Speaker Cables – the essential link

The connection between your amplifier and speakers is critical to the sound quality you enjoy, but is all too easily taken for granted. It’s quite probable that you already have some cable that you regard as being reasonably good that has given service for a significant number of years. Over the better part of 3 decades we’ve certainly seen untold metres of various brands go out with both new, and to existing systems. There’s always been a bit of a balancing act between length, performance, and appropriate pricing, for the system it goes in to. More than any other audio component there is no one size fits all solution.

We’ve heard a lot, we’ve learnt a lot. 

There’s been a lot of development and much of the conventional wisdom around speaker cables has proven to be not quite as settled as you might have been led to believe. What we can tell you is that if you’d like to make a really worthwhile improvement to the sound of your system, better speaker cables are a great place to start. If you read on, we’ll step you through some of the principles and guide you to the ideal speaker cables for your own system.

You will hear a difference.

Because cables, home music systems, and the production and delivery of the of the music we listen to, have all got a lot better, the improvement cables can make is magnified. So there’s never been a better time to get into a nicer set of speaker cables. 

In the past, the effect of plugs used to terminate speaker cables was equivocal at best. And with good reason. They had utility value in making them easy to plug in and out, hopefully were insulated to stop you short circuiting and damaging your amplifier, (which frayed bare cables are really good at,) and sometimes looked really cool. But underneath they are almost always brass which has conductivity of just 28% of pure copper. The gold plating is less bad but it’s still only 70%. So you can instantly see where the problem is. 

Enter the new KLEI Harmony banana plug – with a mix of silver and copper alloys, the conductivity of this plug is actually greater (around 106%) than the purest copper. When used on appropriate speaker cables, the improvement in transmission is immediately obvious – there’s simply more of everything in terms of music. Detail, clarity, bass, treble and everything in between.  And as plugs go, the KLEI Hamony’s are one of the more affordable.

This has given me a new appreciation of our proven Kimber speaker cables. All the principles of good design are there with Kimber – ultra pure copper for optimal transmission, a mix of strand sizes to better deal with the full range of frequencies, carefully chosen dielectric and a patented geometry to eliminate RF interference. 

While there are many choices with Kimber, two particular speaker cables stand; out 4VS and  4TC. I’ll explain why…

Both are easily terminated with the KLEI Harmony plugs. The heavier 8 and 12 strand versions aren’t but here’s the trick – the KLEI plugs can be stacked with no sonic compromise allowing for very easy bi-wiring or even ‘shot-gun’ cabling (two sets of cable side by side). This works especially well with larger speakers and is in line with Kimber’s own recommendations.

The lower cost Kimber 4PR is still great value for money cable, but if looking at shorter runs the fixed cost of putting 8 plugs on means there’s little actual dollar difference between 4PR and 4VS but there is a worthwhile performance difference, primarily because of the variable stranding in the latter. However, if looking at longer runs of around 4m or more, Kimber 4PR becomes proportionally more affordable.

4PR impressed us in a very positive way with its combination of detail, bass extension and sweetness. It has a very convincing way with deep bass, keeping it under tight rein while allowing it to blossom when needed and maintaining precise pitch and duration in a way few budget cables can match.Treble is extended, but never shrill, while the midrange is mainly characterised by the ease with which one can hear into and through it. Imaging has very good depth to it as well as width.Tech Radar

4VS really opens things out when you compare it with 4PR. As noted above, the different gauges of conductor bundled into 4VS delivers better bass and more extended and detailed treble. ‘Agility and expression, great detailing, fluid sound.’ If you have larger speakers you’ll really benefit from bi-wiring with 4VS.

4TC is even better again. ‘Excellent Speed And Clarity. Out of the box, Kimber 4TC surprise me at its price, the performance surpass my expectation, the sound speed and clarity are awesome, the musicality articulated very well, it is smear-free and sibilant-free !’ With 4TC the benefits of the KLEI plugs are even more obvious.

That said, if you can make it work, shorter cables are better. When cable is sold by the metre, it’s obvious that the shorter your cable, the better it can be at any fixed budget. If you can rearrange or reposition your system to reduce cable length it’s got to be a good thing. But don’t compromise on optimal speaker positioning – if they sound best well out from the wall and with a good degree of separation, then any improvement you make with better speaker cables will be made more apparent.

