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Neutrik Connectors: Gold vs. Silver Contacts
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I.T.
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#1
18th February 2007
Old 18th February 2007
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Neutrik Connectors: Gold vs. Silver Contacts

Hi,

I am planning to make some balanced audio cables. I would like to use Canare wire and Neutrik connectors. The plugs are available with gold or silver contacts. Which do you recommend? In terms of audio quality, are the gold contacts worth the extra expense?

Thanks,

I.T.
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19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
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The day you get them, the silver connectors technically have better conductivity. Silver is the best conductor available at room temperature. But silver tarnishes quickly and easily, and the thin layer of corrosion that forms on its surface is not a good conductor at all. Gold is actually less conductive than copper, but it essentially does not corrode at all. So a good plating of gold on your connectors will assure that they continue to be conductive for a long time. The lower conductivity of the gold is not audible, but the complete lack of conductivity of a corroded silver connector can be. Of course, it's not difficult to just clean the connectors every now and then. The price of the gold doesn't buy you sound quality, it just buys you the convenience of not having to clean your connectors. (Not as often anyway - since gold is expensive, the plating is very thin. Leave the connectors out in the basement long enough, and they'll turn green - but it'll actually be the copper underneath the gold that's corroding).
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19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
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The "silver" contacts aren't siver. They are a nickel alloy. Both are fairly corrosion resistant, but the gold-plate-over nickel is better in fixed instalations in harsh environments.

If you plug and unplug then a lot, the gold plate will end up just being the nickel after a while.




-tINY

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#4
19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ulysses View Post
The day you get them, the silver connectors technically have better conductivity. Silver is the best conductor available at room temperature. But silver tarnishes quickly and easily, and the thin layer of corrosion that forms on its surface is not a good conductor at all.
To my knowledge, silver oxide has close to the same conductivity as silver.

Non-gold Neutrik contacts are silver plated.

If used in an air conditioned environment, the connectors will likely last longer than the equipment.
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19th February 2007
Old 19th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grindx View Post
To my knowledge, silver oxide has close to the same conductivity as silver.

Non-gold Neutrik contacts are silver plated.
Yes, silver oxide is an excellent conductor, unfortunately silver do not oxidise in the air. Silver combines with sulfur which is a very bad conductor, in fact it is an isolator, so it is not the best idea to use silver plated connectors for audio because they degrade in time.
As Justin said, if you clean the contacts they will work again, but in my opinion gold is the right choice for long term, problem free audio.

chrissugar
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19th February 2007
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Does silver oxide tarnish easily? I would expect not as easily as pure silver, but what do I know. Maybe connectors should be plated with silver oxide.

I've got a box of used XLR connectors on the shelf that haven't been touched in a couple of years. Even the gold ones are crusty. On the other hand, the ones that have been plugged in for that same length of time are fine.
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20th February 2007
Old 20th February 2007
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i use a Neutrik patchbay and Neutrik gold connectors. i plug in/out quite a bit, as i like to keep my studio clean and organized.

if i don't clean the gold tips afer awhile, i notice a some black stuff. not covered, but there's a layer there.

what is this? should i be worried? if i continue to clean these tips, wouldn't it make more sense to get the silver ones in the first place (i was introduced by a friend to get gold connectors early on)?
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#8
20th February 2007
Old 20th February 2007
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Gold does not corrode. The black stuff might be something from the bay. Silver will indeed form a tarnish with sulphur. The extent can vary depending on the sulphur content in the air in the environment. (areas with more auto traffic...etc) I have Neutrik silver plated connectors that have been in service for over ten years that work as well as they did the day I put them in. The quality of the soldering job is more of an issue, IMO.

If you have any doubts about the air quality, or feel better with gold plated connectors, then by all means spend the extra money. The price difference is maybe 30-40% higher. If you are not buying a huge amount of connectors, the price difference may not be an issue.
#9
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
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If the neutrik connectors are part the the NYS range, then they are made with softer gold

these corrode faster. However anything other than the NYS range is made with hard gold and the quality of these connectors ensures a longer life span
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28th August 2009
Old 28th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ulysses View Post
The day you get them, the silver connectors technically have better conductivity. Silver is the best conductor available at room temperature. But silver tarnishes quickly and easily, and the thin layer of corrosion that forms on its surface is not a good conductor at all. Gold is actually less conductive than copper, but it essentially does not corrode at all. So a good plating of gold on your connectors will assure that they continue to be conductive for a long time. The lower conductivity of the gold is not audible, but the complete lack of conductivity of a corroded silver connector can be. Of course, it's not difficult to just clean the connectors every now and then. The price of the gold doesn't buy you sound quality, it just buys you the convenience of not having to clean your connectors. (Not as often anyway - since gold is expensive, the plating is very thin. Leave the connectors out in the basement long enough, and they'll turn green - but it'll actually be the copper underneath the gold that's corroding).
Sorry for reviving this thread, but I'm right before ordering a great amount of trs plugs, and would like to see things clear, as it's quite an investment.

