Author Topic: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review  (Read 8059 times)

Ray Bronk

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Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« on: November 07, 2007, 01:18:38 PM »
Hi all,

I know I am new here, but this idea of reviewing stuff is rather nice. I thought I'd start my time here reviewing  some cables. This time we're looking at the cables from Koolcables.com. John Prator is the guy behind the scenes here. I asked him how he got in to the cable making business.

"Back around 1999-2000 I was building a home theater in our new house back in Oklahoma and really got on a cable kick, I was trying different cables from different mfg.'s and came to realize that I couldn't afford the "really good stuff"(think expensive here) so I thought that I would give it a try and see if I could built my own, maybe even equal or better some of the "Big Boys".

I started messing around with the usual, coaxial, copper, silver etc. I actually made some really good cables(and to be honest a few real dogs too). I wasn't an electrical engineer so I just built my idea and tried it out to see how it would sound. Couldn't help but notice that gold was used to coat plugs etc. and it seemed to impart it's own sound to the mix, a warm soothing sound that I liked.

This led me in the direction of gold cables so I decided I wanted to try and build a set of gold interconnects. I started researching and found some gold jewelry wire and built a set of cables out of it. They sounded pretty darn good, I really liked the smoothness that gold brought to the plate so I went from there.

I started trying different types of gold wire, different shapes, different vendors etc. One thing that I couldn't help but
notice was that the more pure the gold the better the sound seemed to be towards my tastes. this eventually got me to the point of the Silkworms, pure gold, all the best sounding components used to assemble them. Keep in mind didn't(and still don't) use test equipment to get the sound I'm looking for in cables, I use the human ear. If I have an idea I build it and listen to how it sounds. If I see a plug I love the looks of but it sounds like crap then I don't use it.

Anyway, over time I built cables for my local audio buddies, family and friends, sometimes I sold a few on the internet, but really I made no effort to "go public".

In 2003 we moved down here to Austin and of course I searched out and found some local audio guys. Over time they started trying
this or that cable of mine and they were really impressed. Several of them loved my cables and started telling me I should sell them on audiogon. At first I was against it for several reasons, one being that I didn't think I could compete due to the high costs of the gold, secondly I didn't want to ruin the hobby I love by trying to turn it into a business. We've all heard the different sayings to the effect of "if you enjoy your hobby don't try and turn it
into a business" and I believe that.

Finally I gave in to the pressure from my wife and friends and thought "what the hell, I'll give it a try". I wanted to not mass produce them like some cable vendors but rather just take my time in building them and offer them in a more limited quanity. I actually enjoy building cables and so far it has been fun and I've met some really cool people and I hope it continues along this path. I try and not worry about making to much money at it but rather just have fun. So far it seems to be working as I'm having a good time, meeting some pretty cool people and best of all, they love my cables! That's the best part about it, I can bring a smile to someones face and let them enjoy their system that much more. Very cool.
 
Well I hope that somewhat explains how I got into this Ray. Not really much to it, I just started experimenting and I guess it sort of took off from there."

With that, I have another two parter for you. First, it's the copper SoundBolts. I will be receiving shortly the Silver Soundbolts. The only difference between the two cables is the RCA Eichman plugs. One is copper and the other one is silver.

The soundbolts are the entry level cable costing $99 for the pair. The cable consists of a thin piece of coax. This coax has a copper braid, with a Teflon cover stranded center. The insulation over the braid is a Teflon coating. He then covers the cables with Tekflex. The cables are terminated with either Copper or Silver Eichman RCA plugs.

So what we are reviewing today is the Copper Soundbolts, ... obviously with the Eichman copper RCA connectors. What you are about to read below is a composite of the emails I sent John chronicling the break in experience.

My system is a megger one. It consists of a Greg Ball SKA 150D, a Promitheus TVC and a pair of speakers from Source Audio out of CT. The DVD player is a cheap $40 unit. In between the DVD and TVC are a pair of the MAC twisted pair of IC's. My speaker cable is a pair of Name cables. Yep, I have some upgrading to do. So my search is on.
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Hooked the cables up between my amp and TVC last night and let them run in for about 12 hours or so. 

First impressions:

seem somehow not very dynamic, somehow compressed, but it hints at being so. I figure it is the breakin time will hopefully fix that. 

