When it comes to speaker cables, the hifi market is awash with differing approaches, materials and philosophies, demonstrating that getting the ideal signal from your amp to your loudspeakers can take many forms.
Some brands favour low resistance through high-mass wires, while others focus on rejecting external mechanical or electrical interference, with many falling somewhere in the middle by combining the two.
What’s clear though is that there is no ideal single solution and like any other hifi component, the best results come from working out which approach works best for your system and its synergy,
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Russ Andrews and Kimber Kable have been in the cable game for decades. Alongside making a wealth of accessories to finesse your hifi, they also offer internal upgrades to existing and obsolete kit, as we saw with our recent Alchemist Forseti Classic HiFi feature.
The 8PR speaker cable on test here goes right back to Russ and Kimber’s roots when, 43 years ago, a young Ray Kimber was installing sound and lighting systems in LA nightclubs. Ray’s keen ear noticed that the lighting rigs he was working on generated radio frequency noise that was being picked up by the nearby speaker cables. After hours of theorising and experimenting, he worked out that weaving the speaker cables cancelled out the unwanted RF noise, while also bringing improvements in sound quality.
This led to the development of the original 4PR cable, whose woven copper cables were also of varying thicknesses. This ‘VariStrand’ approach has gone on to form the bedrock of the Kimber Kable approach.
Fast forward to this year and the original 4PR and its bigger 8PR brother have been refreshed to build on the benchmark that lasted for decades. While the 4PR features eight conductors per channel that are individually sheathed in red or black polyethylene insulation, the 8PR gets 16 split into eight positive and eight negative.
Each conductor is comprised of seven VariStrand wires, made from Kimber’s own high-purity oxygen free electrolytic copper. Kimber says this offers significant improvements in quality over the old 4PR and 8PR models thanks to industry leading conductivity of 102% IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard) along with very low induction. 4PR’s positive and negative conductors are each 13AWG (American Wire Gauge) / 2.6mm2 and 8PR has 2 x 10AWG / 6mm2, leading to overall cable diameters of 9mm and 11.5mm respectively.
Prices start at £176 for a 1m pair of 8PR (and £88 for 4PR) rising to £290 for a 2.5m 8PR pair and £442 for 4.5m. Each cable can be supplied either with cut and stripped ends, hand soldered 4mm banana plugs (£60 extra) or 6mm spades (£120 extra).
Being directional, the plug sleeving shows which way round to install each cable for an easy visual reference.
In the flesh (or should that be copper?) the cable feels well made with plenty of flex. The red and black jackets have a nice retro look to them and their stark contrast means you’re less likely to hook them up the wrong way around.
We opted for 5m runs with banana plugs, with the latter being a cut above your average connectors, offering a firm fix to my Dynaudio Focus 260 speaker terminals.
What this cable offers is plenty of focus on detail. Swapping them out with my usual 6mm multi-strand highlights the extra that the Kimber offering brings to the table.
With Interpol’s Fables streaming from their The Other Side Of Make-Believe album at 24-bit/44kHz via Qobuz, the 8PR presents the intentionally fuzzy guitars and vocals with just the right amount of blur, neither sounding too muddied or too forced. This really helps the Dynaudios and my Musical Fidelity M6 pre/power amp combo work in harmony, showcasing the track with layers of realism and excitement.
The 8PR also excels at affording plenty of air and space around each instrument, much more so than many rival cables at this price bracket. Streaming a 24/96 file of Naima Bock’s Giant Palm title track brings with it sit up and take notice levels of separation to her vocals and slowly strummed guitar chords, with each string’s resonance being clearly defined. Sure the hhres nature of the track is also accountable for its superior sonics, but what you get with the 8PR cable is a sense that it’s not holding the recording back. This is especially true in the bass notes of the song, which can sound a little monotone and less defined with some cables. With the 8PR on signal transfer duties however all of its lush, deep notes are captured with clarity and a subtlety to their leading edges.
What’s also clear is how the 8PR has a sense of getting out of the way of the music, while imparting little character of its own. On paper Dynaudio’s retired 260 speakers don’t present too much of a challenge, but in real world listening they need to see and feel plenty of power to really get them singing. Armed with a 24/44 rip of Working Men’s Club’s Valleys from their self-titled debut album and the 8PR cable wastes no time letting the MF amps and Dyns of the leash.
The pounding percussion, surrounded by inky black silences is pure New Order for Gen Z and the Dynaudio’s mid/bass drivers seem to revel in showing how much they can dig into the music with the 8PRs feeding them more than enough substance to keep them satisfied. Cranking up the MF amps to plaster cracking levels reveals how despite the generous 5m lengths, background noise is kept to a minimum across all music on test.
Put simply this is an excellent loudspeaker cable at the price that will ensure your system isn’t held back, especially when digging into the detail and dynamics of the music.
Based on a longstanding tried and tested approach, it’s clear to see and hear how Kimber’s approach is just as relevant today while being brought bang up to date. It also performs well over modest to long distances, so if your room requires generous cable runs then the 8PR could be just the wire you’ve been wishing for.