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Kimber Carbon 16 & 18XL review

Monday, 13th December 2021

The December edition of the well-known American Hi-Fi magazine, The Absolute Sound, features a review of the Kimber Kable Carbon 16 and 18XL loudspeaker cables.

The reviewer, Neil Gader, begins by pondering over just how big Kimber Kable is in the USA: “it might be easier to ask who hasn’t owned a set of Kimbers than who has”, he says, and notes that the overall character of the Carbon cables is typical of what he has come to expect from Kimber – “a clean, lively, bold midrange character”. Indeed, he adds that “Carbon’s balance and midrange muscle couldn’t be better exemplified than on Patricia Barber’s recent SACD recording Clique” which “perfectly illustrated the cable’s ability to capture the tuneful pitch, timbre, and resonances of artists and venues”.
Kimber Carbon 16
Kimber Carbon 16

Both cables were judged to perform well right across the frequency range, with nicely extended bass and an open treble, the latter being a bit drier with less air on the 16 compared to the 18XL. On Harry Connick’s version of A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square, a pared back track featuring just voice, double bass and sax, imaging was perceived as rock solid with a three-dimensionality to the sound that gave the impression of the instrument’s physical presence.

From the reviewer’s point of view, piano and cello are the most revealing instruments when it comes to testing the quirks and foibles of audio components, having “an expansive range of expressiveness with lush sustain and decay”. So it is that appropriate Classical pieces are brought into play, prompting him to say that “in all cases, Carbon elicited the resolution and transparency I've come to expect from the finer cables I've heard”.

Kimber Carbon 18 XL
Kimber Carbon 18 XL

In terms of the differences between Carbon 16 and 18XL, “everything the Carbon 16 did Carbon 18XL did just a little bit better and a little bit more convincingly”. That may give the impression there is not much to choose between them, but these ‘little bits’ add up. The overall voicing of both cables is regarded as typically Kimber - and one that he recognises from other, established models such as VS and TC – but compared to the 16, “Carbon 18XL is in a different league” he says, and it is this model he would choose given the resources (which, I guess by implication, makes Carbon 16 the better value of the two, providing much of the 18XL’s attributes for a lower price).

Both in comparison to each other, and to other cables, the clear differences between Carbon 16 and 18XL lead the reviewer to conclude that “if you still believe that wires don’t make a difference, then you’re in the wrong hobby”. He may not think that these differences are at such a level that you would build a system around them, but in terms of achieving the overall goal of an enjoyable musical experience, cables cannot be ignored and “that’s what Kimber Carbon does so well” he says, “it only serves one master – the music itself”.

The Absolute Sound

Magazine: The Absolute Sound
Issue: December 2021
Verdict: N/A

Click here for more about Carbon16

Click here for more about Carbon 18 XL


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