How Often Do You Clean Cable Plugs & Electrical Connections

I don’t have a fixed schedule and have forgotten the last time I cleaned the connections. I just did some cleaning yesterday and the photos below show the cotton buds after the speaker cable banana plugs and connections at the speaker and amp binding posts were cleaned.

Amp & Speaker Binding Posts
Cotton bud on far left is clean, the rest were used for the cleaning.

Speaker Cable Banana Plugs
Cotton bud on far left is clean, the rest were used for the cleaning.

Result : a slightly different sound quality, sounding rather clean. :grin:

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I think the advice of just breaking then remaking the connection as good practice is flawed. As any build up of dust and crud is just further shoved into the connection.
Of course din connections are a different matter as they are complicated - but worth having a close look at the male pins perhaps.
All other bits that seem like they would be easy to get at I usually do at least twice a year. Although my set up has no pet and heavy human traffic.
What are you cleaning with ?
I usually try some effort after to buff away any trace of the Kontak product I use.

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just did my 12 month system breakdown and clean , good reminder it does work if nothing more than good housekeeping and I found it very satisfing to do also

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I tried unplugging and plugging the speaker cables and interconnects several days ago, can’t say it did anything to the sound. After some cleaning, the sound quality did improve for the better. Listening to some tunes now it’s sounding pretty good.

I’m quite shocked to notice the amount of dirt that is stuck to the buds after the cleaning. Most of the dirt was accumulated inside the binding posts of the speakers and amp (a Luxman, not Naim). There is some dirt at the IEC of components. Speaker cable plugs are rather clean with the least amount of dirt accumulated.

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For those who have not cleaned the connections for more than 2 years, I recommend that you do so. The improvements are real. Percussion which sounded soft is now sounding sharp. Thwack of drums show more snap and sound more like the real thing at the moment, previously sounding soft and dull. Macrodynamics and energy are improved.

Ps. I just realised a did a disservice to myself as I didn’t clean the binding posts of my Naim amps and speakers for more than 8 years.

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I usually also clean along the cables with Nordost anti static spray along with the rack and boxes/speakers.
This seems to prolong the procreation of dust bunnies.

I use Deoxit D5 in a can. Nordost anti static spray along the cables… I’ll investigate. That’s something new.

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I’ve used that deoxit product. Good for industrial amounts of crud. But, I found it can leave a residue that is just as problematic as the crud it gets rid of.
I found I needed to use it much more regularly.
A further going over with a high spirit product that dries up fully and you should be able to forget about it for longer.

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I read somewhere that Isopropyl is maybe better than the well known KONTACT fluid.
What do you think?

  • Rubbing Alcohol–70% or 90% works well. This type of alcohol also leaves a bit of residue which may provide some protection from future tarnish. Sonically fairly neutral.

  • Isopropyl Alcohol–I prefer the 99% stuff you can buy in a hardware store by the gallon. Sonically fairly neutral and it doesn’t get in the way of the sonic and protective benefits of treatment products listed below.

  • [Kontak]I used this for many years. Sonically it is close to neutral, with just a tad of brightness. Most audiophile cleaning fluids are sonically MUCH worse. It leaves a protective residue, which may account for the touch of sonic brightness, but this residue seems to protect the connection for a long time. A ground connection to a copper cold water pipe I made after cleaning the copper with metal sandpaper and then treating it with Kontak stayed shiny clean for at least three years.

I am not sure which is the best cleaning solution (perhaps someone can advise) but I can tell you that I’m currently getting a much improved sound quality from the system. It’s unbelievable. Highly recommended exercise for anyone who has not cleaned the connections for many years.

A correction to the remark on the initial post. It’s not a slightly different sound quality. It’s rather massive.

Shadings and layering of detail in the background can now be heard. The detail in the treble, the percussion which previously appears to be either muted or missing are now crystal clear. Notes now sound solid and defined and the mid bass and low bass are now punching harder. Thwack of drums have bite and sound real. Basically everything just sounds much improved.

In summary, music truly sounds differently better after the cleaning. Don’t take my word for it. Try it and feel the difference yourself. If there is a lot of dirt accumulated after the cleaning, you are in for a treat.

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I had similar experience last year, when I , for the first time, cleaned all contacts, even power cords , burndys and dins. I used Isopropyl. Great sound improvement.
So now I do that twice a year.
But I don’t know if I have to buy isopropyl or Kontact fluid, to do next time the job.

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Once a year. A complete breakdown, cleaning of components, racks, then all of the connections, on cables and devices. First cleaning with a contact cleaner, then treatment with VDH The Solution.
Double effect… :grin: System is clean and all connections are protected, It really works and is beneficial to SQ…

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This thread deserves a poll :blush:

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Something I never think about, and very rarely have had cause to do - but then these days all of my signal connector contact surfaces are gold plated so don’t suffer from oxidation.

That’s fine as I’m just sharing my experience. It’s useful to note that there isn’t any oxidation with the connections in your system since gold plated connectors are used. I’m not sure if the black or dark coloured grime is dust or oxidation but my system surely showed much improvement after it was removed through cleaning.

Not HiFi but relevant I hope
Back in the day, we had a clinical chemistry analyser, which as it aged regularly had “a moment” the service engineer’s goto cure was reseating the connection on one of the myriad sub-boards after cleaning with 99% IPA. (They were gold plated connections).

Reflecting on it, I have had similar on the odd occasion with computer boards. I must just have been lucky not to have had “a moment” with the hifi…. But then with hifi I guess not many years normally pass without something causing at least disconnection and reconnection of at least some connectors (new components or moving house or rearrangement of gear).

But certainly with nickel or other metal connector surfaces in the past I’ve had occasion to have to clean things up, though the worst is probably when a plug has a dissimilar metal surfaces to the socket surfaces they touch, humid air making in galvanic corrosion a significant risk.

Mike-B

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Apr '19

Avoid any form of cleaner on interconnects, DIN plugs are self cleaning, once a year with a one in-out ‘wipe’ is all thats needed.

For the rest & what I do:
I treat new mains plugs (& sockets) with DeoxIT. I’ve found they stay clean for a number of years when treated from new. Old ‘off colour’ plug pins can be cleaned with wire wool, I avoid ‘brasso’ type cleaners as they leave a deposit & that might not be ideal for good connections. I also have a mix of silver plated plugs, I do DeoxIT these but I have yet to see any sign of anything on these.
I make sure my speaker cable plugs have the same metals as the sockets they connect to - gold to gold with the speakers & nickle to nickle with the amp (I use the 90’ angled Naim plugs). as dissimilar metals will react with each other. I have also DeoxIT’d the speaker plugs, but just the once, I cloth wipe the pins & cotton bud the sockets.


TOBYJUG

May '19

I just ordered another two MCRU silver unswitched double wall sockets, as the old ones were fitted a few years ago and are probably tarnished somewhat inside their jaws and the terminations. At £60 for both and an hour or so fitting, not so bad. I use the kontak audio cleaner and usually order it from amazon or look around the online stores of dealers at £20. If the top is kept screwed tight should last a couple of years.

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@frenchrooster
Ah yes, I remember that like it was yesterday.

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