Having originally developed the Bullet RCA range of products, a well-respected RCA connector, KL (Keith Louis Eichmann) and the KLEI Team moved forward and developed and even better “mouse trap” in the KLEI Harmony®Plug product line. This too is garnering the recognition it deserves, with several companies now offering them as standard equipment on their own individual brands of high performing audio interconnects. Flush with that new found success of the KLEI Harmony®Plug products, the KLEI team has now focused their talents on the various issues associated to the cables within an audio system and developed a whole new set of design principles aimed to resolve them.
So What Are The Issues?
I have tinkered with cables for many years and had my own set of “beliefs”, but little did I know that I was about to get “schooled” at a “layman’s level” in the issues associated with conventional cable design. When you have two (or more) insulated conductors side by side, i.e. as in most “conventional” cable designs, the following issues can arise, resulting in the introduction of noise within the cable’s internal conductors…
- When an AC voltage is applied to one conductor, electrical “noise” will be induced into the surrounding conductor(s) – that’s how transformers work.
- two adjacent cables will experience reactive/EMF/EF effects due to the cable’s inductance and capacitance which varies with frequency, which results in “noise” into the adjacent conductors.
- long straight wires are prone to RF/EMF/EF effects from external sources – like an antenna
- there is also “ground noise” which is introduced by the actual components attached to the cable.
Now – it is common knowledge in audio circles that cables should not be closely aligned in parallel with other cables and if a cable needs to cross another, it should be preferably at right angles.
PLEASE NOTE: If you “harness” your cables together with twist-ties you are degrading performance!
And yet, many of the interconnect cables, speaker cables and power cables we commonly use contain two or more conductors in parallel inside an outer sheathing that compresses them together, which intensifies the effect further. But the team at KLEI has come up with a very different approach…
- Their Goal: “The KLEI gZero architecture dynamically works to maintain a zero voltage Ground state”
- Their approach: “In accordance with KL’s Signal/Ground Formula, the KLEI gZero architecture is comprised of hand wound conductors, and implemented in a manner to dynamically enhance electron flow in the Signal conductor, without the use of electronic components”
- The Result: “This has the effect of protecting the signal conductor from ground induced capacitive and inductive reactance, which facilitates smooth uninterrupted signal flow from one component to another, effectively isolating them and allowing them to perform their task without interference.”
- And so, the KLEI gZero architecture was born and at this point I am going to refer you to their web site for complete details about this revolutionary new approach: www.KLEInnovations.com
Enough already! – Get on with the cable review
OK, so I received an email from KL (Keith Louis Eichmann) asking if I’d like to review two of their cables, the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables and the KLEI gZero3 Interconnect. Note that the KLEI gZero3 interconnects will be reviewed separately.
After what seemed like a very long “postal interlude” the cables arrived at the postal station and upon pickup, the package itself was a little disappointing, in that it was not as heavy or as large as I was expecting. My own speaker cables are a hefty 10 gauge with a dense high tech sheathing that weighs a few pounds and would require a significantly larger shipping envelope. Perhaps they forgot to enclose the speaker cables? Did they send a shorter pair of speaker cables by mistake? Nope – both sets of cables were enclosed in a very nice red satin bag (see photo below), a 3 meter pair of KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables (which are very “skinny” cables) and a 1 meter pair of KLEI gZero3 interconnects. My “skinny cable phobia” was the result of an encounter several years ago with a skinny cable that I found had superb mid and upper performance, but was seriously lacking in the area of a deep controlled bass.
Not to be put off by the diminutive diameter of the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cable, I connected them to the amp, making sure that the end with the labels with printed arrows were connected to the speakers.
To address my “skinny cable phobia” I deliberately selected the track Más, from the album Mi Plan by Nellie Furtado, which has some of the deepest synth work in my collection and another track from the same album, Vacación, which has a powerful and very deep bass line.
To my amazement, my fears of a presentation lacking in fullness and depth, were immediately put to rest by an amazingly detailed and complete reproduction of two very demanding tracks. Although, I initially thought they appeared a little thinner sounding, but after a couple of replays it was evident that the bass line was in fact less bloated than before, but actually contained more detail.
KL had advised me that the cables had undergone a factory “burn-in” so they should be sounding their best after about 24 hours. Note, since the factory burn-in is not normally applied to the KLEI gZero2 level of speaker cable, I would generally allow approximately 150-200 hours of use to complete this process. As the burn-in process progressed I noticed a deepening of the bass presentation, but still very controlled and getting more detailed.
