Monster Sigma Mythology - Need Answers

Back in the mid 1990s I fell into spools of Monster M Series M1500 and M2.4 Biwire. The M2.4 does not have the network terminator and I had to terminate the M1500 (don't do this as it takes forever, and ever, and ever). Before I knew it I had an entire system cabled with the much maligned Monster products and there they've stayed all these years, but now I have a 1 meter pair of the mythological M2000 Sigma interconnect in route.

I write this due to the complete lack of information on the net about upper end Monster cables. The new retro cables actually have some discussion on the net, but then you'll see claims that the old M2000 Sigma was better. Similar controversy may exist with the speaker cables with the old M2 Sigma.

The M2000 Sigma interconnect I purchased in ignorance thinking it was using the newer generation, low capacitance PEX dielectric first found in M1000i and the M2.4s biwire Speaker cables (cables are nearly black whereas older Monster M Series is gray.) I’ll update the table below with its capacitance which is likely frighteningly high. In searching I saw an Ad for M1500i, but without visual confirmation I belief this is a myth. (Or does M1500i exist?)

I am hoping the Agon community will help fill out this thread with details on the various monster top offerings. I'd like to keep this to M1000 and above interconnects and M2.2s Speaker cable and above. So some tabular info follows including capacitance which is a big issue for tube equipment (we can update values if anyone can provide missing numbers by measuring with capacitance meter)....

Interconnect (1 meter pair):
M1000 Laboratory Ref
M1000 Sonic Ref. Std.
M1000 Mk. II Sonic Ref.
M1000 Mk. III Sonic Ref. $200 162pf Isotec
M1000i PEX
M1000i Ultimate (PEX) PEX
M1500 $400 278pf
M2000 Sigma $800

Speaker Cable (8 foot pair)
M2 Sigma $2000
M2.4s Biwire $800 Best?

Decided to leave out Retro in table. Please discuss your sound experience with these. Monster has a bad name with audiophiles, but these cables were designed with technology licensed from Bruce Brisson of MIT fame. The earlier interconnects are extremely capacitive and that would account for their dark sound with some tube equipment. You do not want excess length! All of these are well liked to my knowledge except perhaps the M1000i ultimate which an Amazon reviewer said sounded more rolled off then his old M1000. M1500 considered sizeable step up from M1000. M2000 is not as big a step up. Until the Retro Gold, I don't think Monster put out anything above M1000i with the lower capacitance PEX dielectric.

On the speaker cable front I left out the older Monster stuff except the outrageously priced Sigma M2. The M2.4s is really, really good even at retail and can be had used easily enough given the Monster reputation among audiophiles (most of whom would be embarrassed to have it in their system). Don't be shy Monster lovers!
I had an M1000 I/C cables some 10 years ago and alternated them with Straight Wire Virtuoso Gold.

Both were very good in their own way. The Monster cables tended to sound a bit dry and lean with some gear, but improved the sound of some other gear.
Thank you for your findings on the M1000. I am still waiting on my Sigma which appears to be lost in the postal machine.

People, it is OK to admit you have owned monster cable! If you know someone who has had the shame of owning Monster, point them to this thread. It will be cathartic for them to confess their sins.
Well the Monster Sigma arrived today and unfortunately my pair does not match! The right channel measures 350pf for one meter. The left measures 220pf. The right has a crisp white band around it, the left has a more faded band with a direction arrow. Based on the capacitance measures neither of these is m1000 or m1500. The right is what I feared and expected from an older Sigma M2000; high capacitance. The left is what I hoped, much lower capacitance from the newer PEX dielectric. Both cables have a black mesh over them. Both have incredibly beefy factory turbine connectors. I am contacting the seller to see if he can track down. I am guessing that a previous owner mixed up two one meter pairs of these.

