What's the difference between connectors?
Higher-quality connectors use purer metallurgy, have better plating, and have a smoother polish. They also have cases that shield better from RFI/EMI noise and are better at dampening mechanical resonance. This yields more low-level detail, better micro-dynamics, better coherency, and a smoother, more liquid, and more transparent sound.
Mojo Audio exclusively uses Furutech's highest performance connectors on all of our power and signal cables.
All of Furutech's better connectors use the same metallurgy and are given the same proprietary cryogenic and demagnetizing Alpha treatment. The main difference between them is the level of performance each different type of case provides.
The only drawback we've found with Furutech connectors is that as a result of their deep cryogenic treatment they take about twice as long to break in. Initially, Furutech connectors can sound a bit cloudy and rough. Be patient and give Furutech connectors at least 300 hours of break in before evaluating their performance.
In power connectors, Furutech's FI-11Cu copper plug sets are an exceptional value. Many consider them to be the most neutral sounding of all AC connectors. Their only drawback is that unlike gold and rhodium plated AC plugs, copper oxidizes and requires more frequent cleaning and enhancement. See below under "periodic maintenance."
What's the best length for cables?
Shorter is always better. Even the best cables have subtle degradation in performance as they increase in length.
Never coil cables: when cables are coiled they can both pick up and create unwanted noise.
What's the best break-in method and how long does it take?
Significant in-system break in is necessary to properly break in cables. In the case of power and speaker cables playing dynamic music at maximum volume is required. Cable cookers, frequency generators, appliances, and other out-of-system break-in methods will only begin the break-in process and are only recommended for the first 100 hours.
Appliances such as computers and refrigerators are ineffective for breaking in power cables because they have energy-saving modes. Appliances such as heaters, air conditioners, and powerful fans can be used to begin break in of power cables.
Some audiophiles who have expensive phono cartridges or tubes prefer to use an inexpensive second audio system to do most of the break in on new cables without sacrificing the life of their expensive consumable components.
Most cables and components do not sound good for the first 24 hours. Most sound quite good after 100 hours. Improvements after 100 hours are less noticeable. Note that the improvement in performance during break in is exponential, translating to roughly experiencing the same improvement each time you triple the number of hours (e. g. first 100 = next 300). Cryogenically treated cables and connectors must break in for over 300 hours before they show anything close to their full potential.
When cables are bent it takes 48 to 72 hours of additional break-in time before they regain their former level of performance.
There are several tricks and silent break-in methods, such as using dummy loads. To learn more about break in and for Instructions on how to make your own dummy loads refer to our Breaking in Cables and Components blog.
Is any periodic maintenance required?
All connectors are subject to atmospheric influences. Dust, dirt, smoke, contaminates from cooking, climate control systems, and organic sources all leave particles and films on contact surfaces. Even though some metals don't oxidize all metal contacts degrade in conductivity over time due to airborne contaminates and require periodic cleaning.
Periodically using a contact cleaner and enhancer like Caig DeoxIT Gold is recommended for all the connectors in your system.
- Unplug your system from AC power.
- Clean all external metal surfaces with a residue-free cleaner (high-purity alcohol).
- Make sure you don't use a cleaner that will degrade polymers and nonmetallic surfaces.
- Use canned air to blow out connectors and ventilation holes.
WARNING: if improperly used, contact enhancers can short out connectors and even get onto circuit boards and cause problems. Apply all contact enhancers sparingly with a soft cloth or cotton swab to prevent dripping or over-spill. Note that many so-called "audiophile" contact enhancers will degrade over time and leave residues that are hard to remove.
Products made by Caig have been used by professional electronics technicians and the US military as a contact cleaner and enhancer for decades. It is the only safe and effective contact cleaner and enhancer we can recommend.