A lot of you (and me) have been lamenting that the superb Western Electric WE16GA wire has become essentially extinct, and I am down to the last little bit of WE16GA I have left, which is what I am using to wire my new crossovers for my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers project. Knowing that I am almost out of WE16GA has made me feel a bit panicky!
What makes Western Electric WE16GA so special is that it has very desirable tonal properties that musicians and musical instrument manufacturers refer to as vintage tone.
In the world of musical instruments, musicians and their listeners have great reverence for those instruments from history that have exceptional tonal qualities. Those desirable tonal properties are what separate Stradivarius violins from other violins, or a Martin 1937 D-28 guitar from a contemporary guitar, or Eric Clapton’s Blackie Stratocaster from a run of the mill Strat.
Sonic and tonal properties are somewhat subjective, but among musicians there is broad recognition and quite a lot of consensus that there are certain vintage instruments that possess very special tonal properties that enhance the music, like the aforementioned Stradivarius, 1937 Martin D-28, or Blackie.
This recognition and consensus is not lost upon musical instrument manufacturers who strive to attain the holy grail of incorporating those special vintage tonal properties into their modern production instruments, which is not necessarily easy, because it is not just about specifications & materials, but about incorporating the very essence of vintage tone itself. Take Martin’s exciting line of guitars based on their Vintage Tone System as an example, or Fender’s Custom Shop Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster as another.
The same is true for enthusiast audio, where there is broad recognition and quite a lot of consensus that there are certain vintage components that have very special tonal properties, like vintage Marantz or McIntosh vacuum tube electronics, vintage Altec Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, vintage Garrard 301 turntables, vintage Sprague Black Beauty or Bumblebee capacitors, or vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire, to cite a number of well known examples.
All of these components possess what is referred to as vintage tone, which is to say, they are examples from our audio & musical history that possess special tonal properties that enhances the beauty, meaning, spirit, artistic intent, emotional connection, etc., of reproduced music.
Well, I have some really exciting news to tell all of you Western Electric WE16GA wire fans out there! If you have been reading carefully here at Jeff’s Place, you know I have been dropping some hints here and there that one of the world’s finest high-performance audio companies has been looking into producing new ‘Western Electric WE16GA’ wire for the cognoscenti, and now that it has successfully passed the prototyping stage, I have permission to tell you about it.
In an ongoing dialog I have been relating to Frederik Carøe of Duelund Coherent Audio much of what I have described here at Jeff’s Place about Western Electric WE16GA and its desirable vintage tone, and my slow realization that it may only be possible to fully experience the entire acoustic palette of tone that vintage components are capable of when using this sort of vintage tone wire.
Frederik became intrigued with the Western Electric WE16GA wire through our conversations, and decided he wanted to investigate producing a Duelund Coherent Audio version that was very similar to Western Electric WE16GA in concept, but utilizing Mr. Steen Duelund’s original axiom of a natural materials philosophy.
Frederik has worked closely with a specialty manufacturer to provide the 26-strand, 0.25mm diameter, tinned-copper conductors that are the heart & soul of the Western Electric WE16GA wire, but has eschewed its plastic inner sleeve in favor of a black cotton dielectric that is impregnated in oil, whose fully organic nature imbues more natural tone than the use of plastics can allow for. Frederik says the oil impregnated cotton dielectric is then 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 wire is all hand-assembled with meticulous care and attention to details.
The Western Electric WE16GA inspired Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire should be ready to ship in 6-8 weeks, so distributors may want to get their orders in ASAP, and those of you who want to order the DCA16GA wire for your own use may want to check with your current Duelund dealer so you can get your name on the list to reserve some, that way you can get some as early as possible after it comes out.
Final pricing will be announced as soon as manufacturing costs are fully accounted for, but Frederik tells me that he hopes to be able to provide the DCA16GA wire in the range of what I paid for Western Electric WE16GA back when I bought the spool you see in the photos here at Jeff’s Place from Yazaki-san (approximately $25.23 USD per meter of twisted pair wire, which translates to about $12.62 USD per meter for single-run wire).
For a custom DCA16GA wire handmade by Duelund Coherent Audio to their lofty standards, I’d say that’s a bargain if Frederik can get anywhere close to that kind of pricing.
The new Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire is cause for celebration here at Jeff’s Place, and here’s a big “Thank you!” to Frederik for taking on this project of developing a new ‘vintage tone’ Western Electric WE16GA style of wire, and I am thrilled about it.
Frederik will be sending me some Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA to compare against my Western Electric WE16GA, so that should be really exciting, and you can expect to read all about it in the not too distant future here at Jeff’s Place.
* Breaking News! *
I just got a note from Frederik that you will be interested in knowing about:
“Parts Connexion has received the initial 2 types of ‘vintage’ wire types. Meaning, that real vintage-type wire without any plastic is now available at (for us at least) quite low price points.
As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!