**The HELIX

"The HELIX IMAGE" - With a little help from my friends

This post details the very latest developments and updates to the Helix Geometry.
The developments are courtesy of Ernst of Austria and Yordan & Evgeny of Bulgaria

Yordan and Evgeny have contributed with...
  • the performance aspects of various wire types and metallurgy,
  • discovered that the direction the helix coil was wound is critical - see Inside The Helix Geometry.
  • provided an adapted geometry, based on Ernst’s findings, for the HELIX IMAGE Mundorf XLR Interconnect - see ** The HELIX IMAGE Interconenct (1)

Ernst embraced the Helix design some time ago and has been experimenting with some different materials in order to improve on the performance of the Helix design with astounding success.

His first development was to eliminate the use of as many man-made insulation products (e.g. teflon tubing, expandable Nylon sleeve) used in the original designs.
His second development was to use balsa wood as the spacers every few centimetres in order to hold the signal wire in his speaker cables in the centre of the Helix coil.

The reward for Ernst’s endeavours was a significant improvement is sound quality with respect to improved details, clarity, dynamics, bass control and depth and a significantly wider and deeper image.

His approach considered the Dielectric Constant (D.C.) of various materials.
  • Dielectric constant, property of electrical insulating material (a dielectric) equal to the ratio of the capacitance of a capacitor filled with the given material to the capacitance of an identical capacitor in a vacuum without the dielectric material.

Ernst found that using materials having a lower D.C. than the expandable Nylon and heat shrink originally used to centre the signal wire in the Helix, significantly improves on the performance of the cable.
  • Wood has a D.C. of between 1.4(softwood) and 1.5(hardwood)
  • Since air has a D.C. = 1.1, placing the spacers at intervals on the signal wire improved signal transfer even further.

After giving his findings some consideration I considered using wooden beads as the spacers, since they are readily available and very affordable on Ebay

My “adaptions” of findings from Yordan, Evgeny and Ernst, can be found in the following construction details...
The latest design of the Interconnect Cable...

The latest design of the Speaker Cable...

The latest design of the Power Cable...

I am currently using cables that have been modified as in the links above and can report that the modifications have resulted in significant and easily discernible audible improvements over the older design. Improved clarity, sense of space, dynamic performance and improved details are the benefits observed by the geometric changes.

The original helix design concept was to eliminate the parallel conductors commonly used in conventional cable architectures in order to minimizes the noise, proximity effect and Skin effect to imperceivable levels, improving clarity and dynamic performance of the interconnect.

Since those early days, developments include the selection of advanced wire metallurgy, gauge of wire best suited to the task at hand and types of insulation in order to reduce noise to a minimum, which brings us to this moment in time.

The instructions on this web site demonstrates how these cables can be fabricated in the easiest and most cost effective manner in order to achieve extremely good levels of performance that competes with the very best commercially available products for a fraction of the cost.

Will there be any further updates - probably, because there is always someone, like Ernst, Jordan and Evgeny that is looking to improve on the possibilities of “The Helix” cable geometry.

I normally indicate change by issuing an updated MK # (Mk I Mk II etc...), but in this case I have decided to reflect the latest updates by renaming this line of cables
“The HELIX IMAGE” simply because these cables now convey the most realistic and compelling image I have ever observed in any system

The level of detail and clarity, together with precise location of performers and an image that envelopes the listener is stunning

I would like to thank and congratulate Ernst, Yordan and Evgeny on these exciting new developments.

The stunning performance of Helix Cables of today are due in large part to their efforts


Earlier contributors include Todd (US) for developing the first bi-wire version of the Helix speaker cables, Ghislain (Canada), John (USA) and many others

If you have any further questions on these upgrades just drop me a line.

Regards - Steve

Its More Than Just Numbers - Isn't It?

This post addresses the electrical measurements of the three Helix Cables - Interconnect, Speaker and Power cables.

Having said that, the table below is simply a “guide”, since the values depicted are specific to the cables measured.

Minor differences can be expected due to variations in winding the helix, cable length, wire used and sleeving used.
e.g, one person has measured the capacitance of a 0.75 meter interconnect to be around 34 pF

The cables YOU build may not have identical numbers, but they will be fairly close, provided you use similar techniques, parts and wires.

Also - the numbers below are for cables of a specific length. So you will have to estimate the numbers for your cables if their length differs from those in the table

e.g. if YOUR speakers cables are 2 meters long then the numbers can be estimated as follows...

Capacitance: 181 / 3 x 2 = 120pf
Inductance: 3.2 / 3 x 2 = 2.13 uH
X
L @ 20 kHz: 0.402 / 3 x 2 = .268 Ohms


Specifications

Loop Inductance - is measured across the cable at one end, while shorting cable at the other end,


If you really want to get into the science take a look at this link...
http://www.epanorama.net/documents/wiring/cable_impedance.html


So - what do all those numbers (metrics) actually mean?

