Review: MIT Magnum 3 series III Proline Interconnect
about me... You may elect to skip this part and proceedd onto the discourse of the interconnect this is all about. I won't hold it against you...
I have backgrounds in sales, as an electrician, also I’ve been an electronics technician, and musician. This makes me no more or no less an authority on anything audio or video. I am however avidly engrossed in obtaining a system that is well above the mean. So as anyone who is severely affected by the love of musical involvement and spends a good bit their resources to accomplish that end, I feel a say so about a thing is simply a prerequisite item. I am retired currently and enjoy most any sort of music… apart from Rap, Hip hop, and heavy metal. I’m not too much into headache induced musical stylings, or screaming lyrics. However I will occasionally entertain some interlude of ‘Gangster Bluegrass” or “Heavy metal, strictly for an accompaniment to the vacuum cleaner. I do listen daily to something. Usually my favorite genres are Jazz, Blues, R&B, Folk, and Alternative. Lately classical music is gaining my attention with some vigor. Quality of the recording had been the hook for me until this past year. Things change. Content as well as quality both intrigue me these days.
I prefer a sound that is congruent, dynamic, richly layered and warmly portrayed. I enjoy a prominent bottom end that remains consistent with the music but yields sufficient impact and substance to support the tune. The midrange is certainly ‘the’ best part and needs be recreated with as much texture and presence as is possible without detail or resolution being subtractive. The top end has to be smart, and sweet. Not drawing attention to itself as a rule yet acting as the extension of the midrange. Air, ambience, sound staging and imaging are quite important. It is not necessary I be able to shake hands with the images. They need only be well set and viscerally rendered.
I suppose in all, if the presentation is involving and natural, I’ll be most happy. Other aspects are the icing. My little system provides much in the areas that I enjoy most. Warmth, involvement, richness in tone. It’s not a gig-a-buck set up, but does render music deftly and with very much a genuine romantic presence you might expect from only SET systems. It is also digitally oriented completely in regard to it’s sources. Vinyl and me just don't mix well.
MAGNUM 3 Proline 1M (XLR)
Price $1400.00 approximately
The Magnum series of M.I.T. cabling does offer more than the Shotgun Series. On the heels of an awe inspiring two week in home audition of the M.I.T. Shotgun S2 Proline interconnects, the thought occurs, “Perhaps there is more to be had with a Magnum series than with a Shotgun sereies IC. Makes sense, right? Right.
“More” is often the ‘operative’, and familiar word in my vocabulary. I am quite fond of it. Hang the cost. My pleasure is at stake here. Firmly ensconced in my latest cable acquisition, I am getting very close to an old behavior pattern. One that prompts me to buy things I can’t afford, with money I haven’t got, so I can impress people I haven’t even met yet, of course. Aside from that little character defect, principally speaking, the only reason why not that I can see is the cost. Oh yeah, ‘the cost’, well, there’s that. Magnum series isn’t the most affordable cable around. Reasoning out that you get what you pay for mostly these days, the chase was once again on and the adrenalin flowed with forceful abandon. Got to watch that forcefully flowing adrenalin, it will not only raise your blood pressure, it will invite you to raise your credit limit. Both are silent killers.
Another thought persisted. In fact an experience came to mind. Adding the M.I.T. Shotgun S2 to the system was quite the profound move. My thoughts at that point reeled me in and I began to wonder about ‘more’. “Why is this exponential improvement, happening? “ Not that I don’t like it. I do. But why such disproportionate affectations to the sound? After much deliberation and questioning, I thought the installation of ‘like’ cable manufacturers was surely the deal. I still believe it is in part. I don’t believe one needs to run all the same brand, or model for that matter to arrive at a superior level of performance. Rightly put, the benefits of two M.I.T. IC’s in my case, proved quite the startling mix. I say it that way as in previous integrations of unlike cabling here and there in my rig, the changes were never quite so astonishing. Bear in mind I kept to some predetermined parameters while investigating interconnects, namely, cost and model year. All are current issues. Two of the same interconnects (IC’s), one following the other, shouldn’t make as dramatic a difference. Should it? Well, it did with the addition of the M.I.T. Shotgun S2. to the already in place M.I.T. Magnum 3 on the CD player. Just what would come from replacing the S2 with the model a couple levels up the line and a completely different series? Glorious comes to mind.
Once more into the unknown.
