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Omega Mikro Line of Cables
When Thin is In - as Applied to Cable Design

 

October 2008



The Planar Truth (Theory)

Let me start by saying that I’ve always wanted to try the Clearview/Omega Mikro Line of cables in my system since I received my first mailing from Mapleshade Music. I first learned of Mapleshade on an Internet audio forum when some of my fellow audionuts had reviewed their tweaked Sony SCD-777ES CD players and referenced some of the Mapleshade recordings. I later purchased some of their excellent recordings and tweaks (Heavyhat vibe killer, Ionoclast ion generator, Optrix cd spray, and Mikro-smooth cd polish). Over the last seven years I continually received their mailings on a quarterly basis and finally decided to inquire about an audition of a digital cable audition from their high end line of cables known as Omega Mikro. My hesitation to audition/purchase came down to the question, “how could a single extremely thin wire or ribbon sound better than much more expensive competitor cables” as claimed in their mailings, when the top of the line cables from the most well known manufacturers is full of 8 gauge speaker cables, cable boxes, magnets, and massive python snake like power cords. I thought these guys were smoking something, especially when I researched their design concept further and found that as one moves up the product line, the cable ribbon thickness decreases to as thin as .3 thousands of an inch (.0003”), and the cable shield is an open weave insulated copper mesh. The thin cable conductor approach is said to reduce the commonly know “skin effect” which can affect a cable’s frequency response linearity/time response and the reduction of cable dielectric results in less smearing (clarity of sound). Compared to other cables I have used, the OM cables are not constructed of teflon insulation, tightly woven double metallic shields, and FeSi-1000 compounds.

From the website, “Omega Mikro and Clearview products are the result of a 17 year collaboration between Ron Bauman of inSound Inc. and Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade Recordings. Omega Mikro products have earned the reputation as the best products available for reproducing the sound of live music.” Product development and improvement originate with the attendance of live music recording sessions and performances. All cables are hand made and designed by careful listening tests while using the latest material science and electrical cable transmission theory.

Omega Mikro uses two metallurgical processes to enhance the sound of their cables: LCX (Lattice Crystal Alignment) and Wave Treatment (WT). The LCX process subjects the cable to extended immersion in a cryo chamber with each cable seeing a very precisely controlled temperature profile. Following the LCX treatment, each cable and interconnect is subjected to a series of high energy electromagnetic pulses followed by a high flux magnetic field treatment. The result is said to significantly smooth the sound while bringing out the finest musical details … and I thought a scotch and soda did the same thing. The website also claims that the “LCX treatment accelerates the break-in process so that treated products sound great right out of the box with only a small improvement over the first few hours of play.” Within the digital cable product description section I also discovered that Omega Mikro digital cables use jitter-reducing networks to eliminate signal reflections which produce time smear in digital playback. These are radical – I know of no other digital cable that uses this technology (or smoke and mirrors).

Cable Construction (inSound Website):

Ebony Digital Passive (EDP): The EDP uses .3 mil thick pure copper ribbon (LCX treated) which is not as wide as the ribbon used in the MEDA, proprietary brass RCA plug with silvered compression fittings and fine insulated copper mesh insulation. Only six jitter-reducing networks are integrated and the copper mesh is not biased as the MEDA.

Planar Analog I (AI) WT: The AI uses pure copper ribbon less than 0.0005” thick (WT treated), an insulator consisting of a sandwich of polymer that is less than 0.0006” thick, and a proprietary brass RCA plug with silvered compression fittings

Planar Speaker V Active (PSVA) LCX: The PSVA uses highly refined mono layer silvered- copper ribbon and open-weave copper wire mesh shield receiving an 18-volt bias voltage from a battery and network supply box for each channel.

