Does speaker cable get corroded if removed from speaker and kept aside? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Does speaker cable get corroded if removed from speaker and kept aside?

I had 12 gauge copper cable (cut from a spool) connected to a pair of floorstanding speakers in my previous house, when i shifted houses i sold the speakers and kept the speaker cables aside in a basic plastic bag. Now in my new home i have a bunch of bookshelf speakers for the fronts and want to wire them, is the same speaker cable REUSABLE? Does copper get corroded over time and would it negatively impact sound quality? I can chop off 2-3 inches from both ends of the speaker cables and install them again with the bookshelf speakers. but is it advisable? It's been around 3 months since i have had the speaker cables kept in the plastic bag. Or would it be necessary to buy a new speaker cable spool?
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menarini View Post
I had 12 gauge copper cable (cut from a spool) connected to a pair of floorstanding speakers in my previous house, when i shifted houses i sold the speakers and kept the speaker cables aside in a basic plastic bag. Now in my new home i have a bunch of bookshelf speakers for the fronts and want to wire them, is the same speaker cable REUSABLE? Does copper get corroded over time and would it negatively impact sound quality? I can chop off 2-3 inches from both ends of the speaker cables and install them again with the bookshelf speakers. but is it advisable? It's been around 3 months since i have had the speaker cables kept in the plastic bag. Or would it be necessary to buy a new speaker cable spool?
Best way to check is to open the insulation on a foot or so and inspect the copper. If the cable isn't very old, it should be fine.

When I started work for a big recording studio complex in 1976, they had very nice Gotham Audio microphone cables. After many years, I inspected the cables and found a lot of corrosion in the copper. I threw them away and bought new cables. I'm not sure at what age deterioration starts to occur, but I suspect it might be 10 years or more.

Last edited by Rex Anderson; 07-22-2019 at 10:09 AM.
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post #3 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Menarini View Post
I had 12 gauge copper cable (cut from a spool) connected to a pair of floorstanding speakers in my previous house, when i shifted houses i sold the speakers and kept the speaker cables aside in a basic plastic bag. Now in my new home i have a bunch of bookshelf speakers for the fronts and want to wire them, is the same speaker cable REUSABLE? Does copper get corroded over time and would it negatively impact sound quality? I can chop off 2-3 inches from both ends of the speaker cables and install them again with the bookshelf speakers. but is it advisable? It's been around 3 months since i have had the speaker cables kept in the plastic bag. Or would it be necessary to buy a new speaker cable spool?
I do not believe that there'd be a problem with cutting off the ends, and using the same cables if you have enough length to be able to do that. You probably wouldn't even need to chop off 2-3 inches, either. I'm sure the exposed copper would oxidize over time, but that oxidization wouldn't really creep into the rest of the unexposed wire afaik.

edit: it seems I may be mistaken as per the response above.
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 09:48 AM
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If the wire has been stored in a dry location they should be fine. If it has been wet, water will wick into the cable and could be corroded internally. This would be highly unlikely however unless you had the wire setting out in the rain or submerged. The exposed copper will oxidize and turn purple-ish or even black. This oxidation can be scraped off with a knife or if you have plenty of length trim it back and strip it to expose fresh copper. If you have a soldering iron it's easy to "tin" the ends and makes them easier to insert into the speaker connections and prevents a stray strand from shorting out on an adjacent contact. The solder will protect the copper from oxidizing. I have speaker wires that are over 30 years old that I had stored in an unheated shed that I recently reused and they were in perfect condition.
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post #5 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Anderson View Post
Best way to check is to open the insulation on a foot or so and inspect the copper. If the cable isn't very old, it should be fine.

When I started work for a big recording studio complex in1976, they had very nice Gotham Audio microphone cables. After many years, I inspected the cables and found a lot of corrosion in the copper. I threw them away and bought new cables. I'm not sure at what age deterioration starts to occur, but I suspect it might be 10 years or more.
Microphone cables are subject to plenty of handling and often times, sweat which can be very corrosive. I have repaired many microphone cables over the years and thrown away many more. Modern over the ear type mics and cable really take a beating from sweat and are pretty gross to have to repair. Speaker wire is an entirely different deal, not much handling that would expose the wire to sweat and it's a much heavier gauge wire vs the rather light gauge microphone cable.
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post #6 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 10:08 AM
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Microphone cables are subject to plenty of handling and often times, sweat which can be very corrosive. I have repaired many microphone cables over the years and thrown away many more. Modern over the ear type mics and cable really take a beating from sweat and are pretty gross to have to repair. Speaker wire is an entirely different deal, not much handling that would expose the wire to sweat and it's a much heavier gauge wire vs the rather light gauge microphone cable.
The mic cables I had were used for classical music recording and not handled by sweaty rock stars, lol. Because I was at the same facility for 34 years (University of Illinois School of Music), I saw a lot of stuff degrade over time. I threw out some 12 gauge speaker cable too. Time takes a toll on copper. Oxidation occurs unless you live in a very dry climate. Just my experience and two cents worth.

Last edited by Rex Anderson; 07-22-2019 at 10:12 AM.
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 10:09 AM
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As long as the insulation isn't cracking, you can definitely cut a couple inches off each end and continue using it. You'll notice the exposed wire has gotten dull looking, but the freshly stripped wire should be nice and shiny. I've had extremely old wire that had cheap insulation that was cracked and when I exposed new wire, it was still dull looking, but that's decades old wire from the hardware store where the insulation was visibly cracking.
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually the speaker cables on ends have banana plugs attached to them. So i could cut an inch or two next to the plugs?
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 10:27 AM
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You remove the banana plugs first, then reattach them after cutting and stripping new ends. Unless they are commercially assembled cables with the banana plugs sealed on. In that case, there's no need to do anything.
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Menarini View Post
Actually the speaker cables on ends have banana plugs attached to them. So i could cut an inch or two next to the plugs?
If your worried yes chopping off an inch or two would work. It should be fairly easy to tell if its corroded, the bare copper wire should appear bright and well copper colored, if its not then it has corroded a bit.
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post #11 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 10:39 AM
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My Canare 4S11 speaker cables made by Blue Jeans Cables use a sonic weld to the banana plugs. I would not cut them off. Most anything else can be cut off and re-terminated.

I would strip back more than a few inches if you can afford to lose the length to inspect the copper wire further back than just the point of termination. Start with and inch or two and work your way back an inch or two at a time. If you get 6-12 inches back and the copper looks good on one cable, I wouldn't worry about checking the others if they are all the same age.

Last edited by Rex Anderson; 07-22-2019 at 11:34 AM.
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post #12 of 12 Old 07-22-2019, 10:55 AM
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If the banana plugs are the screw together type, I would unscrew one of them and have a look at the copper wire. If it's not all oxidized, I'd screw it back together and call it good. If it's soldered or crimped together it's likely fine and and the most I would do would be to use an ohmmeter to check the resistance and compare it to the resistance of the meter probe to probe resistance which should be around an ohm or so.
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