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MIT Cables Oracle V1.5 HR speaker interface, Oracle V1.5 XLR and Magnum ZIII power cords Review

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Oracle-V1.5HR-speaker

MIT Cables Oracle V1.5 HR speaker interface

It’s kind of tough to begin the review of a wire line up as expensive as the MIT Cables Oracle V1.5 HR. I can be clever and try to slip the tally by you, but I’m afraid there is no way around the $51,999 price for the speaker wire, 2 pairs- $13,999 1.5 meter interconnects and four $895 Magnum Z III power cords. So there it is out in the open for one to scorn, ridicule or show belligerence in any number of ways. It is not my job to baby sit one’s emotions, it is my job to relay to you the performance of the Oracle V1.5 HR and Magnum power cords in the context of my system, and that, my friends, will be my privilege. Value? I’ll have more to say about that later.

In response to the expanding internet market and the need to reach enthusiasts who will not leave the house to visit the brick and mortar dealer, MIT has a small group of internet “Online Specialists” trained to answer dealer questions, and to fulfill orders without the actual visit to the showrooms.

I have been reviewing wire for some time now, racking up a tally that is approaching more than a dozen manufacturers – not to mention wire I have had in house awaiting a write-up. One wire that did get my attention was MIT’s first generation of the Oracle about which I penned a glowing review within the pages of another publication before Dagogo. I still recall the power and tonal complexity rendered by that wire. I used it for years in rotation with other cables that came and went. But as in most things time marches on and new review samples of wire continued to appear and at a certain point the MIT wire had to go back.

When my very positive review of the Verasstar wire came to an end recently, it got me thinking about my past and what wire products really perked up my curiosity. MIT Cables was the first to come to mind. A few calls later and I had an order in the queue.

Unpacking was a breeze and within minutes I had the wire in place. Going by the product’s feel and appearance, the Oracle V1.5 HR’s are solid, well executed designs. I put wire reliability to the test with all the switching and plugging and unplugging I do as a reviewer. A few very expensive designs could not withstand punishment leaving a great deal of frustration for all in the wake.

The MIT speaker wire housing is something to marvel at with a massive foot print, chunky handles and heft to match. On the top plate you will find two rotary knobs that allows you to choose between standard and high definition and another one that adjusts “Articulation.” The theory behind the Poles of Articulation is pretty simple. According to Bruce Brisson, founder and driving force behind MIT, each wire has its own poles of articulation (frequency response curve). A fast or brighter sounding cable will have poles peaking in the high frequencies. Warmer or richer cables have poles with peaks in the lower frequencies. What MIT has achieved is 98 poles that cover the entire frequency range flattening the frequency curve and extending both the treble and bass response. This alignment goes a long way in describing the sound of the Oracle V1.5 HR, which I will get into in a moment. As for what’s inside the network box, they are purely passive components that align the frequencies and recalibrate the wires poles. The interconnects have an Ohm selection switch on the box to allow for impedance matching to your components. All the wire is copper and the spade speaker wires are gold plated. The Magnum ZIII power cords look pretty standard but have 3X 12 AWG OCC braided copper conductors. All in all, very nicely executed.

When approaching a reference grade product, my expectations are very high. The D’Agostino Momentum integrated is the perfect example of how a great product recalibrates what was previously expected and going forward, setting a very high bar for all to aspire. Same can be said of the Pass XA200.5 mono blocks I have cooling their heels at the moment. There could be no excuses, either put up or shut up!

Magnum-ZIII

MIT Cables Magnum ZIII power cord

Shut up!!

When the wire was first put in the system, and despite the instructions stating the need for at least two days of constant use for 75% and two weeks for 100% performance, I started to listen right away. Not the best choice. The MIT Cables Oracle sounded flat and a bit grey in tonal color. The wire did not breath the way of which I know the system was capable. Oh brother, this would be an epic fail if it did not turn around in the Oracles’ favor.

