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Amplification
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KAS Audio Cables

A Real Contender

November 2005

   


KAS Audio is a small manufacturer of high quality, hand-built audio speaker cables, powers cords and interconnects. Now that simple description probably identifies dozens of cable companies, which means that in order for any newcomer to distinguish itself in an already overcrowded marketplace, it must bring a little something extra to the table. So the question I asked myself while evaluating the products from this Mountain View, CA based company was, “Are these just another brick in the wall (to borrow from Pink Floyd) or are they here to offer a new level of aural satisfaction at an affordable price? “

KAS specializes in silver based, power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables and are backed by a 60-day money back guarantee and a lifetime warrantee to the original owner. I spent a considerable amount of time with these cables in my system, comparing them to cables in many different price ranges and system configurations. The KAS cables I used were the Maestro interconnects in XLR and RCA terminations, Primus speaker cables, and Primus Power Cords.

Really Powerful
The Primus power cords are a true Hyperlitz design using Teflon coated, silver-plated copper wires. The leads of the power cord are made of twelve copper wires, which are also silver-plated. Four of the conductors are 16-gauge, four are 18-gauge, and four are 22-gauge. This translates into a power cord that is able to deliver a ton of clean and powerful current. The Primus power cord is also shielded with aluminum to minimize any external interference. The cord is sheathed in a blue polypropylene jacket and is very flexible and easy to work with. This was particularly pleasant after battling with the ultra-stiff Virtual Dynamics Nite II cables. The Primus uses the popular Marinco female receptacle and they even go an extra step by cleaning and deoxidizing the internal contact points with Caig’s Lab pro gold GXL metal conditioner and deoxidizer. The male connectors are Leviton hospital grade connectors. At both ends, this cord gives you a fit that instills confidence.

Really Well Connected
The Maestro interconnect uses a single 18-gauge, high-purity, Teflon coated silver wire. Using a single wire insures time alignment and eliminates noise and RFI generated by multi-stranded wire. The wire is also cryogenically treated for five days prior to assembly. This process involves placing the wires and connectors in a liquid Nitrogen tank (approximately –346 degrees Fahrenheit!). The result is a purer alignment of the metal on the length of the wire, which enhances the transfer of the electrical signal.

The Maestro RCA interconnects are terminated with cryogenically treated silver Cardas connectors. KAS does not use parts made of different metals (i.e. copper wire to brass connectors) because they believe the metals will conduct the electrical signal at different speeds and create unwanted colorations. The cables are then sheathed in a nice black nylon mesh. Although KAS recommends at least 100 hours of burn-in time I found that the more these cables burned in the better they sounded.

Really Neutral
The Primus speaker cable is also a true Hyperlitz design and uses different sized solid-core, silver plated copper conductors in an internally bi-wired cable configuration. Each conductor also has its very own Teflon cover to eliminate any inter-conductor EMI. This way they are able to direct certain gauges of wire to the binding posts of certain drivers. For example, in a bi-wired arrangement, the midrange and tweeter positive lead is made of eight Teflon coated wires: four 18-gauge and four 22-gauge. The negative lead has eight conductors whose combined thickness is equal to a single 11-gauge wire. The woofer’s positive and negative leads are each made up of four 16-gauge copper wires that are heavily silver-plated for a total thickness of about 10-gauge. KAS also uses silver banana plugs (which they crimp) and spades (on which they use a 4% silver solder) that can accommodate 1/4” and 3/8” binding posts. Also, all metal contact points are cleaned with the same Caig’s Lab Pro Gold GXL metal conditioner and deoxidizer used on the Primus power cords and all wires and connectors are treated with liquid nitrogen prior to assembly. Finally, like the Primus power cord, the speaker cable is sheathed in a blue polypropylene jacket and is very flexible and easy to work with.

These are just brief descriptions of the design of these wonderfully made products. But to see if excellent design translates into enjoyable music takes a lot of patience for break-in, system matching, and a whole lot of careful listening.

Really Good To Hear From
I had just spent an afternoon hanging out at Pro Musica in Chicago, listening to some as yet released recordings being engineered by Naim recording engineer and one of the store’s co-proprietors, Ken Christianson (along with John Schwarz and Mark Torma). Ken uses a recording method called “True Stereo” which involves the use of just two mics in a live venue specifically selected for its acoustical characteristics. The musicians record directly to an analog master tape on a Nagra reel-to-reel and then transferred unprocessed into the digital domain on CD. So I snatched up few of these pure analog based recordings and decided that I would use them to judge the ability of the KAS cables to help my system reproduce Ken’s magic.

