Oct 232016
 

I’m hard at work this weekend, working on finishing writing the review for Positive Feedback of the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA Premium Tinned-Copper ‘Vintage Tone’ Cable that will be appearing in the November-December issue, but I thought you would enjoy a little ‘sneak peek’, so here you go! Enjoy!

The Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA Premium Tinned-Copper ‘Vintage Tone’ Cable

By Jeff Day

Frederik Carøe in Denmark knocked me out with his amazing Duelund Coherent Audio CAST capacitors, inductors, resistors, and autoformers that I wrote about in Issue 70 and Issue 74 of Positive Feedback, and now he has done it once again with his superb Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA premium tinned-copper ‘vintage tone’ cable, which I have had fantastic results with as both speaker cables and as RCA interconnects.

Frederik worked closely with a specialty manufacturer to develop the 26-strand, 0.25mm diameter, tinned-copper conductors used in the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire. Then following Mr. Steen Duelund’s axiom that natural materials produce more natural tone, he clothed the DCA16GA conductors in an oil impregnated black cotton dielectric.

Frederik says the oil impregnated cotton dielectric is baked “so people won’t get a messy cable” and that “its main role is to make the dielectric anti-static, and the cotton more durable.”

Like all Duelund products the DCA16GA wire is hand-assembled with meticulous care and attention to details.

Duelund DCA16GA wire on the right (black), and Western Electric WE16GA on the left (red). Background courtesy of my You get more bounce with Curtis Counce jazz album, which depicts quite well what it’s like to listen to  the Duelund DCA16GA.

There’s quite a good story associated with the arrival of the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA tinned-copper wire that deserves telling, and the vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire that inspired its production (right & left in the photo above, respectively, and in the close-up photo below).

Closeup: Duelund DCA16GA wire on the right (black), and Western Electric WE16GA on the left (red).

Closeup: Duelund DCA16GA wire on the right (black), and Western Electric WE16GA on the left (red).

Over a year ago now, the delightful Yazaki-san of SPEC Corporation introduced me to the wonders of vintage Western Electric WE16GA tinned-copper wire in the ‘Adventures in Real Sound with Mr. Shirokazu Yazaki’ article that I wrote about in Positive Feedback Issue 81.

Spool of Western Electric WE16GA wire.

Spool of Western Electric WE16GA wire.

The ‘real sound’ of that Western Electric WE16GA tinned-copper wire swept me off my feet and I quickly became addicted to its vivid tonal wonders, using it first for speaker cables with my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, then I rewired my Duelund Coherent Audio CAST crossovers with the WE16GA, and finally I rewired my Westminster’s internally with the WE16GA tinned-copper wire. Yes, I really, really, liked what it did for my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.

WE16GA as speaker cables.

WE16GA as speaker cables.

The Western Electric WE16GA as a vintage wire is no longer in production, and the real thing has gotten difficult to come by as word got out about its incredibly musical performance.

The Duelund CAST crossovers for my Westminster's are wired with WE16GA.

The Duelund CAST crossovers for my Westminster’s are wired with WE16GA.

‘Forgeries’ of the WE16GA actually started to appear from disreputable eBay sellers trying to capitalize on the WE16GA’s burgeoning popularity, which caused me great dismay, given I was the one who popularized it by writing about it here at Positive Feedback and at my blog, Jeff’s Place.

My WRSE's are wired internally with WE16GA.

My WRSE’s are wired internally with WE16GA.

I enjoyed its tonal properties so much that I was starting to get a little bit panicky about running out of the vintage Western Electric WE16GA tinned-copper wire, as not only had I done a complete rewire of my Westminster-Duelund loudspeaker system with it, but I had made speaker cables of it for my vintage ‘Stokowski’ Altec A7 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, and I also wanted to use it for wiring up my vintage Altec-Lansing A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeaker system project, and to make a set of speaker cables for my Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers.

My vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre drivers and crossovers are wired with WE16GA.

My vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre drivers and crossovers are wired with WE16GA.

