Mojo Audio Cables

by admin on November 17, 2011 · 12 comments

in Cables, Stars

by Roy Harris

Most cables are designed to minimize errors in signal transmission, i.e., to be accurate, where accuracy denotes signal in = signal out. However, all cables fail to produce an accurate signal. The differences in cable are based upon the nature of the errors they create.

As a practical matter, absolute accuracy is unattainable. The optimum performance from a cable may be achieved when its imperfections are undetectable, or inaudible, under most listening conditions. Ideally, a cable should do no harm. Thus, an attenuated treble is preferable to brightness, and a peak in the upper bass is preferable to leanness.

Mojo Audio is a company whose goal is to minimize inaccuracy. While such an objective may be similar to that of other companies, Mojo Audio’s design, materials and construction suggest that there is a high probability that its products could come close to an accurate reproduction of a recording. How well the cable executes the company’s objective, is the subject of this review.

I began my career reviewing stranded cable. While I have reviewed other components as well, a search of the Audiophilia archives would confirm that I have reviewed more cable products than other components. However, I have not yet reviewed a solid core design until I came across the Mojo cables. There were two other salient factors which  provided the motivation to review the cables. I read a number of consistently very positive comments on various sites, and the president of the company, Benjamin Zwickel, reported that there were no cable returns from customers during 2011. He has a policy of a 45-day home audition.

The cables under review included the following:

1 pair Lucent 1 meter interconnect, retail price, $299.95
1 pair Lucent 6 meter interconnect, retail price, $799.95
2  1.5 meter Enigma 7 power cords, with FI 15R Furutech IEC and plug, $499.95 each
2 2 meter XPC-7  power cords, with cryogenically treated pure R-copper plug and clear Teflon dielectric, $699.95 each
1 2 meter XPC-7 power cord with Furutech FI 28R, IEC and plug, $899.95

The interfacing of the cables is as follows:

1 meter interconnect between preamp and DAC
6 meter  interconnect between   preamp and amp
1 Enigma 7 powering the transport, the other powering the DAC
2 XPC-7with  copper plugs powering the amps
1 XPC-7 with Furutech connectors powering the Balanced Power Technology power strip which powered one pair of Quads and 1 pair of mono block amps

Zwickel suggested that he didn’t think Quads were as line-cord sensitive as other electronics, based upon comments from his customers, so I used my reference Ear to Ear cords on the Quads.

The Mojo Audio marketing philosophy is to offer exceptional value at a price point, compared to the competition. Zwickel found that after auditioning a variety of competitors’ products, he could not manufacture a speaker cable that was an exceptional value relative to the competitions’ cables. Thus, he does not market speaker cable at this time. This is also the reason Mojo Audio does not offer any other interconnects at this time.

The company’s website (see below for link) contains technical details for each product under review.

Listening Sessions

The designer suggested that each cable required 500 hours of signal processing before critical listening. At that point the cables are cable of performing at about 90 percent of their capability. After 500 hours of break-in I listened to my system for another 100 hours before critical evaluation. I selected 6 CDs which I used for my last cable review, the Fusion Audio Romance 2.

The first CD I auditioned was  Steely Dan AJA, track 3, MCAD 37214. Donald Fagen’s voice was located deep into the sound field. The lyrics were clear and enunciated–very easy to follow. The sound of the cymbal had no edge, evincing a smooth and articulate presentation. That is, one could hear each strike of the wood drum stick upon the cymbal in a natural manner. The electric guitar on the left was more present than I have previously noticed. Most of the time I have listened to this CD the guitar has been slightly obscured. The cable is very quiet and has no non-musical artifacts which might make it hard to observe instruments which are recorded at low SPLs. The chorus also exhibited clarity in elocution. Again, I could easily hear every word. In the past, there was a varying degree of vocal slurring, depending upon what cables were part of the stereo system. Finally the tenor sax, while not well-recorded, offered timbral cues which made it easy to recognize. Regardless of the frequency of the fundamental, the tenor was full bodied and never sounded like an alto. The treble harmonics sounded like what one would expect from a tenor, even though the overall timbral accuracy was affected by the  sound quality of the recording. A better recording of a tenor sax would, of course, sound more timbrally realistic. Still, there was no doubt as to what instrument one was listening to.

