** The HELIX IMAGE Interconnect

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.

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  • 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!