I am thrilled to report, that at the two-day mark of constant playing, the wire began to really open up, drawing me in. After two weeks, forget it. This stuff will really mess with your head. This is the most profound burn-in I have ever experienced. I honestly don’t know where to start. The Oracle V1.5 HR offers the most completely rendered picture of the music I have ever heard in my system. It reminds me of the performance of the Esoteric K-01X CD player, but to an even greater degree of effect. Just a ton of information comes across with such liquidity and what I can only describe as temporal correctness, giving music a wonderful sense of timing and transient fidelity. The sense that music is being made in real time is far more believable, yielding many musical surprises and at times, flat out wonder.

“Grain free” simply does not go far enough in describing the mid band up through the treble. I have never experienced such authenticity, such an honest portrayal of the music. There is nothing to glaze the timbre with a sheen of brightness. No etch at all, I’m talking zero unless being produced by the instrument or recording itself. No dulling either that I can fathom. Together with the liquidity comes a “quiet” allowing sounds to pop up into the mix, often surprising me. Listening to Spyra Gyra “Bahia,” the sound field is brimming with life and verve. Vibes reached out of the stage and nearly touched me. The horns are perfectly anchored in space with the lead sax pouring pure tone and dynamic control. A whole review could be written around that song, so astounding was the impression of the musicians. Sonny Criss breezing through “Skylark,” the alto sax occupied its own individual acoustic separate yet was perfectly woven into the whole. Goodness, this is special. On “Ice Cream Man” from Van Halen, David Lee Roth’s vocals are so human during the acoustic passages. He actually sounds like a real human being. A real cool surprise among the mayhem created by Eddie and the boys.

How this wire is able to tear all the disparate sounds apart while maintaining, no, elevating the ability to render a musically coherent picture is amazing. Sound staging and imaging are transformed into as close to living and breathing apparitions as I have heard, certainly in my system. The background singers from Elton Johns “Candle In the Wind” pack such emotional punch, loaded with expression. Or listen to the instrumentation on “Brick House” from the Commodores, horns bringing the cool, bass and guitar bringing the funk. Everything just laid bare if a bit laid back behind the vocals, just as the engineer intended. Zoot Sims “Purple Cow” brings freshness back to a classic recording, the sound field is wide open with the horns filling the front of the stage all sounding textured and colorful. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers “Down under” flows with a true-to-life sense of scale and life. What can be a grating recording is opened up, freed up to flat out swing. Everything just fits in the whole picture beautifully. The center image on “Sundown” from Gordon Lightfoot is so solid and comes out towards the center of the room without sounding overly forward. His voice resonant and soulful and very present, it is all so enthralling. Stage dimensions, again, are huge when called upon. The soundstage width and depth feel as though it is just bursting. The halo of air around instrument is simply huge as are the dimensions of the venue so clearly defined. There is a sense of limitlessness that is totally involving. Record after record seemed to have been injected with air and space, save the driest recordings, then you get dry.

Oracle-V1.5-XLR

MIT Cables Oracle V1.5 XLR

Lets circle around to the bass for a moment. The articulation and densely rendered tonal color of the instrument are spot-on perfect. At once perfectly integrated, while standing out in the mix with transient accuracy. Look no further than Hank Jones Swing Merchant and you will find an extreme bass line both in depth and punch. The lowest notes simply pounding out the four 10-inch woofers of my Lansche 4.1. The solo mid way through the song possesses hippo-like weight, Cheetah-like speed, and pitch perfect tonality. I have never heard the 4.1 sound anywhere this alive in the bass. Talking heads Tina Weymouth bass work throughout “Speaking in Tongues” on vinyl is articulated like never before, her style becoming more significant less in the back ground yet never leaving its proper place in the mix.

Now the MIT Cables Oracle is simply allowing all of my components to either sink or swim on their own merits. With the Krell Connect streamer handling digital duties, the sound is explosive, clean and clear down to the micro-cosmos and wholly grain free; the same could be said about the D’Agostino Master Integrated. The D’Agostino adds an uncanny level of control and breath of life and expression. The Triangle Art Signature turntable system sounds “untethered” freed up and looser, offering greater micro and macro dynamics.