I had big plans, but it wasn’t looking good for yours truly, as I was running out of WE16GA, and I had a lot more that I wanted to use it for!

During my year-long public affair with the vintage Western Electric WE16GA, Frederik had been quietly observing the audio community’s reaction to its considerable tonal charms, their (and my) dismay at having it become extinct, and he became intrigued with the idea of producing a contemporary Duelund Coherent Audio version of the Western Electric WE16GA, but going the Western Electric one better by utilizing Mr. Steen Duelund’s axiom of a natural materials philosophy.

Frederik told me about his idea for a Duelund version of the WE16GA, and you can imagine how excited I was about this development, as well as encouraged by the potential of being rescued from the brink of oblivion of running out of the WE16GA for my planned audio projects.

This is what it looks like inside the Western Electric WE16GA when you dissect it.

This is what it looks like inside the Western Electric WE16GA when you dissect it.

I had already dissected the Western Electric WE16GA at my blog for my readers, describing its 26-strand tinned-copper conductors, its plastic inner sleeve, and red & black fabric outer covering.

Frederik asked me if I would get out my micrometer and measure the diameter of the individual strands that make up the Western Electric WE16GA, which I did, and each strand was 0.25mm in diameter. The conductor of the Western Electric WE16GA was composed of twenty-six strands of 0.25mm tinned-copper wire.

Armed with that information, Frederik then worked closely with a specialty wire manufacturer to develop the 26-strand, 0.25mm diameter, tinned-copper conductors that are the heart & soul of the Western Electric wire, and then commissioned a first production run for use in his newly imagined Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire.

The tinned-copper conductors of the Duelund DCA16GA wire.

The tinned-copper conductors of the Duelund DCA16GA wire.

After Frederik received his first production run of the conductors for the new Duelund DCA16GA premium tinned-copper cable, he set about wrapping it with his chosen dielectric.

Frederik eschewed the inner plastic insulator and outer fabric covering of the Western Electric in favor of a black cotton dielectric that is impregnated in oil and then baked, in keeping with the Duelund philosophy of using natural materials, which Frederik thought would imbue an even more natural and desirable tone to the new Duelund DCA16GA cable than the use of plastics in the vintage WE16GA could allow for.

I’ll tell you what, there’s been nothing that was more highly anticipated by the readers of my blog (and me) than the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA premium tinned-copper ‘vintage tone’ cable, with the promise that it could very well become the heir apparent to the now extinct vintage Western Electric WE16GA cable that we all loved so much.

Every time I mentioned the DCA16GA at my blog, the hit counter showed dramatic spikes, and the anticipation for me awaiting its arrival was back like when I was a kid, waiting for Christmas morning to arrive, and for my readers as well, I think.

The Duelund DCA16GA tinned-copper wire arrives at Jeff's Place for its first public appearance!

The Duelund DCA16GA tinned-copper wire arrives at Jeff’s Place for its first public appearance!

Then that fateful day came when the new Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA premium tinned-copper ‘vintage tone’ cable arrived from Frederik for me to evaluate.

Would it sound as good as the Western Electric WE16GA, or possibly even better? What if it sounded much worse?

I imagine Frederik was anxiously awaiting the results of my first evaluations of his new DCA16GA cable, just as I and my readers were, as he had invested significantly in its production.

Why tinned-copper wire?

I’ll get to the evaluations of the new Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA premium tinned-copper cable lickety-split, but before I do I want to answer the question that most of you are thinking, which is “Why use tinned-copper wire as a conductor?”

Back in 1950’s America, tinned-copper wire, like the Western Electric WE16GA I’ve mentioned here, was routinely used in industrial applications, because electroplating copper wires with tin prevented corrosion and improved strippability, which made for an altogether more durable & reliable wire for industrial use.

Corrosion was an issue back in the 1950’s because the common insulators of the day released sulfur peroxide over time, which would then react with the copper conductors to form copper sulfide, which degraded the wires’ performance. However, if you tinned the copper wire, the sulfur peroxide released from the insulators couldn’t degrade the copper by forming copper sulfide, thus protecting the performance characteristics of the cables.