Mid bass a little flabby, but that too should go away in time.  

tonal balance is great. don't notice any emphasis at the moment of any freqencies. 

This cable hints at being very fast. It's missing that snap on drums, but that's part of dynamics, and perhaps breakin too.  

Love how it protrays vocals. Detail is also there. Reminds me of the squeaky new shoes. It all fits, but it will need breakin to become comfortable.  

That's it so far. 
-------------
Day 2: 

Still somewhat compressed, but now I can stand them. heheh 

One thing I've noticed about coaxial cables in general, they can make for a good toe tapping cable.  

These, the soundbolts,  seem to have detail, but seem to bring out different components of the music being played. Maybe, it's the copper, but I'm hearing a kick drum that I've never noticed it before. The base is well defined.  

I'm only one guy with one system. I'm excited to see where these bolts are gonna go. The sound stage is starting to expand. Say, these aren't directional
I hope? my wife didn't see any arrows or any writing on the cables.  
(Editor's note: There was a black dot put on the direction where he had them on the cooker for 24 hours. That was quickly resolved.)
------------
As I was listening to the bolts, I thought, hmmm, let's see how they perform at this time up against some other cables. I have a pair of anticables with neutric ends, some "ultimate cables" from a guy in Canada. The anticables while ok, sounded to me rather busy and a bit forward. The Ultimates C4, were interesting enough similar in character
to the bolts but also forward in the upper mids.  

I think the bolts, with the quiet background, gives at first glance no life. That too I hope or should change. These are starting to grow on me.  
(About that time, I had about 50 hours on the soundbolts,, not counting the 24 on John's cooker.)
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Haven't listened today yet. I've been playing the Bible at night and as well as during the day to break them in.  

Looks like they are opening up, but the dynamics are very much not there yet. It'll probably be one of the last things to open up. It's sorta a step backwards. But that's how the cables work sometimes. Now, the bass is definitely online. The mids are really nice to listen to. They are really starting to fill out. 

The highs are still a bit harsh, but that too will go away. 
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At this point in time, about 75 hours on the bolts, and the compression
Thank! God! is starting to go away. The bass has tightened up a lot, and the mids, are beginning to sound depending on what is played, yummy. The topend is also starting now to smooth out.
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The snap of drums is now there. roughly, with your burn-in and mine, about 125 hours total now. It's almost like a shiffon veil is between me and the speakers on the bolts. That is rapidly disappearing. Anyway, the soundbolts are coming in to there own now.  
------
Well, ... the bolts have made a surprising opening in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, I noticed the snap of snare and other drums is there.

It's sure interesting how cables seem to bring out the little details. These soundbolts have almost lost the veil, like almost gone.  

Yep, quieter background, ever so slight mids pulled back but I think they'll get there.  What I've noticed is the bass. It's tightened up, I think? I'll have to listen again some more later. They're getting that good. 

I could be wrong, but I think the majority of the cable's aspects are done, and now the little stuff for dessert is coming up. Wasn't ready for the surprise I got from that opening up.  
(note: This was about 150 hours or so of breakin time.)
------
Another about 50 hours or so, Cables starting to really smooth out. Gained a lot of body over the last 50 to 75 hours or so. Snap and dynamics is not there now.
That will come back. It is almost like the sound reaches a certain shelf, like being put through a limiter. Nothing as far as I know has changed. Bass
is back. Body on voices are yummy.  

Got another hundred to go or so. Not discouraged.  

------
24 hours later: 

Let's see, yesterday, where was the bass, now I'm wondering who turned on the sub? heheh. don't have one. 

The snap isn't quite there yet, but the ceiling of compression that was there yesterday isn't there now. It's almost disconcerning how you can almost hear people breathe. Me thinks they are almost there. Female vocals ... sweet plenty of body Yesterday they were a bit forward, but today, balanced I think
they have just a bit more to go. Nothing wrong with these cables. I'll run these in for a day or so. 
------
I think those Soundbolts are about as good as they're gonna get. Close to 50 hours more: 

Bass is not to promamant, but all there and well defined. A cut from Susan Ashton's first album Amazing Graceland tells the bass tale. At the end of the song, the bass note that is held is a bit muddy and hard to know if that is the roughly 42 cycle or an octive above that. Seems like it's the octive above.
 
