In the creative universe of Louis Motek there is no standing still. The constant flow of new operations are always closely connected with the LessLoss venture. Just as you, I’m always curious to follow Louis’ newest work.
Recently Louis Motek has been focusing on ways to release products that offer the same exotic inner core, but at a much more affordable price. I don’t know all the reasoning behind it, but his long time followers and customers are surely more than happy about it. Who can argue with better performance at lower costs?
Louis is without a doubt a clever, skilful and mindful entrepreneur, always open to new technologies and concepts, often adopting out-of-the-proverbial-box ideas for new products. Importantly, all of his products are always backed up with technical theories, addressing technical questions audiophiles and music lovers are bound to want to ask. Over the years new products and theories were always linked to in-depth white papers or essays, letting the curious like-minded mind mingle with that of this prolific high-end audio designer’s. Less and less people are willing to accept any new product blindly. Especially in the information age, where everyone is becoming price and technology conscious.
I’ve really had a prolonged evaluation time, where I have freely explored the C-MARC power cables in more than a dozen top echelon systems. And this is what most of you want to know! How do they perform across different situations and within the context of different products.
Of course, there is no ultimately universal power cable (or any cable) that will fit each and every situation. Yet, the surprising and unique LessLoss forte is exactly this. While not perfect (what is?), the all-round potent impact of the C-MARC power cord, in the most various of systems, is one of its most impressive highlights. This is, of course, strictly connected with its actual performance, but more about that later in the music part of the review. Let us first take a look at the technical aspects…
MEET THE C-MARC CABLES
“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.”
The currently produced C-MARC™ power cords are based on the Triaxial version of the C-MARC™ bulk cable, with 2.3mm^2 cross section for the Live line, 2.3mm^2 for the Neutral line, and 0.86mm^2 for ground. Now, with this new design, we are taking C-MARC™ to the extreme by creating a hand braided power cord with a huge 4.6mm^2 cross section for each of the three lines. This power cord features water protection and is of lightweight construction. The sound quality achieved positively introduces an entirely new level of sonic performance.
This is surely exciting and as you’ll see at the end of the review, not overly expensive. These do take a lot longer to produce and cost a substantially larger amount in terms of base cable from which they are made, but LessLoss no longer need to spend to develop the cables so the math works out!”
To make the new super-cable, three runs of C-MARC™ coaxial cable are required with a length ratio of about 1.22:1, so to make a 2m power cord we are looking at 7.5m of raw material of the C-MARC™ coaxial cable.
C-MARC™ has two types of cotton core material which ensure micro-vibrational silencing of the lines. The innermost core is 100% unbleached, natural fibre cotton braid. Around this is braided the first 2.3mm^2 assembly of individually lacquered Litz wires in dual fractal replication. Then comes a second layer of natural cotton fibre, mercerized and dyed black. A second 2.3mm^2 Litz wire assembly surrounds it, upon which a thin, transparent moisture protection layer is added. Three such coaxial cables are used in the construction of the new C-MARC™ power cable.
To prepare the endings, much careful work is needed. The magic happens when all strands remain unbroken, and are electrically connected. To get there, we need to carefully unbraid a portion of each ending. There are six such individual endings to work with on this cable.
4.6mm^2 Litz wire would never fit into a wall plug, so in order to make the electrical connection with both of the fractal braids (each is 2.3mm^2), LessLoss needs to cut the outer braid shorter than the inner one.
All the wires goes into tinning pot, where a special liquid flux is used, and at several hundred degrees, the lacquer from the ends is burned off, replacing it with a thin layer of solder. This ensures all connections of the Litz wires are made and allows electrical contact to be made with the wire assemblies.
C-MARC is so different from anything currently being produced by the wire and cable industry, there are several features hidden within the C-MARC cable construction whose import are not immediately obvious. The name is intriguing in itself. So,… C-MARC™ actually stands for Common-mode Auto-rejecting Cable. And, as it turns out, this actually means a lot.
C-MARC’s design draws inspiration from the bucking coil method of noise reduction. This will ring a bell to electrical guitarists with 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 above speaks for itself about the complexity of the C-MARC cables. Just marvel at the multiple strands. It’s quite mind boggling. For instance, an mono run of RCA interconnect uses a grand total of 760 strands of different types, all of known polarity and perfectly balanced in throughout the design.
Some of the best exotic/esoteric cables I’ve tried were either insulated with cotton or silk, and the LessLoss C-MARC follows this line of thinking, too, using no plastic. The C-MARC wire and cables are insulated with braided 100% natural, gassed and macerated cotton fiber. Only the power cords add additional protection from moisture and abrasion.
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. This also aids in achieving a lightweight product.
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 not only applies to cables but also to the electronic components. As controversial as it may be, it is revealed through experience, and quite 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 only at over 700 hours. And yes, this means the time actual music and not sine waves 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 in this way will the cable achieve maximum performance and you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to the monetary investment vs. performance.
Yes, I’m clearly among the “believers” that it is the very last meter of the power line (the power cables themselves) that matters! LessLoss provides an interesting idea and a pair of explanatory graphics in this regard.
There really is no need, it appears, to delve into fringe science theories, when it is explained in this most clear and mainstream fashion.
