After our last article on our new Morgana interconnect cable, you’ve probably been wondering “how does it sound?”. In order to answer this, we have given several prototype cables out to customers so that they can write independent reviews (hopefully free of the usual audio jargon).
Some of these reviews are quite long so I have hyperlinked them so that you can pick and choose the reviews from people with a similar system to yours or who have an interesting stance – but feel free to read the lot! If you only read one, pick Stephen Nelson because he is a musician and is able to describe audio very graphically.
Andy Marks (CDS2/XPS/82/HCx2/250) – Comparing Naim’s Standard XLR vs Morgana XLR Stereo – Andy tries to break down all the different components that make it good.
Antony Davis (NDX & LP12/282/SC/300DR) – Comparing Naim’s standard XLR SNAIC VS Morgana XLR Mono Pair – Whilst he was impressed with its effect on the NDX, the results with the LP12 blew him away.
Chris Bathory (CDS2/XPS & LP12/52/SC/250) – Comparing Naim’s Standard XLR SNAIC vs Morgana XLR Stereo – A ‘wife approved’ review of our cable.
Jonn @ PFM (HDX/282 Superlink/SC/250DR/SL2s) – Comparing Naim’s Hiline vs Morgana Source – Our only critical review comparing the more expensive Hi-line against our new cable. We are hoping to have its weaknesses improved for the launch.
Micheal Woods (32.5/HC/250) – Comparing a Witch Hat HP5 vs Morgana 5 – This shows the improvement over our standard range.
Stephen Nelson (LP12/252/SC/300DR) – Comparing Naim’s Standard XLR SNAIC vs Morgana XLR Mono Pair – This reviewer is a musician and goes in-depth into the improvements to many different songs.
For those of you interested, we will be releasing the cable for presale on Thursday 18th April – Monday 22nd April with special Easter discounts!
CDS2/XPS/82/HCx2/250 – Naim Standard XLR vs Morgana XLR Stereo
The whole cable is of sturdy construction and whilst not as flexible as the Naim counterpart is easy enough to loop between units and hide behind the rack. I really like the Kyro XLR plug, yes it is only a plug but it looks and feels top-end quality to me and fits the socket on the ‘250 with a satisfying grip.
Listening to the system with the new cable in place over a week or so got me thinking there was definitely more of something going on but initially I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Greater bass extension, yes, more clarity in the treble, yes, a fuller sound to the mid-range – most probably. I resisted the urge to go back to the Naim cable straight-away, I have caught myself out before doing back-to-back checks before really listening to something properly. I listened to a fair array of things over the test period but as time drew near to switch the cables over again I settled on two test tracks, “Spirits in the Material World” from the 1981 The Police album “Ghost in the machine” on vinyl and Chris Rea’s “Two Lost Souls” from his most recent “Road Songs for Lovers” album. I have always been impressed with the Police track, even more so now – the pace and crispness of the instruments is quite amazing, someone was paying very close attention to the production here, even in 1981. This is probably the first time I could consider that a vinyl LP and a modest spec LP12 has outplayed the CDS-2, easily. Switching back to the Naim cable and everything is still there, the pace, timing – all of it, although this time it doesn’t sound so full, the bass notes not quite so well defined or extended, the mid-range sounds more recessed than before it just doesn’t sound quite so good. Its the same with the Chris Rea track – towards the end the tempo changes up a gear and at the very top you can just make out a triangle being delicately struck. With the WH cable in place this is easy to follow, no doubt here about treble clarity. It’s a similar story at the opposite end, a fuller bass yet well controlled, the kick drum and bass guitar easy to follow and sounding together all at the same time. Rea’s voice is ageing into a warm and gravelly sound, perfect for this setup especially given the extra mid-range fullness expressed by the new cable.
Take any of these improvements on their own and and I am satisfied the change would be different; but, put them altogether and the change is most definitely better. It just is.
Remember I have tested the outcome brought about by changing only 1 third of the total signal path in this test – how much extra might be added by changing all of the cabling I wonder?
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NDX & LP12/282/SC/300DR – Naim’s standard XLR SNAIC VS Morgana XLR Mono Pair
In my HiFi journey of some 35 years I have always wanted to try and get more detail and music from my system, from the early days of my first Techniques separates to my current NAIM system today which is 282/SC/300DR, so how to add those small details now which are in there and so how to get them out
well I was asked my Witch Hat to test their new Morgana leads from my 300DR to 282 pre amp XPR to DIN, I was sent a test pair so on opening the box cables looked great good finish and very well put together, but seeing though now one is really ever going to see them the music is the main judge
so I removed my standard interconnect cable and settled down to start a good listening session, I thought this would be best with my two sources – first Digital (source NDX use FLAC losses through NAS) right from the start on playing a selection of tracks you could hear more detail and focus, the sound stage was more open and more focus – I deliberately listened some tracks I know when and from 16 to 96 in resolution – Mark Knopfeler Sailing to Philideflia – guitar intro was broad and deeper focus, Paul Simon Graceland the same on the drums – you could hear more depth and ressience so I continued for about 30 mins and then the cables really opened out – even more music was coming through so I just kept playing and playing tracks the cable gave the music more texture, detail in summary the what I was looking for was more music and it came through
On the second evening I had a little more time so my LP12 (my preferred source) was used – again albums I knew well and loved – my album of last year Primal Scream Give out but don’t Give in – WOW! my test track Jesus more of everything, I was amazed at the uplift, Genesis Firth of Fifth – complicated, piano, guitar vocals was beyond my expectations – a real musical high, played tracks for about 2 hours changing from album to album
my conclusion at the end of the evening, the Morgana cable brings more detail music clarity in to your room, sound stage is focussed and broad, the music just came through a great addition to the system and from witch Hat,
cables don’t bring out more music, the music is already there the Morgana cables find it and deliver it to you
CDS2/XPS & LP12/52/SC/250 – Naim’s Standard XLR SNAIC vs Morgana XLR Stereo
For me the Morgana Hatpin is a resounding hit. Definitely more clarity, finer rendering of details, more ‘natural’ sounding, – a subtle improvement to every aspect of the music, which as a whole is even more cohesive and drives along in the usual Naim style with an extra sense of life, an exciting sparkle of added fine detail enhancing the musicality of the whole system…
In comparison, going back to the standard Naim interconnect, it sounds a bit less vibrant and a little squashed, also seemingly quieter (although the volume control was untouched during back and forth comparisons – I turned the 250 off to swap cables each time) and I felt a sense that the Naim cable was masking some of the musical performance that the Hatpin revealed more clearly. This is not to say that any of the old Naim strengths of PRaT are missing or reduced – if anything the opposite is true, the music drives along like always, and you luxuriate in the extra detail and sparkle that is revealed.
