El Dorado

Spanish for the Golden One, one of the myths related to the term pertains to a tribal chieftain of the Muisca people of Colombia's Altiplano Cundiboycense. He purportedly covered himself in gold dust before submerging in Lake Guatavita during an initiation rite. Another version saw it as an entire city. That was pursued not only by conquistadors like Francisco Vázquez de Coronado but even Sir Walter Raleigh. Werner Herzog's cult film Aguirre the Wrath of God illustrated one historically inspired doomed search with mad Klaus Kinski in the lead. Most today believe that El Dorado was always just a ploy by weary indigenous people in the South Americas. They wished to send bloodthirsty gold-crazed Spanish invaders deep into the jungle, never to be seen or heard from again. Yet heard from the myth certainly was time and again. And it still is; even in hifi.

Aural conquistadors always had Siltech then Crystal to enjoy gold-infused silver cables. Incidentally, their gold isn't lashed on in pursuit of bling or anti corrosion but to fill molecular gaps in their already long-grain silver conductors. "We learned early on that the specific identity of impurities in our conductors was of vital concern, leading us to develop our revolutionary silver/gold alloy. This mixes a tiny amount of gold with silver. The gold atoms naturally displace contaminant particles and fill voids in the silver crystal matrix. The result is greater material consistency with dramatically reduced distortion, significantly improving the performance and longevity of our conductors. Furthermore, the flexibility of the metal is considerably enhanced." That the pull of El Dorado remains strong High End Munich 2022 showed with the introduction of two more cable ranges with gold inclusions: the Gold Signature range from Ansuz with its copper/silver/gold alloy; and Gryphon's Vanta and Rosso lines which, according to Stereophile's Julie Mullins, use silver/gold conductors sourced from Siltech¹.

Meanwhile in the small Polish town of Ozimek, Piotr Galkowsi of Divine Acoustics released his Copernicus speaker cable [€2'000/2.5m/pr] which applies over a silver conductor a palladium layer topped with a 24-carat gold skin polished with a walnut granulate. The violin-shaped splitters double as dampers and are made of acrylic. Terminations are top Furutech spades or bananas.

Crystal's silver/gold cables factored big in Nagra's Munich 2022 exhibit which growing feedback suggests might have been that event's best sounding. Then there's Thailand's Lifeaudio who are clearly fond of gold on connector casings, even anti-vibration footers.

In short, El Dorado is alive and well at least in our small world of bespoke hifi. Here we see a Viva/Göbel system in Thailand which celebrates gold trim and lacquers. Where there's demand there's supply.

¹ From Siltech: "Its type of conductor is central to the performance of any audio cable. Over the years various materials from copper to carbon-fiber were tried. These have a fundamental effect on sound quality but it's not just what you choose. It's how you make it. Looked at under a microscope, metal is a lattice of individual atoms forming multiple large crystals all locked together. Between those crystals are boundaries and voids so barriers a signal passing through must cross. These interruptions and discontinuities in the conductors don't show up via empirical measurement techniques but subjective listening can detect them all too clearly."