Contact Enhancer Deterioration

I had been impressed with the initial application of both Walker Audio and Quicksilver contact enhancer products. There is an immediate increase in clarity, extension, and dynamics. The effect was not subtle.

However, I am now convined that over the ensuing weeks to months, the enhancer becomes detrimental. It happens gradually, so it is not obvious. The sound becomes soft, diffuse, veiled. Removing the enhancer with some alcohol has brought things back into focus.

One last experiment was whether this detriment was just due to loose connections or tight connections. For example, it has been postulated that these enhancing material form a bonded and continuous surface. Power cable connections, while they seem to be quite stable, are always moing due to vibration and expansion of metals. This will create cracks in any polymerized material. However, items such as fuses and speaker cable spades tend to be more stable due to the connector pressure and location. Would these surfaces also benefit from removing the enhancer? The answer is yes.

For those of you who are using contact enhancers, I urge you to remove this and listen to your system again. Feel free to report your findings. If anyone has any other experiences, that would be good to hear. If someone feels that there is a particular place that benefits from a contact enhancer long-term, I'd be interested. It seems that the conservative thing to do is to clean your contacts, particularly if they are prone to oxidation.
Now that they are clean, you might want to try Stabilant 22. It doesn't degrade like the silver pastes and is very different. I recommend your looking into it. It is the real deal- $20 bucks on Amazon.
I used the silver paste, but removed it, too. I cleaned the connectors with pharmaceutical grade alcohol (99%).
4est has got it right. Stabilant 22 is the basis for most contact cleaners.
Rtn1, I agree with you. I ended up removing it all from speaker spades and interconnects.
The only place I left it on was on my AC power at the circuit breakers and outlets.
I suppose I should remove that also...
I am using Stabilant 22 and find it quite good. This product is actually also used on connectors in the Aviation industry. I applied it on my amp & preamp tube pins and definitely did notice a difference in sound quality. Did not try on interconnect connectors yet. Wow $20 is a good price...Last year, I paid $70 for a small 15 ML bottle with a few tiny application brushes... sounds like I got ripped-off or prices have dropped significantly.
Used to use SST then Extreme SST and later Quicksilver Gold. Now I use none of them and clean with Kontac.
Hey Rtn1,
I found this to be true. The enhancer pastes sound great at first but slowly deteriorate and must be removed. The Caig products work well to remove the gunk. We need to get together soon.
Used to use Quicksilver, but cleaned it all off and now use Deoxit for cleaning and ProGold for treatment. I have sometimes wondered how well the expensive Furutech Nano Liquid works. I have found the Furutech products I have tried to be excellent in most respects, but I have not tried the Nano. I will look into the Stabilant 22 - thanks for the tip.
There are .5ml vials of Stabilant 22 for under $10 on ebay. I was wrong about the $20. It is $38 for the 5ml concentrate.
I have been using Caig products like Dexoit and Pro Gold and they work well. Just use them to clean contact every now and then and you are good to go. A bottle of this thing lasts for a long long time.
The deterioration of sound quality over time occurs anytime you clean signal path connections with or without contact enhancers. Contact enhancers are a mixed bag and with them a deterioration anyway. The silver paste products were designed to be used on cable connections that will not be changed out or disturbed. They achieve peak performance after a few days. They do dry out and flake off so the cleaning job becomes more involved and not as complete since the flakes get into hard to reach places.

So if you find yourself becoming bored with your system and you have the itch to upgrade a component because of it, clean the contacts. Doing that on a regular basis keeps the system at the top of its' form. Contact enhancers are a questionable value and become less so if you have an established regimen for keeping the connections clean anyway.
Marakanetz, the word is scam, not skim. Skim it to remove part of the take before turning it in.
I've been following this thread with interest because it simply does not track with my experience.

I use Walker Audio Extreme-SST (E-SST). I note that some other posters say they've also used E-SST, but my experience is that connections I've treated and left undisturbed have not deteriorated a year later when I've pulled the connection, cleaned it, and re-listened to it bare.

A year later, the sonics of the year-old treated connection listened to critically just BEFORE pulling and cleaning have always been better. When I re-treat with E-SST, the improved sonics return. It's very consistent.

And, the improvements in resolution, harmonic accuracy, and soundstaging that come from a very thin application of E-SST are significant to my ear. So, after more than six years using SST, I stay with it for all of my metal-to-metal connections.

