What do you like and dislike about vintage Western Electric cables?

For those who have heard vintage western electric cables in their system what were the pros and cons in your opinion? This can pertain to speaker, interconnect or power cables. 


Technically cotton has a lower dielectric constant.

I am not sure I abide the theory of dielectric polarity alignment, and hysteresis… but it is not like they could improve with a battery biasing scheme.

I do not know what to listen for to prove that though.

The vast majority of WE wire out there is okay, but nothing that special.  Wire pulled out of phone switchboards fall in this okay category.  Some wire from the 1940’s and earlier do sound extraordinary, but this wire is quite rare.  I heard such wire in comparison to Audio Note Sogon, and it was surprisingly competitive.  I prefer Sogon for interconnects, but that stuff costs quite a bit.  

We joke about having to wear gloves to handle the old WE wire, but caution is warranted.  Some old wires were treated with arsenic to reduce damage from being eaten by vermin.

@holmz - Most of the vintage WE wire being used to construct cables is stranded tinned copper and actually has a pvc dielectric with cotton over that.  The wire most commonly used is the vintage KS13385 Hookup Wire, which is still made and can be purchased new.  A smaller percentage of the wire I have seen being sold has direct cotton or silk dielectric.  You see this (often solid core) wire used for ICs occasionally.

IMO, with vintage WE wire it is about the tone and midrange body.  The wire is mostly tinned copper (like Supra cables) and I suspect that and the annealing process have a lot to do with how it sounds.  IME, it can be used to make very nice sounding power cables.  I have two 7 awg WE wire power cables powering my monoblocks.  It also works great for speaker cables.

In audio (or better, among 'audiophiles'), there is much 'hype' going on,every now and than, about something, sometimes it is the 'newest invention', sometimes is 'long forgotten' method, matherial or tecnique.

More than few years back, some of the people I know were into vintage wires from WE. (used as speaker cables) I gave it a shot, tried more than a couple from different vendors I could find, more or less old, for reasonable price. (I might have saved the name and model of exact type I tried, if you are really interested)

To cut long story short, none were good enough like 'proper' speaker cables, most noticeably they lacked the extension in the upper range. At the time I used Cardas GR and AQ  Audiotruth Sterling cables for comparation on Sonus Faber GH speakers.

Truth to be told, there are lots and lots of WE types of wires for sale, perhaps somebody else got 'better' wire and has different experiences. It is a hit and miss type of trial and I tend to stick to more or a less proven stuff now...

Thanks @mitch2 .
I am no expert no it, but did get some “equivilent” cotton covered wire which I need to terminate and install. (Both for speaker and IC)


We joke about having to wear gloves to handle the old WE wire, but caution is warranted. Some old wires were treated with arsenic to reduce damage from being eaten by vermin.

I always wondered how the mice did not attack them like a British car loom..

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I have used grey(10ga) & red(16ga) cloth WE wire purchased from tajacobs ebay seller as speaker wire and internal wire for a pair of speakers. I am looking at both right now and there is no PVC just cloth, cotton, and tinned wire. I am not sure what lengths you will need but it has become fairly hard to source recently.

I was told this is WE wire, its' properties are that its one of the two best speakers cables I've got. More of everything, soundstage, transparency, range...

WE Speaker cables 1

WE speaker cables 2

It appears Western Electric recently updated their website, which includes a historical timeline of company history, founded in 1869, as well as a technical library with a historical bulletin about their wire. WE made many types of wire, and still manufactures their KS13385 Hookup Wire in sizes ranging from 24 awg to 2 awg. That is the same wire made popular by Jeff Day over 7 years ago in his Vintage Beat column for Posi+ive Feedback based on his interview with Mr. Shirokazu Yazaki of SPEC.

Below is an image of the 16 awg wire promoted by Mr. Day, and you can see the tinned, 30 awg copper strands, PVC insulation, and cotton covering. Mr. Yazaki-san also promoted the sound of Belden’s 8402 microphone cable (also tinned copper, with rubber insulation) when used as RCA interconnects.

Picture 1 of 4

The WE KS13385 wire specs appear to be unchanged from the NOS version, although the materials and annealing process may (or may not) be slightly different, which I guess could account for differences in sound between the newly manufactured wire and the more highly sought after NOS wire.


Stranded or solid tin-coated copper conforming to ASTM B-33 and B174 or B-173.

85°C rated Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) conforming to Underwriters’ Laboratories AWM Style 1491 and CSA C22.2 No.210.2 requirements.