I am not a detail freak. I don’t mind detailed presentations so long as they are smoothly done. Without any sign of etching, glare, grain, or sibilance. This is not a tall order for equipment of the Magnum’s caliber. It wasn’t too tall an order for the Shotgun series and that’s for certain. The decision for the Magnum 3 was based upon the notion that the better cable should be upstream, and either a step down or no more than a likewise one should follow it. This haltingly proffered statementwas provided me by one of my trusted cable advisors, amongst others. Given the state of affairs with my current pile of devaluating dollars, I fought off the urge to get a higher level Magnum and subscribed to the sage advice being tendered. Steve sent me a Magnum 3 III in XLR configuration toot suite! . . for the Frenchly challenged that means “Quickly”.
The Magnum 3 arrived while the Shotgun was still in the house. With the abundance of weaponry at my command I was energized once again. I really had no idea just how much energy was about to burst forth from my system. I really was not prepared for the changes. I did however find some unbeknownst little tweaks one can do with the M.I.T. Proline cables as well, but that minor revelation is disclosed a bit later on in this review.
During the installation process I failed to notice that one of the two pegs that are on each box within the M.I.T. IC’s were not in the same spot as their brethren. Oblivious to this fact, I turned on the gear and began to warm up the cables The ‘loosen up’ business was at hand. Shouldn’t be long now. Right? Wrong. M.I.T. wires for some reason take a goodly amount of time to loosen up. It seems, an inordinate length of time to open up after they have been sitting unused for any fair period. Say a week or so, maybe more maybe less. These wires took about 30 to 40 hours to get square and run without sounding errant or thin. Matter of fact as soon as three days of integration had passed, I felt that they were onboard and ship shape so the critical listening began in earnest.
Listening with Earnest…
Still unaware of the out of place switches I settled in with the system. Although everything was sounding good enough, given the brief break in, there was something not quite right. I rechecked the connections. Took another feel of the switches. Both switches were not set together in the HIGH slot on the impedance matching container. My needs were for the HIGH impedance setting as my amps input impedance is 100K ohms. That is how I set the Shotguns originally. I later changed the Shotgun setting to MEDIUM. I set the Magnums to the HIGH spots however still clinging to the information about the BAT VK 500 w/BAT pack’s input impedance..
The HIGHS have it.
All was well once more. After another five or six hours more run in. Naturally. (not only do the wires themselves require current to flow through them, so do the different impedance circuits… though the latter needs are quite less in terms of time needed.. usually a couple hours or so). While we’re on the subject of running in high end audio devices, someone ought to make a concoction that eliminates break in period’s altogether. Equipment sans run in, just add water… well, maybe not water… just add money? Well, no. Ah, the curious ‘fun’ of the audio hobby. One disparaging note that curtails this notion is the fact I’ve seen first hand, that completely broken in power cords when switched from one device to another requires some ‘get acquainted’ interval. Though not a lengthy process, it seems a necessary one.
The HIGH and LOW positions are on either side of the impedance matching device. If you’re hard of ‘seeing’ as I am, one looks as good as the other. Now I do like a warm and fully enriched tonal quality in my system. I have that already in sufficient supply. Upon finding both of the switches on each impedance matching box to be in the LOW position, and not the high spots as I thought them to be originally. The sound was as romantic and thickly rich as I had ever heard it. As dark and Smokey a presentation as one could have and still allow the sound to remain intelligible. Matter of fact as time passed, the sound bordered on the darkly rounded and listless side of the scale. Far too flabby for me to deal with for very long. John Coletrne however did sound better as the spit valve seemed to be attended to with more frequency. My disappointment of the sound being rendered turned soon, to stark disbelief. This can’t be happening. Time to recheck the settings once more.
Actually it was time for high tech handicrafts. As I remain ensconced with the bleeding edge of high end technology at this portion of my life, superior and vastly technically oriented equipment is at arms reach. Following a lengthy and anxiety filled search for my digital camera and some truly marvelous snapshots at close range of my thumb, my foot, a desk, and a great one of the kitchen table, I switched gears and resorted to another device. My trusty yet noisy scanner, Using the rusty scanner, I got the picture I needed. A little manipulation of the imaging software, and ‘Viola’, all was revealed. Enlargeing the image set me to the fix, and a quick trice over gleaned me the proper information. Well, third times the charm. Right? Not exactly. I moved the switches to the MEDIUM spots on both boxes this time around.
The ‘fix’ is in.
Everything was popping finally. Jaws were a droppin’ and fingers were snappin’. Thankfully. With the Shotgun S2’s in place the sub I use routinely was almost an afterthought. I was more than impressed at that point. I didn’t think of it at all with the Magnum 3. it got turned down even more so. I did leave it on for the sake of consistency, but at a much reduced level. Truly, it was almost completely no longer required with the M3 now fully burned in and loosened up now. I was astonished by that one occurrence. The bottom end presence was unbelievable. Best resolution and prominence I have yet heard in my system to date. Thunderous fits here. Not overly so, just immensely appropriate. The midbass was also quite respectable. The top end was as smoothly detailed as one could want. Open and refined. The real story here was the nidrange though.
