Review: Kubala-Sosna Emotion Interconnects Interconnect

Category: Cables

The Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnects are one of those rare audio products that strikes a perfect balance between lifelike clarity and relaxing friendliness. Previous cables I have owned and used in the last several years were Cardas Golden Reference and Golden Cross, Nordost Valhallas, and Jena Symphonies. I have also briefly auditioned Kharma Enigmas. (In the more distant past, I owned Cardas Cross, and Audioquest Indigos & Lapis’s.) All of these cables had good and bad characteristics, but none did everthing well. I now conclude that the Kubalas, with no exaggeration, do everything well, and exceed all of these cables in all areas, often by a wide margin, such that they actually transformed my system’s sound, improving it tremendously. The tonality is natural, absorbing, and inviting. The Kubalas have reduced those irritating factors I had always learned to live with to vanishingly low levels. I cannot foresee any reason to ever upgrade from the Emotions.

My main system consists of an Accuphase DP75V CD player feeding an Edge NL12 power amp directly. My speakers are Kharma 3.2fe’s using Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable, along with a Shunyata Hydra power conditioner. Power cables are a TG Audio SLVR (on the cdp) and 688s everywhere else.

I am very sensitive to aggressive bass. The Kubala’s bass is strikingly beautifully listenable and absorbing, not assaultive at all, but still well defined, even in nearfield listening. The bass is articulate but not attenuated at all. It can turn one into a bass-lover even if you are somewhat bass-phobic like I am. I have had bass problems in my room before; those problems are gone. It is as if I put in bass traps everywhere. Previously, the Valhallas worked well but I realized they accomplished this by being lean and simply removing the bass. The Kubalas brought the bass back, but with a level of quality that I did not think my 2-way Kharmas were capable of. It is as if the Kharmas grew a phantom woofer of the highest caliber. Neither The Cardas’s or the Kharma Enigma’s bass was nearly as well defined or enjoyable.

The midrange and highs are clear and realistic but not veiled at all. While the Valhallas projected too strongly (& pushed me against the wall like the old Memorex Cassette ad with the fellow sitting in his chair with a hurricane was coming at him from his speakers), and the Cardas’s were abrasive on voices and strings through the Kharmas metal tweeters, the Kubala Emotions were ideally balanced. There was no sibilance or edginess. The Kharma’s metal tweeters now sound like the best ribbons, reminding me of my old (dearly departed) Apogee Stages. If you have ever been irritated by edgy voices or piano notes by metal tweeters, the Kubalas have the opposite effect, but to reiterate, not at the expense of blurring or coloration to my ears. I feel this is a miraculous balancing act. They really walk the line.

I listened to Saint-Saens organ symphony and Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance and was amazed by the warm, precise, inviting bass along with the rest of the frequency spectrum. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto # 1 (on a favorite Naxos recording) contained sonorous piano notes without any cold-as-ice piercing affects or electric sting. The soundstage was open and deep. Instruments were well separated but still part of a coherent fabric. With the Kubalas and the Kharmas, the individual instruments did not sound like they were coming from an array of isolated small speakers, but rather part of an inter-related group.

On some popular music with some seriously annoying artifacts, the Kubalas do the best job of remedying these I have found. Sgt. Pepper (The Beatles) was not pushy or harsh, especially with the percussion on “When I'm 64” which can be in-your-face. Similarly, the bell in Maxwell’s Silver Hammer on Abbey Road was detailed and pleasant without being harsh and “ringing” as it usually is. Carly Simon’s voice is not ragged as it can be on revealing speakers. Diana Ross (Supremes music) can be extremely sibilant, even on forgiving speakers like the Aerial 10ts I used to own. The sibilance is almost completely tamed. Back to the Beatles, many of the voices on the White Album (such as in Dear Prudence) lost the raspiness I was all-too-familiar with.

Headphone Experiments:
I also tried the Kubalas on my 2 headphone systems (Stax 007t/Omegas, Headroom Max/Grado RS1), where I previously had experimented with Cardas Golden Reference, Golden Cross & Jena Symphonies. The headphone systems were so much more relaxed it wasn’t funny. It was the perfect cable for both systems. It especially transformed the Stax’s performance, removing any trace of “buzziness” on voices and strings. The Grados had a much more realistic soundstage, much less up-front and pushy. Headphone listening can be an anxiety-prone experience, especially with high-end equipment. Relaxation is key. As soon as I used the Kubalas, I just exhaled with a sense of peace. Even though they may cost more than the rest of the headphone system, they are, in my opinion, worth it.

I realize I have not auditioned a great many cables, and none at this price level except for the Valhallas, and I apologize for that, and I just wanted to give the reader some context for this review. I am simply motivated to write this review because I was so impressed and unexpectedly pleased with the Kubala Emotion interconnects. Although expensive, I want to note that they blend perfectly with my Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable, so the only cost was for the interconnects. For me, they constitute a thoroughly worthwhile investment in my system, and I believe I have a cable for life. Thanks for reading. (rgs --July 17, 2004.)

Associated gear
Accuphase DP75V CD player.
Power Amp: Edge NL12.
No Preamp.
Speakers: Kharma 3.2FE’s.
Speaker Cable: Cardas Golden Reference.
Shunyata Hydra power conditioner. Power cables TG Audio SLVR (on the cdp) and 688s everywhere else.

Similar products
Cardas Golden Reference & Golden Cross.
Nordost Valhalla.
Jena Symphony.
They did sound great in a number of demo rooms, optimizing a number of fine systems at the recent NYC Stereophile Home Entertainment Show.
Interestingly, Kharma loudspeakers, the choice for your own home system, sounded beautiful in one of the Show systems where Kubala-Sosna provided the wiring.
Did not yet have a chance to hear the less costly part of the product line, which shares certain design elements.
Very nicely written, and congradulation on your system.

It's good to see that, the Kubala cables are finally getting some regonition.
Quick follow-up notes. My demo pair was RCA-ended, the pair I bought for further listening was XLR-terminated.
I bought them from GTT audio in Long Valley, NJ, an excellent dealer. -rgs92-
Rgs, how long did it take for the break-in? I've been listening to the speaker cables this past weekend and have heard definite plusses with a few minuses (none of which would bother the music-lover side of me), and am breaking in the interconnect with my tuner. Before I reach any conclusions, I'd like to know if the 24-hour break-in point others seem to be mentioning is true.

FWIW, so far the speaker cables seem to exhibit many of the qualities you're speaking of in the interconnect.