Revisiting the Kimber KCAG

I've been using RCA KCAGs between my preamp and amp for about 15 years. I've tried many other ICs (in approximately the same price range or lower) including Siltech, XLO, Cardas, Staightwire, and some of the internet-only jobs like Oritek, Signal Cable, and Guerilla. Some worked well in my system (I kept those), others not, but what I keep hearing is how incredibly transparent the KCAG cables are (in my system). Do they do everything perfectly? No. With some music you can hear juuuust a little bit of hardness in the mids, and the soundtsgae is not as big as with some other cables.

What I would like to hear from the gang here is whether there are any other cables in this price range (or maybe a bit more) that have the same information retrieval, speed, and transparency (while still remaining very musical) as these classic cables... and maybe improve a bit on those areas where the KCAG may be a little weak. At this point I can work with either RCA or XLR.
You are going to get a thousand responses; everyone will be hawking his or her favorite find!

I've owned KCAG in the past and then moved on to silver foil. The Chimera cables have moved in and replaced everything. I can't compare them directly to the KCAG as I don't have both on hand at the same time, but I can say that the Chimera's are good enough that I've stopped looking. And money back if you are not happy!
Have Fun,
Yeah, I suspect that will happen, Steve. I guess what I'm looking for is a better KCAG. Did you have the Kimbers when you moved to the Chimeras?
I used the KCAG for a long period of time and think it is a fantastic cable. So much of a fantastic cable, I used KCAG to re-wire some of my Amps Internal Wiring. (SLI-80) Then a friend of mine, brought over his Audience Au24 interconnects.

I must say in my setup the Audience bested the KCAG in several ways. I now use all Au24 and their powerchords throughout my system. If my buddy had not brought them over after raving about them, I would probably still own the KCAG.

Please keep in mind that everything is system dependant. But, if you are looking for a similiar priced cable that might be better in your system, the Audience Au24 should be on your shortlist.

Good Luck!

Chris, since you had the Kimbers, can you tell me what it was about them (in your system) that made you hold on to them, and then what in particular about the Au24 caused you to replace them?
Sure thing. I think what I remember mostly was the overall pace of the music. The soundstage was also much larger with the Au24. At the same time it also gained more focus and clarity without sounding analytical or clinical. Surprising enough both cables have their similarities but the Audience just had this pace to it.

I would suggest you maybe purchased a pair here in the classifieds and give them an audition. If you do not like them, you can always sell them here for what you paid or close to it. Good Luck!

The Au24 reviews read like they might do what I need. Your advice about getting a pair here on the 'gon is good, Chris.

I wonder how something like the AZ Silver Reference II would work? The reviews for this IC sounds like it has similar characteristics.
Tonyp the Audience is one of the best,but I think the
diamond audioquest is better.
I own the Au24 speaker cables as my reference, so I borrowed some of the interconnect to try, but it couldn't dethrone my reference, though it was very nice in its own right, maybe the best of the rest I've had in here. The cable I'm sold on is van den Hul "The First Ultimate", which uses neither silver nor copper but pure carbon conductors and is the most open, extended, uncolored, and fastest IC I've tried (but then I've not tried KCAG).

The reason I'm mentioning this is because you're already happy with an unshielded cable, and while TFU is not completely unshielded like the traditional Kimbers, it is not as well shielded or as low in resistance as typical metal cables (this is an unaviodable function of its metal-free, coaxial design, but it is not unusually capacitive). The downside of this unique design is that TFU is only made in lengths of 1.5M and under, only in single-ended form, and does not always work in silence if plugged into tubed components, particularly tubed power amps. (The very similar, though not quite equally pure and open sounding, vdH "The Second" uses a mix of metal shielding and twisted-pair carbon conductors, and is available in longer lengths and balanced configuration. I also use these in my system where required.) This cable is typically at its best advantage between sources and preamp, and close-proximity solid-state power amps.

But if you can live within those limitations, and you appreciate and can make problem-free use of the particular sonic advantages available in an IC without the heavy shielding, TFU is a relative bargain in my view. Only, don't expect it to sound like any metal cable you've ever heard, so it can take some getting used to -- bypass testing in my system was helpful in convincing me that this cable really was correct and my previous metal cables were wrong. At first, the lack of accustomed metal-cable colorations (in comparison, usually heard as a somewhat rolled-treble, spotlit presence-range, warmed-bass balance, with slightly "zingy" textures, pleasantly compressed dynamics, and a "reverb-y" smeared time response) can make you think TFU sounds a little tipped-up, "plastic-y", and oddly inert, but keep listening.

