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Magnan Cables System Review

Signature Speaker Cables, Reference Speaker Cables, Digital Interconnect, Type Vi Interconnect, Signature Power Cable

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Using The Magnan

It should be noted that there are limits to the lengths of some of Magnan cable models. By using such minimalist conductors, longer runs of cable present signal conductor resistance or resistance of ground return problems. In other cases, to maintain proper sonics, cables are only available in minimum lengths of several feet. Do not let this fact deter you from consideration of these cables; these limitations are not global, and the performance is of a caliber that these idiosyncrasies are largely insignificant. Before ordering, study the websites’ FAQ link. With Magnan cables as much as any cable I have ever seen, form dictates function, and does so marvelously.

For a cable that’s almost not there, I’m impressed with two things, how much an audiophile does get for their dollar, and how full the sound is. Regarding economics, these cables take a higher degree of labor to produce than average. As they are hand made, slight variances can exist between evenly matched pairs. On the pair of silver colored Reference speaker cables, the leads were slightly shorter, maybe .25” different in length. I was able to reach the outer, bridged binding posts of my Pathos Classic One MkII amps comfortably with one, but only snugly with the other. In most applications this is neglible, but I would check closely the distance between posts and ensure that the Magnan cables you order will reach. My hunch is that if you speak with Magnan regarding your needs, producing a slightly longer lead would be no problem.

Using the combination of the Rega Saturn as transport feeding the Benchmark DAC1, and Monarchy Audio SM70 mono block amps, I tested the sonics of the single ended Type Vi interconnects versus the balanced version. This proved to be an adventure. Herein lay the problem; the sound was different, so much that I couldn’t believe I was listening to the same family of IC’s! While the sound from the single-ended IC’s was brighter, very forward and spiritedly, the sound of the balanced IC’s was darker, much warmer and subdued. I say subdued since the power of the amps dropped abysmally. I had to crank the attenuation from the 9 o’clock setting to the 1 o’clock setting to get anywhere near the same listening level!

I determined that the preponderance of change had to be due to the amps since the attenuation was changed so radically. This was confirmed when I discovered that the switch on the back of the Monarchy mono amps drops the level six dB if in the wrong position! No wonder the sound was so radically different! Once that was accounted for, I noted no dramatic difference in performance between the single-ended and balanced IC’s.

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With The Eminent Technology Of LFT-8A

My overall listening impressions started off with a bang, “Wow! Magnificently devoid of shrillness and full of the bouquet of music! One of best initial sounds in a cable I’ve ever heard.” The Magnan cables had the ability to transform the Eminent Technology LFT-8A speaker’s sound into a dynamic speaker-like blended experience, while still retaining the wide open panel sound, more so than any other cable I’ve used. It opened them up nicely and without the tissy top-end that can plague more revealing cables. For owners of Magneplanars and E.T.’s, these cables could be considered “planar cables.” They mated exceptionally well with the planar technology. Who would have thought – planar cables for planar speakers – a very pleasing match.

“… the Magnan cables allowed the E.T.’s to more fully capture the timbre and depth of the body of the instrument which was missing previously.”

One indicator that the Magnans were doing a superb job was the way in which any piano piece was presented so naturally. I will be frank and share that prior to this point, I had not heard the Eminent Technology speakers reproduce piano in an utterly natural way. The timbre was not correct, and there was not enough depth to it. I thought that this was largely a shortcoming of the magnetic planar design. I was wrong; the Magnan cables allowed the E.T.’s to more fully capture the timbre and depth of the body of the instrument which was missing previously.

With the Magnan’s, electric guitar licks were luscious; I enjoyed Craig Caquiso’s Acoustic Planet and Daryl Sturmer’s Another Side of Genesis, among others. I have commented in other reviews on the ability of the MIT series of cables to “amplify” the signal without distortion. The Magnan cables have the ability to do just the opposite, to attenuate the treble without loss of detail – a remarkable feat that leads me to believe that Dave really is onto something in his quest to eliminate skin effect.

With The B&W CM7

The controlled nature of the Magnan sound showed itself as I used a pair of B&W CM7 speakers (review in progress). These are smaller floor standers with 5” Kevlar mids and 1” metal dome tweeters. Sporting a 6” bass driver, they do not have a huge foundation to counter the strong tweeter. The CM7’s are superb at detail retrieval, but with cables that emphasize detail it can be too much. The MIT cables brought tremendous focus and energy, but I could not tolerate the hot top-end for long periods with these smaller speakers. The upper end of the CM7 is simply so revealing, so brisk, that it needed to be moderated.

“These cables are so good at reorganizing a strong treble signal that I earnestly recommend trying them prior to dumping a speaker system due to dissatisfaction with the upper frequencies.”

