Pure Silver vs Silver Plated Copper Wires

Not all silver looking wires are created equally

Silver alloy materials should not be confused with a silver plated copper material, which not only sounds inferior and but also only uses less than 1% of pure silver. Electro-plating is a low cost chemical process, where a very thin layer of silver is plated on the surface of copper. It is by miles sonically inferior to the process of physically melting high content Silver with copper. Unless copper is very thickly silver plated (in practice only up to 100 microns)  silver plated copper wires tend to have a two dimensional dissonating  sound with shouting and muffled top end, wash out midrange and an undefined bass.

Contrary to a common believe, pure silver conductors have no noisy harsh top end nor are unpleasantly bright sounding. As regarding  the sound character of silver wires, we would not be able to put it better than Peter Qvortrup of Audio Note did: “A dilemma which has made a great many audio designers and other pundits to believe that silver sounds thin, bright and hard, and rather than investigate properly why it does. It has always proved more convenient, not to mention cost effective, to blame the silver for the ills created by poor solutions chosen elsewhere. Silver does not in itself sound hard, bright or thin, what it does do is expose the underlying un-linearities and distortions in the circuit, the output devices or the choice of passive components, and it does so by virtue of its far superior ability to pass low level information. Thus acting a bit like the whistleblower always accused of treason”.

Silver wires are usually available in variety of purity and usually are alloys. Most common are pure silver 4N (99.99%) or Sterling (92.5%) silver purity. Some sellers claim that they use pure silver wires with 5N (99.999%) or even 6N (99.9999%) silver purity. I would seriously question the validity of such claims since in practice the purity of 5N and 6N purity in silver is hardly achievable (achievable only in lab like conditions). When wires of 5N or more purity are handled with hands, soldered, just exposed to oxygen or sunlight, the claimed purity of silver is lost. The other issue is the cost. It would cost about 10 times of the 4N silver and would therefore push the cost of an average cable into hundreds of pounds. I would question how it is possible to sell cables with silver wires of 5N or more purity for such low prices: Is a seller selling for a loss or is he or she deliberately deceiving its customers? Furthermore, we came across cables that used either Sterling (92% silver content, which cost more than half of the price of the 4N pure silver) or even silver plated copper (<1% silver content, 1/50 of the price of 4N silver) being offered as pure 5N silver wire!

Does the treble sound bright and shouting relative to your other pure silver cables? If yes, then I would have a reasonable doubt that the wires inside a cable are made of pure silver.

Informed and Rational Choice

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