Today I will present you the best DIY interconnect cable which is proven in my audio system and works great for more than 2 years now.
- 1 Best DIY interconnect cable – introduction
- 2 How to make the best DIY interconnect cable
Best DIY interconnect cable – introduction
I don’t belong to the audiophiles who often try, change, or buy and sell audio cables. I see them as a necessary evil. I actually hate the fact that interconnects bring so many deviations in the sound of well-chosen hardware, that they actually degrade sound performance no matter the cost, and should actually do nothing but be a connection between the A and B points.
It is necessary to use cables, so I use them to make the audio system work at all, not to stand useless. If a solid solution is found, in time the cables are forgotten, they are there, they perform their function and that’s it, I don’t have them in mind anymore. But over time, there are some changes and improvements in the system depending on the circumstances, so the cables become questionable, especially if out of curiosity we connect more serious examples of interconnect that show us that the system can do much better.
This is where the problem arises that is easiest to describe as the conflict of a personal view of cables, price ratios, and the sound improvements they bring. I am aware that a good audio cable is much more than two ordinary wires and yet their basic function is so trivial that my subconscious does not allow me to cash out xxx dollars for them.
And so the story ends on my own experimentation with the support of literature. Geometry, materials, conductor concept, the relationship of parasitic electrical phenomena of capacitance and inductance, insulators, way of propagation of electrical information through the conductor and surrounding space… At DIY, however, we are limited in making some complicated mechanical cable construction to come up with some complicated geometries that sometimes look like trademarks of some brands, so it remains to assemble a cable that is simple and sticks to some basics that have proven advantages.
Best DIY interconnect cable – technical terms explained
Twisted pair construction
This is actually twisting two adjacent conductors thus reducing internal inductance, EM radiation, and interference reception. The guides are never actually parallel but angled, so they constantly intersect which reduces their interaction. Proven good geometry and is easy to make.
Unlike the stranded construction of a single conductor, solid core conductors have material homogeneity, and therefore no electrons jump over the line of lower resistance. In stranded guides where strains are not isolated from each other, there are scattered mini-contacts among them, so electrons are constantly looking for the shortest path that is not the most consistent. This leads to very possible signal distortions.
Conductor material – high-purity copper
Conductor obtained by a process that provides as few crystals per meter length. Such material usually has a lower series DC resistance at the same cross-section and length than the worse one, which means that it also represents a lower resistance for the signal/electrons that must flow through it.
Choice of cross-section
It is more demanding and expensive as a raw material to get ready-made cables whose conductors are made in the form of strips, in cross-sections like a very low and wide rectangle. Because of that, we must opt for round conductors of the full cross-section. It’s a matter of balance, the thinner-the better in terms of skin effect, or in terms of changing the resistance with a change in frequency, but the thinner the conductor, the higher its total resistance, and so on. So looking for a compromise.
In that world, gold is not all that shines, that is, it is not always the best that is generally considered the best. There can and must be experimentation. So PVC can give better results than Teflon or cotton or … anything is possible. In fact, the situation is quite chaotic and it is not only the type of insulator that is important but also its quantity, shape in relation to the conductor, etc.
After the description and theory, here is a concrete example of how to make the best DIY interconnect cable. The central part of the Belden 1505A cable was chosen for the material, where the diameter of the conductor is 20 gauge center and the diameter of its insulator is 3.7 mm. The cable is used for long connections in a 75ohm system, so the copper used must be of high purity.
How to make the best DIY interconnect cable
Take out the center cable of the video cable with its insulation
Connect two such cables together with a piece of tape
Fix the end of these two connected wires and start twisting them around each other
When you wrap a length of about 10 inches heat the insulation with a hairdryer placed on the warmest to relax the wires a bit and keep the shape. Make sure that the conductors are evenly twisted and not that one is twisted around the other and the other remains almost straight. Let their intersections be at approx. every 1 inch.
Repeat the process until you get the desired length of cable and also secure the other end with tape so that it does not unwind. Cut off the ends with a scalpel and remove the 1/4 inch insulation at the ends. Tin the exposed conductors with solder to the insulation so that oxidation on bare copper does not develop over time.
Solder these ends with a quality solder to the connector and the thing is done.
Step seven – the final look
The construction is simple but efficient and after some hundred hours of work, it shows very good audio results. Of course, it is possible to try other variants with a different insulator material as long as the diameter of the solid core conductor is the same and the outer insulator has sufficient hardness. I think part of the trick in this cable is that thick insulation that keeps solid core conductors at a certain distance from each other. There are cables with foam but still rigid insulators based on glass particles or PTFE. Foam insulators could be a problem because they melt easily and do not retain cross-sections at the point of pressure.