Review: Morrow Audio MA1 MA3 SP3 Interconnect
Review: Morrow Audio Cables.
MA-1 & MA-3 Interconnects RCA
$199.00 & $458.00 3-FT Pair.
SP-3 Speaker Cable
$598.00 3-Meter Pair
Twisted pair of solid core, small gauge, silver coated copper wire which is then silver soldered to the termination of choice. This wire has been chosen for the excellent balance of sound that it provides. The MA1 has an attractive appearance and possesses excellent RFI and noise rejection.
Cables are offered in RCA, XLR balanced and XLR to RCA combo versions. Cables are the same price up to 1 meter, other length and termination options are selectable in the shopping cart.
Custom lengths are also available. Select the closest length in the shopping cart and then specify the custom length you need in the shopping cart “special notes” area.
The RCA version comes with high quality RCAs that should please the most discriminating listener. For those who desire the absolute best, several Eichmann termination upgrades are available. These are selectable through a drop-down box in the shopping cart. The upgrade options include the Eichmann Basis, Eichmann Bullet and the Eichmann Silver Bullet. Each offers a subtle improvement in sound over the other.
This review will be short and right to the point. The MA-1s are probably the best interconnects on the market at any price. I think that’s the first time I’ve said that. New and out of the box the MA-1s were smoking. Not a bad start. My other silver-copper cables could not keep up, not to mention any names. Also don’t let this skinny looking silver copper wire fool you. Looks are very deceiving, trust your ears. Not only did the MA-1s smoke my other wires, they cleaned up most of the distortion that my wires were producing. Let me explain.
My B&K 505 Receiver would clip at high listening levels causing me to back down on the volume control thinking that the B&K had problems driving the Bolender ribbons. With the MA-1s in place the receiver never skipped a beat. Even at very high listening levels the music was distortion free. I sat there in disbelief, if I had not heard it I would not have believed it. The combination of the AH! Tube CD player and the MA-1 interconnects, Oval 9 speaker cables and Acoustic Zen Satori jumpers was a dangerous sounding set up. It got to the point where I was almost scared to change my system. But, I had the MA-3s next in line and just could not believe they could be any better than the MA-1s.
The first song I played was Jeff Golub’s Temptation CD. Man! Jeff stood right in the room and the pace and rhythm of his guitar playing sounded awesome. That slow smearing sound on his guitar was gone with the MA-1s in place. The louder I played Jeff the better he sounded. Hey, free tickets to the concert.
The MA-1s allowed my system to open up and the fun was on. This is the kind of old analog fun I use to have back in the good old affordable days of high-end audio. This new age philosophy and snake oil mentality that says, that you have to spend 2 to 3 thousand dollars for a good set of wires is a bunch of nonsense. The MA-1s will blow that mind-set out of the water and then some.
On The Best of Dean Martin CD, here again, Dean stood in the room with his backup singers just behind him. I stood up in the hot seat and said what the heck is this; the MA-1s vanished out of my system. The imaging and focus between my speakers with voices hanging in the air was crazy. I said to myself, "This little skinny cable couldn’t sound this full, clean and rich." By its looks I thought it would be lean and thin sounding.
The first thing I did was get Margie to come and hear this new cable. "Oh, no, not again," she said. I asked her to just come for a few minutes. I left Dean Martin on and the music was loud just above normal listing level. She sat down in the hot seat for a quick listen. After that she stood up and looked at me and said, "Clear, clean and crisp. I can hear all the details and every instrument in the studio."
I said, "Right you are, and you are dead on the money, this little interconnect is dangerous sounding."
Next, I put on the audiophile vocal recording SACD by Chesky recordings. This CD sounded so real it was scary; the MA-1s blew me away and took my system to another level. The bass was nice and deep and sounded like the real thing. Low-level resolution was stunning and fast. Why can’t all cables have bass like this? The midrange was almost perfect with tons of transparency and clarity. The piano playing on George Duke's After Hours CD sounded almost real in the midrange. Trust me, I know what a real piano sounds like; my daughters' Baldwin piano is in the same room with my sound system. This is the first cable to come anywhere near the sound of the Baldwin. The top-end is open and clean with lots of detail and tons of information. I heard things I never knew was there before. Overall, the cable gets out of the way of the music and has tremendous weight and impact.
Ok, what about the MA-3s? Are they better? Well, better may not be the right word. The MA-3s are a little bit smoother, cleaner and have a wider soundstage. I like the MA-1s on my tube CD player and the MA-3s on my Ram Oppo 981 and blu-ray players. Just buy them both and be done with it.
