MA4 - blog (sort of...)

Discussion in 'Morrow Interconnects' started by Kevin D, Nov 17, 2017.

  1. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    As threatened indicated elsewhere, here's the thread with some random(ish) literary doodlings about the new MA4 interconnect cables received yesterday (16 Nov 2017). If you're easily bored, this is probably the ideal thread to find out exactly where that threshold is....

    For a while, I have been relying on a pair of MA1s to connect a Sony Blu-ray/SACD player to an integrated amp (MA1s originally purchased in 2013 to connect a CD player to the amp but necessarily moved out when I replaced the CD player with the Cocktail Audio X10 which has a 3.5 mm jack instead of standard RCA ports). The MA1s were doing a more than reasonable job but, as most who find hi-fi forums already know to their (financial) cost, there is just something that goes "ping" inside an otherwise rational mind that can't resist trying something new and, hopefully, improved. So, with a distinct and all too familiar sense of inevitability, morrow.com began to reappear in my web history with increasing frequency.

    Knowing this purchase was going to mean the most expensive outlay I'd ever made for a pair of interconnects (previous high point was £40 GBP), there was a definite mindset of needing a huge leap of faith. In the end, it was a coin-flip between the MA3s and the MA4s. There's a significant price jump between the two but, in the end, it boiled down to this simple thought process: "Getting the MA3s would always leave me wondering". The MA5s were simply beyond my current budget.

    There were other considerations. As acknowledged in the thread about the MA2-PODs, my system is modest. However, at some point, there may be an opportunity to upgrade so, even if the cables are limited by the current equipment, that might not be the case in future. Also, is it just a bit of a waste using MA4s to connect what is effectively a secondary source? Perhaps it is but, looking ahead once again, my current primary source will be replaced eventually and it's almost certain any replacement primary source will have standard RCA ports rather than a 3.5mm jack. In turn, that means the MA4s can be switched to the primary source and the MA1s reintroduced to connect the secondary source - effectively, an element of future-proofing. Sure, I would then have a set of potentially redundant MA2-PODs but surely a home would be found for them.

    Taking into account all the above, along with one or two other thoughts, it came down to the MA4s (1.5m). Maybe they were an unnecessary luxury but, in the context of wanting one set of "super-duper" interconnects, I also decided to push the boat out and added KLE "Pure Harmony" plugs to terminate the cables. Will they make a real-world difference? I really don't know but at least I won't be left wondering :) . In common with the MA2-POD Reference cables, there was no pre-break-in.

    As mentioned on the MA2-PODs thread, I generally prefer my music to sound natural with no fake boosted bass or shrill, ultra-bright highs.

    And so to some early impressions of the MA4s. The first couple of plays were a high-res audio album by Roger Waters ("Amused To Death" - 2015 version) and then a DVD live concert by Marillion ("Holidays In Zelande (Sunday)" - 2011 (48/24 audio)). In truth, I was less than happy. Whilst the bottom end came across well, I couldn't detect any difference compared to the MA1s and, more surprisingly, when doing an "instant" A-B with the same audio from my primary source (ripped audio), the latter sounded more cohesive. Worse, the top end with the MA4s was notably forward and, honestly, quite fatiguing. Fortunately, I've learnt enough to not panic and so I stopped listening and resorted to some silent running.

    This morning, with a total of 6hrs on the MA4s and with the system having been switched off overnight, I listened to some more music. The sound elves have visited. Although there is something not yet "right" with the sound, the forward top end has, at least for now, receded somewhat - the bottom end is unchanged. On the plus side, I have detected a fraction more depth / airiness with the MA4s although the difference is, so far, small. That said, I know the journey has barely begun.

    For personal reasons, I can't just hammer away with hours and hours non-stop so it will take time before finding out whether the (substantial) leap of faith in both the MA2-PODs and the MA4s will be worth it.

    To Mike, I appreciate the time you took to respond to my email correspondence about both products - thank you. If I ever visit the US, I will try and incorporate a stop in KY into the schedule. Erm, nope, that wasn't intended as a threat... ;) .

