Half way into the 2013 California Audio Show, at the dimly lit bar of the Westin Hotel I sat with a hand full of other audiophiles, comparing notes on exhibits we had heard. A soon to become audiophile buddy and I started to talk about cables. He eventually asked if I had heard of the MG Audio Design speaker cables. According to him, these were the new “hot” cables, and they were receiving a lot of praise and good reviews on the forums. Specifically he said, the cables were not outrageously priced and offered top shelf audio quality. As coincidence would have it, I had picked up a set of the MG Audio Design Planus III speaker and AG1 interconnect cables, to review, a few weeks prior.
Obviously he wanted my impression. As the cables were just at the tail end of their break in period, I felt I had a pretty good idea of how the cables enhanced or altered the sound of my system. Simply put, I liked the cables. They allowed for a large amount of detail, had a bit of warmth to the lower mid-range that was emotionally seducing, and had a slight liquid sound to the top end, which reminded me of a 211 amplifier. (The 211s are my favorite tube.) But honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the cables. Dynamics seemed slightly suppressed, and overall I just couldn’t say that my system was better off with the MG Audio Design cables than before. These offered me different sound, but not improved.
But this, you see, was just the beginning. As in, now that there had been a 100 hours of burn in, I had only just arrived at the starting gate of the cables performance. So my initial impression, while true, was incomplete.
So, after more listening, probably another 100 hours worth, and the addition of MG Audio Design speaker cables jumpers, I now finally believe I understand the excitement and praise the MG Audio Design cable have received.
The Who and the What
Lee Matuszczak and Greg Graff, the two minds behind MG Audio Design, have been making their flat speaker cables for years. Previously, these were made only for themselves or friends. Greg told me that when he and Lee were both more active musicians, he asked Lee what he thought the perfect cable would be. To paraphrase Lee’s response, he said the perfect cable needed to be very thin, actually flat, and should minimize capacitive, inductive, and skin effects. All can affect the sound of the cable. Or otherwise said, if capacitive, inductive and skin effects aren’t minimized, the cable will have a ‘sound’. There are other physical realities of a cable that can affect their sound, but these effects are the paramount issues that Lee and Greg have decided to address with their cable design.
What Greg and Lee designed, and have fabricated by a third party in the US, for both their speaker and interconnect cables, is either a silver flat foil conductor with a coat of PTFE (Teflon) as dielectric, or a copper flat foil conductor with PTFE as the dielectric. The coated foil is then sheathed in a nice looking tech flex housing, which offers some protection but is mainly for appearance. After testing many different types of connectors for their speaker cables, they agreed to settle on an unusual combination. One side of the speaker cable uses silver spades while the other uses rhodium spades. This combination of silver and rhodium, and specifically spade connectors, to Greg and Lee, has sounded the best out of all the different connectors and combinations they have tried.
While the MG Audio Design interconnects use the same geometry as the speaker cables, the connectors are a screw-down-to-tighten type, which I have to admit I had some trepidation about due to another set of cables with a similar connector. Those always seemed to over tighten and were a pain in the you know what, to disconnect. But the connectors on the Planus AG interconnects from MG Audio Designs were no such trouble.
The MG Audio Design jumper, which I ended up using to connect the woofer and mid to the Air-Motion tweeter of the Eficion F-250s, I now believe to be critically important in allowing the speaker cable to perform at its peak level. The jumper’s connectors are similar to the speaker cables in that one side is silver while the other is rhodium, but these alloys plate copper banana plugs. Greg suggests that silver goes from the mid/tweeter connection and the rhodium to the woofer. I tried both way and couldn’t tell much of a difference. As well with the speaker cable, I tried with the silver or the rhodium at the amp, and could tell no subtle differences. After speaking with Greg about this, he said that even with all their listening, they could only tell the slightest of differences and it didn’t really seem to matter which side was connected to what.
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