I need some sigma owners to come forward and measure their cables!
Well at least one of these cables is the genuine article, because they do sound better than M1500. I did some comparisons with the first 15 minutes of Top Gun via my hot rodded Pioneer BDP-51FD (direct RCA connection from Wolfson DAC to my Bendix 6900 line stage with Placette passive.) Its hard to describe, but the Sigma made the M1500 sound trashier and washed out in the bass which is not easily done since bass performance was a strength of the M1500 and it is a darker sounding cable. the M2000 Sigma also just sounded more interesting in the treble. With all this of course soundstaging was more impressive. Notice I've not commented on the midrange, and that was because the differences were very much imaging related, etc. My system does very low bass (Vandersteen 4a (like a 5)) and these differences might be smaller on a less full range system. These cables probably belong in a Monster Museum so I am starting one and will gladly except donations! (Just think you can write them off your taxes at original retail price.)

My best guess for my cables is that the lower capacacitance left channel interconnect has the newer PEX dielectric and that both are Sigma. I've seen ads showing a black body to the rca connectors versus the pewter look which I believe is newer. Black body ones would be older and more capacitive. I am not sure which is better. I would presume the PEX version, but I've seen an Amazon review comparing one of the grey m1000 versus the m1000i and the reviewer did not like the m1000i PEX.

I will be trying to jostle and peer through the black mesh around these cables under strong light. The PEX dielectric monster has always been a dark gray and the non-PEX light gray. I've inquired with Monster Cable's customer support (Speaker division) about capacitance specifications as these would be a great way to identify these cables.

.... I just spent like what seems to be half an hour peering through the mesh at the lettering on both interconnects (double magnification LED visor). By moving the mesh around I was able to make out the following, M2000 ultra coherent balanced impedance component audio interconnect cable. The lettering was the same and the cable color was the same. I expected to see some difference here that would account for the capacitance. The cabling appears to be the same. Through the mesh it definantly also looks dark grey like the PEX cables. It does not mention this, but the color is a strong indicator.

I am beginning to wonder if these cables had a 120pf capacitor (standard size) in parallel at one of the connectors. These cables had some frayed braiding and had heat shrink repaired by a dealer and perhaps they disconnected a capacitor. I've not heard of capacitors in Sigma.

The real fault for this situation lies with Monster (and other cable manufacturers too, Shunyata Sidewinder for example). They made cables that were physically indistinguishable from each other and yet they are different versions. Caveat Emptor. The M1500 faces the same issue. From images online the M1500 seems to sport the same RCA connectors as early M2000 (black body), but some have a grey mesh jacket while a few seem to have a darker grey mesh.

The M2000 connectors may come in five kinds. I see a late silver Pewter with a shading band around around the grippers. Then we have two that have more of a chrome finish, I am guessing the newer kind also have the shading band. Then we have mine which have no shading band that I can see. These also have a narrow black groove nearest the gold of the rca plug (the second closest groove is blue or red for channel). On all other versions this groove is the same color as the cnannel. I believe the black groove is older based on the fact the apparently newer cable in my pair does not have the black band on one end (two blue bands).
Well, on the Sigma M2000 I have revised my hypothesis. I believe that the lower measuring cable has been damaged so some of the conductors are not connecting. This has lowered the overall capacitance reading. I'll be doing some surgery in the next few days and I'll report back. This seems most likely and that means there may only be one Sigma wire with the different connectors mentioned above (and it is not PEX.)
Yes, apparrently the Dutch dealer repair of the mesh involved ripping out the shielding at the repair which disconnected the shield along the whole cable. With the shield connected the capacitance jumps up to a normal reading.

I will also add that these cables need connectors for 11mm cables. The cheapest I could find were some very nice silver over copper Wireworlds. I'd thought to salvage out a factory like half meter and then a shorter piece with the Wireworlds, but the $100 a set wireworlds are too much of an investment in time and money when 1/2 meter Sigma pairs can be had for not much more these days.

