MA2-POD Reference - blog (sort of...)

Discussion in 'Morrow Interconnects' started by Kevin D, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    Today, I have received a set of MA2-POD Reference cables (no pre break-in) to connect a Cocktail Audio X10 to an integrated amp. They replace a set of cheap-but-not-terrible Profigold Portable audio interconnect cables. Normal RCA to RCA isn't possible because the analogue line out from the X10 only has a 3.5mm jack and Mike Morrow recommended the "POD" series rather than modifying the RCA-RCA interconnect plug options.

    A rather meandering story follows, before some first, immediate, impressions of the music with the MA2-PODS in the system....

    At the outset, it may or may not be relevant to mention I like my music playing equipment to produce a generally natural sound. By this, I mean if an acoustic guitar is being played live in front of me, that's the sound I want my system to produce. I don't want "fake boosted bass". I don't want "fake shrill, bright, ear drum ripping highs". Out of necessity, my system is indisputably modest but it does what it should: reproduce music pretty accurately and, hopefully, the right cables (whether cheap or expensive) will help to get every last ounce that my system is capable of delivering.

    Four years ago (2013), curiosity got the better of me and I finally decided to try a pair of MA1 interconnects despite having accumulated several perfectly serviceable sets of other interconnects over the years, varying between £10 to £40. Even with shipping, the MA1s were not, at that time, the most expensive outlay for cables. My system has changed since then but, although I did retry some of the "old" cables in my collection, the MA1s always ended up firmly back in the mix simply because there was sufficient real-world difference to make it worthwhile. As at the time of posting, the MA1s are happily connecting the analogue outs of my Sony Blu-ray / SACD player to the amp. However, as I type, a set of MA4s is on the way to replace the MA1s - a separate thread may be created about that change.

    So, having managed to resist the hi-fi bug for a few years, what led to the MA2-POD cables rearing on the horizon? Well, with the X10, I have always found the digital to digital (optical) to be slightly dry. Perfectly listenable but, nonetheless, dry. So, I tried the Profigold cable (already in my legacy collection) and found the analogue out to be a more enjoyable listen but realised the bottom end was a little soft and the top end, well, just lacking sharpness (distinguished from brightness). Just to be clear, I do realise that the analogue vs digital connection means two different DACS were handling the 1s and 0s so, it's not quite a like-for-like.

    Perhaps inevitably, I found myself inexorably drawn back into hi-fi land and the fiendish gravitational pull of Morrow Audio (aka what others seem to have dubbed "The Vortex"). I spent weeks going over numerous AV/hi-fi forums and reading my way through the usual array of arguments about "coat hanger wire" vs "real cables". *Yawn*. In my experience, even with rather modest equipment, some cables make a difference, some don't and the degree and nature of any difference varies substantially. In the end, I decided to take the plunge and, for me, quite a risk in going for the MA2-PODs and the MA4s.

    And back to today... In between sleep breaks (long, boring, story), I am already two albums in (Disconnected by Airbag (melodic rock); Together We're Stranger by No-man (ambient / soft rock) - chosen because they have very contrasting production values). There is a difference. It's small (so far), but definitely not a trick of the mind. I am able to easily switch between the digital optical feed and the analogue feed with the MA2-PODS. I remember the difference between that same switch but with the old cables. The two switches are different. As mentioned earlier, the feed with the old analogue cable was a little soft at the bottom and just lacking a touch of sharpness overall. With the MA2-PODs, the bottom end is definitely tighter and both the mids and highs are better defined with, so far, no significant "brightness". I *think* there is marginally greater "airiness" too. It's not huge but, at barely 90 minutes in, it's obviously early days.

    There's the small matter of "break-in". Will it make any difference? I'll know in a week or two. Or three or four... I felt the sound characteristics with the MA1s did, as a fact, change substantially during the first few weeks so it will be interesting, to me at least, to see/hear if I notice such marked differences with the MA2-PODs - especially as I can easily A-B to digital and/or the old cables to make sure the mind isn't merely managing pre-conceived expectation(s). The journey with the MA2-PODs has begun and, soon, another will begin with the MA4s. I will keep an open mind - on all counts. For personal reasons, the journey will be slower than I would like but I hope it will ultimately be worthwhile.

    Luckily, I kept my first post short.... ;)

    [Edit: typo]
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
  2. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    8½ hours in....

    So far, no real roller-coaster with the MA2-PODs. However, a couple of observations comparing the previous cables.

    Using the MA2-PODs, the soundstage is marginally wider with the majority of what has been played so far and the initial impression of a tighter bottom end has remained. Today, when playing much heavier music (Metallica's "Black Album"), I *thought* I heard some decay on cymbal sounds that hadn't registered before. Trick of the mind? I did an A-B and there is no question: there is just a tiny bit more detail with the MA2-PODs. For some reason, I also *think* the mid range is slightly more forward but, when doing an A-B for that, I can't honestly say for sure - anyone else got any real-world observations of mid range presence with MA cables?

    Following on with some mellower rock (compilation including Brit Floyd, Camel, IQ, Dido, Genesis, Airbag + others), I realised there were a couple of occasions where I was looking for sounds from further back than the physical wall behind my speakers and there have been several instances of not just noticing the left/right sound stage but also the "height" (upwards). This followed through with a repeated A-B check.

    In short, despite it still being early days, there are differences to the music when using the MA2-PODs. The differences are subtle, even small, and they vary between different artists and different musical pieces. Nevertheless, the differences are there. Is it worth the (approx) £80 GBP difference between the previous Profigold cables and the MA2-PODS? More listening is needed - what a shame... :) .
  3. Morrow Audio

    Morrow Audio Mike Morrow Staff Member

    Sounds like you are now part of the family! Welcome! Mike Morrow
  4. Ernie Adams

    Ernie Adams Well-Known Member

    You are in for a long ride. Expect 200-300 hours before things really settle in. It will happen rather quick when it does. On my cables and wires, the final break in happened over just a matter of an hour or so. You may experience something different. Just know they will get there in time.
  5. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    A brief update... After some silent running to put some hours on the cables, it's now at approx 60 hrs in. @Ernie: only another 140-240 hours to go :eek:.

    Still no major roller coaster and, overall, not much change since my last post. There were a couple of hours where there was a detectable (relative) loss of bottom end and a little harshness on, for example, high-note strings and lead guitar. However, that has already gone and it's more or less where it was at the 8½ hours stage. I won't be logging times any more but will keep updating this thread as and when the urge takes - especially if there are any sudden "wow" moments (good or bad!).

    Progress will be slower for a while, not least because the UK postal office has advised the MA4s (with "Pure Harmony" plugs) have arrived and are ready for collection. All things being equal, that will be tomorrow :) . Then I can carry out my threat to start a separate thread about those cables... I know, the anticipation is just, well.... [insert suitably sardonic word/phrase as appropriate].

    Just to finish off, the child within is suddenly failing to resist repeated urges to peruse possible replacements for the perfectly reasonable amp (in the context of options realistically available to me) chugging away in my system. I blame Mike for that.... Oh, and for the increasingly prominent niggle suggesting a replacement source in place of my X10 (also working perfectly well at time of posting). Next stop: lottery ticket.
  6. Ernie Adams

    Ernie Adams Well-Known Member

    If you want to have some fun, check out a members files on tweaks. Weber or Webber, I can't remember the spelling, but I tried a couple of his ideas and was surprised. The forum has been dead for a while, so glad to see someone posting. Let us know how things go.
  7. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    Thanks for heads-up Ernie. I've found "weber"'s posts - is that different to the "files on tweaks" you refer to?


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