On Arthur Prysocks CD, “Jazz Around Midnight – Arthur Prysock”, a slow soulful recreation that evokes whimsy and empathy as he recounts his perspectives on his love affair. Arthur’s baritone voice caresses the words in a sweet moanful fashion that implies authority and desire. The depth of his range is stunningly painted. The M.I.T. Magnum 3 allowed every drop of that emotive performance to be cast into the listening space. The degree of presence and textures was astounding. Against a back drop of strings the contrast was more than pleasant. The vocal image took both form and substance. Art was right there…. And me without autograph pad or pencil, no less! Super.
Need more? Sure you do. “Loveboat Man”, Jack Jones, lounger and pop cover artist extraordinaire, shows off a good portion of his range and just how much the Mag3 will provide visceral experiences in his rendition of “the Shadow of Your Smile”, off his “Jack Jones Paints a Tribute to tony Bennett”, with remarkable ease and dexterity. The Magnum 3’s transport you to the recording venue. Or brings Jack to you. However you wish it put. Truly a fascinating event. Voices and bass aren’t the only thing the Mag 3 does well. There is more…
On Stanley Turentine’s “Do You Have Any Sugar?” on a cut named, “Far Too Little Love’. A four piece arrangement with piano, bass and drum, that has an intro of bass and piano exchanges. Underlying the exchange is an almost inaudibly soft yet steadily rising drum beat. That particular item was undetectable prior to the integration of the Mag 3. By itself not much of a thing to be sure. That is the sort of attention to finely rendered detail and opaque background, the Magnums provide. Throughout the bandwidth. Each and every note comes into being. It is not struck or plucked, and or blown into existence. The imagery is simply emergent. From spacial void to reality. There are black backgrounds and then there are ‘black’ backgrounds. I think the Mag 3s either have one of the darkest ones around or none at all.
Imaging with the Shotguns is quite the thing. Imaging with the Magnums is rock solid and firmly rooted. Timber is another thing altogether. Notes develop with a lean towards that most prominent bottom end the Mags issue. Across the board there seems a reduction in timberal harmonics towards a more earthy and natural state. All the tomes are richer and deeper sounding than with any other wires I have tried. Some cables have an upward tilt to the overall sound. The Magnums go the other way. Towards the more organic oriented side of the spectrum. Very much a more realistic experience.
Yet with all the issues I had getting the impedance switches into the proper settings, though not the fault of anyone but myself. A result of my little visual challenge and my haste to integrate the Magnum 3’s into the system. Eventually all was put into good order. I decided to see if perhaps another setting may well provide as interesting a perspective into the music as did the one at hand. I’m overly curious sometimes and don’t wish to miss out on that ‘more’ thing, don’t you know? Possibly it’s more a, “I just can’t leave well enough alone”, thing. My basis for this reasoning is that provided one is good, than two should be better.
After a quick, two or three calls to ensure no damage would occur, the switches got switched. So I moved the switches in unison. Then again. Then back to where they were supposed to be. Then into the mid for another shot at that spot. It worked with the Shotgun S2, and impedances are impedances. Now at the MEDIUM point things got more interesting. Smoother is how it should best be said. Not gooey and syrupy smooth as the sound was portrayed in the LOW settings. Naturally smooth. Easy. Firmly flowing and correct sounding. All the detail and refined resolution necessary to recreate the illusion of actual instruments. A very nice musical event. It was all there.
As I said, detail freakish, I am not. Musically emotional and evocative, I am all for that in spades. The sound was overly revealed and detail oriented with the cables set in the HIGH positions. That gave me pause once more. It was not a pleasant occasion mind you. The facts of impedance are the facts. According to the info given me about my components impedance and the settings now in play with the M.I.T. Magnum 3’s, something is off. I’ve a 100K amp, and am getting the best sound out of the 45 – 90K ohm setting. We are not off by much, but we are in fact off. Somethings wrong.
