What I have found - Makes a good Cable !

I just finished posting the following content in yet another thread.

I realized, I have posted many snippets from the text below in many other threads over the years, so I thought it would be a good idea to post this thread, so in future I can simply post a link to it, rather than regurgitate it one more time.

If you are interested in DIY cables I (with the helps of other members)  have designed and built take a look at this link

My Audio Alchemy (image99.net)

Hope you find this post useful

BTW - it is the :"Coles Notes" version - it can, and does get a lot more complicated!


Having spent many years investigating cables, I have had first hand experience of how different things can positively impact the sound we get to enjoy from our systems

I have has success implementing cables on mini-systems costing as little as $200, up to pretty good systems in excess of $70k - other members have much more expensive systems and have observed similar improvements also

Unfortunately the cable companies like to spin their jargon as to why their cables are the best.

But the answer is pretty simple - a good cable will use...

  1. excellent quality wire - copper or silver
    • There are varying grades of copper in used, the best being UP-OCC copper
    • There are varying grades of silver used, with UP-OCC Silver currently being the best
    • What is the difference? - Conductivity
      • beryllium copper, teryllium copper, Bronze or Brass
        • are all copper alloys
        • their Conductivty is 70% or lower
      • Pure Anealed copper is rated at 100% and is the Benchmark for Conductivity
      • OFC copper is around 101%
      • UP-OCC copper is 102% -103%
      • Silver is 106%
      • UP-OCC silver is 107%
    • What is the benefit of using a high conductive metal ?
      • better details and improved clarity
      • better/faster dynamic performance
      • better/faster transient processing response
  2. good quality insulation
    • lowers cable related noise issues - so it lowers the noise floor of a cable
    • The Dielectric Constant (Dk) The ratio of the permittivity of a cable
      • is the metric used to indicate the electrical activity of the insulation
      • As the signal changes polarity in an AC sifgnal it charges the insulation in one direction
      • and then recharges it in the opposite direction when the polarity changes
      • this flip-flopping injects noise into the metal wire
      • using insulations with a low Dk reduces the maount of noise generated and improves clarity, details and imaging
        • PVC has a Dk of 4 (ish)
        • Teflon is 2.2
        • Foamed Teflon is 1.45
        • Cotton or Silk is 1.3
        • Air is 1.1 Vacuum is 1.0
  3. built using a good noise cancelling cable geometry
    • Cable Geometry is how the individual conductors are situated with respect to each other.
    • When you have two wires side be side in close proximity, as with many cables in use, you get distortions induced from one wire into the wire next to it
    • This is noise and impacts overall cable performance
    • "separating" the wires will be beneficial
    • Some examples of cable Geometry are
      • twisted pair (the most prone to noise depending on tightness of the twist)
      • braided (e.g. Kimber Kable products)
      • Helix Spiral designs (e.g. Anticables)
      • Ribbon designs - Like Nordost speaker cables
  4. use great quality connectors
    • many connectors use brass or some copper alloy, but as identifed above, the low conductivity metals will impede cable performance
    • Also, in the case of interconnects and speaker cables, the mass of the connector also impedes signal trasmisson
      • well enginnered Low Mass, high conductivity connectors provide significantly better performance
    • For Power connectors, pure copper or silver plated copper provides better performance
    • the flatness of the pins (US and UK style connectors) will also help

As with everything in this hobby there are improvements that can be achieved with "refinements" to the above basic design points and those refinements will be reflected in the cost.

RE: the "Power supply" to the system

  • most power supplies to the house are stable, but some people do experience noise related issues often from commercial builds that are close by,
    • This type of "noise" is generally tiny voltage variations on the AC signal
    • for this type of issue a good power conditoiner or power regenerator is often reqired
  • Othrewise, if the power supply to your house is relatively clean then simply having a good power cable to each component will improve sound quality, Why?
    • this is how it was explained to me by a very knowledgeable person with a wealth of Electrical Engineering experience
      • At each connection point in the "power supply line" i.e. at each breaker, outlet and plug - the transfer of electrical energy is only depedant on the quality of that connction and the quality of any wire used to bridge from one connection point to the next
      • This is why a good power cable will provide improvements in performance
  • A dedicated line from the breaker panel to your system provides noticeable benefits
  • Quality outlets, like Hospital grade MRI outlets from companies like Pass and Seymour, will grip the plugs more tightly and provide better power transmission

RE: the power supliies inside components...

