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any reason to fear corrosion of speaker wire?

2802 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  RKMBrown
Since copper is likely to corrode on bare speaker wire, is it not a good idea to connect bare speaker wire directly to the receiver and speaker? Though it is easy to cut the end off to get fresh wire every so often, what about the risk of corrosion of the contact terminal on the receiver and speaker do to reacting with the copper speaker wire?
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Energy transfer will occur any time two dissimilar metals come in contact. It is always best to use the same materials. I don't believe I have ever seen copper posts, and even if I had, they too would tarnish and corrode with time. If you are concerned about corrosion on your A/V equipment, use specialty plugs made of the same material as your equipment connections. If your receiver has Tinned RCA plugs, use tinned RCA connectors. If the binding posts are gold plated, use gold plated spades, banana plugs, Maggie pins, etc. This will localize the corrosion at the wire/plug connection, which can be removed if/when it becomes an issue, at which time the wire can be cut back further and new plugs attached to the exposed copper wire.
Since I assume most receivers and speaker posts don't use copper connections, then are you saying you shouldn't ever use bare wire to the binding post?


It seems quite a few people in these boards say a direct bare wire connection is the best, but I wonder if the consequences are real or if the chance of damaging the binding post with corrosion is minimal.
I always arc weld my speaker wire to the connectors.
Try to use either pins (angled or straight), banana plugs or spade lugs. Gold pins come in crimp form, which is the best for that type of connection. The twist kind will come loose and the wire will develop an oxide layer (even if it doesn't corrode). Crimping is a way to make a gas tight connection at point of contact.


If you can afford it, use solder type spade lugs on Monster X-terminator banana plugs. I have a 12 year old Distech cable which is still going strong thanks to this means of connection. The sound sucks but the cable works great.
I do want as good sound quality as I can get as well.


Has anyone used bare wire for years with no problems at all?
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It is always best to use the same materials.
Gold or gold plated works too, either gold-to-gold or gold-to-anymetal, as gold will NOT react with anything
I use bare wire. I don't think there is much corrosion at the points of contact. I'd much rather deal with a little corrosion than an additional connection between the wire and connector. You can cut off the end and restrip every year or so if you're worried.


Mark
As with most things in life, the cause an effect relationship of idealizing one characteristic can have a detrimental effect upon other characteristics. The same can be said about systems of government, and why it is important to understand the detrimental effect ideals for one group can have upon the entire populous, and why our systemw as set up in such a way that at least the majority would be content. That may be a poor analagy... in fact, reading back over it, it really sucks. Too much can be read into it that isn't there.


Take Two:

Your initial question had to do with minimizing/preventing corrosion. IN other applications we can almost completely eliminate corrosion between dissimilar metals by using sacrificial anodes, or cathodic protection schemes, but if we did this to your A/V equipment, it is going to sound/look terrible. To minimize corrosion in your system I suggested using similar materials. If you live in a dry environment, and your home is climate controlled, then this is a mute point. If you have experienced a similar problem in the past then I can understand your concern.


Honestly, your primary concern should be optimizing the sound of your system. To reach that goal you want to minimize the number of connections/splices made in the system. "Process the media/data once and send it directly to the output device" is your best option. Not practicle since we all have multiple media inputs which requires a switching device of some sort. To reach that end, directly couple the speaker wires to the posts. That is what I have done, have done for years, I have never had an issue, but then I don't live on the coast, all of my equipment is indoors, and temperature swings throughout the day are marginal (No condensation issues).


Spades, banana plugs, and the like make it very convenient to disconnect/reconnect your wires. They also give the connections a nicer appearance, and they move the corrosion point away from your expensive equipment, and localize it (point of corrosion/energy transfer/dissimilar metals) to the wire/connector junction.


One advantage of using connectors is that it helps to preserve the integrity of your A/V equipment.

One disadvantage of using connectors (For those who can hear the difference) is that it adds another connection in the path, and some folks can detect a difference in sound.


I like the arc welding idea....
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what about good old grease to reduces the possibility of oxidation / corrosion?
I guess I'll just stick to bare wire for now. If it corrodes maybe I can just rub any corrosion off the terminals and restrip the wire. The connectors on my receiver are silver colored, not sure what material it is.
"Has anyone used bare wire for years with no problems at all?"

Yes.

One system, (Family room), has been in continuous use with original zipcord speaker wire for over two decades. Every few years I blow the dust bunnies out; a form of preventive maintenance.

I have had problems with corrosion on Tonearm connectors, (DUAL headshells, specifically.), but that's it- and that, again, was two decades ago.
I love this forum. We have everybody onboard, ranging from Oil Rig Welders to Stanford Grads who majored in "Tweaking".


RK: I've used grease in other applications to repel moisture, but I wouldn't apply it to my audio equipment. Strictly a personal preference, I'm not saying it wouldn't work. Grease is made up of oil and a binder. Eventually the oil seeps out of the binder and will flow onto your gear.


bc: I'm not familiar with the material used on plugs and posts. If I were allowed one guess I would say that it was copper with a thin metal alloy plating to minimize corrosion. Hopefully someone else will have an answer for us.
Speaking of grease, Parts Express (and others I'm sure) sell a product called Pro-Gold which claims to remove oxidation and provide a protective layer to terminations. There are other contact conditioners as well. Anybody have any expierence with these products?
I picked up some of the Deoxit over at our local Fryes. I was having a problem with one of my Senheiser headphone jacks, had to push it in and out a couple times before using it each day due to a poor connection. These are the 535's I believe. Anyhow, it worked great! One small drop on each connector and the problem is gone. Great headphones BTW. Will post again if the connection ever fails again.


Word of warning:


On another note the reason I'm interested in this is I recently had to replace a receiver that blew a channel due to poor connections at the speaker posts. The connection in question was a pure silver 14 gauge wire twisted and inserted into a NHT VT-2 Tower's gold binding post. I'm a pretty strong guy and I'm sure I twisted down real tight. But 4years went by with me moving the speakers around and vibrating the heck out of the posts with music and movies. One recently my right channel stoped working both headphones and speaker... :-( Checked connections no luck.. Replaced the receiver still no right channel, hmm. Investigate binding post (about time) and found that it was no longer very tight only loosely coupled. After tightening fully right channel's back up (left channel binding post also had become slighty loose. Boy am I starting to feel like a fool for not doing at least annual maintenance! I suppose the much higher resistance / impedance presented by the loose / dusty / cat haired / oxidised connection probably blew my right channel amp on the older receiver. I had only worried about clipping issues regarding saftey of an amp never even thought a loose connection could cause damage. I forgot about OHMs law! Maybe its a good thing I switched from engineering to software ;-)
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