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Reviewer: Edgar Kramer
Source Digital: Sony XA-5ES as transport; Bel Canto Design DAC 2
Preamp/Integrated: Supratek Sauvignon with NOS RCA and Sylvania tubes
Amplifier: Pass Labs X 250.5; NuForce Reference 9 monoblocks
Speakers: Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy System 6
Cables: Cerious Technologies Interconnects [in for review]); Harmonic Technology Magic Digital; Cerious Technologies digital interconnect [in for review]; Harmonic Technology Magic and Truthlink Silver; DanA Digital Reference Silver; Eichmann eXpress 6 Series 2; Bocchino Audio Morning Glory interconnect cable [in for review]; PSC Audio Pristine R30 Ribbon [on loan]; Cerious Technologies analog interconnects [in for review]) and Harmonic Technology PRO-9+ loudspeaker cables; Cerious Technologies AC cords[in for review]); Harmonic Technology Fantasy AC; Shunyata Research Diamondback power cords, Eichmann eXpress AC power cable; PSC Gold Power MKII AC cable [on loan]
Stands: Lush 4-tier, partly sand filled
Powerline conditioning: PS Audio P-300 Power Plant (digital equipment only), dedicated 20 amp circuit
Sundry accessories: Bright Star Audio IsoRock Reference 3, Bright Star Audio IsoRock 4 isolation platforms and BSA IsoNode feet; Bocchino Audio Mecado isolation diodes; Black Diamond Racing cones; Stillpoints ERS paper in strategic positions around DAC, Shakti On Lines; Densen CD demagnetizer; Auric Illuminator CD Treatment; ASC Tube Traps
Room size: 16' w x 21' d x 10'/11' h [stepped ceiling] in short wall setup, opens to adjoining office room
Review component retail: AU$2,350/pr RCA or XLRt, includes world-wide freight

Mattina Gloria
Hot on the heels of my last cable review, I received an unsolicited parcel from the principal and designer of a prominent Australian loudspeaker manufacturing concern. On opening the mystery parcel, I found a smart foam-lined aluminium road case (which would nicely make for a useful camera or tool box). In it lay a pair of ICs artfully bent to fit the case. Top marks for presentation I thought just as the telephone rang. "Edgar, did you get it? You've got to hear this cable from Bocchino Audio. And check out those huge connectors, are they awesome or what?"

More cables? Just when I think I'm out, they drag me back in.

And so I bring to you the Morning Glory interconnect cable from Bocchino Audio, all the way from Noosa on the Sunshine Coast in the sunny State of Queensland. Beautiful one day, perfect the next, Noosa is a two-hour drive north from the capital city Brisbane, home to the state's annual Jazz Festival and gateway to spectacular fishing and scuba diving spots.

So, what's in this cable? Indeed, what's in any cable? Exotic designs aside, most cables are constructed of common elements that are key ingredients to almost every design. Various conductor geometries abound but the constants nevertheless are the conducting materials, copper or silver in multi strands or solid cores, enclosed within an insulating dielectric most commonly made of Teflon. Usually the Teflon-wrapped conductors are then sheathed within a shield braid made of aluminium, copper or silver and the whole affair is dressed in a visually acceptable outer sleeve. Finally, at both ends we find the interface that mates the interconnecting cable to the audio hardware. That crucial last yet often underestimated piece of the component is the connector.

Cable manufacturers design their products based on creative ideas and philosophies and according to sonic, economic and budgetary parameters. At Bocchino Audio, designer and principal Carmine Bocchino's philosophies are tied to one main and crucial element above all others: the connector which in RCA form he calls the Brenda and in XLR form the BAXLR. According to Carmine, his company is singular in that it manufactures its connectors from pure machined copper. Not brass, nickel or even rhodium, which he insists are the reason why so many potentially good cables -- especially silver designs -- sound bright and zingy.

Let me tell you straight: the Bocchino RCA and XLR connectors are the most extreme plugs in audio. No manufacturer goes to these lengths, not even close. Period. These connectors are absolutely massive, beautifully manufactured pieces of audio jewellery that ooze overbuilt quality. Even at this early stage of the review, I will frankly tell you that they are major sonic contributors. The cable itself is a thick fire hose based on silver rectangular solid-core conductors in a twisted pair configuration with a single solid core copper return. This in turn is floated in air insulation and then wrapped in multiple drains and shield braids.

