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
TO BUY CLICK BELOW:
USA – https://amzn.to/2GmsROn
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/34UOgaZ
GOOD: open mids, low noise, disciplined frequencies, organic bass
[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]
Pro-Ject RPM3 Carbon turntable
Spendor S3/5R speakers
Tellurium Ultra Blue speaker cables
QED Reference XT40 Speaker Cables
Blue Horizon Professional Rack System
Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components
All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner
geoffrey22nd October 2019 at 1:47 pm
I have the QED XT40 cables and they are indeed terrific. Prefer them over more expensive cables and they work great with my atc scm19 v2 speakers.
Paul Rigby22nd October 2019 at 3:46 pm
Good stuff, Geoff. The company has been producing quality stuff for a while now.
james4th November 2019 at 6:43 pm
Hi Paul, I just saw these came out. I’ve already got XT40 wired up and am thinking to change to these. How do they compare to them? Thanks!
Paul Rigby5th November 2019 at 9:53 am
Hi James – these are an improvement but, if you already have the originals and you’re looking to upgrade then I’d jump a rung or two and buy superior technology.
james5th November 2019 at 7:45 pm
Thanks Paul! What would you suggest to get for the tech?
Paul Rigby6th November 2019 at 12:11 pm
That would depend on your system and your budget James.
Poer23rd November 2022 at 9:13 pm
Love reading your reviews.
How would you describe the differences beetween the I and the non I version ?
Thanks in advance
Paul Rigby25th November 2022 at 10:19 am
Hi Poer – don’t worry if your comments take time to appear. Nothing’s wrong 🙂 Like many websites, I’m subject to spam attacks so I need to filter comments before I publish them. Sometimes I get busy and can’t sort that immediately so I ask for your patience. In general terms, the ‘i’ versions of the cables provide enhanced sound. Retaining the basic personality, doing the same basic job and not diverging from the original cable but just enhancing what you have/had with those originals.
Mario16th November 2019 at 6:42 am
Hi Paul, thanks for the great review! How do the xt40i compare to the QED Signature Revelation? Thank you
Paul Rigby18th November 2019 at 10:14 am
Hi Mario – I haven’t performed a formal review of the Revelations so take this advice with a pinch of salt. After casual listening, I think I’d go for the XT40i cables.
Mario19th November 2019 at 2:23 pm
Thank you for your honest answer! I will try to listen to both, otherwise probably go for the xt40i
Richard Newman14th June 2020 at 11:21 am
Thanks for the great review plus the honestand very accurate assessment of the cables. I have a pair of XT40i cables terminated with some Neotech SK8- B which I’d kept from a previous DIY speaker project . This is probably overkill but it does at least ensure that I get the very best from them. I was very recently loaned a pair of QED Revelation cables for a couple of weeks and found that, although I was initially impressed by the level of detail that they revealed, they were soon replaced by the XT40i’s again. I found the level of micro-detailing to be verging on the artificial and the lean balance didn’t help. In the past, I have preferred copper cables and the XT40i’s perform better than some I’ve had which cost goodness knows how much more. They are absolute “keepers” in my system.
Paul Rigby14th June 2020 at 12:36 pm
Thanks for the report, Richard – appreciate it!
kents26th September 2020 at 9:16 pm
hallo exposure 3010s2d and opticon 6 speakers what you think are this cable is good i no need right or harsh sound or XT-25 are the price for xt40i is worth? thank you
Paul Rigby30th September 2020 at 9:30 am
Hi kents – well, all my thoughts about the cables are present in the reviews themselves. They would fit your system nicely.
Chen HK14th December 2020 at 6:06 am
My hifi consists of Cambridge CXA81 amplifier and Tannoy XT8 speaker. May i know QED XT40i cable will suit the already warm sounding system.
Paul Rigby14th December 2020 at 11:23 am
The cables will enhance what you already have, if that’s what you mean? They should work well.
Chen HK15th December 2020 at 12:45 am
Thank you Paul
lee8th February 2021 at 6:22 am
i have the QED xt25 should i upgrade to xt40i
is there a notable difference in the bass region?
Any other difference or improvement in overall sound?
Paul Rigby8th February 2021 at 1:36 pm
I think it would help, yes. I think I talked about bass in the review as well as other areas of the frequency spectrum. Also look at the Tellurium Q Blue II cables. Also excellent: https://theaudiophileman.com/blue-ii-speaker-cables-review-tellurium-q/
Rob Meinzer10th February 2021 at 8:14 pm
I’m really enjoying the XT40i cables feeding a pair of Totem Sttaf speakers powered by an Audiolab 6000a Play integrated amp.
Andrei14th November 2021 at 8:02 pm
Thank you for this great review. I just bought a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 200, in my humble effort to build a hi-fi system. A black friday not to miss opportunity. Next step would be the amp and the cable. I’m running them right now with a very old school Technics SU-V300 Mark II, since it’s the only one I got. May I ask you:
1. Which amp would you recommend for them? I’m leaning towards Musical Fidelity m2si. And in the future one if their cd player as well. If I will hae that budget. But I am open for any suggestions regarding the amp. For the moment I run my music from the Rega Planar 1 Plus and Bluesound Node 2i.
2. Which cables should I buy? The xt40i or should I go up for the xt400? I’m not sure if the higher price of xt400 is worth it. And I’m not quite sure if I can stretch that high as well.
Paul Rigby19th November 2021 at 2:59 pm
What’s your budget for the amp and the cables, Andrei?
Jose5th December 2021 at 1:07 am
My hifi is a old Musical Fidelity A1 amplifier with a Epos ES11 speakers. The speaker cables are Ecosse CS2.2 but I wish to change to the QED XT40 and so that the sound is more transparent but without losing warming. It’s a good choice?.
Paul Rigby5th December 2021 at 11:10 am
The QEDs are excellent cables so sure, go for those. Quality cables shouldn’t add or remove any of your favoured hifi ‘personality’ traits. The better cables are there to enhances the sound quality, nothing else.
Jorge19th October 2022 at 10:26 pm
I purchased a pair boxed (pre terminated on bananas) and what a disappointment!! The sound got difusse , dark and congested on my setup (AMP AHB2 + Canton Reference 7K speakers). An I was using just a pair of chinese cables as I never believed that cables could make a difference. I was wrong!. I am in the process now to return them to the store.
Maybe the impedance of this cable didn’t worked on my setup.