You'll probably find the top-octave soundstage is more wide-open than you've heard, and the bass, while not burnished with faux warmth, is more dynamic, palpable, and well-controlled. Textures should be virtually completely smooth unless you turn out to have a problem with environmental radiated fields, and the mids essentially totally uncolored, with a distinct lack of phasiness throughout. Low-level resolution and microdynamic expressiveness are outstanding, while macrodynamic peaks are unblunted. It's also a physically lightweight, simple-looking, thin and flexible cable, unlike metal ones pretty much impervious to bending, terminated with nicely narrow and smooth-inserting vdH gold-plated RCA's. And for what it's worth, doesn't require "break-in" if you're a believer in that for cables.

Anyway, a one-of-a-kind, idiosyncratic product. A little tougher to find and use perhaps, but definitely worth a listen for anyone interested, though certainly not everyone -- especially sonic romantics -- will like it the way I do. (There's more tech info and reviews available on the vdH Netherlands website than on the vdH USA distributor's. Also see Steve McCormack's comments on his SMc Audio site pertaining to his DNA amp mod upgrades using vdH carbon wire. BTW, The First Ultimate is equally suited for use as a similarly unique and superb S/PDIF digital IC.) Sorry for the review-length response -- I meant to review this here a long time ago but never did! :-)
I moved up to KCAGs from Silver Streak.Then,in 1998 Straightwire Crescendos came along and i never looked back.
Overhang, does your audio memory go back far enough to remember why the Straightwires were better than the KCAGs? What was your system like at the time?
I dont know much about the KCAG, but why dont you try one of the fine Kimber Select series. You would be suprise. Very natural sound, great dynamics and excellent build, IMO a step up from the KCAG.
Well, I've heard the 1010 (a little too warm in my system), and I can't afford the 1030, even used. I was hoping to find something no more than about $500/m used.
Straightwire had larger,fuller soundstage with amazing analog like lower mid/upper bass range.I can see where KCAG can be a better match for a small system but for a full range it does not provide enough gauge to fill the space between the speakers.Btw,KCAG was the best cable detail-wise that i ever heard.
Well, I'm currently trying Acoustic Zen Silver Reference cables, and I have to say so far they sound pretty good in my system. They seem to be as transparent as the KCAGs, but with much better space. Definitely better from the mids to the low end. But they're not making a significant shift in the "way" my system sounds (that's meant to be a good thing).
Hi Zaikesman,
Good to "see" you back on Audiogon. If I recollect correctly you seem to have disappeared from this site for quite a while. Maybe just reading the posts but not writing any?

Anyway, you are one of the very few users who has said anything about a vdH cable. I empathize w/ you as a former owner of the vdH The First cable. My brother now owns it & is happy w/ it. You are right on the mark re. getting used to the non-metal sound. I found that when I listened a lot, my mind was calibrated to the metal vs non-metal sound but when I took a longish break, I always doubted that vdH The First before I snapped out of it & reminded myself that it was a carbon-fibre cable!
"Anyway, a one-of-a-kind, idiosyncratic product." - oh yes! you can say that again. IMHO, definitely not created for this particular market!
Tonyptony, you are correct the Kimber 1010 are on the warm side, but the Kimber 1021 is another history.
I'm glad you like the AZ silver reference, its a wonderfull cable. Enjoy it. In the end if you are still having the "hardness problem" maybe the answer is not in the cables, but elsewere. then you must dig deeper.
Hi Bombaywalla, I haven't read or posted much in a long time. The vdH carbon cables don't seem to get a lot of "run" anymore, they've been around a long time, and you know how that game goes. But they're still a totally unique product, and deserve a wider audience IMO. There's actually quite a few user reviews over on BTW, the original "The First" was not the same as its successor, the current "The First Ultimate", which has something like 3X the number of carbon fibers in the return/shield for lower resistance and better noise rejection, and is worth a listen if you haven't heard it recently.
Ahh....Kimber Select. My plan is to change everything to these Series. If you have the cash, I strongly you make an excellent start with the current Select.... BUT don't say I didn't warn you of the potential addiction....
Hi, Tonyptony
I'm just wondering you have Guerilla, Signal Cable and Oritek, how was the sound compare to your KCAG? especially Guerilla coz I'm looking for their product. I owned some kimber cable before from PBJ, Hero, Silver Streak, except KCAG but Silver Streak is more improvement than the other two, more speed and good on bottom end. My opinion if you're looking for speed and Transparency, Go to Nordost, I have Solar Wind speaker cable it kills my Kimber 8 TC.