Attack isn't quite like it was a day or so ago, but I think it had reached its compromise. Sometimes attack can be over done, with a hint of distortion. My amp isn't real punchy, so it does tend to limit how the attack notes sound. That will change shortly. Increasing the drive to the transistors will fix that. But what it does, I can certainly live with it. 

Wehn voices are played, they are not tin or thick. Body seems about right. It depends on the material played. Wehn recorded well, female voices have a real richness to them, almost like having them in the room.  

It does unfortunately show the badness of the DVD player. Sometimes Symbols sound like hisses rather than symbols. That's not the fault of the cable.  

to some up, bass is great, has balls. The mids in some cases could sound thin. I think that is a tribute to what's being played. Some stuff I played seemed to be defined just right. They would sound yummmy. The top in this last 50 hours or so, seems to have settled down and is in no way harsh at all.  It helped to round out the sound and make voices sound real nice to listen to. These cables just let the music play. What you hear is what you get. 

To be fair, I haven't heard a lot of cagles. But I'd honestly say these Copper Bolts for $100 are a good value and should be on everyone's short list. It's a bummer they take 250 or so hours to break in. That's the only negative. Like I said, the Copper SoundBolts just let the music play.  

Stay tuned for Part two.

Happy Listening,
Ray Bronk

Offline mboldda1

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2007, 02:22:25 PM »
nice review ray, i've got the kci mandarinas, which are really nice and am trying to save up for the silkworms but the price of gold keeps going up. finally a cable you can consider an investment :)
Freelance Reviewer For StereoMojo  System: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vopin&1162599347

Ray Bronk

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2007, 02:28:22 PM »
nice review ray, i've got the kci mandarinas, which are really nice and am trying to save up for the silkworms but the price of gold keeps going up. finally a cable you can consider an investment :)

Hi Mboldd1,

Thanks for the comments. Yeah, those Mandarinas are nice. 70 to 80% silkworms. for the moment, I can live with that. heheh. Give me a few days and hopefully the Silver soundbolts revier I can get done. Right now they are breaking in.

Ray

Offline richidoo

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2007, 02:46:09 PM »
http://koolcables.com/

Welcome to AN, Ray! Thanks for taking the time to write such a thorough and enjoyable review.
Rich

Ray Bronk

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2007, 04:06:05 PM »
http://koolcables.com/

Welcome to AN, Ray! Thanks for taking the time to write such a thorough and enjoyable review.
Rich

Hi Rich,

Thanks for the comments. Stuff like that makes it all worth the time to do reviews. I hope to have part Two in a few days.

Ray Bronk

Offline richidoo

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2007, 07:04:31 PM »
I have heard several off hand comments over the years about gold being a poor conductor, and really only used for corrosion resistance and luring hot, impressionable, poor women to their own infamy. It is said that NASA does not allow gold plated component conductors into its labs because they cause poor solder joints due to gold's inertness?  But now here is a different opinion that many people share, that pure gold makes a fine conductor for music signal, which has different requirements than just pumping current from point A to B as in copper traces, etc. Very interesting! Look fwd to next installment, but next time I will block off 30 minutes to do it justice. hahaha
Rich


Ray Bronk

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2007, 08:09:59 PM »
I have heard several off hand comments over the years about gold being a poor conductor, and really only used for corrosion resistance and luring hot, impressionable, poor women to their own infamy. It is said that NASA does not allow gold plated component conductors into its labs because they cause poor solder joints due to gold's inertness?  But now here is a different opinion that many people share, that pure gold makes a fine conductor for music signal, which has different requirements than just pumping current from point A to B as in copper traces, etc. Very interesting! Look fwd to next installment, but next time I will block off 30 minutes to do it justice. hahaha
Rich



Hi Rich,

Next installment will be discussing the differences between the copper Soundbolts and the Silver Soundbolts. I don't know about NASA, but you can buy switches with Gold contacts.

As for Gold cables, that's a whole different topic, of which I cannot reasonably comment. If you haven't already done so, I'd heartily suggest you go up to the Mojo site, and read the review on the Silkworms.

Ray

Offline richidoo

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2007, 04:58:29 AM »
Yeah, that's where I read about it. Very interesting - but yours are copper! Sorry for the tangent

Ray Bronk

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2007, 05:11:41 AM »
Yeah, that's where I read about it. Very interesting - but yours are copper! Sorry for the tangent

Yep, got to start somewhere. I hate break ins. It takes a long time to do so.