FWIW, in cleaning the connections in my system, I use 97% pure isopropyl alcohol and/or Kontak. Then a very thin application of E-SST. For those using Caig DeoxIT as a cleaner, I suggest you experiment by rinsing with 97% or more pure isopropyl alcohol before making the connection or applying a preservative/enhancer. In my listening, the DeoxIT leaves a sonic signature unless rinsed.

One thing I've always found interesting about this hobby is that we all do have different experiences to share and I continue to learn from everyone here. I don't doubt that Rtn1 is reporting correctly what he's heard in his system. My contrary experience just continues to reflect the need for each of us to experiment in our own systems and trust our ears.

Best wishes for good listening!
I have a totally non audio confirmation for the value of contact cleaners; thirty years age my then father-in -law was a advanced hobbiest in very small , very high quality model trains. He had a problem with their electric engines losing contact with the track, they would sit motionless instead of moving. When he treated his track with the contact cleaner I was using the problem vanished. It was the one that came in two small bottles, one red and one blue , one the cleaner and the other the preservative. I think it was called Contact of Kontact, I don't know if it is the same as that mentioned above. Also my technician friend, who says he is no audiophile, has hoarded some cleaner no longer on the market due to regulation and says the uses it very often to solve problems with equipment. He has been in audio repair over 30 years.
I believe Caig, Kontak, etc., all have Stabilant 22 as a base.
Does anyone have more info on this?
interesting thread, thanks for posting. i've stayed away from the silver pastes due to a experience with "tweek" 25 years ago. I still have the randall research cables in a box. This contact enhancer sounded great, but then the copper on the connectors discolored badly.

I've stuck with Kontak for the next 25 years.
4est, in a post on 11-20-10 you stated,
After you clean them, you might want to try using Stabilant 22. It is the active ingredient in what used to be called "Tweek". It is a bonified contact enhancer used in military, communications and IT fields.
What exactly is the relationship between Stabilant 22 and Tweek? I have read a lot about poor results using the old Tweek product, such as the Soundstage! review from 2003 where Bill Cowan says (about Tweek),
When it was used between dissimilar metals, a thick layer of black gook built up on the metal surfaces, and this could happen within a very short time frame. This gook was very difficult and sometimes even impossible to remove completely -- I managed to destroy the RCA plugs on a fairly pricey pair of interconnects trying to get it off. Since then, I’ve stayed away from contact enhancers, although I have made use of the Caig Pro Gold. But Pro Gold is billed as a preservative rather than an enhancer, and I’ve never had a problem with it causing any kind of chemical reaction on metal surfaces. For straight cleaning, I use either isopropyl alcohol, or when confronted with badly oxidized connections, Caig’s DeOxit. In both instances, the cleaner is applied and then completely removed, rather than left in place like Pro Gold or the H2L solutions.
The information I found on Stabilant 22 states, it is a,
amorphous-semiconductive polyoxyethylene-polyoxypropyline block polymer with a molecular weight of about 2,800
What the heck is that? In liquid form, it appears to be primarily Isopropoal alcohol and is then called Stabilant 22A. If you guys are having success with it, then Stabilant 22 or 22A themselves must not cause a detrimental effect when left in-place over long periods of time like Tweek did, and it must not degrade as some believe the SST and Quicksilver do. Is this because it is polymer based vs. the organic oils (I believe are) used in SST and Quicksilver? Do you use it in its concentrated form or diluted with Isopropol alcohol? Any performance comparisions with ProGold?
I found an unopened box of the produce I mentioned, it was called Cramolin, I forget its active ingredient, if I ever knew it. Seemed to work but I stopped using it as I am a dealer and found that for every customer who liked the idea of having it on a product another who would think I had ruined it. I change my connections so often I have never worried about them oxidizing, perhaps I should. I got stuck with a bunch of Tweek when the above review came out, I never used it so can't comment on its qualities. I had customers asking for it on the basis of the glowing reviews it had received. I am holding on to mine until the revisionists decide it was a miracle product after all. Don't laugh, I have seen this happen before.
Stabilant 22 is the best. IMO far better than Caig products, which in my experience have left discoloured residue and muckiness that had to be cleaned up over time.

Be warned though, Stabilant 22 comes in various ways. The best is the pure concentrate, which is a small 15ml bottle that costs near $90. The other types are diluted with ethanol and various alcohols.

I would avoid the diluted types and only use the pure concentrate.
I will be receiving samples of Stabilant 22 to review very soon.  Great stuff, from what I hear!