Product: JPS UltraConductor interconnects
Manufacturer: JPS Labs - USA
Approx. price: 109 $ (1 meter - RCA - pair)
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu
Reviewed: January 2001
This is not the first time TNT-Audio reviews JPS cables. For example, I tested the
reference SuperConductor 2 interconnects and the Power AC mains cable while Nels Ferré reviewed the UltraConductor speakers cable.
The technology and the philosophy behind JPS cables have already been discussed here on TNT-Audio, both into those previous reviews and into the enlightening Inter.View with Joe Skubinski, the man who is responsible for the success of these cables.
The cable under test belongs to the large UltraConductor family that includes speaker cables, digital, video, balanced and unbalanced interconnects. They are available in different lenghts depending on the customers' needs. Do you need a fancy custom lenght? The UltraConductors may be the answer.
The UltraConductor series has been created to make the JPS Al-Cu alloy technology available to a wider public, considering they cost a fraction of the price of the reference SuperConductor models. The UltraConductor cables make use of the proprietary Al-Cu alloy originally developed by JPS Labs and of the so-called Minimized Dielectric Technology (MDT) that is to say, the amount of dielectric material (Kapton, by DuPont ®) is the lowest possible.
The UltraConductor interconnect cable is flexible, definitely not stiff like the larger-than-life SuperConductor 2. It is pretty thin so you can bend it almost as you like. I say "almost" because, being a solid core cable, tight bendings may cause microfractures on the surface of the wire. Interferences should be minimal thanks to the twisting of the conductors.
The JPS UltraConductor succeeds to preserve part of the sonic imprinting of its bigger brothers and delivers an open, crystal clear and harmonically rich sound. Also, it does have a touch of velvet in the upper highs.
This is one of the main differences between this cable and its competitors: while budget-oriented cables are normally over-bright and sometimes tiring in the long run, the UltraConductor, thanks to this smooth behaviour, never sounds aggressive in the upper highs so that I can say that, relatively to this portion of the audio spectrum, the cable can be considered "warm".
Don't get me wrong, as there's no contradiction with its "open" character: it is the upper high range to be smooth and "warm", though the overall balance of the cable can be considered open, though definitely NOT bright.
To clarify a little bit more, choirs and voices appear quite realistic (a difficult task for any budget cable!) though just sometimes metallic, especially the female ones.
The bass range reminds me that of the bigger SuperConductor 2, so it is deep and powerful, though not as precise in the first octave. This is the portion of the audio spectrum were the main differences between budget and reference cables lie.
Dynamically involving, the JPS UltraConductor shows its limits only when compared to much more expensive cables. For example, choirs together with large orchestras, during the fortissimo's, appear just a bit compressed. If you have experience with budget cables, compared to reference ones, you know what I mean.
The soundstage created by the UltraConductor is excellent, very deep even if not too wide.
Summarizing, the UltraConductor is a well balanced design and its value is way higher than its price tag would suggest. Easy to listen to, even into hi-end systems, thanks to its uncommon velvet touch in the upper highs that puts it into a league of its own.
As already remarked, being a solid core cable, you can't bend it too much, as this will cause excessive stress on the conductors.
It is a good partner for neutral set-ups and could help to tame an over-bright component, as it often happens in the budget-class.
The RCA connectors are of good quality and offer a firm but still gentle grip on the RCA females. They won't cause excessive stress to your HiFi components even if you are used to connect/disconnect cables very often (are you a HiFi reviewer or what??? :-) ).
50 hours of break-in are strongly recommended.
Nothing to say about the manufacturing and the package, both being of excellent quality. Sonically, since we are bad guys :-) after all, I'd have preferred a more controlled lower-bass range. Also, evaluate it carefully if your system is already on the dark side in the upper-highs.
Trying to offer the famous JPS sound at a fraction of the price wasn't an easy task. Did they succeed? Yes! The UltraConductors won't sound like the SuperConductors but if you're in the market for a well-made 100 $ interconnect cable, you can't forget to consider the UltraConductor, as it could easily give its competitors a run for their money.
© Copyright 2001 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com
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