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Aluminium wire being sold as copper?


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Old 10-04-2013, 17:52
adam1516
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I've recently been setting up my AV and speakers (Denon 1713 plus Wharfedale DX-1). I got some wire from here -

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2906012143...84.m1497.l2649

Looked a decent buy for just £1.00 per metre - or so I thought. After wiring everything up (a real PITA, by the way), I noticed, by accident really, that the cable is in fact not copper at all.

I scraped the wire with a Stanley knife, and would you believe it, what copper was on the wire simply flaked off and revealed underneath, in all its glory, the silvery allure of good old fashioned aluminium.

See here for the evidence -

http://imageshack.us/f/69/064xz.jpg/


This wire does not even look like CCA, rather an aluminium wire coated with an extremely thin layer of copper. Now, I do know that people sell CCA as a cheaper alternative to pure copper - but I'm guessing those sellers do at least have the courtesy to inform potential buyers of this.

The seller's auctions clearly and unambiguously state that this is OFC, and there is no mention of the word "aluminium" anywhere. I have looked at all of the cable he sells, and the same result. Now, unless I have got this completely wrong, this guy might be selling (or already sold) thousands of metres of this stuff in the full knowledge that it is not what it is stated as.

I would very much appreciate any feedback regarding this before I go all guns blazing at the cheek of this fellow.
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Old 10-04-2013, 18:03
Popadopalous
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The seller may not know himself. He might just be buying in bulk from China and reselling so I wouldn't necessarily go all guns blazing without the facts. Might be just as much victim as yourself.

Send him a message explaining your findings and see what the reply is. If it's not satisfactory, and by that I mean... if he doesn't change the description to accurately describe the product and refund you then you can take it further, perhaps by eBay's dispute centre or even trading standards?
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Old 10-04-2013, 18:12
drummerjohn
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Yep - it's getting more and more common.

Last year I had to inform the data installers of a retail store to replace the 3000mtrs of CAT5e that was not CAT5e. CAT5e must be copper. They installed, un-beknown to them, a cheap cable made of copper clad aluminium.

Some wholesalers now weigh the boxes of cable as copper is much heavier than aluminium.
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Old 10-04-2013, 18:30
adam1516
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Well, I've opened a case with ebay, and I'll see what his response is to my complaint.

I do find it very difficult to believe that he doesn't know what he's selling, as he must cut custom lengths of this wire every single day. He must be making a fortune selling this for £1.00 a metre.

I'll keep you guys posted!!
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Old 10-04-2013, 19:02
adam1516
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He offered to pay a refund immediately, so I think it's fairly obvious he knows what he's selling. Interesting.
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Old 10-04-2013, 19:24
Orbitalzone
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Slightly related, about a year ago I noticed a well known manufacturer of vehicle radio equipment (transceivers) was supplying their hefty 12v dc power cables in this way, copper plated aluminium.... these were thick red/black dc cables rated at 20amp/12v. So I guess it saves them a ton of money when they're supplying millions of them.

I suppose it won't matter as long as there isn't any metalurgic reaction between the two metals causing resistance etc.
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Old 10-04-2013, 19:47
Stig
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I did a bit of research:

The resistivity of aluminium is 65% higher than that of copper. As a result, to conduct the same electrical current, an aluminium cable will need a cross-section that is 65% larger than that of a copper cable.

But that's not the whole story. While less conductive, aluminium is also three times lighter than copper. As a result, copper and aluminium each have their own application areas.
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Old 10-04-2013, 20:28
alan1302
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He offered to pay a refund immediately, so I think it's fairly obvious he knows what he's selling. Interesting.
Doesn't mean that at all - just means he's happy to refund you as he's been notified there is a problem.

I would do the same in his situation.
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Old 10-04-2013, 21:05
Chris Frost
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Chinese sourced gear - cheap - turns out to be a fake..... Why is this any surprise at all?

The Chinese are, I am sorry to say, quite without scruples. If someone wants to buy something dirt cheap then the Chinese will find a way to supply it. What's more they'll do so at a profit to themselves.
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Old 10-04-2013, 23:46
grahamlthompson
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I did a bit of research:

The resistivity of aluminium is 65% higher than that of copper. As a result, to conduct the same electrical current, an aluminium cable will need a cross-section that is 65% larger than that of a copper cable.

