Kimber Kable KS 2436
The 2436 is all about the silver. Stranded and solid-core conductors are woven together in a field-isolating braided geometry which keeps the power and signal paths separate throughout the entire assembly. Kimber is big into silver and emphasizes that the metal needs to be optimized for audio applications, not jewelry. The silver is drawn at the ideal temperature and tension, and there are no chemical baths using lubricants like graphite which can embed themselves in the silver. Terminations are realized by bonding the connector body to the concentric shield with conductive epoxy and copper foil. Next, each conductor is soldered to the gold-plated pins using a nitrogen-charged system to eliminate the possibility of impurities at the interface. Finally, the ebony wood shell, which also insulates the conductors, is added.
The Kimber established the widest, most detailed soundstage I’ve yet heard from a USB cable. During the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto orchestral images seemed to fill every corner of the venue; a flurry of timbral information and ambient activity flooded the space behind violin soloist Mutter. Low-level retrieval of the aggressive bowing from the bass violins was almost distracting in its clarity.
The Kimber’s character was the embodiment of speed with a hint of added top-end brilliance and extension. It’s a cable of strong tonal and micro-dynamic contrasts. It doesn’t offer a harder sound, mind you, but is a hair’s breadth more finely grained in energy and treble air. For instance, during Dick Hyman’s big band disc The Age of Swing not only did the KS demonstrate excellent transient attack and micro-dynamic expression, but it also allowed me to hear further back in the mix. The KS 2436 also followed descending bass lines a little more attentively and clung to that pitch information with tenacity.
During “The Wasps” referenced earlier, the Kimber seemed to reproduce the finest threads of a performance especially during the low-level interplay with flute and harp and triangle. The KS also hinted at a little more keyboard tonal color, finer gradations of the player’s “touch”—contrasts of loudness-to-softness—during pianist Evgeny Kissin’s performance of Glinka’s “The Lark.” During the high-octane rush of keyboard trills near the end of this composition, the KS was as open and free from treble tension as I’ve heard from this piece.
Summary: A brilliant soundstager, the KS has a cooler character that’s ultra-detailed and transparent. It’s so revealing that only the finest DACs need apply.
These are both musically persuasive USB cables. But there’s another consideration to keep in mind—application. The Clarus is the sweetspot, sure to please the majority of users. The Kimber is a different kettles of fish. This is an ultra-premium wires designed for first-class DACs and well-informed (and -heeled) users. Candidly, the full breadth of its performance will be lost in the entry-level world. The takeaway is to know your system and your aspirations for that system. That will help make the choice an easy one.
SPECS & PRICING
CLARUS CABLE/GORDON J. GOW TECHNOLOGIES. INC.
Price: $250/ 1m; $350/2m