I haven't found clear info about these questions:

1.) Will gold turn green even if the contact is gold over nickel over brass, or only when gold over brass, without nickel? I'm almost entirely sure that nickel would prevent this, am I right?

2.) Are Neutrik NP3X-B's gold over nickel over brass, or just gold over brass? The product page doesn't mention nickel, though I have a hard time to believe that they applied gold directly over brass... If we are at it, not even the NP3X-BAG product page mentions nickel, so tINY, where did you find info on this?

3.) If gold turns green, and requires cleaning eventually, then this cleaning would damage the thin gold plating, I guess, so it would eventually become just nickel or brass. Silver plugs need cleaning too, presumably more often, but would that eventually remove the silver plating too? I would assume gold would wear off more quickly than silver, so in in the end maybe silver would still be a wiser choice if you can put up with regularly cleaning of them. Am I right?

4.) When replugging gold plated plugs, how long would it take for the gold to wear off? Is it a problem only in massive use, or even after a few replugging? The NP3X-B product page states >1000 matching cycles, but it could mean anything...

For the record I'm looking for connectors for studio install, so although stuff will be moved infrequently, I don't expect to replug thing even on a daily basis...

Thanks,
j
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28th August 2009
Old 28th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsmith1261 View Post
1.) Will gold turn green even if the contact is gold over nickel over brass, or only when gold over brass, without nickel? I'm almost entirely sure that nickel would prevent this, am I right?

2.) Are Neutrik NP3X-B's gold over nickel over brass, or just gold over brass? The product page doesn't mention nickel, though I have a hard time to believe that they applied gold directly over brass... If we are at it, not even the NP3X-BAG product page mentions nickel, so tINY, where did you find info on this?

3.) If gold turns green, and requires cleaning eventually, then this cleaning would damage the thin gold plating, I guess, so it would eventually become just nickel or brass. Silver plugs need cleaning too, presumably more often, but would that eventually remove the silver plating too? I would assume gold would wear off more quickly than silver, so in in the end maybe silver would still be a wiser choice if you can put up with regularly cleaning of them. Am I right?

4.) When replugging gold plated plugs, how long would it take for the gold to wear off? Is it a problem only in massive use, or even after a few replugging? The NP3X-B product page states >1000 matching cycles, but it could mean anything...


1) Nickel is there as a hard base and makes a good barrier between the top plating and the base metal

2) Probably - green is from copper and even raw copper takes a while to get much green too it

3) Donno - but I'm pretty sure any gold is going to have an underplate. Flash gold over copper is not durable at all.

4) 1000 cycles seems reasonable - and it sounds like way more than you'll ever see on anything besides patch cords for your patch bay.

Basically, anything that gets left connected and working for several years at a time is a candidate for gold plate - stuff you plug and unplug all the time are better off with the nickel only.



-tINY

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#12
29th August 2009
Old 29th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY View Post


1) Nickel is there as a hard base and makes a good barrier between the top plating and the base metal

2) Probably - green is from copper and even raw copper takes a while to get much green too it

3) Donno - but I'm pretty sure any gold is going to have an underplate. Flash gold over copper is not durable at all.

4) 1000 cycles seems reasonable - and it sounds like way more than you'll ever see on anything besides patch cords for your patch bay.

Basically, anything that gets left connected and working for several years at a time is a candidate for gold plate - stuff you plug and unplug all the time are better off with the nickel only.



-tINY

Thank you for your reply!

In the meanwhile I sent a mail to Neutrik regarding my second question. When I get the answer (and I hope I will :]), I will post it here.
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29th August 2009
Old 29th August 2009
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Whichever you select ( I prefer the silver versions) do not mix silver and gold connectors. That will cause metal migration or an alloy molecular movement. To avoid metal migration use gold on gold/silver on silver.

Jim Williams
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#14
29th August 2009
Old 29th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Whichever you select ( I prefer the silver versions) do not mix silver and gold connectors. That will cause metal migration or an alloy molecular movement. To avoid metal migration use gold on gold/silver on silver.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
So I should insert only gold plated plugs into equipment, that has gold plated connectors and similarly in the case of silver and nickel I guess, right?
I've come across this advice previously on this forum, but iirc it was dismissed as not a significant problem to cause any troubles... But I'm also sure that you know your stuff, so I will read up on this again

Anyway, why do you prefer silver connectors? I'm not attached to gold in any way, just would like to make a good decision up front. So far gold seems to be the winner in this specific situation, as I won't expect to regularly replug cords. Having said that, I'm still open to any suggestions.

