We Ask 10 Questions For High-End
During Enjoy the Music.com's very special 25th Anniversary we're asking various high-end audio manufacturers to answer the same ten questions. Their answers may surprise you! This month we're featuring Ray Kimber of Kimber Kable. In the mid 1970s Ray Kimber worked at a sound and lighting company in Los Angeles. The first big discotheques were being installed at that time. Traditionally sound and lighting systems were not installed right next to each other, nor did lighting systems ever have such an array of noise generating fixtures, such as strobes and other flashing and dimmable lights. But in a discotheque the lights and speakers are installed next to each other. The speaker cable was acting as an antenna array and bringing noise from the lights into the sound system.
In an attempt to solve the problem they encased the speaker cable in a steel conduit. This did help with the noise, but it also had the unintended result of lowering the fidelity of the audio. This happened because the steel conduit interacted with the magnetic field of the speaker cable. A had the idea of some counter-rotating sets of conductors to cancel the magnetic interaction effect, but then also surmised that the counter-rotating sets of conductors would likely not pick up noise even without the conduit. He was correct, the noise was greatly reduced! But, A was also quite surprised at the difference in perceived audio quality. It was that discovery of noise elimination and improved fidelity that set him on the path to develop cable designs.
Q. What is your first memory of falling in love with music?
A. At my grandparentsí home. Early 1950s an enormous RCA console that had TV and then a separate 45rpm changer along with a 78 rpm changer. I donít recall that the larger changer was 33rpm, I do recall having to change the needles. I still have some of those 78s.
Q. How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?
A In 1965, we had moved from my small rural hometown to Ogden Utah. I discovered the HiFi Shop, a locally owned hi end audio store. It was there that I was exposed to many audio gear brands. I fondly recall JBL and Fisher gear there. As a side story, Cliff Peterson, the owner of The Hi-Fi Shop really wanted to sell more tuners but the local FM stations were kind of low-fi. So he built his own FM Station, from the ground up. KBOC was the call sign. He ordered a top-of-the-line transmitter and exciter. He obsessed over every detail on the audio chain. I recall that he hand-built many parts.
Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A The Marantz 2270. This was my first serious audio gear purchase. I loved it. I have many wonderful listening memories with it. I still hold it in high regards to this day. I donít know what happened to my original unit, but I did purchase another one from eBay a couple of years ago.
Q. When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?
A Back in the seventies my job was wiring and setting up discotheques. In an effort to reduce the noise caused by the lighting systems I decided to counter-rotate braid wire conductors into a speaker cable. This cable greatly reduced noise and unexpectedly improved the sound to a surprising degree. Once I heard the difference I donít really recall there being a decision about starting my own company, it just morphed from there. I started looking for ways to more easily produce the cables (the originals were all hand braided) and once people heard the difference I had trouble keeping up with demand.
Q. What, and when, was your company's first product?
A The 8PR speaker cable, a 16 wire all copper braided cable was our first product. This product was the refined solution that I had hand braided previously. I started selling it in 1977. It continues to be a popular product to this day, albeit with improvement in insulation and conductor materials.
Q. What challenges did you face during those early years?
A I struggled to figure out where to obtain the quality raw materials that I wanted. Like other start up small businesses establishing a reliable cash flow was challenging. I also was unaware of how to establish a solid network of dealers and distributors for my products.
Q. How have your products evolved over the years?
A Starting with our first loudspeaker cable, the 8PR, we have developed a myriad of cable solutions. Because of our ability to custom build most of our cables right here in Ogden Utah we now have thousands of active part numbers.
Q. What is your company's most popular product(s)?
A The TC series of speaker cable is our most popular and most award winning cable. TC uses electrolytically refined copper (C10100) of the highest grade which is annealed multiple times during the drawing phase. This produces a copper material with industry leading electrical conductivity. IACS 101+
Q. What is your next planned product offering and its' features?
A. Four-channel open real quad tapes of IsoMike recordings.
Q. What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?
A. Microphones, speakers, and earphones are ripe for some fundamental advancements.