Please find below answers to our most frequently asked questions. If however you have a question that is not answered below then please do contact us.
What are your Super Suppressors?
Many of our products are fitted with our Super Suppressors. These are very high performance ferrite rings that can be seen on the cable as blue modules.
Ferrite rings have a reputation for sometimes negatively affecting the performance of a cable. This however is usually due to low quality generic ferrites being used which are often manufactured with inferior materials and to loose tolerances. Our Super Suppressors are precisely made to very tight tolerances using the finest materials available.
Each Super Suppressor is very carefully designed for each application and always improves the performance of the cable. Our Super Suppressors remove a wide range of noise that may be travelling through the cable (known as conducted noise). This can be highly beneficial in both power cables and interconnects where noise can have a significant impact upon the performance of the connected components.
Why do you not use gold and platinum in the conductors of your cables like some other manufacturers?
Silver is the best electrical conductor since it exhibits the lowest electrical resistance. Copper is the next best electrical conductor. Metals like gold and platinum have much higher electrical resistances (than silver and copper) and coupled with the very high costs means that they are not suited as a conductor material in a cable. However, gold and platinum are very useful in plating connectors (which can be seen in the connectors we use) since they are very stable and resistant against corrosion thus keeping contacts in good condition over the long-term.
What solder do you use?
We use 5.5% silver solder (lead and halogen free). Working with such a high silver content solder requires a higher level of soldering skill since the soldering temperature has to be much higher (e.g., as a general rule we run our Weller WX1010 soldering stations at 395 degrees celcius!), the technician has less time to complete the soldering and there is much less margin for error! But the end result is a joint superior in every way to even standard solder joints or even 3% silver solder joints.
Why do your cables have multi layer shielding systems?
Any cable is susceptible to airborne noise pick up and unfortunately in this modern age with growing numbers of wireless devices there is a great deal of electromagnetic interference (EMI) in the airwaves. Audio cables can pick up this noise which is then transferred to the system causing a degradation in sound quality. Having probably spent a great deal of money on your high performance hi-fi and/or home cinema system it is important that the delicate audio signal is protected to ensure the best performance possible. Basic conventional shielding (i.e., aluminium mylar and tin-plated copper braid) can be reasonably effective but they vary in quality and performance vastly. Foils provide different levels of shielding performance based upon the base material, purity of material and thickness (for example, a thick copper foil will provide superior shielding than a thin aluminium foil) and the way in which it is laid (e.g. a spiraled dual-layer foil will provide superior performance than a single flat layer of foil). Braids also provide different levels of shielding performance based upon base material, purity of material, thickness of conductor strands, braid angle and number picks per inch (the amount of times the strands cross over each other). Thus a braid of low purity copper, with thin strands, that are very loosely weaved (so you can see the underlying material/cable) will provide inferior performance to a braid of high purity copper, with thicker strands, very tightly weaved (so you cannot see any material underneath). Our high performance multi-layer shielding systems offer exceptional levels of noise rejection that ensure that the delicate audio signal is protected. Our shielding systems also minimise interactions between cables (e.g., reducing interactions between a power cable and delicate signal carrying analogue interconnect).
Why are your shielding systems grounded and not floating?
Shielding systems are only effective if they are grounded. A shield works like an aerial picking up airborne noise. If the shielding is not grounded (i.e., left "floating") then the noise cannot drain away from the cable. With nowhere to drain away to, the noise has only one place to go; and this is to transfer (through capacitive coupling) to the internal signal conductor which is carrying current (i.e., the signal). The noise is therefore now in the signal line. Thus a floating shield is highly undesirable and arguably worst than having no shield at all. We take great care to ground all of our shielding systems (regardless of cable type) to ensure that noise does not affect the signal.
Why are your cables directional?
