TCI King Cobra Stereo
Manufactured - according to True Colours Industries - from the 'best aerospace materials', the 'single-ended' King Cobra employs the same core materials as the company's Cobra interconnect - hence the name. The conductors are solid-core silver-plated copper, insulated with PTFE and arranged in a twisted-pair configuration; as a result the cable is rather stiff. A tidily-finished polyester braid provides an overall cover, while the plugs that terminate each end of the cable are made of beryllium copper, with gold-plating. They're a good tight fit, ensuring a reliable connection. Spades and high-quality WBT plugs are offered as termination alternatives.
An expressive recording of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565) - among others - demonstrates that the King Cobra scores particularly well in terms of low-end frequency conveyance, thanks no doubt to the cable's solid-core design. Resolution is also good, the finer details of even complex mixes coming to the fore. At the high end, though, this transparency has a tendency to exacerbate flaws like tape hiss. You pay for this cable's sonic benefits - but then again, silver-plating doesn't come cheap...
Definition and bass extension Minus points
Can be a bit too revealing in the high end
Price: £66 (3m stereo pair, terminated in banana plugs) More info: Wireworld
Wireworld Luna 16/4
The Luna 16/4 is designed for bi-wireable speakers, having two pairs of connectors at one end. This cable employs WireWorld's proprietary 'Diagonal DNA' design. Here, the four colour-coded signal-carrying wires have a flat profile for flexibility. Each consists of twelve six-strand oxygen-free copper conductors arranged side-by-side and enclosed within a high-density polyethylene insulation.
WireWorld claims that Diagonal DNA 'minimises all types of audible distortion'. An overall outer jacket groups and protects the wires; unfortunately the appearance here is slightly untidy because there's no shroud at either end. The colour-coded and snugly-fitting 'Insta-Wire' banana plugs have gold-plated pins and a lozenge-shape that's easy to grip. There's no identication for the LF and HF pairs, and so it doesn't matter which plugs are connected to the speakers (as long as the correct polarity is observed!)
In audio terms, the Luna 16/4 combines impressive bass weight and taut percussive delivery with a pleasantly 'open' sonic character.
Open character, timing, excellent value Minus points
Finish could be improved
This group test demonstrates that speaker cables can indeed sound different - they're not just 'pieces of wire', and should be considered as important components of your hi-fi system. All proved markedly superior to the varieties of cheap flex that are sold 'off-the-reel' by some DiY chains and electronics retailers. But, as with any other hi-fi component, you should ideally listen to a cable being considered for purchase in conjunction with the rest of your gear.
The shock of the test was when the QED's plugs broke. When asked to comment about our unfortunate experiences with QED's plugs, a spokesman told us that they "certainly shouldn't break in normal use - or abnormal use, if it comes to it". He also points out that QED sells "over 100,000 'AirLoc' plugs a year with very little complaints, apart from dealers who forget to put the outer barrel on the cable before they crimp the main pin". Having used QED cables often in the past, we're happy to accept that this was a one-off'.
For the winner though, as far as our review system (Linn amplification, Revox FM tuner, high-end Denon CD transport, Pioneer SACD and Rogers speakers) was concerned, the Ecosse was judged to give the best overall results of the group - although the bi-wireable WireWorld achieves a special 'credit-crunch' award on account of the benefits it delivers at a much lower price point.
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Posted: 17/11/08 18:22:41 41
I have had my home cinema kit some time now. It comprises of a Harman Kardon AVR 7300 AMP, DVD 22 DVD Player and KEF Q Series speakers. I have often thought that the sound is lacking when I play DVD but at £30 a meter the winner of your test is way out of my price range at the moment, but I do need to get some cable, but I am not sure what to look for in a cable, not sales people will just try and sell you the most expensive cable out there, what can i look for in order to make a decision?