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HiFi Traps? 4 vs 8 Core for Balanced Headphone Wires & Tarnish Resistant Silver Wires

Ageless

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#1
I've used only stock cables for 2+ years but now I want to use balanced connections for the higher voltage. While browsing for wires I have fallen down the same hifi traps I tell myself not to. I can't tell how much % bs to truth there is about these topics. I'm in the belief that the difference is probably inaudible but I would like more takes on these questions.

1. Say for example you have 8 wires of the same gauge for a headphone, what difference is there compared to 4 wires? There are 2 +'s and -'s per channel compared to 1 but I'm not sure if that makes a technical difference.
Related Headfi Thread: 8 wires increases gauge which decreases the resistance by less than one-hundredth of a percent. Effect of 8 wires is minimal due to low voltage. (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/8-braid-vs-4-braid-difference-for-custom-cable.790098/)

2. I understand that copper has ~95% the conductivity of silver but I'm willing to try it due quarantine. I'm looking at silver from AliExpress and custom shops but there are a couple options that confuse me. There are standard silver wires sleeved in plastic and then there are sterling silver, gold-plated silver, copper-plated silver and double plastic sleeved wires.
-> Is tarnishing a real concern for the longevity of silver headphone wires (over the course of 2-3 years)?
-> In theory to what extent will sterling silver and x-plated silver affect audio quality?
-> In theory which is the best product balancing good audio quality and longevity? <- What I foolishly want to know.

EDIT:
3. In theory, disregarding if it's audible for human ears, is wire gauge more important than the metal used for cables?
 
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pozz

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#2
None of this stuff is important. You won't get any performance enhancement. Change cables because you like the look or feel, or if the cable is microphonic.
 

Maxicut

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#3
I've used only stock cables for 2+ years but now I want to use balanced connections for the higher voltage. While browsing for wires I have fallen down the same hifi traps I tell myself not to. I can't tell how much % bs to truth there is about these topics. I'm in the belief that the difference is probably inaudible but I would like more takes on these questions.

1. Say for example you have 8 wires of the same gauge for a headphone, what difference is there compared to 4 wires? There are 2 +'s and -'s per channel compared to 1 but I'm not sure if that makes a technical difference.
Related Headfi Thread: 8 wires increases gauge which decreases the resistance by less than one-hundredth of a percent. Effect of 8 wires is minimal due to low voltage. (https://www.head-fi.org/threads/8-braid-vs-4-braid-difference-for-custom-cable.790098/)

2. I understand that copper has ~95% the conductivity of silver but I'm willing to try it due quarantine. I'm looking at silver from AliExpress and custom shops but there are a couple options that confuse me. There are standard silver wires sleeved in plastic and then there are sterling silver, gold-plated silver, copper-plated silver and double plastic sleeved wires.
-> Is tarnishing a real concern for the longevity of silver headphone wires (over the course of 2-3 years)?
-> In theory to what extent will sterling silver and x-plated silver affect audio quality?
-> In theory which is the best product balancing good audio quality and longevity? <- What I foolishly want to know.

EDIT:
3. In theory, disregarding if it's audible for human ears, is wire gauge more important than the metal used for cables?
1. Multicore wire vs single core wire doesn't effect anything you can hear.
2. No difference you can hear. (You should clean all your connections periodically anyway).
3. Neither.
 

Speedskater

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#5
From an electronic point of view, it's hard to make a poor headphone cable.
But from a mechanical point of view there are all kinds of requirements:
  • Flexible
  • Robust
  • Tangle free
  • Comfortable
and of course connector questions
 

majingotan

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#6
-> Is tarnishing a real concern for the longevity of silver headphone wires (over the course of 2-3 years)?
-> In theory to what extent will sterling silver and x-plated silver affect audio quality?
-> In theory which is the best product balancing good audio quality and longevity? <- What I foolishly want to know.
-> Poorly made cables will tarnish unless the wires are dipped to "water based organic sulfur solution or in simple terms, anti silver tarnish solution" after removing the oxide layers from being exposed to air. My 8-wire OCC silver cable that I've been using constantly for 1 year on a 7 day basis has not shown any signs of tarnish. I suspect the supplier of that manufacturer soaked the wires to the silver anti-tarnish solution prior to packaging. If I have ammonium sulfide solution for tarnish test, I would know for sure.

-> Cable manufacturers don't use sterling silver for their pure silver but ohno continuous casted silver instead. For SPC plating, copper wires are typically silver plated per ASTM B700 specs with post silver anti-tarnish treatment or some cheap home brew method that will tarnish and degrade in a short amount of exposure to air, sweat, etc. As for x-plated silver, that's just ASTM B488 spec hard gold plating over silver. As for audio quality, there should be ZERO difference as long as the capacitance, resistance and inductance of that specific wire doesn't affect the output measurements of an audio equipment

-> Just choose the best looking cable for your eyes, and research more about the cable manufacturer and see if their cable products tend to frail or tarnish over time. I chose the 8-wire OCC silver cable for my IEM because I like the looks of it with my IEM with enough research that the cable manufacturer where I bought my cable doesn't have much quality complaints regarding wires tarnishing. 1 year is still early IMO. If 5 years of constant 24/7 use doesn't cause any tarnishing whatsoever then I can fully recommend their cables if you like their design and looks

 

majingotan

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#8
While it might affect their looks, if the connectors were installed before the tarnish started, it won't affect their sound.
As long as there's no oxidation in the connectors, tarnishing on the wires won't affect their sound. I don't really buy cables for sound rather for looks, and having them tarnishing on me will cause them to lose me as a customer in the future
 

Wombat

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#9
Cable flexibility and weight is important for headphones.
 
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