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Feedback ISSUE 76
mg audio design
as reviewed by Pete Davey
Cable reviews are always fun. They can be challenging, too as you're really trying to focus on the nuances and draw a positive experience. Sometimes that just doesn't happen with cables, and unfortunately those don't get much press in PFO as we try to focus on the positive aspect of high-end gear. Several sets have made it my way and very few past muster to be written about. Well, the Planus cables have deserved their right to enter the realm of high end and wow, what a home run.
Many of you may know my propensity for ribbon drivers, I've still yet to depart with my 1ohm Apogee Scintillas, as it's just been impossible to replace them with someone that sounds sonically similar without breaking the bank. The downside, of course, is that my choice of amplification gear is quite limited. A fact I've learned to live with. Many amps that claim to be able to handle the load have been swiftly sent back with failed results.
Anyway, this review isn't about my speakers or the associated esoteric gear required to run them, as much as I'd like it to be, but this is about the Planus line of cables. What intrigued me immediately when I ran into these cables at my friend's room (Angel City Audio/Hugh Nguyen) at the recent Newport audio show was that they were humongous, and paper-thin. I just had to try them—mainly because I had a strong feeling they'd be a match made in heaven with my ribbon speakers.
I'm not saying they require a ribbon speaker—not at all, but if you desire lightening fast sonics, resolution, and the least amount of coloring, these may be the cable you're looking for. Now, of course, with anything great comes some sacrifice—i.e. they aren't shielded—so you'll have to ensure you have a system that doesn't exhibit noise. That sounds a bit vague, I realize, and I am in no way saying that my system is optimized for low noise and I have no issues with these cables. I live in a town home with shared mains, AC running constantly, big solid-state amplifiers, tube preamplifiers, computers/servers galore and I've yet to hear anything picked up by these cables and put through my speakers. Whisper quiet.
How does the music sound? Well, to try and articulate it into words is the most difficult part, as most of the time I'm kicking back in my chair in awe, filled with emotion. It's always afterwards where you go, damn… that was an amazing ride. It's almost akin to taking pictures while on a trip, nothing is like actually being there.
This is why I try to write while listening to music using said equipment. Right at this very moment, I'm listening to Ben Frosts latest Aurora on vinyl. This music is considered abstract, experimental, and sometimes just noise. It's very musical though, just complex—like a nice cup of coffee or a craft beer. Anyway, what I'm hearing is mind blowing, somehow these cables have figured out how to extract even more detail than what I previously heard. The timing is better, the timbre is right.. the nuances are heightened.
I've just put another album on—Mono & World's End Girlfriend – Palmless Prayer/ MassMurder Refrain (phew). Mono is an amazing all Japanese rock group known for their emotional ballads. I've seen them live a few times and it's captivating, like watching the saddest Japanese film where the climax comes in and everyone dies and the plot is explained and you're left in the end with nothing left. Great stuff! This album in particular is filled with strings (cello) and guitars. It wasn't an easy one to track down on vinyl but I enjoy using it as a reference when trying out new devices / peripherals as I always seem to notice something different. Well, here, using the full suite of ribbon cables it did it again—it took it from a 10 out of 10 to a 11 out of 10. It's a match made in heaven.
I'm not saying you need ribbon speakers to fully enjoy these cables—these are the cables you want to use if you're really into transparency and accuracy. With great design comes some compromise, you need to ensure your system is already dialed in as far as possible to eliminate any outside interference as these are not shielded cables, by design. I believe cable shielding is a necessary evil but if you can at all get away from it, there are things you'll notice about your music that you never knew existed before. Pete Davey
MG Audio Designs