Adjusting the poles of articulation yielded fairly predictable results. The greater the articulation the more vivid and extended the picture becomes. Music is more dynamic and in better focus. The lower levels of articulation allow for a very musical presentation, but come on, who doesn’t want more of a good thing? Articulation full on is the way I roll.

It was about this time that I took an extended break from listening —  two weeks to be exact. Life and its demands just did not allow for un- interrupted lounging about. As I began to think about returning to the review I hesitated, wondering if I over stated the significance of the Oracle V1.5 HR. After all the un-godly expense; it’s just wire, right? Wrong. The Oracle V1.5 HR was everything and maybe even more than I had written above. With the ability to fish out all the grainy, smeary and any other a-musical nasties introduced through other wires the MIT is singular in my experience. No, I have over stated nothing. Music is soooo much better with the MIT in the system in every way.

 

Conclusion

Now, as promised, I will have a lengthy, verbose pontification about the value of the MIT Oracle V1.5 HR. Just kidding. In plain talk, if the price offends you- get over it! If there is no market for such things, products like these will collapse under the weight of their own grandiosity and cease to exist. That goes for cars, watches and the rare vintage of wine that commands high price tags. It’s hard to fathom but there are a lot of well-to-do audiophiles out there with systems reaching seven figures and the asking price for the Oracle 1.5 HR fits right in the queue as does the exalted performance. Even more modestly priced system would benefit from re-evaluating the distribution of funds for the systems components. I say, in this case, let the market have its way. As Forest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.

As far as the performance of the Oracle V1.5 HR system goes? I was not at all prepared for what the MIT would accomplish particularly after our suspect first day together. Given a couple of weeks of burn in and I’m telling you, do not audition this stuff unless you, A- Can afford it, or B- are willing to go through the sickest case of withdrawal your little audio addiction has ever put you through. When wire makes me wish I could hear every component I have ever reviewed through it so I could really know what they were capable of, then you know you are on to something. Man, if I had a pile of money I could peel off a bigger pile of money, I would be a customer in a heart beat. Reference with a bullet.

 

Copy editor: Laurence A. Borden
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4 Responses to MIT Cables Oracle V1.5 HR speaker interface, Oracle V1.5 XLR and Magnum ZIII power cords Review


  1. Nathan Beart says:

    Why do reviews of expensive cables and interconnects never address the manufacturer’s justification for the prices charged? I have expensive equipment and cables and for the electronics it can be seen where the prices pretty much come from but for cables and interconnects I have yet to see a good analysis of the prices charged, even taking into consideration the 50 points incentive given to dealers.
    Is this such a taboo subject for the audio press?

    • drblank says:

      MIT or any company, for that matter, is not typically going to divulge the amount of money spent on R&D for a specific product, nor are they going to release mfg costs, advertising/marketing costs associated with a specific product. Typically, a business figures out how much they need to charge, what markup they need to have for the dealers to want to sell the product and then they figure out what it costs to mfg the product.

      Now, I don’t know what their specific costs are, but there are plenty of businesses that take the total mfg costs and mark it up by a factor of 3x or 5x to the reseller and then the reseller marks it up another 2x. These cables have custom made wire that’s VERY expensive, relatively speaking than just generic 12guage twisted pair wire. The cost of the mfg the thick aluminum box is not cheap, since they have to buy a block of aluminum, and then it takes probably a good hour or two, maybe even three hours or so of CNC machine time. Then they have to buy the passive components, which in the case of MIT are probably very tight tolerance custom value resistors, capacitors, etc. and then they have to factor the costs of assembly and matching the components to very tight tolerances with high resolution impedance testers, and each cable set has to be matched, and that takes an enormous amount of time. Remember, each pole in each case is similar to one band that an EQ unit has. Now, in EQ’s, they don’t typically have 90, 100 or more bands of eq, you typically see 2, 3, 5, 10, or maybe the 1/3rd octave units that are 31 bands and a high quality 2 channel unit can cost about $1000, but they aren’t at the same level of precision that these things are. A good 5 band eq for mastering can cost $3,000 to $5000 for only 2 channels, which is probably using high end components, and a lot of hand assembly, etc.