Directionality is determined by three main factors: conductor processing, shielding configuration and burning-in. The OCC conductor materials we use are effectively unidirectional since that exhibit a single crystal structure. However, OFC has a crystal structure and this is determined by the way in which the copper is drawn. The copper has slightly superior performance if the signal is transmitted in the direction that the copper has been drawn. All of our interconnects feature high-performance shielding systems. In our psuedo-balanced interconnects these shielding systems are grounded at the output end only. This ensures that noise picked up by the shield is drained away from the cable and does not enter the signal path. Finally all of our cables receive some burning in to some extent (from a simple pre-burn to a fully constructed full burning in cycle). Burning in reinforces a cables directionality and thus it will always sound better when it is installed in the same way it has been burnt in. Cables which have printed jackets will have directionality arrows printed on them. Other cables which are finished in our silver-plated braid have half-arrows on the heatshrink. The cables should be connected with the arrows pointing from output to input (and the text reading from left to right towards the input).
Can you tell me about your conductor types and purity?
We use three main conductor materials: copper, silver-plated copper and pure silver. We use three different grades of copper (OFC, UHP-OFC and OCC); two different grades of silver-plated copper (UHP-OFC and OCC); and we only use pure silver in the best grade currently available (OCC).
The grade of the material is determined by the processing it has been through. Two critical factors - determined by the processing - are: purity and crystal size:
Tough Pitch Copper (TPC): TPC is the most basic form of copper and is used for the vast majority of general cabling and even in audio cables. The copper is melted and then drawn into a cylindrical conductor which is allowed to cool. This wire is then repeatedly drawn to reduce it to the desired diameter. TPC contains somewhere between 300 and 500 ppm of oxygen (and other impurities) and so offers poor performance.
Oxygen Free Copper (OFC): Oxygen free copper was developed in Japan around 1975 as it became increasingly apparent that sound quality was related to the quality of copper and the processing used during cable manufacture. OFC is produced is a carefully controlled oxygen free environment resulting in a significant reduction in oxygen content (10 ppm). There are fewer crystal boundaries in OFC which results in much higher performance than TPC where the numerous crystal boundaries cause a degradation of the audio signal.
Linear Crystal Oxygen Free Copper (LC-OFC): In 1975 Hitachi improved the OFC process to further reduce impurities and crystal boundaries. The patented LC-OFC process developed by Hitachi re-heats the copper following extrusion which reduces impurities between the crystal boundaries as the copper crystal expands. This in turn leads to a longer overall crystal length. A typical crystal in a 1mm diameter LC-OFC conductor is 130 mm long which can be compared to typical crystal length of 4mm long in TPC conductors.
Ultra High Purity Oxygen Free Copper (UHP-OFC): We use UHP-OFC for many of our cables. The copper is processed much in the same way as OFC but is also subjected to a further Zone Refining process (developed by William Gardner Pfann). With Zone Refining the purity of the copper crystals is increased by drawing a narrow molten region of a crystal. This molten zone is moved along the crystal (in practice, the crystal is pulled through the heater). As the molten region melts it leaves a wake of purer material solidified behind it. The impurities concentrate in the melt, and are moved to one end of the conductor whilst it is being drawn.
Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC): In 1985 Professor Ohno from the China Institute of Technology developed his patented method for the extrusion of a grain free copper wire. When a pure metal solidifies, its crystals grow in a specific geometrical pattern (typical to that metal) emanating from a nucleus, rather like the dendritic growth pattern of a tree. The size of the metal crystals grown can be varied by repeatedly annealing metal such as is done in the LC-OFC process. The structure of a strand of copper may be likened to that of a bag of sugar. Every grain of sugar has a crystal boundary. In a conductor, these crystal boundaries (potential barriers) act as a non-linear resistance to the flow of electric current. It follows that, the fewer the boundaries, the less the effect there is on an electric signal as it propagates from one end of the conductor to the other. The Ohno Continuous Casting method re-heats the extrusion as the molten copper is forced out of the mould and very slowly and gradually draws the grain or crystal down the conductor's length, creating a 'single crystal structure'. The typical crystal length of OCC copper is more than 200m.
I have heard ferrites can reduce dynamics and energy - is this correct?
Many people have negative experiences of ferrite rings. This is usually from using a clip on type to an existing cable which is not fitted with them. Unfortunately the vast majority of clip on type ferrites are of poor quality made with inferior materials to loose tolerances. Our Super Suppressors are made with the best materials to very tight tolerances. The result - in conjunction with our cable designs - is exceptional performance reducing any conducted noise without affecting the audio signal.
What is conductivity?
