Associated Equipment:
Analog
Front End
Digital Front End
Amplification
Loudspeakers
Cabling
 
Blue Marble Audio Cables

 

Michael Wright

December 2004

 

Outstanding cables from San Antonio

I have to confess to really enjoying doing cable reviews. I’m not just talking about cables from the manufacturers with the big advertising dollars, but from the guy who is just starting out and is trying to get his product to the vast audiophile marketplace. He wants to share his dreams and ideas, and if he’s lucky, make a little bit of money from it too …. Okay, make that a lot of money. You usually find more misses than hits, especially when it comes to cables, but every so often you come across one that really hits upon something. Maybe it’s a little something that the others missed, or maybe he was just a little bit smarter than everyone else was. Whatever the reason, some new cable companies really do come along with something important to add to our musical enjoyment. As it were, I was doing my homework, reading up on what different people in the audiophile community were talking about, to see if there was anything out there new to investigate.

I came across a couple of Audio Asylum inmates who were writing highly of some cables from a company called Blue Marble Audio located out of San Antonio, Texas. These guys sounded so convincing that I decided I would give this company a try. So I made a call to Blue Marble Audio and had a chance to speak with the honcho, Roger Tiller. Blue Marble is not only about cables, they also manufacture a speaker and are an audio dealership as well representing lines such as Manley, Arcam, Usher and Naim. When speaking with Roger, the first word that came to my mind was “meticulous.” Whether it’s talking about cables and their measurements, or the elaborate lacquering process he puts the speakers he builds through, or selecting connectors for his cables, he gives you the impression that he is very meticulous. Roger’s background is in the airline industry. No, not flying them, but keeping them in the air, which is probably why he’s so detail oriented. Roger tests his cables all the time, making sure that his customers are getting the best value for their dollar. The only time he considers making a change to one of his cables is if he can make an improvement in the quality of the product without increasing the price. In a couple of instances while working on this review he came up with improvements that potentially could even lower the cost of the cables. Roger is also a serious music lover who regularly frequents the local live music venues in San Antonio. Every time I speak with him, we exchange information on what we’ve been listening to that we think is hot.

The Blue Marble in the black jacket

All of the Blue Marble Audio (BMA) cables come in a black mesh jacket with a light blue label with the BMA logo. Signal direction arrows are in dark blue and red on a light blue label while the cable name is silver on a black label. The speaker cables and power cords are about the same thickness. BMA interconnects feel light compared with most interconnects I have had the pleasure of working with. They have enough stiffness to them to let you know there’s some serious work going on underneath the mesh jacket but they are not so stiff that you have to be wary of how far your electronics are from the rear wall on your equipment stand. The connectors on the speaker cables are solid, first-rate WBTs and the best Wattgate for the power cords. The connectors on the interconnect are also WBTs except these are the excellent Nextgen connectors. The Nextgens can be tightened on to the RCA connections of your components resulting in a very rigid and tight connection.

Roger is also a heavy believer in cryogenically treating his cables and connectors. From what I understand of the benefits of this process, when conducting an electric signal, treated wire and formed metallic parts will produce less micro-diode-effect noise, less impurity inclusion field disturbance and less 'slow field' transverse energy generation. The result is a cable that has a quieter noise floor and more revealing of subtle musical nuances. BMA does not have a bi-wired run of speaker cable but they do make custom jumpers that have a real nice WBT banana connector on them. Once you begin to tighten the connector, the banana fits snugly into the speaker connector. This felt like a real nice touch and made a nice, tight connection. BMA also cautions potential customers on the break-in period for their cables. As much as it would be nice to have cables that have already been broken in, please keep in mind that during break-in, the cables can sound great one day, and not so great the next. Just remember to give a sufficient amount of time, usually 100 hours, after which point, your cables should just be reaching the surface of what they can do for your stereo system.

