Its More Than Just Numbers - Isn't It?

This post addresses the electrical measurements of the three Helix Cables - Interconnect, Speaker and Power cables.

Having said that, the table below is simply a “guide”, since the values depicted are specific to the cables measured.

Minor differences can be expected due to variations in winding the helix, cable length, wire used and sleeving used.
e.g, one person has measured the capacitance of a 0.75 meter interconnect to be around 34 pF

The cables YOU build may not have identical numbers, but they will be fairly close, provided you use similar techniques, parts and wires.

Also - the numbers below are for cables of a specific length. So you will have to estimate the numbers for your cables if their length differs from those in the table

e.g. if YOUR speakers cables are 2 meters long then the numbers can be estimated as follows...

Capacitance: 181 / 3 x 2 = 120pf
Inductance: 3.2 / 3 x 2 = 2.13 uH
X
L @ 20 kHz: 0.402 / 3 x 2 = .268 Ohms


Specifications

Loop Inductance - is measured across the cable at one end, while shorting cable at the other end,


If you really want to get into the science take a look at this link...
http://www.epanorama.net/documents/wiring/cable_impedance.html


So - what do all those numbers (metrics) actually mean?

Rather than delve into complex formulas, I thought that comparing the Helix numbers to other well known commercial brands of cables might be easier for readers to understand, e.g...

  • The 60 pF/meter capacitance of the Helix Speaker Cable is significantly lower than some cables from Kimber Kable and TOTL Cardas cables which often exceed 300pF/Meter. This is important if connecting to a high current solid state design amplifier.
  • The 1.1 uF/meter inductance of the Helix Speaker Cable is higher than some other brands, but NAIM NAC A5 cable is rated at 1.0 uH/meter (highly recommended by NAIM). I own a NAIM amp and the cables appear to work very well with it and also with some other brands that adopt a high current design philosophy
  • One of the few companies that seem to have been able to keep both Capacitance and Inductance to very low levels is Nordost - however, a fellow DIYer’s that tried the Helix promptly sold off their Nordost cables in favour of the Helix - go figure Happy

The Helix “numbers” are Middle-of-the-road for each cable type, but based on feedback from others who have tried them, they appear be a good match to a lot of audio components. (see “
IMPORTANT:” below) and will minimize many of the effects that conventional geometries suffer from.

The Loop Inductance of the Helix Speaker Cable,
may be higher than other cables out there, and some people may believe this to be an issue.

However, I believe that this does not present any problems, when you consider the frequency range of a person’s “normal” hearing abilities lies between
20Hz and 12kHz over the age of 50.

As opposed to the generally accepted audio industry standard of
20Hz and 20kHz

Of course - if you are a teenager with excellent hearing you may be able to hear as high as 17kHz, (and perhaps a little higher) at which point you may observe a very small decrease in volume in the
15kHz-20Khz range

And if you are an engineer in one of the many companies out there that promotes frequency response of their components to be 0Hz to 100kHz - then these cables may NOT be for you.

There is some debate as to whether the additional 5% (of the speaker impedance) on top of the actual speaker’s impedance would be noticeable. e.g.,
  • my speakers have an impedance of 6 Ohms
  • 5% of 6 is 0.3 ohms
  • if I look at the impedance of the my 3 meter Helix cables from the table above = 0.402 Ohms @ 20kHz
  • So - If I could hear a 20kHz signal I “might” detect a tiny drop in volume
  • BUT - my hearing ability has diminished over the years, so taking the 12kHz value of 0.241 Ohms
  • I am well within the 5% margin
  • BUT AGAIN - this is not a hard and fast rule, simply because the crossover employed in the speaker may have a significant impact on whether any cable will sound good - OR NOT!
  • I have not heard of any negative feedback from any of the people that have tried Helix cables in systems ranging from sub $1000 systems, to systems exceeding $70,000

I have posted the Helix numbers above - because I have been asked for them many times, however...

Cable metrics should be used ONLY as a guide!

They ARE NOT a substitute for actually - LISTENING!


IMPORTANT:- electrostatic speakers is an area I have NO experience of, so I would strongly recommend anyone looking at using the Helix Speaker Cables with electrostatic speakers to look at the statistics above and assessing their possible impact before building or connecting Helix Speaker Cables

OTHER STUFF:

I have also observed that the Helix design actually enhances the operation of the components they are connected to.

e.g. most of my components run a few degrees cooler than with other cables


So right about now you might be thinking that these issues only apply to areas where the voltage and current is of significance, as in power and speaker cables, but regardless of cable type...