So, How Good Are They?
With my “skinny cable phobia” still not quite put to rest, I selected a favourite pipe organ track by Widor, Organ Symphony #5 in F Minor. Op42/1-6 Toccata: Allegro from the album Hear the Light on Phillips, performed by Daniel Chorzempa. The sound engineering on this track is superb and if any one track could allay my phobia it would be this one. It contains the full gamut of the sensory attributes that audiophiles use to quantify a performance.
Well, my phobia has now been completely laid to rest. On this one track alone the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables accomplished an extremely articulate presentation that reached into the depths, to bass levels I have never before heard, to the highest frequencies a pipe organ can reach, with a clarity that allowed the extremely complex layers of the many pipes in play to be clearly heard.
Another very well engineered track that I thought might indicate the imaging prowess of the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables is the Violin Concerto no. 4 in D major KV 218 – Allegro by Marianne Thorsen/Trondheim Solistene. The concert hall in which this track was recorded already captivated me with my previous cables, in that it has a realism often not quite matched in many other recordings. Also, the performance is exquisitely delicate in the quiet sections coupled with some superbly vigorous bowing to round out a very passionate performance full of emotion.
Not only were the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables able to convey the subtle nuances of this performance with amazing dexterity, they were able to expand the image such that the listener is enveloped completely within the venue, which allowed the full emotion of the piece to be experienced. But the one thing that really stood out for me was the amazing smoothness of the violin’s upper register notes.
It turns out that the effect of being “enveloped in the venue acoustics” was not a trait confined to the one track above. Pretty much any well engineered track will be presented in a similar manner.
Now, my review process can be quite intermittent – I grab “moments” throughout the review period, selecting tracks that I believe might feature a passage that will highlight a particular aspect of performance with a component or cable. I find that taking this approach prevents me from becoming fatigued or complacent.
Between those moments I often select albums just for background music as I tend to the various “chores of daily life”.
One album I often select for background music is Greatest Hits from Fleetwood Mac. I like the pace, it’s easy listening and a more mellow kind of sing-along experience. But I had never really considered it to have stunning sound engineering and as such, I have never selected any tracks from it during an evaluation.
On one particular day, I started the album playing and walked away to tend to some chores. Then, something in the music started to grab my attention, so I returned to my system and listened more intently. To my complete surprise the engineering on this album is actually not too shabby at all. I skipped ahead to a few favourite tracks and noticed details that were now being clearly conveyed in a spacious image that surprised me completely. The KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables really bring out the very best in a musical presentation, even on older albums.
So are there any drawbacks?
Well definitely not from a performance aspect. The set I reviewed came terminated with banana plugs (the recommended option), but spade terminations can be accommodated if requested by the customer at the time of ordering.
Which brings me to the Pricing
Considering the level of performance the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables bring to a system, I don’t consider them to be outrageously priced, especially when compared to many other high-tech speaker cable alternatives costing significantly more.
- I guess, as always, it depends on what you are prepared to pay for performance.
- But in this case it is – exceptional performance!
If I had not been asked to review the KLEI gZero2 SCs and seen them on a shelf in an audio store – I would have passed them by. Their fit and finish is first class, but they do look more like an interconnect cable than a speaker cable – sorry KL.
But being an “Audio Enthusiast”… It’s NOT about “THE LOOK”, it’s all about “THE SOUND!”.
Having a pair of KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables in your system may evoke comments from fellow enthusiasts like “hey – they look cute!” or “shouldn’t they be on a bookshelf speaker?” That is, until you play them a few of your more demanding tracks – those comments will probably change to “where can I get a set of those”.
I have been using Van Den Hul speaker cables for many years and have been very satisfied with their performance and still consider the D-352’s to be a very good speaker cable i.e. within it’s “more conventional” design constructs. But the design team at KLEInnovations(KLEI) has created a “New Breed”. With bold new designs that challenge conventional cable related “wisdoms” from the past, to bring you some very affordable cabling products that can elevate the performance of even modestly priced systems like my own, to an extraordinary level.
How good are they? Well, I purchased the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables because they are simply… “too good to pass by”.
The KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables will elevate the performance of your system to a level that other speaker cables fail to achieve.
Something to consider
It is imperative when using products the caliber of the KLEI gZero2 Speaker Cables, that all the other cables in your system (i.e. interconnect and power cables) must be capable of a similar level of performance otherwise the effectiveness of the KLEI gZero2 SCs will not be fully realized.