The sound of cryogenically treated cables

I had on hand for this review, a 1 meter pair of BMA SS1 interconnect for use on the sources, a 2 meter pair of SS1 from preamp to amp, 2 BMA Blue Lightning power cords and a pair of BMA Blue Signal speaker cables. I listened to the cables individually and as a system. I felt I got the measure of this cable as I listened to it on a wide range of equipment and in a couple of different systems. I can easily say that the Blue Marble Audio cables are some of the better cables available, at up to double their cost. I let the cables break-in for a week before I began to do any serious listening. The first attribute that I noticed was how music came from a quieter, darker background that actually seemed to let me hear more of what’s coming out of my system. So much, in fact, that I thought the highs were a little rolled off at first. A check of my listening notes told me that I had written down how extended and detailed the highs were. Once I read on the BMA website about the effects of cryogenically treated cables on the audio system, I had my answer. No high frequency roll off here, just a quieter background. The next point of interest that stands out about the BMA cable is the midrange. This cable renders a better midrange performance than most of its competition. I could really hear the music coming from a darker, quieter background, which made the midrange so easy to hear. I’m not saying that this cable has a midrange emphasis because it doesn’t. It’s coherent from top to bottom. The bass performance of the cable, while it did not stand out, was still very satisfying. Playing my bass performance references gave me good extension and slam but did not draw attention to itself.

Getting into my quick notes on how the cables performed with some of my favorite recordings began with the Dan Cray Trio disc, No One, the synergy that this group shares is easily discernible with the BMA, especially in its midrange performance. On Mark O’Connor’s, In Full Swing, both Wynton Marsalis’ horn and Mark O’Connor’s violin are extended with all of the air surrounding the instruments. Fourplay’s CD, Journey, has a lot of Nathan East’s bass playing that comes through with trademark tuneful smoothness. From his album Rossiter Road, Ahmad Jamal’s piano on “Yellow Fellow,” has his trademark attack and verve on the keys and all of the transient response this album is known for. For imaging, I like former Police drummer Stewart Copeland’s, Rumble Fish Soundtrack. It has some really cool sound effects between tracks. In particular is the sound effect of a horse, galloping across the soundstage and back was compelling.

Vocals were rendered quite nicely as well. Jane Monheit’s range and phrasing, on her CD In the Sun, particularly on the tracks “Once I Walked in the Sun” and “It Never Entered My Mind”, are easily discernable and felt. The same can be said of Dennis Rowland’s, “Don’t Misunderstand”, from his Rhyme, Reason and Rhythm CD. On the album Arnold Overtures, performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra led by David Nolan, you hear all of the hall sounds, air, and instrumental decay that you would come to expect from a Reference Recordings pressing. On the opening track, “A Sussex Overture,” I noted the strings and brass sounded more realistic than what I had remembered when I last listened to this track. The cables never got in the way of the music and I could clearly hear all the details and spatial information that I knew should be there.

Final Thoughts

The Blue Marble Audio cables have been a wonderful find. They compete favorably with the likes of the Nordost SPM, the Virtual Dynamic Nite and Cardas Golden Reference and only cost half as much. All of these cables have their various strengths and weaknesses but the Blue Marble really excels in the mids where most of what we hold dear and true can be heard. The Blue Marble Audio cables more than holds its own with the competition and in many respects surpasses them when it comes to looking at the quality of the product and its performance with music. These cables were just as comfortable with wonderful-sounding big bucks amps like the Conrad Johnson Premier 350 and BAT VK-1000 as they were with the more affordable Red Planet Audio STR-201 and the Soaring Audio SLC-A300. If you haven’t yet heard these cables, do your self a favor and seek them out. This is definitely a product that deserves more attention and a thorough listen. Highly recommended.

                          ________________


Specifications:
Blue Marble Speaker
2.5 M PR. $695.00
With WBT Copper Spades
2.5 M PR. $550.00
With High Quality BFA Bananas
+/- .5 M $60.00

Jumpers
4 (7 in. length) $80
with WBT 0644 bananas $160

Blue Marble Interconnects
SS1 (Solid Silver)
1.0 M $625.00
+/- .5 M $90.00
With Silver Nextgen RCA

SC1 (Silver/Copper)
1.0 M $250.00
+/- .5 M $25.00
With Copper Nextgen RCA
Blue Lightning Power Cord 1.5 M 385.00
2.0 M 425.00
+/ .5 M 40.00

Blue Marble Audio
Phone 210-543-1861
www.bluemarbleaudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villetri

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luminous Audio

Blue Marble Audio Cables