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Solder Sucks!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Mindsender, Sep 6, 2001.

  1. Mindsender

    Mindsender Guest

    Yep, it's true. Of course you don't believe it. Hearing the sound difference be so like what I've heard on some of the best recordings I've found, I suspect this may be a closely guarded secret of some producers, but that's a guess. Just try making one cable that brings sound into or out of an external box, or from a synth to the in of your recorder using no solder. Voila.. the "wouffy" blanket goes away, and the ringing crystal glass appears (cable I'm using is Mogami 2549 which is 2wire and much clearer than the star quad, even when wiring the quad in dual mode). Before this, I'd found Kester 95%Tin5%Silver the best, but man..no solder is the trick. Worth more than thousands you can pay for boxes.
    My chain is M149 Neuman mike (which has an external box you plug the mike cord into, and and xlr out to the recorder, this is a great place to experiment), then into AMEK channel in a box, to ApogeeSPX100se, to My8AE (aes/ebu card)into Yamaha4416 (derivative of O2R). This is a pretty clean chain,and I'm also feeding the digital signal back out to the DA of the apogee which feeds powered Yamaha MSP10 powered speakers. The difference is astounding. Same applies to guitar cables, synth's.
    Neutrik has come out with XLR's that don't use solder (NC3FEZY) and I've ordered some, so will get back on those, but have just used crimping (not as good) until now. Also, for male 1/4 inch, Switchcraft makes screw connectors, and Radio shack has them gold plated (that's the ones I've tried, but going to try Switchcraft too.)
    If you think this is crazy.. remember the xlr to xlr connection is sloderless, so the concept is proven. Most Dsub connectors are pressed, not soldered. Just give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and make one cable before you shortchange your ears for the lack of a little basic science. Paul
    PS As to previous questions regarding my techniques for A/Bing, When I compare, I always keep everything the exact same, switch the cable, and continue recording on the same channel, only moments apart (length of time it takes to change the cable) Then I can place markers on the different takes at the exact same spots, so that I listen back to both takes instantly at the push of a button for comparison. As for longevity of good sound in a cable with untreated copper, I can't say, but the Mogami 2549 sounds way better than the harsher, slightly duller Monster StudioPro 500, or their StudioPro1000(very unmusical). All subjective, of course, and perhaps even correctable by EQ, but that's a bad alternative in my opinion. By the way, the Monster is treated copper, and I suppose that is better, but for what?
  2. Aaron-Carey

    Aaron-Carey Active Member

    Dec 25, 2000
    Is this something that someone added to the link at fletcher's page about audiophile loonies ?
  3. soulconnect

    soulconnect Guest

    Whatever he's smoking, I want some too. How much solder do you think is inside your synth, guitar, or microphone? And what about the solder in the cable that goes from your Neuman tube mic to the power supply. Good soldering is an art. Maybe you're just not very good at it.

  4. soulconnect

    soulconnect Guest

    Whatever he's smoking, I want some too. How much solder do you think is inside your synth, guitar, or microphone? And what about the solder in the cable that goes from your Neuman tube mic to the power supply. Good soldering is an art. Maybe you're just not very good at it.

  5. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    In case you have never taken an XLR apart, it is soldered on both ends. The mic wire solders to 3 little pins inside the connector.
  6. dbock

    dbock Guest

    I only use fully recycled German solder from old Neumanns. It smells different and always gives a good vintage tone.
    Sometimes we twist wires together rather than solder them, for that "seat of the pants" sound.
  7. Mindsender

    Mindsender Guest

    I know.. I know guys... it goes against common sense since, but really, how much time would it take you to try it. One cable. You'll see.
    As to XLR's haveing three little pins all soldered, my test was done by crimping (admittedly not the best), but Neutrik has come out with new solderless XLR's (NC3FEZY) arriving today, and I'll report back on those. If they don't work, I'll be pushing straight wire (not twisted) into the normal XLR's (both gold and silver) with little wooden dowl's to test, and will report back. Easy to laugh. Harder to know. You may be kissing my ring soon for this little tid-bit. Don't worry, I won't let you, but realize I just don't leave anything to chance, which is why I'm doing this to record ME. That can make a difference in how hard you listen. Paul
  8. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    I'll welcome Paul's hypothesis, and add a bit of conjecture myself...

