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S/PDIF RCA digital cable


KBL Sound

Producent: KBL SOUND
Price (in Poland): 11,599 PLN/1m

Contact: tel.: 696 551 492


Provided for test by: KBL SOUND

he function of a digital cable is to transmit digital signal from a transmitter to a receiver. As we are living in a digital world, there are many types of such transmissions, also in the audio domain. For a long time, we have been witnessing manufacturers’ efforts to get rid of cables. Therefore, there has been improvement in Bluetooth transmission in which CD quality signal can be transmitted without compression thanks to the apt-X codec. Wi-Fi is also used more and more often, e.g. in Arcam systems with a soundbar as the base and a subwoofer as the receiver. However, as it seems, cables are going to remain the dominant medium for transmitting music signal for a long time (perhaps forever) in high-end audio, mainly in recording and mastering studios.

There are two dominant types of connections in home audio: USB and S/PDIF with AES/EBU as add-on variant. HDMI and Ethernet cables are much less often used for this purpose. Some companies, e.g. Ancient Audio and CEC use their own connections. AES/EBU is a connection in which signal is transferred using a single cable with XLR connectors at each end (impedance: 110 Ω). It used to be used in recording studios, but it is also quite often found in consumer audio systems. Its advantage is that balanced signal is sent through it, so it is resistant to interference.

A “home” version of the AES/EBU is the S/PDIF standard (SONY/Philips Digital Interface Format), based on a professional AES3, making it possible to send uncompressed stereophonic signal up to 24 bit and 96 kHz or compressed multi-channel signal (e.g. Dolby Digital or DTS). Some of the latest DACs also accept DSD signal packed as DoP (DSD over PCM) in this way.

S/PDIF signal can be sent optically or electrically – i.e. either via TOSLink cables or single electrical cables, most often coaxial ones, with RCA or BNC connectors at their ends and characteristic impedance of 75 Ω. An advantage of optical transmission is the galvanic isolation of the transmitter (transport) and the receiver (digital-to-analog converter), while its disadvantage is a narrower frequency response than in the case of an electrical cable.

Digital cables seem to be the simplest type of connections. In fact, they are one of those that are most difficult to make. They have to handle extremely broad frequency response, be resistant to electromagnetic and FR interference, as well as maintain characteristic impedance. Each deviation causes jitter interference (irregularities in the timing of a rising or falling edge). In reality, every cable changes something and there are no ideal cables, because, apart from the cable itself, there are also problems with connectors, among which only BNC connectors let us precisely maintain nominal impedance (RCA connectors change it a bit). The only 75-ohm connectors are WBT nextgen connectors, like Bullet Plug connectors in the past.


The Pro version of the digital KBL Sound Himalaya cable in the test is an RCA cable. At the time of the return of external digital D/A converters in audio, it is one of the most popular methods of transmitting digital signal (next to USB), while HDMI prevails in the video world.

In the article you will find manufacturer’s specifications regarding the cable’s design, so I am not going to write a lot about them. Let me just say that the Himalaya Pro is made of single crystal OCC silver wires and has top-of-the-range silver-plated WBT RCA connectors from the nextgen series at its ends. There is a bulge on the receiver side, as if a snake has swallowed a mouse – these are the so-called Bybee Slipstream Purifiers, components produced by the American company Bybee Technologies whose function is to purify signal. I do not know them from other applications and I do not quite understand how they work, so I am testing the cable as a whole component.

The cable is quite flexible and covered with gray mesh, just like all other Himalaya cables. It is packed in a nice wooden box with a certificate of authenticity. The standard length of the cables is 1, 1.5 or 2 m. Let me add that on a special request the cables can be made not of silver, but of single crystal OCC copper.

KBL Sound

In order to satisfy the needs of even the most demanding music lovers, we have included a new top-of-the-range line of signal and speaker cables in our offer: the Himalaya PRO. It is different from the previously launched Himalaya series in that the signal is additionally purified by the Quantum Bybee Purifiers. These are small components that work similarly to filters, but their function is not really to filter noise or interference, but rather to “order” the flow of electrons at the quantum level.

