Tom C Submitted: 2018.08.30
NEW DESIGN REVIEW: I have been involved in the stereo hobby for many years. My go-to music is 50s and 60s era Jazz but I have a large, diverse record collection. As such, much gear and many cables have come through my various systems.
I really thought that I was set for cables for the rest of my time in the hobby until the new design Morrow Anniversary Cables were installed. My upgrade consisted of a 10 foot set of speaker cables terminated in banana connectors and two sets of one meter interconnects. The interconnects have been used between my phono pre-amp and my integrated amp and between my CD player and my integrated amp.
I have used other fine cables and many of Morrow’s cables through the years. Because of this experience, I believed that I knew what to expect from Mike’s latest design creation, which is usually better sound-staging and more dynamics as you move up his line. I received those additions, but, I was mistaken to think that this was all I would get. I am very happy to have been wrong. Let me tell you about the finest cables I have heard.
I installed the cables as described above replacing expensive silver cables from a competitor. The first thing I noticed was that as in the past some break-in is required. All of Mike’s cables from his MA-1 to this Anniversary require a break-in period. However, the Anniversary break-in period was much shorter than with Mike’s past cables (more on break-in below). Or, at this point (60 hours), the music has just gotten so good that I think they are broken in and they are going to continue to improve (bonus). In any event, if they do not improve further, they are the best I have had in my system.
From the first song on the first record, there was an added clarity. My friend, an avid music lover and system owner, was over at the time and we both noticed that words were much easier to understand.
For instance, Ricki Lee Jones is one of my favorite singer/song writers. But, even the most loyal Ricki fan must admit that she can be hard to understand at times. Now, Ricki comes through clearly. With this new-found clarity comes a wealth of musical cues that just weren’t there before. For example, when Van Morrison plucks and holds a guitar note in "I’ll be your man" you hear the pitch waver as the note resolves into the atmosphere. So naturally, all the acoustic singer/songwriters had to be pulled from the shelves to hear all that I had been missing and there was a lot.
Another improvement is very real but difficult to describe. The music seemed faster. Of course, it was not faster as the speed on the turntable is a constant 33/3. I believe it is the feeling of the pace, it’s snappier and gets your toe tapping now. This must be attributable to the microdynamic of the leading edge of notes. These cables do a better job of bringing this quality to the fore and are most noticeable with the upright bass. Plucked notes seem faster and bass notes are more rhythmic with bounce and life. It has been like getting a speaker upgrade. Cables alone cannot alter the laws of physics, but I believe they can let your speakers perform to their peak capabilities. As such, any set of speakers should reveal this improvement.
In addition, I received a bonus that was unexpected. My turntable system uses a Soundsmith Denon Gold cartridge with a step-up transformer with old microphone transformers that sound very tonally rich, but there are only 2 load settings. In the past, one setting had always seemed dull and the other setting too bright (true with several good cartridges). I had chosen to live with the bright setting. Also, my phono pre-amp is adjustable for many loading and gain settings. So, if I gave up the SUT, I could set my phono pre-amp at 80 ohms and have good, but less colorful sound. I was set to live with this situation.
Then came the Anniversary cables. I do not know how or why, but the top end sizzle was eliminated yet all of the color remains. For example, a cymbal still sounds like a cymbal, but there is no longer a sizzle to it, just the cymbal strike and its resolution. This more natural quality has the extra bonus of making the cymbal stand out even more when intuitively you might think that it should sound diminished without the sizzle calling attention to it. Using these cables seems like replacing the phono pre-amp with a far more expensive all tube model.
Last, a few words about macro-dynamics and sound staging. Excellent on both counts. The more of these qualities that are on the record, the greater will be the effect. I recently listened to a Pink Floyd compilation called "Echo’s." I have always felt lukewarm about this series because it has sounded flat to me on many of the songs.
Last night, I had a completely new experience with these records. On "The Division Bell", the striking of the bell was strong and piercing and the difference between the low-level singing and when the band storms in was thundering. Based on past experience, this was totally unexpected. As a result, I have no choice but to listen to all four records again. These cables have forced me to re-evaluate many of the records in my collection that I thought were mediocre.
If there was a weakness, it was at the start, without break-in, the bass was not at its best. The bass was a little looser than I was used to hearing. Volume was as plentiful as ever, but it was harder to differentiate an e-flat from an f. Also, there seemed to be overhang and some bloat.
Thankfully, those characteristics are only memories now and the bass is as described above.
In conclusion, I ask is anything perfect? No. But these cables are as close as I have come to that goal. Get them, allow for the break-in, and you will have your last set of cables. Tom C