By now, surely Louis Motek of LessLoss needs no special introduction. The same goes for his repertoire of unique products and thoughtful contemplation with regards to their design and implementation.
He’s proven over the years how his mind operates in a very unique way. With his venture he’s always going back to first principles to resolve basic and primary issues with the loupe of a unique master.
LessLoss cables were always special contenders in the world of high-end audio. Even without going into the understanding of what goes into their production, a few first notes resounding would always bring a vivid projection of what makes them special and different.
This recognisable DNA trait has spread over the years across all the product ranges. Especially with cables their potent signature is especially evident.
Over the years Louis started to explore the idea of bringing the high end audio products at more affordable price. A lots of things happened in between and the global economic crises hit hard many if not most of the audiophiles.
Short of putting Louis on the pedestal of a saint :), yet his output has been great and the end user can really appreciate is his energy, and this includes an altruistic facet. A the end of the day we all have to pay our bills, but it does matter in what way our operations are run and Louis maintains a laudable balance.
LESSLOSS AT SMALL $ LOSS?!
Indeed! LessLoss has in recent years, step by step, introduced more and more affordable products while at the same time maintaining performance which matches and even rivals high-end audio cables and accessories at much higher prices.
Why? The market is slowly changing in character and seems to be polarising. By reaching out to more people one must either offer something truly special at down to earth pricing, or else reposition one’s prices into the “stratospheric ” realm of megabuck sticker prices and associated rare sales.
It is undeniable that Louis and his energetic team at LessLoss pushed hard in order to maintain and even surpass what has become renowned in the name of LessLoss performance, but at a much more affordable level. It is clear that everything Louis has learned over the years is economically infused into the Homage To Time interconnects. Developing this performance at this type of pricing can only be described as a welcome advance for us audiophiles.
FUNCTIONS OF SCIENCE AND ART
I myself have been actively engaged with the realm of high performance audio for several years now. The further I move towards what continues to seem is the unattainable goal of ‘perfect’ musical reproduction, the more I become intrigued and challenged. There is no simple one-size-fits-all answer or magical panacea for any given system. Great sound develops through many trials and well pondered decisions based on proper matching, and as one moves into the upper echelon things become even more sublime and complex.
It is hard to find universal conductors that will perform optimally in all systems. Nevertheless, there are some rare cases with audio cables where I find they can indeed carry a deep musical message across many different setups. Meet the Homage To Time intrinsic DNA.
In a very true sense, the LessLoss Homage To Time interconnects encapsulate the primary function of transmission of all that is ‘of a higher plane.’ In a physical sense, sound travel is merely an acoustic phenomenon: energy pushing and pulling air molecules. Our aural receptors and mind can detect and decipher data that reconstructs the illusion of acoustical space, positioning and myriad emotional cues based on the most subtle vibration of molecules.
Louis Motek has written about this sensitivity. From one of his informative and interesting essays, (published in its entirety here: link), he writes:
“The loudest sound you can withstand before sustaining temporary damage to your ears is about 123 dB SPL. You know, the sound from right behind a jet plane. In order to produce this amount of sound pressure, you may find it surprising to learn that the air molecules themselves get displaced all of 11 microns. That’s right. 10 TIMES LESS than your average human hair is thick.
Fast forward. It is now late at night. All in the house is quiet. You can’t sleep. Far, far away, outside, you can make out the chirping of a lonely cricket. It is very faint, yet you are sure that you hear it distinctly. This sound is caused by a vibration of air molecules which are displaced by only 11 picometers. This is about 1/20th the diameter of an average sized atom.
You can begin to appreciate that the human ear is a remarkably sensitive detector of vibrations. Your bare hearing already functions on a subatomic level of precision.”
Then he goes on to write about just how minute the electrical vibrations are with carry these tiny informative impulses along a cable:
“When the needle vibrates in the record groove, a microvibration of its tip causes a small current to form. How small? About 0.191 nW (nanowatts). A nanowatt is a thousand millionth of a watt. That’s 1/1000000000 of a watt. So 0.191 nW is only about a fifth of a nanowatt.
You can’t be serious! Nobody can ever hear that!
Of course not. That’s why your system first amplifies it. How many times? Well, let’s say your speakers play at a comfortable listening level when they are getting 12 Watts of power. That’s a typical real-world number for most speakers’ sensitivity. So we have to amplify the original signal which was 0.191 nW 63 BILLION times, in order to get 12 Watts of power that we can enjoy.
