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September 2011
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
JPS Labs UltraConductor 2 Series Cables
Making a difference with high quality cables.
Review By Alfred R. Fredel

 

JPS Labs  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 Labs.

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
Those of us who are familiar with JPS Labs cables have seen that there are several key differences compared to most cables. Every cable is hand crafted and over the years they have been improving the composition of the material at the core of their cables. The current material is called Alumiloy. This is a proprietary conductor that JPS Labs uses in most of their finished audio cable designs. The company claims that this aluminum alloy consists of ultra-pure metals and other elements in a patent-pending composite conductor material. Creating the cables from the inside out, JPS Labs declares that Alumiloy creates noticeably better response characteristics allowing for the natural reproduction of audio and it's dynamic range. The UltraConductor 2 cables are noticeably more pliable than past cables in their stable. They have accomplished this through the use of a stranded twisted pair of Alumiloy conductors in a shielded audio cable. The SuperConductor Q interconnects improve on this construction with a stranded quad design that is more heavily shielded. It was time to put these cables to the test in my modest systems.

 

The Goodies Have Arrived!
I received a full complement of cables from the UltraConductor 2 Series. Joe had also packed a few goodies that were higher up the food chain in the form of power cables and one pair of SuperConductor Q interconnects. As I pulled the cables out of the boxes, I noticed that they were quite thin and pliable with a pleasant blue color and solidly constructed terminations. The first thing to go into play was the digital cable for my living room system that is comprised of a PS Audio HCA 2 amplifier, Bryston .5 preamplifier, Musical Fidelity V-Dac, Audio Refinement CD Complete and Totem Arro loudspeakers. I first pulled out the digital cable that I was using and replaced it with the JPS Labs cable. After letting the cable break in for several days, I sat down and gave the system a listen. The first thing that came to my mind was "clarity".  Everything sounded so clean and clear it was like a veil was lifted from the system. I then replaced all the other cables in that system with the JPS Labs cables and the level of performance was considerably improved. With the UltraConductor 2 cables in the system, there was more focus and better resolution. The highs were clear but not grainy and the midrange was warm and natural. I could not wait to hook these cables up to my reference system.

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
This was a fun review for me to write given the differences that outstanding cables can make in a system. Good cables can make a good system better, a better system great and so on. Starting at $209 for a half-meter pair of interconnects the UltraConductor 2 cables are not inexpensive, but they are an excellent value. There is an old adage that says ‘you get what you pay for', but this in not the case with these cables. With the JPS Labs UltraConductor 2 cables you get a lot more than you expect including greater clarity, focus and resolution. What you don't get is coloration, grain and harshness. Another thing I noticed was that there was a sonic synergy when all of my gear was connected with the same line of cables, something that I would recommend that you try in your systems. The SuperConductor Q cables start at $424 for a half-meter pair of interconnects, but are significantly better and more refined. More detailed information about the company's cable technology, pricing and philosophy is available on their website. These cables made a substantial difference in my system, and I recommend that you give them a try if you are looking to bring your gear to the next level of performance.

 

Tonality

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear  
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Stranded twisted pair shielded audio cables featuring proprietary Alumiloy alloy
UltraConductor 2 Interconnect Cables: starting at $209 /pr
UltraConductor 2 Loudspeaker Cables: starting at $274/pr

Type: Stranded quad design heavily shielded audio cables featuring proprietary Alumiloy alloy
SuperConductor Q Interconnect Cables: starting at $424 /pr
Superconductor Q Loudspeaker Cables: starting at $ 749/pr

Type: Power cords
Power AC+ cord - Designed for use with amplifiers, $599
Analog AC cord – Designed for use with analog components, $399
Digital AC-X cord – Designed for use with digital components, $399

 

Company Information
JPS Labs LLC
7601 Seneca St.
East Aurora, NY 14052

Voice: (716) 714-5710 
Fax: (716) 714-5711
E-mail: info@jpslabs.com
Website: http://www.jpslabs.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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