Tonearm wires

Tonearm wires DEFAULT


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Tonearm rewiring

nandric's avatar

The most cartridge clips are worthless. This is in particular very

annoying by not removable headshells. The best clips are made

by Clearaudio. By possible rewire one need to asses the state

of original wire. if those are not corroded (copper) then no rewire

is needed. The wire myth is not only present by speaker wire but

also by tonearms wire.

I did the same thing to my Pro-Ject Xtension 10. I had to then buy a good HOT soldering iron, I also used pure silver solder and placed just a dab on the clip, then using the iron you melt the insulation on wire back enough to expose a little bare wire, heat clip with iron place bare wire on clip when hot, let cool a few seconds, Good! Now finish with a piece of plastic electrical tape folded over clip and bare wire, using iron gently, briefly, touch the sides of tape to shrink wrap the connection. YEAH! its Micro surgery. I have moved on to a different table because of these awfully difficult wires and clips because I do like to change cartridges.

Matt M

I’ve rewired 4 or 5 arms over the years. Not just to replace old wire, but to change the wiring design — namely, one continuous run from cartridge output pins to preamp input RCAs. This eliminates, depending on the arm, 6 or 8 solder-joints and plug-connections. A bit of the signal is lost at each of these discontinuities; a single unbroken wire restores these losses. Improvements were always obvious and dramatic with every arm I rewired.

Best example was a Linn Ittok vs SME 309. I was happy with the Ittok, enough so to have two. Then I got the 309 — I’d always lusted for that elegant series from SME, and though it wasn’t the TOTL ‘V’, it was great. Clearly better than the Ittok. No contest.

I rewired one Ittok as described above — a single wire from start to finish (X 4, two per channel). In a direct comparison, I was surprised that the Ittok was now clearly better than the 309. I’d expected improvement, but it was so dramatic I sold the 309, though I hated to part with it, having coveted it for so long.

The ‘mythical’ sound quality isn’t due to the wire, it’s the single unbroken signal path. It’s important that both were good arms to start with — mechanical quality of both was superb. A badly made arm would not yield such significant rewards.

I also compared the rewired Ittok to my stock Ittok — its superiority was even more obvious.

I didn’t use ‘mythical’ wire, in Nandric’s phrase, just good thin copper, 33 gauge as I recall. Whether mythical wire would be even better, I can’t say. I did rewire an arm once with Van den Hul monocrystal silver wire (mythical), but it was so brittle it broke almost every time I changed cartridges — it was so maddening I didn’t care about its sonics. I still have some, and wouldn’t hesitate to use it in an arm with removable headshells, because once installed you never have to touch it.

I have 15 feet of Cardas 34awg tonearm wire waiting in the drawer, enough for three more 9” arms — I just haven’t had an arm for it yet. I didn’t buy it because it was Cardas (mythical) but because it was readily available.

The Clearaudio clips N recommends look great but I haven’t tried them. I use the ‘P-clip’ design derived from the computer industry. They’re terrific. Connectivity standards in the computer world are extremely high, because a failure can cost a company millions — or start World War 3. They also easily fit a wide range of pin diameters — no need for surgery to make them tighter or looser, so you never break them off — a major hassle avoided. Cardas sells them for serious money, but Radio Shack offered the same clips, 25 of them, for pennies. Alas, RS is no longer around, but they’re probably easily found online.

Best of luck with your project. I hope this was of some help.

nandric's avatar

@bimasta, We all make ''inductive generalisations'' based on

our (limited) experience. Those are not logically valid statements.

My ''generalisation'' about Clearaudio clips are made in this

way. Alas those are pretty expensive  So I am very curious about

your discovery of  ''P-clips''. The ratio of our forum consist in

such discoveries and sharing such information with other members.

Whatever one thinks about (different) wire is different question.

I own many carts and many headshells so those damn clips

are my primary worry. I hope someone can provide a picture of

those ''P-clips'' so we will have some idea about their looks.


I can't post photos here. I need them to answer Nandric's question.

Can anyone explain how to do it?

