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MIT Oracle AC 1, Oracle AC 2, Z Cord AC Power Cables, and Z Stabilizer III HG Review

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What I didn’t necessarily expect was a smoother ride. I was preparing myself to hear stiletto-like treble out of the Legacy Focus HD’s twin ribbon tweeters. I was under the impression that if the signal was passively treated too much by the Terminator boxes, the result would be harshness, which I knew could be revealed by the Focus HD’s. Instead, I heard the high-end actually soften. Across the spectrum, the microphonic gaps of digital music seemed to be filled deftly.

Lately I’ve been enjoying the laid back vocals of India Aire, this generation’s equivalent to Tracy Chapman. One of the most exquisite demonstrations of MIT’s power technology came on her introspectively titled Testimony: vol.1, Life & Relationship, track 12 “Great Grandmother”, which is a snippet of an old recording of…India Aire’s grandma. As it seemed useless for the purposes of reviewing equipment, I was tempted to ignore it as I passed from song to song. Yet, I couldn’t ignore it since it exemplified the effect the MIT power components had. Like a plane doing a flyover, I made three passes with three increases in MIT products in the power chain. Initially, I used only two Shotgun AC cords. Next go round I added one Z Stabilizer HG. Lastly, I went full blown by adding the second Oracle cord and a Z Stabilizer HG to the Saturn.

The result was a resurrection from the dead! Well, not entirely – that would be news, wouldn’t it! But, the flat, lifeless recording of grandma Aire took on flesh and bones, an actual umbra of three-dimensionality as MIT reanimated her. It was almost a religious experience to hear the resonance return to her voice reverberating in the room – something completely lacking in the experience prior to the MIT additions. That 30 second monophonic clip proved that manipulating the power enhances a rig’s ability to breathe life into recordings.

I would compare what I was hearing to my experience as a young boy playing with a “Light Bright.” When I was a wee little lad, this was advanced toy technology – a “flat screen” which accommodated Christmas mini-light sized pixels of infinitely variable color combinations! SWEET! It was… Fabulous! Each bulb added to the overall sensation of a glowing masterpiece.

‘That is what I experience when I hear MIT products, more pixels of sound filling the air to create a glowing 3-D image.’

Now, think acoustically about air space being filled with pixels of sound. How many pixels does your system produce – can you mentally imagine an amount? Further, imagine that with power cords and conditioning you can fill in missing pixels in 3-D to make the sound fuller, richer, more glowing. That is what I experience when I hear MIT products, more pixels of sound filling the air to create a glowing 3-D image. Sonically, more pixels put out more solidity to the acoustic image. MIT cables and conditioners fill the pixels in the air thoroughly.

In Perspectives

There are some physical drawbacks to the MIT line of cables which must be considered.

In a word, they’re bulky and stiffer than average. With not so subtle passive component boxes affixed (metal boxes on the Oracle series cords) to them and less flexible cables, it becomes something of a challenge at times to position them perfectly. Even the $129 Z Cord power cable puts up a good fight against being twisted. One has to be aware of the potential for stress on the back of a component’s IEC receptacle. Wrestling the Oracle cord into position the first time, I was unsatisfied with how much tangential stress was being applied from the cord to the back of the unit. The Rega Saturn’s plastic (Why plastic? Shouldn’t be on a $2,400 player!) back was being stressed so as to pull away slightly from the metal chassis. Repositioning resolved the issue, but one needs to force these cables into submission. In one or two cases I have used twist ties to cinch the cables at critical points to my audio rack in order to make them comply with my determined positioning. This is, though, an inexpensive fix and once the cables are in place their stiffness will be forgotten. Care should be taken not to let the heavy passive electronics boxes hang freely so as to stress connectors.

(Tip on using stiff cables: The secret to using a bendable stiff cable, thin or thick, lies in bending the mid-sections and areas near its AC connector and IEC plug into form, to exert only straight, inward pressure into the AC outlet and equipment. When bent accordingly at the two ends, stiff cables, especially power cables, exert no extraneous pressure on the contact points, and become an ultra-stable conduit between the AC outlet and the equipment. –Ed.)

MIT-ZSIIIHD-7

Z Cord

How much quality differential do the two highest power cables in the MIT line make? To examine this, I simply reversed the order, and placed the Oracle AC 1 (2nd to top) at the outlet, then the Z Stabilizer III HG, followed by the Oracle AC 2 (top model) just prior to the Saturn. One might be tempted to think, “What’s the possible advantage to reversing their order? It will sound the same.” No, not even close. I was hoping that the deletion of the Oracle 1 from the chain and keeping the Stabilizer HG and the higher level Oracle 2 in the chain with a lower level Z Cord at the wall would be good enough. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, they both sounded heavenly. But when one is transported to the Seventh Heaven, and has to return to the Fifth Heaven it just doesn’t cut it. The sheer expansiveness and completeness in the music while using both cables was not easy to live without.

