neo.

Not new but the best in audio rarely sits on new tech but rather new builds...
Dear @edgewear :  You are rigth the Colibri samples sound a little different in between.
I owned wood/plastic body models and cooper/Gold ones I never had the opportunity to listen the platinum one.

My preference with the Colibri go to the low output 0.22mv cooper wire and old really ligth black plastic body: the best Colibri I listened everywhere and as you could agree top performer from all frequency range with a little " strong " character in the high freq. where is very demanding on VTA/VTF, additional very good tracker.

Unfortunatelly the other Colibri samples I owned/listened all were not 0.22mv output but higher and this cartridge characteristic has influence in what we listen to.
In the latest VDH designs ( say from two years now ) he choosed for way high output levels that goes even over0.7mv and the ones I heard it are good but nothing that can compare with the true LOMC VDH samples.

Koetsu is another case where I own or owned vintage models of Rosewood, Onyx and even one named silver till I finished with the platinum ones.
Like with the Colibri no two vintage same model Koetsu samples performs the same and seems to me tghat only when they switch to the platinum models Koetsu really started to takes its work truly " seriously " to achieve the audiophile sound needs.
Question is : quality levels changed because the platinum or because a better overall excecution to the cartridge design?, I think that both things but perhaps more inclined to a better overall cartridge design and cartridge QC through manufacture it.

Lyra is another example about the use of platinum in its Olympos model that was a departure from the Lyra cartridge signature kind of sound.
I had the opportunity to listen in deep to the Olympos mounted in a Schroeder tonearm, SP10MK3, MBL speakers, top SS phonolinepreamp, etc, etc. and I have to say that performs really good but a little in the warm side that's unfortunatelly is not what goes with my priorities but J.Carr  posted somewhere that more or less that was a characteristic of that model against the other more " dynamic/agressive models as the Titan i of those times.

All these first hand experiences along the different examples I posted here tells me that it's the overall design and quality level excecution to that design what really matters more than the kind of of wire used in the coils even I posted that the coils wiring shapes could be more important than the wire and this only a cartridge designer can tell us.

Btw, Allaerts use gold wire and the performance of its top models are first rate ( I owned ) however a little soft at the highs. As with silver and cooper wire that exist different quality levels maybe is the same with gold but I don't know for sure.

Lewm for me a phono cartridge item is way different than a SUT and has no relationship on the topic of this thread. What could be true for a SUT not necessary is true for a phono cartridge. I think that only gentlemans like JC or VDH can tell us all about.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

@rauliruegas  vdHul used platinum wire for the coils in a short lived series of the Colibri (discontinued as consistent high quality platinum wire apparently was no longer available).
As for Koetsu and Lyra, I always understood that they use(d) platinum for the magnets. Apparently these are also rare, as Lyra needs a donor cartridge with such magnet to build a new one. Then again, Koetsu seems to have no trouble sourcing platinum magnets for their gemstone models. In any case, this is quite a different application of the material, likely to yield different sonic benefits.

I may be wrong, but as far as I know there's never been a cartridge that used platinum for both the coils AND the magnets. Would be an interesting beast.....

I wonder why nobody plays around with the wiring of MM or MI cartridges. Higher voltage maybe wire has less effect?

They do actually, LC-OFC versus PC-OCC.
Grace and Audio-Technica made different versions.   

Dear @edgewear : Yes you are rigth because Lyra asked for the Parnassus sample to build the Olympos and yes too with the Koetsu that does not needs a donor cartridge.

Yes, different application sonic benefits.

Dear @mijostyn : I think that the more expensive high output ( MM/MI ) cartridges are the ones coming from SoundSmith and PL never says he is using silver or gold wire in the coils but cooper.

No singler vintage HO MM/MI use silver wire in its coils. The rule is cooper as with LOMC ones too .

Some LOMC , maybe by marketing issue, use silver or gold wire but this is not " normal " and perhaps only a marketing hype to ask higher prices for it. Only the manufacturers can tell us the true behind their choosed coils wire types.

I have a Koetsu Jade Platinum cartridge which sounds amazing.  I understand it is the wiring and not the magnet that is platinum.   It is utterly natural-sounding, clear and seductive - can transport you into places no other source has achieved for me. 
can somebody clarify if there are indeed cartridges wound with platinum coils?  Some of the Koetsu's have platinum cobalt magnets and VDH does make a platinum IC but I have yet to see confirmation of platinum wound MC coils.

Dear friends : In the long MM thread J.Carr touted a lot the Sony LOMC cartridges and especially the 55/88 top of the line and he did it because not the coils wire type but because its unique coils wiring shape:

""  The Figure 8 coil was meant to address to recurrent problems of moving-coil : low output, field-disturbing iron core, and increase of coil turns to increase output.