Switching to the classical repertory, I selected my only recording of Offenbach’s Gaite Parisienne. It is a performance conducted by Arthur Fiedler on the JVC label, JVCXR 0224, track 1. The piece begins with a dynamic orchestral passage. There was no loss here. There was no forwardness. The orchestra was located behind the speakers, extending almost to the width of the listening room. Ensembles were delineated from each other and there was a complete absence of congestion. The overall effect was one of balance, and a very realistic representation of an orchestra, given the constraints  of a listening room. When the woodblock was struck, I perceived space behind it. This was the first time I ever noticed the space. I have listened to this CD many times. There was also greater resolution of the sound of the drum stick striking the woodblock than I have ever experienced. One next observed a triangle and could sense the space between it and the woodblock. The triangle was neither characterized by an excess of treble harmonics nor  an attenuation in the treble region. This triangle sounded more like the real thing than I heard on any stereo system. The recording felt anew.

Continuing in the classical genre, I next selected a composition from the baroque period,  Van Wassanaer’s “Concerti Armonici”, conducted by Kevin Mallon, leading the Aradia Ensemble,  Naxos 8.555384, track 5. The ensemble is comprised of period instruments and the timbre one hears is consistent with that fact. Yet, there was no sharpness or edge of string tone.  The instruments “spoke” for themselves without overwhelming the listener. There was sufficient resolution to observe the articulation of the strings , but not so much as to  sound like listening to music under a microscope.

Female voice is often a benchmark for evaluating equipment. My reference is Holly Cole’s recording DON’T SMOKE IN BED, Alert ZZ 81020, track 1. It was evident that the voice was positioned close to the microphone. While sibilance was present, it seemed that the “s” consonants were neither exaggerated nor softened. In spite of the sibilance, it was not so prominent as to detract from the enjoyment of the music. The acoustic bass exhibited a natural proportion between the wood body and the plucking of the strings. It sounded more like a live instrument than a recorded instrument.

My favorite instrument is the harpsichord. Hence, I always include a harpsichord recording, when reviewing a component. My reference disk is Sophie Yates SCARLATTI IN IBERIA, Chandos 0635, track 1. The harpsichord was positioned toward the rear of the recording venue. There was greater depth than I have heard prior to this review. One could hear the pluck and release of the keys. Both were slightly softened — a consequence of the distant perspective between listener and instrument. The sound of the treble and bass notes were indicative of a balanced frequency response. The timbre of the harpsichord was most realistic.

The last selection was one of two CDs I brought with me to every CES show I attended. I use this CD as one of several when evaluating my own stereo system. It is a good test of what a hi-hat cymbal sounds like and a good representation of an acoustic bass, played by Ron Carter. The CD is PRIME CUTS, Sheffield Lab 13333-2-V,track 8, Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow, the theme music for the television show Baretta. While the LP is closer in timbral accuracy than the CD and the bass is also more extended, what I noticed using the Mojo cables, was a  sound of a hi-hat, which was less inaccurate than at any other time I have heard this track. The impact of the kick drum was more pronounced than usual and there was greater bass extension as well.

Conclusion

The affect of using Mojo Audio cables upon the sound of my stereo system included a more vivid and lively presentation, having greater resolution and a balanced frequency response. I have reviewed and auditioned many cable products. Many of them have exhibited a “character” of one kind or another. Some may have imparted a pleasantness or unpleasantness, especially in the upper midrange or lower treble, or have created a leanness to the sound of the stereo system. What distinguishes the Mojo Audio cable from others is its absence of an audible sonic signature. Thus among its  competitors which I have experienced,  it comes closest to disappearing or being virtually neutral.

I would not assert that these cables are perfect. No component is. However, the Mojo Audio products  are the least intrusive or imposing upon the sound of a recording compared to other cables that have crossed my path. I could find no aspect of its performance to criticize, given the time I spent auditioning them. This suggests that if one is satisfied with one’s electronics, speaker, room, power conditioners, anti-resonant devices and other components that may constitute a stereo system, placing Mojo cables into your stereo system should not alter its sound. Since they don’t seem to be euphonic, rich or tube-like, don’t expect them to compensate for  any existing colorations, or poor recordings, nor should they reinforce such conditions. In some cases a component change may be appropriate rather than a cable change.