Optional Cabling/Shielding

2, 3, or 4 conductors may be twisted together when requested. A braided shield may be applied over 1, 2, 3, or 4 conductors with an overall lacquered cotton braid.

All sizes: lacquered cotton braid conforming to UL requirements is applied over the insulation. The colors shall be as specified on the order.

UL Listed AwM Style 1491 90°C, 600 volts VW-1. CSA listed AWM I A/B 90°C, 300 volts FT-1. RoHS Compliant and Lead-Free.

Jenving Technology’s SUPRA Cables from Sweden have long used tinned copper conductors and are known for the body and naturalness of their sound, while being a relative bargain in price for performance. Here is their take on why the tin-coated copper sounds better:

In addition to the corrosion resistance, the tin plating contributes also to a much wanted skin-effect reduction and prevents the electrons (i.e. the current) from disruptive ”jumps” between the strand surfaces, hence adding unwanted timing errors to the music signal. The insulation of a select grade chemically stable PVC further improving the sonically benign tin surface over time.

If you compare specifications, you find similar attributes between the SUPRA cables and the WE KS13385 hookup wire, including tin-coated, stranded, annealed copper, and a PVC insulation. The SUPRA line probably offers a slightly higher purity copper.

The popularity in the WE wire promoted by Mr. Day resulted in a couple of different manufacturers making their own versions. Both Duelund Coherent Audio and Jupiter Condenser Co. manufacture hook-up wire made from tinned copper conductors with cotton insulation, but no PVC, and both offer twisted pairs of their wire for ready made speaker cables or interconnects. Some believe they prefer the sound of these wires due to the absence of PVC. I have made speaker and interconnect cables using the Duelund wire and I actually slightly prefer the sound of cables made from the NOS WE wire.

One nice thing about the PVC insulated WE wire is that it is rated for a higher voltage that should allow it to be safely used to construct power cables. I am pretty sure the WE wire is the same wire used by Triode Wire Labs (TWL) in their American Series power and speaker cables, and also by Benjamin Zwickel of Mojo Audio in power cables he used to construct and sell. The only difference in construction of the different gauges of WE KS13385 hookup wire is the number of 30 awg strands in each. I have constructed several power cables using the WE 10 awg wire and I am using a pair of doubled up (i.e., six, 10 awg conductors for 7 awg per pole, plus ground) power cords on my monoblock amplifiers. IMO they sound great, even compared to Furutech, Neotech, and Isoclean power cables I have here.

I have a bunch of the NOS WE wire here in 16, 14 and 10 awg that I purchased from tajacobs on ebay, and I have made multiple speaker, power, and interconnect cables in various gauges. To me, they all sound good and they all exhibit a midrange focused, smooth, full-bodied sound that will probably not satisfy those looking for pristine detail, but may be just the thing for those seeking musicality, IMO.


Thanks for all the responses! Interesting stuff indeed. I own a 10ga WE grey cloth power cable and two pairs of the green cloth interconnects.  I'm debating on buying more of the power cables to round out the system or possibly go in another direction. The power cable I have now sounds great on my amplifier but it could also be a combination of the other power cables im running with it (I have another thread up discussing this issue). Im a fan for sure. But I can't say how the system would sound using all of their power cables. Like someone said sourcing the vintage wire is becoming more difficult/expensive and there is no trial period when buying this stuff. Decisions decisions lol. 

Thank you @mitch2 I stand corrected I was under the impression that the white substance was some form of cotton either way I wish I had purchased more. Cheers.

I have not tried the WE wire, nor am I planning to. But I wouldn't expect it to be fantastic. 

After reading a lot about Belden 9497 wire and its supposedly great synergy with horn speakers (which I use) I had completely rewired my speakers with it, including the small lengths between passive crossover and drivers. 

Initially, I found it nice, it seemed transparent and at the same time it seemed to bring life to the midrange; but I quickly realized it was both very harsh and lacking extension (what a paradoxal feat) as soon as I turned up the volume, making the system almost unbearable. I swapped it for some Chinese knockoff (!) "Odin" cables which are 100x times better, smoother, more transparent, more dynamic; and I've swapped the short lengths after passive crossover with Neotech UP-OCC which gave me so much more transparency.

Probably the WE wire sounds different from the Belden, as it uses cotton dielectric, but still, tinned copper definitely sounds too "vintage" for my taste.

So I am guessing I can buy the bulk cable and hook it up as is and let it play a while to see if I like the sound. Then I can finish the build out with spade terminations and out jacket...correct? The WE 2c 10ag sounds like a perfect fir for my Luxman 595ase and ZU Omen Defs (currently running ZU Mission speaker cables)