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Kimber cable KC1 interconnects

[Kimber KC1]
[Italian version]

The KC1 is one of the cheapest interconnects of the Kimber catalogue, the PBJ being the entry-level.
Its list price, here in Italy (your mileage may vary), for a standard 1+1 meter pair with some nice connectors is around 180 $.
It is a very particular cable, both for its geometry and for the shield that's used inside.
The construction consists of three braided VariStrand (a particular Kimber stranding process) copper conductors and a semiconductive, non-metallic shield.
Then there's a fourth conductor near the shield which seems standard multistrand copper.
According to Kimber, this particular construction and shileding provides a far better insulation from electromagnetic interferences. We'll see.

How does it sound

First of all I was curious to verify if the claimed superior shielding technique was a real advantage or just standard HiFi hype.
If you want to test a cable shielding properties you just use it between a hi-end turntable and a hi-gain phono stage.
Well, this shielding Kimber has used for the KC1 works and works just fine.
Just select the phono input of your preamplifier and raise the volume, without any disc on the platter, of course!
This way, if the cable isn't properly shielded, you'll hear a lot of noise, hum, buzz etc etc.
The KC1 is as silent as the best copper (or metallic) shielded cables I've tried. Kudos to Kimber!

Now we'll try to understand how does it sound like.
Thanks to its properties I've tested it both as a line level cable and as a phono cable with my Linn turntable.

Probably there's still someone out there who believes HiFi cables are The Greatest HiFi Swindle around.
The presence of the KC1 into an HiFi chain is so evident that, just to avoid any *delirium audiophilis*, I've decided to ask my wife to listen to this cable.
She was sitting far from the perfect listening position, outside the usual *listening triangle*.
As soon as I put the KC1 between the CD player and the preamp she declared: Hey, now the voice is clearer and more realistic, only the bass range seems a little bit shy.
Gosh! It was exactly, well, more or less, what I've been writing on my notepad during the last three hours...
On the player there was Sara K. beautifully recorded on a Chesky CD.
My wife, of course, wasn't aware of my impressions on the effects of this cable so her comments were based only on the listening.
I hope this will help to convince the last skeptics on the difference a good cable can make into any HiFi system.
So, were my wife's impressions true?
Yes, even if these should be explained with a more appropriate HiFi language.
The Kimber KC1 is essentially a dry cable, with a high-resolution mid-to-high range. Each nuance and every detail of the recordings are revailed in a very natural way by the KC1: some little rumours in the backstage, the breath of the artist playing his piano, the singer grasping for breath before singing and so on.
Not a razor sharp reproduction, though, just the natural details brought to your ears effortlessly.
The female voices are a pleasure for the ear: suadent, sometimes even sexy, and always well-defined, precise and, again, very very realistic, the kind of realism that invites you to go between your speakers to shake the singer's hand :-)
Because of this high resolution and definition I thought the sound could become harsh and aggressive when played at high volumes or when the musical program becomes complex (fortissimos, many instruments playing at the same time, electronic music etc)...no way!
The KC1 follows each variation, even the more complex ones without apparent effort, it remains detailed without becoming harsh, a distinct touch of class for a budget cable.

The mid-bass range is somewhat similar, dry, clean and detailed so that the sound comes out easily. Sometimes I would have preferred a warmer reproduction, but this clearly depends also on the tonal balance of your system.
And now the bass range: was my wife right saying that the bass seemed a little bit shy?
More or less. Actually the bass range of the KC1 lacks some depth (say, below 50 Hz), the kind of bass notes you'll never hear from a tiny bookshelf.
The bass range is very fast, clean and articulated, but lacks some of the aggressiveness and energy of other cables.
You can't have it all at this price!!! Budget cables are always a compromise and the KC1 has a tonal balance that tends to prefer the mid range instead of the bass.
This doesn't mean that the KC1 has no bass: just to explain a little bit more, the windows panes of my listening room were shaked by the organ pedal of the Cantate Domino (Proprius) as well as with The Wall from Pink Floyd...so you can't say this cable has no bass.
Just, it lacks some energy in the lower bass range, below 50 Hz.

This cable can easily follow even severe dynamic variations but its best is the capability of reproduce sharp attacks and decays.
In other words this cable is fast, very fast and it feels at home both with the Jim Keltner's explosive drum kit (Sheffield Drum record) and with the Berlioz's Sinfonia Fantastica, following each variation with a stunnning sense of pace.

3D imaging is good and both the players and the instruments into the virtual soundstage are well focused and defined so that you can *look* at them from every side :-) even if your listening position is different from the ideal one (the center of the triangle...etc).
The soundstage height and depth are good, while the width is average.

The bottom line

The Kimber KC1 is a budget interconnect with a touch of the class performance of its bigger brothers.
It sounds fine in almost every HiFi chain, providing a lively and vivid reproduction that can make your system sound more realistic and natural.
Please remember that the instruments, in real life, aren't always warm and smoooooth: try to listen to a drum, without miking or to saxophone or a trumpet: there's nothing warm and smooth.
The real sound is sometimes aggressive, more than any Hifi system, no matter how expen$ive, is capable to reproduce.
The Kimber KC1 gives you an idea of real life reproduction and, at this price, it is a very welcomed gift.
It is not the best sounding cable known to mankind nor the best in its price range, simply because there's NO best buy in any price range.
Each HiFi component, budget cables in particular, is a sum of pros and cons, a more or less enjoyable compromise.
Your level of preference depends on your ears (mainly), your system, your room and your personal tastes.
I've tried to explain you the characteristics of this cable, to me a very well designed *compromise*, then it's up to you to decide if some other cable is (or is not) a better compromise...

© Copyright 1998 Lucio Cadeddu

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