Do you know how to solder? I rewired my Music hall 7.1 tonearm (project 9c) I used Cardas wiring and cardas clips. Really wasn't too difficult. I would do it again if I needed to. Just take it slow. 

@jbny unfortunately I don't know how to solder.

@rauliruegas my plan is to send the 7.3 to Audio Element in Pasadena; they'll be rewiring my TT, and upgrading my cartridge.

Everybody, thanks for your input; appreciate it.

bdp24's avatar

@arcamguy, excellent! Brian Berdan at Audio Elements is not only a great technician, he's a great guy. I've known him since he was a little kid, he watching his Dad Brooks Berdan (who rewired my Rega 300) setting up tables, arms, and cartridges. One of the very best!

The best way to mount a cartridge is to affix the wires on to the cartridge pins by hand before installing it in the tonearm.  Using this method you can gently slide on the pins and not tare them with a slip of the pliars

@bdp24 I'm really excited to send the TT to them; I'm looking forward to what they do.
Unfortunately, the cartridge upgrade will have to wait, thanks to the "check engine" light that popped up this week on my car: a couple thousand puts the cartridge into next year; in the meantime, I'll have them reinstall the Goldring, which doesn't even have 200 hrs on it. They'll do a much better job than the online dealer I bought the MMF 7.3 from.
Audio Element will do the full Cardas rewiring of the arm, so I'm really looking forward to the upgrade I'll get.

arcamguy, this may only help you in the future, I agree with stringreen.  I've been in this hobby for decades and never abandoned vinyl playback.  In spite of most instructions to the contrary, I learned it is safer and easier to attach the wires to the cartridge pins before mounting the cartridge.  For me that is even more important with fixed headshells.  And of course leave the stylus guard on until you reach the point of setting overhang, offset, and VTF.

For the present, no doubt Berdan will do a great job.  Enjoy the results.

Get the tonearm wires from stereo-lux. Their finewire C37 cable is one of the best out there for tonearm wiring. The designer can supply you a direct continuous wire from the cartridge to phono or just a tonearm internal cable. Note that his cables are used in some of the best tonearms out there (Reed, Durand, Thomas Schick etc).

Contact [email protected]

Just had my Roksan Nima unipivot tonearm rewired with Cardas litz by Michael at Brit Audio out of North Carolina.  Beautiful job and super fast turnaround. Could not be happier. 

Rewiring a tonearm is not a casual endeavour as Matt Miller suggests. It does require a specific type of wire for both good conductivity and flexibility where it passes from the arm through the pivot and through the plinth to prevent it from causing torsional mechanical resistance to the motion of the tonearm. Also, the “p” clips that another member suggested are not suitable for this task, as they provide very tiny contact area, and are meant for applications where precision is not a requirement. 

Small-signal devices usually benefit from litz wire, where each conductor (strand) is individually insulated with a material that sublimates at soldering temperature. In my case, I’ve rewired tonearms with KAB-USA’s silicone-jacketed litz wire, which is extremely flexible. A challenge with silicone insulation is that it doesn’t readily melt when exposed to a hot soldering iron, so a 33AWG wire stripper is required, along with great care to avoid cutting any of the 37 ultra-fine strands.

With the wire successfully stripped, it must then be tinned before attempting to solder to the clips and the interconnect. For this task, I first dip the stripped end in rosin flux, the use a solder pot to simultaneously remove the litz insulation and tin the wire. Finally, I use a small amount of flux and solder the tonearm wire to each clip with 63/37 solder and then apply clear heat-shrink tubing (never use electrical tape) to reduce stress on the connection.

This method requires a very fine tip soldering iron (I use a Weller WESD-51) and a good magnifier lamp, along with a set of “helping hands” which are alligator clips attached with articulated arms to a weighted base.

The best way to wire a cartridge is to mount the cartridge to the arm  with the screws first.  Then using your fingers (not long nose pliers) the clips and be easily pushed on (but don't push them on all the way). Doing it this way, the tool won't slip and tear off the clips.

Just got my re-wired Rega RB300 back from Michael Wharton at BritAudio (teatime here on AG).  Excellent work, super fast turnaround, and it sounds excellent.   Highly recommended for this arm!

