Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac late 2020 with Ventura 13.4, 40GB RAM, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 network switch, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box at 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund Job 225; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Qualio Audio IQ w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; 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 Krion and glass 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
2nd system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC: Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossi Signature L2 + icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Enleum AMP-23R; 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
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
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: RCA 1m/pr = $349; XLR 1m/pr = $369, speaker cable 2.5m/pr = $799, power cord 1.5m = $369
The BBC's Earth is a range of narrated National Geographic-style videos about our terrestrial habitat. Kinki Studio's Earth is the new cable range from the PRC electronics house of Ivan Liu. It's the outcome of a "one-year collaboration with a cable manufacturer to develop our own line of studio-grade audio cables". The range encompasses power cords, RCA/XLR interconnects and speaker cables. Sheaths and dielectrics are DuPont PTFE, conductors mono-crystal copper plated "with 2.2 x the thickness of ordinary silver plate" then surface-polished. A central passive ring absorber "effectively reduces EMI above 100kHz". Connectors are copper with thick gold plating. Each terminated cable undergoes 3-stage -196C° cryogenic treatment. Speaker cable terminations are spade or banana.
Carefully practiced cynics shrug sarcastically stiffened shoulders. More cables. Yawn. Considering descriptions and appearance, I felt rather less cynical. That's because it all looked surprisingly familiar to Crystal Cable, one of the finest brands of this sector with their own hi-tech measuring lab; even silver mine if I'm not mistaken. Instead of Crystal's famous gold-infused long-grain silver conductors, Kinki step down to silver-clad long-grain copper for lower costs. But the core geometry remains twisted coax in Teflon with minimal diameters for slinky routing on the far side of audiophile pythons and garden hoses. Even the central EMI trap concept triggered my imaginary Dutch connection. Then I learnt that they were not the specialty consultants. In fact the EMI trap aka wave-absorbing ring tech on all Earth cables is a Mr. Shoon patent. Cleary Kinki Studio are serious about building out their existing catalogue. That's before we count recently launched subsidiary brand CHoco Sound; or their no-holds-barred flagship electronics which together with AM Hifi and Cen.Grand herald the rise of Chinese solid-state ÜberFi exported to the West as chronicled here.
How on earth did the Earth project come about? "At the end of 2021 Mr Liu of Kinki Studio met Mr. Shoon now of Kinki Studio Cable manufacture in the Guo Chao Hifi group where some of our domestic manufacturers promote Chinese hifi in a space of shared Chinese culture. They hit if off, became friends then began discussing a future collaboration based on the technical R&D backgrounds of each. They're both very persistent about chasing issues of sonic distortion, quality problems like HF fuzziness and slow bass. So they decided to cooperate on a range of dedicated studio-grade cables for Kinki Studio products. Their shields and conductors use silver-plated copper, the connectors a four-layer electroplating process of gold over palladium over silver over copper. These are professionally designed and made cables, not quick DIY efforts with hot glue, heat shrink and a blow dryer."
Kinki's €25K/pr 571 monos at the 2023 Beijing show.
The quote contains two interesting tidbits: high-frequency fuzziness and slow bass. To garrote these grumpy gremlins, Mr Liu has DC-coupled gain circuits of extreme bandwidth to eliminate signal-path capacitors and phase shift in the audible band. Such sonic aims sit at obvious cross purposes with thick dark soft cables. For the full effect, now it's sensible that matching wires safeguard the Kinki sound its designer intended; and extend Kinki's established down-to-earth pricing.
Kinki Studio 570 preamp in overlay; 571 mono with four power transformers on lower tier beneath it.
It obviously relies on in-house resources to pull off but by all indications, messieurs Liu & Shoon have those. To judge their pull-off, a full loom was inbound. I'd requested a 6m/pr XLR between DAC/pre and crossover, 2m/pr RCA between crossover and Kinki EX-B7 monos, 3m/pr banana-terminated speaker cables to the Qualio IQ and two 1.5 power cords to the amps. By May 31st, Ken Ng confirmed ship readiness of my assortment. By then reader Michael Fanning had this: "A few initial thoughts on the Kinki power cord and RCA cable. The cord is on my Kinki Studio EX-M7 and the interconnect links amp and Lumin X1 streamer/DAC. I use Leedh Processing so no preamp. Ken mentioned break-in of about 200 hours. I probably have fewer than 100 hours so factor that in. The most pronounced effect is a huge uptick in bass on texture and response like string fingering for example. At low listening level it's quite nice not to goose volume for a bit more kick. It's just there all the time. It also seems that there's greater separation of instruments and the soundstage widened. The latter was unexpected as the EX-M7 operates dual mono and I always thought its soundstage pretty good. Midrange where the music lives is about as good as with my previous cables. So I'll be keen to see whether further break-in changes my opinion. What's hard to determine is whether the power cord does anything special. The overall prior noise floor was always good so I'm not sure whether the new cord makes any profound difference. But I'm perhaps underplaying system synergy. At the relatively modest cost of these cables, I'm quite pleased. Are they Crystal Cable killers? I never heard Crystal Cables so couldn't say. I will say that they're no-brainers if you are a Kinki Studio or future CHoco owner."
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