As a result, none of the factors that influence sound get sacrificed, which may be the case when filters are used, but all sonic aspects are improved. This happens because the purifiers operate at the most basic level where the flow or exchange of electrons between atoms becomes easier and more effective. Bybee products already gained recognition in the world several years ago and many companies are using them in their most exotic products (e.g. Boenicke or Jorma Design).

We have become convinced that the manufacturer’s claim that the purifiers “result in an improvement in sound reproduction surpassing whatever is achievable in any cable, no matter how well designed it is” is true. Indeed, the purifiers also allow us to “tune” our cables even better. In order to be able to offer these and other interesting solutions proposed by Bybee Technologies on the Polish market, we have become the company’s distributor in our country.

The digital Himalaya PRO cable belongs to this new type of our cables which constitutes the essence of KBL Sound’s guiding thought, as we have used the most modern and advanced technologies in the world to produce it. Similarly to Himalaya signal cables, the conductor is single crystal OCC silver which ensures a homogenous environment for the flow of electrons. In this respect there is no better solution than a single crystal of metal from one plug to another and it can be treated as an ideal standard. Any other forms of even the purest metals or alloys will cause distortion in transmission because of their granular structure, and therefore they will make sound less natural.

The function of an insulator that is close to an ideal is performed in the Pro cables by foamed Teflon whose loss coefficient is much lower than that of Teflon itself. It is an expensive and therefore rarely used solution that is also extremely difficult to apply, dedicated only for uncompromising applications. We use top-class WBT-1052 Ag nextgen Signature plugs with a minimized contact surface to avoid unfavorable electromagnetic phenomena, such as eddy currents.

The cable has a characteristic spatial arrangement in which the hot core and the return core are separated and separately screened, four times in total. This effectively protects the cable from the influence of harmful RFI and EMI waves that are more and more often penetrating our environment. Finally, what makes the Pro series unique are the Bybee purifiers applied directly between the plug and the cable, selected and tuned specially for a given model.

It is worth adding that the Himalaya interconnects and speaker cables that have already been bought can be modified and upgraded to the PRO version for an additional price.

The Himalaya Pro cable is one of the most expensive digital cables that we can currently buy. It does not cost the most, but is definitely in the lead. So, I listened to it attentively in a few configurations, using different transports and converters for this purpose. As regards transports, these were the Reimyo CDP-777, the Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition and the Marantz HD-CD1. When it comes to converters, I used the DAP-999EX TOKU High Fidelity Edition and the Amare Musica Diamond Tube DSD DAC. My reference point were two digital RCA cables: the Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6100 II (1 m) and the Acoustic Revive COX-1.0PA (1 m).

KBL SOUND in “High Fidelity”
  • TEST: KBL Sound ZODIAC – analog interconnect + speaker cable + AC power cable
  • AWARD OF THE YEAR 2015: KBL Sound SIGNATURE SERIES HIMALAYA – interconnect + speaker cable
  • TEST: KBL Sound SIGNATURE SERIES HIMALAYA – interconnect + speaker cable
  • AWARD OF THE YEAR 2014: KBL Sound REFERENCE POWER DISTRIBUTOR + RED EYE – power strip + AC power cables (system)
  • TEST: KBL Sound REFERENCE POWER DISTRIBUTOR + RED EYE – power strip + AC power cables (system)
  • TEST: KBL Sound RED EYE – digital S/PDIF cable

  • Recordings used for the test (a selection):