I began by installing the Primus power cords on my reference Electrocompaniet Nemo mono amps, EC 4.7 preamp, and EMC-1 CD player. The Nemos immediately showed the effects of the increase in power that was being fed to them through these cords. The first disc I played was Christiansen’s own privately recorded (though never released) performance of Kurt Elling singing “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me.” This track not only shows off his fantastic vocal range but my system was able to replicate the sheer size of the venue in my listening room. The Rockford Symphony Orchestra, who also benefited from the shot of audio-testosterone that the Primus power cords provide, supports Elling on this disc, which was recorded live at the Coroando Theater in Rockford, IL. Greater authority is infused in the low end and greater focus from percussion instruments is achieved.

I next added the Maestro interconnects and moved on to another Naim disc. This time it was Antonio Forcione and Sabina Sciubba’s Meet Me In London. The duo put an interesting spin on the Dave Brubeck classic, “Take Five.” Forcione lays down a great up-tempo rhythm track on acoustic guitar and Sciubba keeps pace with vocals that are both jazzy and beautifully rendered with the Maestro ICs. The cool thing about these cable’s impact on the performance is their ability to place the performers in realistic spaces. I’ve seen this duo live and know how they set themselves on stage with Sciubba out front. With the Maestros in place the power and precision of her voice and the percussive sound of Forcione popping the body of his guitar and lucking its strings is spectacular.

Finally, I added the Primus speaker cable to complete the system and put pianist Fred Simon’s Remember The River. The installation of the power cords and interconnects made such a profound impact on my system that the expectations for the speaker cables were really high. To be honest, I didn’t quite get the emotional lift from the speaker cables that I got from the others, but I think that had more to do with the fact that speaker cables probably have a little less to accomplish. The power cords provide more balls to the entire system and the ICs are asked to accurately articulate what is on the recording. So the speaker cables are basically asked to continue the transference of the signal provided and get out of the way of it. So I gauge the performance of speaker cables on how well they do this without adding any brightness or heaviness to the bass or any other type of artifact. In other words, to be neutral and faithful to the performer’s ideal. The Primus speaker cables are certainly neutral.

The track, “Folk Songs OF The Cold War,” is wonderfully rendered through these cables. The speaker cables did nothing to take away from what the power cords and ICs had provided. I got the same level of resolution and musicality that I got from my reference Virtual Dynamics Nite II speaker cables. Coincidentally, the VD cables are about three times the price. The next couple of tunes I played were “Stormy Monday” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” from the late Eva Cassidy’s Live At Blues Alley. These are tracks that call on a system to be balanced in its presentation because they display both the power of Eva’s hard-driving blues/rock band and her gentle vocal style. With the KAS Audio cables in my system it handled both cuts flawlessly. But be advised these are honest cables and will not add any euphony to your recordings and poorly recorded discs will sound that way. Believe me, I’ve been trying for years to find a balanced system that I can play my 80’s vintage Genesis/Phil Collins discs on and no system, no matter how advanced, can keep those pigs from sounding like anything else but pigs. Great music but horrible recordings.

Really Great Deal
KAS Audio is to be commended for providing audiophiles with a line of products that are thoughtfully designed, well produced, and thankfully affordable. Among their competitors they are an excellent value. To say that a cable outperforms others costing much more is kind of a cliché but in this case, there simply is no other way to put it. You will be hard pressed to find a cable that is made better or sounds better than these cables do at any price.

Not only are the KAS Audio products easily among the best cables to have graced my system but here’s the real kicker: All KAS Audio products come with a lifetime warranty to the original owner and a 60-day full refund guarantee! This is hard to beat stuff folks. Highly recommended. Really!

Dave Thomas

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Specifications:
Maestro Interconnect
• Single, Teflon coated, 99.99% pure silver wire
• A single 18-gauge wire to minimize skin effect and eliminated multi-conductor induced noise and RFI
• Silver-based Cardas RCA connectors or XLR Balanced connectors
• Teflon-Air Dielectric
• WBT 4% silver solder
Price: RCA $350/1m, XLR $425/1m

Primus Speaker Cable
• High quality silver-plated copper wires. The silver is of 99.99% purity. The copper is 99.999% pure.
• True bi-wire design.
• True Hyperlitz design eliminates inter-conductor EMI.
• 100% shielding to eliminate RFI
• TRUE Cryogenic treatment (about 96 total hours of liquid Nitrogen emersion) of all wires, banana plugs and spades before assembly.
Price: Single Wire $540/6’ pair, Bi-Wire $600/6’ pair

Primus Power Cord
• High quality silver-plated copper wires. The silver is of 99.99% purity. The copper is 99.999% pure.
• High quality Marinco and Leviton plugs of hospital grade quality
• True Hyperlitz design eliminates inter-conductor EMI.
• 100% aluminum shielding to reduce EMI and RFI
• TRUE Cryogenic treatment (about 96 total hours of liquid Nitrogen emersion) of all wires and plugs before assembly.
Price: $300/6’, $400/8’

Address:
KAS Audio
448 Mariposa Avenue
Mountain View, CA 94041
Telephone: 510-303-6694
Email: kasaudio@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.kasaudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KAS Audio Cables