The repaired Sigma is quite nice and I have another 1/2 meter pair on the way.
I've seen mention that some preferred Sigma M2000 to the newer and more expensive Retro Gold. Here is some more detail from Art Shiparo of Positive Feedback from an interconnect review: "All critical interconnects have been Monster’s penultimate cable, the M-Sigma 2000. When the Manleys arrived, I did a lot of experimentation using my own and borrowed cables, propping up the amps on a workstand in order to make use of the many different one-meter interconnects I had at my disposal. The Sigma 2000 continued to be the product of choice in this system. Unfortunately, it is no longer in the product line, and the folks at Monster couldn’t come up with a two-meter pair for me, though they did provide their top-of-the-line Sigma Retro interconnects. These are much warmer cables than the Sigma M2000, and they pushed the system to just about the limits of acceptability in the dry-to-warm spectrum."
I've seen a lot of positive reviews of the Retro (which was designed for SET tube amps, etc.) and now we can see why Sigma M2000 might be considered superior by many. I must say the imaging on DTS-HD material is exemplary and is quite an improvement over the Monster M1500. The difference is quite stunning.
I just got a big order of Sigma M2000 in and some Retro interconnect. First, I will say that the Sigma Retro is inferior in many ways to the M Series M1500. The 0.5m Retro is decidedly rounded with inferior response at the extremes. The M1500 had much better impact on bass rumbles and higher range percussive sounds. Even on my midrange amp, the muted signature of the Retro comes through. The difference head to head with M2000 would be more extreme in the bass and treble areas as it exceeds M1500 in these very areas. Unfortunately I don't have any 0.5m Sigma M2000 pairs yet to compare directly (two weeks and waiting on shipment of one pair.) I was quite disappointed with the Sigma Retro interconnects.

I put in a 1.5m pair of M2000 on my subwoofer system and it did not seperate itself well from the M1500. I believe this is due to the M2000 being unused so I am waiting for it to break in before formally comparing in this position. (On the front end the Sigma M2000 outclasses the M1500 sounding like a cable that should have cost twice as much.)
On the technical side. I have also discovered we now have six different style connectors: The early black, the pewter/chrome, the pewter/chrome with black band by the gold rca contact, and the pewter with grey shading (latest and nicest looking style). That is four standard connectors and there are also the "ground control" style connectors which look like a y connector and go on the amp side (I've seen these in black and pewter/chrome). The Y allows a spade to be connected from the RCA to the ground of the amps speaker terminals. (Does anyone understand what this is for and what it does, etc.?!?!?)

I now have in my hands three at least three different Sigma M2000 wires. They all have the same writing on the outer jacket below the mesh (see above). My pewter/chrome 1.5m cable measures 618pf (~410pf per meter) and my pewter grey shading 1.5m comes in at 483pf (~360pf per meter). That is a big difference. My original black band meter pair measures 370pf. And a newer shaded pewter pair comes in at 335pf. So for now I'd call that three types, the latest measuring 335pf per meter, then we have ~365pf per meter cable and then the ~410pf early cable. I will compare the 1 meter cables eventually.

Warning: the M2000 Sigma connectors are tight (I just ripped the RCA jack out of my Eagle 2a in rechecking measurements for this update.)
I am waiiting for the newer 1m pair to break in as it appears to be unused cable (I did not hear a massive difference between this and the older 370pf pair on the change.)
Monster is by far not one of the best anymore in the world of audio. I sold it in the past, but I could not sell it anymore to my clients. It is not good enough, it is that simple!
I think Monster isn't in the audiophile market anymore. I believe the M1000i is out of production. The rest of their stuff is barely mid-fi (if that) and is just product at various price points for the big box stores.
I don't see anything on their website close to high end (they like to use the M1000 and M2000 names on cables still). In the current landscape of megadollar interconnects, M1500 and Sigma M2000 used suddently seem like sensible cable purchases (1m pair of M2000 can be had for $200, $800 retail over 20 years ago, which might be more like $1600 in today's inflated dollars).

