Speaker wire oxidation

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Bates, Nov 27, 2001.

  1. Mark Bates

    Mark Bates Agent

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    I always though that the talk about speaker wire oxidizing was a bunch of BS. Well I was very wrong. I got my new reciever today and since I was upgrading that I though it's a good time to upgrade the speaker wire while I am at it. When I removed the speaker wire and placed it against the new role to get the correct length I noticed that the bare copper on the old wire was much darker then the new wire. At first I thought that it was just a different type of copper and just darker, but as I looked just an inch or so under the clear plastic sheath I noticed that this was much lighter as well. It became obvious that the bare wire had indeed started to oxidize and not only where it was bare but up to an inch or so into the sheathing. Both ends had the same thing and one end was on a screw type banana plug the other end directly connected to the reciever post.

    I was always planning to solder the new wire as soon as my banana plugs showed up from radioshack, but now I realize that I will want to put more effort into making sure no air can get in under the sheathing as well.

    The old wire was at most two years old and already a very dark almost black color.

    I was definately surprised,

    Mark
     
  2. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    Mark,
    Oxidation is on the surface of the wire. As long as the area of wire that you are clamping, crimping or soldering is not noticiably oxidized, you will be OK. If you are soldering, make sure you use a good flux to clean the wire before soldering.
    FYI, oxidation is caused by exposure to air and the only way to prevent oxidation from getting under the insulation is to make the end of the insulation air tight. I am not sure this is pratical with stranded speaker wire.
     
  3. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Correctly soldered terminations are air tight. As long as

    the termination is air tight that's all you need to worry

    about. You may get some oxidization on the wire further back

    from the termination area but the important part is that the

    area where the wire is in contact with whatever termination

    you use, will stay clean therefore you are not loosing contact.
     
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Mark,

    It oxidized in only two years? I’m going to hazard a guess that the old speaker wire was rather cheap? The only time I’ve had a problem with oxidized speaker wire was when it was really cheap wire.

    I may be wrong about this, but I think if you use so-called oxygen-free wire oxidation will not be a problem (or least not a big one). I’ve been using Radio Shack’s Mega speaker wire for seven years, and it has not oxidized.

    Regards,

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  5. Mark Bates

    Mark Bates Agent

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    I used two types of wire and both had oxidation. For my fronts I used 12aw copper wire, that wasn't cheap, but it wasn't very expensive either. I probably got it at Radio Shack or Tweeter. Can't remember the brand I already threw it out. For my rears I used Monster Cable flat 14 or 16 awg wire.

    The wire wasn't falling apart or anything. It was just heavily discolored.

    Mark
     
  6. JohnMW

    JohnMW Second Unit

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    Wayne, did you happen to notice that Mark is from MA? There is a lot of salt in the air up there. We good ole boys from TX don't have to worry about that. [​IMG]
     
  7. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Oxidization will occour in any copper wire or silver wire

    for that matter, and in any environment. It just takes longer

    to oxidize in less humid environments and as has been stated

    being nearby to large bodies of salt water does indeed speed

    up the process (on cars as well).

    But sure enough in time any wire will oxidize whether it's

    oxygen free or not doesn't much matter.. The process of

    making OFC is more to remove impurities in the copper and

    to straighten out grain patterns within that copper. That

    doesn't mean it's less prone to oxidize, because it is still

    copper.

    I have had RS MegaCable oxidize in a years time and I am

    no where near a body of salt water (south western PA)

    That does NOT mean MegaCable is bad, it's actualy a very

    good cable. But some things are inevitable.
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Er, wasn’t looking at that, John! Actually, where I live (outside Houston) the humidity is brutally high, and I haven’t had any problems.

    Brett, since the Megacable didn’t work for you, have you found something that has? Maybe it would work for Mark, too.

    Regards,

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  9. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Wayne,

    Define "work" because IMHO every single wire from every

    single manufacturer is eventualy going to corrode, it's

    just a matter of time. It's not a question of if, it is

    a question of "when".

    I use Sound King's 12awg OFC but I haven't had it for

    a year yet to tell you the findings, and on top of that

    I only use Silver Soldered terminations so I won't ever

    see the oxidization anyway.

    The Megacable is great stuff as is the SoundKing, the

    diffrence is Megacable is $0.99/Foot and SoundKing is

    $30.00/100 Foot
     
  10. Per Berger

    Per Berger Auditioning

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    Try this if you've had your speaker wires up and running for at least a year:
    Listen to the sound. Disconnect the cable. Cut off about 2-3 inches of cable. Cut off the insulation as usual. Apply a thin layer of vaseline to the copper strands. Repeat at the other end. Reconnect the cable, listen again and marvel at the refreshed sound quality.
    I do this at least once a year plus clean all cable connectors and apply vaseline, works wonders!
    /P
     
  11. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Interesting suggestion, Per. The vasoline would essentially make a more-or-less air tight seal, which is would inhibit corrosion.

    Come to think of it, this is similar to what I do on my cars. I put a coating of motor oil around the battery terminals. When the cable is installed, I have an air-tight seal and thus no corrosion. After all, you can’t have oxidation where there is no oxygen!

    Good Luck,

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    P.S. Welcome to the Forum, Per!
     
  12. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Per,
    Welcome to the forum and that is a great suggestion.
    Wayne,
    Instead of using motor oil try Vaseline on the battery
    terminals also. It's what I have been doing for years..
    Dad taught me that trick.. Among others.. Got a radiator
    Leak? Try Black Pepper in the Coolant.. It can temporarily
    fix a small leak.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    It would be better to start with a totally fresh, clean connection, and put the Vaseline over that. That way, the lube isn't adding resistance to the connection (which it will- grease and oil make good dielectrics). That way, you have great connection, AND the oxygen is kept out.

    Todd

    P.S. Where does one get Silver solder, and do you need a hotter iron. Surprisingly, in all my years of soldering, I've never used it.
     
  14. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Todd,

    you can get Silver Solder at Radio Shack or the best stuff

    can be had from WBT (very pricey though) RadioShack's Silver

    Solders are usualy a lower content mix and don't require

    more heat than your standard 60/40's and the like.

    Pure silver solder requires oxyacetelene torches to melt

    and it's very hard when it sets up (no where near as malable

    as a Silver/Lead/Tin mix)
     

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