Conductivity is based on the assumption that electrons are the moving electrically charged particles in a metal conductor. Electrons are the outer particles in an atom and (in metallic conductors) are able to transfer from atom to atom. The higher the number of electrons available to change atom partner, the lower the resistance of the conductor. So a good conductor (from the conductivity point of view) has plenty of free electrons. Silver is the best electrical conductor available to us (specifically OCC silver is the best electrical conductor currently available), followed by copper which is the most common form of conductor used in cables.
What is OCC (Ohno Continuous Casting)?
Ohno Continuous Casting is a patented process which produces copper/silver conductors with a mono-crystal structure of exceptionally high purity.
The conductor material is very slowly drawn and cast in a carefully controlled environment of inert gas. The drawing is precisely controlled with heating chambers which cool the conductor very slowly. This significant reduces the stress of the material (which would otherwise create crystal boundaries and impurities) thus providing an end product which has a single crystal structure (with the length being more than 200m long!). Following the process the purity of the end material is also exceptionally high at 6 nines/6N (99.9999%).
What is the difference between a balanced and unbalanced cable?
There are three main types of interconnect: unbalanced (coaxial), psuedo-balanced and balanced. All audio signal cable is screened, which means that an outer conductor wraps around the other conductor(s) to shield them from electromagnetic interference. The outer screen, which may be made of wire braid, metal foil or conductive plastic, is usually connected to ground so that any induced currents (due to interference) flow directly to ground rather than being allowed to modulate the audio signal. However, screening isn't a perfect solution, which is why balancing was invented. In an unbalanced cable, there's a single inner core that carries the signal while the outer screen also doubles as the signal return path. Any interference that results in induced currents flowing through the screen conductor will cause these currents to be added to the wanted signal, so some interference problems are still possible, especially with long cable lengths or where there are nearby sources of strong interference. Though it's not often realised, screened cable offers very little protection against induced hum, as the cable is actually acting like a single-turn transformer, coupling energy from other mains conductors and transformers in the vicinity. n a balanced cable, there are two inner conductors, often known as hot and cold. The screen is grounded, as before, but this time the screen is not part of the signal path. More importantly, balanced equipment is designed so that its hot and cold outputs carry the same signal but with the cold signal phase inverted with respect to the hot signal. At the receiving end, the balanced input stage re-inverts the cold signal and adds it to the hot signal, thus restoring the original signal. The clever part is that any interference that makes it through the screen is likely to have virtually the same influence on the hot and the cold conductors (as they are in more or less the same place). As a phase reversal is implemented at the input of the receiving piece of equipment, any interference common to both conductors will cancel out. The effectiveness of this system depends, amongst other things, on how well balanced the hot and cold arms of the circuitry are at either end of the cable.
Which plating is best: gold or rhodium?
Rhodium's main benefit is that it is very hard wearing and thus is used a great deal in the professional industry where the cycling of connectors (i.e., plugging and unplugging) is very high. It does however have a higher contact resistance than gold which makes its use in consumer hi-fi (where connectors are not cycled frequently) less desirable.
Gold is extremely inert and so does not corrode or oxidise. Thus it remains a pure, low-resistance conductor over exceptionally long periods of time. Unlike rhodium, gold is also soft; this is a benefit since when pressure is applied to the surface when the connector is engaged it will deform slightly to fill scratches and voids increasing contact area.
Given the above, we have always had a preference for the gold-plated Furutech connectors. However, some clients prefer Rhodium and also the new Furutech NCF technology exhibits further improvements in performance so we offer these high-end connectors.
Can I use Clearer Audio cables with other manufacturers cables?
You can of course use our cables with other manufacturers cables. We design all of our cables to be neutral so they usually work well with any other well balanced cable. So if you are happy with the performance of a particular cable you already have but are also considering one of our cables then there is no reason why they should not work well together. Difficulties can sometimes occur with regards to synergy between cables when different brands are used so this should be considered if buying multiple branded cables untested from new. We offer a 60 Day Money Back Guarantee so you can test our products in your system - alongside other cables - without risk.
Can you provide some advice on how to cable my system optimally?
