Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MIT sounds better in 'cable loom'

MIT and Transparent Audio are two companies that I know which have filter networks in their speaker cables and interconnects.


What is inside those boxes is anybody's guess. Some claim they contain nothing more than ferrite rings, but some brave souls have cracked open MIT's network boxes to find passive circuitry comprising capacitors, inductors and resistors.


For the past few months I have been using the MIT CVT Terminator 2 Speaker Cables and CVT Terminator 2 RCA Interconnects which cost RM4,800 and RM2,299 respectively.


MIT's technology is controversial because I'm not sure if anyone can measure it.


According to its website: "Every audio cable, no matter the manufacturer, has a point along the audio bandwidth where the relationship of capacitance and inductance is most efficient at storing energy. We refer to this point of efficiency as an Articulation Pole. 


"Electrically, articulation is a measure of the efficiency of a cable or network to store energy and transport power. This transportable power is used to move the speaker and produce sound. The more efficiently the energy is stored and then transported, the more natural the sound will be.


"A cable that has its Articulation Pole tuned to a high frequency is described by audiophiles as 'bright' or 'fast.' Conversely, a cable that has its Articulation Pole tuned to a lower frequency would be described by audiophiles as 'muddy' or 'veiled.' MIT Cables’ interfaces are engineered to have multiple Articulation Poles.


"Theoretically, if you could use three different cables at the same time, each with a different Articulation Pole, to interconnect two audio components together, you would have an interface with three Articulation Poles; one for the highs, one for the mids, and one for the lows. Together, they would work to transport the audio signal from component to component with more articulation.

"This is what MIT Cables accomplishes with its patented technology, to a much greater extent, within each engineered interface. We call this Multipole Technology. The benefit is more lifelike vocals and instruments, mid and high frequencies become less bright or tiring, voices are clear and understandable, and bass frequencies become tight and deep."


Well, that explains the boxes in MIT's cables.


On top of the Multipole Technology, the speaker cables include another technology enclosed in a smaller box - a CVT Coupler which "deals with a very common problem for any interface: reflecting energy back at the source component."


The MIT CVT Terminator 2 speaker cable.
Note the smaller CVT Coupler.


I used the single-ended CVT Terminator 2 interconnects with eight Articulation Poles to connect the Benchmark DAC1 Pre to the Bryston 4BSST power amp and compared it (unfairly, it has to be noted) to the Audioquest dbs Panther balanced interconnects.


While the Audioquest benefitted from the balanced connections by sounding more dynamic, cleaner and more spacious, the MIT somehow etched each image more clearly resulting in the singer and musicians portrayed in a more defined manner with more space between them.


The MIT also revealed clarity rather evenly throughout the frequency range - from strong bass right up to shimmering highs. No spectrum was highlighted. This, I came to realise, is MIT's sonic signature.


The MIT CVT Terminator 2 interconnects.


This etched-out wide-band clarity sounded excellent on simple music featuring few instruments, but with more complex music like thickly-layered rock songs, the extra clarity seemed to be a bit jarring.


Furthermore, the slightly lean (or you could call it 'neutral') sound of the Bryston did not quite suit MIT's sonic signature.


Adding the MIT CVT Terminator 2 speaker cables, which have 15 Articulation Poles, to create a 'cable loom' fortified the MIT sonic signature. Strangely, I found the MIT cables to work best in a cable loom. Perhaps this could be due to its Multipole Technology and network filters.


Partnering the Audioquest Panther dbs interconnect with the MIT speaker cables made the sound 'fat' with fatter images while partnering the MIT interconnects with the Mapleshade Double Helix speaker cables resulted in good sound, but without MIT's sonic signature.


Later when I had a Mark Levinson No 532 power amp for a week, it turned out that the MITs matched beautifully with the high-end American amp. The slightly warm and fuller sound of the Mark Levinson negated the slightly jarring quality of the MIT (when used with the Bryston) and the sound became smooth.


As usual, it's a question of matching - when nicely matched the MITs can really sing. In fact, the MITs sounded so good with the Mark Levinson that I telephoned Ling, owner of Tong Lee in Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, and asked if I could borrow a pair of balanced interconnects, but he said he had no more stock of MIT cables and was waiting for a new shipment to arrive.


MIT has this 2/2 rule whereby you will get 75% of the performance in two days and 100% in two weeks. I felt that the MITs needed longer than that to burn in - in my experience it took about a month before the sound quality become more consistent, but I did not play music continuously.


The MIT iconn connectors.


The speaker cables came with MIT's iconn connectors which comprise two sets of well-made gold-plated banana plugs and spades which you screw onto the cable ends.


MIT's higher-end cables are extremely expensive. For e.g. the Oracle MA-X Rev. 2 HD speaker cable costs US$37,999 per pair.

Comparatively, the CVT Terminator 2 series offer an affordable taste of the really unaffordable (for most of us, anyway).

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