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DIY Silver RCA Interconnect Cables

 Mark Houston  Australia Flag   To email Mark, type out the email address.

DIY Silver RCA Interconnect Cables

Audiophiles and general listeners can agree and disagree on a whole range of topics with relation to two channel stereo equipment. However, the greatest debate about any component in a hi-fi system typically is about cables. I don't think there is any keen listener who would not agree that you should use good quality cables. I guess the debate really comes down to HOW GOOD a quality and is there really a difference between $20, $200 and $1000 cables?

I believe interconnect cables should be matched to the equipment. My DIY 12AX7 tube preamplifier kit requires a low capacitance interconnect to the power amp. To this end I decided to make my own DIY cables.

Fine Silver Wire for Hi-Fi Audio

Lately, I have been using 0.7 mm uninsulated fine silver (99.99% pure) to act as hook-up wire in power amps and especially preamps. I only use it in the signal path. Generally running spaghetti over it prior to soldering. Because it is only $AU4.70 a meter, I figure why not? I have noticed that my new 12AX7 based preamp sounded particularly precise when I used this wire. Crystal clear, huge sound stage and instruments etched into a deep background with voice which has brought me to tears. So why not make solid pure silver interconnects? Well here's how to do it.

DIY Silver RCA Interconnect Cable Construction

This single-ended RCA interconnect (IC) cable project is very easy to construct, extremely satisfying and relatively inexpensive to complete with astonishing results. The design is simple, requiring only three pieces of insulated silver wire, heat shrink tubing and gold plated RCA connectors. Two of the wires, the white and blue are connected to earth at the source connection. The red wire connected to the center pin both ends. The white wire is NOT connected at the destination end. The white wire is an interwoven shield and does this with out adding (or adding very little) capacitance. The blue wire is grounded at both ends.

To construct a pair of the cables, you will require the following parts:

Table 1: Required Parts for DIY Silver IC Cables

 Parts-Express Part #  Item Description
Local Jewelry Shop
0.7 mm (~22 Ga) pure Silver Wire
1/16" Heat Shrink - red
1/16" Heat Shrink - white
1/16" Heat Shrink - blue
1/4" Heat Shrink - red
1/4" Heat Shrink - black
WBT Silver based Solder
(two pairs) Gold Plated RCA Plugs
(two) Ferrite Core 1/4" Cord Noise Suppressor

Step by step instructions follow:

  • Cut silver wire to required length.
  • Cut 1.5mm heat shrink about 1 cm shorter than the silver wire.
  • Clean the silver wire with silver cleaning solution.
  • Without touching the wire with bare hands feed it into the heat shrink.
  • Hold the top wire with pliers while applying the heat. Start at the center and work top and bottom turning the wire to get an even shrink. Do not put any strain on the tubing at the bottom for when it is hot it will stretch to nothing. Do not over heat this will weaken the tubing. My heat gun is 1600 watts and I hold it about 5 cm from the tubing waving it up and down a little.
  • Leave about 2.5 cm at the end then twist about another 2.5 cm together to get the individual silver wires to hold together.
  • Cover the twisted end in a wide peace of spaghetti and with a clamp secure the end. Use spaghetti to stop the clamp damaging the soft heat shrink tube. Remove the spaghetti when finished.

DIY Wire Twisting Jig

Photograph 1: DIY Wire Twisting Jig

Twist 2.5 cm of the three wires together at the end leaving about 2.5 cm untwisted.

Braiding / Twisting Silver Wire

Photograph 2: Braiding / Twisting Silver Wire

Slide 5 mm heat shrink over the twisted wire, leave about 2.5 cm at each end and shrink down.

Covered Silver Wire

Photograph 3: Covered Silver Wire

  • Slide the screw covers of the plugs on to the coved wire then another 10 cm of the same color heat shrink. This will be shrunk over the soldered connection last. Make sure you match connector covers with tube color.
  • Decide which end is to be the destination and cut the white wire away just where it pokes out from the heat shrink.
  • Label the source cover "S" and the destination cover "D" in permanent pen.

Prior to Soldering RCA Plugs

Photograph 04: Prior to Soldering RCA Plugs

  • Solder the ends making sure the heat shrink cover is well into the plug and can be clamped with the wires once soldered. Test the cable for shorts.
  • Squeeze the connector clamps firmly but be very careful my heat shrink stays very soft and you could easily damage it or short all wires with a heavy hand.

Soldered RCA Plugs

Photograph 5: Soldered RCA Plugs

  • Slide up the peace of extra heat shrink you loaded on last. Shrink it to right over the internals of the plug, center pin and all.

Heat Shrink to the RCA Plug

Photograph 6: Heat Shrink to the RCA Plug

  • Screw together the RCA covers and test again for shorts.

heat shrunk wire and male RCA plug

Photograph 7: Heat Shrunk Silver Wire and Male RCA Plug

  • Put a layer or two of electrical tape 10 cm from the destination end and snap over your ferrite choke. There should be a little pressure when you snap these into place but do not crush the cable. Use the electrical tape to regulate the thickness of the cable.

DIY Silver RCA Interconnect Cables

Photograph 7: Finished DIY Silver RCA Interconnect Cables

Finished DIY Interconnect RCA Cables

Photograph 8: Another set of DIY Silver RCA Interconnect Cables

Sound: DIY Silver IC Cables

I found these DIY silver conductor IC cables to better than the Nordost Blue Heaven interconnect. I was so pleased with the results I made an additional pair to go from the CDP to my valve preamp. It just got better. Razor sharp image etching, crystal clear highs and deeply textured instrument and voice toning. You will be seduced - be warned.

Finished DIY Interconnect RCA Cables

Photograph 9: DIY Silver Wire RCA IC Cables with Cotton Insulation

DIY Silver Wire RCA IC Cables with Cotton Insulation

Photograph 9 above shows another set of solid silver wire RCA cables. This silver cables are constructed following the above recipie with the exception that cotton insulation was used. The Cotton ConneX cables were very difficult to construct as the cotton insulation continues to fray. However, these were well worth the construction effort as they produce a different and enchanting interconnect cable.