Rather than delve into complex formulas, I thought that comparing the Helix numbers to other well known commercial brands of cables might be easier for readers to understand, e.g...

  • The 60 pF/meter capacitance of the Helix Speaker Cable is significantly lower than some cables from Kimber Kable and TOTL Cardas cables which often exceed 300pF/Meter. This is important if connecting to a high current solid state design amplifier.
  • The 1.1 uF/meter inductance of the Helix Speaker Cable is higher than some other brands, but NAIM NAC A5 cable is rated at 1.0 uH/meter (highly recommended by NAIM). I own a NAIM amp and the cables appear to work very well with it and also with some other brands that adopt a high current design philosophy
  • One of the few companies that seem to have been able to keep both Capacitance and Inductance to very low levels is Nordost - however, a fellow DIYer’s that tried the Helix promptly sold off their Nordost cables in favour of the Helix - go figure Happy

The Helix “numbers” are Middle-of-the-road for each cable type, but based on feedback from others who have tried them, they appear be a good match to a lot of audio components. (see “
IMPORTANT:” below) and will minimize many of the effects that conventional geometries suffer from.

The Loop Inductance of the Helix Speaker Cable,
may be higher than other cables out there, and some people may believe this to be an issue.

However, I believe that this does not present any problems, when you consider the frequency range of a person’s “normal” hearing abilities lies between
20Hz and 12kHz over the age of 50.

As opposed to the generally accepted audio industry standard of
20Hz and 20kHz

Of course - if you are a teenager with excellent hearing you may be able to hear as high as 17kHz, (and perhaps a little higher) at which point you may observe a very small decrease in volume in the
15kHz-20Khz range

And if you are an engineer in one of the many companies out there that promotes frequency response of their components to be 0Hz to 100kHz - then these cables may NOT be for you.

There is some debate as to whether the additional 5% (of the speaker impedance) on top of the actual speaker’s impedance would be noticeable. e.g.,
  • my speakers have an impedance of 6 Ohms
  • 5% of 6 is 0.3 ohms
  • if I look at the impedance of the my 3 meter Helix cables from the table above = 0.402 Ohms @ 20kHz
  • So - If I could hear a 20kHz signal I “might” detect a tiny drop in volume
  • BUT - my hearing ability has diminished over the years, so taking the 12kHz value of 0.241 Ohms
  • I am well within the 5% margin
  • BUT AGAIN - this is not a hard and fast rule, simply because the crossover employed in the speaker may have a significant impact on whether any cable will sound good - OR NOT!
  • I have not heard of any negative feedback from any of the people that have tried Helix cables in systems ranging from sub $1000 systems, to systems exceeding $70,000

I have posted the Helix numbers above - because I have been asked for them many times, however...

Cable metrics should be used ONLY as a guide!

They ARE NOT a substitute for actually - LISTENING!


IMPORTANT:- electrostatic speakers is an area I have NO experience of, so I would strongly recommend anyone looking at using the Helix Speaker Cables with electrostatic speakers to look at the statistics above and assessing their possible impact before building or connecting Helix Speaker Cables

OTHER STUFF:

I have also observed that the Helix design actually enhances the operation of the components they are connected to.

e.g. most of my components run a few degrees cooler than with other cables


So right about now you might be thinking that these issues only apply to areas where the voltage and current is of significance, as in power and speaker cables, but regardless of cable type...

ALL CABLES ARE AFFECTED !

Inside The Helix Geometry.

Since its conception, I have been sharing ideas and thoughts with like-minded DIYers about construction techniques and materials. But it was not until recently when I realized that there was aspect of the design I had not really considered.

I had been sharing my thoughts and designs via emails, with like minded DIYer
Yordan and Evgeny of Bulgaria.

In one email, Yordan reported that he and Evgeny had experienced an improvement in sound quality simply by winding the helix in the opposite direction to that initially shown shown on this site, so I decided to investigate.

Putting my photography skills to work I took the following images in an attempt to account for a reason as to why such a noticeable improvement might be experienced, simply by reversing the direction of the Helix winding.


This first image (below) shows the helix being wound in (let’s call it) a clockwise direction.
image[8]

As you can see, the
actual strands of the wire used in the Helix, are crossing the strands in the signal wire at approximately 70 degrees

However - if the helix is wound in the opposite counter clockwise direction (see below), then the angle of the individual strands is much closer to the desired 90 degree angle in order to minimize induced noise even further.

image[12]

Please Note: that before deciding to wind the Helix in a particular direction, you must take into consideration the direction of
the twist of the strands in the actual wire you are using
  • in this case, the strands have been twisted in (let’s call it) a clockwise direction
  • If the wire had a counter clockwise twist - then the helix should be wound in a Clockwise direction to achieve the 90 degree angle.
So Here’s How You Wind It...


This image shows how to wind both the neutral/ground conductors of each and every Helix cable, i.e. provided you are using a wire that has strands twisted in a CLOCKWISE direction as indicated in the images above.


