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Kimber “Kables” Testing At Hallman Labs: The Skin Effect (Signal Freq vs. Conductor Gauge) & Cryo “HiFi Fuses”! (Update 1/25/18)

 

Update 1/25: I realized after reading my own article and the quotes from Kimber cables that I had wired up my setup incorrectly. Kimber has one conductor carrying the thicker gauge and the other conductor of the same color carrying the thinner gauge. So if you want the full Kimber effect you need to combine the conductors of the same color into one, turning a quad cable into a stereo one. However, I then realized that if you are bi-amping your speakers with a crossover splitting the high and lows, you could simply utilize the most beneficial gauge. Use the thinner gauge for the highs and the thicker gauge for the lows. This setup has worked out pretty well actually! I will let everyone know what changes when I try the way Kimber recommends. The photo below shows two of one conductor and one of the other conductors. Two small gauges conductors with one of the thick gauge conductors in between the other two.

Kimber Cable gauge Comparison Illustrated
Kimber KWIK-12 conductor gauges compared

 

I wanted to thank Tom Hoffman for allowing me to test the XLR to RCA converter (article below this one) with some Belden 1800F “Brilliance” XLR cables using Neutrik plugs.  Without Tom I would have had to wait another 1-2 weeks before testing the XLR to RCA converter. Tom gave me some other items to test out shown below, most notably the Kimber cables.

412ZFFdXx6L._SR600,315_PIWhiteStrip,BottomLeft,0,35_SCLZZZZZZZ_
Belden 1800F “Brilliance” Cable

 

For our testing we have some “Kimber Kable KWIK-12 E120909 M 14/4 (UL) CL2 F2027013″ speaker cable which is bi-amping my Polk 70’s from one run of cable! This speaker cable has quad 14g (overall) conductors. One of the special things about Kimber cabling is that they use many different gauges of wire to make up one of the four conductors of 14 gauge (with double Teflon jackets). This is because of the fact that specific audio frequencies perform better on specific gauges of wire. A lot of this has to do with the phenomenon called the “Skin Effect”. The higher the frequency the signal is the more the signal pushes itself towards the outer limits of the conductor/s.

Info on the skin effect:

 

Skin Effect happens in all wire and cable (or in any metal object that conducts a signal, such as a trace on a circuit board or antennas, etc.). When the “signal” is DC, it uses the entire conductor, with the same amount of current flowing in the center of each wire as on the outside of the wire. As the signal changes frequency (i.e. is now a wave changing direction) a very odd effect occurs: the signal begins to move more to the outside of the conductor than the inside. For audio frequencies, which are pretty low frequencies in the spectrum, this effect is so tiny it can barely be measured. Table 1 below shows how much conductor is used at 20 kHz, pretty much the highest audible frequency, and compares that to various wire sizes. (If you want the actual formula for skin effect, drop me a line and I will send it to you.)

 

cables 2

Photo Credit: http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/cable-and-interconnect-construction/?page=3

Basis:

Depth at 20 kHz = 18.4 mils (.0184 in.) Radius x 2 = 36.8 mils (.0368 in.) Diameter

Amount of conductor used at 20 kHz, based on conductor size
Conductors Diameter % of conductor used
24 AWG 0.024 100% at 20 kHz
22 AWG 0.031 100% at 20 kHz
12 AWG 0.093 75% at 20 kHz
10 AWG 0.115 68% at 20 kHz

Ref: https://www.belden.com/blog/broadcast/understanding-skin-effect-and-frequency

 

Long story short, wider cables are better at transmitting bass signals while thinner cables are better at transmitting higher frequencies. This obviously leaves mid-range in a middle gauge between the optimal high and optimal low gauges. I believe you could voice these speaker cables if you knew what mid-range boost or drop you wanted to incorporate to balance a system.

