MIT Shotgun S3.3 Speaker Cable and Interconnect review
First, I'd like to thank Jesse/F1nut and Polk for the opportunity to demo these products. What a great opportunity to evaluate some high end cables in order to hear their synergy in your personal system with your favorite music!
I was commenting earlier in this thread that this might be the most modest equipment these cables would be hooked up to, and that I wasn't sure if it was worth it given the bargain basement price of my Polk TSi100 speakers (about $200/pair). That being said, I actually quite like these speakers for two channel listening, and they seem to work well in my smaller listening room. I think they're a great value, with some slight cons being stereo imaging could be better, and that they may benefit from upgraded crossovers. My Marantz CDP now has enough hours on it (about 75) that I feel it's past it's initial break-in period. I like how detailed yet neutral it is, and it seems well suited to many genres. A con might be that it doesn't sound as lively or natural as some other players with tube output stages. As a side note, I am using all stock power cables with my gear, as I haven't been able to convince myself to give upgraded power cords a try yet. (Possibly an MIT power cable demo in the future?!)
During my two weeks with the cables, I managed to log 13 hours on them with a variety of different music. One of the very first things I noticed is the bigger more three dimensional stereo image. The "sweet spot" seemed to expand and widen, so that I didn't have to be in such an exact spot to get a full well rounded sound. The second thing I noticed was the increased realism to the sound. Everything sounded cohesive and natural, especially well recorded vocals. The increase in discernible texture to strings, voices, and percussion were very evident.
Going back to the overall stereo image for a moment, I noticed more separation of instruments and improved perception of instrument placement. Everything seemed to "fall into place", for lack of a better description. Even my wife who normally rolls her eyes when I gush about high end cables or speakers got in on the fun with a few of her favorite Steely Dan tracks. I think the single most impressive comment was that it sounded like she was "hearing the song for the first time". This is huge praise coming from her considering she is all about the music and generally isn't too concerned if it's coming from an iPod dock or a car stereo.
Toward the end of my time with the cables, I quickly realized that they were becoming transparent. I had forgotten they were in my system because they were simply doing exactly what they should - nothing more and nothing less. Obviously these would be a great choice when planning out a listening room, albeit with a somewhat high initial investment. However, an investment that is definitely worth it in my opinion. Of course it just depends on how much relaxation and joy you achieve from unadulterated musical enjoyment.
I have some other observations and questions I will touch on now in regards to the cables and their performance. I noticed they have less bass than my Audioquest cables. Why is this? Are the Audioquest cables adding bass or are the MITs taking bass away? I should note at this time that I always utilize the "tone defeat" button on my NAD which makes the signal completely bypass the front panel bass and treble knobs.
The MIT cables seemed to perform better at higher volumes. I generally listen to things at what I'm sure some would consider a bit on the quiet side (anywhere from 65-75db), but I noticed that as I turned the volume up the MITs really shined. Is there a technical reason for why they would sound better with more current passing through them?
I noticed some harshness on cymbals in certain recordings. Is this because the cables are more revealing and showing the limitations of the Redbook format? Lastly, I found the high end to be very non-fatiguing, so I feel they would be well suited for speakers that are a bit "bright".
Which brings me back to what I first said regarding synergy with other equipment in your setup. This demo program is essential to see if these will work well with your particular taste in equipment. Thanks again for this opportunity and I encourage anyone who is on the fence about whether or not cables make a difference to sign up for this demo!