The requirements for cables vary considerably from one system to the next. To cable a system optimally and so provide the best performance and value for money every aspect must be carefully considered. If you require assistance and recommendations please complete the form on our Cable Consultant page; we can then provide tailored advice specific to your particular system and situation. However there are some simple steps one can take to ensure that any cable loom performs optimally: 1.) keep runs as short as possible whilst still allowing enough length for neat installation and management; 2.) ensure that power cables are kept away from signal cables (interconnects and speaker cables) wherever possible; 3.) should a power cable need to cross a signal cable try to do so they are perpendicular (i.e., 90 degrees) to one another.
How much should I spend on cables?
Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this. A general rule of spending 10-20% of total system cost on cables has regularly been recommended over the years. However, every system is different and the requirements for each system are also varied. Thus a careful consideration of the system and the areas that a client wishes to improve on is vital to ensure suitable cable recommendations. We normally recommend upgrading cables in stages (power, then interconnects, then speaker cables) so improvements can be assessed with every addition to the system. This provides valuable information as to whether the current cables are working effectively and which cables should be considered for the next upgrade. There are of course laws of diminishing returns so it is imperative that the correct cables are selected to ensure the best value for money. Even selecting the correct grade of connector can be critical in a particular system so please do feel free to contact us for advice. Simply complete the form on our Cable Consultant page or contact us via email or telephone.
Is there anything I can do to improve the performance of my cables?
The majority of our cables receive pre-burning before they are sent to you so that they take less time to reach optimal performance. However different cables receive different burn in times (e.g., a Copper-line Alpha Power Cable receives 24 hours burning in and the Silver-line Power Cable receives 90 hours burning in) so the amount of time of use that they need to perform optimally will vary. To ensure long term performance we recommend that you clean connectors with CAIG DeoxIT. Plated connectors (e.g., gold or silver plated) can also be treated with CAIG DeoxIT Gold which is specifically designed for these contacts and provides additional performance. With standard UK mains plugs the external pins can be cleaned with fine wire wool occasionally to remove the oxidisation and thus improve conductivity.
Can I change a fuse in your power cables myself?
If you need to change the fuse then you can return the power cable to us for replacement. There are a couple of reasons why we deal with replacement fuses: firstly, the fuses we use have been specially selected - and are treated with CAIG DeoxIT by us - so as to ensure the very best performance; and secondly, after fuse replacement the power cable gets a 6 hour re-burn to help burn in the new fuse. Should you find yourself in this situation, we offer this service including return of the power cable to you free of charge.
My components IEC inlet only has 2 pins. Will your IEC plugs with 3 pins work?
Components that have 2 pins on the IEC inlet are Class II (double insulated) and therefore do not require earthing. The IEC plugs we use are fully compatible - the earth line is simply not utilised.
Why do you ask for a fuse rating and what rating of fuse do I require?
In the UK, mains plug fuses are very important for the protection of the power cable and/or component. The correct choice of fuse will protect power cables and components from overloads and faults. An incorrect rating of fuse can result in power cable or component failure which can in the worst case scenario lead to an electrical fire. If a component is protected by its own fuse (i.e., internally or on the back panel) then a 13A fuse can be specified in all of our power cables. If however the component is not protected by its own fuse then it is very important that the correct rating of fuse is selected to protect the component and ensure your safety. In order to find out which fuse(s) you require check the manual(s) of your component(s) to see if they state fuse requirement. If they do not state fuse requirements then you can see the rating of fuse fitted to the factory supplied power cable(s). If you have any problems with ascertaining fuse requirement(s) then please contact us. Other countries use a different mains system to the UK and protection is offered at component level and at the consumer board rather than relying on a mains plug fuse. So if you need a SCHUKO plug (Europe), Australian / NZ Plug (Australia / New Zealand) or US Plug (USA) these do not require fuses.
The IEC plug is slightly loose on my component - is this normal?
IEC sockets vary from one component to another so fit can be variable. If the IEC plug is only slightly loose then this should not cause a problem. If however the IEC plug is becoming very loose whereby it may fall out by itself then there are three potential solutions: firstly, you can put a small amount of electrical insulation tape around the outer 'D' part of the IEC plug thus making the plug slightly wider and also providing some extra purchase on the inside of the IEC socket; secondly, if the weight of the power cable is pulling down the plug (e.g., when a component is high on a rack) then put a tight right angled bend where needed (i.e., typically horizontally in line with the IEC inlet) to support the plug; thirdly, if using the Standard IEC you could try upgrading to the Furutech FI-11 Cu IEC as this generally provides a much better secure connection as the contact pins are under high tension.
