A question of metal type; the value of matching RCA phono plugs to sockets ?

A question of metal type; the value of matching RCA phono plugs to sockets ?  If voided warranty, accessibility, time and cost poses little or no issue, does anyone on the forum find musical value in replacing some or all of the gold plated RCA sockets usually supplied with equipment for alternatives? With use of silver IC’s and, for example, either ETI Kryo or KLEI Absolute Harmony silver (plated) RCA plug terminations, it seems obvious to consider whether replacing standard gold sockets for these manufacturer's silver makes a difference worth the effort for a quiet high resolving system (vinyl records, TVC, SET & horns) ? Before I set out testing, I'd be grateful to read observations from golden (or silver) eared metallurgists or others on the forum with time to entertain what is at issue. All good wishes for the season. 


Silver exposed to O2 tarnishes, compromising the connection.   

There is that.


I'm using silver plated connectors on both ends. Silver oxide is a very good conductor.

Most plating systems are a base metal, a copper flash, then the finish plating. Silver is a better conductor than gold but silver corrodes over time and the silver can be worn off more quickly. It's a trade off, not sure if one is better than the other sonically. 

I use some silver coated banana plugs for their conductivity.  I have not done any A/B tests and nor is there any warranty etc issues.

Knowing full well that they will oxidize, its no issue replacing them (easy) way down the track or perhaps a quick polish from time to time which is prudent for connections anyway of whatever metal.

Same if pure copper.

Incidentally, rhodium is a relatively poor conductor.  Worse than gold (from memory).  I don't know why rhodium is sometimes promoted, its certainly not because its cheap.

Best estimate, five years, maybe ten, of messing around trying things to fully comprehend the full breadth and magnitude of just how irrelevant this is. Knew a guy once put 30 years into it, still never caught on. In spite of this, I try to keep it positive.

There are few terminal ends that the wire pocket has a thick enough clad to withstand a cold weld. But with a one size fits all mentality of assemblers or want-to-be cable builders it's no wonder most folks don't understand WHY most of the terminal ends sound the same.

As soon as you solder it you've removed any reason to use anything BUT what the solder is comprised of. You have to mechanically join two pieces and the solder has to secure it, NOT JOIN IT. It's a different type of solder connection. It's like skip soldering every 4" on a 12" run, all the rest of the cable is mechanically joined but not insulated with solder one surface to the other. Technique is VERY important.

The quality of the terminal end, and the quality control of certain terminal ends YOU, not ME have to pay attention to. You cannot trust someone else's BS. I've tested a few different RCA and speaker ICs. FEW have passed muster through the years.

Personally I like pure red copper or pure silver. BOTH are expensive but not when you figure you don't need that many pieces in an entire system. They have a 100 year life, pretty easy. You clean and oil just like ANY unfinished metal. I use contact enhancer when I assemble cables. Cold weld, compression dimple or screws (there is a trick with screws too).

Have fun and pick your gear and add YOUR terminals. THEN enjoy the magic of really good terminal ends and QUIT selling your STUFF, pretty simple..

Two shops full of experiments.. We won't talk about the basement. IT'S a different kind of experiment.:-)

Regards Franken-oldhvymec..



I’ll just add this about Vintage RCA Jacks material, corrosion, size:

My old McIntosh mx110z, and other older receivers ... the rca jacks age and corrode, they were not gold plated. you can clean them but they corrode again. You get balance issues, can be random.

Audio Classics overhauled my mx110z, they replaced all the rca in/out with new jack panels, gold plated. Oh Happy Day.

Also, the McIntosh jacks were slightly undersized diameter, replacements nice and tight.

I changed my cables to Locking RCA connectors, to avoid inadvertently disrupting a connection somewhere while moving something else.

Use low mass connectors. Connectors that more closely match the (electro-mechanical) ’mass’ of the cable body. Matched in mass of the signal pathway, though the RCA jack proper. This leads to less impedance dominated reflections in the jack and and cable throughput. It’s why a BNC connector is designed the way it is.

Essentially, a connection is not just the cable, it’s the wire from the board, the connector, the cable RCA jack and then the repeat of that set -at the other cable end.

Finding old pure copper silver plated stamped female chassis mount RCA connectors can be a good thing.

Recall that, I think... it was Hovland, who found and purchased and used a set of older pure copper low mass female RCA jacks on their multi kilobuck issued gear.

they did this for good reason. It sounds not just better, but best, in the given idea of signal transfer for high quality audio attempts.

Big chunky secure looking connectors look cool to the human eye and brain, but sound like doo-doo. Unless one wants high frequency distortions that emphasize and lie about high frequency related detail and harmonics, in the form of distortion of the micro transients. A bunch of hard sounding junk, in my experience. Early in the game, I, like almost all others, went for the ’tiffany’ style connectors for the apparent ’quality’. This mental assessment was incorrect.

WBT moves in the right direction in their nexgen chassis mount RCA connectors. The KLEI and ETI male connector types are also correct (as correct as we currently have, that is).

When done correctly and with enough if them at play in the given high resolution systems this can really make a difference in ’realism’. It’s just a few percentage points but they sure do add up, if all the other percentage points pursued allow this sort of connectivity scheme to show how good it is..

what sort am I talking about? the cheap ones seen on old dynaco gear the like. IF such RCA chassis mount jacks are mechanically secured enough, ie, not loose and wobbly.

So far, there is nothing that is done correctly, in the world of modern replacements, except for the WBT nexgen chassis and cable connectors. Some other companies are moving in that direction, with various degrees of success.

Note that WBT does not make balanced connectors. the idea (IMO/IME, not their specific wording, is my point)  is that they don't see the cable technology of balanced, as it currently exists... as being suitable for audio.

WBT could introduce a huge selling balanced connector set (male and female) tomorrow...and they would very likely quickly and completely dominate the high end use of balanced connectors. A huge seller it would be, for them. WBT make terrific products.

Note that they have not done so, and show no indication of doing so.

A useful test for the importance of connectors, and their quality disturbing intrusions..is to take apart some mid 80’s to mid 90’s piece of gear, a cassette deck, or integrated or receiver...one with a million of those ribbon like cables and connectors inside of them....(EG, a nak dragon)


and remove all the connectors on the ends of the cables and hardwire the connections to all of them. to get rid of the connectors and sockets, and solder the wire/cables directly into the boards. ..and then...listen.

That alone sounds like a ’major upgrade’ in the given piece of gear.

This sort of thing seriously impedes serviceability so the item at hand to do this to, to test this out...must be chosen wisely.

But the point is, do you buy the item and use for the sound quality.. or for the serviceability? is it worth the trade off? for a tech who services their own gear, it might be.

Something like a Luxman LV-430 could be a good test bed, as serviceability remains after the loss of the internal connectors. The chassis and design is open enough to accommodate.

Yes, do away with connectors ! I just chickened out on hard-wiring solid silver phono IC directly to my RIAA stage board because the underside of the PCB would have been difficult to access, and knowing the constructor carefully voiced the unit, I stopped, for the moment, after seeing he used gold plated RCA sockets stamped “USA” ! Voice of America —born in the USA?— won the day. My last preamp was point to point construction which readily allowed direct soldering of tonearm IC to phono stage. That gave more music, and saved funds on solid Silver RCA sockets and plugs in favour of records. A TVC is, of course, without valves, resistors and capacitors, nearly “no-noise” to invoke a contributor, and this now wins the day for my set-up.