    [Edit: typos]
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  2. macster

    macster New Member

    RE"
    And so to some early impressions of the MA4s. The first couple of plays were a high-res audio album by Roger Waters ("Amused To Death" - 2015 version) and then a DVD live concert by Marillion ("Holidays In Zelande (Sunday)" - 2011 (48/24 audio)). In truth, I was less than happy. Whilst the bottom end came across well, I couldn't detect any difference compared to the MA1s and, more surprisingly, when doing an "instant" A-B with the same audio from my primary source (ripped audio), the latter sounded more cohesive. Worse, the top end with the MA4s was notably forward and, honestly, quite fatiguing. Fortunately, I've learnt enough to not panic and so I stopped listening and resorted to some silent running.

    This morning, with a total of 6hrs on the MA4s and with the system having been switched off overnight, I listened to some more music. The sound elves have visited. Although there is something not yet "right" with the sound, the forward top end has, at least for now, receded somewhat - the bottom end is unchanged. On the plus side, I have detected a fraction more depth / airiness with the MA4s although the difference is, so far, small. That said, I know the journey has barely begun."

    This is similar to my situation. I just installed 5 pairs of MA4's through out my system. I replaced the PH'5's that were in the PRE-PWR loop with the MA4's and now everything is going thru the breakin process.

    M~
  3. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    Update - 20½ hours in.... (including some silent running) and more being added today.

    Hmmm.... Yesterday evening (18th Nov), I played the audio (standard 44.1/16 res) of Porcupine Tree's "When The Sky Moves Sideways" [2004 remaster] and it was distinctly sharp (and fatiguing) at the top end (e.g. "shouty" high notes and "crashy" cymbals). It reminded me of "Japanese tuning" for some hi-fi components. However, once again, after an overnight rest, the degree of sharpness has reduced, although not gone. At the moment, I'm preferring the sound via the coax digital from the source to my integrated amp (meaning different DACs are handling the sound, so it's not quite a like-for-like).

    I'd be really interested to know if anyone else (in addition to macster) has had similar experiences and, most importantly, how long it was before the top end sharpness settled down (assuming it did). For the avoidance of doubt, only the interconnects have been changed (MA1s to MA4s) with all other settings being the same as when using the MA1s.

    On a more positive note (no pun intended), there is definitely a touch more detail in the sound-stage with the MA4s which would be great if it wasn't for the top end issue.

    PS: Whilst writing this post, some Steve Hackett has been playing and, weirdly, the top end is (mostly) presenting much more as part of the music rather than shouting it's way to the front o_O.
  4. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    Update - 40½ hours in.... (including a heap of silent running - more being added).

    Some really mixed experiences over the last 20 hours. In summary, there is still sharpness at the top end but less than it was in my last update. I've just played the SACD (2 ch) of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and, incredibly, noticed a couple of tiny sounds that had previously escaped me - I must have listened to various masters of that album over a hundred times. A small but definite difference compared to previous analogue interconnects was the sound stage which was wider and deeper.

    Overall, I've listened to enough output with the MA4s to know there is definitely a little more detail (layered) compared to the MA1s AND that it isn't mere mind-tricks. I am concerned about the top-end sharpness and, even with an old recording like WYWH, there were occasions it suddenly hit home, a bit like the aural equivalent of a snappy boxing jab. With other material, repeated from early listens, the sharpness is less but still fatiguing for extended listening. However, as suggested on the website and in too many individual postings to ignore, I'm persevering and hope that, eventually, the sharpness will mellow and the invested time will all be worthwhile. Fingers crossed.
  5. Morrow Audio

    Morrow Audio Mike Morrow Staff Member

    Ahhhh the break in process! I can tell you my friend that the journey will be amazing! Follow the testimonials in the breakin paper. they have proven to be exact.
    Also, to new comers... don't let the breakin process scare you off. Just hook them up and enjoy!

    Here is what you have to look forward to...
    Reports from customers after the breakin process...

     "I just wanted to let you know that after 336 hours, the MA3 interconnects are awesome in my system!!!!! Your 5- day burn-in helped a lot and then I ran them in another 96 hours. WOW! Want you to know that your MA3 kicked major butt over the 4 times more expensive interconnects I was using. Now, I am a believer."

     "After this break-in period (280 hours), I played disc after disc and became a believer in Morrow Audio's hype. The bass was spectacular, the highs were open and nicely extended, but the midrange with female vocals or acoustic instruments, like guitar and piano, became surreal. Whitney Houston and Karen Carpenter came to life. Recordings which were really good became great!"

     "As the cables break-in, the bass and lower midrange fill out, and the cables become much more extended at the frequency extremes."

