by Martin Appel
One of the reasons for attending HI-FI shows is discovering new companies and new products. At THE SHOW in Las Vegas this year, my colleagues and I walked by a room and I noticed a sign proclaiming Morrow Audio High End Cable products having great sound at affordable prices. Who were these guys and did we need another cable company? It seems like everybody and his brother is jumping on the cable bandwagon hoping to make gobs of money (nothing inherently wrong with making an honest dollar). There are many companies selling cables in the three to ten thousand dollar range for a one meter pair of interconnects, a few even higher. I’ve heard expensive cables that match their hype, others, not so much. Where does Morrow fit in?
I walked into their room at THE SHOW and met Larry Spellman, Public Relations Manager and Mike Morrow, President and Chief Executive Officer. I had a very good discussion with them about cable design and the general state of the industry. I enjoyed their enthusiasm and the family like atmosphere. I requested cables for review and Morrow said they would ship them in a few months. During our discussion he also informed me of the lengthy burn-in process the cables require (400 to 500 hours, minimum) and that they would perform much of it for me prior to shipping. I appreciated that very much. They offer a two day break-in service equivalent to 96 hours of music, at no cost, and a five day break-in service ($25) equivalent to 240 hours of music. They use the Hagerman Labs FryDaddy for their break-in service.
The shipped package contained several different cables, including their top digital interconnect, the DIG4, and the MA6 and MA7 analogue interconnects, which comprise Morrow’s Grand Reference products. For the purpose of this review I will focus on the MA7s. They are the top of the line analogue interconnects and retail for $1,299/1m/pr. with RCA termination. Add $50 for XLR termination. All cables come with a 60 day trial period where you may return the cables for a full refund. The line begins with the MA1 at $70/1m/pr. RCA and tops out with the MA7s.
When I asked about the construction of the cables, Mike emailed me the following: ‘The MA7 consist of 72 total runs per cable of individually insulated small gauge wire. These are then twisted to help reject RFI. The wire is silver coated copper with PVC dielectric. There are 48 total runs in the MA6. For the digital cables, we use individual shielded solid core wires with a solid core wire running with the shield. The model number depicts how many runs… ie. DIG1 has 1 run, DIG4 has 4 runs.’
I installed a pair from my phonostage to my DEQX- HDP-4 preamplifier/processor. I continued the burning in for another 200 hours before any serious listening. The MA7s are very flexible and easy to install. I wanted to be sure that I followed the extensive burn-in time that was required especially since I went through a similar burn-in period for my reference interconnects, the Antipodes Reference cables. A long time! But, if I got as good a result as the Antipodes Reference, it would have been worth it. I also installed the DIG4 digital interconnect from my MSB transport to the DEQX’s internal DAC.
It seems I attract quality cables. I had no great expectations and was sincerely surprised at what I was hearing. After many hours of listening and comparing my reference with the MA7s I’ve come to understand how good these cables are. The overall sonic impression was one of incredible resolution and tonal neutrality. The Antipodes, equally resolving, tend to be on the slightly warmer side of neutral. The MA7s were closer to neutral, but could lean towards, recording dependent, the slightly cooler side of neutral. Additionally, it was apparent that they developed a sonic envelope around instruments that resulted in greater separation at least the equal of my reference, producing a sound stage with excellent layering and front to back depth. Imaging was exceptional, while not quite as rounded as the Antipodes, had excellent specificity with inner detail and definition aplenty. The MA7s created a sense of transparency while the Antipodes, a greater sense of weight. Both cables performed with a smoothness and lack of grain, letting all the music through.
It was very difficult to prefer one cable over another. They each presented the recorded performance in a completely involving manner, yet with slight, but always musical, differences. Your system deserves an audition of the MA7s. You may not be able to give them up.
A brief word on their digital cable, the DIG4. I replaced my reference, the Acoustic Zen Absolute 75 Digital Cable, with the DIG4 and after A/B testing, I found it matched the Zen in every way. The DIG4 is a reference caliber digital interconnect at $150 less then the Acoustic Zen cable and $90.00 less than the Antipodes Kokiri digital cable which are my current digital references. In my review of the Zen cable, I talk about the differences in personality between the Kokiri and the Zen digital cables and it applies to the Morrow as well.
As I submit this review it is with an awareness that I’m really not sure they are completely burned-in. Will there be further developments as they continue to play? Or, have they actually reached their full potential? Stay tuned.
In the here and now, I’m awarding the MA7 an Audiophilia Star Component Award.
[We are proud to award the Morrow Cable MA7 Grand Reference Interconnects an Audiophilia Star Component Award. Congratulations! - Ed]
During one of my listening sessions, Karl Sigman, our newest Audiophilia reviewer was so interested he asked if he could try a pair in his system. What follows are his comments:
Marty has lent me several analog interconnect cables to try over the last months and by far these Morrow MA7 are the best I have heard (on my system: DAC to amps) in comparison to my own personal reference, the Acoustic Zen Absolute Silver (AZ). The MA7 have the same naturalness and transparency, excellent imaging, as my reference and additionally bring a warmth, and smooth silky airiness that is especially flattering to voices (female or male) that my reference can sometimes portray a little hard.
The smoothness does (in my view) round off some crispiness but many would view that as a plus; it is all a matter of taste and personal preference.
I still prefer the AZ for serious percussion (unparalleled details/crispiness are revealed from the AZ); but I now plan to get a pair of these MA7 as an alternative reference. The price is remarkable. They are outstanding cables. Thank you, Karl.
The Morrow Cable MA7 Grand Reference Interconnects
Manufactured by Morrow Audio
5195 Madison Pike
Independence, KY 41051
USA & Canada Toll Free: 800.280.9167
Toll & International: 859.356.6994
Amplifiers: Hephaestus HMA-1000 Monoblocks
Speakers: Levy Acoustics
Phono Preamplifier: AVID Pulsare updated to II CD source: MSB DATA CD IV Transport w/ DEQX HDP-4 Preamplifier/Processor
Analogue source: Avid SEQUEL SP/SME IV arm/Cartridge: Shelter 7000
Speaker Cables: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute, Wasatch’s Ultama Power Cords: Kaplan GS Mk II
Interconnects: Antipodes Audio KOKIRI, KOMAKO and REFERENCE, Acoustic Zen’s Absolute
Accessories: REDPOINT BLAKHOLE’s, Herbie’s Audio Lab Tenderfeet, Soundcare products, Acme Audio Labs wall outlets
Power Conditioning: Kaplan Alchemist