For the shielded cables of the 1950’s, the composition of the shielding made it difficult to strip from bare copper conductors, so tinned-copper conductors were used, as they were easier to field-strip in preparation for use.

So the origin of tinned-copper wire was related to the purely practical reasons of preventing corrosion and easing strippability, making the wire more durable, reliable, and easy to handle in industrial applications.

Over time, new wire insulators were developed that didn’t corrode bare copper conductors, and new shielding materials were developed that made strippability over bare copper conductors a breeze.

Those new materials for insulators & shielding meant the tinned-copper conductors that were so expensive to manufacture began to fade from the scene, with the forces of penny-pinching capitalism covering them in the sands of time, and largely erasing them from people’s memories.

What is ‘vintage tone’?

For audio use, most of you are probably familiar with contemporary speaker cables & interconnects that are made with copper, silver, or even gold wire, and are aware that each of those conductors have their own unique sonic signatures.

I’m guessing most of you probably haven’t had much exposure to tinned-copper wire, unless of course you happen to have a hobby that involves restoring or hot-rodding vintage audio gear, which tends to be chock-full of tinned-copper hookup wire. The same is also true for vintage electric guitars, and vintage guitar amplifiers, which used tinned-copper wire in their manufacturing.

My vintage McIntosh electronics, for example, are wired internally with the industrial wire standard of their day, Western Electric tinned-copper wire. It is unlikely that McIntosh’s choice of tinned-copper wire for use in their vintage electronics was related to the sound quality of the wire, in the way we think about it today, but more likely for its industrial qualities of being corrosion resistant and easily strippable during the manufacturing process.

Now it stands to reason that if copper, silver, and gold wire has a signature sound when used in speaker cables & interconnects, then tinned-copper wire probably has its own signature sound as well.

But it actually wasn’t the vintage audio guys that first realized that there was something very special about the musical tonality of tinned-copper conductors, it was the vintage electric guitar guys, and they referred to the tinned-copper wire used in vintage electric guitars, and vintage electric guitar amplifiers, as ‘vintage tone’ wire, because of its very musically expressive tonality.

Eric and Blackie in 1978. Public domain photograph.

Eric and Blackie in 1978. Public domain photograph.

As a result of this realization, an entire cottage industry sprang up among the electric guitar guys for modifying modern production electric guitars & electric guitar amplifiers in an effort to recapture the ‘vintage tone’ of those fantastically musical vintage electric guitars and their amplifiers, like Eric Clapton’s Fender Stratocaster ‘Blackie’, for example.

Even electronic guitar manufacturers have recognized this trend and have gotten on board in recapturing their historic ‘vintage tone’ with ‘vintage tone wire’, ‘vintage tone caps’ (a story for another time), and ‘vintage tonewoods’. If you’re interested in reading more about the ‘vintage tone’ phenomena, you can read a lot more about it on my blog, just search on ‘vintage tone’ and have fun reading!

However, this ‘vintage tone’ trend went largely unnoticed in audio circles until recently, when in an entirely parallel audio universe, Shirokazu Yazaki, or Yazaki-san, as the readers of my blog know him as, rediscovered the lost artistry of tone that tinned-copper conductors so easily provide for audio use.

It was Yazaki-san who introduced me to the ‘vintage tone’ of the tinned-copper Western Electric WE16GA wire for speaker cables, and the shielded tinned-copper conductors of Belden 8402 microphone cable for interconnects (more about this in a moment), and frankly, it changed the way I think about audio, and audio cabling in particular. Yazaki-san refers to these tonal qualities as ‘real sound’, and I would agree.

When I say ‘vintage tone’ wire to an audio enthusiast it usually conjures up an image of a warm, mid-range centric, modestly resolving, pleasantly musical wire, that is really nothing special.

