The new QFlow series of analogue audio interconnect cables replace the previous gZero models. With new plugs, conductors and internal architecture, not to mention a rather attractive and distinctive coloured sleeving – the new QFlow interconnects are radically better in both absolute performance and value. The range has been simplified and broadened with just four models but a real lift of performance at the high end.
Keith Eichmann is obsessive about better sound quality. This passion drives Keith to continually improve his cables to the point that we sometimes struggle to keep up.You’ll hear an ease and clarity with these cables that I’m still trying to find the right words for. As with all of Keith’s cables they improve with use and there’s something new every time you listen. Rest assured that you’ll be thrilled from the very first moment you hear them in your own system.
Connecting cables are a vital part of every audio system. These new cables and plugs from Keith are very much a product of evolution. But what is really important to understand is this evolution has been focused and intense. The accumulation of many refinements, improvements and serious science, combine to produce complete cables which are genuinely innovative. In short, you can listen to any model in the range and you’ll find it far better than any existing cable you presently use.
So let’s look at the 4 models…
QFlow1 IC NZ$550 – per 1m pair
These are the entry level model yet are anything but when compared to other cables. The plugs used are responsible for a significant part of the performance. The KLEI Harmony range RCA plugs are a story in themselves and the QFlow1s employ one of the best plugs in this range – ‘the Pure Harmony’ – which was previously only used in far more costly interconnects. The conductors within the cable are actually thinner but of higher quality. A studied, optimised, and in most cases a minimalist approach to mass actually results in better sound – and better electron and energy flow. The performance of the new QFlow1’s is so good that they have replaced the first three models in the previous gZero series.
QFlow3 IC NZ$1100 – per 1m pair
The 3’s employ a new plug that made expressly for this IC model that has extremely tightly tolerance – ‘the KLEI SILVERQ Harmony’ plugs. While we don’t know exactly how the conductors within the cable are arranged we can tell you that Keith is committed to implementing and using only conductors that are as, or more, conductive than pure copper and/or even pure silver. I strongly suspect the latter is involved as the QFlow3s are adept at delivering noticeably more fine detail than the 1s. This model replaces the previous gZero6 and 10 interconnects.
QFlow7 IC NZ$2200 — per 1m pair
Now we are getting serious – the QFlow7s take us into territory previously mapped out by Keith’s Purity level Interconnects. Again, a bespoke version of the Harmony plug is used – in this case ‘the ABSOLUTEQ Harmony’. But aside from that and the label, there is nothing you can physically see that differentiates this cable from the two models below it – the actual thickness appears to be the same and it shares the same easy pliancy. Yet sound-wise we move to a different level. The detail, the utterly quiet background, and sheer organic flow of the music has to be heard to be understood. While these cables cost as much as many components, the effect they have is often greater that the same amount spent trying to upgrade by changing brands or models. It really is transformational.
Note that there is a balanced version of the QFlow 7s – while they obviously don’t have the benefit of the KLEI Harmony plugs the carefully selected XLR connectors and balanced configuration delivers directly comparable performance and in the case of genuinely balanced components at both end, this is a worthwhile option to consider for the same price.
QPurity Infinity IC NZ$4950 – per 1m pair
I wasn’t sure I was ready for these cables when we first got them. Unlike the other 3 models in the QFlow range, the sheathing is red and for the first time the cable is thicker indicating a more complex internal construction with more conductors. The plugs are again completely unique to this one cable – ‘the PERFECTQ Harmony’. ‘Not only do we get more detail but there’s an undeniable solidity and scale that has me struggling for superlatives. Having had the luxury of being able to make a direct comparison with the previous flagship model in the KLEI range – the Purity888’s- I can say the QPurity Infinity is in a completely different league. These ultimate interconnects are so easy on the ear – the presentation is both spacious and relaxed in a way that is confounding when they can also deliver muscularity and impact when the music ramps up.
Our newest digital components are actually the best argument for really good analogue interconnects. Many have exceptional analogue outputs designed to run power amplifiers directly so you may well only need one set to complete the system. The best new components don’t justify this cable – they demand it.
What will you hear?
Here’s what some of our clients have found with KLEI interconnects…
“Good morning John & Carolyn, just thought I’d drop you a line after installing our new cables yesterday. Just how much difference could some rather unassuming lengths of wire make to the sound of your music system? From the first few notes, we just looked at each other, with a look of surprise on our faces. Detail, speed, ambience & a total sense of space, around each individual instrument & voice. Notes that used to just end abruptly, now have an ambient trail of decay, as if you can sense the size of the room the instrument was recorded in. There’s detail we just couldn’t hear previously. I could go on with superlatives, but to say the KLEI cables are quite remarkable, is nothing short of fact.
The KLEI interconnects have injected a direct hit of the added detail, punch & tight low end, I knew was being held back with our previous “budget” cables. This assessment is all from our first 4 hours with these cables. There’s a hint of top end brittleness at this stage, but I well expect this to soften as the required burn in time takes place over the next few weeks. All of this improvement, & we haven’t even looked at the loudspeaker cables yet!
So thank you John, for your always sound & tested advice & guidance. Every comment & description you spoke of about these cables is spot on. I know we have the best sounding interconnects for our system & budget, & look forward to what it’s really all about, a closer experience to the music we love & are always discovering. Totally Stoked!’
But this is just the start. We’ve always found that cables sound better with time but with the new QFlow series this effect is both much more obvious and extended. This is sometimes called ‘Burn in’ and the new QFlow models specify between 200 and 600 hours before performance peaks – the further you go up the range the longer the period becomes. There is also what is called ‘Settling Time’ – this is less at 2- 48 hours and relates to the action of either changing components or already run in cables.
It’s not that the cables don’t sound great from new. But if you have a completely new set, the sound will evolve and improve in every over the burn in period as additional layers of detail are revealed, the tonal balance becomes richer, bass extends and treble sweetens. Until you hear this for yourself it can be difficult to understand.
Because the KLEI cables are so transparent this effect becomes much more obvious. And the same applies to the settling time as this is as much a case of the connected components coming on song as the cable warming up. You’ll have a series of ‘I never heard that before moments’ and with the best cables I’ve found it’s akin to a completely different (and better) version of albums you might think you know intimately but now listen to with a sense of wonder.
What’s the next step?
If a pair of interconnects is your first experience of the world of KLEI cables, what should you look at next to make another improvement of the same magnitude? It may surprise you but we’ve found the KLEI mains cables make as much, and in some cases even more of a positive difference, especially when connected to your amplifier. There are also KLEI digital interconnect cables – coax, AES-EBU and USB which have the obvious advantage of being a single cable and do offer a similar level of quality improvement proportional to price when compared to a pair of analogue interconnects. The difference is perhaps a little more subtle than analogue which is why we’d always recommend you start there.
KLEI Speaker cables are the icing on the proverbial cake. While the interconnects come in a standard 1m length, the speaker cables are more often made to order as they don’t come off the roll and are all terminated with bespoke plugs. The qualities of the various grades of speaker cable closely match the equivalent interconnects but you should not be afraid to mix things up a little – there is a consistency of tone and presentation across the entire range. So, depending on the required length of the speaker cable, going a little further with interconnects and mains cables often makes the most sense – just ask us for a recommendation.