REVIEWS & TECHNOLOGY
CABLE THEORY & ENGINEERING
SONIC ART CABLE DESIGN EXPLAINED
I started developing cables in 1993 to compliment my Loudspeaker range, the cables culminated in the use of Military/Aerospace grade Silver and Copper combined with VIRGIN PTFE (Pressure cast Teflon).
My 'Time Aligned' configuration was chosen after extensive testing and the design was submitted for registration in 1994. (There has been some claims of aligned cable construction from other manufacturers since our cable was released, there will always be unscrupulous imitating in the world of audio, Sonic Art was the first).
Sonic Art's conductor design is essentially a silver alloy, 40 microns of Military Grade 4N Silver plated onto a Military Grade 4N Copper core. Anyone who tells you their cable is 6N or 7N should be asked to supply a laboratory report showing the purity grade and how they tested for it! Even the Military & Aerospace industries test only to a provable 99.99% purity, their testing includes checking for trace elements, terms like “oxygen free” are more a gimmick than a real measure of metal purity.
Plating of copper base wires is a very expensive process if done to Military/Aerospace standards and contrary to what many “cable producers” will try to convince you of, correct hi-tech plating is superior to any other method of combining silver and copper.
Each of our 19 strands is saturated with 40 microns of Silver, which forms the basis of our conductors. The conductors are drawn through Diamond dies which create excellent surface finish and a smooth consistent base wire. The dies compact the wire into the desired diameter and form an almost alloy of silver and copper. The cross sectional metallurgy is smooth and gradual in its consistency.
Our process eliminates brightness & dioding effects associated with cheap plating techniques such as molten bath plating, commonly used by Asian & commercial wire manufacturers. The military would never use molten bath plating as it is of low quality, with the problems of stripping and corrosion in the metallurgy.
We insulate our conductors with VIRGIN PTFE Pressure Cast Teflon insulation and a Military Grade 4N Silver/Copper mesh shield. VIRGIN PTFE Teflon is used exclusively on all our conductors as although it is the most expensive of extruded insulators it exhibits the lowest dielectric loss, and is the best dielectric besides air.
It is amazing to see over the last decade so many cable sellers spouting the benefits of PTFE, Silver, and Military or Aerospace technologies, Sonic Art was using this technology along with engineered cable design long before it became a “boutique” way of marketing a product.
• Why choose Silver? Because it offers excellent conductivity, and if the metallurgy is correct, a sweet and detailed sound.
• Why Silver & Copper? Pure Silver is soft, it requires impure metals for strength and usually sounds bright and thin when combined with the most common hardeners. Combine it with Hi purity copper and you have the best of both worlds.
• An audio signal is what? It is a collection of electrical signals of varying frequencies, and the basic idea of a cable is to provide a path for this signal which DOES NOT ALTER the signal. DESIGN centred on physics principles of electrical conductivity combined with complete purity of metallurgy is a proven way to provide this path.
• Why choose TEFLON? Dielectric quality is an important factor when designing cable. The lowest loss insulator available is VIRGIN PTFE (Pressure Cast) Teflon unfortunately it is also the most expensive, which you could surmise is why many manufacturers avoid using it. Our TEFLON is the highest MILSPEC grade available and exhibits the lowest signal loss of any insulator besides air.
• Design of the cabling is of course paramount to the performance. Our conductors are engineered to a diameter that keeps eddy currents to a minimum. An Audio Signal is an Electrical Signal of varying frequencies, frequencies that create eddy currents, and generate magnetic fields around the cable. Rate of change in the electrical signal is responsible for this and music signals have fast and complex rates of change. Conductor diameter and metallurgical mismatching are major causes for these problems.
As the cross sectional area of a conductor increases, the problem of eddy current increases when handling an audio signal. An amplifier connected to a cable of huge cross sectional area could become completely unstable as eddy currents (caused by transient signal change in the cable) create enormously magnified transient capacitance. Large low impedance cables are probably the worst things for audio. Ultra low impedance creates a cable of high capacitance creating a low resistance path into a short circuit at high frequencies.
Our cables are not ultra low resistance, although the conductivity of the cable is high. Our cables feature a 'time aligned' drain system for both the signal and return wiring, maintaining a balance of resistance and capacitance which keeps the arrival time of frequencies as even as possible.
Our strand number and individual conductor thickness is calculated to create a conductor that is perfectly round when the strands are combined and twisted. The wall thickness of the MILSPEC PTFE Teflon is therefore perfectly even, eliminating conductor to insulation anomalies.
• What about termination? We do not buy our plugs off the shelf, instead they are Custom Designed by us and manufactured to our specifications. Featuring a machine Brass alloy base with Silver Plated body and 24K gold plated contact points. Our plug performs well and is a balance of open sound stage and frequency response. We have tested the 'Hi-end' plugs available and most exhibit compromises in detail and size of soundstage when connected to our Silver cables. The only outside plug we use is the CARDAS range of Silver/Rhodium plated RCA plugs.
• Our SOLDER is Genuine Military Grade Silver Solder and is manufactured specifically for termination of Silver wire. If you attempt to solder silver with normal solders you get absorption of silver particles causing poor joint performance and degradation of signal. Military Grade Silver solder is designed to suppress silver absorption from the surface of the silver wire leaving a joint that is pure and provides the best conductivity from solder possible.
• How is our cable made? There are many so called ‘Hand Made’ cables out there these days, most are made by small back yard operators who cannot afford the cost of employing a specialised factory to lay up and bind their cables.
There are several major problems with ‘hand made’ cables. First, the weaving of the inner wires is done by hand, and in some instances, by twisting with an electric drill! This results in an inconsistent weave pattern along the length of the cable. The weave pattern in the design of a cable is one of the most important parameters of the design, and affects performance. If it is not precise and consistent along its entire length, you will not get consistent performance from one cable to another. Some are good, some not so good. The other problem is the outer sheath, most Hand Made cables use a cheap nylon mesh outer sheath to hold the construction in place. This sheathing method is not strong enough to keep the wires in their correct position, and bending of the wire subsequently alters the design and the sound. This type of sheath also allows sharp bends to be made, and sharp bends fracture the conductors over time, resulting in poor wire runs, and degraded signal transfer.
No Sonic Art cables are made in this fashion!
All of our cables are woven using professional cable weaving machines where the weave is accurate to our design and consistent through the entire length. The accurately woven inner conductors are passed through shielding laying machines, where the shield is tightly laid over the conductors. The assembly then passes through extrusion machines where either pressure cast or molten sheathing insulation is used to insulate and further protect the finished cable. The result is an accurately made cable; consistency from cable to cable is maintained. Also, the outer sheath holds the inner conductors in perfect placement, ensuring there is no deterioration of performance as you bend and flex your cables.
We use PTFE Teflon outer sheathing over our heavy braided shield in all RCA & XLR cables, or in the case of our Ebony speaker cable, Military grade PVC over Silver Mylar Foil, which holds the Ebony conductor pattern in perfect alignment.
NOTE: Where we use Military Grade polyester sheathing over our cables, it is purely for Anti Static properties and is in no way a structural part of the cable.
Have you ever noticed how other
HI-END cable manufacturer’s have a range of much cheaper models, all slotted in
under their most expensive ‘Flagship” cable? We on the other hand produce one
model of RCA and Speaker Cable, and one
All Sonic Art cables are hand assembled in
Our cables produce a smooth transparent soundstage with excellent detail, placement and depth, a lack of harshness and grain immediately noticeable.