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Old 04-21-2008   #6
MatrixDweller
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 16
Default Re: Gold connectors - a bad idea, make connections worse?

The problem with copper is that when it corrodes the cupric oxide that is formed is non conductive. Copper is cheaper than silver though so using it for wire makes sense. It's also somewhat malleable were as silver and aluminum can be brittle. Aluminum is the fourth best conductor and silver is the first, copper is a close second and gold is the third. The special thing about gold is that it can be pounded or anodized onto something really really thin. It also doesn't form oxides so it will stay in it's pure form.

Gold is also equated with being expensive so having something gold plated (even though the actual amount is very small) leads one to believe it's worth a lot more. Platinum and Rhodium are more expensive than gold and are used sometimes too. Platinum and Rhodium are good conductors but also have very high melting points. They are used in many viable electrical situations like lightning rods or thermocouples. Plating audio connectors with them is just for show.

The other option you see quite a bit is nickel plating. Nickel is a better conductor than it is an insulator but it's pretty low on the list. Steel is also a poor conductor in comparison to copper. They are also not as flashy looking and if you were proposing to your girlfriend she would probably say no if she knew her ring was made of steel or nickel plated steel (stainless steel).

One thing I disagree with in Munster Cables' Noel Lee is that I don't think gold will react with the copper it's plating even when an electrical current is running through it. There would be more reaction within the impurities in the copper as the gold would be fairly pure. Gold, platinum, rhodium don't react with too many other things.

So if you had to plate another metal with another gold should be the first choice as it doesn't oxidate, is fairly chemically neutral and is one of the best conductors of electricity. The fact remains though that unless you have super human or canine hearing you're not going to hear any difference between gold plating and nickel plating on your interconnects.
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