Helix Spiral
  • If the wire used has the strands twisted in the opposite direction, then the Helix should be wound in the opposite direction to that indicated in the above image
The Skeptics Among Us...

This initially included myself, after all, how much of an improvement could this possibly make???

Well, after converting all of my own cables to the counter clockwise twist I was completely surprised to find that the changes were very discernible and contributed to a much improved image and very much improved clarity.

How Anal Do You Wanna Get?

In the images above, I have used the same wire for both live/signal and neutral conductors and as such the twist of the individual strands in both wires is the same. But what if the strands in just ONE wire is twisted in the opposite direction, which direction should the helix be wound in ???

That decision I will leave to the individual. Happy

Personally - I think this level of “detail” is beyond the resolution capabilities of my system, but I felt it should at least be mentioned for those out there that may wish to investigate

Other Observations from Yordan include...

Having had many email conversations with Yordan, he has shared the following observations he experienced, which include:
  1. The cables sound more open when the expandable nylon sleeve i.e. to give the cable a “professional appearance”, is NOT used
  2. The power cables sounded better without spades
    • Personally, on my system I found the spades provided faster dynamics and bass delivery
  1. avoid using heat shrink tubing where it draws the signal and neutral wires closer together
  2. To better isolate the signal (or live) wire use teflon tube - not the expandable sleeve as identified in the web site

NOTE: I have tried a couple of things above, but on my system I did not experience the same observations. But as in Yordan’s case, on your system you could observe improvements by following his tips. so give them a try

So, the Proof of the Pudding...

So, to put Yordan’s
“Helix direction” findings to the test, I rebuilt built all of my Helix cables, this time with the Helix neutral wound in a counter clockwise direction. with everything else being identical.

Right from the very first track it was apparent that the direction of the helix REALLY DOES MATTER!

The image was larger in all dimensions, with the location of musicians being more precise and with more space around them, details and associated clarity improved, dynamic performance was faster, bass performance was faster with more texture and the mid and upper frequencies revealed a new warmth not previously there.

But Was It Easily Discern-able?

To these old ears -
very definitely. I spent over two hours playing the tracks I use to audition cables and components, just so I could hear how much better they sounded with the revised Helix cables.

So there you have it - taking into account the actual direction of the Helix winding has proven beneficial

What if I have already used a Clockwise Helix???

If you would like to correct a cable that has a Clockwise wound helix...
  • DO NOT simply pull the Helix coil straight - this will over-twist the strands inside the wire
  • Remove the Helix coil from the cable i.e. slide the coil off of the live/signal conductor intact
  • Then slide the helix coil onto a suitably sized steel/fibreglass rod - NOTE: you will probably need to compress the coil
  • Finally, pull on one end of the coil, allowing the coil to spin around on the rod
  • this technique prevents the twisted strands inside the wire from becoming deformed
  • You can then rewind the helix in the correct direction without any issues
  • The important thing is that you “UNWIND” the helix coil
  • Otherwise: it may deform the strands inside the wire, which will impact performance
  • NOTE: - power cables are not as sensitive as Speaker cables and interconnects and changing the direction of the Helix does not offer any real discernible improvements in sound quality, so changing their helix direction is not necessary

I have performed this procedure several times and can report that it is actually very easy and a much more effective method than trying to simply straighten a helix coil.

Is all this really necessary?

Well, the choice is yours. The Helix cables will sound extremely good no matter what direction the Helix coil is wound in!

But the improvements achieved on all of my cables by winding the helix in the correct (counter clockwise) direction is the icing on the cake.

Regards - Steve

DIY Power Cables - The "HELIX IMAGE" Power Cable

The “HELIX IMAGE” power cable represents several years of researching different cable architectures and materials.

I started looking at cable architectures a while back, initiated by an experience with a home lighting repair.

I was installing a new two way switch on a hallway light, the type with a switch at each end of the hallway (see diagram below). I decided to play it safe and use my multimeter to verify the open/closed position of the switches.

With the switch in the OFF position everything checked out, but with the switch in the ON position I found that there was a reading of 42 volts on what was supposed to be the "dead conductor" i.e. the red conductor in the diagram below.

page1image6056


I subsequently found articles on the web which verified that in this particular situation it is common for one of the conductors in standard household power cable to register an "induced voltage".

In the case of “conventional” power cable architectures, the live conductor and the neutral conductor tend to be side by side in extremely close proximity for the length of the cable, so is it reasonable to assume that noise will be induced between the conductors in a power cable?.
Would “noise pollution” also be present on the ground conductor, which, and depending on the design of a components circuit, might also have an adverse effect on sound quality?

Additional research revealed even more to consider regarding good cable design...

For more information on cable design issues please read the three articles below that talk about the many problems that challenge cables designers.

They will provide a great deal of insight into the many parameters and design techniques employed to build cables that excellent in their performance.