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BACK ONELil' Kaboosa says, Let's play it!

    Tonearm wire has two basic requirements. One, it must be flexible. Tonearm wire must not interfere with the motion of the arm. Interfering with arm motion can introduce low level distortions that obscure fine details. Two, it must be a top quality conductor, preferably Litz copper. KAB would not have entered the wire making business if it weren't for the lack of tonearm wire meeting those 2 basic requirements.

  I have rewired hundreds of Technics arms over the years. And have come to the conclusion that the companies making "tonearm wire" have never actually rewired a tonearm. For if they had, they would immediately realize that Teflon is perhaps the least desirable insulation. First and foremost, tonearm wire must be flexible, and you cannot get there with Teflon. And, worse yet, Teflon requires a graphite coating to eliminate the triboelectric charge that occurs with motion. This charging and discharging is what causes microphonics with Teflon wires. But there is a better way.

   So, after many years, I am very excited to finally introduce a tonearm wire made for people that actually rewire tonearms and play records. KAB SuperFlex™ Litz tonearm wire. Each 34 gauge wire is made up of 40 strands of 50 gauge pure copper litz conductors enveloped in a very thin film of super flexible silicone. Our new tonearm wire lays as limp as a wet noodle! It will not interfere with tonearm motion in any way. It will not resonate in the audio band. It will not develop a static charge nor create microphonics with motion. KAB SuperFlex is the definition of tonearm wire. Sold in sets of 4 colors Red, Green, Blue and White.

KAB SuperFlex tonearm wire should be stripped with a good quality mechanical wire stripper. Then lightly twirl the strands between your fingers. Now, pre tin them by simply applying a soldering iron and solder, The poly film will bubble off and the wires will tin very quickly. The wire is a joy to work with, really. Just remember that the high degree of flexibility requires that you handle the wires lightly. Do not stretch or tug on them. We can make custom wire sets pre cut and tinned as well.

Also, check out our SpiralAir Interconnects. They are a perfect match for an arm rewired with our SuperFlex Litz tonearm wire.

Click To Buy Now

    Litz wire is a type of cable used in electronics to carry alternating current. The wire is designed to reduce the skin effect and proximity effect losses in conductors used at frequencies up to about 1 MHz. It consists of many thin wire strands, individually insulated and twisted or woven together, following one of several carefully prescribed patterns. This winding pattern equalizes the proportion of the overall length over which each strand is at the outside of the conductor. In this way, Litz construction:
    1. Optimizes cable bandwidth
    2. Eliminates individual strand interaction
    3. Eliminates oxidation effects due to aging
    4. Generally optimizes cable performance
    5. Provides peace of mind with regard to signal transfer

    Silicone insulation has ultra flexibility which ensures that your tonearm reveals it's maximum sensitive to stylus motion. Silicone insulation is stable and will not harden over time. Because of it's supreme flexibility, Silicone insulation eliminates audio band resonance and tribo electric charge, Graphite coating is not required. Making KAB ultra flexible tonearm wire a very quiet wire.

    Teflon & Heavy Copper Strands:
    Silicone & Many Fine Copper Strands

      Wire Primer
         The dielectric is the insulator. Insulators are assigned a number that describes the reduction in wave propagation speed through it. For example, air is 1, Teflon is 2, thin silicone is 3, PVC is 3.4, water is 80. That is the dielectric constant 2/. And it is only meaningful if both send and receive conductors are immersed in the same dielectric, and if the cable is long enough to contain a quarter wavelength.
         Many websites spin long yarns about how audio waves propagate through cables. And by the time you wade through it all, your thinking to yourself, Wow, this must be really important! But while it is true that higher dielectric constants will reduce the speed that a wave travels down the wire, it is important to consider that audio is measured in milliseconds, cable velocity effects are measured in nanoseconds. That's a ratio of a million to one!
         I found one reference that really nails this down: "If a “long” line is considered to be one at least 1/4 wave in length, you can see why all connecting lines in low frequency systems are assumed “short.” For a 60 Hz AC power system, power lines would have to exceed 775 miles in length before the effects of propagation time became significant. Cables connecting an audio amplifier to speakers would have to be over 2.3 miles in length before line reflections would significantly impact a 20 kHz audio signal! " 1/ Now imagine the impact 3 ft of interconnect has on velocity?
      20Khz Wave

      Now, capacitance per foot is still important, But this will only come into play in complete cables, not loose wires laying inside a tonearm wand. The total contribution there being a few pico Farads.