    • Charlie Haden & Chris Anderson, None But The Lonely Heart, Naim naimcd022, CD (1997)
    • Aqua e Vihno, wyk. Kuropaczewski, Szymczewska, Zdunik, Staśkiewicz, Budnik-Gałązka, Polskie Radio | Ponte PRCD 1315, CD (2010)
    • Andrzej Trzaskowski Quintet, Andrzej Trzaskowski Quintet, Polskie Nagrania „Muza”/Warner Music Poland, „Polish Jazz vol. 4”, Master CD-R (1965/2016)
    • Brian Eno, The Ship, Warp Records/Beat Records BRC-505CE, SHM-CD (2015)
    • Depeche Mode, Ultra, Mute/Sony Music Labels SICP-30543, Blu-spec CD2, (2007/2014)
    • Dominic Miller & Neil Stacey, New Dawn, Naim naimcd066, CD (2002)
    • Franz Liszt, Agnelle Bundervoët plays Liszt, Decca France/Sakuraphon SKRP33020, CD (1955/2015)
    • Michał Wróblewski Trio, City Album, Elite Records 11529024, CD (2014)
    • Ryszard Sygitowicz, Bez grawitacji, Wifon/GAD Records GAD CD 029, CD (1985/2015);
    • Schubert, Song Cycles, wyk. Nathalie Stutzmann, Inger Södergren, Erato/Warner Classics 4623701, 3 x CD (2014)
    Japanese CD editions are available from

    It is easy to prove that a digital cable changes sound. The Himalaya Pro works like any other product, i.e. it modifies the musical message, which cannot be avoided. However, since it is a good cable, it modifies music in a specific way, for a given purpose. A lot of digital cables pretend that they do not contribute to sound in any way, which results in chaotic attempts to improve one aspect of sound or another, without paying attention to the musical message as a whole. The tested Himalaya cable, let us make it clear straight away, proposes coherent transmission which orders sound.

    What attracts attention in the sound of the Polish cable is the emphasis on the part of the frequency range which is usually referred to as the “midrange”. It would be easier for me to talk about “favoring the midrange”, but this is not it. That would suggest warming up, perhaps even like in the case of a stereotypical tube amplifier, but the reality is completely different – the Himalaya Pro produces open and detailed sound. In this case, emphasis on the midrange is both about showing direct sounds more strongly and promoting the foregrounds. Phantom images, i.e. instruments and human voices are strong and close to us. Therefore, the musical message is very tangible and “human”. I am talking about such kind of music that makes stereotypical “digital sound” a thing of the past – now it is about warmth, density and fluidity.

    However, this is not blobby or sticky sound. Its open quality makes us sensitive to many details that are not always properly captured when weaker cables are used. I am not only talking about musicians’ breaths or the sound of a moving chair, because it is obvious, but also completely “musical” elements, such as the way of blowing the trumpet, the act of hitting the percussion with a beater or the double bass playing technique. These are seemingly unimportant elements, but they build the credibility of the musical message, bringing us closer to the performers and the performance itself. This is what the Himalaya Pro cable deals with easily, without being lavish and overwhelming us with information, but simply by providing the information and building a whole grand musical message.

    The act of bringing music closer to the listener can also be taken literally, as the foregrounds are distinct and constitute the most important element of the message. We “see” the playing instruments and vocalists, and we do get a credible message. The foreground is strong, but not because the background is pulled up. The depth of the sound stage is really nice. However, slight shifts of accents make us subconsciously focus on the foreground while, for example, listening to recordings in which there is a lot of reverberation – for example Schubert interpreted by Nathalie Stutzmann and Inger Södergren. What is further away – room response, in this particular case – is smooth and nice, but does not occupy a lot of space between the speakers. I perceived the duet of Charlie Haden and Chris Anderson (recorded from a certain distance, which is typical for Naim), but also Brian Eno’s ambient collages from his last album – The Ship in the same way. The focus on “here and now” was clear.

    The cable does not lead to closing the sound stage. There is breath and swing in the recordings, and if these are intimate recordings, captured using microphones located close to the sound sources, they retain their specific character. The cable does not diminish the size of instruments, either. The effect that I am talking about relies on focusing our attention on what is closer to us. The sound is direct and “literal”. However, it does not impose itself on us with its presence as it is very smooth. It makes the tested Himalaya cables different from cables which are unambiguously warm (closeness) or detailed (distance). Therefore, even though it is a cable “with a personality”, it is neither imposed on us nor even unambiguous. Everything depends on how we interpret that and not on what interpretation we get.