So there are 4 steps – Kimber 4VS, 4VS bi-wired, 4TC then 4TC bi-wired. At each stage you’ll enjoy a significant and worthwhile improvement to all aspects of your music.

Kimber 4VS speaker cable sets with KLEI Harmony Banana Plugs fitted per pair: 4VS 2 + 2m set $360, 3 + 3m set $440,  4 + 4m set $520, 5 + 5m set $600

Kimber 4TC speaker cable sets with KLEI Harmony Banana Plugs fitted per pair: 4TC 2 + 2m set $580, 3 + 3m set $770,  4 + 4m set $960, 5 + 5m set $1150.

Kimber Kable: 4VS per metre $40; 4TC per metre $95

KLEI Harmony Banana Plugs: $160 per set of 8 + $40 fitting per set.

Once we’re at bi-wired sets of 4TC you’re at around $190 per metre plus plugs. Yet compared to the cost of our better components it’s just a start…

KLEI Speaker cable gFlow 7 at Totally Wired

So when you get to the point of looking at two sets of Kimber 4TC, the KLEI QFlow speaker cables come into the frame. Rather than coming off a roll, each set of KLEI cables is hand made so there’s a little more organisation involved in getting them over from Australia (Keith Eichmann is based in Brisbane), but if we don’t have what you want in stock, it’s generally only two weeks between order and delivery. But what you’ll get in return is compelling – a smoother, more expansive sound with appreciably better bass, a real sense of space around the music and detail that you’ve never heard before.

Like Kimber, KLEI provide you with a series of progressively better options, and because of the plugs used, the bi-wire option remains open. So there are the entry level QFlow2 speaker cables, the QFlow3, QFlow7 and finally the QPurity8. The performance gains between these models are substantial.

Just how good are these cables? We can easily compare any of these models against some equivalently priced components and with very few exceptions, we, and a good number of our clients, have found that Keith’s cables provide the greatest overall improvement to a systems performance for the amount spent.

Many years ago Monster Cable suggested an arbitrary 10% of the total system price should be allocated to cable. But even then we quickly found that there were some sensational cables that transformed the sound of the systems they went into. Today we have access, not only to much better cables but also much better components and this means the gains to be made have been magnified. So it makes sense for you to treat cables as not just an accessory to a system, but components in their own right.

Better speaker cables will mean every source in your system gets to sound better. And the improved transparency granted by these cables mean that any subsequent upgrade to your system will be made that much more obvious. This is the counter to the so called ‘law of diminishing returns’. 

*I remember the first time I heard Kimber 4VS – it was at home in my own rather modest little Linn system and it was actually less costly than the cable I had – yet it sounded far more full of life and I became an immediate convert. And to this day I’ve never found a better speaker cable for the money. 4VS has evolved with improved dielectric and now with the KLEI plugs you’re going to hear a greater improvement than I did.

Just as I had to hear the difference to be convinced I appreciate that you’ll feel the same way. That’s why I’ve got sets of Kimber 4VS and 4TC, and most of the KLEI speaker cables here for you to try in your own system. Drop us a line now and we’ll start you down the track to really making your system sing.

KLEI Speaker Cables – 2.0m sets, terminated with KLEI™PureQ Harmony Banana (Classic Harmony for the QFlow2)

QFlow2 SC   NZ$925 including GST & delivery.

QFlow3 SC   NZ$1585

QFlow7 SC   NZ$2375

QPurity8 SC NZ$3170

2.5m sets, terminated with KLEI™PureQ Harmony Banana

QFlow2 SC   NZ$1080 including GST & delivery.

QFlow3 SC   NZ$1850

QFlow7 SC   NZ$2770

QPurity8 SC NZ$3695

3.0m sets, terminated with KLEI™PureQ Harmony Banana

QFlow2 SC   NZ$1230 including GST & delivery.

QFlow3 SC   NZ$2110

QFlow7 SC   NZ$3170

QPurity8 SC NZ$4225

Contact us for pricing on other lengths.

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