The articles are specific to Interconnect and speaker cables, but much of the theory also applies to power cables


https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-1/

https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-2/

https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-3/



The premise of the helical design concept eliminates the parallel conductors which minimizes cable issues to imperceivable levels!

BONUS! - the Helix acts as a Faraday Cage just for the signal wire!



But First My Disclaimer:

DO NOT attempt any of the assemblies detailed below unless you are an experienced
Electrical Professional OR Electronics Hobbyist - otherwise consult a technician!

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE: for following local electrical codes. Failure to do so may result in personal injury, damage to equipment, or power cable failure which can result in fire.

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE: for ensuring the cable selected is suitably rated for the power requirements of the component(s) it will be attached too !

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE: for ensuring the IEC/Mains connectors are installed observing the correct polarity !
- failure to do so can result in poor operation, component failure or electric shock.


YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE: for ensuring the dielectric strength of the insulation on ALL conductors used, meets or exceeds local codes!

e.g. In North America - 600v at 200 Celsius for 120v 50/60 Hz supply


These Power cables are only to be used for
Home Audio Purposes and must not subjected to harsh environments and frequent handling, which generally require additional protective coverings.

The materials mentioned below comply with most codes for NORTH AMERICA ONLY!

Electrical codes in other countries may require the selection of different materials, therefore
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for following those local electrical codes.

YOU are responsible for ensuring “power related” assemblies are safe to use!

So what’s changed???
Since there is very little actual difference from a geometry perspective between the previous versions of the power cable and this renamed version I considered not assigning a new name, but then I realized

  • The Helix neutral has a larger diameter
  • the expandable sleeve over the cable assembly has been removed
  • the expandable sleeve on the Live Wire has been removed

Why remove the sleeve?
The nylon sleeve and heat shrink increases the Dielectric Constant (D.C.), which impedes cable performance

The only design element present in the other HELIX IMAGE cables which helps reduce D.C that has not been applied are the wood beads to centre the live wire in the helix.

Why not use Wood Beads?
Power cables can heat up with extended use. Placing wood beads on the live wire could exacerbate this situation and wood is flammable.

Apart from fire risk,
it would be contravening all electrical codes globally.

Why not use glass beads? - they tolerate heat!
The D.C. of glass is actually higher than most man made insulation materials and that would impact performance


As it turns out, removing the expandable sleeve, all of the heat shrink sleeve and increasing the diameter of the helix, seems to have elevated the performance of the power cable to similar levels of performance as the other HELIX IMAGE cables

And so the Power Cable inherits the HELIX IMAGE nomenclature !


What size wire do you recommend for various components?

I have found that using the 12 gauge Duelund wire will suffice for the most demanding components (e.g. amps up to 600 watts). You can even use 16 gauge Duelund wire for most lower powered Source Components.

IF you have
very powerful amplifiers (ie. in excess of 600 watts) and you are also using low impedance speakers (e.g. 2-4 Ohms) you may want to consider using...

  • 2 x12 gauge (i.e. 9 gauge) Duelund wires for the live wire and
  • 2 x 12 gauge Mil-spec wires for the neutral



Materials...

The materials listed below will build a 5ft power cable that is suitable for use with Power Aimplifiers rated up to 600 watts.

  • LIVE Conductor: Duelund stranded 12 gauge wire with Polycast insulation
    • However, if you want a more budget oriented power cable you can use 12 gauge Mil-spec wire from Take Five audio
  • NEUTRAL Conductor: 30 feet of stranded Mil Spec 12 AWG Silver Plated Copper Wire, Cryo Treated, Red - available from Take Five Audio (TFA)
  • GROUND Conductor: 15 feet of green 12 gauge mains copper wire from Home Depot
  • 2 feet of 1” black Heat Shrink sleeve
  • 1 Pair of SONAR QUEST CRYO Ag Audio Grade Silver plated IEC plug + US main plug
  • eutectic solder suited for electronics use - or WBT 4% silver solder can also be used
  • 10-12 gauge copper spade/fork connectors
  • For Spade/Fork terminals take look at the Grainger Web site and in their options check box select TERMINAL TYPE: Standard, WIRE RANGE: 12-10 gauge, INSULATION TYPE: Bare and SEAM: Butted
  • Fork Terminals - Spade Terminals - Grainger Industrial Supply
  • 1 5ft x 3/8”(10mm) or 1/2” (12.5 mm) fibreglass rod - available from Home Depot

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.31.10 PM

The Sonar Quest connectors have heavy Silver plating on pure copper contacts that provide excellent clamping and transmission of electrical current - available from ebay

I use an approximate ratio of 3:1 of Ground/Neutral:Live conductor

e.g. for a 5ft power cable I use 15ft of Ground and 30ft of Neutral Conductor



How To Make Them...

To determine the “Direction” of the Helix - see Inside The Helix Geometry.


The Neutral Conductor...

The Neutral Conductor is made from two lengths of the Mil Spec 12 AWG Silver Plated Copper Wire listed above.