The Retro might work great with single ended electronics (as Monsters states) that already do not allow stellar ultra low or high frequencies. Sigma M2000 is the best by far on my system, but M1500 is a closer second as you move down the signal path.

The high end Monster sound is interesting. They talk time and phase coherence in their literature and it seems to work well with my Vandersteen speakers and the system takes a hit in this area when I've tried other interconnects. I particularly like the bass performance and its impact on soundstaging. I've been severly upgrading my power cables to some really nice low noise cables and the Sigma M2000 really seems to keep up well with the noise improvements and I suspect it has excellent shielding. The highs keep sound more and more real as I ad the Sigma to the system and the last vestiges of high frequency hash seem to disappear. I've always heard that Monster sounds dark. I suspect this reputation is from their excellent shielding not allowing any trashy noise in the highs. With the latest cabling now these old Monsters sound quite revealing in the highs.

I had the pleasure of trying some Stealthaudio metacarbon ($3300 per meter pair). We did not exhaustively compare as myself and the owner really didn't want to know the whole difference as I did not want to get a case of the willies for $3300 interconnects (my system takes 7 pairs of interconnects for phono and one line source.) The metacarbon was pretty amazing and had some breathtaking magic which is hard to describe. The M2000 sounded a bit coarse in comparision, but seemed to have an edge in the bass and coherency in the lower frequencies, but this is all truly mythology speak as no real comparison was done. (I highly recommend auditioning Stealth cables.) I want to hear these cables again once I've got the Sigma M2000 all in place. I may have the opportunity to bring the Sigma to an all Stealth system where it will be in the position of disrupting the Stealth sound.

The mythology continues, and once again I am gladly accepting donations of this cable to my museum (I am in the market to buy some half meter pairs in the later lower capacitance version and/or some Sigma RCA connectors.)
Monster has left the high end. The M series stuff was decent for it's day, but the biggest bang for the buck with true audiophile sound was/is again, MIT AVT series cables. MIT has re-released them in limited quantities thru online vendors for half price. FYI, I still have an AVT 1 RCA IC($160) that I compared to a Transparent Gen 5 balanced IC ($5600/1M). The AVT 1 cable was revelational when compared to the costly Transparent cable. Didn't want to believe it but the reality was obvious and easy to hear. I used B&W 803D speakers with Krell gear and Transparent Ultra MM2 speaker cables.
Nice! I will to acquire some AVT 1 RCA interconnect and compare. For those who don't know Bruce Brisson designed for both companies, so the AVT I expect would have a family resemblence to Sigma and would probably have an excellent chance of beating it handily given Dave's comments. I will try to track down a pair and report back. I am facing terminating the Sigma I have on hand to get some 0.5 meter pairs which is about as much fun as dental work without anesthesia.
I used the Sigma 2000 speaker cable on my Vander
Steen 3 signatures for about five years and then
tried a six foot pair of The Anti Cable and I
never went back. I have a meter pair of Sigma
2ooo inter connect which I use between my adcom
750 and an old Carver amp and to be honest I
prefer the M 1000 over them. The speakers are
the Infinity RS 3b's which were designed for
tube gear and the M1000 are more rounded off at
the top.
Lots of different M1000, but the original Sigma stuff is a lot better than M1000mkiii. M2000 is a different world with greatly enhanced soundstage and layering. Had a friend bring some Audioquest Diamond X3 ($650 0.5m pair) and it really was not even close on digital source material. The M2000 made the Diamond sound tizzy and almost hashy on my system (probably some RFI signature). We didn't go back and forth that much, but the coherency, timbre, depth, and bass of the M2000 was much better. Still no update on the stealth audio shootout and terminating M2000 is not for the weak of heart as I've stalled out for six months now. Even if you know what you are doing, avoid that all costs. Unfortunately, 0.5m runs unobtanium so I must finish out. I triamp and my tweeter amp is still on M1500 and switching 0.5m run between turntable and digital too.