LESSLOSS C-MARC CABLES REVIEW


So, what really is the driving force behind Louis Motek's decision to redirect LessLoss into the realm of even more affordable pricing? Robin Hood empathy? If you recall some of my past writing connected with LessLoss, at one point Louis declared that LessLoss had a decided interest in more affordable, widely reachable products. LessLoss C-MARC cables definitely fall in line with this new direction of LessLoss.

Over the years, it has been made clear that Louis is an adventurous explorer of new approaches, a developer of new technologies, and most importantly, he's a never tiring out-of-the-box thinker.

Is the perfection of high-performance audio cables a figment of one's imagination or a task worthy of the application of technical theory? 

It is refreshing in this small industry that Louis always provides an explanation of his creations through various publications and essays. For LessLoss it was never about following the brand's established solutions blindly, but publishing what is known and taking none of it for granted, continuing R&D even while established solutions were extremely good. This is without doubt one of the factors, along with unquestionably potent sonic performance, that captured the minds and interest of many audiophiles and music lovers.

I was among the first, if not the first, who received the new C-MARC cable loom and was granted full liberty to use them over an extended period of time. These days many reviews are written in the shortest possible time in order to maximize the quantity of published material and review turnover. As C-MARC represents something very different and new, I wanted to give them a wide range of performance applications through the connection in very different and numerous setups.

Over the course of several months, after countless listening hours and multiple setup insertions, I'm now more than comfortable, to sum up my conclusions and, yes, they are very inspiring performers to say the very least.

MEET THE C-MARC CABLES


From the LessLoss website:
"C-MARC™ is a new type of Litz wire. C-MARC’s noise reduction is based on the bucking coil method using two counter-polarized coils. Every strand's clock-wise turn aligns with a corresponding counter-clockwise turn of exactly mirrored diameter and step. The two resulting counter-polarized coils are mutually superposed. A second-scale fractal replication of the already bucking coils is then repeated. Through electrical cancellation of the induced noise, C-MARC™ provides an enormous signal-to-noise ratio in today's demanding environment."

NEW DNA?


There are several features within the C-MARC cables which are not immediately obvious. Let us first look into the name itself. C-MARC™ stands for Common-mode Auto-rejecting Cable.

C-MARC's design draws inspiration from the bucking coil method of noise reduction. This will ring a bell to electrical guitarists with some historical knowledge of their instrument's heritage. Back in the early 30's of the previous century, this principle was used in twin coil pickup designs to fight the annoying hum which interfered with the amplified guitar sound.

With this approach, the noise was largely removed from the guitar signal with the help of phase cancellation of two counter-polarized inductors. When the common signal is induced, it is induced largely equally, but in opposite polarities, by each coil. These opposite polarities then mutually cancel when the two counter-polarized noise currents are combined through simple electrical summation.

So-called hum-bucking coils are also used in some microphone designs as well as in sensitive sensor technology where induced stray noise is not acceptable and the highest signal to noise ratio is desired.

The photo on left speaks for itself about the complexity of the C-MARC cables. Just check out the multiple strands. It's quite mind boggling, as RCA interconnect uses a grand total of 760 strands of different types, all of the known polarity and perfectly balanced in design.

Some of the best exotic/esoteric interconnects I've tried were either insulated with cotton or silk, and the LessLoss C-MARC follows this line of thinking, using no plastic. The C-MARC wire and cables are insulated with tightly braided 100% natural, gassed and macerated cotton fiber.

This not only ensures a highly pliable product but, more importantly, it brings forth a stress-less and natural feeling to the sonic performance. Plastics are known for their sonic smear. Natural cotton does not exhibit this trait.

