What is this vintage cable smell?
March 17, 2009 2:59 PM   Subscribe

What's that stinky smell that old audio cables have?

A few months ago, I inherited some old audio equipment. When I opened the box, there was a terrible smell.

A few days ago, I bought a spool of old speaker cable from a local electronics store, and left it in the bag until today. When I pulled the cable out, there was that same smell from a few months back.

It's kind of a dull, almost new-carpet smell, but when you put your nose up to the cable itself, it starts to get sharp and unbearable.

So, if I use this cable in my apartment, will it stink up the room? How long until it stops off-gassing? Anything I can do to speed up the process?

More importantly, what is this smell (Eau de '70s electronique?), and does it have any deleterious health effects?
posted by fvox13 to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's offgassing, which occurs in many materials. Sometimes it increases with age (hence the particular smell of vintage electronics).
posted by ocherdraco at 3:30 PM on March 17, 2009

Best answer: This is what analog smells like, and it's a highly desired scent for all high end audiophile equipment. It causes a reaction in your aural/nasal cavity that can only be be described as "lively", "clean", and "of reference quality."

You sir have a gold mine of analogscent, and you should horde it, they aren't making it anymore. I've seen ads in the back of sterophile with 1ml going for as much as $3000.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you it's all the same and that you can't hear the difference - the have just never had the true analscent experience.
posted by bensherman at 7:34 PM on March 17, 2009 [5 favorites]

If the cables use rubber as the outer jacket, they've probably undergone a certain amount of vulcanization. I'm not sure but I think as vulcanized rubber oxidizes (ages) it will release sulfur dioxide gas which could be the terrible smell. Humans smell it at concentrations much lower than is dangerous, so it's nothing to worry about.

About Sulfur Dioxide
posted by robofunk at 11:10 AM on March 18, 2009

« Older Help me ID the saint this statue represents...   |   When and how did you decide it was time to try... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.