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Audio Blast: Umbilical Upgrade for Exogal Comet

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Readers who own the Exogal Comet have some very good options recently. I have written previously of the sensitivity of the Comet DAC and the Ion PowerDAC to power cords. Earlier today I swapped power cords on both units for an effective sea change in sound quality associated with running the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition Speakers, which I used during the assessment of the HyperDrive upgrade to the Ion.

Before I make an umbilical recommendation, those who own the Ion PowerDAC are especially urged to take advantage of an extended period of reduced price on sending in the Ion for the HyperDrive upgrade for $250, including return ground shipping through Friday, July 19th! No one should miss this opportunity, as it is a sensational upgrade for a pittance! You can read about it in my article focusing on the Ion’s HyperDrive upgrade.

Now to the point of this brief article, the Marigo Audio Lab 22” Litz Umbilical Cable. Marigo is known for their Litz wiring, a “tried and true” geometry in the community. Designer Ron Hedrich uses his own twist on Litz design in his interconnects and speaker cables. They are made with six 9s OFHC copper drawn to Marigo’s specifications. Proprietary modified organic dielectric is used – no plastic. The cable is double cryogenic treated.

Ron explains the nature and assembly of the Marigo umbilical for the Comet’s Plus Power Supply succinctly, so I will simply share his thoughts:

The umbilical for the Comet DAC power supply is a custom wound 500 strand six-nine copper litz, double cryo treated with a superior custom designed DC power plug. The dc power plug is built larger to accept the heavy Marigo Audio Lab  litz wire. The dc plug also has high current conductor pathways.  The Comet Plus PS umbilical is 24”overall. 21” is exposed from the ps. Other lengths are available. Installation requires a customer to send their PS to me, as the circuit board dc connection block must be unsoldered and fully removed and the Marigo Audio Lab litz umbilical directly soldered to the board dc power traces This is due to the much larger wire diameter of the high current litz  umbilical wires. Soldering is professional. I’ve working in both R&D labs and the aerospace industry. In my shop, I use a state of the art Metcal RF high precision soldering station.

Marigo Audio Lab is an authorized Exogal dealer, so the enthusiast seeking to upgrade both the power supply and umbilical can order both from Marigo. The Plus Power Supply from Exogal costs $600. The cost of the Plus with the Marigo umbilical (24”) is $850 and includes shipping in the USA. If you have the Plus Power supply you can send it to Marigo for the specialized work to replace the stock umbilical with the Marigo Litz umbilical (24”) in the USA for $399 including return shipping.

I had on hand already the Plus Power Supply with the Clarity Cable umbilical that I had installed for comparison to the Marigo-enhanced Plus Power Supply that Ron sent. The Marigo Plus is more blown out, enlarged in soundstage, similar to when a person changes between a typical solid-state amplifier and a tube amplifier. The effect was not unlike what I describe in my review of the gorgeous Gold Note PA-1175 Amplifiers, which have a unique Damping Factor switch allowing for Low (25) or High (250) damping factor! The Clarity Cable Plus supply was like an amp with high damping factor, leaner and a bit more linear. The Marigo Plus supply is fatter with more richness.

Here is another way to enliven a system that seems flat or dull. The Marigo Plus supply will warm and expand a system much in the way that a tube buffer does. An increase overall in extension of the soundstage is to be expected. For optimum performance you will want to arrange interconnects and power cables to suit. It is possible with a power cable such as the Anticables Level 3 Reference that there can be too much high end energy and stretching of the soundstage. A power cable like the Snake River Audio Cottonmouth or the Clarity Cable Vortex Power Cord will do well.

This is a solid upgrade for a reasonable price, and is highly recommended for those who wish to improve the already notable performance of the Comet. Do both of these upgrades, the HyperDrive and the Marigo Umbilical, and you will have a solid reworking of a strong performing PowerDAC!

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4 Responses to Audio Blast: Umbilical Upgrade for Exogal Comet

  1. Bernd Dworrak says:

    I’ve never heard the Comet playing music flat or dull.
    If you encounter this there must be something seriously wrong with your system.

  2. Douglas Schroeder says:

    God’s Peace to you,

    Thank you for your reply. I believe you misread my comment in regard to a system that is flat or dull. Note that I did not describe the system I was using as flat or dull. I stated that the umbilical would be a good means to achieve a richer sound in a system that was flat or dull. This was my attempt to give the reader a suggestion for those who would benefit from such an effect.

    Even the most extreme components with poor/poorly matched cables will sound flatter, less lively and duller, that is, they will underperform their potential. That is true of the Comet as well, however, it is not evident by listening, but by system building with a variety of cables. Though the flatter or duller sound is not exhibited in my system, having done dozens of discrete systems with the Comet, cable sets, and various speakers in order to find optimum performance, there is assuredly a range of performance of the Comet, too, which to a degree fits the flat to lively spectrum. If you have never worked with the Comet beyond the stock cables I do not expect you to understand that. If that is the case, I encourage you to begin exploration to achieve an even better performance from this fine integrated DAC.

    Douglas Schroeder

  3. Jay Chung says:

    Thank you for a very extensive review of the Exogal system. I am particularly interested in your review because I am considering the very speaker that you talk about: Sound Lab U545. Initially, I was incredulous because Sound Lab recommends the 400 W Parasound JC-5 to drive these speakers but Ion is only 100 W. I have a very small listening room: 10′ x 11′ x8′ ceiling and I don’t play music very loudly-mostly classical and jazz. I am slightly concerned about the Exogal system because you gave it a most enthusiastic review but most other reviews have been positive but not enthusiastic. I would value your thoughts on the electronics to partner with my Sound Lab speakers.

  4. Jay,
    God’s Peace,

    At the time of the review of the Exogal products the Ion did not have the HyperDrive upgrade, and still it was a good match with the Sound Lab. Now, I presume it would be a very good match, as the Ion can drive ESL speakers much better. You can spend two times as much as the Exogal set and get no better sound.

    Another proven way to get excellent results from electrostatic speakers is to find a refined dedicated DAC, then take the signal directly from it to the power amp(s). NOTE: THIS REQUIRES SOFTWARE VOLUME CONTROL, as there would be no attenuation from the DAC to the amp(s). In my case I use a DAC like the Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Supreme directly to the amplifier, and control the volume with Roon music playback software and Tidal streaming music. My source is the Small Green Computer sonicTransporter (for file playback) and the SONORE Signature Rendu SE systemOptique.

    Or, you can go with an integrated DAC which has its own volume control and run that into the amp(s). The Gold Note PA-1175 Amps are quite nice because you can alter the Damping Factor by pushing a button on the amp. See my review. The First Watt J2 amps I have used following review are quite pretty sounding, but not as dynamically powerful. Don’t be fooled; a smaller space benefits from a good amp in terms of sound quality, not just ability to drive speakers loudly. However, with your space constraints I think the Exogal set would be a particular advantage. You do not want an amp that throws off heat; you would cook yourself out of the room in half an hour.

    Pay very special attention to power cords everywhere, USB, and the Exogal Plus’s umbilical, and speaker cables.

    Douglas Schroeder

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