  • Power amps tend to have very large transformers and banks of capacitors (i.e. compared to source components), which are designed to supply enough power, especially when large transient signals are encountered
    • But even the very best amps can also benefit from having a very good power cable
    • But for the best amps you will need an exceptionally good power cable in order to achieve any noticeable benefit
  • Source components, especially in the more budget oriented designs, tend to have a less capable power supply, so having a good power cable will provide a more noticeable benefit.
  • Wal-Wart power supplies are perhaps the worst - I avoid them or replace them

The cable companies I typically recommend include

  • Zavfino
  • In-Akustik
  • Hijiri

There are a few others, but these provide good and noticeable Bang-for-$Buck

Zavfino is a great place to start and their product line caters to many budgets and their products actually perform.

There are many opinions out there.

Some believe in the benefits of cables and other do not

So use the Audogon search feature to aquire knowledge from postings from other members pertaining to cables.

Apologies for the long post, but this subject gets complicaed very fast

Hope it helps - Steve


Just an FYI - RE: Stranded vs. Solid wires

As far as I have been able to determine it is associated to the valence electrons ability to cross from one strand to another (not an easy task aooarantly)

  • it takes a lot more "energy" to jump between strands and will only happen if the current draw exceeds the capabilities of each single strand
  • this process generates heat and the wire warms up
    • it also introduces noise into the wire
  • too much current and the insulation will fail - long before the wire melts
  • as a result the stranded wires are rated for a lower current capacity

Regards - Steve

@mbolek - How many folks actually remember corded phones....

Corded phones were a real hassle

But how about the rotary dial phone

  • that was the reason for 911
  • the UK adopted 999 and it took forever to dial it.

I can remember my Dad's first phone - it was a "party line" - so you shared the line with another household - you had to listen to the pattern of the ring-tone to determine if the call was for you or the other party

But my favoutle phone memory was one of those first cell phones that was the size of a small brick with a 6" antenna sticking out of the top. You see them occasionally on old TV shows.

Compared to those technologies - vinyl is alive adn well 😎




I’m to the point where we can buy a really solid cables from the likes of Zavfino, AE, Viborg.

I’m still waiting on the CCC cable. I’ll keep building DIY stuff, but do agree that we will be cable free in the near future.

How many folks actually remember corded phones....

Thank you very much Steve @williewonka for sharing your experience and knowledge! I hope some will find this thread useful. I certainly do.


Zavfino is certainly a great cable company with affordable pricing to boot. They give you a very good baseline on how great cables are built and how they sound

@fredcobbs - thanks for your comments - it sounds like you probably learned much about the craft of cables by trying those things that seemed reasonable and then listening intently.

Many of the basic details are available on the web, but then there are those things that others have tried and suggested (like dual wires in the signal conductor), which for me is up there in the "fine tuning" of cable construction.

I’ve never heard of Wonder Solder, but there is so much in the way of solders it’s just impossible to try every type and there are better products released every year

I tried the silver plated wires for the signal conductors early on and found them harsh compared to the plain copper or plain silver

  • probably due to the speed of valence electrons of the two metals
    • the silver coating would propogate the signal faster than the copper resulting in smearing of the signal

Thanks for the feedback on the benefits of cryo treating - I’ve often used cryo wires because that’s the way they came, so I have never had the opportunity to compare them to non-cryo wires

With the advancements in bluetooth technology, I don’t think it will be long before cables become a thing of the past.

  • Pretty soon all speakers will come complete with the amp and Bluetooth technology, so you just plug it in and connect it to your streaming device.
  • Bluesound speakers are built around this type of concept and they work extremely well
    • they don’t sound as good as conventional speakers,
    • but that’s only a matter of time
  • No more Cables! - all that knowledge - lost - forever!