BURN IN TIME


Important to mention is the phenomena of “burn-in”. Why? I've encountered on many occasions how people, including end customers, dealers and even distributors, fail to practice patience. This is not only connected with cables but also intimately with the electronics. As controversial as it may be, it is true that new products need a looooong time to burn in. This period is not exactly short. It can easily exceed 600-800, even 1200 hours. Simple lack of patience explains why so many audiophiles and music lovers are not happy with their newly acquired products. They make their decisions before the new gear has reached maturity. In my experience, the LessLoss C-MARC cables started to take their first major performance shift after 150 hours but arrived at a stable performance at over 700 hours. And yes, this means the time actual music and not sine wave or pink noise were being played. Another often overlooked and important fact is the unchanged position of the cables. Once they are installed and ready for prolonged evaluation, do not bend, move or replace them. In all truthfulness, only this will allow the cable to achieve maximum performance and you'll be able to make an informed decision as to the monetary investment vs. performance.

MUSIC


Throughout my several months with the C-MARC cables, it goes without saying that countless albums and tracks were used in my critical evaluation. Below you'll find just a few examples of music that really revealed to me how uniquely potent the performance of the LessLoss C-MARC cables really is. This list could easily be expanded upon. 

Shelby Lynee - Just A Little Lovin'

This is one of the great examples of a superbly recorded album. For certain, this album can be labeled with an “audiophile quality” sticker. Beside great sound, the music itself can draw you in from the first to the last song without letting you go. Shelby Lynee talks music!

Just A Little Lovin' offers a true stand out projection of the sound and musical core. Although the instruments each occupy their own vivid place in the aural space, there is a certain invisible emotional trait washing through the complete album, shared by all participants. The opening track marvelously renders the distinctive three-dimensional space for the instruments. The first minute of Just A Little Lovin' will instantly reveal how much potency the cables are able to carry. Not only with regard to sonics but also to emotional transfer.

My approach began with the power cords. I introduced these to my Lamm 1.2 Reference amplifiers. The LessLoss C-MARC power cords managed to convey what I will call a specific rawness that is often lost at the very power source of a high-end audio chain. This raw electrical power is needed in order to form an authoritative foundation where the complete frequency range reveals equal perceived sonic energy distribution. As esoteric as this might sound, (nobody can measure these things), this is the corner stone for every seriously sounding system with an aim to conduct both analytical and subtle emotional messages to the listener.

The story continues with interconnects and speaker cables. The biggest problem with audio cables comes in the form of "over-masking" the original message. One of the red alerts triggering me is always connected with the relationship between the bass guitar (double bass) and bass drum. Those frequencies can cross fire and even from a production and mastering point of view it is not easy to present them in a vivid and clarified way.



Likewise, the high-end audio playback system is challenged with the task of reproducing them properly.

Just A Little Lovin' openly exposes Shelby Lynee in a way that calls for a cable's absolute transparency, and this is where the C-MARC takes no prisoners. I really experienced a sobering moment as the transparency provided by C-MARC came from a completely another universe than expected. This type of resolution and depth is usually reserved only for the upper echelon players, yet the LessLoss C-MARC cables provide a seemingly impossible insight into this esoteric world, a world that is by default inaccessible at this price point (you can easily add a 3x factor and still have a difficult shootout).

The focus and vivid rendering of the instruments embody the best attributes of musicianship with exceptional abilities regarding sonic projection. Thus one is really engaged because the interactive path between the performer and listener are bridged so well. At the end of the day, this is where the so-called magic resides. Not in a particular clinical dissection of the sound into constituent parts, but in potently rendering the message, that can evoke notions of the original aura of the music. If cables act in any other way off this course, what is the point really? We have enough EQ-ing paraphernalia in our high-end equipment assortment already.

Usually, even top tier cables struggle to bring a clear and undisrupted view of something as simple as the correct layering of the drums and bass guitar, not to mention the transfer of the essential, inner core of the music itself.

LessLoss' C-MARC cables do not pretend to add or subtract anything to the sonic reality. The focal point is music, and anyone who knows Louis will understand how his raison d'être is music and music alone. As complex his ideas sometimes seem, or as out-of-the-box his forays into uncharted territory appear to be, everything boils down directly to the love for the music, and meets its just there and only there.

It's the end results that matter and these products speak for themselves. No matter how enlightened some high-end audio designers want to appear, at the end of the day, we're always dealing with the objectification of their ideas and the actual performance of their equipment. Any high-end audio product is, in fact, the real physical sum of all known and unknown ideas, all of which finally join to result in the way the sound is actually conveyed.