ALL CABLES ARE AFFECTED !

HELIX Q & A

Over the years I have often been asked a few questions repeatedly, which hopefully I have answered below.

Which Helix cable should I make first?
  • I normally recommend making the speaker cables first, because they are the easiest to fabricate and they provide the most noticeable improvement in sound quality
  • Next I would recommend the Interconnect cable, because it eliminates noise on the neutral side of the attached components, which improves clarity and imaging
  • Power cables should be the last to be built, because without the Interconnect or Speaker cables the full impact of the Helix geometry power cable cannot be completely observed

Power Cables:

What gauge wire should I use for the various components ?
  • I have found that for Amplifiers a 10 gauge Live conductor with dual 12 gauge neutral and ground conductors works the best
  • For source components I have found that 10 gauge provides no benefit, so I use a 12 gauge Live conductor with dual 12 gauge neutral wires and a 12 gauge ground wire conductors works the best
  • However, for some components, such as a TV, a 14 gauge neutral conductor with dual 14 gauge neutral wires and a 14 gauge ground wire works very well.

Do I have to solder the spades to the wires?
  • I have found that crimping + soldering provides the best results,
  • Crimping Only, works almost as well, so omitting the solder will not cause a significant impact to sound quality
  • Bare wires do not perform as well as spades and it is highly probable that the clamping device in the plug/connector to work loose over time.
  • Not only are spades an important safety consideration, they do actually improve performance

Interconnect cables:

Can the Helix Cable be used for connection between the Turntable and the phono stage?
  • Absolutely - the Helix spiral provides excellent shielding for the delicate audio signal from cartridges
  • I would recommend using 28 gauge wire for the signal and three 20 gauge conductors for the Helix coil


Can a Helix Interconnect Cable be used as a SPDIF (digital) interconnect?
  • Absolutely - they are excellent for digital transfers and the KLE Innovations RCA’s ensure they are completely compatible with 50, 75 and 100 ohm digital interfaces
  • Internal reflections, a common problem in other SPDIF cables are mitigated by using the KLE Innovations RCA plugs
  • Based on my own observations, the KLE Innovations Silver Harmony provides adequate capabilities to handle all digital transfers up to 24 bit 192kHz
  • If you require larger/faster transfer rates I would recommend upgrading the RCA to the Pure Harmony or Absolute Harmony model
  • You can also use cables shorter than 1.5 meters for digital transfers - I have used Helix cables as short as 45 cm without any noticeable degradation in signal transfers.
  • A minimum length of 1.5 meters is often cited as providing the best performance for other cable geometries.



All Cables:

Do I need to ad a wire “mesh” screen to interconnects? e.g. similar to COAX cables
  • No - the helix neutral & ground conductors act as a very effective screen

Do I have to use the components (plugs, wire etc..) listed on the site ?
  • Absolutely not, you are free to use whichever materials you feel are best suited to your budget.
  • However, all materials listed on the site are those I have found to provide exceptional sound quality.
  • Unfortunately I cannot provide an opinion as to the performance or materials you may wish to select, my apologies.

How does the Helix geometry compare to other “cable geometries”, such as the ribbon style geometry
  • The helix geometry is superior to other geometries in that they prevent noise form entering all connected components via the conductors
  • The Helix geometry can be used to build Speaker, Interconnect and Power Cables. Other geometries may not “scale” so well to power cables in particular
  • The helix windings serve as a very effective screen to deter noise pollution from external RFI/EMI sources entering your system

Can I use Helix cables on any audio/video equipment ?
  • To my knowledge helix cables offer significant improvements to sound quality on both Tube and Solid State equipment
  • Power cables tend to offer a more noticeable improvement on those components the have a less robust power supply
  • When used on large mono block amplifiers the improvements in sound quality tend to be more subtle in nature, but still noticeable.

They look very complicated to build - are they?
  • Perhaps the first cable you build will present some challenges during construction.
  • But once you get the hang of winding the helix coil with the aid of a rod and drill then subsequent sets of cables will be much easier to fabricate
  • I recommend winding a “test coil”, using a piece of household wire to start with.