Thanks,
j
#15
29th August 2009
Old 29th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I.T. View Post
Hi,

I am planning to make some balanced audio cables. I would like to use Canare wire and Neutrik connectors. The plugs are available with gold or silver contacts. Which do you recommend? In terms of audio quality, are the gold contacts worth the extra expense?

Thanks,

I.T.
Proel DieHard cables are verry hi.quality stranded OFC with air sealed gold plated connectors.

Ag pure 7N Silver 99.9999% has more conductivity.
Cu Copper 99.9999% OFC, has second best conductivity.
Au pure Gold has 3rd best conductivity, but its much more resistant to oxidation.
connectors will work better in the long run. will make better contact and last longer.

the new hype its nikel, that is cheaper than gold and 4th conductive, 2nd best anti-oxidation, and stronger.
Aluminium has also strong anti-oxidation properties, but less conductivity than gold, copper or silver.
verry hi-quality OFC copper could be better than bad/low-quality contaminated silver.

also there are combinations...
gold plated silver like HiFi Tunings fuses,
or silver plated copper like most: vovox & monster m1000 cables.
silver center arround copper, like Zaolla,
or pure silver like Oyaide Dr/b-510 or Acoustic Zen Silver Byte,
or pure OFC like Philips PXT-1000, RadioShack Gold Digital Series., Proel DieHard, teac esoteric, etc...

stranded vs. single conductor, they all sound diferent...not a big fan of zaolla sound.
when you say Silver its pure Silver? Ag or just Aluminium?
...
asuming both are 99.9999% Oxigen Free, and both have the same AWG size.
Stranded cable is more flexible,
Single conductor is verry hard.

Stranded sounds with more harmonics if its good designed, warmth,
the more stranded the more harmonics but... a bit less dynamic also a bit less louder than single conductor cables.

Single Conductor has less harmonics, making the sound thin & focused, but has more dynamic range, and its louder than verry stranded cables.
#16
30th August 2009
Old 30th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsmith1261 View Post
So I should insert only gold plated plugs into equipment, that has gold plated connectors and similarly in the case of silver and nickel I guess, right?
I've come across this advice previously on this forum, but iirc it was dismissed as not a significant problem to cause any troubles... But I'm also sure that you know your stuff, so I will read up on this again

Anyway, why do you prefer silver connectors? I'm not attached to gold in any way, just would like to make a good decision up front. So far gold seems to be the winner in this specific situation, as I won't expect to regularly replug cords. Having said that, I'm still open to any suggestions.

Thanks,
j
Silver is the better conductor. I re-seat them regularly and clean them every year or so to remove oxidation and dirt. If you don't want that effort, use gold.

Jim Williams
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30th August 2009
Old 30th August 2009
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I use gold-plated for semi-permanent connections and silver for mic leads and anything that gets re-plugged regularly.

And thats about as much consideration I give the thing. Works for me and stops me worrying… there are more important things then cables and plugs.
#18
30th August 2009
Old 30th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Silver is the better conductor. I re-seat them regularly and clean them every year or so to remove oxidation and dirt. If you don't want that effort, use gold.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
May I ask you what you use for cleaning them?

Thanks,
j
#19
30th August 2009
Old 30th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O.F.F. View Post
I use gold-plated for semi-permanent connections and silver for mic leads and anything that gets re-plugged regularly.

And thats about as much consideration I give the thing. Works for me and stops me worrying… there are more important things then cables and plugs.
Thanks, this is a very sympathetic method
Meditating about cables and connectors blocks the whole wiring process which is quite disturbing because I would like to progress with it, nevertheless I want to make an informed decision so that I won't bang my head into the wall a couple of years from now...
In the end I guess I will keep it simple and just do what you suggested, and hope for the best
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30th August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsmith1261 View Post
May I ask you what you use for cleaning them?

Thanks,
j
Any non residue contact cleaner and Q-tips.

Jim Williams
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#21
15th November 2011
Old 15th November 2011
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Gold Plated Adapters, are better quality

Gold Plating is less conductive then silver or tin there for it is better.

Now if your device doesn't have a gold adapter then your benefit is less but is still there.