The Planar Truth (Results)

My reviewing system includes the Nova Physics Memory Player transport, TacT Audio 2.2x Room Correction preamp with Mauimods full enchilada modification , TacT Audio Boz amplifier 216/2200 with Mauimods power supply, Escalante Design Pinyons monitors and a pair of Escalante Design Uinta subwoofers, Wireworld cables, Stealth Audio M7 analog interconnects from the 2.2x to the Uinta subs, Z-Sleeves on the digital cables, Shatki Holograph Room Enhancers, Rosinate cable lifts, and a custom built maple rack with Ed Soler stainless steel hardware. In my system, 80 Hz was chosen as the crossover point between the Pinyons and the pair of Uintas as controlled by the TacT 2.2x.

Per Ron Bauman’s recommendation, I started by installing the first digital cable, the EDP, between the TacT Audio 2.2x and the TacT Audio Boz amp. I have always found that changing the digital interconnect within a system can have a profound effect on the sound so I took Ron’s advice. Given that the EDP was 3.8x more expensive than my reference digital cable, the EDP would have to be better than my reference or I would be not be interested in proceeding with the review. Let me also state that my reference system as compared to analog amplifier based systems was less forgiving of complex digital recordings with high gain such as R.E.M's Automatic for the People (Warner Brothers, 945055-2). Following a short break-in/settling time after installing the single EDP, I was not prepared for the musical transformation this cable offered. For starters, layers of digital grunge that I thought was not there were removed without adding or subtracting from the original harmonic structure. I think this was a direct result of the jitter-reducing networks employed in the cable which are designed to eliminate signal reflections heard as noise. The overall system resolution was enhanced evenly across the frequency spectrum yet remaining neutral in presentation, revealing that my reference cable starved the signal transmission in some way. I also clearly heard deeper and tighter mid bass from my Escalante Pinyons, an area which previously been their main weakness. On a negative note: with the EDP installed, I heard AC dropouts (brief loss of signal) due to power surges from the switching on/off lights, ovens, etc. and if you’re not careful in handling this especially fragile cable damage could result, but given the improvement OM cables make, I am willing to live with these disadvantages.

I next installed the second EDP digital cable between the Memory Player and the TacT 2.2X. Again, like an onion, more layers of digital grunge were peeled back to expose a more pure and transparent playback. The second EDP also opened the soundstage width and depth beyond the sides of the Pinyons. With the music laid bare by both EDPs, I never had the sense that this interconnect added its own character, the music remaining neutral and relaxed in presentation. After careful listening, I found the transparency of the treble, midrange and bass extension to excel in openness and coherence that was never attained by any other digital cables I previously evaluated. My Uinta subwoofers also received the added benefit of a tighter and faster bass response resulting in better integration with the Pinyon monitors.

I was rewarded again with even purer and more coherent music after I installed the Planar Speaker V Active (PSVA) cables and the Planar Analog I interconnect between the TacT 2.2x and the Uintas. The combination of both the EDP digital interconnects and PSVA/AI cables had a way of giving life to the music, exposing its expressive nature on various cuts from the Lyle Lovett, Smile - Songs from the Movies (Curb/MCA). The essence of each instrument and performer(s) was captured and displayed in the most believable sense. A significant jump in resolution and space between instruments was also noted at the opening of the cut, “Blue Skies”. With the four 12” woofers on the Uintas and the four 6.5 woofers on the Pinyons moving the air within my listening room, my system delivered the most solid foundation in the lower/mid bass I have ever experienced. And yes these cables deliver the emotion factor and pinpoint imaging like no other.

Your Last Cables … Really

In the final analysis, my system completely fitted with Omega Mikro cables lead me to think my system components are far better than I previously believed, and have taken me to new heights of musical nirvana. If you like the sound of live music than you will like how OM cables will transform your system to that end. They are in my system to stay.

                                


Specifications:

Digital
Ebony Digital Active, single ended $2049 for one meter length

Analog
Planar Analog I (AI) WT $672 for one meter length

Speaker
Planar Speaker V Active (LCX) $2,271 for 8 feet length

Address:
inSound Inc.
3309 O Street NW
Washington DC 20007 U.S.A.
email: insound@insoundaudio.com

Phone: (202) 965-5320

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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