When I say ‘vintage tone’ wire to an electric guitar guy it conjures up an image of a wire that has extremely vivid tone color, superb dynamic response, can start & stop on a dime during melodic improvisation, allows notes to decay beautifully, has an irrepressible musical expressivity & tonal beauty that is not easy to quantify, as there’s just something special about the way you can play music when your gear’s wired up with it.

When I say ‘vintage tone’ wire, what I’m talking about is much closer to what the vintage electric guitar guys think about tinned-copper wire, but there are other aspects to ‘vintage tone’ in audio terms that I’m looking forward to introducing you to as well, so please, read on.

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA Speaker Cables for My Vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre Loudspeakers

The Duelund DCA16GA at Jeff's Place.

The Duelund DCA16GA at Jeff’s Place waiting for a little DIY action.

When the DCA16GA arrived from Frederik, I quickly unpackaged it and got busy making up a set of speaker cables for my vintage Altec-Lansing A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeaker project so I could give them a listen.

How about some Duelund DCA16GA for those Altec A5 Voice of the Theater loudspeakers?

How about some Duelund DCA16GA for those Altec A5 Voice of the Theater loudspeakers?

Out came the Western Electric WE16GA and in went the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA.

I attached the bare wire ends of the DCA16GA to my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers on one end, and my breadboard crossovers for the Altec A5 VOTTs on the other end.

Duelund DCA16GA wire as speaker cables for the A5's.

Duelund DCA16GA wire as speaker cables for the A5’s.

One thing that experience has taught me over the last year about tinned-copper conductor cables like those in the WE16GA, is that they can sound brash and forward until they get adequate run-in time in a system (about 100 hours) or on a Cable Cooker™ (about 4 days).

Hint: I’ve found Alan Kafton’s audiodharma Cable Cooker™ indispensable in speeding up run-in time, and for getting the most out of my cables, whatever kind they are, and as a bonus it costs less than a pair of hoity-toity interconnects.

Closeup of Duelund DCA16GA as speaker cable .

Closeup of Duelund DCA16GA as speaker cable .

I was steeling myself for my first listen to the Duelund DCA16GA, and was telling myself that even the Western Electric WE16GA sounded a little rough until it settled down, and then it unfolded over time to reveal a remarkably musical presentation that brings the music to life.

However, when I put the Duelund DCA16GA into the system as speaker cables, with no conditioning at all, they didn’t sound brash & forward like the Western Electric WE16GA did with no time on it.

Listening to the Duelund DCA16GA speaker cables on the Altec A5’s.

Listening to the Duelund DCA16GA speaker cables on the Altec A5’s.

What did I hear? Well, compared to the Western Electric WE16GA, I heard all of the considerable goodness of well run-in WE16GA, but the Duelund DCA16GA had an overall richer presentation, it sounded smoother, more spacious, had more intense tone color, it was more transparent (and at the same time more natural sounding!), with images that had more presence, as well as a superb portrayal of tempos, melodies, rhythm, and dynamics. Those are all attributes that push my buttons, so I was very excited about what I was hearing.

Essentially, I heard everything that I really like about the Western Electric WE16GA, but everything was better with the Duelund DCA16GA. Everything, both musically & sonically. That’s a “Wow!”

***

Ok, that’s it for the sneak peak, and with a little luck I’ll get the full article done in time for it to appear in the Positive Feedback November-December issue. Wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 6:09 pm

  26 Responses to “Sneak Peek: The Positive Feedback Review of The Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA Premium Tinned-Copper ‘Vintage Tone’ Cable”

  1. Jeff, we all audio aficionados,owe you & me yazaki San very very big thanks for bringing to our knowledge the availabllty of great vintage sound of western electric in new avatar.

  2. Hey Jeff,

    Do you know the name of the woman on the front cover of that Curtis Counce album? Searched the internet and can’t find it. Thanks!

    Bobby

    • Hi Bobby,

      I found a reference that her real name was Christa Päffgen, born October 16, 1938, and she went by the model name of ‘Nico’. She was a popular model in the 1950’s.

