Ah, cables. A very polarizing and controversial subject in the audio world. But I thought, what's one more review, right? It probably won't convince those who believe cables are cables and do not make any difference in sound. Those who do believe cables are important might be surprised to read about this relatively unknown brand and its product. And what will definitely surprise them is the price. More on that in the end of my review.
I've had my speaker cables, Kimber Kable 8TC, ever since I got my speakers in 1999. They are in bi-wire configuration.
I was happy with them, but was curious to try new cables from KirmussAudio, an American company based in Denver, Colorado. The new cables arrived in a nice big box, neatly packaged with velcro ties and plastic caps on the plugs.
First thing I had to do was to reconfigure my speakers binding posts from bi-wire to single configuration using jumpers. I removed my cables, screwed in the nuts all the way in and removed the black plastic caps covering the bottom connectors.
Then I added the jumpers and connected the new cables.
About a week later I changed the jumpers to wires provided by Sonic Artistry, which have some silver in them.
The new cables are 12 feet long and are terminated with Rhodium Plated banana tensile cinch jack connectors. According to the company, Rhodium is considered best in class of all the platinum metals family for resistance to corrosion and tarnish. And since it is extremely hard, it is better than gold plating. Cables are often moved around by audiophiles. As such, Rhodium is a better choice for making contact on both ends (speakers and amplifiers). As this happens frequently, their banana jacks feature a tensile “cinch”, holding the cable in place.
These cables are 24 core design (12 positive, 12 negative) 2 x 7 Gauge stranded OFC conductor using the Litz wire braid concept, similar to Kimber Kable. And they are beautiful, too.
After connecting the cables, I burned them in for a couple of hours using various music formats - vinyl, digital streaming both from TIDAL and my local NAS, as well as some CDs and even the sound from watching TV which is connected to my A/V receiver as well.
After that I began my critical listening. First, I played my trusted vinyl albums - "90125" by Yes (ATCO Records 79 01251) and "Odyssée" by Saint-Preux (Quartz's QTS 18213).
What I immediately noticed was how detailed the sound was on both of them. Bass was deeper and more pronounced than what I heard previously with my old cables. Images were precise and sound stage was well defined.
But the real surprises began when I played some albums on TIDAL. Specifically, Norwegian acoustic jazz project Hoff Ensemble's "Quite Winter Night" (2L, 2012) and their latest album "Polarity" (2L, 2018). I've had the first album in MQA FLAC since 2016 and after hearing the newest one on TIDAL, I purchased it in Hi-Res 192 kHz / 24bit FLAC (don't care about MQA anymore, long story).
I am very familiar with "Quiet Winter Night" having played it countless times over the past two years. But hearing it again with KirmussAudio cables, revealed more details and subtleties I previously heard only using my headphone rig (Meridian Audio Explorer² USB DAC, Schiit Audio Magni 3 headphone amp and HIFIMAN HE-400i headphones). Again, deeper and tighter bass. natural sounding voices of the vocalists, amazing imaging and sound stage, lots of air around piano, upright bass and other instruments. For the most part due to an extremely high quality of the recording.
"Polaris" yielded similar results, except it's a completely instrumental album with no vocals. From the very first track called "Innocence" I was captivated by the music and the clarity of the recording. As I played it further, I experienced something I never knew my system was capable of. A track called "Sacred" came on, which is a bit of an ambient piece that first begins with an organ and some keyboard with some background drumming, soon joined by a cello. As drumming became more and more frequent and pronounced, I clearly heard it coming from the back and to the left of the stage, as if the sound stage extended BEHIND my speakers, which are placed 2 feet from the back wall. Just amazing!
Next, I decided to play something much heavier. My latest metal obsession is a power/viking/folk metal band from Faroe Islands called Týr. I played their 2013 album called "Valkyrja" (Metal Blade Records – 3984-15238-2). As I wrote before, the vast majority of metal albums are poorly mastered, which results in a very compressed sound with little dynamic range. Thankfully, this album is not like that. There is enough dynamic range to clearly distinguish all instruments and hear details. Thundering rhythm section, blazing guitar leads and deep and passionate vocals were really enjoyable.
I then switched to something much calmer - Saint-Preux's "Concerto Pour Une Voix", which was his very first album from 1969. Except this time I played a CD copy of the 1995 reissue (Pomme Music – 951062) from TIDAL. The track called "Prelude Pour Piano" is one of my all time favourite pieces of Saint-Preux and I enjoyed it here again with majestic sounds of piano and violins telling a melancholic and beautiful story. If you never heard it, I suggest you listen to this beautiful melody.
And lastly, I played Andreas Vollenweider & Friends "25 Years Live (1982-2007)" (Edel – 0184552CTT). An amazing collection of live recordings over the 25 year period of this unique Swiss harpist and multi-instrumentalist. I especially loved tracks from my favourite album called "Down To The Moon" from 1986. As with Hoff Ensemble albums, the quality of the recording is absolutely stunning here. And this is a collection of tracks performed live, mind you. All the little details, the deep powerful bass, precise imaging were a total bliss for me. Which is what I have always tried to achieve in my music listening.
Conclusion and final thoughts
Audio cables should neither add something to the music reproduction nor take something away. They should be completely neutral. KirmussAudio set out to achieve this exact goal. And, in my opinion, they have succeeded. Whether you are an experienced audiophile listener or just in the beginning of your audio journey, I highly recommend you try these speaker cables in your system. I am sure you will enjoy them as much as I do. In today's high end audio industry, cables prices are high, with some brands prices reaching stratospheric levels (ZenSati ApS, Siltech, Nordost). But from my experience, there is no direct link between price and quality of the components and accessories. When you find out the retail price of the KirmussAudiuo cables, you will be pleasantly surprised. I am deliberately not listing it here. Instead, you can contact Jonathan or Ed at Sonic Artistry, who will be happy to provide you this information.
In conclusion I would like to thank Jonathan and Ed for giving me an opportunity to experience KirmussAudio speaker cables in my system. I will definitely buy them for my personal use later this year.
Turntable: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red Phono stage: Gold Note PH-10 Amplification: Marantz NR1401 AV receiver Speakers: PSB Stratus Bronze DVD/CD player: Denon DVD-3800 (Region free) Network streamer: Bluesound Node2 Network storage: Synology DS-214 2-bay NAS server USB DAC: Meridian Audio Explorer² Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-400ii, Sennheiser HD280Pro Cables: Kimber Kable 8TC, Transparent interconnect, WireWorld Ultraviolet USB