The LessLoss C-MARC cables, in this particular case with Just A Little Lovin', embrace the album for what it is. Presented is beautifully recorded music with a non-masked, direct emotional impact. At the end of the day, what else would one want if we're talking about the purest form and sense?

Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

This is my favorite album when it comes to directness, pureness, and emotionality. If you want to combine the golden Trinity of tone, color and timbre with direct exposure to the grand sensual realm, "Soul Lament" is spot on. The emotionally triggering capability of this song cuts through the typical skin-deep performance and can project an impressive level of listening interaction when the system is set properly and when the cables are designed in such way, that such path can be established.

With the C-MARC cables introduced, it was as if thickening layers of hindering paraphernalia were removed. An unexpected and most welcome lightness of notes floating and inducing overtones suddenly made more sense on a grander scheme of realism and drama. Soul Lament carries such an energetic, encapsulated ability to establish out of the ordinary interactions by itself, that if an unaltered connection is not established, something will seem wrong at a constitutional level. And "constitutional" is a word that describes the primary qualities of C-MARC cables. Their no-nonsense approach revealed what Kenny Burrell had to "say". It's all about the message with The Mule and Soul Lament and these C-MARC cables managed to deliver the essence and invaluable message of this music.

Especially with Midnight Blue, where the musical energy is extremely dense, the C-MARC cables reacted within the true high-end realm with no unwanted fluttering or mash-up of chaotic dissection of the overtones.

It was not about the condensation, précis or the résumé, but all about the musical epitome.

Herbert Von Karajan - Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4

It's always debatable who's the best conductor for any classical composition. Even among high-enders, the topic is too hot for most...

Anyhow. Herbert Von Karajan - Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4 is all about completeness. With classical music, there is a lot more going on than a just grand transfer of energy. Anyone who frequents live concert can easily recall the multitude of different factors at work.

With reproduction of classical music, we're dealing with subtleties of both micro and macro magnitudes.

As much as the modern trend setters in high-end audio wants to dissect and parcel the sound, it's evident especially with a live orchestra how sound is a unified whole. It travels towards the audience as a giant cloud, which harmonically entails all the differing instrumental/individual entities. Yes, the solo violin will always have its own positioning in time and space, but the moment it's joined by the orchestra it becomes an integral part of the orchestra.

The very first dramatic moments of the Tchaikovsky symphony, with that glistening brass fanfare, quickly reveal the high class performance of these cables.

The C-MARC cables, without artificial texturing, manage to really let loose the sound with impressive speed and power, thus forming that unmistakeable "wall of sound" brass ensemble power, usually achievable only from cable sets costing in the five digit range.

Instead of an embossed laser-like etching of every single ornament, the LessLoss C-MARC cables portray the orchestra in a naturally informative, I want to say refreshing, way.

When the first movement expands and grows, developing Tchaikovsky's unmistakable emotional impact, the previously mentioned "cloud" effect comes even more into focus, revealing all the individual instruments and human intention behind them, constituting the rich ensemble “cloud”. Like a dark cloud no longer able to hold any more moisture, a thunder storm is inevitable when the massiveness of the ensemble's tutti pours through these high gauge audio veins. It really is an emotionally moving experience.

In the third movement, I noted the C-MARC cables' excellent revealing of the minute intricacies of ensemble pizzicato, something only an extremely fast cable can do.

But, the real challenge with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 is yet to come. When in the fourth movement Tchaikovsky calls for con fuoco (with fire!), everything can easily fall apart. If the system's balance and especially the cables are not spot on, the giant harmonious cloud at once starts to dissipate instead of maintain a form larger than its constituent parts.

C-MARC's liquid-like nature conveys the orchestra in a natural way without stepping into the realm of artificial diffraction and dissection. What really left a most lasting impression to me was the way that C-MARC was capable of materializing the orchestra with palpable gestalt. That impression is hard to forget.

CONCLUSION


LessLoss C-MARC cables clearly expand upon the already established LessLoss performance niveau. C-MARC explores the musical universe with even more subtleness and believability than before.

