I gotta proposition for you... A few
months ago, our dear editor posed this interesting question, "How would you like
to replace all of your interconnects, speaker cables and power cords with new
products from one company?" The immediate answer was "Yes, I'm game!" After
sitting down and pondering what would be the effects of this experiment, I was
very pleased to know that the company that would supply the cables would be JPS
Since 1990, JPS Labs has created lines of cable
solutions that are both innovative and of the highest quality. Their
products are engineered and assembled in the United States and they have been
steadily growing in popularity over the years. I am well familiar with their
products, having used their original Superconductor line in the past. I was
excited to explore what JPS Labs had to offer several years after they were
originally part of my system.
I received an email from JPS Labs President, Joe Skubinski that asked what I was interested in having in my system. Reviewers, in my experience, tend to ask for the best of the best as the subject of a review when given a choice. I guess I am a little bit of an oddity in that respect within the audiophile world. My belief is to write reviews of products that most of us can afford or are a great value at their price point. In this difficult economy, we have become more frugal and demand more performance from the gear that we purchase. It is for this reason that I asked Mr. Skubinski to send me cables from the UltraConductor 2 Series, the company's entry-level product line that takes advantage of the research and practices developed in the manufacture of cables in their higher-level product lines.
At The Center of It All
The Goodies Have Arrived!
My listening experience started within the
digital domain with several of my favorite CDs in the mix. I sat down to listen
and again I was treated to clarity, but on a much higher level. I decided to
start with Eternal Tango, a CD by
Hector Del Curio. The bandoneón, a button accordion used in Argentine tango, has
very specific characteristics that are not often reproduced well in recordings.
In some recordings, the instrument tends to be bright and without life. This
recording is one of the few exceptions that I have found. I have used this
recording as a reference point and it can usually help me sniff out weaknesses
in a system because of its wide dynamic range. With the JPS Labs cables in
place, the fullness of the bandoneónwas
there yet it was not bright at all. The instrument's percussive bounce was in
full effect and the piano, cello, violins, viola and bass were all very
realistic. The presentation was very natural and it was a pleasure to hear this
recording reproduced so well.
I turned to Carlos Santana in the next volley of
recordings. I enjoy his use of percussion and guitar work and have seen
him perform live at least 10 times. I installed two of the extra goodies that
Joe provided with this next listening session, The Digital AC-X and The Power
AC+ power cables. The result of these two additions to my system was quite
significant. The bass deepened and was more focused while the resolution was
clearly better than before. In "Samba Pa Ti", off of the Abraxas
recording, Santana's lead guitar sounded remarkably clean and musical, while the
gentle rhythm of the congas was not lost in the background. On Milagro,
the percussion in "Agua QueVaCaer" came alive and I had to play the track over
again just to listen to details that I have not heard before on this track. The
JPS Labs UltraConductor 2 cables are truly revealing and do not add anything
that they should not to the music.
Over the course of the time that I had with the
UltraConductor 2 cables, I played several cds and was very happy with the
performance of these cables. I then turned my attention to the analog setup that
includes a Linn LP12 as mentioned before and an Edwards Audio MC1 Plus phono
preamplifier. I was surprised to hear how natural and relaxed my gear sounded
with the JPS Labs cables in place. My turntable has been modified to accept RCA
cables and it was very enlightening to hear the difference that these cables
made in the system. There was clearly less noise and the soundstage
significantly improved. Imaging was also clearly better and it was very
noticeable in Let's Stay Together,
an album by organist Jimmy McGriff. On the track "The Theme From Shaft", a cover
of the Isaac Hayes classic, each instrument was clearly defined and spatially
accurate. The horns were right on target and the bass was tight. Jimmy's funk
organ sound filled my listening room with authority and I could not help to
think that these cables were truly performing beyond my expectations.
What was I to do to make my experience with the JPS Labs cables even better? There was one more set of cables that were still in the box. I reached in and pulled out the pair of SuperConductor Q interconnects. I removed the UltraConductor 2 cables that were attached to my turntable and replaced them with the SuperConductor Q cables. After a week or so in the system, I sat down to listen to what difference, if any, these cables would make to my listening experience. Thelonious Monk was the artist of choice for this experiment. I immediately heard an absolute difference between the two pair of cables.
I played the cut "Tea for Two" off of Monk's Criss-Cross
album and found that there was greater bounce and swing conveyed to me than I
have heard before on this recording when played through my system. I could hear
Monk's inner harmonies and feel the driving force of the rhythm section with
more prominence than before. I reinstalled the UltraConductor 2 cables back into
the system and played the cut again. While they turned in a strong performance,
it was clear that the SuperConductor Q cables were more involving and, dare I
say, more musical.
Conclusion – Better Cables
Make a Difference
Type: Stranded quad design heavily shielded audio cables featuring proprietary Alumiloy alloy
Type: Power cords