      Now, MIT isn’t making thousands or tens of thousands of units, they are probably making 100 pairs or less a year, but that’s just a guess, so building something like these products in very small quantity, jacks up the component prices because they simply aren’t getting the higher discount levels due to the low quantities they are purchasing, so if they are using military grade custom resistors and capacitors, those are infinitely more expensive than just going to Radio Shack or Jameco and just buying off the shelf components. I would probably GUESS, that if the pair of speaker cables have an MSRP of $53K, then they probably cost a solid $5K or more to just mfg them. I could be wrong about this, but it’s just a guesstimate, and they probably charge $26K or so to the dealer. Now, how much money do they have to recoup to pay for the overhead costs of things like R&D, marketing, having demo units that they have to heavily discount when they sell the demo units, costs for having cables used at shows, etc.? That jacks up their costs dramatically, which eats into that difference between the $5K for mfg costs and the $26K they get when they sell a unit to a dealer. How many years and costs in R&D is a lot for this type of product. They didn’t just sit down and design the product without countless prototypes, labor in calculating the values and laying out the design of the product, it wouldn’t surprise me if they dumped $1 Mil in just R&D for just the speaker cables over the course of a few years. Then there are costs associated with patent submissions, which they have to pay as well. Because they don’t sell tons of this product, it probably takes them 3 to 5 years of sales to break even on all of the costs involved. Now, why did they make the product? Obviously mfg are constantly coming out with higher quality speakers, amps, pre amps, etc. that are also being priced higher than they used to, and with their R&D, they figured that they can design a better sounding product, but at a significant price point. That’s what some companies are going to do when they set out to push the envelope to develop a cost no object, the best they can design, because they know there is a market for it, even though it’s a very small market.

      It’s very similar to Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc. making their all out ultra high end cat that sells for $1 million or more and they only make a small handful of them. It’s their ultimate flagship product which helps them position the company as the highest quality product for people to look up.

      I don’t know any billionaire audiophiles, but imagine how a billionaire is going to buy a stereo. They first buy a mansion for tens of millions of dollars. And they figure they want to have the best stereo, where the cost is NOT an issue, but being able to say that it’s the most expensive stereo in the world to feed their own ego by being able to brag about it to their friends is a value proposition and exclusivity is also another value proposition, and they don’t even think twice. Some of them will just say, “i want the best and the price is no object”. Well, someone has to fulfill these guys because if MIT doesn’t, someone else will. So, think about this scenario. How much is a high end pair of speakers, mono blocks, pre amp, DAC, Turntable, etc.? It’s possible to get a $1 million setup. So, spending another $200K or so on cables added to that $1 mIllion is not a big deal. Billionaires or multimillionaires that want the best know it costs money and if an audio system is important to them, they won’t even wince when they see the price tag. Heck, there are people that spend $1 Million on a solid gold toilet. So for these uber expensive products, there is always going to be a certain number people that will buy it to make it worth while creating it.

      Every industry or market segment has their own related margins, and the small production custom built products have to have a certain markup to keep them in business, but MIT doesn’t rely on sales of this product to keep in business, they have much lower priced products that are their bread and butter. I’m sure some of these units get sold to high end product mfg for use in their R&D labs. I’m sure MIT spends a good chunk of money on high end speakers/amps/pre amps in their listening labs, which is part of their overhead costs.

  2. Will says:

    I have an earlier Oracle XLR interconnect. It is excellent, especially on solid state source components. The review above, pretty well describes what I hear; music comes through strong, without glare and emphasis that most other cables have.
    The review above does not describe the sound quality of the Magnum power cord. I wonder why. It is the only cable affordable for the average enthusiast.

  3. Sam says:

    I’m using the V2.5 interconnect with my system. The first 100 hours was horrid but post that the cable has settled in beautifully. It is effortless, allows my system to play louder without stress than before and the detailing is superb. Detail is separated beautifully and delivered without any stress at all. Ambience retrieval is terrific as well. If only the speaker cables were more affordable I’d complete the setup with an all Oracle layout.

    A simple component upgrade won’t get you the delicacy, lack of stress and ambient detail retrieval that one gets with the Oracle. Highly recommended. Save up and buy it once and forever.

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