Do your power cables need to be a minimum length to perform optimally?
Some power cables on the market have weaves or geometries which claim to reduce radio frequency interference (RFI). Although such designs can reduce conducted RFI (i.e., noise that is on the mains line) it does not deal with radiated RFI and EMI (i.e., airborne noise that is picked up by the cable itself). Excess length of cable also causes other problems with regards to cable management and ultimately performance. Our power cables feature advanced multi-layer shielding systems which are highly effective at dealing with radiated noise and some power cables come with our Super Suppressors which remove conducted noise that is on the mains line. Our power cables do not need to be a certain length to perform optimally and nor does performance increase with length. When purchasing a power cable from us simply choose the length that you need.
What lengths are available with your power cables?
Standard lengths start at 1m and any additional length at 0.25m increments. However we can make a cable to any length (exact to the centimetre) as a custom order. Should you want a length shorter than 1m this can be done but the standard 1m charge applies and the cable is classed as a custom cable. Please note that non-standard lengths are not covered by our 60 Day Money Back Guarantee.
Should I plug power cables directly into the wall socket or through a HUB?
Usually it is best to plug our power cables into one of our HUBs. Our HUBs remove conducted noise that is on the mains line, have three channel surge protection systems, high performance internal cabling and high quality unswitched sockets. This ensures that your power cables perform optimally whilst also offering further protection from noise, surges and transients. In addition, plugging all power cables into one HUB ensures a single earth reference reducing the chance of a ground loop which can cause hum and other noise.
The IEC inlet on my component is restricted; do you offer any IEC plugs which will fit?
On some components from companies such as Devialet, Linn and McIntosh the IEC inlets are restricted in terms of space and thus will not accept a larger bodied IEC plug. This issue is also prevalent with many flat screen TVs which have IEC inlets which are recessed or tight to the back panel. Our Standard IEC and Standard Silver-plated IEC usually fit without any issues but these are only available on the Copper-line Alpha ONE and Copper-line Alpha Power Cables. However, we now fit the Furutech FI-C15 Gold Slimline IEC to our Copper-line, Silver-line, Silver-line Optimus and Silver-line Optimus Reference Power Cables.
Where should I put my best interconnect?
Firstly it depends upon what is most important to you. For example, if CD reproduction is the most important then use the interconnect for this; but if sound quality of another component is most important then use it there. Generally it is always best to use the highest quality of interconnect on the component with the lowest signal level (e.g., CD player) and the poorest quality interconnect on the component with the highest signal level (e.g., pre-amplifier to power-amplifier). As a rule, in a hi-fi system with multiple amplification it is always best to have the same type of interconnects throughout the system. This ensures perfect synergy with a balanced sound with minimal colouration. When purchasing interconnects one pair at a time always start from source downwards (i.e., CD player to pre-amplifier, pre-amplifier to power-amplifier and so on).
Which interconnects do you offer in fully balanced configuration with XLRs?
All of our analogue interconnects can be terminated with XLRs in a fully balanced configuration.
Your digital interconnects have an impedance of 75/110 ohms. Why is this and what does this mean?
Digital interconnects have to be of a certain impedance to work effectively. The current standards for digital audio transmission is: 75 ohms (coaxial) and 110 ohms (AES/EBU balanced). A coaxial digital interconnect like our Silver-line Optimus 75 Digital Interconnect has a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms (at 1MHz over 1km). Combined with the WBT nextgen RCA connectors (which also have a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms) the cable provides the perfect digital link between two components where the output and input impedances is also 75 ohm. Should a cable not offer a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms (due to the cable design and/or a connector not being designed for digital applications) then significant data loss and reflections can occur. This results in a degradation of sound quality as the input components error correction works to resolve the issues. Many cable manufacturers offer effectively analogue interconnects as digital cables. The coaxial cable may not have a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms and more commonly an RCA plug that is designed for analogue applications (which typically have characteristic impedances of between 25-30 ohms) may be used. Such a cable will not work effectively in a digital application since the impedance mismatch causes data errors as detailed above.