I paused long enough to call M.I.T. A few times. Finally I got a technically oriented person and asked the prudent and most appropriate question I could muster, “How come this is?” With some clarification to my pointed yet obscure and undefined question, I got the info I needed. The ranges of the impedance matching instrument on each of the M.I.T. interconnects are fundamentally correct. There are indeed other factors affecting impedance. The elements about us, heat, age, connections that need a little touching up etc. Dirty connections? Me? Perish the thought. You could eat off the connections on my gear. You’d still be hungry though, as they are pretty small. I found that a spot not usually ordained for the downstream device may prove fruitful. It’s important to say here that the difference of 10K ohms is all there is from the upper range of the MEDIUM setting to the HIGH setting on the cables. The MEDIUM goes up to 90K. The HIGH starts at 100K ohms.Well, so it’s only 10K ohms. Big deal, right?
In fact, moving away from the set up directions given by M.I.T., and the information as to predetermined imput impedance made all the difference. The tweak I was told about that got my interest piqued was this one:…
“Setting both the pegs into their appropriate placements according to the manufacturers specs, one can slide just one peg either up or down a notch. Just one, not both, and this tweak is just for those using the M.I.T. Proline XLR/balanced cables. This will affect things very little but very noticeably. In my instance, with factory info indicating the HIGH position, I moved down a notch with one peg to the ‘MEDIUM’ spot. The most recognizable change was a tiny loss of detail and more musical the presentation the result. This move was a precipatory one as the degree of resolution I was receiving extended beyond those of personal preferences. It wasn’t harsh, or bright, not etcjhed or hard, simply not what I wanted. That move proved to be the almost perfect move. I did eventually move into the MEDIUM position with both pegs on each impedance matching box. Once set everything in the soundscape became at last intriguing. Involvingly so. Spaciality was evident and there was a harmony that threaded it together. I was more than satisfied at that point.
Now there is some flexibility you will not often find in an interconnect! I’m not saying one needs to go outside the appropriate settings for one’s equipment at all. Just pointing out a greater range of options that is in some cases additive to the management of sound, if you use balanced cables somewhere in your rig. As always, results will vary.
Each of the different spots on the impedance matching apparatus provides a different type sound. On the vk500, the HIGH setting came across quite revealing. Lots of resolution, tremendous bottom end, regardless of the track info... with startling results in the mids and top end in terms of extension and resolution. Mostly noticeable in the midranges and lower treble. All together, quite smooth and certainly not difficult to listen to... BTW, the incredibly wide sound stage that was glued to the floor previously was now a touch raised off it, and lay behind and slightly above the rrear of the loudspeakers. The main difs of the Shotgun and Magnum being the Magnum 3, has just far greater transparency. It is very easy to tell a diff between the two I had, S2 & M3... With two production levels separating them the degree of actual separation seemed larger than one would at first surmise. There was without question, a far greater difference in sound quality and resolution. That being said, please don't discount the Shotgun’s level of performance. The S2 is a really great item. Perhaps the best value too. I could live with the Shotgun very easily if budgetary constraints were to have had the last word .
When the impedance matching apparatus is set to the ‘LOW’ positions, the M3 is simply marvelous... thick, rich, coherent with a slightly *smaller soundstage, and with more depth. *(a slightly smaller soundstage with the Magnum 3, is like a slightly smaller whale). Good extension, fine mids with great outlines to them. The balance of the rendition was grain free. This setting may not appeal to the majority of listeners though as it does delve into the overly dark end of the spectrum.
In the ‘MEDIUM’ position the soundstage almost immediately had noticeably greater depth. A more appropriate bottom end, (but still really super), resolute, punchy, with easily detectable levels in tone contrasts between the two settings. Mid bass too was noticeably improved. A far smoother tone in the mids was definitely apparent. Grain that was heard in the HIGH settings, was gone almost 100%. Still great presence there too. Most dimensional. The residual grain I’ll attribute to the non use of any conditioning devices on the source or preamp, not to the cable. You really had to be both familiar with the recording, and looking for it to determine any evidence of it, so minor an amount was conveyed. The upper mids and top end still retained consistency and refinement throughout the presentation.
There was some loss of heft moving up to the Medium from the LOW setting however. Not to the point of being shadowy mind you, just less weight. Sort of the difference you would find between a 24 ounce framing hammer and a 22 ounce version. If you were to not have played around with the settings you wouldn't have noticed that change. Things would still sound accurate and material. (some settings simply allow for either increase or decrease in the weight of instruments and overall resolution). I did hear a slight shift of the Sound stage when straying from the recommended spots. The ‘MEDIUM’ position of the Magnum 3 seems aptly fit to the solid state BAT VK500. Everything fell into place sonically. The sound stage was coherent. There was a greater degree of depth along with the naturally scaled width and height. Images were neither recessed nor made more prominent. The sound blended appropriately.