      A word about wire plating
      I have found that the most neutral sound will come from pure copper. This makes sense if you understand skin effect. The skin effect describes how higher frequencies currents tend to crowd into the outer edges of the conductor. If you plate the copper, you introduce skin effects that affect the treble quality. Tin plate will lose detail, Silver plate will enhance detail. Our general recommendation is not to use plating in wires that are not easily removable. And to not use plated conductors at all if you are interested in neutral reproduction.

      Litz wire describes a construction that attempts to optimize transmission efficiency across a wide range of frequencies. It does this by reducing the skin effect. A litz wire will be made up of many strands of wire, each strand individually insulated. The diameter of each strand is chosen to ensure that at the highest frequency, the electrons occupy the entire cross section of that strand. The strands are then bundled together to achieve the desired gauge and wound in a special pattern that ensures that each strand appears on the outer edge of the conductor, repeating over and over as the wire is produced. The advantages of Litz wire are many and I can think of no disadvantages.

      1/ Sixth paragraph.
      2/ Dielectric Constants

      KAB SuperFlex Litz Tonearm Wire.
      Technics Tuneup Part VIII: Tone Arm Wiring
      Click the image to open in full size.
      This is what I started with, a KAB rewire kit (the prepared tonearm wire, fishing wire and damping) and a replacement interconnect with the KAB Technics circuit board. This cable is not on their webpage, it's an all-litzcoax of very low capacitance. Call or email Kevin, he will happily make you one.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      I storongly suggest getting the wire kit, the wire itself is prepared - it's cut to length, tinned (which is no small feat on litz wire, and worth the price of admission) and it's covered in a graphite coating to help counteract the triboelectric effect of teflon-covered wire.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Remove the platter, rest the turntable on something soft or properly supportive, and remove the base. Take a photo of all the screws near their holes, so you can reference the photo when you re-assemble the table.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      This is the bottom of the arm, the screws holding the plastic block (strain relief) need to be removed, and the strain relief as well.
      Remove the metal lid.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      And here is the stock wiring. It's actually quite nice. De-solder the small wires from the PCB.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Remove the screws from the PCB, and lift gently. The zip-tie needs to be cut, as the ground wire is notgoing to be removed from the turntable.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Arrange the groundwire out of the way, as it's going to be connected to the table throughout.

      You can see here that I got a bit ahead of myself, not removing the resin sub-plinth yet. It's actually easier if you do that first.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Sub-plinth removed.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      The 3 silver screws around the perimeter of the arm hold it in. Remove those and it will easily slide out.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      The arm assembly removed.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Remove these screws.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Pull out the headshell collar, but don't pull out the wires!

      Click the image to open in full size.
      De-solder the wires, and place the insulators aside.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      I attached (soldered) the new wire to the old. Gently, without forcing anything, you can fish the new wire through the whole assembly using the old to pull it through.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      When the new wire is through, unsolder the old wire and discard. (Ignore the color difference from the previous photo.)

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Once all the wires are through replace the insulators,

      Click the image to open in full size.
      And re-install the collar. This is very fiddly to solder.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Cut a few strips of the Cotton and gently stuff down the armtube.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      The wires need to be re-attached on the base.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Here are all the wires, and the old ground wire. That, like the ground that goes out with the RCA leads remains stock.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Lay the groundlead back in it's place, the bend of the wire will naturally find it's home again...

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Attach the PCB in place of the old.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      Attach the new wires to the new board.

      This is a great time to check continuity with your meter. If it's all good, start to re-assemble the table.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      I needed to improvise a strain relief, as the new cable will not fit through the original plastic block.

      Click the image to open in full size.
      And it's done!

      Last edited by 6L6; 12th July 2013 at 11:24 PM.


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