Once sold as Tweek across North
America, Stabilant 22 has become a standard product in all applications
where contacts are critical. Sold in large quantities to such customers
as bio-medical laboratories and NASA, as well as to computer suppliers
and users, this product has a certain mystique in the audiophile world.
Perhaps it is worth-while articulating exactly what it is.
According to the literature from its developer
and manufacturer, "Stabilant 22 is an initially non--conductive
amorphous-semiconductive block polymer that when used in the thin films
within contacts acts under the effect of the electrical field and switches
to a conductive state. The electrical field gradient at which this occurs
is established during its manufacture to that the material will remain
non-conductive between adjacent contacts in a multiple pin connector environment."
"Thus, when applied to electro mechanical
contacts, Stabilant 22 provides the connection reliability of a
soldered joine without bonding the contacting surfaces together!"
"Chemically, Stabilant 22 is a polyoxyethylene-
polyoxypropaline block polymer with a molecular weight of about 2800. It
has a very low vapor-pressure and therefore there is no appreciable loss
of material from evaporation. It has been in some applications for more
than six years without renewal, and it is probably safe to say that in
the majority of cases, the equipmetn of which it is used will be retired
for obsolescence before the Stabilant must be renewed."
I quote all of this technospeak partly because I have heard the knock in
high end audio circles that a similar product marketed as Tweek
eventually wore off and then impeded electrical current flow, some equipment
manufacturers for this reason recommending against its use. Tweek
was not marketed or packaged by Mike Wright or D.W. Electrochemicals, and
was supplied to Sumiko in concentrated form, and then was diluted substantially
with alcohol, and this may have contributed to these concerns. While it
requires an alcohol content to spread and effectively cover any contact
(this alcohol carrier evaporating quickly hereafter), Tweek had
an 8-1 ratio of alcohol-polymer, while Stabilant 22 is 4-1, making
for a more thorough and lasting contract treatment.
The first paragraph of the description above
should be clarified. Unlike water-based liquids, Stabilant 22 is
not conductive, and excess will not cause shorts between connections, only
that on the electrical contacts will become conductive. It its current
higher concentration it does not dry or wear out , something I have proven
for myself over the past several years in numerous applications. It should
not be used in high-current applications, such as power switches, because
it can decompose in situations where heat exceeds 240 degrees celsius,
but is otherwise stable in all electrical contract situations.
Its use in audio applications includes any
RCA contracts, XLR microphone and balanced line cables, mixer input and
selector switches, IC pins, phono lugs, and modular circuit board friction
contacts. As well, video coax connections and other antenna contracts an
benefit, with reduction of spurious RF, as well as better signal transfer.
There are few audio panacea products about
which I can be more confident that this one. Like Stylast, it does exactly
what it is supposed to, and use it religiously. For example, when installing
a new phono cartridge, a small squirt on all head-shell pin contracts ensures
good signal transfer, especially with MC types, where any resistance can
affect the quality of sound. As well, RCA cable pins and grounds to head
amp and pre-amp should be treated. I have also found FM reception and cable
TV picture quality improved by use of Stabilant 22. How do I know
it really works over a long period of time? Well, I have used it with my
mixer for over three years on the microphone inputs, as well as cables,
and the line / mike switches. But one other use convinced me of its long
term value. Quite a number of years ago I bought an Integrex Ambisonic
decoder from a friend who had bought the kit back from Britain and built
it. The unit is full of ICs, 14 or 15 in all, these having friction contacts
into sockets rather than being hardwired.
I noticed over the years that the decoder
became noisier, with an audible rush of white noise increasing in the surround
channels. Eventually, I took it out of the system and removed the cover.
With something like 20 pins on each of the ICs, there were hundreds of
these contracts, and reasoned that oxidation might be the problem here.
Having just bought a small bottle of Stabilant
22 (only then available for industrial applications) from Mike Wright,
I decided to methodically treat every pin on every IC, and having done
so, re-installed the Intrgrex in my audio system. Not only was the noise
completely gone, but the sound was much cleaner and defined; the ambient
field created in the surround channels (I do not use it on the front speakers,
but was then employing both side and rear ones) was much clearer
and better articulated.
This was about four years ago, and the contracts have remained good, with
no noise reappearing in the rear speakers I now employ. So the stuff does
definitely last. Speaking of which, so little is necessary in each applications
that a 15 ml bottle can do you for years. At the price, it is a very inexpensive
way to maintain and improve fidelity in a system. Now marketed directly
to dealers by its maker, Stabilant 22 is one of those wonder products
of high technology that every audiophile should have on hand.
Reprinted with permission from Andrew Marshall's Audio Ideas Guide,
Summer / Fall 90 Issue, Vol. 10 #1. © 1990 Audio Ideas Ink