Dave’s Faves – Kimber Kable Monocle XL

Kimber Kable Monocle XL Speaker Cable

Two 6′ Runs with bananas or spades, $1534

Two 8′ Runs with bananas or spades, $1762

Kimber Monocle XL

I’m not a cable junkie. Some high end cable is just audiophile jewelry. Some stores push it hard, wanting you to buy $3000 worth of speaker cable for $300 speakers. That’s not me. But there ARE a couple of points of diminishing returns. This entry is to brag up the best of the best, Kimber’s Monocle XL.

We have to rewind to the early 1970s for perspective. Even high end systems of that time used 16 gauge zip cord. Bill Johnson of ARC famously told a group of us at a trade show in 1975 that anything more expensive than 16g cable was a waste of time. He made fine preamps and amps, but was behind the curve on cable!

Fulton Musical Industries was a tiny speaker maker from Minnesota. Robert Fulton was among the first audiophiles to recognize that there was indeed something to thicker wire. He actually marketed some with success. But only those of us who are off the deep end have ever heard of him. Mark Levinson knew it mattered too. But his cable was about a half inch thick and didn’t fit in any connectors of the day, so you had to solder goofy posts on to it. Cumbersome!

As of the mid 70s, not many people thought it mattered. FMI knew IT DID. Other companies, Monster and Straight Wire among them, came out with thicker wire and kick started the cable biz as we know it.

Concurrently, in 1979, Ray Kimber of Kimber Kable TAUGHT US ALL that by braiding speaker wire, the sound would be clearer, than if it just ran in parallel jackets like zip cord. Ray brought out the FOUR PAIR and EIGHT PAIR braided speaker cables. We still sell them proudly today! Braided cable sounds more clear because it rejects RFI. Thicker and multiple strands help too.

Very soon after Ray brought out his cable, the industry realized this braided cable technology was legit. You can’t patent braiding. Pretty soon everyone and his brother was braiding their wire. It worked. We still work with Ray. He makes great kable at fair prices. He’s a philanthropic guy in the music community.

Ray didn’t sit on his laurels. He determined that he could achieve significantly better sound if he braided high numbers of DIFFERENT THICKNESSES of wire, called Varistrand, around a thick core material. What developed was the Kimber Monocle XL speaker cable. Monocle XL does indeed look like a couple of snakes in your listening room. It looks cool, but the main thing is the sound is worth it! The price includes terminations at all ends- of banana plugs or spade lugs.

When I first heard the of Monocle XL, I have to admit I was dubious. Kimber 8 PR sells for $8 per foot. It sounds terrific; full, clear, dynamic. Yet when I changed to Monocle XL the system BREATHED and sang like the 8 PR just couldn’t. The effortless, dynamic sound … was startling in its improvement! The depth and solid nature of the image was ground breaking. Moving to larger speakers, OhMyGosh, the bass was much stronger too!

The improvement with Monocle XL is exactly the same type of benefit you get going from a main stream $800 power amp- to a $5000 Bryston! Clarity, dynamics, KICK.. everything good and exciting about music becomes more LIVE with Monocle XL. To this day, I’ve heard NOTHING BETTER at any price. Monocle XL takes a system of any level and ups its performance quite noticeably. The better the system, the bigger the improvement.

Technically, Monocle XL features 24 Varistrand wires, individually insulated with Teflon, wound around Kimber’s R38 core. The price is well worth it on any separates system. You can even run a Hegel integrated amp with Magnepan or Bryston speakers, and I promise you’ll hear what Monocle XL can do.

I audition a lot of different gear in my home system. The phone isn’t ringing. I’ve got time to play my music and really pay attention to it. A lot of the gear I audition at home isn’t even expensive. I want to become familiar with it so I can give YOU an accurate assessment. It’s great fun to hear a Hegel H80 integrated amp for $2k and a pair of Maggie MG .7s for $1400pr, make a singer sound like she’s in the room with you.

One standard in my system is the Kimber Monocle XL. While other things come and go, the Monocle XL is a constant conduit. It’s a benchmark product I wouldn’t be without.