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How Often Do You Clean Your Contacts?

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jls001

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Contacts like RCA plugs of cables, RCA sockets on amp or DAC or CDP, binding posts on amp and speakers, etc?

Many of us use connectors and sockets which are supposedly gold plated. Some fancier equipments and cables come with silver connections.

First, an honest confession: I never even thought it necessary to clean gold plated contacts till a friend asked me to help him clean up his contacts. I understand and accept that silver contacts oxidise and require periodic cleaning. He has a contact cleaning fluid (I forgot the brand or model but it's French made). We started working on the connectors of his amp. All RCAs and binding posts on this amp are WBT gold plated. For some reason all the RCA sockets were covered in a dark layer which was extremely difficult to rub off with cloth damped with his cleaning fluid. It took many rounds of rubbing to get an acceptable surface, but we could not achieve a shiny, like-new finish and had to be content with what we could achieve because more rubbing was likely to scrape off the thin layer of gold plating.

The balanced connectors had what looked like chrome plated pins and sockets and those were shiny as new.

Next we cleaned his RCA plugs. Since most of his cables are not old, they didn't suffer from dark deposits BUT when cleaned with ear buds dipped in cleaning fluid, the ear buds became grey with the deposited dirt.

His speaker cables are terminated in WBT pure silver spades and those had light oxidation which came off with light sanding with very fine sand paper (at least 800 must be used, but 1500 is less abrasive).

My point being: we spend so much money buying fancy cables (and amps and DACs and whatnot) but are we utilizing them to their potential?

I was inspired to check my own cables (mix of gold plated and high purity silver) and sockets. Luckily I don't see signs of oxidation except on speaker binding posts, but I will clean them all one of these days.
 

sunder

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For the purpose of protection, better to apply a thin coat of good quality contact cleaner on the connectors and sockets when they are in new & shiny condition. In the market, there are cleaners and special oils for Gold plated as well as for other metal connectors. We can put silicon caps on unused & unnecessary sockets to protect from dust and moisture. Silver compound (paste) also available to apply a coat over the ordinary nickel plated plugs but very expensive. Thanks.
 

jmascreen

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Can you share detail of contact cleaners like available local online portal
 

sunder

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Yes, DeOxit range of products available on amazon.in, but at abnormal price.
 

G401fan

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The question is: does the component sound better, or different, after the clean-up job?

That said, if a gold plated connector is blackened, then it is probably not gold plated.

I’ve found that the act of removing an RCA connector and re-inserting it is sufficient to shake off the mild oxidation that forms normally. The impression most have of an improvement with a new cable is often because of this involuntary cleaning action. This is not to give the impression that cables don’t matter. Of course they do, but not always because of improved metallurgy.

Most contact cleaners have some acid element to dissolve the oxide layers. The best cleaner, in my experience, was something called O2 Blocker, which, after a cleaning action, laid down a microscopic layer on the metal substrate which effectively blocked further oxidation. Used military grade chemicals. Unfortunately, it’s no longer in production, which makes me use the remaining contents of my bottle very sparingly.
 

Dr.Lakshay

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Well there are a number of products available on amazon if anyone wants. For example :
1. Cvc electroclean where a review states that the person used it on his amp without any problem.
2. The well known and reliable wd 40 electrical contact cleaner on Ebay or Amazon
3. Crc 2-26 which claims to leave microscopic dielectric layer and seems to have good reviews too.
The 1st option is cheap af. The wd comes at a cost.
 

jls001

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I also use CRC 2-26.

WD40 I use only for loosening tight or rusty screws or for cleaning greased parts. I don't use it for cleaning electrical/electronic contacts because I read somewhere that it leaves some oil layer/film. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing so I refrain from using it on electrical or electronics contacts. But on hindsight, the CRC 2-26 smells like WD40.

A friend uses OKS 2621 contact cleaner for general contact cleaning, followed by Caig De-oxit.

PS: today I cleaned speaker binding posts:). And broke one of the internal wires:D so I was forced to open up the speaker and remove the crossover board to resolder the wire. Do be careful.

PS2: I'm guessing that Zippo lighter fluid would work great as a contact cleaner.
 

Dr.Lakshay

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WD40 I use only for loosening tight or rusty screws or for cleaning greased parts

The wd 40 i posted above is specifically made for electrical contact cleaning.

I also use CRC 2-26.
Can I use crc 2-26 directly into the switches of my Sony player and amplifier without opening it up? The buttons have stopped working and arbitrarily work when pressed multiple times. Will it help the issue?
Thanks.
 

jls001

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Can I use crc 2-26 directly into the switches of my Sony player and amplifier without opening it up? The buttons have stopped working and arbitrarily work when pressed multiple times. Will it help the issue?
Thanks.

I wouldn't spray a contact cleaner into a component that can't be wiped clean/dry after spraying. For the same reason I don't dare to use contact cleaners on scratchy potentiometers.
 
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