Will using multiple conductors for the live (or signal) conductors make a difference?
  • Yes - it will change the capacitance and inductance of the cable
  • This may not be too much off an issue for the components you are using, but you should be aware of these changes.

Does the direction of the winding of the helix coil make any difference?
  • IT DOES - PLEASE READ : Inside The Helix Geometry.
  • It will not harm your components if the Helix Coil is wound in the other direction
  • it just sounds better when the helix coil is wound in the correct direction.


AND - IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS - JUST ASK

Cone Feet - Isolation or Draining?

What is the Purpose of Component Feet?

When I first looked at component feet, most of them were made from a rubberized material, which would suggest that their prime function was to prevent vibrations from being transferred to the component.

I quickly learned that those rubber feet were less than ideal at satisfying that particular goal, so I looked into Cone feet.

Having considerably less surface area in contact with the shelf of the component rack seemed like a logical step, but I was not sure of the effectiveness of the various cones and spikes and thought they might actually anchor” the component to the shelf.

After applying some thought to the problem I came up with a DIY “ball bearing” and “marble” feet (see below), which seemed to work very well and did not require the little spike protectors to prevent the foot from digging into the shelf.

I also applied a small piece of sorbothane between the component and the DIY foot to further isolate the component from rack-born vibrations.


DSC_8728_00001_01

More recently, I decided to investigate cone feet in more depth after an interesting exchange with the fellow DIY audio enthusiast,

For more information take a look at:
http://www.symposiumusa.com/tech1.html

Turns out, my thoughts about isolating the component from the rack were only partially correct.

A much more interesting aspect of applying cone feet to a component, is their ability to drain vibrations from he component case/chassis, which improves clarity and imaging.

So I decided to try some beech wood cones just to see what effect they might have, and was quite surprised at the improvement in sound quality


The DIY enthusiast informed me that Brass cones provided the best sound, so I decided to try some different materials in order to assess, which material would provide the best improvements.

I decided I would limit this exercise to the materials in the above picture, wood, brass, steel ball-bearing on steel washer and glass-marble on steel washer, which were placed under the Phono stage, since in previous auditions the phono stage appeared to be quite sensitive to the style of foot..

The first audition was the Ball-bearing on steel washer - without the layer of sorbothane
  • this combination sounded very clear, but unfortunately the image had been moved very far back behind the speakers.
  • imaging was very focussed but overall the image was very narrow
  • it also resulted in a loss of volume
  • it sounded similar to being at a hockey game in the seats furthest away from the ice
  • however, the dynamics were very fast, to the point of sounding quite brittle

The second audition was the Glass Marble on Steel Washer
  • This was much better than the Ball-Bearing in that it brought the image back to a more disirable location behind the speakers
  • Clarity sounded a little less harsh than the ball-bearing
  • image size was larger and very well focussed
  • Dynamics were crisp, without appearing brittle

The third audition was with 1.25” Beech wood cones
  • This was the warmest of all the materials with mid tones being a touch more prominent
  • The image was larger than either of the DIY feet but a little less focussed.
  • The dynamics were not quite as crisp as they were with the DIY feet, but just by a very small margin

The final audition utilized brass feet that I had made for me.
  • The brass feet performed very close to the Beech Wood feet
  • They provided the widest image and improved on musician placement and focus
  • Dynamics improved to match the DIY feet
  • They were not quite as warm as the Beech Wood feet, but sounded very full

Other factors that will effect the sound quality ...

The size of the foot used for a given component
  • On my Bluesound Node 2 there is very little space within which to place the feet, so I use 3/4” diameter cones.
  • The Phono stage was a little larger, so I am using 1.25” diameter cones and larger cones made no difference
  • My amp seemed to sound the best with 2” diameter cones
  • The Turntable has 2.5” diameter cones, but that is more for overall styling than effectiveness

Foot placement
  • This is unique for each component
  • For my amp the two main feet are placed each side of the mains transformer and the third foot positioned for optimal stability
  • For my phono stage the best results were obtained be placing one under the transformer one under the circuit board and the third for optimal stability
  • For the Bluesound Node 2 there was not much room, so I placed 2 at the rear and one at the front
  • The turntable was perhaps the most complex (see diagram below)


The Node 2

DSC_0024



The Phono Stage

DSC_0027




The Turntable

DSC_0020

Foot Location is as follows...
  • As close to the edge of the turntable as possible
  • Equal distance from the three centre lines created by the
  • FOOT 1 to spindle to arm bearing
  • spindle to FOOT 2
  • spindle to fFOOT 3

TT Feet

PLEASE NOTE: This is far from a definitive analysis of Cone performance and placement, but it did yield a substantial improvement in clarity, imaging and focus.

