Kimber Kable’s 4PR was the defining entry-level cable for a generation of young audiophiles (including me) back in the early 1980s. Its distinctive brown/black braided design was my constant companion across a vast landscape of beginner systems. Its sound was honest and clean with no discernable tonal colorations to hijack an unwitting hobbyist. At that time it was the rare audiophile who didn’t own a pair of 4PRs, and didn’t keep them. I still have mine.
Available still, in various and more advanced braided iterations, Kimber’s 4PR is a testament to the enduring popularity of the original, a popularity so great, perhaps, that it sometimes obscures the fact that Kimber doesn’t just play small ball. It offers some serious Big League products, too. At the summit is Kimber’s Select 6000 Series wire, which debuted in 2010 and now vies for prominence in the most respected and competitive venues of the high end—a point that was driven home continually as I fell under the sway of the crown jewel of Kimber’s Select line, the KS 6068 loudspeaker and KS 1036/KS1136 unbalanced and balanced interconnects.
Everything about this blue-chip wire screams extreme (see the sidebar)—its sophisticated construction, geometry, and materials, large cross-section, pure silver conductors, and, yes, breathtaking price. Yet there are paradoxes, too. For example, compared with the unyielding stiffness of so many competitors’ cables, the KS 6000 is surprisingly supple and light for its size and girth, easy to maneuver. But there’s another area where “extreme” doesn’t apply. It’s the area of sound. It’s here, in the company of a finely tuned audio system, that the Kimber Select settles into such a natural and organic relationship with the music that you forget about the effort that went into designing and building these wires, forget that you’re even listening to a system, even forget the hole still smoking in your wallet.
With a tonal balance that’s predominately neutral, the KS’s overall personality—though not invisible—isn’t hard to nail down. And rightly so, as it promptly assumes the character of the system it’s immersed in. So, whether your audio rig is strictly grain-free photorealistic or gauzily impressionistic, that’s what Kimber is going to give you in return. But that’s not to say that this wire is without its own character. There’s a feathery, light-footedness to its sound that seemingly doesn’t so much add power but transient speed. There’s no lag time as Chris Thile’s flatpick accelerates across the mandolin strings, and no delay as the Turtle Creek Chorale takes a collective breath before the next bar of Rutter’s Requiem. The cable moves music in a way that leaves no corner of the soundstage unaffected. It has both directness and a dimensional component that unerringly position every player on the stage, yet fully immerse them in the surrounding ambience. As I listened to the “Duet for Cello and Bass” from Appalachian Journey I found each image physically established yet oh so finely focused, much in the way a precision set of optics edge-sharpens a subject.
By virtue of the combination of pure resolving power and a bottomless well of dynamic contrast and tonal color, the Kimber wire unearths a body of energy and atmospheric lift in even the most familiar recordings. For example, when I launched a weekend Beatles binge-fest listening to the complete LP box set of The Beatles in Mono the Kimber captured not only the warm vintage nature of hit songs recorded to analog tape but also the finely wrought precision of these deceptively complex mixes. This was an instance in which every instrument and vocal could be isolated and individually appreciated, even as the recording retains its monaural presentation.
Sonically the KS achieves a level of intimacy and low-level resolution that’s almost embarrassing in its nakedness. As I listened to the high-resolution file of “Somewhere” from the San Francisco Symphony’s staging of West Side Story, I could almost feel the walls shimmering from the diaphragmatic power of the mezzo’s performance. As I cued up the DSD file of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” I became hypnotized by the interplay of Lindsay Buckingham and Christie McVie harmonies backing up the youthful Stevie Nicks. These startling moments add up to a talent for image specificity and macro/micro liveliness that would compel even the most OCD listener to drop whatever he’s doing or thinking of doing and just sit still and listen.