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Product Review - Kimber Cables

By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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Kimber Kables

Kimber Kable; Interconnects and speaker cables; Model PBJ Interconnects: Three # 19 variable diameter multistranded copper conductors; Teflon insulation; Gold plated RCA plugs; $68/1 meter pair; Model KC1 Interconnects: Three # 19 variable diameter multistranded copper conductors; Teflon insulation; Semi-metallic shield; Gold plated RCA plugs; $96/1 meter pair; Model OPT1: Plastic fiber optic interconnect; Toslink connectors; $50/1 meter; Model 4TC Speaker Cables: Four multistranded (variable diameter) copper conductors; Total is # 12 each leg; Teflon insulation; $160/8 foot pair, terminated with spade lugs; Model 8TC Speaker Cables: Eight multistranded (variable diameter) copper conductors; Total is # 9 each leg; Teflon insulation; $224/8 foot pair, terminated with spade lugs; Kimber Kable, 2752 South 1900 West, Ogden, Utah 84401; Phone 801-621-5530; Fax 801-627-6980; E-Mail Randy@kimber.com

When audiophiles think of interconnects and speaker cables, Kimber is one of the first that comes to mind. This is a brand that is likely to be on hand in high end audio stores, and for good reason. Kimber has a wide variety of models from entry level to multi-kilobuck. And, they are all nice products. The models we review here are not new, but several readers asked us for our opinions on them, so . . . voila!

The 4TC and 8TC Speaker Cables have stranded (seven strands of varying diameter in each conductor) copper wires that are braided (see photo). Each conductor has a Teflon dielectric (insulator). The two models differ only in that the 4TC has four conductors per cable (two per leg), and the 8TC has eight (four per leg). Our review models were terminated with banana plugs so that we could easily switch the cables around during testing. Spade lugs would be a good choice for a sturdier, more permanent installation, since these cables are rather stiff. The 8TC are suitable for high current amplifiers, e.g., > 200 watts, while the 4TC should be satisfactory with lower powered setups.

We used the interconnects and speaker cables with the McCormack CD system, AMC CD8 CD Player, McCormack Preamplifier, Sunfire Power Amplifier, Carver Silver 9t Monoblock Power Amplifiers, Adcom 5500 Power Amplifier, LLano SA3 Monoblock Power Amplifiers, Electrostatic Research Vista Speakers, Anthony Moore Ribbon Speakers, and Osborn Eclipse Speakers.

The 4TC and 8TC speaker cables have a smooth mid-range and tight bass, with a slightly laid back high end and resultant softening of detail [click here for graph]. They performed well with the electrostatic speakers and ribbons because these speakers have a lot of up front precision that can be too "in your face" with highly detailed music. However, with the Osborn cone speakers, the music was too soft, in my opinion. Of course, they will perform differently with various speakers, and you have to take into account your own personal tastes, but these were our findings among several referees listening independently. The laid back high end detail makes them very non fatiguing, so the effect could be desirable for some listeners.

The OPT1 is a plastic (proprietary formula) fiber optic Toslink cable for use with the Toslink optical output from a CD or laserdisc player, input to a DAC. One of the main advantages of using this cable is there will be one less possibility for a ground loop (hum) to develop. We tested this cable with a Pioneer laserdisc player into a Music Labs DP-102 DAC. We could hear no difference in the fidelity between the OPT1 and a conventional coax 75 Ohm digital cable [click here for graph], and this is good, since the OPT1 is quite inexpensive, relatively speaking. You just have to be careful when handling the cable. Don't put dirty fingers on the exposed ends, where the light is sent or received. Since DACs are available with both digital coax as well as Toslink inputs, this could be handy if you are using the DAC with two sources (laserdisc and CD), or with a laserdisc player into a DAC via coax and into an outboard AC-3 or DTS processor via Toslink.

The PBJ interconnects were our favorite out of the entire group. Each cable has three conductors, and each conductor has seven copper strands of varying diameter. One of the conductors is positive, and two are negative. All three use Teflon dielectric. The cables are terminated with very solid RCA plugs, which are gold plated. The KC1s consist of PBJs, surrounded by a semi-metallic shield with a drain wire that is grounded at the source end of the cable. KC1s are for professional use where there are a lot of magnetic field power sources that can induce signal problems in the cable. The PBJs are neutral throughout the audible spectrum, with no harshness. Good detail and sound stage [click here for graph]. At $68/pair, we feel they are a BEST BUY. The KC1s, on the other hand, lose some detail because of the drain wire [click here for graph]. However, there are cases where the presence of other equipment makes the use of this type of cable necessary. For most applications, in home theater or home audio, the PBJs are the correct choice.

In summary, the Kimber Kable models that we tested tended to have a slightly laid back high end (except for the PBJs). This is not a criticism, but rather a statement about their sonic personality. They are all solidly constructed and modestly priced. Kimber sells a lot of these cables, and they are definitely a brand to check out when you are in the market for interconnects or speaker cables. It will be interesting to compare these with some of their other models that contain silver, in the future.

John E. Johnson, Jr.


Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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