I would recommend you try both wood feet and brass feet to see which works best for your individual components and try different foot positions - it will surprise you.

I hope this inspires you to try them for yourself.

DIY BRASS CONE DIMENSIONS
  • The angle of the cone section was 10 degrees from the horizontal plane
  • the height of the shoulder on the cones were
  • 3/4” diameter cone had a 3/16” shoulder
  • 1 1/4” diameter cone had a 1/2” shoulder
  • 2” diameter cone had a 3/4” shoulder
  • 3/4” diameter cone had a 1”” shoulder

The cost of making 5 sets of three feet was $300 CDN

The cones were made at a small local fabrication company and the brass was purchased from Metal Supermarkets

My Rack is made from steel, from a company called Lovan and is there entry level product
http://www.lovanaudiogroup.com/basic-line.html

Each shelf is MDF and has a granite tile on top with a layer of drawer liner between them

The cones sit directly on the granite - I do not use the little brass protector feet often sold for speakers


page6_blog_entry61-page6_blog_entry60-page6_blog_entry52-page6_blog_entry40-two-thumbs-up-2 A highly recommended project!

Inside The Helix Geometry.

Since its conception, I have been sharing ideas and thoughts with like-minded DIYers about construction techniques and materials. But it was not until recently when I realized that there was aspect of the design I had not really considered.

I had been sharing my thoughts and designs via emails, with like minded DIYer
Yordan Yanakiev of Bulgaria.

In one email, Yordan reported that he had experienced an improvement in sound quality simply by winding the helix in the opposite direction to that initially shown shown on this site, so I decided to investigate.

Putting my photography skills to work I took the following images in an attempt to account for a reason as to why such a noticeable improvement might be experienced, simply by reversing the direction of the Helix winding.


This first image (below) shows the helix being wound in (let’s call it) a clockwise direction.
image[8]

As you can see, the
actual strands of the wire used in the Helix, are crossing the strands in the signal wire at approximately 70 degrees

However - if the helix is wound in the opposite counter clockwise direction (see below), then the angle of the individual strands is much closer to the desired 90 degree angle in order to minimize induced noise even further.

image[12]

Please Note: that before deciding to wind the Helix in a particular direction, you must take into consideration the direction of
the twist of the strands in the actual wire you are using
  • in this case, the strands have been twisted in (let’s call it) a clockwise direction
  • If the wire had a counter clockwise twist - then the helix should be wound in a Clockwise direction to achieve the 90 degree angle.
So Here’s How You Wind It...


This image shows how to wind both the neutral/ground conductors of each and every Helix cable, i.e. provided you are using a wire that has strands twisted in a CLOCKWISE direction as indicated in the images above.


Helix Spiral
  • If the wire used has the strands twisted in the opposite direction, then the Helix should be wound in the opposite direction to that indicated in the above image
The Skeptics Among Us...

This initially included myself, after all, how much of an improvement could this possibly make???

Well, after converting all of my own cables to the counter clockwise twist I was completely surprised to find that the changes were very discernible and contributed to a much improved image and very much improved clarity.

How Anal Do You Wanna Get?

In the images above, I have used the same wire for both live/signal and neutral conductors and as such the twist of the individual strands in both wires is the same. But what if the strands in just ONE wire is twisted in the opposite direction, which direction should the helix be wound in ???

That decision I will leave to the individual. Happy

Personally - I think this level of “detail” is beyond the resolution capabilities of my system, but I felt it should at least be mentioned for those out there that may wish to investigate

Other Observations from Yordan include...

Having had many email conversations with Yordan, he has shared the following observations he experienced, which include:
  1. The cables sound more open when the expandable nylon sleeve i.e. to give the cable a “professional appearance”, is NOT used
  2. The power cables sounded better without spades
    • Personally, on my system I found the spades provided faster dynamics and bass delivery
  1. avoid using heat shrink tubing where it draws the signal and neutral wires closer together
  2. To better isolate the signal (or live) wire use teflon tube - not the expandable sleeve as identified in the web site

NOTE: I have tried a couple of things above, but on my system I did not experience the same observations. But as in Yordan’s case, on your system you could observe improvements by following his tips. so give them a try

So, the Proof of the Pudding...