La Favola di Bocchino
As Bocchino Audio does not provide measurements, I asked Carmine aka Nino to tell me a little more about his cable's construction:

"I've been designing connectors and binding posts and a whole assortment of audio tweaks for over 20 years yet it has only been since 1995 that I've paid attention to the interconnect cable. Being unhappy with soldered connections, I began to experiment with different compression designs, first with binding posts and then with RCAs and XLRs. I've concentrated mainly on pure copper and specifically an alloy called C11000, also known as High Conductivity Oxygen Free Copper (99.94%+Cu). Now this is a really awful alloy to machine. It is soft, gums up machining tools, rips and tears if not treated carefully and takes up a lot of CNC machine time to get right. However, the right way was found and these products have been manufactured in pure copper for over 8 years. There are some impossible curves and shafts in some of these designs but who said being a perfectionist was easy?

Now this brings me to the cable designs. The Brenda B2 and B3 are the main bare wire design RCAs. They utilise a compression design for both the signal wire and the return. No solder here! My reason for a bare wire, highly compressive grip is that this delivers a better sense of immediacy, with no solder transit zone for the signal. Both the BAXLR and RCA B2 and B3 utilise 2 x M4 grub screws per polarity to hold down the cable wire cores in their respective polar destinations. The B7 uses the same signal pin as the B2 and B3 but is solderable for the return.

Having studied many cable designs on the market and read Malcolm Hawksford's famous paper in the Essex Echo as well as Allen Wright's cable cookbook, I came to some conclusions of my own regarding how a cable should be constructed. Math aside, all cables built by Bocchino Audio up 'til Palm Friday 2004 were constructed by the book. On the morning of Palm Friday 2004, all that changed! Reversing a wiring design in a cycle of experimentation, an unusual topology showed itself. Its simplicity and sonic signature commanded attention. There is a math that explains it but the design could not have been arrived at other than by happenstance. Serendipity, some might say!

Immediately 5 designs became apparent, all with the same topology but with different arrangements of metals. The cheapest and dearest were discarded as not practical and the second of the five was given all the attention. This was dubbed the Morning Glory. Well, it was a truly glorious morning when I discovered this design so the name stuck."

The latest version in for review is visually more attractive than the original prototype. Nevertheless, the Morning Glory cable ain't gonna win no beauty contest. And it's damn stiff too. Bend it, hook it and you could hang your coat from it. A winter coat at that. Boa constrictor thick and strangely spongy as though shoulder padded, it makes water hose speaker cables look puny by comparison. Careful component placement becomes essential. No cramming your gear up against the wall behind the rack. The MGs are real estate hungry and demand lots of accommodating space. A Morning Glory buyer must allow between 200mm to 300mm of additional cable length to compensate for the cable stiffness. Further, to accommodate the massive RCA connectors, at least 19mm are needed between chassis sockets to allow the use of the ClawLock (locking barrel) mechanism. Lucky for some, the equally as well built and massive XLR connector does not present spacing issues.

"I call the return an earth bus, a common termination used in switchboard manufacture. This is because the return is a single, thick, solid, soft pure copper wire. It will handle over 100 amps and still run very cool. The signal wires are two twisted pairs of rectangular fine silver (99.994%+Ag). There are numerous drains and shields, air insulation and final seal and braid. Unlike many other thick cables that have lead wires from the bulky middle sausage to the connectors, the MGs weren't up to my sonic expectations when the 'sausage' was uniform from connector to connector."

Initially using the B3 connectors for the first series of Morning Glory cables, Carmine turned his attention to a revision of his flagship RCA, the B2 (The Ultimate) and redesigned it to accommodate the new cable topology. The B2 is machined from pure copper billet and then finished with silver electroplate. The B2 has a weighty, solid feel. When you hold it, you know.

The Bocchino connector designs are diametrically opposed to the other well-known Australian connector manufacturer, Eichmann Technologies. Where the Eichmann products are minimalist composite plastic designs based on the principal of less is more, the Bocchinos are complex and massively over-engineered.

Like Eichmann, Cardas, Audio Note and others, Bocchino Audio also offers its connectors to other high-end cable manufacturers. Argento Audio, Prana Wire, Cawsey Audio, Twisted Pair Design and Virtual Dynamics, to name a few, use Bocchino connectors for their top line offerings. Nino also proudly disclosed that the proprietor of a highly regarded, high profile international cable company prefers the BAXLR, B7 and B2 connectors to his own and uses them in his cables at home. You've got us all thinking now, Nino!

Canta Canzone
Over the years, I've tried numerous silver and hybrid silver/copper cables. Unfortunately, myth and stereotype perpetuation unintended, I have always experienced varying degrees of brightness or at worst, shrillness when using these types of designs (the Luminous Synchestra Reference an exception) irrespective of silver purity. Not so with the Bocchino cables. This silver and copper concoction has none of the excessive upper octave sheen I have previously encountered and indeed strived to be rid of.

