NBS Cables


All Power to the Wires

Stereo Magazine
Germany, 1996

Cables have no sound. But with good cables HiFi sounds simply better. We reached for the stars and ordered the best and most expensive strings of the world. Whether they live up to their price or at least to their reputation will be documented by our exclusive test. World stars as guests with Stereo.

With Walter Fields I am keeping contact by telephone. No doubt — a man with good humour. Fields founded the noble manufacturing plant NBS which in short could acquire a legendary reputation as string shop, especially with power cables. Normally, in the field of high-end, they belong to the unnoticed by-pack, at Field's they cost real money. Minimum 1,200 Deutschmarks.

Before I installed the pretended miracle tools into my system I had asked distributor Christopher Kraemer on what he bases his courage to ask such a price for a simple power supply. And what they would be made of? Pure platinum? This, he said, he had also asked Walter Fields. And he in return, had given him the profound answer: My cables are handmade by ninety years old New York virgins. And to get those would just be very expensive. Field's sense of humour. And obviously, he does not want to show his hand. I had to stop laughing when I tried his cables.

The probably most expensive cable, offered on God's earth, also comes from America: Kimber The Black Pearl, a loudspeaker cable of the superlatives. Ultra-heavy and ultra-expensive. 35,000 Deutschmarks is the price for this black pearl. But since - as is known - the end always justifies the means, the price could have been even higher. Why not 3.5 mio Deutschmarks? Nobody is going to buy the Black Pearl. To be sold are the more priceworthy Kimber products basking in the sunshine of tests achieved by the big black pearl. That's at least what I had thought before this test.

When I connected the power amplifiers McIntosh MC 1000 with the loudspeakers Wilson Watt/Puppy for the first time I had to alter my attitude. With this cable a room information is conveyed that is destroyed more or less by other strings.

Imagine, putting a CD into the player. What do you hear before the sound of the first tone? Nothing! With the Black Pearl fractions of a second before the music starts you are informed about the size of the room, you feel the depth, the width and the height of a natural conert hall. Or what do you notice when on a record or a CD a title is blemded out and the following title is already blended in? Tones faint and others grow louder. With Black Pearl interconnecting you recognize the 3-dimensional room which is moved to the background without loosing its contours. A new room arises differently dimensioned, both of them overlap each other until the new room takes over the music scene.

In Black Pearl 48 coiled and teflonized silver wires manage the transfer of signals. Around them are several millions of leaden balls protecting the cable against air and step reverberations. The formula appears to be simple - but it works.

NBS means officially, Nothing But Sound, unofficially translated by Walter Fields it is, "No More Bull-Shit". From my point of view, NBS cables are, The Components of the Year. Their effect upon the music performance is so definite, so fantastic, that I may not withhold the experiences that I had with them. Let us start at the beginning, at the power supplies. Already the AC Power Cable changes the sound effectively especially with CD and analog record players. Coarse and fine dynamics improve considerably with its help. Bass parts e.g., which before were flat, apathetic and dull, now sweep around the corner, so to speak. The finest cymbals appear nearly undifferentiated when, transferred by normal connections. With this cable I have confronted skeptics and naggers: the result was always incredulous astonishment. Incredulous since this cable is in no way coiled with extraordinary materials. Fields uses mainly copper and silver, and according to our analysis, he seems to set knots at certain points of the cable. Where these knots are to be set seems to be his real and essential secret.

It is surprising that the quality and effect becomes more intensive when the more expensive cables start their supply work. The top is really the Professional. In a blind test, you would really be convinced to listen to a completely new CD-player costing a couple of thousand-Deutschmark bills more. But also the best player from Jadis, Krell and Mark Levinson benefit in a way beyond discussion. This is to say, whoever is looking for an ultimate component in his system, must connect with NBS.

he iinterconnects from NBS maintain their level. In the begining I had some problems with asymmetric versions since the cables were stiff as a stick and even the best plugs from Neutrik and Clearaudio broke after a second use. The SLR-versions, of coarse, lasted and with them I could gather most of my experiences. Believe it or not: whenever I took them out of my chain the sound pattern became fade. When they were at work I could notice a better focussing, a more differentiated base of basses, more plastic mediums and more details in the high notes. Compared to NBS even very good competitive products seem to work like sound tone controls. They do their job when certain deficits of a system are to be compenated. At the same time they produce new shortcomings. Very good cables to a lower extent, bad ones more.

Shortly before editorial deadline, Fields had sent a package with new strings to Munich. He would now use a plug for asymmetric cables which is supposed to be undestroyable. An elephant could sit on it and the plug would still be in shape, maybe the elephant would have a hole in his behind. (Walter Fields used a less elevated language for that). Several attempts to invalidate Field's statement failed. Whatever I did to the cable: the bombastic plug did not show any sign of fatigue. In my professional system I use a number of components which are absolutely symmetric. Like the D/A processor Mark Levinson No. 30, the preamplifier ML 38 S and the amplifier MBL 9010. In combination these elements sound basically better when connected with XLR-cables. The NBS Professional, the double meter for 7500 Deutschmarks, is the exception to this plain rule. The Profi- as asymmetric edition - beats already all XLR cables in practically all competitions. Even various MITs which until my rendezvous with NBS had esteemed as nonplusultra (ultimate) fall behind the high-price NBS. The NBS triumphal procession continues with the digital connections. I had used the Master II as reference but now it is the Professional which has taken its place. It is mercilessly (that's the word he uses in German) good, it changes the sound where, technically seen, nothing is to be changed.

Remains a look to the loudspeaker strings of which all are to be recommended. Whoever can afford it should reach for the Profi. It does not swallow the Black Pearl for breakfast(...as Fields had promised), does not reach its remarkable, spaciality' but is more open and richer in details compared to the lead snake.

When this edition of STEREO will be out for sale at the newsstands I am going to see Walter Fields in Minneapolis for an interview. I am going to pump this magician, promised. And there is something else that interests me burningly. The NBS-loudspeaker. In Germany it is supposed to cost around 100,000 Deutschmarks. Looking at the photo of this sound processor I see nothing that could justify the price. But most probably this piece of sound furniture is carpented and screwed together by those New York virgins, who coil the cables with their hands. And they just ask for more money from their lord and master.

NBS Audio Cables
155 Fifth Avenue South Suite 455, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Phone: (800) 627-0204, fax: (612) 339-8750
web: http://www.nbscables.com
e-mail: nbscable@nbscables.com
Source of review sample: Manufacturer Loan

Copyright © 1996 Stereo Magazine





For technical questions, e-mail: nbscable@nbscables.com
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