    Theoretically speaking... When an electic current passes down a wire, the electrons do not pass down the center of the wire. They flow along the outer perimiter of it. If you take any circle and measure the total circumfrence, then take 4 circles which fit within the diameter of the first circle and measure the total circumfrence of those, the total circumfrence of the 4 circles will be much greater than the total circumfrence of the single large circle. More surface area, more room for the electrons to travel. This may be why it is desireable to have many strands instead of fewer strands.

    Then once you have a wire with a nice bunch of strands to push electrons down, you take all those nice strands and clump them all together in one lump of solder at each end of the wire. It's like reducing the many strands into one big strand. I imagine this would function the same as a low level resistor. This might not be a good thing, or it might not make a drop of difference in the sonic bucket. I dunno. I'm just theorizing here. Others here have done plenty more research and schooling than me, and I'd love to know if I'm completely out on a limb with this or not. Anyway...

    If this is true, the real challenge is not to avoid using solder, but to make the best possible connection to a terminal. Touching a terminal with one side of a wire is like laying a cylinder on a flat plane. This is not a very good ratio of surface area contact. Only a very small area of the wire is actually touching the terminal. Much of the signal would have to arc (to a small degree) to get to the other side. I don't know if that's better or worse than the solder scenario. At least with solder you have one smooth surface to transport the electrons across to the terminal. A seemingly (to me anyway) more ideal situation would be to individually solder each strand of the wire to the terminal. (That sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it?)

    Anyone want to set me straight on this? Stephen maybe?
  9. Mindsender

    Mindsender Guest

    Beautiful logic, Ang. The enhanced circumfrence certainly makes for a good arugment. And easy test for this is to get Switchcraft 1/4 phone connectors and make a guitar cable (only use 1 of the wires and shield, don't combine two wires or the sound sucks)with just the screws, and another with solder. The difference in clarity is tremendous. By the way, my testing is showing Gold to be a blanket on the sound as well. The Neutrick new solderless connectors use gold, and they suck compared to their silver connectors. Will give a final report after more testing. Paul
  10. gtrmac

    gtrmac Guest

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I thaught that the qualities which Paul L. is describing would be more related to the capacitance of the cable not the resistance. This having to do with the proximity of the conductors and the length of the cable. Paul- I would suggest that you try a blindfold test with the cables and if you can hear the difference reliably you should pursue a cereer as a mastering engineer immediately. Ears like that should not be confined to recording only yourself. ;)
  11. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    Many years ago Doug Sax found that gold connectors put a huge blanket over the sound. Also the old style Cannon XLR's sounded inferior. Apparently another connection inside the connector. In my experience, the more connections, the worse the sound. I don't know about this no solder thing, but I will say that gold contacts or redundant connections will degrade the sound. If you are really freaky, try Tweak or Kontact on the contacts, it does make an audible difference. I am more interested in fine tuning the arrangement and getting a great vocal performance. YMMV
  12. soulconnect

    soulconnect Guest

    Thank you, McSnare. The emotion I'm looking for in a performance will make it through a well soldered connector.

  13. ironsheik

    ironsheik Guest

    Any word on the testing? I just bought a bunch of connectors to make some cables and would love to hear your findings. It won't make much difference in my low budget studio but is great to know in the future. How do the solderless connections work?
  14. Mindsender

    Mindsender Guest

    Been a little busy but the results of my testing indicate solderless is much better, and silver Neutrik connectors are much better than gold. Only your own testing will tell you, and it doesn't take long. Just substitute a single cable in your chain, and you'll hear the difference.
    As to "how to", it ain't easy with neutrik connectors. My suggestion is that you first strip an inch, don't twist the cable, tie a knot about a 1/4 inch from the insulation then cut off remainder above knot. Literally stuff this knot into the connector as tightly as possible, fold either side of the metal overlapping slightly and crimp. then crimp the upper full circle of metal of the connector around the knot tightly. Just crimp about half to three quarters, leaving the bottom still rounded. If you crimp the whole thing, the brittle metal breaks and the crimp doesn't hold as tightly. It takes some common sense and practice, but it's worth it. The males are much harder because they are smaller, but patience is a virtue.
    For those of you too lazy to try, who rely instead on arrogant self praise, I'd hate to be your client. Ten minutes of experimentation will give you a real opinion, which may differ from my own legitimately. Anyway, ^#$% it. I'm tired of stupid comments on this subject, when it is so easily resloved, and such a gift, in my opinion. I'll just say it one more time, it makes a profound difference. I understand the illogic of it considering the countless solder run into "inside" the machine, but I promise you, if you can set up a true a/b with quick listening between the two, record some vocals, piano, drums... you will be amazed at how bad your sound "was" by comparison. Paul

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