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Piano 6/1 - DIY interconnects

[Italian version]

Product: Piano 6/1 DIY interconnects
Manufacturer: not for sale, DIY design
Author: Andrea Vignapiano
Reviewer: Stefano Monteferri
Reviewed: December 2000

The Piano 6 DIY cable

Informative materials frequently appear on TNT Audio's Tip and Tweaks pages, particularly as basic material to make cheap but good sounding loudspeaker cables. This design keeps on this good "tradition", although this time computer network cables are used for a DIY interconnects.

Looking for designs that can best treat the delicate musical signal, we often venture towards DIY projects that are fairly difficult and not at everybody's level. The very high quality of design and realization of the materials used this time, IBM Type-6 Token ring network cable, intrinsecally avoids this risk. No more losing your head - here we have everything already ready-to-use. You only need solder (better if it has some silver percentage), a soldering iron, good quality connectors, a little bit of good will, and that's all!

The idea of utilizing this material to make the present interconnect cable comes from one reader of ours, and a frequent partecipant in our Italian discussion group, Andrea Vignapiano (sailand@tiscalinet.it). Andrea works for an information technology company, and this allows him, sometimes, to intercept some cable lengths originally destined to be thrown away. Every recovery of interesting material is followed by nights spent between soldering iron, solder, and comparative listening sessions. And just during one of those nights our "Piano 6" signal cable was brought to light.

It sported such positive musical qualities, that we both agreed to divulge this design, sharing it with all the readers on the pages of TNT-Audio.


IBM Type-6 cable is normally used as networking cable in the IBM Token Ring Cabling System. It is made of two pairs of singularly insulated 26AWG stranded copper conductors. Both pairs are "twisted", so that external electromagnetic fields act equally, in mean terms, on each conductor. There is a double shielding, made of an aluminized mylar foil plus a braided global shield, usually in stranded iron. The insulator is made of expandend polypropilene (PPE), and the external PVC sleeve is about 8.5 mm diameter.

The alternative for the "solid core" lovers is the IBM Tpye-1 cable, sporting this kind of conductors, 22 AWG, and different electric and mechanical characteristics. This can lead to even more interesting results, but, be warned: its big and irregular dimensions (about 8 x 12 mm) make it difficult to manage, scarsely bendable, and needing large connectors. In this case its name would obviously be "Piano 1". :-)

The Making

[IBM Type-6 cable]
IBM Type-6 cable scheme: 
watch out for conductors' colour!

Ingredients for one pair of terminated cables:

It's the fastest realization you can imagine, you only need to follow these few simple directions:

1) calculate the length needed to connect your gear;

2) peel off about 3 cm of the external PVC sleeve;

3) cut off about 1 cm of the PPE insulator from the conductor;

4) pick one conductor of each twisted pair and join both (for example, referring to the published picture, the red one with the black one, and the green one with the orange one);

5) decide which pair of the joined conductors you want to dedicate to the positive pole, and which to the negative (for example, the RED/BLACK pair for the positive, and the GREEN/ORANGE one for the negative);

6) join the shielding (only the braid - the aluminum foil is to be eliminated) to the pair of conductors dedicated to the negative pole (following previous examples, the GREEN/ORANGE one);

Piano 6/1 RCA connectors

7) solder the pair of cables to which you joined the copper braid shield (following previous examples, the GREEN/ORANGE one) to the RCA Plug's negative pole (it leads to the external diameter of the plug itself) and the remaining pair (RED/BLACK) to the positive pole; mark this terminated side - that is, the one with the shield connected -, because it's the one that will be connected to the SOURCE side (for example, to the CD player in the player-amplifier cable);

8) at the cable's other end, completely eliminate the shielding, cutting either the aluminum foil and the copper braid, then connect everything to the RCA plug until you reach the external sleeve edge, soldering the RED/BLACK pair to the positive pole and the GREEN/ORANGE pair to the negative pole;

9) repeat steps 1-8 for the other cable, and you're done!

Then, connect the cables in your system, with the shielded plug to the source side, and allow a couple of day of burn-in before proceeding to a critical listening.

As said before, these cables' musical characteristics were decisely valid and extremely interesting, considering the high balance between parameters such as extension, refinement, warmth, dynamics and scene reconstruction showed either by the "Piano 6" and the "Piano 1". Considering these results, I strongly suggest you try this DIY project.

Once again, a warm thank-you to Andrea, and for you all: have great fun!

© Copyright 2001 Stefano Monteferri - https://www.tnt-audio.com
Translation: Carlo Iaccarino - Supervisor: Richard George

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