I’ve stopped developing my cables any further - they have reached the limits of normal DIYer capabilities. But it was a fun ride and I learned a lot.

Regards - Steve

Wiliewonka, In my experience, there is lots great information in your post. I had a small cable business back in the 80s/90s and I learned the hard way many of the things you mentioned. I even Cryo treated OFC copper back thirty years ago. Now a lot of people do it. Definite sonic benefits. Smoother more relaxed sound with ample detail that does not annoy. I have never given up my itch to experiment with cables. Just my thing. My designs used a lot of bundled solid core wires rather than finely stranded wire and it presents it’s own challenges and benefits. All history now. I recently had an old friend send me a couple of my old cables from 30 years ago to compare to my current cables. I actually wasn’t embarrassed although the current cables are subjectively better and cheaper with inflation considered. I’d like to put in a recommendation for Wonder Solder. I used to use it exclusively instead of lead solder or silver solders. It really was superior. People are selling "Wonder Solder" Ebay now and I wonder if it is the same stuff. I might add that I've never thought much of silver plated copper conductors except in digital cables.

+1 for the Zavfino cable recommendation.  I use their Silver Dart graphene interconnects.  They are phenomenal.

@williewonka   Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed response.  I admire all the time and listening you have put into these DIY projects.  For me has always made for fascinating reading.  Thanks for your contributions and encourage you in future posts.

@mbolek - keep us updated here when you get the CCC wires.

The Zavfino wires look very interesting - 13 gauge might be good for speaker cables or mains cables?

Cheers - Steve

@rarerace - my "benchmark cables" are the latest recipe of my DIY Helix Cables.

I have not actually tried either the In-Akustik or Hijiri cables to date.

So how could I possibly recommend them?

During the development of the DIY Helix cables I exchanged ideas and thoughts  with a great many people across the globe, as to the design of the cables, types of wire, types of insulation and types of connectors.

During those exchanges several of the participants have shared their observations regarding the performance of the DIY Helix, compared to some well established brands, among them, In-Akustik and Hijiri. 

Also - I have used a few other cables over the years, such as those from Kimber Kables, Van den Hul and KLE Innovations and the DIY Helix cables have proven to be signifcantly better, so based on my own experiences and feedback from others I have a pretty good ideas as to the performance level of the DIY cables

Lastly, I scoured the internet looking for design details/geometries about the best cables and how they were designed and built, in order to understand what makes for a great cable.

From that effort I recognized there were three companies that excelled in cable design techniques and developments, whist keeping their product witin a "resonable budget" - they are

  • Zavfino,
  • In-Akustik and
  • Hijiri.

 So as it stands that this point in time, it is the opinion of a few audiophles that I have a great deal of respect for, that...

  • they prefer the DIY Helix cables over the In-Akustik cables
  • but they prefer the Hijiri cables over the DIY Helix cables

I have found that when you get to cables that perform to this level of excellence,

  • the differences are minimal 
  • it can be a swings and rounabouts kind of difference
    • i.e. it can often be a matter of personal taste
  • there may be some element of system synergy at play
    • so one cable may actually sound better on another system
  • the listening room can have an impact on cable choice.

Are there better cables out there? probably,

But it seems from your post you are extremely happy with your cables and the reason for that is, they are both exceptional products that perform in top end of their market segment.

Regards - Steve

@corelli - over the years I have used several solders with varying degrees of impact.

  • leaded solder were among the worst
  • lead free solders were a little better
  • high silver content solders were one of the best
  • but I now opt for eutectic solders

Several years ago, during a 4 year term at an advanced electronics fabrication company, I first became aware of Eutectic solders and the reasons why they were used i.e. they solidify as soon as the heat source is removed

So when I eventually obtained this solder as a DIYer,  I tried it in a variety of applications and found it almost matched the silver solder regarding sound quality, but it also made a significantly stronger joint.