But that's not the whole story. While less conductive, aluminium is also three times lighter than copper. As a result, copper and aluminium each have their own application areas.
All National Grid lines use aluminium for the above reasons (apart from the obvious cost of copper) early conductors used a steel core for mechanical strength. (SCA - Steel Cored Aluminium, the Steel core is separately compressed in the end fittings, this part is used to apply the considerable tension required to lift the conductor to the required height, which depending on the section lengths are several tons) later developments in alloys resulted in aluminium strong enough to not require steel. (AAAC - all aluminium alloy conductors).

For higher frequencies than 50Hz as needed for loudspeaker connections, skin effect means the current is even more concentrated in the outer part of the conductor (in the copper area of a composite conductor). This means that you can't use a straight forward cross sectional area as a comparison when composite materials are involved.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:03
adam1516
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Doesn't mean that at all - just means he's happy to refund you as he's been notified there is a problem.

I would do the same in his situation.
Does a seller who adds this to his ebay shop really not know what he's selling?

The rule of thumb I use is simple.

For speaker wire, buy the fattest / thickest wire you can afford - that is to say the cable with the greatest cross-sectional area ( usually shown in square millimetres ( such as 1.0 mm≤ or 3.00 mm≤ )

The number of strands per conductor e.g. 326 Strand can be an indication of "thickness" - but it is possible to have fewer strands of thick cable e.g. 79 strands x 0.20 mm. compared or 189 strands x 0.10 mm; so the only way to compare cables is to look at the cross-sectional area or CSA

The quality of copper is also important - always make sure you purchase OFC Copper - ( Oxygen Free Copper )

All the speaker cable I sell on Ebay is OFC and it's CSA is clearly shown so you compare it with other cable from other sellers

MA Speaker Cable

More copper translates to better overall tone and frequencies being passed to your speakers from your amplifier

What is also important in speaker cables is how you terminate them.

You want to ensure that you have the tightest connection of the cable to your amp and loudspeaker to minimize contact resistance. For this, I recommend either spades or banana plugs.

Despite the fact that Spades generally have greater surface area contact than banana plugs, I have found that banana plugs usually make for a better connection to most commercial binding posts found on loudspeakers and amplifiers.

Always remember to keep you speaker cable runs as short as possible and not to loop excessive cables as this may increase cable inductance.


I think not. Plus, he's taken down his contact details, and changed his returns address. It hasn't stopped him advertising the product as OFC, though. Not suspicious at all!
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:45
grahamlthompson
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Oxygen Free Copper equates to Snake Oil. It makes zero difference to the sound, just makes copper less liable to corrosion in the presence of H20 (Not normally a problem for speaker wires). Most copper is produced using the Oxygen free process anyway.

Amazing the guff so called audiophiles will swallow

Try a blind test with normal mains cable and the most expensive Silver speaker cabling ?

Never fails to amaze how spending more money must make it sound better.
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Old 11-04-2013, 13:08
adam1516
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Oxygen Free Copper equates to Snake Oil. It makes zero difference to the sound, just makes copper less liable to corrosion in the presence of H20 (Not normally a problem for speaker wires). Most copper is produced using the Oxygen free process anyway.

Amazing the guff so called audiophiles will swallow

Try a blind test with normal mains cable and the most expensive Silver speaker cabling ?

Never fails to amaze how spending more money must make it sound better.
I agree, it's largely psychological. Mind you, describing a product as copper and then sending aluminium is definitely not psychological!
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Old 11-04-2013, 13:17
grahamlthompson
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I agree, it's largely psychological. Mind you, describing a product as copper and then sending aluminium is definitely not psychological!
Totally agree. For the reasons discussed though there is likely to be little discernible difference if proper blind tests were carried out compared to a similar cross sectional cable made from pure copper. A length of 2.5MM T&E is likely to outperform both

Fancy making your HiFi sound better

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...WSOOZOOHDTUHWG
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Old 11-04-2013, 13:57
chrisjr
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Totally agree. For the reasons discussed though there is likely to be little discernible difference if proper blind tests were carried out compared to a similar cross sectional cable made from pure copper. A length of 2.5MM T&E is likely to outperform both

Fancy making your HiFi sound better

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...WSOOZOOHDTUHWG
I wouldn't sully my HiFi with such a cheap and nasty product as that.