So, to put Yordan’s
“Helix direction” findings to the test, I rebuilt built all of my Helix cables, this time with the Helix neutral wound in a counter clockwise direction. with everything else being identical.

Right from the very first track it was apparent that the direction of the helix REALLY DOES MATTER!

The image was larger in all dimensions, with the location of musicians being more precise and with more space around them, details and associated clarity improved, dynamic performance was faster, bass performance was faster with more texture and the mid and upper frequencies revealed a new warmth not previously there.

But Was It Easily Discern-able?

To these old ears -
very definitely. I spent over two hours playing the tracks I use to audition cables and components, just so I could hear how much better they sounded with the revised Helix cables.

So there you have it - taking into account the actual direction of the Helix winding has proven beneficial

What if I have already used a Clockwise Helix???

If you would like to correct a cable that has a Clockwise wound helix...
  • DO NOT simply pull the Helix coil straight - this will over-twist the strands inside the wire
  • Remove the Helix coil from the cable i.e. slide the coil off of the live/signal conductor intact
  • Then slide the helix coil onto a suitably sized steel/fibreglass rod - NOTE: you will probably need to compress the coil
  • Finally, pull on one end of the coil, allowing the coil to spin around on the rod
  • this technique prevents the twisted strands inside the wire from becoming deformed
  • You can then rewind the helix in the correct direction without any issues
  • The important thing is that you “UNWIND” the helix coil
  • Otherwise: it may deform the strands inside the wire, which will impact performance
  • NOTE: - power cables are not as sensitive as Speaker cables and interconnects and changing the direction of the Helix does not offer any real discernible improvements in sound quality, so changing their helix direction is not necessary

I have performed this procedure several times and can report that it is actually very easy and a much more effective method than trying to simply straighten a helix coil.

Is all this really necessary?

Well, the choice is yours. The Helix cables will sound extremely good no matter what direction the Helix coil is wound in!

But the improvements achieved on all of my cables by winding the helix in the correct (counter clockwise) direction is the icing on the cake.

Regards - Steve

KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Connector/Adaptor Review

After what seemed like an extraordinarily long R & D effort, KLE Innovations has released the long awaited KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor .
KL had “hinted” a while back that these connectors were in the development stage.
Small Crystal

Well, as with all things designed by Keith Louie Eichmann, attention to detail is paramount and this “philosophy” is evident by close inspection of these banana plugs with the housing removed.

As can be seen:
The design utilizes a double barrel design, with one barrel being just under half the length of the second barrel.
KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6899_01
  • The shorter of the two barrels is normally used to attach the cable (up to 4mm in diameter).
  • There is a small shoulder half way down the longer barrel of the plug, allowing for a second Banana to be inserted into the rear of that barrel.
  • This allows for the “stacking” of plugs - a very convenient feature for attaching jumpers on speakers with bi-wire terminals while using a single-run speaker cable.
  • The shorter barrel can also be used to attach a second banana plug (provided a cable has not been attached), which is a very convenient feature for temporarily connecting a set of bi-wire cables to a speaker having only two connecting terminals.
  • This feature prevents the plugs on the second cable run from flapping around waiting to “short out”. In this scenario the plug is acting more as an adapter.

STACKED CONNECTORS:
KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6901_01KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6895_01

So what else makes this plug so special?
  • They boast an IACS conductivity rating >101%  - which is impressive for a copper product, since copper is normally rated at 100% and Beryllium Copper, a material of choice for this style of connector by many other brands, has an IACS rating of between 40%-60%
  • they have perfectly round spring pins - most spring pins are not completely round which allows air gaps that may be prone to micro-arcing.
  • they fit into all of the banana terminals I have tried with an “unforced snugness" that grips the speaker and amp terminals securely, which is probably due more to the ‘friction element’ of the snug fit, rather than the amount of spring in the clip.
  • they are very simple to connect to cables using solder and removal is also very easy should you want to try them on a different cables.
  • Having the second barrel to connect the wire to makes it almost impossible to run solder into/onto the “business end” of the plug - something other manufacturers should consider.
  • KLE Innovations states the bananas can be crimped, but that's not something I would personally try with my crimping tool - I’ve tried crimping spring style bananas in the past and the result was less than satisfactory.

