Two gents walk into a bar… So the joke generally begins. Unlike a joke, however musing, what comes next is nothing short of a blockbuster HiFi story worth telling and then some. The two gents in question, Howard Sosna, and Joe Kubala, went on to form what is otherwise known as Kubala-Sosna (or “KS” for short), a bespoke, high-tech HiFi cable company. Now I first met Joe Kubala sometime in 2005 or thereabouts, at one of those LAOC audio society meetings and immediately felt something a bit more different, more refined, more pragmatic about Kubala-Sosna. Then, still in their virtual infancy, Joe Kubala came across as a very polished, very matter-of-fact sort of a salesman, though even the word salesman is the wrong noun, as he was more, much more, a consultant than anything else. At least so he appeared. “Sure,” I said to myself, “he’s coming in through the back door, smart”, I said. Whereas all other cable companies I had known at the time (and most are, even today) came across as sales-y and push-y, Joe’s style was far more nuanced and effective. Think Rolls-Royce vs. Honda dealership. Rather than pushing you, he pulled you, maybe not even that. His (and his partner, Howard’s) story was high class vs. low ball and proved very effective indeed. “Howard and I have spent a great deal of time, energy and money developing our cable line, which we feel represents what a cable should be. I am happy to come to your place of business (retail) or home to let you—hopefully—hear what we hear with our cable designs.” Simple enough in theory. In practice, most everyone fails. Not Kubala-Sosna.
This non-suggestive line, frankly, did it for me. You see, whereas everyone else was always pushing you via the universally strong power of suggestion, Joe’s presentation was nothing of the sort. “Confident. Calm. Consistent,” I thought to myself. “This guy is different. Must learn more. Must connect with Joe to hear more [about their ideas],” I said. No sooner was his time at the LAOCAS event over, was I dialing the phone connecting with Joe to do just that. What followed next was classic Joe Kubala/Howard Sosna in practice. “I’ll send you a couple of cables from our Fascination and [then] top-of-the line Emotion series. Play with them at your leisure and give me a call in a couple of weeks. Curious to hear your input.” Well that was easy. Is there a catch? Not only was there no catch, but Emotion (and Fascination) so transfixed my belief in the power of cables that a full loom of Emotion became my reference for many years to come. Supremely neutral, authentic, dynamic and naturally resolved, Emotion simply allowed me to hear more into the recording, more into the system. That was 11, or even 12 years ago; mind you, Emotion at that time was already a few years beyond newborn status, and in fact was launched alongside KS in 2003. Let that sit in for a moment. No, really. It’s like Apple supporting an iPhone that’s five years old. Everyone else? Crickets.
Then, just before CES 2009, rumors, amplified by aficionados and recording engineers like Jim Merod, abounded that Kubala-Sosna managed to upend even their top of the line cable with something better still. Elation! series was launched and the HiFi press went proverbial gaga. I myself was spooked too. Having had the chance to hear Elation! many times over, I too realized that this was a special cable line indeed. Many others did too—so powerful a lineup was offered that companies like YG, who run an extremely technical and high-tech ship themselves, chose to not only demo with KS Elation! exclusively, but also utilize full looms of KS in their own labs and factory demo room. That’s confidence. Fast forward almost ten years (!) since the launch of Elation! and KS has established itself as a formidable, potent, and legitimate cable manufacturer. To wit, and frankly, one of my main attractions to KS, is the fact that unlike so many others, KS doesn’t simply change and “revolutionize” cables every year; no, in typical bespoke fashion, a new cable line is only launched when it is genuinely demonstratively better than what came before. Thus, it’s no surprise then to see my former reference Emotion still in production and Elation!, now close to ten years of age, still pulling rather strongly. Just how good a cable Elation! is, is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that it took KS about that long to launch an even higher end line, aptly named Realization. But more on that later, as they say.
What then is one to make of an Elation! (p)review ten years on? Simply this: one need not chase the latest and greatest year in year out; consistency and reputation are worth more than the usual fantastic upgrade cycles some cable lines have on offer. What comes next for those cable companies is generally dubious at best: cursively looking around Audiogon explains the rest of thatstory. Snake oil, anyone? Do I have a bridge to sell you! It follows then that If Elation! was truly that great so many years ago, it’s still as great—greater?—today. The rest is history. When, during the course of YG’s all new Sonja 2.2 (2.3) announcement some six-ish months ago Joe offered to supply me with a full loom of Elation!, I immediately jumped on the proverbial train. Just what would Elation! offer compared to Emotion? Compared to my other Nordost references? Compared to my otherwise trusted and true sounding EINSTEIN line of cables? Otherwise best in value Zu Audio cables? Fortunately, this would be a fairly simple and straight forward task. Swap one for the other, take notes, report, repeat. That Elation! would so—yet again—usurp everything else I had on offer, proved impressive to say the least.
Even as a formal review will be published in due time, a system built of Emotion is fine. In fact, very fine. To recapture my bearings to the tune (or is it really no tune at all?) of KS—and due to some scheduling snafus over the holidays—I wired up Sonja 2.3 with Emotion first. Immediately, the hallmark sound of Kubala-Sosna became apparent. Sitting with Emotion again made me realize some of the system’s more detailed resolving power had been missing. The trek with Elation!, began simply enough: a power cable here, a balanced interconnect there; “wowza, this is nuts” I jotted on my notepad some such month ago. To my ears, Elation! in just these past few weeks has yet again elevated the “what’s possible” side of my system. Just when you thought Emotion is all you need, along comes Elation! It’s like the iPhone X really; once you get used to it and all its brilliance, it’s really hard to go back to the iPhone 8, no matter how amazing that phone already is.
For now, then, let us pause here—there’s quite a bit for me to chew on. Elation! review forthcoming. Stay tuned!
From “Postive Feedback” 05-12-2018 | By Danny Kaey | Issue 97