So I thought I'd clean the cable contacts, and

… and it seemed as if I had traded my old cables for much better ones!

I unplugged the two RCA cables between the Rossini and the SPEC amplifier, and cleaned them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. Some precautions: inhaling it is not fun, so wearing a mask is advised. Also, it is highly flammable, so it should be handled with care.

But it is a great cleaning fluid and it evaporates immediately leaving no residue at all.

After a few minutes I plugged the cable back in and it was unbelievable. The improvement in depth, temporal alignment, detail, articulation, modulation, was so big that I could have easily paid a few (!) bucks for that.

Tomorrow I will clean the loudspeaker cables spades, but I learned a lesson: clean the contacts at least once a month.

Of course now I am trying to figure how this simple operation produced such a huge improvement. What happens when some dust, maybe some grease, some pollutant, gets stuck between the contacts? Why does it smear the sound and reduce the dynamics?

I am at a loss, maybe someone more experienced than me can help.

Andrea

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This is actually a recommendation by several manufacturers. Some recommend an annual spring cleaning I’ve never had quite the revelatory experience you describe, but it strikes me as good hygiene.

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It probably depends on what kind of pollutants are involved.

And on the fact that I had not cleaned the contacts in nearly two years.

Anyway, it was worth the effort !

A.

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Andrea

What you have discovered is commonly accepted fact and openly advocated by Naim Audio. We use DIN interconnects and the factory recommendis cleaning the plugs and contacts. This is accomplished not by using any solution or solvent, but rather by inserting and removing the DIN plugs multiple times. The in out action cleans the pins and receptacles. Naim recommends this be done on an annual basis.

Best
Gregg

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It can be helpful to use something like Caig DeoxIT Gold to clean and enhance the contact surface. It improves conductivity and protects against the metal surfaces against tarnishing.

This topic reminded me that I’m well overdue to clean my connections!

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all air is ‘wet’ - all connectors (even gold ones, cos they are never 100% pure gold) have some capacity to oxidise. Plus, other contaminants in the air bake onto warm metal terminations (al the terminations are usually warmer than room temp for some of the tme). A different version of the fine dirt that layers onto the inside of your windows unless regularly cleaned - it deposits as mosture condenses on the surfaces.

As for why it affects SQ - physics-wise, you are maximising surface contact area, which will permit more electron-energy transfer. I guess even small accumulations of oxidisation/surface contaminants will compromise. an already small contact patch.

Also, IPA is great, but it will also damage any plastics, paint and printed decals at 99% concentration. I use it as a 15% solution in distilled water - the solution still dries fast, but much less agressive to non-metal components. I’d also advise against using it near any live electrical components, or even unplugged ones unless you are 100% sure that there’s no static charge in the component and all the caps are discharged - it’s wickedly flammable.

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