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Analogue interconnect + speaker cable

KBL Sound

Manufacturer: KBL SOUND
Price (in Poland):
8800 PLN/1 m | 9470 PLN/2 x 2,5 m

tel. 696 551 492


Provided for test by: KBL SOUND

had to check in our archive to see if the manufacturer - the KBL Sound - was wrong in their calculations. It turned out they did not - indeed we've been using their Red Eye series cables for five years already. We reviewed their power cord together with the Reference Power Distributor in the HF January issue in 2014 (more HERE). The cable proved to be really good and deserved our RED Fingerprint award, and then the Best Sound 2018 from our magazine.

Five years in the audio industry is a very long time. Naturally, the Red Eye cables have been improved as released as the Red Eye Ultimate series. But, let me repeat, five years is a lot and sooner or later it had to happen - in November last year, during the Audio Video Show 2018 a completely new series was presented, which replaced the previous two. It is called the Red Corona.


Because of their excellent make and finish the new cables look very attractive. They look as if they were prepared by one of the world's leading cabling manufacturers and belonged to their top-shelf products. The technical solutions I will discuss in a moment are equally interesting.

Interconnect | The Red Corona interconnect is very flexible. This is the first thing you will probably notice about it. Immediately, however, you will confront this feature with a large cross-section of this cable, which for most of its length is really thick. This is a protective coat with thinner leads on both ends. You thinking now, so why is it so thick, since the wires themselves are much thinner? You're not the only ones. I remember that even many experienced audio journalists and audiophiles reported this type of doubts several years ago.

And the answer is quite simple, today it's actually quite natural: the cable must be protected from vibrations. The vibrations introduce distortion into the signal, which are known as triboelectric noise. Appropriate dielectrics assist in its reduction - Wireworld uses a material called Composilex, one can also use extensive vibration dampening systems, like those used by Vertex AQ. The KBL Sound interconnect resembles another solution, at least from the outside – one featured by Purist Audio Design products, that feature a ferromagnetic fluid for this purpose, which on the one hand shields conductors, and on the other, dampens vibrations.

The KBL Sound interconnect is more of a classic design, but with an emphasis on vibration damping - hence its large diameter. It is also significant because these cables' main dielectric is air - conductors run in Teflon tubes. The conductors are OCC copper, i.e. monocrystalline, cast in the Ohno Continous Casting process. Positive and negative runs are separated, and so is the screen, so it looks like the cable has a pseudo-balanced structure. The screen in such a cable is connected only from the source side, so it is particularly important to connect it properly - the proper direction indicated by the arrows on heat-shrinkable sleeves next to the plugs.

The connectors are excellent WBT-0152 Cu nextgen plugs with copper, rhodium plated contacts. Both, my preamplifier and player feature the nextgen sockets, so everything is as it should be :) But a different metal element really draws an attention - the coupler connecting the thicker and thinner parts of the cable. It is about its color - rusty, dark-copper-ish and it looks great, also thanks to very well chosen typography.

Lets add that this model is also available in a balanced version, with Neutrik NC3MX / FX plugs, as well as in a phono version, with RCA or DIN plugs. The latter, however, is in fact a completely different cable, because while its design is similar, the conductors are made of silver, not copper.

The loudspeaker cable has no special jacket around it, because it would cost a lot more than the interconnect. And it costs only little more. The cables are made of monocrystalline copper protected against oxidation and have the form of two separate runs for the positive and negative wires (that is, there are actually two cables per channel). Dielectrics are again air and Teflon.

It is terminated with excellent CMC Swiss Cu plugs plated with a thick layer of silver. Also in these cables feature anodized couplers, but here they are used only to damp vibrations and are used close to the amplifier end - Crystal Cable use a similar solution in their cables. The cables are directional.

