Got a turntable and need a cable to run from your phono amp to your main amp? Paul Rigby reviews the TT-1 interconnect cable, created by Russ Andrews using Kimber Kable
Top quality cables – as opposed to bits of wire that connect A-B – are very useful to remove noise from the hi-fi chain. In this way they improve sound quality. The cables don’t actively improve the sound quality but they allow you to hear the music that’s already there and is basically masked from the ears. This is why it is essential to bin any of those throw-away cables that you might have received free with a turntable and replace them with good quality, third party items. The cables that connect in and around your phono amp are even more critical because this specialised box is amplifying tiny signals from your turntable’s cartridge but it’s also amplifying any noise that resides in and around it. Minimising and removing this noise is important and a quality cable can help in this regard.
The TT-1 is derived from the Select range of Kimber cable interconnects and is a fully shielded, high-purity copper, coax-based design with a stranded core. The cables are ideal for those turntable users that need cables to run to a phono amp directly from their deck. They are also useful as interconnects from a phono amp to an main amp. I tested them in the latter configuration. Unusually, the TT-1 comes with its own, separate 2.5mm pure copper grounding wire for use where your turntable requires a ground connection through the use of a ground terminal. The grounding wire is terminated with 4mm spades. Not all turntables have a grounding connection so the choice is a nice idea.
I began the sound tests with a basic, no brand, cable running from my Trichord Dino phono amp to my Cambridge integrated and spun a copy of Ultravox’s instrumental track, Astradyne, on my Rega RP3 to hear the synth, organic drums, electric violin and guitar without the interference, at this stage, of vocals. The basic cable offered lots of impact on the drums but it was all attack and no character. The organic drums could have been synth drums for all my ears cared. More than that, both the synth crescendos and the entire electric violin solo sounded horribly bright and forward, hurting the ears on occasion with its tinny screech.
Replacing the basic cable with the Kimber, the metronomic synth note at the beginning of the track now sounded metallic instead of tinny while the drums now offered a 3D aspect instead of sounding like only the beginning of the drum note was being played: that attack I mentioned. The percussion now sounded heavy, with a large bulk and mass. The electric violin was loud without being screechy and the synths offered far more focus. The upshot of both of the latter also meant that, for the first time, I could properly hear the bass guitar and, not only that, the bass guitar strings being plucked! The change in sound quality was not just an enhancement, it was a dramatic improvement.
I then turned to Dean Martin for a vocal angle plus an overview of an orchestral backup plus backing singers on the track, Free To Carry On. The introductory piano was the first significant issue here. This sometimes chaotic instrument sounded uncontrolled and rather random with the unbranded cable but featured a welcome focus with the Kimber while the blooming background female vocal behind Martin’s lead vocal, that masked much of the delicate percussion and acoustic guitar work, was far more precise and focused via the Kimber, allowing much more detail to pass through to the ear from the rear of the master, this included the sweeping strings.
The TT-1 shows how important the cable running from your phono amp is. The wrong cable can hamper sound quality frankly cocking up any good work created in the phono amp itself. In my opinion, it’s probably more essential to get this one cable right, in terms of budget priority, than any other cable in your hi-fi. The Kimber does the job and does it well.
RUSS ANDREWS TT-1 PHONO INTERCONNECT CABLE
Price: £104 [for 0.5m, £129 for 1m]
Tel: 01539 797300
Good: focus, precision, low noise, design, detail
REFERENCE SYSTEM USED
Rega RP3 turntable
Trichord Dino phonostage
Leema Essentials CD player
Rega Brio-R amplifier
Q Acoustics 3020 speakers
Chord & Tellurium Q cabling