Highly affordable, high quality speaker cables
Some time ago I wrote a review of Ricable’s best speaker cables, the Supreme. The cables under review right now are the two more affordable types positioned under it.
Review samples supplied by Ricable
Ultimate 3 meter stereo single wire pair: 160 euro
Hi End 3 meter stereo single wire pair: 280 euro
Supreme is the best in each cable category that Ricable makes. The Hi End version is placed one step below the Supreme, and the Ultimate is placed one step below the Hi End. The terms are a bit confusing, but just remember when speaking of good, better, best, with Ricable the order is: Ultimate, Hi End, Supreme.
The Supreme of the earlier review was finished to a high standard, with solid adjustable-tension banana connectors and heavy cable end splitters, and quoting from my review, it performed very well, sounding full-bodied, relaxed and smooth, with just the right balance between relaxed musicality and audiophile traits such as transparency, low-level detail and neutrality. I don’t have the Supreme at hand anymore, which means that I cannot draw direct comparisons, so let’s see instead how the Ultimate and Hi End cables compare to each other, starting with the more affordable one.
The Ultimate is a 13mm thick cable that is very supple. It employs pure OFC with 4mm2 conductors in PE insulation. The cable does not use shielding. It may not have the Supreme’s nice cable end splitters but still looks classy.
Connected between Jeff Rowland 125 power amp and Apogee Duetta Signature speakers, the Ultimate sound pretty neutral overall, but like the interlinks, this speaker cable’s sound is tilted slightly toward the dark, with solid bass and midrange. Resolution is not the cable’s strongest point, nor is treble extension. The Ultimate doesn’t really have any strong vices (it doesn’t offend, and doesn’t sound harsh or aggressive) but it also doesn’t excel in any one area. All in all the cable can certainly work well in entry-level setups. Here it will provide a fuller tonality than typical off-the-reel cables, which can be a good thing in many entry-level systems, but it’s not the strongest in the Ricable lineup.
The Hi End is a 16mm thick cable that is a little bit more sturdy than the Ultimate, but still easy to work with. It is more flexible than most step-up AudioQuest cables for example. It employs pure OFC with 6mm2 conductors in PE insulation. It also has an OFC tinned copper shielding. Apart from the different color jacket and the thicker cable diameter, the Hi End looks very similar to the Ultimate, and has the same connectors.
Connected between the Rowland 125 and Duetta Signatures right after first listening, the Ultimate really surprises sonically. While the Ultimate and Hi End cables are seemingly very close in design, the relatively small differences that are there, apparently make for a transformation in sound. The Hi End is a smooth sounding cable, creamier and richer than the UItimate. But it is also more cohesive, more refined and fluid, and it has better resolution. It’s still not the highest resolving cable on the market but is very musical for it. Add to the aforementioned qualities a fuller, yet better integrated bass and more refined treble while maintaining excellent speed and transient behavior and factor in the price and we have a winner.
The Ultimate is a fine cable if you’re looking to get a very affordable, neutral speaker cable that looks the part and sounds more colorful than entry-level products. But the Hi End really takes the prize here, sounding quite a bit better than the Ultimate. Actually its character reminds me of a cable I heard from fellow Italian cable manufacturer HiDiamond, and I think that it would perform admirably even in the context of premium audio systems.