The KLEITMClassic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor, like other KLE Innovations products, are silver finished, not Gold or Rhodium, which is a feature some people could consider less than optimum due to its tendency to tarnish over time.

My response to those concerns :
  • I have been using KLE Innovations connectors (RCA’s and Bananas) for close to 4 years and I am yet to see any sign of tarnish under normal use, i.e., household humidity between 40% - 65%.
  • Any other finish will impact the overall IACS rating, which will degrade performance.

Connecting the cable is extremely easy:
  • remove the plastic outer housing from the plug.
  • Strip 4-5 mm of the insulation from the speaker wire.
  • KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6898_02
  • “tin” the bare wire with solder - i recommend WBT (4% silver solder), ‘Wonder Solder’ or equivalent.
  • insert the wire into the shorter of the two barrels ensuring the tinned end comes to the angled end of the shorter barrel.
  • KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6899_01a
  • solder the wire in place by applying solder at the angled end of the shorter barrel and leave to cool down.
  • re-insert the banana into the plastic housing - Note: it only fits one way.
  • fold the small plastic door into place and press and ensure the locking tags click into place - VOILA!

Being a proponent of
“Less is More”, I leave insulation on the wire such that it too will be inserted into the barrel as well, which effectively prevents the the solder from filling up the barrel.
  • KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6900_01

In the case where a thicker wire is used, I remove enough insulation so that the flap on the housing can close, but I add a piece of heat-shrink to
prevent the the solder from filling up the barrel and insulate the exposed conductor.
KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6906_01

The finished result is a neat connection with no possibility of an accidental short circuit
Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 5.52.25 PM

How do I remove the plastic plug housing once the flap is closed?
If you wish to open the small flap at the back of the plug housing once it has been closed, you can simply...
  • Insert another Banana Plug into the plastic housing part only
  • PLEASE ENSURE the banana plug is NOT inserted not the metal barrel part of the plug as it may damage the plug
  • GENTLY pry the flap open
  • I recommend that you use an old Banana Plug to do this and NOT another KLEITMClassic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor.

KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6902_01KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6903_01

What if the plug slips out of the Binding Post?
Since binding posts do not adhere to a strict “standard size” for the hole, the fit of the KLEI Banana Plug may not be snug enough to prevent the weight of the cable from pulling the plug out.
Should this be the case, you can simply enlarge the size of the barrel by inserting another banana plug into the barrel for 5-6mm
  • PLEASE NOTE: you want a snug fit, i.e., the plug can easily be inserted into the Binding post.
  • So try 2-3 mm to start with and work up 1 mm at a time until the desired fit is achieved
  • EXCESSIVE FORCE should NOT be required to insert the KLEITMClassic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor into a binding post
  • Rotating the KLEITMClassic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor while inserting it is NOT recommended under any circumstances.
KLEI Banana PlugDSC_6907_

So, How do They sound?

The package the plugs arrive in states that the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor will require a 125 hour burn-in period to sound their best!
  • But if your experience is anything like mine, they will improve your sound immediately.
  • and then continue to get better over time.

SIDE BAR:

  • I have observed throughout the reviews I have conducted that any improvements observed can be impacted by the quality of the components and cables that a newly installed piece of equipment or connector is connected to.
  • In plain language - installing these Bananas on lamp cord speaker cables purchased at the local hardware store will probably NOT dramatically improve the sound of your system!
  • However, these connectors are capable of conveying details to an extremely high level of resolution and as such should be installed on cables of a similar resolution capability.

Moving On...
I was very surprised to hear an immediate discernible improvement across the board, since many products, regardless of brand, normally require a little time before they start to
“step up to the plate”.
  • It was one of those moments when you turn on the system and start streaming content from internet radio stations to begin the burn-in process, only to be “persuaded” to switch over to a source of a higher quality because of “something” very interesting you have heard.

That “something” was - outstanding clarity!


The trip through the content of my library also revealed...

  • a larger, more well defined 3D image with more precision in instrument/performer placement and isolation.
  • a faster dynamic performance across the board, resulting in more sparkle at the top end and more texture in the mid and bottom end.
  • Classical recordings tended to demonstrate the extraordinary imaging the KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptors are capable of, simply by providing superb isolated placement of violin/viola/cello/double bass across a very wide image, combined with placement front to back of strings/woodwind/brass and percussion sections to such an extent that left me feeling I was actually sitting in the concert hall.
  • The presentation of Is This Love by Bob Marley seemed as cavernous as a large stadium.


