Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi Formula, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Questyle QP1R, Soundaware D100 Pro Deluxe, LessLoss Laminar Streamer and Echo's End [on review], Matrix Audio Sabre X Pro DSD [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1, Wyred4Sound STP-SE II
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics UP SE NC500MB; Linnenberg Allegro [on loan], Goldmund Telos 590NextGen [on review]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence, Audio Physic Avanti [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15m open floor plan with two-storey gabled ceiling, wood-sleeved steel trusses and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail: $735/2m power cord; $850 RCA/1m/pr, $950 XLR/1m/pr, $1'285 speaker/1.5m/pr

Computer simulation

C-MARC™. This Common Mode Auto-Rejecting Cable represents LessLoss' latest thinking on low-noise signal conductors. It's "based on the 1930s' bucking-coil method using two counter-polarized coils. Every strand's clockwise turn aligns with a corresponding counter turn mirrored exactly in diameter and step. Now two counter-polarized coils superimpose mutually. A second-scale fractal replication of the already bucking coils then repeats. Through electrical cancellation of the induced noise, this provides an enormous S/N ratio in today's demanding environment." Head man Louis Motek is so convinced of C-MARC's superiority, it—meteor strike—replaces their previous skin-filtering cables. C-MARC's core conductor is a thin 0.125mm Ø Litz wire. So each hair strand of the final assembly coats in its own dielectric. There's no electrical contact with any other strand except at the terminations on either end. No jaywalking electrons here.

"The degree of silence of the final solution is in direct proportion to the degree of superposition of the counter-polarized twists as well as in the degree of their mirrored equality in terms of turn radius, step and resistance. In the best of worlds, both opposite 'polarities' of a single lead of our wire will induce the exact same noise and a perfect summation to zero will result at both ends of the line. Because the individual enamelled wires are so small in diameter, this further enlarges the ratio between total surface area and total cross section for even better phase relationship along the entire spectrum. Our build enhances flexibility and ease of bending on any axis especially for large cross-section cables, without unnecessarily enlarging the entire cable assembly. The strands are covered with thinnest technically possible colourless enamel and solderable once tinned in a soldering pot. There is no plastic throughout. Instead our cables are insulated with tightly braided 100% natural, gassed and macerated cotton fiber with double coverage for added protection. This results in a very lightweight, highly flexible, naturally sounding product with today's best performance characteristics for delicate audio applications."

To construct the C-MARC in one single process would require "44 braiding machines with 540 synchronously wound bobbins for which the pre-winding process alone would require even more machines at a cost of $35'000/ea. The specialized winding machines would cost a similar amount." An intermediate incarnation of the final product had these eight layers before things built up even more. The innermost core was a white cotton fill of 2x12 strands surrounded by 12x16 strands of copper followed by 2x19 strands of black cotton. The 4th layer was a 12x16 strand copper weave followed by a 3x16 black cotton sleeve surrounded by another one like it. The 7th layer was a mix of 12x6 copper and 3x18 cotton strands. The outer sleeve was woven of 5x24 cotton strands. Total strand count? 798. The thick and thin of it? Geometry, not unobtainium conductors of imaginary purity. In fact, no claims are made for this copper. Also, the C-MARC wiring comes in bulk and its makeup lends itself to coaxial (2x2.3mm²) and triaxial(2x2.3mm² + 1x0.8mm²) apps. For pre-terminated cables ready to use, LessLoss build it for low- and high-level signal plus AC power. This one-for-all recipe nets us RCA/XLR interconnects, speaker cables and power cords. So I was offered to review a front-to-back loom for the full silencing effect. For a silencing of another sort—the snake-oil guff in the cable sector, about Chinese bulk cable dressed up and rebranded at outrageous markups*—Louis happily reveals what goes into his cable, exactly. Clearly this is no rebranded Neotech gussied up with chromed metal dampers and splitters plus high-mass connectors. Given its complex construction, LessLoss aren't worried about reverse engineers. "Knock yourself out" is their casual shoulder shrug. How refreshing.

So is the commitment to keep pricing fair. Though coin is always relative, considering this build's complexity even cynics should find that one's hifi dollar meets real substance. This includes a 3-day cryogenic treatment in an offsite facility. Just thinking on how LessLoss avoid breaking their ultra-thin conductors during the mechanized braiding process makes my head spin. Actually, chatting with Louis over the phone about it, I learnt that, after x number of trial runs to learn how to adjust the tension and speed of the German machinery of his supplier, breakage has been zero. In the unlikely event that it were to happen, the equipment stops itself. The supplier would mark the spot and LessLoss would discard that section in production.

* I learnt from one manufacturer how by committing to 10km, they procured Chinese bulk cable at €1/m to their precise specs. This represented a €10'000 investment plus the necessity to store numerous very big drums of bulk wire. What do you reckon these cables retail for? €3'000/1m for a pair of terminated interconnects. With C-MARC, such gauging is precisely what a buyer doesn't support. It doesn't mean that the LessLoss cable is cheap, only that its build cost to sell price ratio isn't extortionist.