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  • Writer's pictureExact Express


Updated: May 22

Designs really are all about speed and transmitting the energy encoded in phrasing, enunciation and beat keeping. You might want something else. No problem. The market awaits your patronage. There might be other wires which do exactly the same; or still more of it. No problem. Go forth and prosper. Today is for those who want a guaranteed thing; for these not silly stickers. Perhaps that's the real meaning of the Earth label? Cables which keep their soles solidly on terra firma? They're simply no sticks in the mud; quite the contrary in fact.

I've not been this enthusiastic about cables in a very long time. It's probably because they're intended for systems like mine built around the aural aesthetic of Kinki amps (substitute with Bakoon, Crayon, Enleum, Goldmund or earlier LinnenberG if those ring more of a bell). In that context they nearly strike me as the missing link. As usual, I didn't know a link was amiss until it manifested. LinkedIn. Question. Which other brand of electronics with a recognizable sound has engineered its own cables? There are Gobel and Kharma types if we have the funds. Lumin work with Westminster. In today's sector, I can't readily think of any.

Whatever else that may say, it certainly speaks loudly to Kinki Studio's commitment to have their clients enjoy the same sound which M. Liu pursues in his design lab. I find that most excellent reason. I also call out perfect delivery on the promise I was told embeds in this project's brief: to banish common distortions like confused fuzzy treble and slow bloated bass. Finally, the enhanced transparency from this loom's quickening blesses low-level SPL with greater conviction. We hear more of the contextual data which resurrect music in acoustic spaces other than our own. That means we needn't listen loud before those gossamer veils parts. Hence we won't fatigue as quickly or wear out neighbors and significant others quite the same.

Yet in its class of accelerator and illuminator, the loom of Kinki's Earth is very much a tangy yet juicy fruit. As a Taoist symbol of the five elements, 'earth' actually seems poorly chosen relative to sonic expectations. It's in the meaning of Planet Kinki that it flowers. These cables breathe the same air as Kinki electronics. Not only do they belong, they're pathways to their sound.

Should you think that out of order, Kinki's friendly pricing simply includes it. They don't charge us extra to look good. Whilst unlike XLR and power cords most RCA and speaker cables aren't functionally directional, direction was still crystal. That's because the triangular traps mount significantly closer to one end. The functionally directional cables put theirs close to the receive not send end. That's how the RCA and speaker links are meant to be used, too. The RF/EMI traps go at the end of a cable not beginning. No need for directionality markers.

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.

 It took less than a music track to progress from one to two. "Chasing issues of sonic distortion and quality problems like HF fuzziness and slow bass" is precisely what the white Earth speaker cables did compared to my resident black Allnic ZL8000. By contrast the far thicker far heavier leashes felt bloated and blurry in the mid bass and lower midrange where the 9.5" Satori woofers labor before handing off to Audio Technology 15-inchers inside the cardioid sound/kaos sub. That this merely compounded when the Qualio IQ speakers ran full-range was a remote click's proof away to bypass the Gradient Box smart crossover beneath the left Kinki EX-B7. The skinny Earth cable shone clearly more light into the bassment. That tightened up, showed more textural differentiation and banished subliminal blur. Allnic's leash exposed extra fat and weight which in this context had the side effect of more ponderous portliness. To a lesser extent the treble also stepped into the light to gain small clarity points. In short, 6 meters of cables - three per channel - did exactly what the Earth design brief promised. It's immaterial which other cable might do the same; or for how much. Relevant here is built-in synergy with Kinki electronics. Now synergy isn't mysterious or happenstance. It simply continues Kinki's sonic aesthetic established by their electronics to reveal more of it with cables that don't change course or actively oppose it. I thought that most sensible assurance. How heavy or light would the contributions of my sample interconnects be when added to the speaker cables?

Think acceleration & illumination. Where the speaker cables had cleaned house down low, 15 meters of interconnects-6m/pr XLR from DAC to smart xover, 1.5m/pr RCA from xover to amps - worked most noticeably on the midrange and particularly treble. If you favor a Living Voice sound with SJS or Kondo valve gear, this truth won't be for you. My prior Allnic loom was obviously darker, warmer and heavier if also not nearly as revealed or laid bare. The interconnects created a powerful sense of inside-out lucidity which emphasized ambient recovery for extra depth, separation and that nearfield gloss of unfettered upper harmonics which don't survive distance losses into the far rows. To really hear the overtones of orchestral violins wants a front-row seat. Even better is a string quartet off the main stage in a more intimate setting to put the audience closer still. With the Earth loom triangle pings and bell strikes rose steeper and lasted longer. Premature expiration is a thing not just in bed. In hifi it has to do with overdamping; or resonant overlay which obscures micro detail.

The Kinkis also added more background silence over the Allnics. The telltale consequence were heightened contrasts. It was a familiar effect from Furutech's NCF2 and Less Loss noise-attenuation tech. Yet their house sounds differ. Furutech follow more in Allnic's footsteps, LessLoss a DSD/SACD gestalt. Playing deliberately hard bright tracks showed that my fully Earth'd signal path could nearly but for my tastes still not cross the line of 'too direct'. Someone else could wish to reinsert one Allnic cable to slow things down a tad. It's why performance audio becomes the never-ending story. As a classically trained clarinet player with orchestral and chamber-music experience, I grew up sitting on stage inside a very big or quite small ensemble. It's why I fancy that close-up frisson of energetic quickening. It's not the posh front-row balcony seat hogged by a classical subscriber to support the local symphony. It's the directness of the nearfield. Did I now exploit more of the EX-B7s' 2.5MHz bandwidth? It's not there because we hear past 20kHz. It's for phase-shift avoidance and steeper rise times. Again, this before/after delta of swapping out two pairs of analog low-level cables any stranger pulled in off the street would have noticed. It wasn't subtle so a lovely break from typical hair-splitting cable gigs.

Feedback From First Customer

"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."

From Michael .F (US)

Reviewed by: Srajan Ebaen - 6moons



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