By giving one part of the armature a 90° twist, the two halves of the coil do not cancel each other out but produce voltage with both inward and outward movements.
No need to use a stronger iron core or increase the number of coil turns : linearity is improved, the cantilever isn't burdened by a heavier coil and output is doubled - simple. ""

So, exist several cartridge design characteristuics more imporant for the designers than the coil wire types that's important but with a different priority level in the cartridge designs. On Dynavector site you can read:

"""  At a glance, the XV-1 is different from all cartridges that have gone before. Its magnetic circuit comprises 8 small ALNICO magnets. The magnetic path is divided into two - In the magnetic gap, a specially designed magnetic flux equalizing piece is placed. On the front yokes, magnetic stabilizing coils are wound. By this special combination, the magnetic field becomes widely homogeneous and more linear than the conventional magnetic design that is common in existing MC cartridges. Currently the design trend of MC cartridges is to employ stronger and harder magnets. The XV-1 takes the opposite approach. This is the theoretical conclusion of Dynavector.  ""

Ortofon or Allaerts and other top manufacturers took special attention on several other cartridge design characteristics as with Ortophon is legendary Ortophase pattent.

Again and as @lewm  confirmed : ""  it is the overall design that counts far more. ""

The explanation about the Sony came from a site that reviewed item not from JC.

I have just broken in my ZYX airy 3 SB gold cil cartridge after 30 hours of use and it sounds great.

Better than the Silver coil and Copper versions IMO.

I use a VPI TNT 3 Special turntable with JMW 10 arm from 1990.

ARC used the same turntable as their reference from 1990 until 2020 in their factory.

I have identical JMW10 arms and use the copper coil and silver coil versions for comparison.

Doug Deacon the SoraSound reviewer, had the wrong opinion of these variations.

He said the gold version was a cream puff in sound and was totally wrong.

He liked the copper best and thought the silver had poorer transients.

Not IMO!

The Gold is best followed by silver and copper coils.

SoraSsound  had a big stock of copper coils and a few silver and very few gold coils.

SoraSound did not want to run out of copper or silver, if the demand was bigger for silver or gold IMO

A business decision on SoraSound's part, to maximize profit.

This opinion is sort of mute because the Airy 3 with boron cantilever is long gone.

You have to try for yourself,, and not believe the paid SoraSound shill reviewer Doug Deacon, who is long gone.

There are many shills on the internet that try to influence the public and act as independent reviewers. 

You stated that the silver wired Zyx has 3 years usage, and the copper wired Zyx has 1.5 years use.You stated that the Gold wired Zyx is new.
Therefore the comparison is irrelevant and your conclusion flawed.

Furthermore, I would wager that if you compared two cartridges with the same wire - they will sound different.

I use stylist and all the cartridges are is great shape!

I get 3000 hours of life with stylast , and there are many audiophiles agree with the life of my cartridges.

You do not know what you are talking about IMO.

I know what these cartridges sounded like over their usefull life.

Why would two identical cartridges sound different?

 ZYZ makes quality cartridges that have very little unit to unit sonic variation.

Re the Zyx, a friend of mine has had 2 out of 3 new Zyx subpar that have had to be replaced - manufacturing faults et al. I have also seen brand new Koetsu's where the cantilever has had to be realigned ( rotated such that the diamond is vertical as you look from the front ).

I have owned 4 ZYX airy 3 cartridges no problems, all excellent!

I bought all of them from 2Juki, saved big over SoraSound!

I also bought 3 Benz Ruby 2’s from 2Juki, all excellent.

Been dealing with 2Juki for 15 years.
I bought a used ZYX Airy 3 that was never used as it had a factory flaw in which the coils were glued to the body.
Peter L. was surprised it got passed QC.....
This is just one data point and it passed thru others hands,
so do not take this as disparaging the manufacturer.
I have often thought that maybe someone bought an SB weight and glued it on themselves with too much adhesive?
Who know’s, but it sure sounds sweet right now.
Ive all but forgotten about my collection of damn good vintage cartridges.......
In keeping with what Dover infers about quality control at Koetsu, I purchased two Urushi, Wajima version, over the counter in person from a dealer in Tokyo, with my son acting as translator.  When I got back to the US, I found that the cantilever of one of them was deviated to one side very noticeably.  I returned the cartridge with proof of purchase and the Japanese warranty, and within a very short time I received a replacement that was perfectly aligned, at no charge even for shipping to the US.  So, although Dover has a point in my opinion, it is also true that Koetsu will stand by their product.  I would only hope that the US distributor would do as well for cartridges purchased in the US.
@don_c55 Have you ever actually purchased from SORAsound? The price difference from 2juki to SORAsound is minimal IF any difference. Plus, you get a new ZYX cartridge with warranty. Not a mystery cartridge with a tampered with serial number. I get it we have to save money where we can, he’ll, I’m currently unemployed maintenance man but those 2juki deals are not what they seem after a phone call and a price check on isle 15 (if ya know what I mean)