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Author Topic: Audible effect of capsule wires and head basket shapes?  (Read 11388 times)

M Stage

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Audible effect of capsule wires and head basket shapes?
« on: April 08, 2015, 12:08:01 am »

Hello Klaus and community,
I am interested in rewiring both of the capsule heads of my vintage u67 and u87 microphones with new wire as they have corroded. Which good brands of wire are available for such an application and what their sonic differences might be?
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klaus

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This is the first I have ever heard of wire corrosion in Neumann head assemblies.
Let's see a picture!

Anyway, as long as you stay away from single wire (monofilament) lead-out material, you'll be at least on Neumann's quality level.

Beyond that it's voodoo land: I consistently have used Gotham's 96-strand GAC 3 material when I replace wiring in Neumann heads. It has no resonance and I happen to like the material's sound in low-impedance cables (interconnects), which seems to translate in lead out wires as well. I am no longer using silver wire. Its sonic brightness bugs me, and seems to veer away from the capsule's actual sound (who knows what that is like, unless you connect it with a wire....) I also make sure to use leaded silver solder when I connect the wires.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Jim Williams

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In my microphones I use Kimber Black Pearls solid core 26 awg pure silver wire with a 10,000V teflon dialectric insulation. This is the finest sounding wire I've ever used. It reveals all, including impurities. As long as the rest of the circuits are equal, it's about as real as a wire can sound. I also use it in my console to wire faders and I use it for S/PDIF and power amp connections in a 3 braid configuration.

WBT 4% silver solder is used to connect it. Silver may expose upper sonics some may not like, but it is closer to the source and any uglies present are not the fault of silver but are exposed from it.
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M Stage

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I've noticed many people that like to use silver wire when they are rebuilding or altering the sound of a mic. But is gold wire ever used? Has anyone in this forum ever used gold wire or an alloy that mixes silver and gold? The wires in the mics are so short that it couldn't be so much more to use gold.
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klaus

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Contrary to common assumption, gold is an inferior conductor compared to silver, but is the superior contact material, with lower oxidization propensity, compared to all other materials used in electronics.

That may be more of a reason than cost why gold is not used as conductor material in audio wiring, but can often be found in the plating of connector pins.
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Klaus Heyne
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boz6906

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So what I'm hearing is that silver wire exhibits a differenet freq. response than copper wire?

Is this a different parameter than simple resistance (which is virtually identical, 5.6% difference)?

Ag 1.59
Cu 1.68

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/tables/rstiv.html
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klaus

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All components in the audio chain, including straight wire, present phase and group delay, as well as phase shift. Most of it is too small to measure, but big enough to hear.

And you probably will not find authoritative, scientific information about the exact mechanism of that effect caused by different wire material or stranding. But in audio gear or component connections in general, silver wire is brighter than copper wire, all else being equal. And I am not in agreement with Jim that silver necessarily results in higher audio resolution, but I speculate that it is mostly an unpleasant (to my ears) frequency aberration due to the afore-mentioned delay/shift.
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Klaus Heyne
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Uwe

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As a plausible April Fools attempt this thread apparently was posted exactly one week too late!

Audible differences between copper and silver fir less than maximal 3 inch wire length? Really?

The same incredulity applies to the allegation for stranded VS solid wire. The only possible consideration may be a minute microphonic effect due to movement of the wires connecting the capsule. More important than the conductor material in this very high impedance environment is the quality and integrity of the wire insulation, with Teflon at the top of suggested materials.
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klaus

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No April Fool's joke, Uwe, just good old hearing observation.

I remember when, in the late 1980s, the late Stephen Paul and I constantly "stole" new ideas from each other, all in service to how to make mics sound "better", of course.

Stephen turned me on to solid sterling silver wire as capsule lead-out material, and, boy, did it make a difference! But, as so often is the case when adopting the "latest and greatest", after a while I realized that the disadvantages of that material, i.e high frequency prominence, was only good for compensating dull capsules or dull tubes, in which case I still occasionally use it, and on one electrode only (usually the backplate). In all other circumstances I have come to the conclusion that, in a well-balanced design, solid sterling silver wire is overkill, and detracts from an otherwise beautiful sounding mic.
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Klaus Heyne
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Kai

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The only possible consideration may be a minute microphonic effect due to movement of the wires connecting the capsule.
This is probably the most important part: when building my own LDC mics I found significant differences on here, beeing very obviously audible.
As one can imagine: mounting a resonating mechanical part directly to the capsule's body makes these resonances clearly audible once the mic is vibrated, as is the case when in use.
So straight wire is a no go due to its stiffness and low internal damping.
I uses teflon wrapped isolated fine-stranded silver plated copper cables, because teflon has the best electrical isolation and the wrapping instead of extruding further improves damping of resonances.

A good alternativ are the internal wires from high quality mic cables, like the ones from Klotz (mentioned as reference, not as advertisment, there are others too).

I can't make any comments on silver or copper based on personal experience, but I'm quite sure quantum effects can exist with the very low currents and voltages that we find in this extremly high impedance interconnection.
I mean, transition of electrons between the crystals of the conductor might be affected by those effects,
 so I wouldn't neglect the possibility of audible difference this special case.

On other occasions - line or speaker level, even mic to preamp connections, I never found any sonic differences between cables, if propery dimensioned.

Regards
Kai
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boz6906

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I can understand the idea of mechanical resonance, especially in solid conducters.

It would follow then that a more malleable or ductile metal would have more internal damping and less resonance.

The perceived sonic differences could be related to quantum effects as the electrons move across the crystal lattice structures, their movements and collisions ordered by the particular crystal structure of each element.

We should also consider the drift velocity of each conductor, it may affect phase and amplitude of the electron flow as the mean free path of electrons would be different in each element.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/ohmmic.html#c1
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klaus

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To address the solid wire resonance issue: When I use sterling silver solid wire (as mentioned above: judicially and rarely) I always zig-zag the lead in randomized repetitions, so not to introduce standing waves or resonances.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
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soapfoot

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Interesting, Klaus. Can you explain a bit of the physics behind why that works? Or is it more of a "gut feeling" kind of thing?
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klaus

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The primary purpose is quite practical:zig-zagging avoids standing waves and reduces resonances caused by external transmissions.
The secondary purpose of irregular repetitions of conductors, rather than coiling them, as in a spring, is to avoid or reduce the electrical coil effect, as it affects linear frequency response.
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

soapfoot

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  • brad allen williams

when you say "standing waves" do you mean acoustic standing waves between the surface of the wire itself and a surface like the capsule or the headbasket? if so, have you found the wire's surface area to be great enough to cause this issue?
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