Great write up. Thanks!
First, let me apologize for using a fairly modest system to test out these cables, which may be disproportionately expensive for the system I am currently running. I tried to get a Wyred4Sound DAC and STI1000 in time for the review, but that did not work out. However, I think the DAC, preamp, and speakers involved are sufficient to be able to hear a difference if one is indeed present when switching cables. Secondly, I will admit to leaning slightly to the naysayers of speaker cable philosophy in the sense that thru the assorted cables I have used historically, I donít recall ever having a watershed moment or miraculous breakthrough in performance. However, an opportunity to try some very highly regarded and fairly expensive cables via this demo could not and should not be passed. Thus, here we goÖ
iNova integrated (Sabre DAC, ipod dock, tube preamp, and stereo amp)
Pioneer Elite SC-35 (used with Wadia dock as well as ipod directly connected)
Def Tech Mythos ST
Wadia i170 transport (used with Pioneer Elite SC-35 only)
Speakers were approximately 8 ft apart, 3 ft from wall
Listening position was approximately 6 ft. from speakers
Speaker Cables Used in Demo:
Monster XP cable with monster nanners.
MIT EXP1 cables with MIT nanners.
MIT Shotgun S3.3 with MIT nanners.
Again, not the most impressive system, but I really am looking for a simplified system after dealing with components in the past and all the various interconnects that go along with it. It was a battle of finding the perfect combinations and resisting the urge to try another one of the myriad combinations of cables and components. I have thoroughly enjoyed the lack of a need to store and fumble with CDís and everything else and after the Wyred4Sound upgrade I will probably call it fin. Apologize for that tangent.
My listening material was a playlist of some of my favorite songs as well as those that I always enjoy listening for that extra detail, decay, or emotion that another piece of the puzzle may add. The list is as follows:
John Mayer- Gravity
Aaron Robinson- The Elephant
Warren Zevon- Keep Me in Your Heart
Adele- Donít You Remember
And then a few hours of mixes of Jack Johnson, B.O.B., Morgan Paige, etcÖ for non-critical listening.
I spent the first week of casual listening to help burn in the relatively new cables. Never really looking or taking notes. After the first week I would spend about 45 min. listening to each of the above referenced cables and then switching to another cable. At this point I was listening for subtle differences and preferences, which there definitely were. I took turns listening to the cables via the iNova and also the wadia and SC-35. On the last weekend I set aside time with the better half to really just sit down and listen to only the playlist as it ran thru one set of speaker cables at a time, and then did so again and again to really ensure that there was consistency in my thoughts and preferences. This process was completed for both sets of speakers listed above, but in the end I elected to spend all this listening time on the iNova.
In order of performance and preference:
Build quality is substantial
Nanners and all connections yield solid hookups
Sound is very detailed, with great separation of vocals and instruments
Bass is solid and there was a reduction in the boominess (especially with the LSi15ís)
The sound was neutral to me, which is a good thing IMO
Cost for some
The cables are substantial so tight fits and angles could be an issue for some
They will make you doubt your current cables
The Shotgun S3.3 were consistently my favorite cable, by a great difference in reference to the monster cables and less so with the other MIT cables. Returning to the monster cables always seemed to produce a veiled or muffled sound, however a couple friends who were present during the time actually preferred this sound and thought the bass seemed louder (to me it was boomier). Going to the MIT cables always seemed to produce more separation and detail with the S3.3 adding that extra level of rightness. Interestingly, the improvements seemed to be more marked and obvious with the Polks than with the Def Techs. I was actually hoping the S3.3 would add a touch of warmth to the Mythos, but I didnít detect any.
However, the MITís definitely improved the overall presentation of all of the music and songs. Was the improvement proportional to the cost difference? No, but there is always the law of diminishing return, and it definitely plays a part in this example as well. Would I recommend spending the difference? Absolutely, so long as your finances permit it, I would purchase a pair or at least a used pair. Could you live with a lower line of MITís such as the EXP lineup or perhaps an equal Audioquest, Cardas, etc. offering? Again, my answer would be absolutely, but we could also all live with driving a Honda Civic as well.
I know that this doesnít necessarily offer any clear conclusion, but most things in life arenít. I will say that I am no longer a naysayer of cables, but still conscious of the law of diminishing return that would have to be associated with them. That rate of diminishment would also probably defer and not be as steep with a system that was more proportional to these cables. Personally, I will be looking on for a pair of these cables to keep as my own. Could I live without them? Yes, but why should anyone live without something that they enjoy and find worthwhile.