     "Amazing clarity of sound and deep bass."

     "Clear, precise, great rhythm, deep clear bass, inner detail..."

     "They have great clarity, presence, extension and just sound beautiful! I believe these are quite special."

     "The cables have a very natural sound and do an excellent job of preserving the natural timbre of instruments."

     "The sound stage is huge! I'm very happy."

     "There is substantially more bass with no loss of clarity/ definition. The midrange/ highs sound very natural."

     "Great audio cables Mike! BIG improvement on my audio system... soundstage, focus, tone quality, it is all there."
  6. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    @Mike: Don't worry; I'm persevering :) . I will update properly at about the 100hrs mark.

    Mini update in the meantime...(60 hrs) and a glimmer of hope? Today, I played the 2007/8 mix of "Wind & Wuthering" by Genesis (CD). The majority of the Genesis 2007/8 mixes have been found by many to be on the bright side (compression) and IMO W & W is, arguably, one of the worst offenders. With that, and the sharpness experienced so far with the MA4s, it wasn't surprising to hear some moments of unpleasant brightness. However, rather unexpectedly, I was able to listen to most of the album. One of the instrumental passages sent me off to make coffee but, overall, it was a much better result than anticipated. To be clear, this specific release has ALWAYS sounded bright to me but, contrary to expectations, the MA4s didn't render it unlistenable which is what I mean when referring to the "glimmer of hope".

    Mike's reference to newcomers reminded me that my posts *could* put off potential clients. That isn't my intention at all and I'm sure Mike will be happy for me to mention the 60 day money back guarantee for brand new cables (nope, I'm not on commission :cool:). It may be relevant to mention again I already have a 4yr old set of MA1s and a recently purchased set of MA2-PODS. Obviously, I wouldn't have paid for a set of MA4s, with extra for KLE plugs, unless I thought there was at least a fair chance of them settling in (I was well aware of potential break-in issues). Dare I say, buy (bide your time for the sale codes), play, form your own opinion and most of all, hopefully, enjoy. If it doesn't work out, see the aforementioned guarantee.

    .
  7. Ernie Adams

    Ernie Adams Well-Known Member

    Something you have to look forward to is in the 250-300 hour range. I can tell you from my own personal experience that when the final break in happens, it happens rather quickly. With my cables, I was listening at about the 300 hour mark when within a period of about 15 minutes everything just fell into place. It makes no sense, and many will tell me I'm nuts. But I know what I heard. Things were fine, but just a bit lean and within a period of 15 minutes everything warmed up and just filled out. There was depth, detail, and a fullness that just happened. I wish you all the best. You still have a very long and crazy ride ahead of you.
  8. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    Update - 112 hours in.... (including some silent running).

    Something happened between the 75 & 83 hour mark. The sound characteristics became much more cohesive overall. Still the odd "zing" at the top end but, for the first time, the music sounded much more as one rather than a collection of characteristics.

    Yesterday (110 hours), I revisited Porcupine Tree's "When The Sky Moves Sideways" [2004 remaster] which, at the 20ish hour mark I described as being "...distinctly sharp (and fatiguing) at the top end (e.g. "shouty" high notes and "crashy" cymbals)", although better the following day. This time, I found myself able to relax to the music itself with only a couple of instances where some undue sharpness brought me out of the "bubble". Also for the first time, I smiled at one of the passages which sounded just, well, lovely. Just to double check, I'm still benchmarking against the digital audio signal and, because of that, I know it's not a case of ears becoming accustomed to a different sound. The sound itself is changing. It's becoming "normal" and I'm now listening to more and more of the music without being given an unwanted aural scrape of broken glass.

    Today, with just a little trepidation, I spun the 2007/8 CD remaster of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis. I was quite prepared for some harsh, even unpleasant top end. In reality, it was largely well behaved with only occasional forays to being bright.

    As for the bottom end, there have been some inconsistencies but that seems to be a trait experienced by others so I will continue to persevere with the long journey towards the mega hours mentioned by Ernie!

    Perhaps most telling, I'm now looking forward to listening to music via the MA4s whereas for the first 75ish hours a rather dull, sick feeling was never far away. As happened much earlier with the MA2-PODs, the soundstage is now slightly wider and "fuller" with the MA4s when benchmarked against the digital signal (not quite a like for like, but a consistent benchmark). I have played a couple of albums where the mid-range has a tendency to sound cluttered and messy but both sounded surprisingly good with decent instrument separation and stage space. That's not all down to the cables but I know from past experience that it's a factor. As others have noted, vocals have slightly greater clarity and I've sometimes been able to make out lyrics that would previously have had me heading to a booklet with size 4 font or being left wondering what was being sung.