I have just recently brought the Legacy Focus HD speakers into the listening room. These are very substantial 185lb pieces, each wielding twin 12” bass drivers. One of the most enjoyable aspects of testing the MIT cables and Z Stabilizers involved hearing the volume of air inside drums expand and bass notes plump as the power scheme was improved.

‘It’s one thing to hear a bass note, to realize it is present. It’s another to hear the fullness of the note, to sense its depth and low frequency vibrations.’

On Dido’s No Angel, her piece “Isobel” can be an exercise in distortion, as there are several levels of extremely low-bass and drums running throughout. She uses what might be called “bass-ment” accompaniment. Even with excellent equipment, the lowest of frequencies can be frustratingly indistinct. It wasn’t until I put together the above MIT set up for cdp that I was able to get what I would consider full resolution of the lowest notes. It’s one thing to hear a bass note, to realize it is present. It’s another to hear the fullness of the note, to sense its depth and low frequency vibrations. Once the MIT products are heard it becomes clear how much of the music is left inside of the source and amplification if the cables don’t tease it out.

My casual observation is that whatever MIT cord feeds, the Z Stabilizer should be the lower end one than the downstream cable exiting it. Don’t read this wrong, but the Oracle 1, as good as it is, when placed ahead of the higher end cable actually restricted the performance of the Oracle 2. With MIT cables, always build from the least at the outlet to the greatest at the component. I would also recommend utilizing the higher grade “HG” Z Stabilizer III at the front-end of the system as opposed to the system downstream. While each of the Stabilizers have one IEC feeding them and only 2 exiting outlets, it’s very likely that you will need more than one Z Stabilizer HG to outfit your system. If you have a mixture of regular and “HG” Z Stabilizers, get the better ones up front at your source.

MIT-ZSIIIHD-9

Reflections

Would the greatest gains system-wide be attained at the front-end, preamp or amplification? I suspect it would be most advantageous to load the front-end with “Big Gun” cables as opposed to trying to make up for lost ground by using them only to juice the amps. I did not have two identical Oracle cables to test this on my twin Pathos amps, but I suspect it to be true. After all, how can amplification recapture what’s not been sent? If the source is lacking I’m doubtful the amps can more than compensate for it.

The experiment has reinforced one thing incontrovertibly: High performance cables are worth as much glory as any other component in an audiophile’s system. Case in point, the Oracle power cords on the Rega Saturn now make it sound nothing like a Rega Saturn. It sounds like Rega’s next generation of players – the ones that haven’t been created yet! When power cables can make cdp’s sound more advanced with its yesterday technology, those cables are doing very good things! Consider also that with superior firepower in cabling, one is assured that any source or amp change will at least be given a chance to have its utmost innards exposed, its soul laid bare. If you want to really hear what X cdp sounds like, feed it serious power from serious power cabling and conditioning. If you don’t do that, you’ll never hear the true potential of the player.

Just today while wandering through an electronics store, I saw a video display on a wide screen showing direct comparison between standard DVD and Blue Ray. A white line demarked the two presentations in real time. The Blue Ray made the standard DVD side look impoverished. The upgrades with MIT products made the acoustic experience on my equipment seem just as dramatically improved. I have no doubts that with virtually any cdp brought into my system, I will be able to instantly hear critical distinctions in presentation. My ability to judge the virtue of a cdp, pre or amp has been heightened immeasurably.

I’m not sure any reasonable person would want to spend prodigious amounts in an effort to save a mediocre system. However, my experiment confirms as the cabling quality increases, one can rest assured that any component change will bring about a more satisfying experience. I used to think many years ago that one could effectively “skip” cables as a serious component. I thought that somehow one could spend 95% on the source, amp and speakers etc. and toss 5% or so at wiring. Oh, what a mistake that can be today when wonders are being wrought by manufacturers like MIT!

A lot of hot air on the street says that cables are a waste of time and that there are diminishing returns as the pricing increases. I’m clearly stating that in the case of MIT cables it’s simply not true. From my analysis, you’ll get improved performance as you move up the line and the cumulative effect of their cords on a system can be revelatory.

Steve Holt at MIT has been generous with time and wires; from my experience, I would think that any system specific questions as to cable and conditioning selection would be competently and courteously answered. I have no claims against these products. Solidly built, appealing to the eye, and performance enhancing in a distinctive way, they prove an excellent argument for upscaling power components.

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