Sugg. Retail: 1-metre RCA: $270.00;
1-metre XLR: $430.00
(3 metre as tested: $1110.00)
Distributor: Mission Electronics Inc.
400 Matheson Blvd., Mississauga, Ont. L4Z 1R5
(905) 507-0777 FAX 507-0797
(Reprinted from the Spring 1997 Audio
Kimber was one of the early promoters of silver cable with their superb KCAG, which I still use in my system, but such cables have always been expensive. The Silver Streak is a hybrid cable that uses “a #19 AWG silver wire for the positive, or signal-carrying conductor, and two #19 AWG copper conductors as ground and return.” “The balanced Silver Streak has twin #19 AWG silver wires for signal and a single TCSS copper wire as ground,” according to the Kimber web site (www.kimber.com).
By the way, I can’t resist showing off Ray Kimber’s puckish sense of humour as shown on the web site when discussing speaker cables: “The engineers at Kimber Kable, after years of research, have determined that it is essential that a speaker cable be long enough to span the distance between the amplifier and the speaker. If it is too short, there is a dramatic loss of overall system performance. In addition, if the cables are substantially longer than necessary, it is very beneficial to us.” Who says the Internet isn’t any fun!
Moving from cable length to geometry, Kimber interconnects are not coaxial like most, and use a proprietary braiding system to minimize noise pickup. “First the braiding of the conductors presents no coherent antenna pattern to noise. Magnetic poles are diffused through counter rotating and interleaving positive and negative poles. Second, it is shorted out by the extreme conductivity of the copper and or silver. Remember that the skin of our conductors is extremely smooth and hyper pure, and RF travels primarily on the skin of the conductor. Since there is virtually no potential difference across the conductors, RF is rejected.”
The internal grouping of the strands within each interleaved teflon-coated section is also done in a specific way with Silver Streak and other Kimber cables, using a specific strand size ratio, called VariStrand, designed to minimize mechanical resonances and ensure wide bandwidth conductivity. As well, a great deal of metallurgy research has gone into the way the silver and copper are drawn, and the levels of purity demanded. Ray once told me, wry humour again flickering lightly in his eyes, that it was, in fact, the specific impurities in his own copper that made it a better conductor than most numerous-nines ultra-pure formulations. That probably applies to the metallurgy of the silver as well.
We were sent a couple of 1-metre unbalanced lengths of Silver Streak and a single 3-metre balanced one. One of the RCA-terminated cables went to AAM, the other two being broken in in my system, and in the case of the XLR cable, being used in various recording and signal transfer functions by both Clive Allen and myself.
In general, the Silver Streak is to my ears pretty much indistinguishable from KCAG, with a sweet and slightly bright character that is the only deviation from utter purity. Having used our Kimber Silver Snake (a custom-made 50-foot- x-4 microphone cable of pure balanced silver in teflon) in numerous recording projects over the last year (including our new Ian Sadler organ CD, and a complete Bach Cello Suites by Sergei Istomin for Analekta records), I’ve become quite familiar with the remarkable clarity of Kimber silver cables, and the Silver Streak maintains all of that, especially in its balanced version. Both Clive and I have used the 3-metre balanced Streak as a microphone cable, though not in RF-hot Toronto, where neither the Snake nor the Streak can compete with the CN Tower’s multiple transmitters. Compared to our standard Mogami Neglex copper microphone cables, the silver ones remove a veil over the music that is comparable to upgrading the microphones. It is also our experience that, if you can get away with it, unshielded balanced mike cables sound better than shielded ones, though we’re not quite sure why.
Getting back to Silver Streak as an interconnect, I guess I’d rank it as being comparable to Wireworld Atlantis II for its utter neutrality, unusual at the price of either, and leave further comments on its sound to Aaron in an upcoming issue after he graduates from Queen’s and comes back to work for us.