But Could the KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Connector/Adaptor improve more with burn-in?


In short - very much so!


And so, I turned to my vinyl for a more detailed audition...

The album that had some of the greatest impact was
“The best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler, Private Investigations” - a nicely engineered double LP set on heavier vinyl.

  • The superb clarity and detailing on Sultans of Swing made for a mesmerizing listening experience.
  • The dynamics of Mark Knopfler’s guitar work on Money for Nothing were perhaps the fastest I had heard.
  • Yet the soft textures of his voice on Brothers in Arms was ethereal.

By contrast, a couple of albums from the mid 1970’s highlighted another attribute of the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptors - their smoothness...
  • Jethro Tull’s - Songs From The Wood and The Steeleye Span Story had always sounded quite shrill, so I was expecting an even brighter performance. However, the harshness of both of these albums seemed to be tamed and the music had much more body and depth without sacrificing the very crisp dynamics.
Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book is a well played favourite in my review process, mainly for the track Superstition...
  • In the opening scene of the movie I Robot - Will Smith plays this track on a futuristic audio system.
  • Of course, with the enhanced sound engineering and Dolby Surround Sound cranked up - it sounds incredible!
  • So I figured that it might be a good track to truly test the abilities of the KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptors.
  • The reproduction of sound from this old piece of vinyl was spectacular - a crisp, fast, full bodied, deep, clear listening experience.
  • This album, a favourite for years, seemed like it had been completely re-mastered.

One last album where the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptors delivered an outstanding performance is a TACET recording of Paul Florin (violin) playing Partitas by Johann Sebastian Bach.
  • This album demonstrated just how much “space” these connectors are able to convey.
  • I was transported into the church where the recording was made.
  • reflections bouncing from wall to ceiling to wall getting fainter with each reflection.
  • Just me and Paul Florin - an experience I am now able to re-live again and again.

I could go on dissecting and analyzing each album in my library , since it was as though the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor had re-mastered every piece of vinyl.
  • Classical albums best demonstrated their ability to cast a very large image in 3 dimensions.
  • Jazz vocals conveyed superbly soft velvety tones.
  • Pipe organ music demonstrated the amazing control the amp now had over the speakers with superb dynamic textures across the entire frequency range.
  • Pop and rock albums served up dynamic drums and crisp bass lines like never before.

Not to be left on the side lines, one of the nicest improvements was the very analogue presentation now produced by my Bluesound Node 2 digital streamer, since all traces of “digital” had now been vanquished, leaving only an extremely enjoyable listening experience.

Should I have expected anything less?

Perhaps not, especially considering my prior experiences with other products from
KLE Innovations that I have reviewed over the years, that have proven every single time to provide outstanding improvements in sound quality.


But all this from a little Banana plug soldered onto the end of my speaker wires? - really?

Well let’s be quite clear, the KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor is not just “a simple Banana plug”...

  • it’s fabricated from high tech modern day materials whose metallurgy is a closely guarded secret.
  • it’s designed to exacting specifications.
  • it’s manufactured to extreme engineering tolerances.
  • It really is...

The “F22 Raptor” of Banana plugs!


Much like the Harmony RCA Connectors also designed by Keith Louie Eichmann, the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor is capable of much more than simply holding a cable in a hole.
It will revolutionize the Banana Plug, just as the Harmony RCA Connectors have revolutionized RCA plugs.

The KLEI™Harmony Banana Plugs (ClassicHarmony and PureQHarmony bananas), are standard on the new KLEIQSeries speaker cable models (QFLOW2/Classic, QFLOW3/PureQ, QFLOW7/PureQ, QPURITY8/PureQ SCs) but not on the current gZero and zPurity models.
For the current gZero and zPurity speaker cable models you will probably be able to have them installed at additional cost – contact
KLE Innovations before ordering.


How can it be used as a “Connector & Adaptor” ?

To this point I had only auditioned the KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor as a simple banana plug installed onto my speaker cables.

But as the name implies, the KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor actually provides additional flexibility in areas where other “connectors” fall short.

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 10.37.14 AM

For Example...

KLEI Banana Plug_DSC_6895_01

It is very simple to create quality bi-wire jumpers, to allow the use of single run speaker cables with loudspeakers that have bi-wired terminals, without having to “reconfigure” the actual cable in some way.