I have tried various cables connection strategies, such as bare wire, crimped connectors, screw clamp connectors and soldered joints and to date I find the soldered joint (using eutectic solder) to be the best of all.

But that is with the connectors that I use....

  • KLE Innovations Absolute Harmony for RCA's (solder required)
  • KLE Innovatoins Harmony Banana plugs (solder required)
  • Sonar Quest Silver plated Pure Copper mains connectors
    • these are screw-clamp devices,
      • but I use small copper spade connectors to terminate the wires
      • this may have a very slight detrimental impact on sound quality,
      • but with mains cables i prefer to elliminate any chance of the connection working loose and failing
      • to date this has proved to be very successful from both a safety and sound quality perspective

Compared to the earlier connectors I had used, the ones listed above are vastly superior in every respect and because of their superior signal transmission capabiities, any impact that using that small amount of solder for joints may now have, seems to be negated by the superior transmisson capabilities of the connectors.

  As for your comment...

Just doesn’t make sense that if some appreciate a cotton insulation over Teflon, the solder issue would be far more audible.

The  impact of different insulation types of far greater than what solder is capable of impacting on a signal.

One example of this that had me perplexed for a while was people's preference for Duelund Tinned Copper with Cotton/oil insulatiion

  • it made no sense whatsoever, because tinned copper is not as good pure copper for signal transmission
    • then I realzied that what people preferred was the clarity of Duelund wire
      • which is due to the cotton/oil insulation having a dielectrc constant of 1.3,
      • compared to a copper wire with Teflon insulation, that has a dielectric constant of 2.2.

The impact of the type of insulation becomes more significant as the resolution of the components you select becomes finer.

Micro details that reproduce those tiny echoes and reverberations that travel around the venue were the first thing I became aware of. There was also a marked improvements in the focus of the image i.e. the placement of performers within the image and the air that surrounds them.

  •  being able to hear those tiny tiny details also suggests that the imapct of any soldered joint in a cable is minimal at best

Hope that all makes sense - Steve

@williewonka how do you like Inakustik vs Hijiri? I’ve had a chance to have both of those in my system and they are fantastic!


Hi Steve,

Still waiting on delivery of my AR CCC wire....I went cheap and didn’t upgrade the delivery option. We’ll see if it ever shows up.

I picked up some Zavfino hook up wire from partsconnexion. I really don’t know where to use it. 13awg OCC with silver. I think too large for an XLR build.


Maybe a good candidate for an internal wire upgrade for my Wharfedale Elysian’s.

I really like some of the Viborg stuff. Even though its OFC, solid cables.




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Steve, your points/suggestions noted above are all very good and "sound" advice. I have found your Helix thread very interesting indeed--especially the IC section.

There is just one issue that drives me nuts. So we go to great length to pick great materials and optimize all these other parameters. And then it’s time to connect the wire to the RCA plug. And we use resort to using a slurry on inferior metals i.e. solder! Worse yet, they are usually used as the primary conductor because most RCA plugs, including the KLE’s, do not facilitate a good MECHANICAL connection prior to sealing the joint with solder.

Now I realize our beloved music is forced through hundreds of these solder connections in other components. Just doesn’t make sense that if some appreciate a cotton insulation over Teflon, the solder issue would be far more audible.

Any thoughts?

I recently built a two foot pair of cables for turntable to equalizer where the signal voltage is about 50mv.  Capacitance between signal wire and cable shield was the most important parameter.  My last build was 15pf per foot and the improved clarity is obvious.


Acoustic Revive uses CCC nearly in all of their products, Furutech in only 2 power cables.

Acrolink uses mainly DUCC and Furutech in only two products.

Other Japanese companies like AET and Hijiri do not specify purity of OFC used in their products. Oyaide, Neotech and Nanotec  I believe use OCC only.




@noromance - can you provide links to these wires?

I have only seen the Furutech bulk speaker cables and power cables.


As was pointed out to me recently, Triple C (CCC) and DUCC are meant to be an even purer form of the metal.

There are varying grades of copper in used, the best being UP-OCC copper