REVIEWS & TECHNOLOGY
CABLE THEORY & DESIGN
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
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 & copper 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 has 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.
This 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 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.
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 can sound bright and thin when combined with the most common
hardeners. Combine it with Hi purity copper and you have the best of both
• 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 I feel, a logical 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 which keeps the arrival
time of frequencies as even as possible.
Our strand number and individual strand
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 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 'Hi-end' plugs and many compromise soundstage size when connected
to our Silver cables. The only outside plug we use is the CARDAS range of
Silver/Rhodium plated RCA plugs.
• SOLDER: We use a MilSpec Silver Solder or
CARDAS Quad Eutectic Silver Solder.
These are manufactured specifically for termination of Silver wire. If you
attempt to solder silver with regular Tin/Lead solders you get absorption of
silver particles causing poor joint performance and degradation of signal. MilSpec & Cardas 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, while I have
nothing against DIY and love to tinker myself, the idea of taking various
commercial wires and assembling them into a cable really is DIY, it introduces
many variables, and often stems from the inhibiting cost of employing a
specialised factory to lay up and bind 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 often results in an inconsistent weave
pattern along the length of the cable. The weave pattern in the design of an
interconnect cable is an important parameter 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 nylon or
PE mesh outer sheath to hold the construction in place. This sheathing method
is often 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
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.
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 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.