C-MARC digs deeper into the constitutional, quark-like particles, that are of defining factor in realistically reconstructing music from both an acoustic and emotional standpoint.

In the era where full transparency is objectively nearly materialized, C-MARC turns a new, grand page in the LessLoss book of bold audio adventure.

The progress made with the new C-MARC technology is a leap forward of such significance, that I'm more than sure easily convinced Louis to completely overhaul the entire LessLoss cable line.

Several people wrote me from my initial postings about C-MARC with similar conclusions to mine and we all agreed: C-MARC is more than just worthy of its price. We're living in an era where new stratospheric priced cables appear constantly, and in this context, it's not only refreshing but highly inspiring to witness such grand performance at such reasonable pricing.

Once again Louis Motek strikes with his bold and complex Thor hammer. Nothing is really simple within Louis' universe, but the end result matters most. Mr. Motek manages to convey his complex ideas into actual working and materialized products, rather than confining his ideas to theoretical fantasies and speculation. And this is the biggest challenge. Year by year I come across people in our high-end audio niche industry, that reveals to me tons of ideas or send prototypes of their supposedly great new products. Yet, at the end of the day, most of these explorations never see finalization and are either dropped or linger within a labyrinth of endless permutations and corrections before being dropped.

It takes strong focus and determination to bring anything to the state of completion. Louis' ardent mind luckily operates a bit differently and over the years we all have witness ed a wide array of LessLoss products that have shifted quite a few paradigms.

The new LessLoss C-MARC cables are no different. They encompass all the brand's core qualities but push the bar higher than ever, and actually cost less.

Many of you, no doubt, will want to know how the new C-MARC™ Wire and Cable compare to the DFPC, Anchorwave and Homage to Time? Here is the official LessLoss description:
"The tonal character of C-MARC™ is more liquid, fluid, and resolves more detail from any recording. As good as the DFPC, Anchorwave and Homage to Time are, they are still made of plastic (albeit very high quality plastic with excellent characteristics). Over and beyond the improvement in C-MARC™ that it is made entirely of cotton and a very thin layer of clear lacquer instead of plastic, the extremely well balanced counter-polarized coil technique lowers the noise even further than the methods employed in our legacy products, so the overall result is one of both lowered noise as well as one of purer tonal character. It is very easy to recognize these improvement straight from the start, even without burn-in."
I feel this description is spot on. 

C-MARC cables are also all very flexible and utterly easy to bend compared to all of the previous LessLoss cables. Their high flexibility and light weight make them much more easy to install.


It would be an understatement to call LessLoss C-MARC cables a refreshing, or even exemplary, stand-out product. In fact, they are both revolutionary and evolutionary regarding the mountains they traversed on their way forward in the performance realm as well as the accessibility they provide in terms of affordability.

For these reasons I wholeheartedly grant the LessLoss C-MARC Wire and Cable products both Mono and Stereo's Highly Recommended Product and Best Buy award.

As much as I love to explore exotic and esoteric product in the upper echelon stratosphere, I'm also highly inspired when given the chance to evaluate and discover such true gems as the C-MARC cables. They carry all the performance traits of non-usual and out-of-the-box rarities, but in the absence of the usual hefty price tag.

True, sound pressure waves can be described in readily measurable mathematical parcels such as frequency, distortion partials, phase relationships, level matching, etc. All of these have merit, but there is in our art more to it than the readily measurable. Evidently, we are dealing with fine parameters so minute that they affect us only upon an interpretation of something that we have a dear relationship with. What I appreciate within our niche industry is the sort of inclusion and acceptance of both measurable and directly considered aural aspects in absence of self-imposed idiosyncrasy. And this is a rarity. 

Power (sound) to the people and hats off to LessLoss!

Matej Isak

PRICE


C-MARC Power cord: 735 USD/2m
C-MARC RCA: 850 USD/1m pair
C-MARC Speaker Cable: 975 USD/1m pair
C-MARC Hook-up Wire: from 30 USD/1m

CONTACT


LessLoss Audio
P.D. 1231
46280 Kaunas
Lithaunia