Country of Origin


Flame loom

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, 40GB RAM, Sonoma 14), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Studio, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 & SW-6 switch, Laiv Audio Harmony; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & Gold Note monos on subwoofer; Headamp: Enleum AMP-23R; Phones: Raal 1995 Immanis; Loudspeakers: Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Kinki Studio Earth, Furutech; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat; Room treatment: 2 x PSI Audio AVAA C214 active bass traps
2nd system: Source: FiiO R7 into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to COS Engineering D1; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Amplifier: Kinki Studio EX-M7; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
2nd headfi system: DAC: Cen.Grand DSDAX 1.0 Deluxe; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Headphones: Raal 1995 Magna, HifiMan Susvara
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: Sonnet Audio Pasithea; Head amp: Kinki Studio THR-1; Speaker amp: Crayon CFA-1.2; Speakers: Acelec Model One
Headphones: Final D-8000
Upstairs headfi system: FiiO R7; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro, Fiio FT3

2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: refer to web shop for length/type-specific pricing starting at $489

One hifi house, three brands: Kinki Studio, CHoco Sound, Exact Express.

Since January 2024, the underground had whispered of new cables from China's Kinki Studio. By April, this teaser image flamed. The name suggests fire. Like the existing Earth series, it's one of Taoism's five elements so earth, water, fire, air and ether (space or akasha in Hinduism). Last year Kinki had also launched their Emei integrated then badged it CHoco Sound to kick off a new subsidiary brand hosted on their main site. A day after the 2024 Munich show ended, Kinki sales manager Ken Ng checked in. He was about to ship my review loom. What lengths and types did I need? In inventory just then were USB at 1.2 and 1.8m, RCA and XLR at 1 and 1½m, speaker cable at 2½ and 3½m, jumpers at 20cm, AC cords at 1½ and 2m. I asked for 1.8m USB-C⇒A, one 1½m XLR, one 1½m RCA, one 2½m speaker cable and a quad of 2m power cords. This would fit out my smaller system shy of a 6m AES/EBU and 6m RCA to the subwoofer. It would also fit my big rig with one similar 6m exception. For cable tests, a loom as complete as possible creates a more consistent and coherent effect than inserting a single 1m link into a competing or mixed cable salad of wildly disparate design parameters. I prefer to let a unified loom impose its signature in the most dominant fashion. Only then do I feel reasonably assured that my sonic findings will translate to not be unique to my situation thus useless to others.

But there was more.

"For your info, we're in the process of rebranding Kinki Studio Cable with a new name and website." Elsewhere in the Vinshine Audio empire, Jay's Audio had spun off the LHY Audio brand for smaller products and accessories. Denafrips had launched sister brand Musician Audio for an alternate distribution chain. The subtext was suggestive. These successful Sino audio houses all pack talent, ideas and raw man power which eclipse what their existing brand focus can accommodate. Now it was Kinki Studio's time to add a 3rd brand to their portfolio. Would it become Elements by Kinki Studio?

If we rewind to my Earth loom review still branded Kinki Studio, we remember. By late 2021, owner Mr. Liu had met Mr. Shoon in the Guo Chao Hifi group where domestic brands promote Chinese hifi "in a space of shared culture. They hit it off, became friends then began discussing a future collab based on the technical R&D backgrounds of each. They're both most persistent about chasing causes of sonic distortion and quality problems like treble fuzziness and slow bass. So they decided to cooperate on a range of dedicated studio-grade cables for Kinki Studio products. Their DuPont PTFE shields and conductors use mono-crystalline copper with 2.2 times the thickness of ordinary silver plate that's additionally surface polished. A passive ring absorber invented by Mr. Shoon traps EMI above 100kHz. The connectors exploit four-layer thick electroplating of gold over palladium over silver over copper. Terminated assemblies undergo a 3-stage -196°C cryogenic treatment."

Despite costing a mere fraction, these professionally made silvery cables looked classic Crystal Cable to me. After a well-deserved Blue Moon award, Kinki's thinner, quicker more lucid Shaolin wires replaced my former Korean Allnic Audio loom in the main system. Our EX-B7 monos downstairs, EX-M7 stereo version upstairs and THR-1 headamp in my office below all document my appreciation for Mr. Liu's sonic aesthetic. The Earth cables had crystallized it further. By contrast, the fatter heavier wires from Allnic's tube-audio designer went the opposite direction. To fully liberate my system's Kinki flavour, the Earth loom was the obvious answer. How would the fiery bunch work its steering wheel? Or would it simply step on the gas German Autobahn style?

The master clock at the far left is from Jay's Audio's subsidiary brand LHY. Two of their LAN distributors aka network switches work slaved in my main system.

As we ascend tiers of cable catalogues, routinely conductor mass bulks out. Sometimes shielding gains layers. Sometimes conductor purity refines or changes from copper to silver to silver/gold. Even connectors might change. By late May my Singapore cable carton had cleared Shannon customs. Soon my inner Sherlock would go elemental on sonic suspects. First there's the rather anodyne new brand name of, um… Exact Express. From Ali Express to Exact Express? Cough. For its reshaped inline UHF absorber, the Flame game plays gold-plated copper body over Earth's aluminium. EMI absorption claims to be more than twice. Silver-clad OCC conductors remain unchanged yet silver thickness has doubled. The braided silver-plated copper shield continues with the OCC so no longer OFC theme. The same distinction applies to the plugs. Even their plating has grown thicker. Cryogenic immersion has jumped from 12 hours to a whopping 42 hours and Flame solder contains gold and silver not just silver. On mammon matters, Flame costs less than double. Speaker cable for example has increased from $799 for Earth to $1'329 for Flame, XLR from $369 to $519.

In upscale hifi terms we remain squarely on the ground floor. Cynics will of course grump that with unchanged conductor mass or type, it's all but window dressing to drive up margins. But since Flame won't replace Earth, that's unlikely. Wouldn't it be sales prevention 101 if in a direct A/B, prospective buyers heard no difference meaningful enough to step up? Of course with Singapore-direct sales, comparative listening may factor less than it would in dealer showrooms. And it's not as though I had fully matching looms to compare. Still, I had enough hardware of both types to surely conclude something. From their FAQ page we learn that Exact Express can craft custom lengths; bill in US currency; include shipping to most countries in the list price; offer a ½-year warranty but no means to audition with a return privilege. To taste before committing, we must visit a physical dealership.