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.
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.
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]
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
Source: Manufacturer loan
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