If you have followed some of my cable reviews over the past year or so, you may be wondering why in the world I am reviewing so many different brands. This would be especially so if you think cables are all the same in performance.
Well, there are consumers who think that amplifiers all sound the same too.
Although I am not one to believe there are huge differences among cables, I do think there are some differences, and not just in the sound. It has also become obvious to me that there are differences in the quality of manufacturing (construction of the connectors, solder joints, braiding, etc.) These factors will definitely affect how the cables will perform down the road, after surface oxidation, bending them around corners, plugging and unplugging. Durability is very important with cables, because they do get moved around from time to time when cleaning behind the equipment rack. So, I pay attention to that characteristic when evaluating cables.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I just like to work with cables. I enjoy them, and fun is the name of the game in hi-fi and home theater.
Cinema Cables is a company based in Australia, and that was another reason I wanted to try these out. Australians make such great equipment. Their use of exotic hard wood veneers on speakers come to mind, especially Jarrah, which is my favorite (Bubinga is my second choice, but it is no less exquisite).
So, here we have Cinema Cables' Vortex interconnects, and Spectrum 2.2 Mk II speaker cables.
Both models use copper conductors, the Vortex having solid-core and the Spectrum having stranded. All connectors are gold-plated, which does away with that oxidation worry I mentioned above.
The banana plugs look ordinary, but they are more solid than I have seen on some cables, as the sleeve is gold-plated brass, rather than plastic. This makes them a little more durable.
The RCA plugs, on the other hand, have a screw on the sleeve that locks them to the outer cable insulation. This is a bit unusual, and welcome. Too often, I have found the insulation sliding backwards out of the connector sleeve, leaving the woven metal braid around the cable exposed.
On-line cable companies are especially nice if you need a specific length. I wanted 2-meter interconnects and 5-meter speaker cables. That is what they sent. This is just about impossible if you buy cables in an electronic supermarket.
Both the Vortex and Spectrum cables are very flexible, which is important when you have to bend them around corners for plugging into preamplifier and speaker sockets.
Sound wise, I classify these cables as very neutral. I did not notice anything particular about excessive brightness, or lack of midrange or bass. They do not seem to need breaking-in. At least the review set did not, and they appeared to be brand new.
The interconnects are marked with an arrow to indicate the end of the cable where the metal braid is attached to the ground conductor, for use with star grounding setups (the internal drain wire is attached at both ends). This stops the noise from the shield being drained into the source (DVD player or preamplifier). It is not an arrow to indicate the direction of signal, i.e., CD player to preamp, or preamp to power amp, as some cables have. Personally, I do not subscribe to the idea that cables are directional, but that does not mean there is no basis for it. In any case, the arrow accomplishes the same thing, since the arrow end is plugged into the down stream component.
The Cinema Cables also worked well in our home theater lab, and I appreciated the heavy 14 gauge conductors since they had to go across the room.
I do not particularly have a gentle hand when plugging and unplugging cables, and the Cinema Cables maintained complete integrity in their physical design. No loose connectors, no frayed braiding.
On the Bench
The LCR data show that the Vortex has average capacitance and inductance, except at very high frequency (100 kHz), where the capacitance becomes very low and the inductance very high. This may have something to do with the connector. The resistance is average.
The Spectrum speaker cables, on the other hand, have very low capacitance compared to other speaker cables that we have tested and on the high end for inductance. Resistance is average.
Below is a summary table of my evaluation of the Cinema Cables.
(Number Ratings: 1-2=Poor, 3-4=Fair, 5-6=Good, 7-8=Excellent, 9-10=Outstanding)
Cinema Cables' Kordz audio cables are made well, have a good sound, and are an outstanding value. Anyone can afford these babies, and for consumers looking to upgrade from the thin cheesy stuff that comes with mass market products (they know you are going to throw them away, so why should they include heavy cables), here is an opportunity to get good cables that will last.