The Magnum 3 interconnects, are very dynamic. Far greater layering of the stage, front to back is also a definite symptom. They do have a positive diagnosis in that respect. Now the stage is no longer rooted to the floor. The artifacts and some elements of the music emanate into the room in front of the speakers as well. Not uncomfortably so. Just with various tones and artifacts in the tracks as with 'out' of phase information. The body of the music was normally set just behind the loudspeakers. The recorded information is allowed to freely intrude into the room, as it should be permitted. Fanciful engineering techniques that spread sonics about will not be missed by the listener. The Magnums convey it all. The sweeping tinkly bits, the overly displaced drums, back up vocals that are moved into the area nearest the listener…. All the ‘ear candy’ is available and more importantly allowed to be presented without restrictions.
If you want some extra degree of flexibility, a greater degree of resolution. more bass & mid bass, a smooth presentation, great extension without any touch of brightness or edge, or as was I, just looking for ‘more’, M.I.T.’s Magnum lineup should be a consideration.
You know when some reviewers say that 'deeply black background' bit? Well just saying there is a background is indicating one exsists. The M3's either have the blackest background, or none at all. I'm voting for none. I noticed only on one track some evidence of a background... Johnny Hartman's 60's cut of "I'm Glad There's You". I think it was a portion of the recording equipment quality at the time. it was all so slight enough that I didn't even hear it the first few times I listened to that track all the while using different settings on the boxes)... but just barely was it heard at all.
I’ve yet to meet a perfect anything. I have come close a couple times. So I must point out the one item I did not care too much for with my audition of the M.I.T. cabling. Be it the Shotgun series or the Magnum series and this is simply put akin to a preferential perspective. The tonal quality of the music didn’t come across as lush, or colored as I believed it should be. There is certainly more life in its’ recreation of notes than is in the Shotgun. Still in all, I found it to be less than, in that one respect. AS the Magnum approached the luster of tonal quality far better than did the Shotgun, I suspect that further up the M.I.T. line that issue of ‘less than’, would be overcome. That nagging deficit of being less than entirely natural did not prevent me from buying the M.I.T. Magnum 3 as my reference source cable some time ago. My system at that point in time also did not provide the resolution it does today. For a preamp to amp IC however, It was something else entirely.
The development of the tones is swift, with a firm leading edge. The discrepancy I noted which troubled me was the timberal characteristics of the notes. The Mag 3 is forcefully handed as it serves up music. Impact and delineation are no trouble for it whatsoever. Inner detail and harmonic bloom do seem it’s Achilles. Fully registered notes with sufficient bloom is less the attribute. As quick as is the M.I.T. Magnum 3, the sustain and decay were found lacking. In that moment where the note is matured the inner detail is lost almost as quickly as it is rendered. I did not find the bloom of the tone sufficiently realized enough to support naturalness of the tone, thus providing the illusion of reality in total. For me it simply lacked the color or sweetness, one finds in physically articulated music.
Of course this ‘lack’ is by degrees. Truly I could live with the Mag 3 and be quite happy were it not for my nagging notion of having “more”. The more I later evidenced was I believe a matter of system synergy than was the ‘lack’ found in the Mag 3. In every instance the Mag 3 maintains the music in an involving and satisfying fashion. Great presence, dynamics, immense sound stage, solid imagry, and quite involving. It’s ‘less than’ functionality in my case seemed possibly too much “more”, perhaps.
A truly remarkable offering from M.I.T. are the Magnum 3 XLRs. Really. Their price is not what I call a bargain. Their performance does justify the price handily. In that neighborhood the Magnums are no ‘also ran’ cables. They acquit themselves very well indeed. If you’re serious about sound I ardently recommend you take a listen.
BAT VK5i w/Matsushita 6DJ8’s, & Tung sol 5881’s
BAT VK500 w/BAT pk.
Sony SCD xa 777 es CD Player
M.I.T. Magnum 3 III RCA 1.5m (source IC)
Nordost Blue Heaven 2m (source IC)
Synergistic Resolution Ref X2 Active 1m XLR (MAIN ic)
Synergistic Signature 10 X2 Active bi wires
Synergistic Alpha Quadd series X Active on JR bass driver only.
Shunyata Python VX (CD)
VooDoo Black Dragon (UPC 200)
VooDoo Gold Dragon II ((X2 for amp)
Velodyne CHT 10 inch active sub. (preamp outputs VIA Cardas xlr/rca adapter).
PS Audio UPC 200
All devices draw power via dedicated 20A ckts.
Vibrapods & cones support sources,filter, and preamp.
After market spikes for JR’s.
Monster, Nordostt. Cardas, MIT Shotgun, Soundstrings, Shunyata, Nirvana, Synergistic.