The existing banana on the speaker cables can simply plug into the back of
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor on the link itself.

Or...

If you are using bi-wired speakers with bi-wire cables, but only have a single pair of binding posts on your amplifier, you can simply insert the banana plug into the binding post of the amp and then insert both bananas of your bi-wire cables into the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor, again, without having to “reconfigure” the cables. Basically it operates as an adapter

Or...


If you need to hook up a subwoofer via the loudspeaker terminals, the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor can be attached on the speaker cables and the subwoofer cables at the speaker for easy installation.

Now, you might be thinking that “stacking” banana plugs for either of these scenarios could cause some degradation of the audio signal.

After all, it is “generally accepted” that sound quality improves when there are fewer “interfaces” in the electrical path. Adding interfaces is bound to degrade performance to some degree?


However...

The
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor, as it turns out, is far more advanced that any other connector I have encountered, in that...


it can actually improve sound quality when used as a simple “interface” between the binding post of an amplifier or loudspeaker and the existing banana plugs on a speaker cable.


Huh - ???


That was my (initial) reaction!

How can

adding a banana plug “interface” into the signal path improve sound quality?

And, if you think about it
It is actually two banana plugs
One at each end of the speaker cable!


But when Keith Louie Eichman (KL), requested I audition the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor as in this very scenario, and “hinted at the possibility”, OK “strongly inferred”, that I would hear discernible improvements, let’s just say there was “some degree” of ambivalence - on my part.

So, setting aside my ambivalence, I installed a new set of the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor’s into the binding posts of my speakers and amplifier, that are part of my Audio/Video system, and listened to them throughout the burn-in process.

  • The connected components of my A/V system is a Bluesound PowerNode 2 digital streamer/amplifier and Tannoy Mercury Fusion 4 tower speakers.
  • Not perhaps the highest resolving components out there, but solid performers that punches above their “weight-class” due to the installation some many months ago of high performance power and speaker cables.
  • The existing bananas on my cables are of the tubular spring variety and silver plated.

Initially, I was unable to discern any immediate improvements, but then again, there was no sign of sound quality degradation either.

As I listened, the recommended 125 hours burn-in period seemed to shorten, as some improvements seemed to materialize earlier than I had expected...
  • at around the 80 hour mark there seemed to be improved focus and improved artist placement within the image
  • at around the 100 hour mark the upper register of violins and cymbal reproduction had more body and tone and were far smoother than before
  • by the time the 125 hours has elapsed I was also able to discern improved clarity and just a hint of improved dynamic performance and the warmth at the high-end had permeated thought he mid frequencies also

For me, most developments in the world of Audio/Hi-fi have a rational explanation e.g.
  • why one amplifier sounds better than another - better power supplies, capacitors, etc.
  • why one cable sounds better than another - better materials and geometries etc.
  • why one connector sounds better than another - better materials, better clamping etc.

But why the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor improves the sound of existing cables/bananas has left me without explanation and KL has not offered any insight, other than to say it is due to his proprietary formulation and advanced manufacturing processes.

If I were asked, prior to performing this audition, if I thought a “connector” could improve sound quality when used in this manner - I would have said NO!

Now - I have a very different opinion.

Would I recommend using
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor’s in this manner as a simple “adapter” ?

Well - that’s a tricky one...
  • after all I do promote the use of quality connectors that screw on
  • in this case it is just a push-on “adapter” - so to use as a proof of concept - perhaps yes

For me, this audition has proven that using the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor for bi-wire applications, such as those above, is without any risk of degrading sound quality and would in all likelihood would prove beneficial.

So, as it turns out the name of this banana is actually very well suited.

The
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor is just that...
  • A Bananas plug
  • A Connector, and
  • An Adapter

  • But far more than that...

It’s an incredible achievement!

Summation...

It took a while to bring the
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor to market but, I have to award kudos, to Keith Louie Eichmann and his team - for taking their time to “get it right”.

The
KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Plug/Connector & Adaptor appears to allow every detail and nuance of the recording to be conveyed with amazing clarity and dexterity - something I have not observed to this level in any similar product.

They really are - THE Banana Plug you want at the end of your speaker cables !


I give them my “Best Bang For The Buck” award.

My Review System:

page6_blog_entry61-page6_blog_entry60-page6_blog_entry52-page6_blog_entry40-two-thumbs-up-2 A highly recommended product!