Audiophiles get quite opinionated about speaker cable. Or if you buy Kimber Kable, as we recommend, use the K in kable.
Fat or Thin?
Let’s cover a little history first. In the 70’s the topic of thick cable was new. Companies like Fulton, Levinson and Monster said- the bigger the better. Bill Johnson of ARC said that fat wire sounds too murky, you want 16g wire. Here we had very knowledgeable people in the industry taking polar opposite sides of the argument.
In 1979 Ray Kimber of Kimber Kable taught us that larger gauge cable did indeed sound better IF YOU BRAIDED IT. The braiding process reduced RFI and skin effect to near nada. With the introduction of Kimber Kable, we could achieve the more muscular sound of thick cable, while attaining clearer sound than ever.
You can’t patent braided cable. Since 1979, everyone and his brother have copied Ray, and we don’t blame them. You can now get fine braided speaker cables from a plethora of companies. My experience has been, if it’s braided, it’s good.
I choose to sell Kimber Kable for a number of reasons. First of all, Ray is an owner operator. He’s a pioneer in the kable world and taught us that braiding- and a few other tricks, do make better kable. Ray is a good business partner. He is a philanthropic guy. He has introduced other creative ideas for making music better- like his IsoMike system. Ultimately, Kimber Kable sells for similar money to the other guys. Hence I choose to stick with the Real McCoy- Kimber Kable.
Before we get into the specifics of which kable to buy, I want to assure you that Kimber Kable sounds better than generic 14-16-18g wire from the hardware store. For what we spend on our components, the modest investment of Kimber Kable and banana plugs, doesn’t demand a big number. The improvements are worth the modest investment.
I would encourage you not to equate getting good speaker cable with some of the loony tunes in our biz. There are people who will tell you that you cannot wear a digital watch, or have your iPhone/iPad in your listening room. They warn that the speakers in these devices will be excited and resonate when your main speakers play music- and your definition and imaging will be ruined. They will tell you to put bricks on your gear to absorb extraneous vibrations that will ruin your sound. They will tell you the science goes beyond the weight of the brick. You need to get a brick with the right construction so your Chi will be just right. These are just two of many topics that you should politely ignore.
Kimber 8 PAIR $8 Per Foot
Kimber Kable makes a variety of kables. You can make a case for each of them. The point of diminishing returns is the 8 Pair.
8 Pair uses eight brown jackets, and eight black jackets. Within each jacket are ten wires. Each of those ten wires is the same thickness. This wire has been COLD DRAWN, meaning extruded in the manufacturing process without heat. Heat will anneal wire- burning the outside portion of the cable so it’s not useful. Hence with Kimber, you can be assured that your entire cross section of wire is working for you. You’re getting all that you are paying for.
You strip back each of the eight blacks and twist them together.
You do the same for the browns. After doing this, you’ll have two conductors, a plus and minus. You’ll have LARGE kable that carries a weighty sound. You’ll have braided kable to insure fine detail. You’ll find the kable is easy to work with. No soldering is necessary.
I recommend that you use banana plugs on the kable. We have several grades, but the point of diminishing returns- runs $20 per pair. Consequently, if you buy two ten foot runs of 8 Pair, with banana plugs, the price is only $240.
You cannot hear the difference between a fine banana plug and a fine spade lug. The bananas are much easier to work with. The only reason to go with spades, is if your gear will not accommodate bananas. If you run into someone saying there is a dramatic difference between bananas and spades, this is the same guy admonishing you not to have your digital watch or phone in the room with you.
8 Pair delivers a robust, dynamic sound to your speakers. Assuming your amp has some punch, you’ll feel a more dynamic, effortless energy to the music- compared to using wire from the hardware store. Absolutely- your dynamic range will be noticeably better.
8 Pair allows the amp to bring whatever KICK it is capable of.
As you are playing your speakers, your amp performs like a water delivery system. When the speakers move out, the amp is pushing water towards your speakers. When the speakers move back, they’re shoving water back down the kable at your amp. With great kable like the 8 Pair, the amp has a very unrestricted flow of water in each direction. It provides better grip and control- which lets your speaker/amp/source combo- achieve the optimum interface and sound.
While you can indeed get superior performance from higher end kable, 8 Pair is the point of diminishing returns. If you want to shoot the moon, I recommend the Kimber Monocle XL. It runs $1534 for two six foot runs with fancy WBT bananas. You can’t do better any any price!