    I am repeating myself, but “smoothness” is, in my opinion, a good description of this kind of sound. It is neither warm, nor does it make the foregrounds larger than they are; it has a clear upper midrange, but does not brighten sound up. The low bass is lighter than in the copper reference cables and the upper treble is sweeter. It can only be heard during a direct A/B/A comparison. When we listen to whole tracks and albums, we get the impression of an open midrange and smoothness, but there is also sufficient filling. If we compare the tested cable with a top-of-the-range copper cable once again, we will hear the specific character of the Himalaya Pro. If we listen to it for a longer time, we will quickly get used to it. It reminds me of the way signal is modified by Siltech digital interconnects (apart from the Triple Crown).


    Companies promoting wireless connections claim that the best cable is no cable. This is true, of course, but in a completely different sense and reminds me of another similar statement: “the best preamplifier is no preamplifier”. I agree that eliminating the cable solves certain problems, but then new, more serious ones emerge. So, we must accept the fact that cables modify sound and simply look for products that do it in accordance with our expectations.

    The Himalaya Pro cable raises sound a little, emphasizing the midrange (including the upper midrange). It is detailed and accurate. By including it in a top system, we retain good presentation, rhythmicity and details. There is no chaos or disorder. At the same time, the cable produces smooth and nice sound, focusing our attention on direct sounds, and frees us from the necessity to constantly analyze what we hear.

    Can this be done better? Surely – by making the bass deeper and reverberation longer, and increasing resolution that results in greater background saturation. However, there are two disadvantages of this. First of all, we will have to sacrifice something in return (e.g. decrease the amount of details). Secondly, even though the Himalaya Pro cable is very expensive, we will have to pay just as much for these “improvements”.


    ForTune Production ForTune 0100(065)

    Premiere: 2016
    Medium: COMPACT DISC


    In 1996, Bobby Previte travelled around Europe with his young band Weather Clear, Track Fast, introducing a new generation of musicians: Jamie Saft, Cuong Vu and Andrew D’Angelo to the European stage in this way. Twenty years later he did this again and returned with musicians from Brooklyn: Mike Gamble – guitar, Michael Kammers – saxophone and keyboard, and Kurt Kotheimer – bass guitar. The Visitors is Previn’s first live band in the last ten years. Rehearsals took place in his new studio – Three Horses in a Wood (surrounded by a forest, as the name itself suggests).

    Robert "Bobby" Previte is an American drummer and composer born in 1951 in the state of New York. He studied economics and the percussion at the University at Buffalo – both at the same time. In 1979 he moved to New York where he became a very active representative of experimental and jazz music. He cooperated with John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Elliott Sharp and many other musicians.

    Bobby Previte describes his collaboration with The Visitors in the following way: “I very much like playing with, and simply being with younger musicians. Their energy is contagious, and they don't have any axes to grind. They aren't so invested in who they are as to limit themselves to whom they think they should be, and the current Visitors are among my very favorites. I thank them for the music, the intensity, and all that I have learned from them. And especially for the quarter-speed Elvis hang at 3 am. Epic!”

    The album Gone is a record of a concert which took place in Warsaw, at the 12on14 club on 21st January 2015. The club was then still situated in the Warsaw Old Town on Piwna street.

    (Source: adapted from company materials)


    Concert records are not always technically perfect, even if it can be heard that efforts were made to keep everything under control. This is also true for the album Gone. Reconciling stage and recording requirements is difficult and you often have to compromise, and sacrifice the latter.

    Bobby Previte’s album is neither selective nor offers much resolution. It is strong music with electric and acoustic instruments, and it is hard to reconcile these elements with one another. The timbre of individual instruments is preserved really well. The frequency response is limited from the top and bottom, so it seems that the midrange and upper bass are most important here. The sound stage is quite narrow and we do not get clearly defined sound planes.