Why two pieces? - this effectively make the neutral wire a 9 awg conductor, which I have found performs much better than a single 12 gauge wire, resulting in faster dynamics, better bass performance and control and more natural imaging.

Cut the 30 ft length of wire into two equal length pieces.

On the 3/8” or 1/2” rod, wind the neutral conductor in a helix configuration, space the windings about 1/4” apart and remove from the rod.
Repeat the winding process with the second piece of wire.

pc1


With the second coil of wire still on the rod...
- Attach the first coil to the second coil with a 10 gauge spade connector
- Wind the first “coil” of wire between its windings as shown below

Remove the two “intertwined” coils from the rod

pc2


The Ground Conductor...

On the 3/8” or 1/2” rod, wind the green GOUND conductor in a helix configuration, space the windings about 1/4” apart and remove from the rod.

pc3


Attach a 12/10 awg spade connector on one end of the Live conductor, crimp and solder in place.

Thread the Live conductor through the centre of the red coil(s)

Attach a second 12/10 awg spade connector on free end of the Live conductor, crimp and solder in place.

Attach a second 12/10 awg spade connector on the two free ends of the neutral conductor, crimp and solder in place.

Wind the green wire between the “double winding” of the neutral conductor as shown below.

Place 12/10 awg spade connectors on both ends of the ground conductor, crimp and solder in place


pc4



Cut two adequate lengths of 1” heat shrink tubing and place over each end of the cable assembly to provide a surface for the plug clamp


Here are two go my power cables positioned on cable lifters...

PC 001

NOTE: When Attaching the Sonar Quest connectors to the cable assembly...

PLEASE ensure you adopt the correct polarity - your life may depend on it!!!



Mains Polarity




Assembly Notes...

Why do I use spade connectors? -

  • First, trying to attach the mains/IEC connectors to a large gauge cable is very difficult,
  • More importantly - the spade connectors prevent detachment from the connectors in the event of unforeseen stress being placed on the connectors.
  • I have also found that the spade connectors that are crimped and soldered actually improve sound quality.

For a more secure crimped joint, I always crimp from the back - as shown in the image below, which prevents the collar from opening.

Crimp-022


I use pliers as shown in this image that applies an extended crimp along the whole length of the spade connectors collar

imgres


Cables that are more suited to source components can use lighter gauge conductors, but be sure to determine their power requirements and select a gauge that can handle it with headroom to spare.

Can you use other brands of IEC/Mains connectors?


Of course. Some people might prefer to use Furutech, or Oyaide high quality connectors.

Others may prefer to use something more reasonably price, like the Vanguard range of connectors.

I believe the Sonar Quest connector line provides exceptional sound quality for a reasonable price.

The Journey...

I’m a frugal person with a distinct dislike of overpaying for something as simple as a piece of wire!


I started making my own cables many years ago from Bulk cable with reasonably priced connectors.

I first tried Furutech bulk cable and then stumbled upon DH Labs, which I believe offers similar performance for about 1/3 the price - how could you not like that.

I then investigated a braided architecture which proved very effective, even using plain old Romex house wire.

Finally, I tried the Helix Architecture, which has proved to be the best performing power cable architecture to date.

I have now implemented this architecture on all my cables that have anything to do with audio.

What do they sound like?

The “HELIX IMAGE Power Cable” is a high performance power cable that allows connected components to perform to the best of their abilities.

They assist components in delivering ultra fast dynamic performance, exceptional clarity, expansive imaging and a very deep and exceptionally well controlled bass performance with improved imaging.

How Long is the Burn-In Period?

It is imperative that these cables are allowed adequate time to settle and burn-in...

  • they will sound extremely good on initial installation
  • after about 60 hours they allow more of the micro details in the form of venue specific reverberation captured in live recordings, or applied by very talented sound engineers, to clearly be heard.

The end of the Road?

My hope is that this design will be embraced and enhanced by the DIY Community and encourage them to experiment with different conductor materials and configurations to tailor the sound to their own liking.


For Helix cable spec’s please see Its More Than Just Numbers - Isn't It?

My Review System:



page6_blog_entry61-page6_blog_entry60-page6_blog_entry52-page6_blog_entry40-two-thumbs-up-2 Give them a try - and - Enjoy The Music! Happy


DIY Interconnect Cables - The "HELIX IMAGE" Interconnect

Now includes an updated Balanced design...


The “HELIX IMAGE Interconnect” represents the very latest developments in researching different wire types, geometries and materials.
The premise behind its helical geometry (or architecture) is eliminating parallel conductors, since...

  • if two parallel conductors are in close proximity for an extended distance, and current is passed down them, then noise & distortions will occur within them.
In the case of “conventional” interconnect cable architectures, the signal conductor and the neutral conductor are side by side in extremely close proximity for the length of the cable, therefore in my mind, I consider it reasonable to assume that some noise, however small, will occur within the signal conductor and neutral conductors.

