Flat meets round. To separate out Matthew's loaner lot, I split my auditions into three parts to first look at just the ribbons, then just the XLR, then the combo. Here is the system: local 4TB SSD library ⇒ 27" iMac with most current MacOS ⇒ Audirvana Studio in extreme mode ⇒ Singxer SU-6 ⇒ Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe at DSD 1'024 ⇒ Lifechanger Audio Gradient Box II ⇒ 100Hz/4th-order high-pass Kinki Studio EX-B7 ⇒ Qualio IQ ⇒ 100Hz/4th-order low-pass Goldmund Job 225 ⇒ sound|kaos 2×15" cardioid sub. I compared with/out active analog xover to hear the cables full range then high-passed. In my Earth loom review, I'd characterized the Kinki gestalt as belonging at the top of the energizer & accelerator class. Snappy timing and fully gushing upper harmonics make for readings that are very lively, unfettered and 'off the leash'. Bass too is fabulously unconfused not slow and fat. All of it emulates the difference which can present between a classic capacitor-coupled class A amp and a DC-coupled ultra-bandwidth class A/B type. The latter will sound quicker and more precise. It also emulates the difference between a multi-way speaker which inserts complex filters of many passive parts; and a Cube-type widebander which direct-connects the amplifier outputs to its voice coils. The latter approach celebrates zero xover-induced phase shift and energy storage. That means none of their subtle time smear and transient blur so perfect focus and from it, presence.
Our pair of 3.5m Kinki speaker cables dangles spooled off the central Thai bronze drummer.
Surprisingly, the broad black ribbons belonged to the same general sonic class as the Kinki leashes. The MBA simply sat a bit farther back from the lectern. They were less roof-down sunny in the treble; not quite as direct, quicksilvery and lucid. This mellowed Jacques Loussier's syncopated piano attacks, softened the stacked overtone layers on a lifted damper pedal and stepped down rhythmic tension a click.
In trade for less illumination and attendant briskness, the ribbons were weightier in the lower midrange and generally bassier if not as taut when run full range, smart xover bypassed. Presumably this signed their claim's dotted line of enormous current capability. More lanes on the electron highway, denser current traffic? Whatever the tech reason, today's cable lasagna dyed a black squid ink will appeal to listeners who, though keen on admittance to the same energizer & accelerator club as Kinki Studio, still favor more tonal heft.
That shifts the balance to a somewhat softer upstroke to win that heavier downstroke. Here 'up' is the virtually vertical rise of transients, 'down' the landing right after. As usual, this flavor change seemed to be accompanied by a minor downshift of the tonal center of gravity. More hung, less flung if you will.
I cannot know whether properly flush listeners will consider this revelatory for not sacrificing Kinki's general quickening yet bolting on more chunkiness. It's a fair question and a typical quid pro quo. Cars chuck rear seats and trunk space to ditch weight and go faster. Gaining passengers and luggage room whilst handling spirited and accelerating like a crotch rocket isn't the norm. It's possible when cost is no issue. Porsche's 2023 Cayenne is an SUV but packs a 4-liter V8 bi-turbo engine. The GT range topper claims 0 to 100km/h in 3.3 seconds.
If you drive a Corvette, that may not seem revelatory. If you own a Jeep Wagoneer, it very much should.
Where such a framing feels fair and relevant, the ribbon's peppery price could falls right in the Porsche Cayenne camp. Now its performance becomes conditionally revelatory. The condition is that other cables might still be a little faster, still be more energetic and immediate. The revelatory bit is raiding the opposing camp of comfort & corporeality—some listeners' virtual vitamin C—whilst giving up little when going back to the races. I see this upward struggle for higher performance as a twin effort that's embroiled in an endlessly self-limiting stalemate. One path pursues textural fill, darkness, bass, weight and macrodynamic voltage swings. The other chases keen timing, lightness, treble, speed, resolution and expanded microdynamic gradients. Between them there's constant give 'n' take. As one of the two nets extra percentage points, the other gives up at least one. It's hard to unequivocally get ahead. The Kinki loom is the fastest most direct cable system I'm currently familiar with which, to be just that, doesn't sacrifice much from the other side. Now the Matthew Bond GSC 36 clawed past it up the embodiment tree yet lost surprisingly little in the speed trade. Experienced listeners should agree. To venture past an already high mark of advanced performance that's still in balance, making further progress without toppling said balance gets ever harder. Our colloquial term for that is being well past the point of diminishing returns. Today's big black ribbon cable is all of that.
The room from the other end, skinny speaker cables for contrast.
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