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Gold on jack and phono plug/socket

Discussion in 'Electronic Equipment' started by Alex Coleman, May 22, 2006.

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  1. Alex Coleman

    Alex Coleman Guest

    Does the gold plating on various plugs and sockets (jacks, phono, SCART,
    etc) make any real difference?

    I notice that on my PC the PCI sockets have a gold color (is this gold
    or phosphor bronze or something else?)

    On the other hand the jack sockets, USB, D sockets, etc all have tinner

    So is gold significant?

    Are othe rmetals more significant?
  2. Dave Platt

    Dave Platt Guest

    My understanding: in some applications, using a good gold-to-gold
    contact can reduce (or almost eliminate) contact oxidation over time,
    and thus increase the reliability of these contacts. This is
    especially beneficial when the contacts are not expected to be
    unplugged and replugged at all frequently (an action which will tend
    to break up oxide films via the wiping action, but which can also wear
    away thin gold plating).

    Thin, cheap gold plating may not be of much if any benefit over time.
    A thin gold "flashing" on a base metal such as copper may wear away,
    and I believe it's actually possible for the copper to migrate through
    a thin surface layer of gold. I had some gold-plated phono cables
    years ago - Discwasher "Gold-ens" - and after a decade or so they
    showed extensive tarnishing on the surface.
    The general rule is "gold to gold, tin to tin". Using tin and gold
    contacts together is not a good idea - the tin contact will degrade
    faster when in contact with gold.
    Silver is often used for high-quality RF connections. Other precious
    metals (palladium and rhodium in particular, if I recall correctly)
    are also used in some applications.

    Nickel is very common in consumer-type applications.
  3. Guest

    The gold color is many times it is just for show... and to increase
    sale price....
    BUT if it is real gold plating it will not oxidise and will provide
    much better contact over time..... but compared with new cheap
    connectors that are not tarnished or oxidised.... NO DIFFERENCE....
    can't measure it, can't see it, can't hear it..... kinda like the
    expensive Monster (type) cables.... big money, big and fancy claims and
    wording , and a complete waste of money.
  4. Ross Herbert

    Ross Herbert Guest

    real gold is much too soft for direct use on connectors. the gold
    flashing used on connectors is usually a harder alloy containing
    cobalt and does in fact provide a better connection due to its
    resistance to oxidation, as compared to nickel plating.
  5. Long Ranger

    Long Ranger Guest

    I would say it does provide a contact that doesn't degrade much over time
    due to the fact that it doesn't oxidize. However, it starts out as a higher
    resistance joint than many other metals would be, so calling it "better" is
    somewhat dubious.
  6. Gold is a relatively poor conductor when compared with copper. It's
    major benefit would be lack of oxidation over time. Of course the
    audiophool thinks that gold is better at everything because it shines.
    Silver is a far better conductor, even better than copper. Of course it
    oxidizes fairly rapidly, but only the portion exposed to the air. The
    connection itself will not really degrade as long as it is tight.
  7. Gold is significant. While it's not the best conductor, it will maintain a
    good connection for a long time if undisturbed. It's not the resistance
    that matters, it's the electrical noise of corrosion. That's especially a
    problem with low voltage signals from tiny coils where energy output is so
    small that you might want the current as well as the voltage to get an
    efficient signal from them. When using a 200 ohm input, the resistance of
    gold contacts is still insignificant, but the noise of any corrosion won't

    On a standard input, greater than 10K or even 100K, a bit of tarnishing
    isn't going to matter unless it's so bad that it changes resistance
    dramatically in a short time. It's still worth having a very low ground
    contact resistance though, to prevent hum loops. It's not only audiophools
    who might want to consider this. :) Ground loops are a royal pain, and a
    bit of gold plating is usually a cheaper way to avoid it if you want to use
    the system instead of tweaking it all the time. Just avoid butch-looking
    cabkes with go-faster stripes and predatory names.
  8. hob

    hob Guest

    Basically - All contacts, except gold, oxidize over time.
    Contacts are designed to mechanically "wipe" when inserted, i.e., remove
    oxide by scraping, or to remove oxides and refuse by using current density
    in the connection.

    Low level signals like in phono plugs don't have the power to burn
    through oxides except on very small connections, but 1) since low level
    signals usually see hi impedance and 2) since they don't need as much area
    to conduct as does the human hand needs in order to hold the pin, even if
    there is some corrosion,
    there is usually still a decent path for conduction of low level signals
    for most connections (indoor, a year or so in place, not damp, etc.), and
    the resistance is small relative to the input impedance.

    In my experience -
    Use gold plated contacts if you are going to leave them in place for some
    time (video/audio connections in the back of the equipment left for years,
    in warm moving air that can build up a charge, outdoors)

    Use the chrome/silver plated contacts where it will be inserted and
    removed often.

    ( I have only seen a few corroded silver/chrome connectors indoors, and
    they were left in place for 20 years)
  9. rb

    rb Guest

    But what use is a connector that will last 20 plus years,
    when the electronics of today might only last 8 months to a year ?? Just a
  10. Sjouke Burry

    Sjouke Burry Guest

    Silver oxyde has the nice property,that it is
    somewhat conductive,and in a thin layer that
    is acceptable.
  11. Long Ranger

    Long Ranger Guest

    Plus, silver oxides, unlike most other oxides, are good conductors
  12. Long Ranger

    Long Ranger Guest

    My Pioneer SX-1250 says NOT! And my 40 year old JBL speakers.
  13. Ross Herbert

    Ross Herbert Guest

    Strange you say that...

    When I worked in telecom maintenance the bane of relays using pure
    silver contacts was that the oxidation played merry hell with signal
    transmission. Unless the circuit was arranged to have a tiny DC
    "wetting" current which minimised contact resistance caused by
    oxidation, we were forever burnishing them. Nickel silver or platinum
    contacts were much better in this regard.
  14. Tim Williams

    Tim Williams Guest


    Not to mention the more common silver sulfide which is not conductive.

  15. Guest

    - - - - - - -

    Long Ranger:
    I think that is the point.... exactly.
    Today's electronics are not built as robustly as that grand old
    mid-seventies Pioneer SX-1250 and it's contemporary competitors.
  16. ian field

    ian field Guest

    Apparently, the key to avoiding silver sulphide on connectors & contacts -
    is to stop farting!
  17. Guest

    I have an assortment of 80s and later amps around here, some bought by
    me, some just given to me because they were "broke".
    Every damned one of them has a bad input/output selector switch. Why
    is it so hard for these companies to come up with a switch that works,
    even when the equipment costs several hunderd 198x dollars? These
    switches are of some proprietary design that you can't easily
    replace with a decent off the shelf switch.
    I ended up jumpering the switch out on a few of them, just to use one
    input reliably for my MP3 players. The amp chip/module itself is
    fairly bulletproof.
  18. Long Ranger

    Long Ranger Guest

    Yeah, I guess it is, and to think, there was no gold on those contacts! I
    wonder why they lasted so long? I never even gave them a thought in all
    these years.
  19. Alex Coleman

    Alex Coleman Guest

    Very roughly what sort of additional resistance would a nickel
    plating have or how does the nickel's resistance compare to a plating
    of regular metal on the connector?
  20. Alex Coleman

    Alex Coleman Guest

    Gold a poor conductor?

    I though silver was better than copper and better still was gold.

    Oh well.
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