Any complex music will put the “stress” on the cables. As I write later, not only classical music (although I love it and always use it as my ultimate reference) is a grand challenge… Difficult source material means a more demanding task on the listener. If the cable clears light on the subject, the task is all the more easy on the listener.
A great example is a track called Jakutsk (Anders Lonne Gronseth, Matthew Bourne, Audun Ellingsen, Ulrik Ibsen Thorsrud – Arch70). This dynamic and powerful arrangement is interestingly panned. Drums are on the strict left, almost directly next to the microphone. The same goes for the double-bass on the far right. The wind instrument “poetry” kicks in in the centre with the electric piano floating above the drums. Quite a complex sonic wall with a palpable relief structure. This music and especially the holographic atmosphere needs to be portrayed exactly in order to be appreciated. Take away the C-Marc from my MSB Select DAC and the all-important time and space information simply collapses. It becomes smeared and the three dimensional musical landscape, once appreciated from the vantage point of an eagle, is suddenly reduced to something an ant on the ground would perceive. Not a small difference by any means…
Jef Neve writes: “After more than a decade of traveling around the globe with all sorts of bands in different line-ups, I felt that I was ready to record my first ever solo album. I started to compose a huge number of songs during all my travels, in hotel lobby’s, airport lounges, during endless bus drives etc. … Then, finally the day came closer, that first day of recording, just me, my piano and a little bit further in the control room my dearest sound engineer.”
Here we have a highly demanding piano drama and a must audition for any black & white keys aficionado! Piano is still one of the most demanding instruments to portray competently and this whole album is piano tour de force that needs the very last drop of one’s power potency to establish a full immersive experience.
Lush Life’s intro will not only scare any unattended listener (be careful with the volume), but can instantly put the system to its knees in just a first few seconds. This track is a clear example of a heavy league sonic challenge that will not fully unveil when any masking is at play. Again, the LessLoss C-Marc power cables have proved their established impressive performance. This time a pair of them was used with the Analog Domain Artemis (160K) solid state power amplifiers. With 2kW/4ohm these monstrous mono blocks reveal any minor and major changes in the performance. And in absence of C-Marc power cables, there was a paradigm shift not related nor limited to nuances. As the old Indian proverb goes… not a tuna fish, but a whale of a difference.
The grander power scale was further explored with Julius Katchen, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / Dohnányi: Variations on a Nursery Song. The clear distinction of orchestra and piano demands more than just a healthy portion of power delivery. It calls for a different kind of authority. With LessLoss C-MARC power cables in action they never reduced the intensity of orchestral dynamic impact nor compressing the dynamic scale at which piano can span. The right balance of orchestra and grand piano is a seldom affair and C-MARCs acted on a grand and noble level of performance, way beyond their given price. This is exactly why I like, no love, Louis’ latest dedication. The modest price point doesn’t reflect the level of achievement of performance by any means. The performance towers within the elite realm of rarified art, and is an achievement here worthy of extra emphasis.
What about the vocal formation that is both simple yet complex in it’s nature and never easy to portray properly?
Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around – In My Life. This one is raw, somehow poignant and pure. I really love this Beatles’ cover by the man in black! It’s as honest as it gets and it reflects a life long journey perhaps even more than it should! On this track any alteration of the power delivery will be a smite to the honest delivery of almost roaring singing. With my Lamm M1.2 Reference hybrid monoblocks in action it was as if the C-Marc power cables were not actively injecting power into them (that is too often the case), but rather letting, allowing, supporting the unconstrained delivery of Mr. Cash’s beautiful and unique rendition. Remove the C-Marcs and now what happens? It feels like the density of the vocal’s formants are gone, making it sound flat and lifeless. It seems that resonance in the vocal tract is unnaturally altered, thus destroying the very essence. So the LessLoss C-Marc are preserving the core essentials while transferring the needed electricity. Intriguing and impressive!
How can one make the distinction between a temporarily impressive change (I’ll call it the “jump factor”) and the real deal performance shift to the better? The the initial overwhelming factor usually wears off pretty quickly, leaving behind the real nature of a yet again artificially colored sound. How to express this in a scientific formula, one will probably not be successful in doing so. Certainly there’s more to it than deciphering equations. For those on their own quest, they can only relate to their own personal starting point. Yours truly does acknowledge and pursues years and years of this in his own endeavour…
Those of you that have been following my venture for a longer time will be surely curious to learn how C-MARC™ compares to the previous LessLoss cables I’ve evaluated. The official blurb summarized it spot on…
“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 recognise these improvement straight from the start, even without burn-in.”
So again, the question is how to properly position the LessLoss C-MARC cables onto the landscape of the audiophile marketplace. With LessLoss, everything is always out-of-the-box and cannot be pined down to the usual, ordinary or mediocre, regardless of price! C-Marc is a complex, but smooth fusion of evolution and revolution, that rivals upper echelon performance at non-expected value given their price.
This striking price/performance ratio already granted the LessLoss C-MARC cable loom products both Mono and Stereo’s Highly Recommended Product and Best Buy awards, and it’s no different for the power cable.
This is what I wrote in the original C-MARC cable loom review and it still firmly hold true: “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.”
So let me sum up my sentiment with an even wittier remark: “More power to the people (with the LessLoss C-MARC!)”
C-MARC Power cord: 1148 USD/2m