The Magnan cables were a good match for the B&W’s in that they reduced the hotness factor and kept the detail. I kept the MIT’s on the bass and the Magnan Signatures on the top-end. It was the sonic equivalent of driving the woofers with solid state amps and the high end with tubes. Remember what I just said, since I have found no combination of cables that has produced a similar effect to such a pleasing degree: MIT on bottom and Magnan on top are a wonderful pairing for speakers tilted toward the top end! These cables are so good at reorganizing a strong treble signal that I earnestly recommend trying them prior to dumping a speaker system due to dissatisfaction with the upper frequencies. I have come up with a name for the Magnan Cables – “Tweeter Tamers”. On the B&W CM7 speakers, the Magnan’s were a splendid match. Shoot, on virtually any speaker they were splendid!

I had recently upgraded my projector in the HT/listening room and for quite a while had the CM7’s perform double duty as they are designed to, as 2 channel and HT speakers. One of my demo discs was Seal Live in Paris. I was not expecting a terribly moving experience since my subs were not implemented when the CM7’s were being reviewed. Nevertheless, the bass line was strong enough to be felt on the skin, if not the bowels. I had no trouble at all transporting myself to the venue; the Magnan cables kept the CM7’s from overdoing it even at higher levels.

With Von Schweikert VR4 SR MKII

The results of pairing the Magnan cables with the Von Schweikert VR-4 SR MKII speakers was undeniable. These are a very smooth, completely non-fatiguing cable in the treble. Von Schweikert owners should seriously consider the Magnan’s as they mate exceptionally well. In this setup, since I was not in need to tame the treble, I used the Magnan cables on both the bass and upper end. It was a combination that was impervious to ear strain at high levels.

I pulled out some older rock discs that I can only listen to at certain times – times when treble is very controlled. Chief among them is Simple Minds’ Good News from the Next World. The entire disc seems like it was recorded hot, tracks like “Night Music,” or “And the Band Played On” especially seem one iota from utter distortion. This is one of the most poorly recorded rock discs I have ever encountered. It takes quite a lot of work for equipment to keep the sound from degrading into electronic mush.

“I encourage anyone who listens to music with potentially irritating treble or with an urge to listen with concert levels to audition the Magnans.”

The Magnan cables are a surprisingly good “leash” between components, keeping the disc listenable on the Von Schweikerts. I encourage anyone who listens to music with potentially irritating treble or with an urge to listen with concert levels to audition the Magnans. One of their strong points is the ability to allow the feeling of getting the whole package sonically while removing the low end system sound that some recordings have.

Summary

In this review, I used one set of the Signature speaker cables and one set of the Reference cables. I was able to hear them in reversed positions on several speakers. The Reference cables captured maybe 75-80% of the openness and delicacy of the Signatures. There seemed to be a direct connection between the sheer width of the conductor and the resultant sound.

On it’s own, the Reference stands as a superb value. Anyone considering cables for a serious rig would be pleased to have them. However, the Signatures were clearly cleaner, more erudite and extended in both frequency and sound stage. I found that I was constantly keeping the Signatures on the mid/high inputs on speakers. I wish I had been able to hear the Signatures on both inputs as it would have made for a phenomenal presentation, I believe. There are not many cables where $1k gets you an impeccable presentation; the Magnan Signature comes as close as I have heard.

The Type Vi interconnects were also top notch performers. In a similar manner to the speaker cables, they attenuated the high frequencies, yet revealing a very pleasing, full sound. I found great success in using them between tube preamps and solid-state amps. I liked them as a link between the Rogue Perseus preamp and Monarchy SM70 amps, and on other occasions as jumper replacements for the Dussun V8i integrated amp. The single-ended terminations were a touch loose on the Dussun amp, but snug on most other components.

A favorite among these delicacies was the Magnan Digital cable. It brought some terrific sound from my Rega Saturn, acting as transport, to both the Benchmark DAC1 as well as the Monarchy M24 tube DAC/line stage. Only while using this digital cable has the sound of a DAC rivaled the smoothness and palpability of the Saturn. I especially enjoyed the sound with the Monarchy M24, and I use the Saturn/Magnan digital cable/Monarchy combo in several reviews since it produces an utterly fluid sound with breathtaking immediacy. Of all the cables Magnan offers, this is one of the best values, since it influences all that follows in the signal chain. If you are looking for a superb transport/DAC combination, I adjure you to audition the Magnan Digital cable!

I had some real difficulties with these speaker cables in that I found it hard to remove them from my speakers, especially speakers with a tendency to emphasize the upper mids and treble. The issue wasn’t physical in the least; they were difficult to take off because once they go on, you’ll not soon want to remove them! And that’s the flat out truth!

Conclusion? These cables are Magnan-ificent! Bearing the touch of their creator, Dave Magnan, they have superior resolving capacity, gentle touch on the ear, and a packed, full-spectrum sound. It is a wonder that the audiophile community has not glommed onto Magnan Cables. I believe they are of a caliber that they should be strongly considered for systems up to $20k, and would not be embarrassed in systems above that price point.

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