The Sound cables were tested in the "High Fidelity" reference system. The interconnect connected the Ayon Audio CD-35 High Fidelity Edition SACD player and the Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier, while the speaker cables connected the Soulution 710 power amplifier and Harbeth M40.1 speakers. Interconnects were compared to three other cables: Silver Siltech Triple Crown, silver-gold Crystal Cable Absolute Dream and silver-copper Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0 Absolute. The Red Corona was 1 m long and terminated with RCA plugs - in my system, this type of connection work best. Speaker cable - 3 m long – was compared to Siltech Triple Crown.

KBL SOUND in “High Fidelity”
  • TEST: KBL Sound SOLARIS | power cable
  • TEST: KBL Sound REFERENCE POWER DISTRIBUTOR RPD-6 Mk3 NCF | power distributor
  • AWARD | BEST PRODUCT 2016: KBL Sound ZODIAC | analogue interconnect + speaker cable + power cable
  • TEST: KBL Sound ZODIAC | analogue interconnect + speaker cable + power cable
  • AWARD | BEST PRODUCT 2015: KBL Sound SIGNATURE SERIES HIMALAYA | analogue interconnect + speaker cable
  • TEST: KBL Sound SIGNATURE SERIES HIMALAYA | analogue interconnect + speaker cable
  • AWARD | BEST PRODUCT 2014: KBL Sound REFERENCE POWER DISTRIBUTOR + RED EYE | power distributor + power cables (system)
  • TEST: KBL Sound RED EYE | digital cable RCA S/PDIF
  • TEST: KBL Sound REFERENCE POWER DISTRIBUTOR + RED EYE | power distributor + power cables (system)

  • Recordings used for the test (a selec- tion)

    • Aeon Trio, Elegy, TRPTK TTK0010, CD (2017)
    • Alan Parsons Project, I Robot, Arista/Sony Music Japan SICP 30168, 2 x BSCD2 CD (1977/2013)
    • Bill Evans, Bill Evans At The Montreaux Jazz Festival, Verve /PolyGram Records 539 758-2, „Verve Master Edition”, CD (1968/1998)
    • Jimmy Smith, The Cat…The Incredible Jimmy Smith, Verve /PolyGram Records 539 756-2, „Verve Master Edition”, CD (1964/1998)
    • Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Live, ECM Records ECM 2592, CD (2018)

    The interconnect sounds as if it wrapped listeners with the sound, soothing their nerves and calming them down. I remember years ago, for the first time, I bought my flannel sheets with my wife and the first night – fortunately it was Saturday – we slept until eleven a.m. The bedding was so soft and so pleasant to the touch that we felt asleep immediately and then we could not wake up. Before that, something similar happened to us once, when I brought home curtains sewn in the studio of the Maszkaron Theater, where I worked at that time, curtains made from a thick theater curtain. Then also everyone overslept and we all late to work, and to kindergarten. But this is a story for a different occasion.

    Anyway, the Red Corona interconnect makes the listening experience extremely enjoyable. It's performance has the right feeling, I have no doubts about it, in no way is it slowed down, but still calm, nice. Thanks to that any music sounds amazingly with it. It's a cable that does not discriminate any recordings, it does not reject inferior ones. The differences between them are clear, but they are not what really matters. Which is interesting because the treble is not rolled off. It is strong, resonant and only the silky attack, instead of the iron one, repeats what I heard in the midrange and bass ranges.

    It's really a great listening experience. The resolution is not a key element of this presentation, although it is really good. It can be heard rather in the form of lowering presentation's center of gravity, in its velvetness and density. And again - the lowering in question is not caused by the manipulation of tonality, since it is excellent. It's about resolution - when it's high, the sound is dark, that's the rule. In turn, when the sound is bright, it is a sign that it is detailed but the resolution is rather poor. With Red Corona we get a dark, low set sound with a silky, strong top end.

    I mentioned at the beginning that this cable "wraps listener with the sound" - and I did it on purpose. The KBL Sound interconnect emphasizes the foreground, that is, it brings the sound closer to us and slightly beefs it up. Whatever is in the axis with this cable becomes quite large and tangible. The deeper layers keep their size, that is, they are not enlarged, and we get the impression that they are closer to us due to the fact that there are less reflected sounds and more direct ones.

