Silclear: A Cautionary Tale

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doggie

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Silclear: A Cautionary Tale
« on: 16 Feb 2019, 02:23 pm »
I have been using Silclear "contact enhancer" for several years. The concept seemed obvious and logical to me.

To be honest I cannot say that I ever heard a difference but it seemed like a proactive practice to use for cleaning my IC pins and especially my tube pins....until this week.

I recently bought some new 12AX7 tubes for the input position of my Linear Tube Audio Ultralinear amp. After putting them in I listened for a few days but found that something just was not right. For some reason it occurred to me that in a moment of muddled confusion I had inserted both tubes in the same channel so that in one channel I had also replaced the 12AU7 phase splitter with the new 12AX7. This did not break anything but the channel balance was off and so was the sound. This was actually the good news!

 When I went to correct my mistake I found that the Silclear on my existing tubes had somehow migrated UP the tube pins and had formed a thin but noticeable layer along the glass between many of the narrowly spaced pins. I was shocked since Silclear contains silver and is very conductive. The likelihood that small unwanted electrical currents were now passing between various tube pins seemed high.

I read the instructions when I first purchased the Silclear. They specifically say to use the smallest amount possible however there is really no way to ensure that, even if you are careful...as I was. The instructions say: " All tube pins; SilClear will improve tube cooling and will be left unchanged by tube pin temperatures." My theories are that either the Silclear gets pushed UP the pin as the pin is inserted or contrary to the instructions it flows upwards as the tube gets hot.

I used alcohol to clean off all of my tube pins and inspected all tubes to be certain that none of these "bridges" were still present. I was treated to the best sound that I had ever heard from my system. Clarity was vastly improved. The Silclear had masked my systems potential.

I can say that although I never heard an audible difference after first applying it, removing it produced a profound improvement.

YMMV.

DaveC113

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Re: Silclear: A Cautionary Tale
« Reply #1 on: 16 Feb 2019, 03:12 pm »
It makes your system sound overly bright, glare, etc many times. It can inject the worst aspects of using silver conductors into your sound. But not always... like silver plated wire it seems variable, sometimes silver plated wire is excellent, other times it's horrible and TBH I don't know why or when it'll happen. I've made mil-spec PCs out of 12g stranded wire, and it sounded great. Then I borrow a mil-spec PC made with a bunch of small gauge twisted pairs and it made my system sound horrible, just one PC pretty much destroyed my system's sound.

Unfortunately, this is the case with excessive Caig Progold as well, but it makes the system dark... it works but IMO the best way to apply it is to apply it normally then try to remove it all with a dry q-tip or cloth. Silclear is something I'd never recommend.





Mark Korda

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Re: Silclear: A Cautionary Tale
« Reply #2 on: 16 Feb 2019, 03:21 pm »
Hi Doggie and Dave,
   great tips! Thanks for sharing that Doggie....Mark.

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: Silclear: A Cautionary Tale
« Reply #3 on: 16 Feb 2019, 04:11 pm »
..... After putting them in I listened for a few days but found that something just was not right. For some reason it occurred to me that in a moment of muddled confusion I had inserted both tubes in the same channel so that in one channel I had also replaced the 12AU7 phase splitter with the new 12AX7......

...I can say that although I never heard an audible difference after first applying it, removing it produced a profound improvement....

Doggie,

First off, congratulations on adding the LTA Ultralinear to your system.  I know Dave and Mark are proud of that particular design.

I do think we need to be careful before we share praise or condemnation of products on the interwebs.  Your statements above, i believe prove this point. Not  perceiving a difference when adding something to your system, but being amazed at the difference when you remove it is a red flag. Especially since it took several days to realize your mistake installing the tubes, a difference that should have been(?) obvious immediately.

Not trying to flame you. We've all changed things in our system thinking we made an improvement until a friend or spouse listens for 30 seconds and asks what we did to ruin the system. 

Perhaps realizing the tube mistake after several days, then cleaning the tube pins, which probably also cleaned some oxidation off them, did make a big improvement.  Perhaps the product you applied actually didn't make a difference either way.  Anyway......

Mike B.

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Re: Silclear: A Cautionary Tale
« Reply #4 on: 16 Feb 2019, 04:35 pm »
I have seen pictures posted by a tube electronics manufacture of ruined tube sockets and amps needing extensive repairs thanks to owners doing this. This no no has been discussed on forums for a number of years.

doggie

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Re: Silclear: A Cautionary Tale
« Reply #5 on: 16 Feb 2019, 06:03 pm »
Doggie,

First off, congratulations on adding the LTA Ultralinear to your system.  I know Dave and Mark are proud of that particular design.

I do think we need to be careful before we share praise or condemnation of products on the interwebs.  Your statements above, i believe prove this point. Not  perceiving a difference when adding something to your system, but being amazed at the difference when you remove it is a red flag. Especially since it took several days to realize your mistake installing the tubes, a difference that should have been(?) obvious immediately.

Not trying to flame you. We've all changed things in our system thinking we made an improvement until a friend or spouse listens for 30 seconds and asks what we did to ruin the system. 

Perhaps realizing the tube mistake after several days, then cleaning the tube pins, which probably also cleaned some oxidation off them, did make a big improvement.  Perhaps the product you applied actually didn't make a difference either way.  Anyway......


I had become "restless" with my system before I put in the new tubes, a sign that something was off. It is also possible that I put on too much but there really is not an easy way to judge that when you are applying it. I was stunned when I found the accumulation near the base of the pins as it definitely was not there when I applied it. Its effects were probably slow and intermittent.

The issue of Silclear slowly "migrating" or getting pushed up between the pins is a pretty severe issue no matter what.

I am tossing out my jar which has enough in it for my next 5 lifetimes. I am also going clean it off my IC's. I will stick to DeOxit for cleaning and then wipe off with alcohol.

I did end with YMMV :-)


« Last Edit: 16 Feb 2019, 08:29 pm by doggie »

Elizabeth

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Re: Silclear: A Cautionary Tale
« Reply #6 on: 16 Feb 2019, 06:48 pm »
Just to add a small note.. There is a special version of high temperature Caig Gold to use on tube pins. link: https://caig.com/product/deoxit-gold-gx-series-gx100l-2db-brush-bottle/
On Amazon this product is not available ... However a slighly higher price kit including the above is at: https://www.amazon.com/DeoxIT%C2%AE-Gold-Vacuum-Survival-Caig/dp/B00E1QZ91Y/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1550342669&sr=8-2-fkmr0&keywords=DeoxIT%C2%AE+Gold+Gx+Series%2C+GX100L
This product is good to 310C or 590F