Why would this matter? Isn’t the neutral is effectively connected to the “ground” ?


Well, the neutral conductor is actually connected to the neutral side of the circuit of both attached components.

Any noise that permeates through the neutral side of the components circuit, will have a negative impact on the connected components, resulting in distortions in the signal, which is ultimately amplified and output to the speakers.

Any noise in the signal conductor gets gets distorted even further through each stage and again amplified even further

In addition, parallel conductors are prone to Proximity & Skin Effects which alters the resistance of the conductor. affecting the transfer the signal

All of this impacts the phase between the left and right channels, which “smears” the mage.

The original helix design concept eliminates the parallel conductors and minimizes the noise, proximity effect and Skin effect to imperceivable levels, improving clarity and dynamic performance of the interconnect.

Since those early days, developments include the selection of various types of wire, gauge of wire and types of insulation, to bring us to this moment in time

One other nice feature of the helical design is the neutral conductor, being wound around the signal conductor, becomes a very effective shield against external RFI sources - in effect is is a Faraday Cage surrounding the signal wire - because it is connected to “ground” Happy

But Shouldn’t The Two Conductors Be The Same Length?


If you look at the “roles” the two conductors play from the perspective of an attached components’ circuit diagram it becomes clear that cable length is immaterial and they can be made from different materials and gauges.

page2image664

  • The Signal Conductor transfers the signal
  • The Neutral Conductor completes the circuit, BUT, it also connects the neutral sides of the two attached components
  • Any “noise” present on the neutral conductor impacts the operation of BOTH components.


For more detailed information on cable design issues please read the three articles below that talk about the many problems that challenge cables builders.

They will provide a great deal of insight into the many parameters and design techniques employed to build cables that excellent in their performance.


https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-1/

https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-2/

https://www.psaudio.com/article/cables-time-is-of-the-essence-part-3/




How To Make Them...


FIRST: determine the “Direction” of the Helix for the wire you will use - see Inside The Helix Geometry.

The Single Ended IC Design...

The parts list is reasonably priced between $180 - $250 CDN for a 3ft ( or 1 meter) pair, depending on the RCA’s and wire selected - and all other parts can be purchased from many parts providers on the web.

Considering their exceptional sound quality I believe this price range to be excellent value.

You can upgrade or downgrade these parts if you wish, but the parts listed will provide exceptional sound quality.

I use an approximate ratio of 3:1 of Neutral:Signal conductor

e.g. for a 3ft Interconnect cable I use 9ft of Neutral Conductor



The quantities listed is for a single Interconnect cable i.e. one channel -
so double them for a stereo pair

  • RCA Plug: KLE Innovations Absolute Harmony RCA Plugs (SOURCE: KLE Innovations or local parts sources)
  • Neutral Conductor: 9 ft of Mil Spec 16 AWG Silver Plated Copper Wire Green Cryo Treated (SOURCE: TAKE FIVE AUDIO - TFA)
  • Signal Conductor: 3 ft of 20 gauge Duelund stranded Tinned Copper with Oil/Cotton insulation (Source: HiFi Collective).
  • WBT 4% silver solder


Step 1.
I first wind the conductor around a 5mm-8mm metal rod. To assist with this I insert the rod into a variable speed hand drill and feed the conductor along its length.

IC1


Once wound, the helix can be removed from the dowel.

IC2

Step 2

Insert the Duelund wire into the helix.

Space the windings over the length of the signal wire

Tighten the helix by twisting it, about an inch at time, along the length of the cable

OPTIONAL: You can place a small piece of Heatshrink tube at the end to allow the two small set screws to grip the cable.

IC 002

NOTE: the signal wire will touch the side of the Helix, but it does not appear to impact sound quality.

IC 005



Step 3

Soldering the KLE Innovations needs a little care to prevent excess heat from damaging the plastic housing

I use a chassis mount RCA jack and insert the RCA base into it in order to wick away excess heat

RCAPhono-vice

I also use a little “rig” to hold the parts while I solder


Vice


I’ve found that it is easier if I first solder the signal wire to the RCA plug first, followed by the neutral wire

Solder PLug



Install the housing of the RCA and tighten the screws

IC 001




Assembly of the “HELIX IMAGE Mundorf” interconnect...


The
HELIX IMAGE Mundorf Interconnect performs at a slightly higher performance level, which I recommend if you want to achieve the very highest levels of resolution. But the improvements may only be discernible when using higher-end components

The
HELIX IMAGE Mundorf interconnect uses Mundorf Solid Silver/Gold(1%) wire without insulation for the signal wire.

  • the construction is a little different (see below)
  • They really open up the image and presents a fuller, more detailed image with superb dynamics.

The design concept of the
HELIX IMAGE Mundorf interconnect is the brainchild of a fellow DIYer, Ernst, of Austria.

Ernst experimented with the Helix Speaker Cables and found that the Insulation, heat shrink and expandable nylon sleeve previously used in the Helix design actually impacted the sound.