      Best,

      Jeff

  3. this was recorded in 1956, so this young woman must be around 85 now , 😉

  4. Hi Bobby ,

    yes is Nico/ChristaPäffgen, the German model …..Do you know….The Velvet Underground & Nico ?

    The Velvet Underground & Nico was recorded with the first professional line-up of the Velvet Underground: Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker. German singer Nico was also featured, having occasionally performed lead vocals for the band at the instigation of their mentor and manager, Andy Warhol.
    Nico sang lead on three of the album’s tracks—”Femme Fatale”, “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror”—and back-up on “Sunday Morning”. In 1966, as the album was being recorded, this was also the line-up for their live performances as a part of Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

    best

    john

  5. Jeff and John,

    Thank you for the info on Nico, much appreciated!

  6. Hi Jeff,

    Just wanted to let anybody interested know that http://audiotweaks.nl/ in the Netherlands sells the Duelund DCA16GA. I bought it there last thursday and had the privilige to spend an evening listening to Spec Real Sound electronics combined with a pair of Tannoy Canterbury GR speakers.

    I used the Belden 8402 both with RCA’s (KLE Innovations Absolute Harmony) as well as XLR’s (Xhadow) and it performs just as well balanced as it does unbalanced. Bought some extra Duelund cable to make a balanced cable.

    I’d like to thank you and Yazaki-san for the inspiration and shared knowledge.

    Regards,
    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the report! Sounds like you had a wonderful evening of music & hi-fi!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Hi Jeff,

        I made the balanced cables with the Duelund DCA16GA this afternoon and the sound is simply amazing. It was pretty good with the Belden, but the Duelund cable is in a class of it’s own.

        Kind Regards,
        Peter

  7. Mr. Day, I would like to thank you for educating me about the world of higher end audio. I have been following the discussions about WE16 GA wire and now the Duelund DCA16 GA wire as speaker cables with great interest. I read your review of Tempo Electric interconnects from 2012. Tempo Electric also makes speaker wire using one silver wire(with the choice of different gauges) in a Teflon tube. May I ask your thoughts and opinion on this type of speaker wire and if you can compare it to the Duelund 16 gauge wire. Thank you for any advice. GG

  8. Hi Jeff – I may have missed it somewhere else and it may not matter anyway…but any comments about how many twists on DCA16GA speaker cables? Maybe 2-3 twists per foot? I also seem to recall starting at the center is easier?

    Thanks!
    Mike K

    • Hi Mike,

      I’m not sure it matters on the number of twists per foot, but I’m guessing mine is about 4-5 twists per foot.

      Best,

      Jeff

  9. Hi Jeff & Frederick ,

    Just I installed the Duelund DCA16 GA wire as speaker cables……with ZERO hours …..

    WHAT A REVELATION !! The soundstage is HUGE !! the sound is SMOOTH !!

    Has RYTHM !! PACE !! The sound is more SPACIOUS !!

    The band is just at FRONT OF ME and sings & plays JUST FOR ME !! The TONE COLOUR is just GREAT!!

    The voices are INCREDIBLY NATURAL!!….the SAXOPHONE … fires !! INCREDIBLE SOUND !!

    and what a SMELL !! FRESH BAKED BREAD…..!!

    I am AFRAID to THINK what will be HAPPEN …….. after the 100 hours of burning time…….as you told us Jeff….

    Sorry but I LEAVE YOU NOW ….DAVE BRUBECK IS CALLING ME TO THE STAGE……..

    A GREAT THANKS!! JEFF……..

    A GREAT THANKS!! FREDERIK ………

    THE REAL SOUND JOURNEY IS GOING ON >>>>>>>>

    THE BEST

    John

    ps1. the system that I am listening now is……..( and the sound of my system was EXCELLENT also…..!! )

    speakers= ANALYSIS OMEGA
    amplifiers= QUAD II TUBES ( the old guys ) ( yes 15 watt class A from ‘ 60’s )
    pre-amplier= EAR 834 L ( tubes ) / PARAVICINI
    cd transport= MERIDIAN 602
    dac/analoque=MERIDIAN 606
    interconnects = pre to amp LINN BLACK ANALOGUE rca
    = dac to pre VAN DEN HULL the FIRST rca
    = cd transport to dac STRAIGHT WIRE digital
    speakers cables= DUELUND DCA16 GA wire

    ps2. next step …..Belden 8402 ic’s & Duelund DGA 16 GA ic’s…………

    ps3. any idea Jeff for the digital cable??