I took the MA-3s over to Hi-Fi Dave's house. We plugged the MA-3s into his Panasonic DNP-BD60k blu-ray DVD player, and were shocked. His big B&W 800 sounded awesome and the Rippingtons sounded just as they did at the concert. His monster Verastarr amp at 800 watts per channel and Classe preamp had incredible weight and impact. At the end of listening session I had my hand over my chest in amazement. After that, we took out the MA-3s and put in his previous wires. They still sounded good but, lifeless, and lack clarity and punch. Dave said, "Hey! Bill, these are the best cables you have had so far." Basically, this is what you get with Morrow Audio cables; musical-clarity, dynamics and great tonality. Big FUN!
I also had a 3-meter pair of SP-3s for review. The Morrow Audio speaker cables sound like the MA-3 interconnects, just a little sharper. Could they handle my A-P Black Oval-9s? I bi-wired the two cables so I could switch them back and forth on the midrange/top-end. My ribbons go from 150 Hz to 20 kHz so most of my sound is off the ribbons. The SP-3s had a clean, sharp and detailed sound that my Oval-9s could not match and they also had a little wider soundstage. The Oval-9s had a fuller/natural and deeper sound. Both are very good, and depending on your system and music you are playing I would keep them both. The Oval-9’s are my best cables and the dollar for dollar classic. The SP-3s are like a Ferrari and the Oval-9s are like a Rolls Royce.
At the end, I like both cables without the bi-wired and with the Satori jumpers. I just ran the bi-wired so I could hear the difference. Both cables really work well together, but the more I listen to the SP-3’s the more I like them. Like all cables it takes time for your ears to adjust to the sound. Well, I needed one more round with the SP-3s, so I replaced the tube CD player with the Ram Oppo 981 and the MA-3s as the interconnects. I also went back to the bi-wired configuration, with the Oval-9s on top and the SP-3s on the bottom. I put on George Duke again and added a little Diana Krall to the mix. I needed to hear some good piano playing and Diana’s singing is amazing. Another thing, using tubes is cheating. Everything sounds good with tubes. Without the tube front-end, the cables had to work a little harder.
Right off the bat the Oval-9s sounded dry, flat and uninvolving, I just could not get into the music. Even with Diana’s music something was missing. I looked down at the Oppo as if something was wrong with the deck. The music sounded hung up in the speakers. I got up and swapped the cables, with Oval-9s on the bottom and the SP-3s on the mids/top-end. And, Wow! What the heck happened? I could not believe it, the music just opened up from top to bottom. The glaring and veil just came off the music. The screen door effect that plagues most systems was gone. Diana sat at the piano right in front of me and the piano notes floated off the speakers with perfect decay and “Timbre”. Maybe this definition can explain what I mean. One of the basic elements of music is called color, or timbre (pronounced "TAM-ber"). Timbre describes all of the aspects of a musical sound that do not have anything to do with the sound's pitch, loudness, or length. In other words, if a flute plays a note, and then an oboe plays the same note, for the same length of time, at the same loudness, you can still easily distinguish between the two sounds, because a flute sounds different from an oboe. This difference is in the timbre of the sounds.
Timbre is caused by the fact that each note from a musical instrument is a complex wave containing more than one frequency. For instruments that produce notes with a clear and specific pitch, the frequencies involved are part of a harmonic series. For other instruments (such as drums), the sound wave may have an even greater variety of frequencies. We hear each mixture of frequencies not as separate sounds, but as the color of the sound. Small differences in the balance of the frequencies - how many you can hear, their relationship to the fundamental pitch, and how loud they are compared to each other - create the many different musical colors.
In this set up with the SP-3s bi-wired cables, the music was alive sounding and betters my Oval-9s. The Ram Oppo 981 almost sounded like my tube deck by getting out of the way of the music. The Oval-9s are good cables and sounded better with my tube front-end. The SP-3s reminded me of my Harmonic Tech Fantasy speaker cables. All I need now is a set of SP-3 jumpers.
This is an awesome sounding state of the art cable that’s affordable. And don’t believe all that nonsense that says you have to spend thousands of dollars to get state of the art sound. Also make sure you allow for the full break in time for the cables to settle down. I did not experience the weird sounds the cable makes when breaking in. Also, don’t forget to check out the Morrow Audio website for cable discounts and demo/used Items. Sign up for the Free Tweaks on their website to get into their system. You will then receive sale notices in your email.
B&K 505. Krell kav-250. Classe Cp-35.
Ming-Da MC-7 Preamp.
Ref-Mod Oppo 981 DVD Player.
The AH! 4000 Tube CD Player
Chang 3200 PLC. B.G. 420’s Bolender Ribbons.
B&W-804/800. SPK-Cables Analysis-Plus Black Oval 9
AntiCable/RS Cables Interconnects.
Blue Maxx CD Cleaner. Cid Cd Disc.
DH-Lab Harmonic Tech.