0.000000000191 x 63,000,000,000 = 12
Let’s say that these 12 watts generate a sound at 80 dB SPL at your listening chair. That’s where you’ve placed your ears last time you checked. When the sound wave of Diana Krall’s 500 Hz note finally hits your eardrum at 80 dB SPL, the actual molecules in the air are vibrating at only 0.15 micrometers maximum displacement. That’s only 0.00015 mm.”
When a high-end audio cable is able to traverse this sensitive signal well, this information is revealed in an objective and constructive way. When we consider just how tiny and sensitive the signal is, it is easier to appreciate the art of cable design and just how abstract it really is.
With a good cable, details in harmonic structure can be more easily recognised. At the point of conversion to acoustical vibration, the electrical vibrations materialise more believably and naturally into sound which is more recognisable. Thus, it becomes easier and more interesting to listen. Enjoyment of the experience is enhanced.
Higher harmonics are very informative with Homage to Time. They are well focussed and maintain a more natural integration with the main pitch. It becomes easier to discern subtleties relating not only to our western traditions of tuning, but also reveal the same about the complexities of eastern microtonality and harmony.
It is desirable of any high-end audio cable to maintain this focus. This is a big aspect when talking about performance. Not every cable has this subtlety that can evoke this almost ethereal, but undeniably believable attribute of sound.
The test setup
LessLoss Homage To Time were inserted between the source and the power amplifier to give it a proper auditioning. The setup included a state of the art Select DAC II and Robert Koda Takumi K-10 as preamplifier. Different power amplifiers were also used including the mighty Analog Domain M75 MK2.
I’ve been know as a cable fanatic and my passion for them has not dwindled over the years. In contrast to many audiophiles and even some reviewer colleagues, I stand firmly behind the statement that they can matter a lot.
Of course not every cable is a success story and in any system it always comes down to synergy and proper electrical and impedance matching.
Homage to Times delivers a prominent set of positive attributes and my listening notes show similar results even when exchanging amplifiers. These include liquidity, transparency, ease of flow, and a feeling of undeniable unwavering and stability.
MUSIC CAN SPEAK OF A SPECIFIC TIME
Intriguingly, the name Homage To Time reflects something that I brought up a while ago in different review. A High-End audio system should possess a capability to act as a sort of virtual time machine that can expose and convey to the listener the particular era of a given record. This is nothing magical or mystical. Just an ability to faithfully render a certain mood that was created in sound at the time that an album was recorded. This trait I so cherish is always connected to the unified language of complete system. If separate components within a high-end audio system are not up to the task of providing this level of transparency, through times past, then no cable will remedy the situation and generally audiophiles and music lovers will simply end in frustration and their conclusions and experience won’t appreciate the true potency of the cables.
Here are few of the musical references used over my extended listening period.
Madeleine Peyroux - Bare Bones
Not everyone may fall under the spell of Madeleine Peyroux’s music, but her moody, emotionally charged energy addresses a certain state of mind and hearth. It is also recorded well and many audiophiles consider it a favourite. The key do deciphering this album is emotional flow. The LessLoss Homage To Time provided an excellent conduit for this emotional flow and did not hold back.
Micheal Franks - Art Of Tea
Art Of Tea is a special gem in the large album history of Michael Franks. Pure musicianship synergy and jive is one of a kind with great musicians like Michael Brecker, Dave Sanborn, Joe Sample, etc. and mixed by no other then Al Schmitt. Art Of Tea was also released on Frank Sinatra's Reprise. But wait, thats not all: it was mastered by the one and only Doug Sax! If you can relate to this kind of music, this is really a special album.
When everything is set right, this album plays in a most balanced way where every instrument takes its own place. If something is wrong and especially if anything is wrong with the cabling, everything quickly collapses and looses focus. Mids and bass become smeared and lose impact. The foundation of kick drum and bass guitar simply become defunct and leave a lot to be desired.
Homage To Time conveyed this recording with impressive linearity without artificial components so often related with a cables’s own sonic signature. Sonic flow and an impartial neutrality went along well with the rest of the system’s potency. This is quite a compliment as they were paired with top of the range components.
Leonard Cohen - Songs Of Love And Hate
With Cohen its often very black and white from what I’ve witnessed over the years. Either you love him or you simply don’t connect with the man. For me, my appreciation and exposure go back to my youth and he’s still one of my favourite tambourine men.
Especially Avalanche and Famous Blue Raincoats can show what a system can deliver at once. These LessLoss cables instantly gelled with Cohen’s own signature poetic package that always carries a strong message directly at the listener on the other side of the interactive chain. These “emotional packages” were moving freely in raw form along my inner channels via the Homage To Time. Speed and spirit evolved over and above what one might be expecting at this price point, and gave the much bigger boys a good run for their money.