He used wood spacers to position the signal wire in the centre of an oversized Helix Coil. Performance improved and he passed on his results/design to me.

After giving this some thought I felt that it could be adapted to the Interconnect using small 5mm wood beads to “insulate” the bare wire and to position the signal wires in the centre of the helix.

So, as you can see in the picture below, I use a small (8mm long ) piece of insulation on the signal wire just to hold the beads off of the RCA plug assembly to allow the barrel of the plug to screw into place.

The beads run the length of the signal wire without any space between them

IC 004


IC 003


I no longer use heat shrink on the cable, because I am assured by Ernst that it will impact the sound.

The result is exceptional reproduction of the musical signal, complete with an amazingly large image and the clarity of a live performance.



I leave it up to you as to which wire you select, but all the wires mentioned above will outperform most of the commercial products currently available

Did you try using Duelund or Mundorf wire for the Helix Neutral?

  • I only use Duelund or Mundorf wires for for the signal conductor - not for the neutral Helix - it’s more affordable.
  • BUT: I did try the Duelund wire as the neutral on an interconnect, but I found it did not improve sound quality over the Mil-spec wire, so I continue to use the Mil-spec wire for the neutral.

Can you use other brands of RCA?

NOT RECOMMENDED!

I recommend KLE Innovations Harmony RCA’s because of their stellar performance. Personally, I use the Absolute Harmony RCA because it is their best performer. I have used Furutech plugs, but the KLE Innovations product outperform the other RCA plugs I have tried, including Neotech Furutech and WBT RCA plugs.

Also, the properties of the KLEI Harmony RCA’s are very different from conventional RCA’s, such that they can be used on single ended SPDIF cables without experiencing the issues associated with conventional RCA’s not rated at the same impedance as the cable because their impedance exceeds 110 ohms.

e.g. “convention” states that a SPDIF cable should use an RCA plug of identical impedance

Primarily to reduce/eliminate internal “reflections” of the digital signal back down the cable

However, the KLEI Harmony RCA’S can be used on most digital cables regardless of the cables rated impedance value.

I also believe their higher impedance is responsible for their stellar analogue performance.

Can this cable be used for SPDIF purposes?

Absolutely! - it is an extremely adept SPDIF cable!

And I have found that the following cost saving adjustments do not impact SPDIF performance at all...

  • KLEI Silver Harmony RCA plugs can be used in place of the more expensive Absolute Harmony RCA plug
  • The Silver plated Mi-Spec wire is used for the signal conductor

To date, it is the best SPDIF cable I have used.

What do HELIX IMAGE Interconnects sound like?

The “HELIC IMAGE Interconnect” is a high performance cable with extremely high resolution capabilities.

They deliver a completely “uncoloured presentation” with ultra fast dynamic performance, exceptional clarity, expansive imaging and a very deep and exceptionally well controlled bass performance.

They excel in the delivery of one of the most realistic and compelling presentations of live recordings I have observed.
  • The delicate nuances pertaining to the acoustic reverberations of instruments and voice within a live venue are faithfully reproduced in the most minute detail, with a precision placement of musicians and their instruments within their own “virtual space”.

My system components are quite modest by today’s standards. However my cables are all excellent performers and they work in harmony with the components to achieve an excellent overall “system performance” that exceeds it’s price point by a considerable margin.

Will the
“HELIX IMAGE Interconnect” perform well on all systems?

Based on feedback from people who have made them for installation in some quite varied systems, including all tube, tube hybrid and solid state, so I have no reason to believe their performance will be anything less than stellar on most systems.

The HELIX IMAGE Balanced (XLR) Interconnect

For a 3ft stereo pair:
  • 2 pairs of Neutrik NC3FXX-HA Male/Female XLR Cryo Treated - with Silver Plated Pins ( SOURCE: TAKE FIVE AUDIO - TFA)
  • Neutral Conductor: 18 ft of Mil Spec 16 AWG Silver Plated Copper Wire Green Cryo Treated (SOURCE: TAKE FIVE AUDIO - TFA)
  • Signal Conductor: 12 ft of 20 gauge Duelund stranded Tinned Copper with Oil/Cotton insulation (Source: HiFi Collective)
  • WBT 4% silver solder

The “standard” Balanced XLR IC design is “basically” the same as single ended design with a simple modification.

A balanced cable requires two signal conductors
  • one for the positive signal
  • one for the negative signal
  • gently twist the signal wires together - 0ne twist every 5-6 inches
  • Wind the neutral wire around a 6mm rod
  • Insert the signal wires into the Helix
  • add XLR connectors and Voila - you have a Helix XLR Interconnect cable

NEW DESIGN: The “HELIX IMAGE Mundorf (XLR)” Interconnect

Fellow DIYer, Yordan from Bulgaria, sent me this “upgrade” to the original XLR Interconnect design using wood beads similar in principle to the single ended design above, while incorporating Ernst’s approach of eliminating the use of man made sleeving/heatshrink and incorporating wood beads spaced along the signal conductor

The material choices, design elements and construction techniques of this cable makes it a worthy
HELIX IMAGE Mundorf” XLR Interconnect

if you wish to apply Yordan’s modifications and elevate your cable to the version shown below you will need ...