In fact, this design's strength is its beautifully sweet midrange, which has a solid, palpable body and accurate timbre. The human voice is something we are familiar with on a primeval level. The MGs do vocals molto bene. On Patty Larkin's Re-Grooving the Dream [Vanguard 79552, 2000], Patty's huskiness yet subtle vocal delicacy is faithfully reproduced with the MGs in situ. On "Mink Coats", her throaty vocal tone is fully believable rather than a lesser mirage as she almost becomes a physical entity in the room. The track "When" is an all-out percussion assault on the listener's thorax. The MG wallops as hard as the best of them, the drumming punching through and testing the mettle of the woofers on the Puppy only to later cleanly delineate Patty's vocals within the drummer's mayhem whilst maintaining her correct perspective within the mix.

Coincidentally, it was only two nights prior to my writing this passage that my wife and I attended a performance of Beethoven's Symphony 9 Choral, Ode to Joy. Maestro Gianluigi Gelmetti skilfully brought his interpretive insight to this masterpiece with a little help from our world-class Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. The performance left us breathless by its power and spiritual beauty. The MG's vocal reproduction evoked the still fresh memory of that performance in a way that only an accurate component can.

The violin and piano are ideal vehicles for the demonstration of the midrange body and solidity these cables can produce. Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto as performed by Martha Argerich [Philips 446 673 2, 1995] sounded rich with her piano's harmonic content and once again the sense of substantiality and body is the best descriptive for the instrument as presented with the Bocchinos. Likewise the massed violins were spot on, without a trace of hardness and with a touching beauty and sweetness that may confirm Nino's claim regarding the inherent brightness of lesser connectors. Soundstage size was massive laterally and in depth. This brought the requisite impression of scale, ambience and three-dimensionality.

Bruce Cockburn's voice has a distinctive growling depth that somehow retains a smoothness and beauty of tone. On "Strange Waters" from The Charity of Night [Rykodisc D31713, 1997] the Bocchinos present his voice with that superb tone I am used to and as the music's crescendo swells, the slowly emerging background drumming became increasingly and gut-wrenchingly robust. Only when the low bass notes kick in are the MGs slightly subdued, showing with a marginally decreased sense of depth and power. The bottom-most octave is not as fleshed out as the midrange. And I mean the very lowest bass frequencies. At that amphibian depth, the MGs are detailed and punchy but less full and overt. To illustrate my point, where some cables shake the walls to the point that certain objects within my room resonate in union with the music, the Bocchinos rattle it almost as powerfully but without the dancing ornamental concert.

Of course these observations on the very lowest bass notes should be taken in the context of gradations in cable differences. Translation? I am talking subtleties. The London Philharmonic Orchestra's Sibelius Violin Concerto [Deutsche Grammophon 457 294 2, 1975] under the baton of maestro Barenboim and the bow of Pinchas Zuckerman is one of my favorite classical works. The Bocchinos once again mesmerized me with their tonal and timbral beauty. This truth of tone I describe also makes for a mouth-watering portrayal of string instruments, in this case in the "Allegro ma non tanto". Zuckerman's violin is a wonderful mixture of rosin, gut and wood in three dimensions. It has presence and an unmistakable truth that floats the image in stark focus and palpability between the speakers. In fact, every instrument in the orchestra is reproduced life-like in tone within a massive soundstage that seemingly extends beyond the confines of the listening environment. The MG's smooth yet extended and airy high frequencies allow the venue's ambience to permeate the room. As the movement ends, the power of the orchestra is not diminished in any way as the timpani and string section rise to the occasion. With the MGs in place, this recording is truly to die for.

Production of the Morning Glory is a labor of blood, sweat and tears, reflecting the consistency of a lovingly handcrafted product that has individuality applied to each unit. With superlative connector quality and substantial cable construction, the Bocchino Morning Glory is a very impressive package priced at the high-end side of town. This cost can be justified by the superb sonic performance. Plus, those exquisite connectors ain't cheap to build. Particular strengths are the airy, extended high frequencies, full-bodied and sweet midrange and a bottom end that shines with punch, detail and power if not ultimate extension. They've been designed to compete with statement products from any of the world's famous manufacturers.

Not the spunkiest Sheila in town but accessorized to the hilt with the finest of audio jewellery, the Morning Glory is a valiant spokesperson for the statement to never judge a book by its cover! Put a smile on your dial, Nino. We've got another great Aussie product.

Manufacturer's website