The Cables quality is more important then the adapter quality but is still important

Adapter Specification: (Highly Recommended 2011)

Coax
RG-6 compatible COMPRESSION connecters

HDMI
Gold Plated 1.3/1.4 compatible


Ethernet
RJ-45 CAT7 compatible with GOLD tips

SATA III
Quality cables have a metal clip on the adapter

Cable Specification: (Highly Recommended 2011)

Coax RG-6/U or RG-6/UQ
(RG-6/UQ is higher quality and has Quad Shielding pervading better quality cable and higher durability)

HDMI 1.3 or 1.4
(1.4 is better quality and has a higher data transfer speed)

Ethernet Cat 6 or Cat 7
(Cat 7 has a wire shield pervading better quality cable and more durability also has a higher data transfer speed)

SATA III
(SATA III is better quality and has 2XSATAII data speed)
#22
15th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ulysses View Post
Does silver oxide tarnish easily? I would expect not as easily as pure silver, but what do I know. Maybe connectors should be plated with silver oxide.

I've got a box of used XLR connectors on the shelf that haven't been touched in a couple of years. Even the gold ones are crusty. On the other hand, the ones that have been plugged in for that same length of time are fine.
Silver oxide is the tarnish. Oxidisation is rusting or tarnishing basically. Oxygen attacking or reacting with the surface of the metal. Silver plating will tarnish but the oxide layer is still conductive. This is why a lot of microphone and speaker cables use silver plating on the conductors. When copper oxidises it becomes a poor conductor but when silver oxidises it remains a good conductor. It's not really about the conductivity of the material but about how well it will behave over time.
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#23
15th November 2011
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Gold doesn't tarnish.

Silver does.

But in the long run, I have not found it to make any difference. I have some 'Cannon' brand XLR connectors in my room, and that goes back quite a few years. They all still work. Don't worry about it.

Metal generally (not gold) oxidizes or rusts. Current flowing through connectors doesn't help this process... it is much like electro-plating. So you have to keep things clean.

Dissimilar metals carrying current oxidize faster and the coating becomes an insulator. (and what is a capacitor??? 2 conductors separated by an insulator.)

Most plated material contains an undercoating of cadmium. Maybe just a flash coat. But seldom is (or was... I haven't explored this in years...) anything plated onto a metal without a cadmium plating first. Chrome, for example,.... cadmium, nickel, then the chrome.

Gold is very soft. It will scratch off. If all of your contacts were gold, i would see a point, but generally I see it as a sales tool... a tweaky thing that some people will pay for just to be able to say that they have it.
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15th November 2011
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Hi
Gold plated is useful for connectors that are replugged infrequently, like EDAC or DL multipins where a replug every year or so depending on the corrosive atmosphere you live in. Gold blackens with mercury but I can't remember what else but it is soft so is not as suitable for frequent replugging.
IIRC EDAC pins are rated for 500 insertions.
Gold plating on TOS connectors doesn't do anything for the sound.
Cleaning connectors was the job for the 'tape op', see what you have done by making them redundant, you have to clean your own cables.
Matt S
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#25
6th January 2012
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Hi guys, new to this forum here...

Bringing this one out again since I can't seem to find a clear answer to my question.

I'm using balanced cables with silver coated pins on the XLR connectors as interconnect for my audio gear.

All the pins on the processor and amp (Anthem Statement D2v and P5 amp) have gold plated on them.

Is this a problem? to use silvers plated over gold?

Thanks
#26
6th January 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grindx View Post
To my knowledge, silver oxide has close to the same conductivity as silver.
From what I have read it is identical to the base metal. The only time it may not be is oxidation that forms in the presence of other gasses, which I have seen in industrial environments that use or create chlorine, sulpher dioxide, or hydrogen sulphide gasses.


Quotes from the McGraw Hill Audio/Video Cable Installers Pocket Guide
Highly recommended btw...

"Silver is the most conductive metal"
"Silver oxide has exactly the same conductivity as the silver underneath"

Roger
#27
21st December 2012
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Since I came across this thread I'm gonna ask a stupid ass standard question but I'm honest about my nescience:

Does it make a difference in sound whether I get the NC3FXX or NC3FXX B?
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#28
21st December 2012
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-B have black backshells don't they?

Black connectors are good with black mics on stage. It just makes them a little bit more invisible.
S21
#29
21st December 2012
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If the question is "do gold and silver connectors sound different" the answer is "no"
#30
28th December 2012
Old 28th December 2012
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY View Post


Basically, anything that gets left connected and working for several years at a time is a candidate for gold plate - stuff you plug and unplug all the time are better off with the nickel only.



-tINY


what if we are talking about a crimp contact that goes onto multi core cable in a studio environment, like in a dsub25 or hd25 connector? it stays in one place, but the cable conductor isn't gold plated and the crimp tabs are smashed into the conductor.
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Last edited by BoseBoyz; 28th December 2012 at 11:45 PM.. Reason: added "in a studio environment"
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