 

Impedance
That high-frequency value (75 ohms) is called the “characteristic impedance” of the cable and will stay at 75 ohms (or whatever it was designed to be) out to much higher frequencies. If you compare the low frequency formula to the high-frequency formula, there is one huge difference.R (the resistance of the wire) is a major factor at low frequencies. But in the high frequency formula, there is no R, no resistance.What happened to the resistance?And the answer is “skin effect”.As the frequencies got higher and higher, less and less of that conductor is being used, until, around 100 kHz, only the skin is actually carrying the signal.  Ref: https://www.belden.com/blog/broadcast/understanding-skin-effect-and-frequency

Say that we are using 24g and 16g as our max and min, to get a dead centered (and even) for the middle frequencies we would pick 20g. Say we wanted more of a midrange boost, then you would pick a gauge that is closer to the low frequencies gauge, say 18g. Keep in mind the total gauge of the Kimber wire I am using is 14g, so I am trying to use numbers that might work in a 14g combo of other gauges. I would be interested to hear what Kimber has to say on these thoughts or if they are already doing it. If anyone from Kimber is reading this please shoot me an email on the Contact tab at the top of this page.

 

From Kimber’s Website on KWIK-12 cables:

Premium in wall speaker cable for premium sound. Dual gauge strand construction in PE dielectric. Four conductor design to be used in hybrid braid style two conductor termination. 12 AWG / 3.31mm2. (UL) CL2 rated. One conductor of each color contains finer gauge copper strands while the other conductor of each color contains heavier gauge copper strands. When the two gauges are combined they serve to help minimize resonance within the cable stranding, thereby optimizing performance. Far superior, both electrically and in terms of sound quality, to the commonly used PVC dielectric. PE provides a smoother, cleaner and more grain free sound. The off-white PVC outer jacket is durable and pulls smoothly through studs without sticking or binding. The neutral color of the jacket is less objectionable, with regard to decor, should the cable become visible. In addition, convenient foot labeling makes it easier to track cable usage.

Ref: https://www.kimber.com/products/KWIK-12

 

 

Kimber cables are actually pretty reasonable with regard to price for what they offer to the right amp and speaker combo. You can get 20 feet for $50 which is actually cheaper than some of the mid to high end cables found on Amazon! I will say one thing about the Kimber cable setup I have them right now on my front left Polk 70, it’s harder to drive than the Cables Matter speaker wire setup I have on the right speaker. BUT, the Kimber side sounds fuller and has more texture than the right speaker. Tom didn’t think this should happen (being lower in volume), so I am going to try running my bi-amp cable runs with two separate Kimber KWIK-12 runs, one for each amplifier (bi-amp = 2 amps per speaker : 1 amp to tweeter/highs and one amp to mids/lows).

 

Kimber
Picture of the Kimber KWIK-12 cables. It’s really obvious that the cable contains different gauges of wire when you put banana plugs on them.

 

I found this image below from https://www.newenglandwire.com/products/litz-wire-and-formed-cables/theory

Theory_Table2

The link above the photo will describe another way at trying to fight the same problem that Kimber is doing, except they are using the Litz technique where each wire that makes up the conductor is individually insulated with a dielectric before many of these are combined to make one conductor.

 

I am also using a Cryo treated 5x20mm HiFi-Tuning.com Fuse from Tom, for my ES9038 DAC vs. the stock metal and glass ones. This will definitely require more supposed HiFi fuse samples (I have 3 on the way) before I can say if this makes any noticeable difference on my setup. I can already tell you from other HiFi Fuse Reviews, even the people who say it makes a difference would rate it around a 1-2 level change out of 10 (so don’t blow big bucks on fuses go for below $20).

 

FUSESRETAILprice2_17
This is from the company website that makes the cryogenically treated fuse I am using (See Here: http://www.ultrasystem.com/usfeaturedprodsFUSE.html )

 

Hallman Labs View All

Electrical Engineering student (Jr year) with a background in IT. Such as dealing with large scale network infrastructure upgrades at Lowe's HQ and former lead hardware tech for the NC Government. My specialty has shifted over to audio hardware and vintage hardware re-certifications along with treble bleeds.

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