Without a doubt, the Mojo Audio products reviewed were the least inaccurate cables that I have heard. If one were to ascribe an epithet to Mojo Audio cables it would be “colorless”. I would believe that the cables reviewed would help to provide as much resolution as an audiophile might want. In addition, I noticed recordings which I thought were of poor quality sounding less objectionable than they did when other cables were used. While the Mojo Audio cables seemed to disappear, the stereo system exhibited a smoothness and refinement, which one might not expect from a design which has accuracy as its objective.

As a result of my exposure to Mojo Audio cable products I will be taking a sabbatical from reviewing high end audio cables.

[We are proud to award the The Mojo Audio family of cables an Audiophilia Star Component Award. Congratulations! - Ed]

Associated Equipment

Digital Hardware: PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport and DAC
Preamp: Bent TVC passive
Amplifier: VTL Deluxe 120 mono blocks
Speakers: Quads Unlimited Quad 57 and Magnepan 1.6
Digital Cable: Harmonic Technology HDMI
Interconnects: Ear to Ear, Soundstring, Fusion Audio Romance 2
Speaker Cable: Ear to Ear
Power Cords: Ear to Ear and Fusion Audio Romance 2
Accessories: PS Audio Juice Bar, Balanced  Power Technology power strip, Sound Fusion Sound Boosters, furniture foam, egg create mattresses, Alan Maher Corcuit Breaker filters, Millenium weight, Ennacom filters, Room Tunes, maple wood bases and Z systems Z sleeves

website
email

Source: Manufacturer loan

Manufacturer’s Comment

When Roy called me for the first time, I could tell I was talking with a fellow music lover. He kept mentioning things like “timbre” and “tone.” He talked about wanting to be able to distinguish what instruments were playing in recorded music. It is no wonder Roy appreciated my products so much—our listening criteria are very similar.

At Mojo Audio, we’re music lovers. We design our products for music lovers. You can be sure of this: if I wouldn’t listen to a product in my personal system, I won’t sell it.

We start with the finest materials we can find and handcraft our products with uncompromising standards. We are standing on the shoulders of giants in that we purchase raw materials from legendary companies like Furutech, Kimber, and Bridgeport Magnetics (Goertz).

Our competitors have marketing departments that ask their R&D departments to engineer a product to a price point. We don’t do that. Instead, we design the best-sounding product we can, and then we price it based on materials, labor, and a fair markup. Also unlike other companies, we have a very limited product line. If we can’t engineer a product that differs dramatically from an existing product in terms of cost and performance, we won’t make it.

We will be demoing our products at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2011, so please look for us there. In addition, we have several new products in R&D, so you may want to sign up for our e-newsletter and follow our “Audio Files” blog, which will be premiering this December. Please sign up at our website.

Benjamin Zwickel, Owner Mojo Audio

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

admin 10.03.11 at 8:21 pm

Great review, Roy. I’ll be ‘hearing’ these cables at the Rocky Mountain Show later this month. Your review has me intrigued. And you gave it an Audiophilia Star, a first for you!!! Special praise, indeed.

Thnaks also to Mojo who became an advertiser. We appreciate your sponsorship of Audiophilia. I’d encourage all our readers to check out the Mojo Audio website.

Cheers, a

owen 10.12.11 at 11:58 am

I will second the review. The cables are competitive with much more costly cables. I have cables and music server from mojo (core audio) and they are providing one of the biggest bang for the buck in audio.

marvin fox 10.15.11 at 6:55 pm

The way the economy is now Roy who can afford to buy these cables ? I see you use the same recordings all the time. Musicality maybe they are worth it but real music can never be reproduced Roy you know that .

admin 10.16.11 at 12:42 am

Compared to what I saw today — cables up to 10K (!!!), Mojo’s are resonable. Audiophiles should consider cables a component.

roy harris 10.16.11 at 11:28 am

hi marvin:

your comment is repetitive. after each of my reviews, you say the same thing.

have you nothing else to say ?

it is obvious that a stereo system is limited . everyone knows that. why state the obvious, more than once ??

marvin fox 10.17.11 at 6:17 pm

I guess Roy you exist in your world and nothing else counts except stereos and your own self absorption of yourself and your one sided reviews. You are the one who said countless times there is nothing like live music to me and now you back pedal just like the politicians we have today.

admin 10.17.11 at 6:23 pm

Mr. Fox. I’ve allowed two negative, derisory comments directed at my writer. They’re your last. Be warned. Think before you write. Discuss the subject.