    I listened to this album through headphones for the first time and everything that I wrote about above did not mean much anymore. The density, energy and vitality that this recording is full of makes us wait for the next move of the musicians with excitement. The free-jazz convention merged with traditional fusion is used very well here and gives listeners a kick. It is an album that makes us give up our habits – if we do not want to listen to the same music as always again, let us listen to Gone and get fresh music that will increase our appetite for life each time.

    Sound quality: 6/10

    Free Electronic Band

    ForTune Production ForTune 0101(066)
    Premiere: 20.07.2016
    Medium: COMPACT DISC


    Silva Rasmussen Solberg is a trio (Mette Rasmussen, Alan Silva and Ståle Liavik Solberg) that made their debut as a spontaneously formed band at the Oslo’s Blow Out! Festival in 2013. Their performance was then acknowledged as one of the most interesting and important events of the festival.

    Mette Rasmussen is an artist who likes to experiment – she is constantly examining the possibilities of sound, trying out various techniques and expanding the instrument’s grammar as a result. The American “Downbeat” called her “a young Scandinavian saxophone sensation”. “The Wire” perceives her as an artist who “is moving on the border of controlled lyricism”. Vebopspokenhere, UK sees her in the Premier League of young improvisers.

    Alan Silva is an American multi-instrumentalist, a double bass player (one of the most creative and innovative ones in jazz) and keyboardist. Throughout his long career, he has gained a reputation of being an innovative improviser. He has collaborated with such avant-garde stars as Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Suny Murray, Frank Wright, Bill Dixon or Archie Shepp, Johannes Bauer and Roger Turner. In 1964 he took part in the October Revolution in Jazz festival in New York as a pioneer of the free jazz movement. He recorded the album Live in Greenwich Village with Albert Ayler. In 1969 he moved from New York to Paris where he established and managed the star-studded Celestrial Communication Orchestra, a group dedicated to free jazz and musical experiments. In Paris he also set up the famous Institute for Artistic & Cultural Perception where he also worked as a teacher.

    Ståle Liavik Solberg is one of the central characters in the domain of musical improvisation in Oslo. He is part of bands such as VCDC, regularly collaborates with the British guitarist and distinguished promoter of free improv – John Russell, pianist and keyboardist Jim Baker, saxophonist Martin Küchen, or composer and cellist Fredrick Lonberg-Holm. Solberg is also one of the organizers of the Blow Out! festival in Oslo. He is responsible for the organization of the event together with the drummer Paal Nilssen-Love.

    The album consists of a single composition Free Electronic Band that is 45 minutes and 55 seconds long, recorded all at once on 21st July 2014 in Centrum Kultury Agora (Agora Cultural Centre) in Wrocław.

    (Source: adapted from company materials)


    Shortly before I obtained the album Free Electronic Band, I bought another “batch” of discs produced by the French company Actuel for review, beautifully remastered and issued as mini LPs, i.e. in “packets”. The reviewed album does not come across as worse when it comes to music (although there is a difference, of course, in how recognizable and famous the artists are) and it is better as far as sound is concerned.

    The sound is distinct, but warm at the same time. Good dynamics has been maintained and the frequency range is not closed from the top. It does sound a bit like a live performance, i.e. like from dynamic microphones, but I have no problem with that. The sound stage is broad, quite deep, with clearly presented individual sound planes. There is also quite high dynamics which prevents everything from getting mashed. The recording lacks resolution and selectivity a bit, as if someone was trying mainly to prevent the brightening of sound at the mastering stage, but we cannot do anything about it.

    Above all, this is energetic music that gets meditative at times and can be listened to non-stop without making us bored or tired.

    Sound quality: 6-7/10



    - Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
    - Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
    - Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

    - Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE

    - Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
    - Power amplifier: Soulution 710
    - Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

    - Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
    - Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
    - Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
    - Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
    - Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
    - Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

    - Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
    - USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
    - LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
    - Router: Liksys WAG320N
    - NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
    System I
    - Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m); wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
    - Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
    - Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
    - Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
    - Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
    - Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

    - FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One