Product: JPS Ultra Conductor speaker cables
Manufacturer: JPS Labs - USA
Address: JPS Labs, 6 Hampton Court, Lancaster, NY 14086 USA
Approx. price: $299 6' stereo pair fitted with gold spades
Reviewer: Nels Ferré
Joe Skubinski of JPS Labs has been manufacturing high quality audio products
since 1990. This product is the third JPS Labs product that TNT-Audio has had the opportunity to review.
For additional information I refer you to Lucio's interview with Joe Skubinski.
The JPS Labs Ultra Conductor cables appear deceptively simple. Encased in a pair of skinny blue jackets and terminated with gold spade ends, they don't look like much. But looks, in this case, are deceiving.
What is special about this cable is what is inside: an alloy made of copper and aluminum. This alloy, used a solid core conductor, is unique to JPS Labs.
Setup was a snap! The cables are very clearly marked for polarity as well as current flow. By this I mean that the cables have arrows, which when the cables are installed properly, should point away from the amplifier and towards the speakers.
Also being a solid core cable, it was easy to lay the cable exactly how I wanted it to lay, without coiling. The gold spade connectors are plenty wide, and should accommodate any speaker using binding posts.
Let me state this very clearly: these cables need at least 2 weeks minimum of heavy use to sound their best.
Cold out of the box, these cables were absolutely horrid. They were grating in the mids and highs, and there was no bass to speak of at all.
Female voices were shrill, and the piano was reproduced sounding not unlike a "player piano" of the Old West. One quality that I did notice about the cables right off was how revealing they were. More on that later.
The next night, things were a bit better. By the end of the first week, things were "not bad". It took about two weeks, and it hit me: these are great cables. The sound of these cables changed totally: silky smooth highs, tremendous vocal reproduction, and a very taut bass range.
One of the first things I discovered about these cables was their ability to resolve intricate detail within a recording. I always thought the stand up bass on Harry Belafonte's "Mathilda" (Classic Records LSC-6006-45 Out of Print) was playing a 3 note bass line. I was shocked to hear what I had been missing with my highly regarded "big as a garden hose cable".
It wasn't a simple 3 note bass line, but rather an intricate 7 note bass line. I was amazed at what I had been missing. And we are talking cables that cost about the same as the JPS Labs Ultra Conductor.
Mozart's Flute Quartets are one of my favorite pieces of Classical music. One of the quartets has a flute soaring over a bed of violins played pizzicato. With these cables, the sound of the actual plucking became audible, instead of "just a sound".
While listening, it became easier to close my eyes and "see" the recording.
I'm also a big fan of Les Paul. As the inventor of multi track recording, the solid body electric guitar, as well as a guitar virtuoso, it is my opinion that Les Paul is a genius. These cables allowed me to hear more of his different styles of playing, plucking, picking , strumming, or even beating the strings to achieve his desired sound.
While listening to popular music, the big surprise for me was how easy it is to identify the different electric guitars commonly used, whether a Stratocaster, a Telecaster, or a Les Paul. All 3 guitars have their own signature sound, and the JPS Labs cables make the differences obvious.
Reproduction of vocals, both male and female were wonderful: more natural and lifelike through the Ultra Conductor cable. It seems as if whatever qualities one enjoys about the vocalist are magnified with these cables.
The strongest ability of the Ultra Conductor cable was in resolving spatial cues. My system never imaged well. It sounded great, but I have owned other less expensive speakers that imaged far better.
Once the Ultra Conductor Cables were broken in, I realized that the sound stage went far deeper behind the speakers, actually extending beyond the wall behind them. They also let through more "air" around instruments, which I found quite enjoyable.
I think these are great cables, and will go a long way towards destroying the "fatter is better" myth. I recommend these cables with one exception: if your system is already on the bright side, or is overly analytical, do not expect these cables to be your salvation.
However, if you are generally happy with your system, but feel it is lacking in either resolution or even imaging, before you spend a bundle on new gear, give the JPS Labs Ultra Conductors a try. Do remember not to make a snap judgement with the cables; break them in for a couple of weeks and you will be richly rewarded.
I would like to thank Joe Skubinski for giving me the opportunity to audition the Ultra Conductors.
TNT-Audio has also reviewed: JPS SuperConductor 2 interconnects and JPS Digital AC power cord.
It's always great to read nice comments about any of our products, and Nels Ferré had definitely taken the time and effort to pick out the key improvements our latest and lowest cost speaker cables can have when placed in any decent system. We thank him very much.
As Nels had mentioned, the Ultra Conductor cables are made using our proprietary Al/Cu alloys. This unique design and construction allows for their extremely good bass weight and articulation, and a very smooth lifelike mid and high frequency range, which is a rarity anywhere near this price class of cables.
Also as Nels points out, a characteristically "bright" sounding system is no
place for a neutral and honest cable. Proper system matching is always
A few words for thought - Your present system may sound "bright" or possibly "midrange forward" simply due to the cables presently in-use. We have found that if you have good neutral cables to begin with, your equipment selection is not only easier as contrasts between various gear become much more obvious, but also your final selection of speakers and equipment will be far better, keeping you happy for many years.
If you're about to spend good money on upgrading your equipment, you may want to take Nels advice and try our cables first. No matter how you look at it, they will ultimately save you time and money.
Thanks again to Nels Ferré and the crew at TNT for publishing the review of our Ultra Conductor cables.
Joe Skubinski - President - JPS Labs
© Copyright 2000 Nels Ferré - http://www.tnt-audio.com
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