Can I use speaker cables of different length?
Ideally both speaker cables should be identical as they will then match in terms resistance, inductance and impedance. This ensures that the damping factor of the loudspeaker remains the same for both channels. Any difference between speaker lengths can affect the delicate balance between the channels with typical disruptions to stereo imaging and soundstaging. However, the benefits of having equal speaker cable lengths are far outweighed when excess cable length is coiled (so that it can be easily hidden). Coiling excess speaker cable increases inductance thus causing a degradation in performance. In extreme circumstances an inductance loop can occur causing significant audible hum. If excess cable length cannot be avoided then it should be dressed in an 'S' curve to minimise any undesirable interactions. Generally differences in speaker cable lengths are less critical with shorter lengths than longer. For example, a 50% difference with short lengths (1.5m and 3m) is unlikely to cause any major problems whereas with longer lengths (5m and 10m) there is likely to be an audible imbalance.
What are ColdPlugs?
The ColdPlug is a new connector (and termination technique) developed by Clearer Audio. The plugs are made from pure copper (directly 24k gold-plated) and are crimped to the speaker cable conductors under very high pressure (5.4 tonnes!) to provide a homogenous structure of pure copper. For further information please read our press release which can be found in our NEWS section.
Which connector is better: bananas or spades?
We use only the best connectors on our speaker cables. Our own ColdPlug is available as a banana and WBT connectors come in banana and spade versions. The connectors share the same design cues and materials and there is very little difference in performance. Spades have can be more secure since they can be tightened into place. Banana plugs generally offer a lower mass which is desirable in terms of performance and can also be changed quickly.
Why not use bare conductor to the binding post? Surely this is better than using a connector?
Clamping a bare conductor from a speaker cable to a binding post does indeed offer the most direct connection and therefore – in the short term – offers the lowest contact resistance. However, speaker cables carry high currents and the slightly lower contact resistance is not very significant in terms of performance. In addition, having a secure airtight connection between: 1.) the conductor and the connector; and 2.) the connector and the binding post is of greater importance. For example, when bare copper oxidises over time, its resistance increases very significantly (since copper oxide is highly un-conductive) thus undoing the benefits of the bare termination; this does not occur with a good quality termination and connector and so provides the best long term performance.
Do you have a distributor/dealer in my country?
At present we are appointing international distributors but we do sell direct. So you can place an order through our website and your product(s) will be sent to you directly. But please see our Distributors page to see if we have a distributor in your country and if so, they will be able to assist you further. Our website cannot presently remove UK Value Added Tax (VAT) from orders for international customers so please use the discount code 'UKVAT' when checking out and this will be removed for you.
Do the lengths of your cables include or exclude plugs?
Cable lengths exclude plugs (i.e., cable lengths are between plugs). So for example, a 1m power cable will have 1m of cable between the plugs thus essentially being slightly longer than 1m overall.
How long does an order usually take to despatch?
All cables are hand-built to order (except for HDMI and optical cables) in-house in our workshop. We have a limited production capacity and can only produce a certain number of products in any working day. Order fulfilment depends upon: how many orders we have in our production system (if we have a lot of orders in the system then despatch can take longer); and the cable ordered (some cables are very labour intensive to build combined with many processes and have longer lead times). Our new website is directly linked to our production and despatch systems. Your order will therefore be automatically updated during every stage of order processing. Although this does not provide you with an estimated time of despatch it will give you a good idea of the progress of your order (e.g., if your order status states "Product(s) being packed" despatch is imminent). Please feel free to contact us at any time for further information about timescales.
When will I receive my order after it has been despatched?
When placing your order you can select a delivery service. We offer Free UK Mainland Delivery (usually 3-5 days from despatch), next working day delivery (£5.95) or Saturday delivery (£9.95). For the UK deliveries we use the following carriers: Royal Mail, myHermes and Interlink Express. For international deliveries we use the following carriers: Royal Mail, DHL, Fedex and UPS. Please note that when selecting a delivery service the timeframe is from despatch date not order date (since lead times on our products are variable).
Can I order a specific length?
It is no problem to make any cable a specific length (i.e., a non-standard length). However, our 60 Day Money Back Guarantee would not apply.