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What is OFC and should I buy it?
OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) wire is a type of wire that often gets sold by stereo shops as the best stuff to hook up speakers or a high power amp. I occasionally get asked about it. Iíve had folks ask if I can make battery cables out of it.
Whatís different about it?
As the name suggests the copper used in the wire is ďoxygen freeĒ, almost. Itís not really ďoxygen freeĒ, it has less oxygen. When copper is smelted oxygen is added to help remove the other impurities. OFC adds another step by adding phosphorous to remove the oxygen. Standard wire is AT LEAST 99.90 pure copper. OFC is 99.95 pure copper.
An extra 0.05% copper sounds good. Whatís the down side?
In a word, COST. OFC is often TWICE the price for the same size of standard cable. So you are paying DOUBLE for 0.05% more copper.
That sounds very expensive. Is it worth it?
NO. There are NO measurable electric differences (source Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen-free_copper ) .
As an exercise we emailed a dealer which sold OFC for stereo applications and asked about resistance. They said the resistance of 4 ga OFC that they sell is 0.883m milliohms/meter. Standard 4 gauge is 0.815 milliohms/meter (source: http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm ). So according to the guy we talked to, the specíed resistance of OFC was actually WORSE than standard copper wire (although the difference is really negligible). We did not verify these numbers with physical measurements.
To sum it up, you pay DOUBLE but get no performance difference.
Are you saying that there is no good reason to pay extra for OFC?
YES. It is my opinion that OFC is just a fad in the high end stereo world. Itís marketed as a way to improve performance but it's nothing but a scheme to remove cash from uninformed customers. According to one of my wire and cable suppliers the story gets even worse. Some low-cost imported OFC is incorrectly marked with the wrong wire gauge. For example, the wire may be marked as 4 gauge but itís really 6 gauge. If you think you are getting a great deal on some 4 gauge OFC it may be because itís really 6 gauge.
So whatís your advice? Whatís the bottom line?
Forget about OFC. Itís just a gimmick. If you want better performing cables donít waste your hard earned cash on OFC, just buy a larger gauge cable.
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