The Velvet Underground & Nico - Heroin
One can always double check the very foundation of simple tone overlay and harmonic structure with this classic that goes back to 1967. While piano is a complex wild animal to be tamed, making an electric guitar sing on every system is no simple affair either. I really love the simplicity and purity of Heroin. It stands out over time and still sound fresh after almost four decades.
Vladimir Horowitz Nur Komm, der Heiden heiland
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and arranged by Ferrucio Busoni, to great surprise, there is still a lot to extract from this legendary recording.
It is a nice contrast to a contemporary counterpart like Lu Yi - Piano Recital. Though these are quite different recordings, they both carry their own time card which reflects to the exact era, mood and performer’s ability to dive into the mind of iconic composers from the context of their own epoch.
The energy information of an epoch can be all too quickly lost “in translation” via playback using today’s high-end audio system reproduction tools. You may say our electrical environment is in a way competing with environments of the past.
Especially with live, acoustical music the importance of proper reinterpretation in today’s system is crucial in creating the desired tangible illusion. This is where all reverberation details not only recreate the sense of space and atmosphere, but also deepens the micro detailed information that portrays the smallest nuances of decay and delay. These two are primary aspects needed for reestablishment of believable data connected with resonance of materials and space of past events. This translates to believability of the wood that was used in the instruments, the clearly metallic core of the strings, etc. LessLoss Homage To Time managed to describe and convey mountains of these attributes that achieved with what I can boldly call proper high-end audio transmission. It is true that not everything expensive or labeled “high-end audio” is worthy of such nomenclature. Homage to Time truly is.
At upper level of high-end audio reproduction we are dealing with very deep and subtle details, things that might be hidden away to the casual listener with lesser equipment.
At the end of the day, with high performance cables, it’s not a matter of ego, but of objectiveness and true revelation of an intact highly sensitive signal. This brings me back to the beginning of my article. A lot of people who were hesitant about high-end audio cables in the past have moved over to the believer camp. For some it took few years, for some just a quick private listen, and for some a lifetime. What I’m trying to say is just this: don’t blind yourself with preconceptions regarding cables. Military, the medical industry, communications, space tech and satellite technologists are spending millions every year to push forward their cable technologies to the next level. We need to keep open minds and continue to develop our own performance level instead of protecting our prior art mindsets and keeping ourselves bound to old ideas. Nothing new ever came from strict adoration of past achievement. In the information age there can be no more excuse for not seeing the potential performance gains we could be having if we simply keep our eyes open and look at what is available. It doesn’t have to be related to the price tag.
Homage to Time cables follows faithfully a track that LessLoss has laid down securely in their earlier years. This is a difficult task. Maintaining their already recognised sonic potency and value in times where so many desire to get on the same bandwagon without delivering the goods, this defines and fortifies the LessLoss brand image in the high-end audio industry. This is not a small achievement! Bravo, LessLoss!
Any high end audio cable’s raison d'être is to bring the music across from component to component in the most unaltered way.
I do believe that industry and many audiophiles and music lovers have finally passed the bridge of skepticism where high-end audio cables were mostly deemed a type of expensive jewellery. Cables are like veins in the human body; they are crucial and fundamental to the whole organism. They can deliver an unseen force or constrict the needed flow.
Within very high end audio systems, the importance of proper cabling solutions become even more crucial. Here we’re dealing with the most subtle energy of all. The delicate nature of music. We cannot speak only in terms of measurable parameters here. There is that undeniable extra part that sets a mediocre cable apart from a cable of substance and this is where Louis Motek’s intuition and skill took a substantial leap forward yet again.
So, yes. The LessLoss Homage To Time interconnects were born of experience by a mature designer, come with the undeniable LessLoss DNA and, most importantly, with sonic performance that not only convinces, but convinces in strides.
Each year we are seeing more and more cabling solutions flooding the market. It’s not even easy to keep up with their names, much less consider practical testing. Often I’ve been asked to provide advise on cabling, system setup, synergy, etc. There is no ultimate answer when it comes to making a dedicated system truly perform at a heart-felt level, but one can always rely on safe and obviously potent performers. As proven over the years, LessLoss is continuing with their steady focus and release of new products that always draw attention with their logic and reliable performance that can be witnessed by both seasoned as well as brand new audiophiles.
For what the LessLoss Homage to Time XLR balanced interconnect achieves and at what price point it does this, I’m garlanding it with two awards at once. These cables more then deserve both our Highly Recommended and Best Buy awards. This is the first product Mono And Stereo has ever given both awards at once to, and in doing so we want to make a clear statement as to what high level they perform at and how well they’re executed. ♬
Text: Matej Isak
From $640 a pair
Kaunas, LT 46005
Phone: +370 698 48706