Ray

Joker

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2007, 06:02:25 AM »
Hi Ray,
I didn't realize you were over here, cool. Thank you for posting your thoughts on my cables, I'm glad you are enjoying them and I'm looking forward to your thoughts on what the upgraded plugs bring to the cable. Thanks again for your honest and thoughtful review, can't wait to read more.

Hi Rich,
I feel that gold, if done right, makes a fine conductor for audio cables. When i first started working with
gold I loved the traits of warm, smooth and soothing sound so for quite a while I focused on improving that
sound and working to lessen or get rid of the unwanted traits gold wire was known for such as rolled off highs and a soggy loose bottom end. Took a while but I finally got it with my newest cables, the Silkworms. Whats killing me now is the darn gold prices, last year this time it was only $570 an ounce and now it's hovering around $850!!  :shock:

Anyway, I appreciate the comments and if anyone has questions please don't hesitate to shoot me an email or pm. You can email me directly at John@koolcables.com

Thank you!!!

Sincerely,
John

Offline rollo

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2007, 06:20:17 AM »
Ray,
             Good to have you here. What took you so long? I would assume the conductor is solid Vs stranded. Just thought I'd through in my opinion. Coaxial cable has an advantage of maitaining a constant impedance over its lengh. A good thing for PRAT and bass reproduction. Wire IMO is not directional untill its burned in. Then it becomes directional.  If the designers shielding scheme dictates direction say floating at one end,thus the arrow.
             As you guys know I have yet to meet a silver cable I liked, I am curious as to the comparison. Especially this cable since the only difference is the silver. It shold prove interesting as to the differences.
            With your present source, my bet is the copper will prevail. Kool.

rollo
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Ray Bronk

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2007, 06:41:43 AM »
Ray,
             Good to have you here. What took you so long? I would assume the conductor is solid Vs stranded. Just thought I'd through in my opinion. Coaxial cable has an advantage of maitaining a constant impedance over its lengh. A good thing for PRAT and bass reproduction. Wire IMO is not directional untill its burned in. Then it becomes directional.  If the designers shielding scheme dictates direction say floating at one end,thus the arrow.
             As you guys know I have yet to meet a silver cable I liked, I am curious as to the comparison. Especially this cable since the only difference is the silver. It shold prove interesting as to the differences.
            With your present source, my bet is the copper will prevail. Kool.

rollo

Hi Rollo,

Actually, I've been here for awhile. I even posted a couple of times.

The copper cables, the centers are stranded.

 The fireflies, which are the silver cables are ruthless in the detail they give. They are not screechy at all. They are very neutral, tight bass, and are not warm at all.  His Mandarinas which are the gold alloy are almost seductive in there reproduction. Anyway, heheh, I am in a few days about to send part two of the Soundbolts. I haven't heard the Silkworms, nor do I want to. lol. Don't have the money to even think about buying them.

Ray

Offline mboldda1

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2007, 02:51:38 PM »
ray, if you can handle a .5 meter length of silkworm, usually you can get a pair from auction on audiogon which go for under $300.  i have been trying to win one of these at a good price and pay for an add on .25 meters to make it a .75 meter cable, but the bids have been keeping the price up in the range that still puts them out of my reach. [-o<
marvin
Freelance Reviewer For StereoMojo  System: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vopin&1162599347

Ray Bronk

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2007, 03:10:30 PM »
ray, if you can handle a .5 meter length of silkworm, usually you can get a pair from auction on audiogon which go for under $300.  i have been trying to win one of these at a good price and pay for an add on .25 meters to make it a .75 meter cable, but the bids have been keeping the price up in the range that still puts them out of my reach. [-o<
marvin

Hi Marvin,

Thanks for the info on the silkworms. At the moment, I have my hands full. One of These days, I'm gonna get one of those cable cookers. That way, I won't have to burden down my system.

Ray

KCI-JohnP

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Re: Koolcables Copper Soundbolts Review
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2007, 09:17:12 AM »
Ray,
I use the Audiodharma Pro and it's a little expensive but I believe there is one out there in the $150-200 dollar range, can't recall the name though. :duh I've heard it works pretty well too! Hagerman ring a bell???
Frybaby, I think that's it.

Regards,
John