    In summary, it's still in the "leap of faith" stage but at least the journey has thrown up enough tangible evidence to support other users' feedback that there is more to come. From being very close to returning the MA4s, I'm now starting to smile at some of the music. Hopefully, that smile will appear with increasing frequency. I'm going to try and add lots of hours with silent-running to see if there are further changes as significant as at the 75-83 hours mark.

    Happy listening all.
  9. Ernie Adams

    Ernie Adams Well-Known Member

    You are going to find it will take all of 250-300 hours before things really settle in. For me it happened over a very short time in the 300 hour range. I was sitting listening and literally within a single song I hear things just get more balanced and detailed. Others may not have experienced this the way I did, and you may not either, but it happened that way for me. But again, the 250-300 hour mark is most likely going to be your "magic place."
  10. Weber

    Weber Active Member

    It's nice to here the burn in stories. It's a rollercoaster ride of bliss and nasty. But as many of us here can feel what you are going through, you must hang in there for the ride. At 300 hrs things change fast,you can even hear this as you are in a listening session. At 400 hrs things start changing less. For me it was about 550 hrs that all of sudden bang it happened. The full openness of the music flooded the room. I now have the show in my place all the time. Enjoy the ride and the music will come.
  11. Kevin D

    Kevin D New Member

    A brief update... (350ish hours - I stopped logging at 300)

    Well, the 60-day return period has passed so I (obviously :) ) kept the MA4s. As indicated previously, my system is relatively modest, being one or two rungs above entry level. I mention this to offer context and to acknowledge that this may be a limiting factor in what can be expected in the listening experience.

    For the moment, I'm putting comparisons to one side. The MA4s have settled down and the music characteristics are consistent (i.e. no recent "shriek" moments and only intermittent occasions of the bottom-end going AWOL - this happens less and less often). The sound is generally well rounded, detailed without being clinical with a well defined sound-stage where individual instruments can be identified but with the overall "picture" remaining cohesive as a single piece of music. In short, a very enjoyable listen.

    Now for comparisons.... To my ears, there is a difference between the MA1s and MA4s but, in my current set-up, it's relatively small. The sound has slightly more depth and there is a marginal increase in the stage width. Were my expectations too high? I don't know. That leads to an obvious question: "Why hang on to the cables for such small returns?" It's down to a couple of factors, in no particular order. Firstly, the overall sound characteristics are "natural" which is exactly what I want. Secondly, in my OP, I referred to the possibility of future system upgrades and having cables that would help to make the most out of better equipment - such as the MA4s. In short, a purchase with one eye on the future; an "investment". Now, when I say "possibility", anyone interested in hi-fi knows very well its real word meaning is "probable". I have my eye on a new amp....

    Curiously, the difference between the output via the MA4s and the digital output from the same source is more marked, although it's not quite a like-for-like comparison because two difference DACs are in play here. I definitely prefer the output via the MA4s - the soundstage is approximately half a speaker wider on each side and the vertical effect is greater as is the depth of the stage.

    One thing. The break-in journey is interesting. Once or twice. But, like any repeated journey, it can lose some of its freshness and novelty. With that in mind, any further upgrade of Morrow Audio cables will (almost) certainly involve the pre-shipping break-in service.

    IF I do upgrade, there doesn't seem to be much point in looking at anything less than the MA7s. Of course, that's a huge amount of money and, realistically, it will only be an option in the event of a substantial system upgrade. For now, circumstances dictate that those thoughts are merely the product of dreamy aspiration :) . But, one day, when I'm really old and my ears won't be able to tell the difference anyway.... We know it makes sense.

    Edit: typo & additional para re MA7s.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  12. Ernie Adams

    Ernie Adams Well-Known Member

    You summed it up perfectly. The 4's are the sweet spot in the line for the money spent. I ended up going all the way to the 7's. I think it was worth it. For the difference in sound to be heard easily, you really need to do at least 2 level jumps at a time. You are officially in the Morrow Vortex. As to break in next time: If you go to the 7's, push Mike a bit and he will throw in the break in for you. Well worth the wait.

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