Now THIS on the other hand...

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...GBP&pf_id=1564

That's more like it.
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Old 11-04-2013, 14:34
newbee
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Gulp!..............for a cable
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Old 11-04-2013, 14:46
chrisjr
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Gulp!..............for a cable
If you think that's mad how about just over 3 quid each for a fuse!

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...GBP&pf_id=1019

And apparently a metal backing box for your mains sockets degrades the performance so you need to fit plastic ones...

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...GBP&pf_id=1808

I do wonder sometimes if Russ Andrews is real or just laughing up his sleeve at how stupid some people are to believe all this BS!
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Old 11-04-2013, 14:50
adam1516
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If you think that's mad how about just over 3 quid each for a fuse!

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...GBP&pf_id=1019

And apparently a metal backing box for your mains sockets degrades the performance so you need to fit plastic ones...

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...GBP&pf_id=1808

I do wonder sometimes if Russ Andrews is real or just laughing up his sleeve at how stupid some people are to believe all this BS!
There has to be a market for all of this nonsense, but that doesn't make it any less disturbing that probably otherwise sensible people can be lured by clever marketing and psychology.
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Old 11-04-2013, 14:56
Deacon1972
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I wouldn't sully my HiFi with such a cheap and nasty product as that.

Now THIS on the other hand...

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...GBP&pf_id=1564

That's more like it.
Save a few more pennies and upgrade to this......

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...WSOOZOOHDTUHWG

If you need a longer length, say 3.5m, this can be had for a little bit more......
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Old 11-04-2013, 16:21
Chris Frost
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You're going OT gentlemen. This direction has been done to death many times over.
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Old 11-04-2013, 17:38
adam1516
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Save a few more pennies and upgrade to this......

http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...WSOOZOOHDTUHWG

If you need a longer length, say 3.5m, this can be had for a little bit more......
I wonder if anyone has made such a purchase. Astonishing.
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Old 11-04-2013, 23:26
ProDave
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Oxygen Free Copper equates to Snake Oil. It makes zero difference to the sound, just makes copper less liable to corrosion in the presence of H20 (Not normally a problem for speaker wires). Most copper is produced using the Oxygen free process anyway.

Amazing the guff so called audiophiles will swallow

Try a blind test with normal mains cable and the most expensive Silver speaker cabling ?

Never fails to amaze how spending more money must make it sound better.
Exactly.

The aluminium cable the OP has bought will be perfectly good for his speakers and I guarantee in a blind test he would not notice if it was swapped for th "genuine" stuff.
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:27
diablo
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Exactly.

The aluminium cable the OP has bought will be perfectly good for his speakers and I guarantee in a blind test he would not notice if it was swapped for th "genuine" stuff.
Probably not. However if he has long runs of cable then he'll need to turn the volume knob up a bit because of the extra resistance.

Weight isn't usually a problem with audio installations but the thickness of cable to get the same result causes problems.
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:59
adam1516
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Exactly.

The aluminium cable the OP has bought will be perfectly good for his speakers and I guarantee in a blind test he would not notice if it was swapped for th "genuine" stuff.
It doesn't matter whether it sounds the same or not, that's not the issue here. What matters is that I thought I was buying a product which turns out to be something entirely different. At best his advert is misleading, at worst it is a deliberate deception. Never mind, I've returned it for a refund and sent a complaint to ebay. Let them sort it out.
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Old 12-04-2013, 23:04
alan1302
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It doesn't matter whether it sounds the same or not, that's not the issue here. What matters is that I thought I was buying a product which turns out to be something entirely different. At best his advert is misleading, at worst it is a deliberate deception. Never mind, I've returned it for a refund and sent a complaint to ebay. Let them sort it out.
eBay won't care less
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