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February Giveaway

Serve Shield

Also known as a Spiral-Wrapped shield, is applied by wrapping a flat layer of copper strands around the center in a single direction (either clockwise or counter-clockwise). The serve shield is very flexible, providing very little restriction to the “bendability” of the cable. Although its tensile strength is much less than that of braided shields, the serve’s superior flexibility often makes it more reliable in “real-world” instrument applications. Tightly braided shields can be literally shredded by being kinked and pulled, as often happens in performance situations, while a spiral-wrapped serve shield will simply stretch without breaking down. Of course, such treatment opens up gaps in the shield that can allow interference to enter. The inductance of the serve shield is also a liability when RFI is a problem; because it literally is a coil of wire, it has a transfer impedance that rises with frequency and is not as effective in shunting interference to ground as a braid. The serve shield is most effective at frequencies below 100 kHz. From a cost viewpoint, the serve requires less copper, is much faster and hence cheaper to manufacture, and is quicker and easier to terminate than a braided shield. It also allows a smaller overall cable diameter, as it is only composed of a single layer of very small (typically 36 AWG) strands. These characteristics make copper serve a very common choice for audio cables.

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