    Speaker cable | The Red Corona speaker cable repeats everything that the interconnect presented earlier, but does it in its own way. The common qualities are: smoothness, density, the tendency to arrange everything in front of us in an organized way, to eliminate chaos. Like the interconnect, also the loudspeaker cable presents a strong foreground, and although it moves it slightly back towards the line connecting the speakers; its role is emphasized by a large volume. It's a really high quality, rich performance.

    What it does in its own way is primarily stronger commitment to keeping the stage highly organized and to discipline the presentation. I do not think that interconnects lacks in this respect, but both the speaker cable itself and combined with the interconnect delivers a less emphatic presentation, more neutral. Perhaps it is due to a bit more accurate leading edge, which is especially evident in the bass range.

    It is still, however, a deep, warm sound. Although it is far from the stereotypical "warm" and "dark" one, because on the one hand, both the cable and the whole system deliver an open, vibrant treble, while on the other the lower bass does not have as much energy as with the reference cables. It is dense, nice, but at one point it gently gives up. It does not have any special consequences, I am just saying, how I heard it and how it compared to my reference cables.

    System | The Red Crown system will give you an opportunity to play around with music. This is a particularly desirable attribute whenever while we do care about truly high-quality sound, we care about best possible performance, but yet, we also want something more from our audio system - we want it to makes us encourage to listen to the music, to make us always to come back for even more albums. The Red Crown cabling system works like that, like a lure. It is not completely neutral, it modifies the presentation in a characteristic way, but it is obvious that it is deliberate, because we get a coherent vision of a musical event, not some accidental changes.

    You will appreciate how great these cables sound while listening to different albums, such as a true jazz gem, Jimmy Smith's album The Cat and another gem, but from a different genre, the I Robot by The Alan Parsons Project. Jimmy Smith (1925-2005) played Hammonds. The album I am talking was released in many versions, I listened to it from a remaster prepared in 1998 for the "Verve Master Edition" series. This is an old remaster, still 20-bit one, and it sounds unbelievably natural. And it was this amazing naturalness that the KBL Sound captured perfectly. Neutrality of the presentation was also good, although I could hear a slight emphasis on the lower midrange/upper bass area, and that the whole presentation was brought closer to me than usually.

    Same goes for the second of the aforementioned albums, The I Robot. Released in 1977, it is a classic conceptual album by Parsons with multi-layered production, with lots of subtleties, details and incredible momentum. I listened to it from the remaster made in 2013 for the needs of the "Legacy Edition". I have a BSCD2 version. And again – the Red Corona cables sounded smooth and organic on this album. Everything here nicely co-existed, resonated. The music had momentum, and the speaker cable added extensive space into the system, which in this case translated into something that can only be described as a "cool trip".


    These are not, of course, perfect cables. There is no such thing, and in this price range, it is not about being perfect, but about the best compromise. The KBL Sound designer, by making his choices of materials and topologies, chose a compromise in which the most important elements are density and velvetness of the sound. Selectivity, energy of the lowest end, depth of the soundstage and not the most important features here compared to its qualities and if you are looking for such particular set of features, you should look for it elsewhere.

    In turn, if you are looking for qualities that together create a high quality, satisfying listening experience, then Red Corona might be your choice. What these cables offer is: softness, naturalness, calmness, smoothness, momentum, they allow you to truly enjoy the music. These are the cables that connect and do not divide – using the language or current politics - and they do it for real, without pretending. You can listen to any album with them without gnashing your teeth and nervous biting of your nails, and use in any system they will present only its good sides. I like this type of performance, hence the RED Fingerprint award to me seems to be the natural result of this test.


    Reference system 2018

    1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
    2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
    3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
    4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
    5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
    6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
    7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


    Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
    Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
    Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

    AC Power

    Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
    Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
    Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
    Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
    Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
    Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
    Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
    Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
    Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
    Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
    Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


    Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
    Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
    Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

    • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


    Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

    Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

    Record mats:


    Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

    Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC