Newly updated speakers cables they may be but Paul Rigby wonders if the sound of the Reference XT40i designs has also been improved
Cor, it’s been a few years since I initially reviewed QED’s XT40 speaker cables. Time does fly. So I was intrigued to see that QED has updated the design and added one of those essential ‘i’ appellations to the name of the Reference XT40i cables. Where would we be without those letter ‘i’ additions, eh?
According to the company, there are, “…several technological upgrades…” to these budget speaker cables including an Air Gap dielectric to cut capacitance while the proprietary X-Tube technology remains in place.
There’s also a 4.0mm² cross sectional area and 99.999% oxygen-free copper construction.
Apart from these nice tweaks and additions, the Reference XT40i cables are pretty straightforward: easy on the eye, easy to use and plug in without any excess weight applying drag to speaker sockets.
How do they sound?
I played both Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Autumn Leaves from Best Of…Vol.2 and Early Morning from Barclay James Harvest’s Early Morning Onwards.
For such a low price, the performance from the XT40i speaker cables is pretty darned special. What gets you from the off are three things. Firstly, how music is evenly spread across the wide expanse of the broad soundstage, giving detail as much chance as possible to spring forth from the same.
Secondly, the low noise from the cables means that the clarity scoots upwards. Allied to this is the relative rise in detail and lots of it. There seems to be no areas, within the soundstage, to hide. Every element of the production appears to be on show here, every element of the song seems to be revealed, ready to be picked up by the ear.
Connected to the above, the third element is the extremely airy and open presentation. Midrange is positively breezy, as if the vocal and pacing orchestra had decamped to a local park and had decided to perform from there instead. This meant that strings seemed to travel further, the Cole vocal had a chesty texture which added emotion to his delivery and fine details could now be separated. The percussion and upright bass, for example, could easily be lumped as a single tone but the XT40i cables managed to tease them apart into separate elements.
Switching to more energetic fare and Barclay James Harvest and that operation of frequencies was maintained. Useful in a rock track when the noise and bluster often threatened to reduce delicate frequencies to a frantic series of tonal blobs. The XT40i cables allowed guitars to impose a distinct personality upon the soundstage, while retaining a sonic discipline. That is, bass never encroached upon the midrange information, never blurred it or added warmth. It knew its place and knew its job.
The XT40i cables provide a welcome sense of freedom to all frequencies, you never feel that music is being hampered or held back. Providing an even and balanced presentation, the open and low noise performance of the QEDs gives the music every chance to ‘do its thing’. Above all, these cables do their best to get out of the way, which is all you can ask for any cable design.
QED REFERENCE XT40i SPEAKER CABLES
QED Reference XT40i £11/m
Pre-terminated 2m – £109.95
Pre-terminated 3m – £129.95
Pre-terminated 5m – £169.95
Tel: 01279 501111
GOOD: open mids, low noise, disciplined frequencies, organic bass
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