Okay, back to Mojo’s cables…

Thx.

mike 11.08.11 at 3:21 pm

Why spend so much on a power cable? Its all about the power supply filtering in the stereo, anyway. Ho does a 2 meter power cable remedy the noise in the meters upon meters of electric cables running through the walls of one’s house? that’s just silly…

Benjamin Zwickel, Owner Mojo Audio 12.11.11 at 7:52 pm

Benjamin from Mojo Audio again. I wanted to respond to some of the comments.

To begin with, there are versions of my power cords that start at under $300 and deliver over 90% the performance of the ones in this review at roughly half the price. All I can say to Marvin about “the economy” and the value of cords and cables is that if you can’t hear the difference then don’t spend the $$$.

Considering I offer a 45-day no-risk return option, and that I’ve not had even one return for refund in all of 2011, it is quite apparent that a lot of people find my cords and cables to be WELL worth the investment.

I would have to agree with Mike that the power supply in the components is SIGNIFICANTLY more important than the cords and cables. In my own component designs I’ve found that the better the power supply the less of an impact the power cord makes. Most of my customers tell me they get between a 20% and 30% improvement when they use my power cords. On my best power supply with my best power cord I get only about a 5% improvement. That being said, 5% can be the difference between “beauty” and “magic.”

As for “how can the last few feet of power cord can make such a difference” there are many theories and there are some SOLID facts. It is not just the effect of a piece of wire with connectors but also the GEOMETRY as well as the GROUNDING and SHIELDING. Keep in mind that the MILES of wire to your home end in a transformer on the pole near your house and the yards of wire in your walls are shielded, dampened, and isolated by the walls themselves. The power cord going from wall to component is subject to external mechanical and electrical noise as well as noise generated by the power supplies of the components.

Most power cords have the line, load, and ground wires twisted together with a shield outside of them. That is like taking a bath in toxic waste and then putting on a hazmat suit! The isolated ground and floating shield I use in all of my power cord designs prevents noise from the ground getting into the line and load, prevents external noise from getting into the line and load, and (most importantly) prevents the noise from each of the power supplies from effecting the line and load entering a component as well as the power feeding other components in the system.

In effect my grounding and shielding are engineered to creates a “star ground” at each receptacle isolating components from each other. I’ve had several customers go from using expensive power conditioners to plugging my cords directly into the wall because my power cords solved their ground related noise problems.

Once again, if you can’t hear the difference then you shouldn’t spend the $$$. That of course is why I offer a 45-day no-risk audition…trying them for yourself on your system is the ONLY way to know.

I would like to offer anyone that reads this review FREE SHIPPING so that they can audition my cords and cables 100% risk free. I will not only refund their cost of purchase but also the cost of return shipping should they decide to return them for a refund.

Now you have NOTHING to lose but your misconceptions ; )

~ Benjamin

admin 12.11.11 at 7:58 pm

Thanks for the clarifications, Benjamin. I’m looking forward to trying your products in my system.

Cheers, a

Steven LaForest 12.25.11 at 12:18 pm

Ben is very well educated on the musical tech side of audiophile cd players as well as cables. I have three cd players with his earlier mods that significantly improved sound quality and analogue sound, not found in many newer cd players. The first two players were the well respected Rotel RCD-955AX models, and third Phillips CD880. Investment in the power cable alone can significantly improve timbre and sound stage, and can completely improve on any cd players/amps/DAC converters, that have an IEC outlet, thanks again Ben!

Benjamin Zwickel, Owner Mojo Audio 12.26.11 at 6:54 am

Wow…a “blast from the past.” Steven was one of Mojo Audio’s earliest customers. At the time we were modifying/upgrading all sorts of gear but specializing in the digital side. Steven also owns some of my earliest cord and cable designs that use different conductors and plugs but the same grounding and shielding schema I described above. When you read how much customers are blown away by our older cord and cable designs it becomes clear how much more the grounding and shielding technology effects the sound than the conductors and plugs.

FYI, Mojo Audio hasn’t done upgrades on vintage equipment in years. Today we build DACs, upgrade computer based audio, and build external digital power supplies. Anthony actually heard one of our Mac Mini music servers and DACs at RMAF 2011. Hopefully Audiophilia will be featuring a review of our new PC based music servers that are being released early in 2012.

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