  • Mundorf silver/gold wire, 0.5mm dia, SGW105 Teflon Insulated for the signal wire
  • Mundorf silver/gold wire, 1mm dia, SGW110 Teflon Insulated for the neutral Helix
  • 20 - 6mm diameter x 15 mm long wooden beads
  • Yordan uses Oyaide SS-47 solder for the signal wires and Mundorf Supreme 105 silver solder for the neutral

And Then...
  • wind the neutral conductor in a 8mm diameter spiral around an 8mm dowel/rod, wide enough to accommodate the 6mm diameter Beads
  • Twist the signal conductors together - one complete twist every 2 inches (5-6 cm)
  • Insert the twisted signal wires into the beads and use glue to hold the beads in place
  • Insert the signal wire+bead assembly into the helix coil
  • add XLR plugs and VOILA!




IC XLR 001

IC XLR 002


Yordan has also contributed considerably to the development of the Helix range of cables.

Yordan’s comments on the performance of the XLR cables...

“there was a jaw dropping effect - the sound is on another level”

The Journey...

I’m a frugal person with a distinct dislike of overpaying for something as simple as a piece of wire!


I started making my own cables many years ago, but many of those utilized bulk cable from companies like Van den Hul and DH Labs.

I then investigated some of the more recent cable geometries such as tight twisted pairs, braiding and helix geometries.

My primary goal along the way was to keep the cost of materials to a minimum whilst achieving extremely high levels of performance.

When I first tried the early CAT6 version of the Helix design it was quite clear that it was going to be a very adept performer.

This observation supported my belief that the Helix architecture (or geometry) was an extremely effective approach to achieving excellent cable performance.

The early versions utilizing CAT6 as the neutral conductor were very good - just not “
brilliant”.

Evolution to the
HELIX IMAGE and HELIX IMAGE Mundorf has been gradual with significant period of testing and redesign

The improvements achieved with the latest modifications, over previous versions, were so good that I decided that a new name was warranted - voila...

the “HELIX IMAGE ” and HELIX IMAGE Mundorf was born!


The result:

a cable that actually competes with some of the very best cables in the audio world!


C’mon, Really?

  • OK, I’ll let you be the final judge, but after listening to many cables I believe this to be the case Winking

How Long is the Burn-In Period?

It is imperative that these cables are allowed adequate time to settle and burn-in, which is typically >300 hours.
  • they will however sound extremely good on initial installation
  • they may exhibit some loss in volume and image focus after 3-4 days continuous use, but will return to normal by day 6-7
  • they will sound exceptional after around 200 hours, but they will get even better after 300 hours
  • I have also found ongoing improvements occur up to approximately 600+ hours in the earlier versions
  • The use of cable cookers will expedite this process - start with 100 hours cooking + 100 hours playing

The end of the Road?

My hope is that this design will be embraced and enhanced further by the DIY Community, and encourage them to experiment with different conductor materials to tailor the sound to their own liking.
  • Since the original posting back in 2015, I have exchanged email with several fellow Diyer’s that have contributed to the Helix design.
  • Some people that have contributed to the evolution of the Mark VII design, including: Ernst (Austria), Yordan and Evgeny (Bulgaria), Ghislain (Canada), Todd (USA), John (USA) and many others.

For Helix cable spec’s please see Its More Than Just Numbers - Isn't It?

My Review System:

  • Custom built turntable with a Soundsmith Denon DL103 phono cartridge mounted on an Audiomods Arm with one piece silver litz harness + KLEI Absolute®Harmony RCA’s

  • Simaudio MOON LP5.3 RS phono stage

  • Bluesound Node 2 music server

  • Brysyon B135 integrated amp

  • Gershman Acoustics Sonogram speakers.

  • Helix cables throughout



page6_blog_entry61-page6_blog_entry60-page6_blog_entry52-page6_blog_entry40-two-thumbs-up-2 Give them a try - and - Enjoy The Music! Happy

ADDENDUM:

Audiogon Member Toddverrone has also tried these IC’s ...


Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 9.44.28 AM


The Parts List :

  • signal wire: OCC solid silver 24awg in cotton. 3' per cable
  • neutral: OCC solid copper 20awg magnet wire.  2 x 9' per cable
  • connectors: KLE pure harmony solid silver
  • the white tube is a foamed teflon flexible tube that i ran the signal through. it's pretty amazing.  it doesn't kink at all.  it's called hyperflex tubing from vh audio

Todd’s Feedback...

I’m still listening to them, but initial findings on the helix ICs are incredibly positive.

More of the helix magic: less noise, greater clarity, better separation of sound sources.

Good stuff!