    • Hi John,

      I’m pleased you’re enjoying the Duelund DCA16GA, your experience pretty much mirrors my own.

      If you after a digital USB cable, I recommend this, it is head and shoulders above the others I have, and is almost free!

      If you mean a regular digital cable terminated with RCA’s, I don’t really have any experience with those, but I’d certainly give both the Duelund DCA16GA and Belden 8402 a try.

      I hope that helps!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  10. Jeff,

    Do you know whether or not these wires should be twisted together? Because my Duelund xover is bi-wired, what is the best config for sound? Twisted pairs twisted together? Or is there some other suggestion(s)?

    I’ve gotten conflicting answers so far. Chris at Parts Connexion suggested, “I’d twist the +/- for the tweeter first…then the +/- for the bass second…then, twist those two bundles together….so, really a twist of two pairs.”

    I have heard that 3.5 inches should be used as a spacing between wires (rather than twisting) for best sound as well. AFAIK, I do not have any RFI/EMI issues here.

    Anyone know? Does it really matter?

    Best,

    Jim

    • How much does tidiness matter to you?

    • Hi Jim,

      I think the twisting is optional. In high RFI/EFI environments it is allegedly a little quieter to twist. The only reason I twist them is because that’s the way the WE16GA came, so I duplicated it, and twisting also makes for a little tidier appearance.

      At the moment, I’m running the DCA16GA to my crossovers’ bass input as twisted single-wire runs, then with DCA16GA jumpers to the crossovers’ high-frequency inputs, kind of like we did with the Avantgarde Duos way back when.

      null

      I still do the long run of the WE16GA from the drivers’ grounds to the amplifiers’ grounds, as you had recommended to me.

      If you make any discoveries using the DCA16GA, be sure to let me know!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  11. I am based in India. First of all a big thank you to you Jeff for this wonderful blog.

    I use EMT table with the 927 tonearm and TSD 15 cartridge with a David Berning class A zero feedback push pull 6b4 DHT ZOTL amp and Rethm Saadhana speakers.

    I switched from silver foil speaker cables to Duelund 16 awg speaker cable. Am delighted with the improvements. This cable opens up the upper bass which makes everything sound more real.

    At present I do not use any room treatments. I do not hear any problems as such. I was wondering Jeff if you could recommend any one Acoustic Revive product that I can try to bring more realism

    • Hi Premnath,

      Thanks for your kind words, I really appreciate it.

      I’m continuing to be amazed as I explore the use of tinned-copper cables, and now capacitors. They are really something special, for sure.

      As for room treatments, if you don’t hear any problems in your room, I would leave things as they are, and buy a big stack of new records instead!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  12. Thanks Jeff. I think I will do that

    I was just wondering if the Acoustic Revive Schumann resonator was worth a shot?

    • Yes, absolutely, Premnath! The AR Schumann generators get constant use at my place, and I have at least one of them in every system (and I use two in my main system).

      I’ve found them to be one of the most easily recommendable audio accessories ever made, and I can’t imagine being without them.

      If you decide to give them a try, be sure to report back to let you know what you think of them.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Thanks Jeff. If I get one will let you know. Also am planning to get a power cord from Triodewirelabs. Power cord is tinned copper. So should be interesting. Getting a ten plus which is reasonably priced at USD 399

        • Hi Premnath,

          Let me know how those work out for you. I think you’ll really enjoy AR Schumann generator, it is easily one of my all-time favorite accessories.

          I’m not familiar with Triodewirelabs, but I like that they are using tinned-copper conductors. Very interesting!

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

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