Is it a box-upgrade-equivalent you ask? – well, I’d say its jolly close to that level of improvement – it does remind me of the marked difference a HiCap brought to my old 42.5-110 (this was a very long time ago!), a distinct memory where every aspect of the performance was cleaned, polished and lifted.
Perhaps the most telling comment came (completely unsolicited) from my wife, who, while we listened to Zavier Rudd’s Spirit Bird in the background (a really wonderful album), suddenly looked up at me from her book and said – ‘it’s sounding really good at the moment’…
Jonn @ PFM
HDX/282 Superlink/SC/250DR/SL2s – Naim Hiline vs Morgana Source
Thanks for the opportunity to try out the cable. I’ve had it installed for four days now and have the following comments. (System is HDX /282 with WH mod/SC/250DR/WH Phantom speaker cables/SL2s).
I used a variety of albums including, The Decemberists/The King is Dead; Patti Smith/Easter; Pink Floyd/Meddle; Eric Bibb/Painting Signs; Primal Scream/Give Out But Don’t Give Up.
- Out of the box first impression was a strong and articulate base but mids/highs were slightly thin sounding and lacking body so unbalanced. Detailed and accurate nevertheless.
- No background noise detectable
- After 3 days the sound became better balanced and most of the sharpness in the upper frequencies had disappeared.
- Overall I’d describe the sound as lively and upfront, on the bright side of neutral but not excessively so, detailed and accurate with bass depth and articulation a particular strong point. However I still found vocals to be lacking substance and comparatively unrefined. This varied between albums so might be related to the mastering. The cable is very much “warts and all” so won’t favour poor recordings.
- If It came to a push I probably wouldn’t buy the cable, mainly because I couldn’t guarantee that it would sound good across the board as it does seem dependent upon recording quality.
On balance I prefer a more relaxed sound with a bit more body in the mids/highs although I realize that while this may favour poorer recordings, it could be at the expense of detail and accuracy.
All the best with the Morgana project, I think you may be on to a winner even though the configuration I tested wasn’t ideal for me
Following this review we have made improvements to the cable, particularly on the higher frequencies so it can beat the Hiline across the board.
32.5/HC/250 – Witch Hat HP5 vs Morgana 5
After a week of listening to it with all types of music l’m astounded at the sound quality. Every instrument is crystal clear and vocals are just so clear and precise without any hint of brightness.
But save the best to last the soundstage and placement of instruments is jaw dropping. I’ve never heard my system sound this good. My speakers just seem to disappear.
It’s hard to believe 1 cable can make this much difference. It feels like a massive upgrade.
Well done everyone at Witch Hat great job.
What do you think of the price?
£450 is more than a fair price it’s made more difference than amps I’ve heard costing 4 times the price.
I will definitely be purchasing the cable as soon as you put it on sale.
LP12/252/SC/300DR – Naim’s Standard XLR SNAIC vs Morgana XLR Mono Pair
They look very well made and have some very expensive XLR plugs suggesting that they are pitching for top level high end musical reproduction no compromise or expense spared. And yet from what I’ve been told they will cost less than a pair of High Lines. This is good news and it will make this level of reproduction available to a great many more people.
So how do they sound? In short, pitched against the standard Naim supplied Nap 300 Snaics, they sound fantastic!
The first thing that hits you even before the music plays just one bar, is how tonal sweet and natural they sound.
Then you get into the music, which has much, much more rhythm, more precise timing with notes starting and stopping with pin point accuracy. They sound way more melodic with a very easy listenable quality, but totally engaging. I struggled in reviewing them, because I would continually play a track and forget what I was doing and get absorbed totally in the song. Which is exactly what a good music system should do. This was so evident on Dire Straits Sultans of Swing, which has never sounded more enjoyable with the Knopfler boy’s guitar playing and vocals, the bass line and drums all so distinctively individually separate yet creating even more sum of the parts making a more enjoyable whole. This was again immediately evident listening to the re-mastered The Beatles When I’m Sixty Four, It was so, so musical.
Harmonies were so much clearer and identifiable and I was able to join in the backing vocals and sing along with ease. I played Ken Mo’s Whole Nutha Thang and was sucked into the song singing along the whole track. This is always a critical test for me, being a part time musician and vocalist. This was also picked up straight away by our lead vocalist, Ebonni, who has a beautiful husky voice full of soul. She remarked how easy it was to follow everything with ease and without having to try to pick out the various instruments and backing singers. She also remarked how much more emotive the music now was.
Bass notes were bouncy and precise making it very easy to “walk along” with the bass line. This was so evident on the Jack Johnson tracks I played and in particular Jean Pierre from Marcus Miller which sounded epic with the lovely yet jazzy bass he plays so rhythmic and powerful with the kick drum exploding right in the pit of your stomach. Listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Rhythm of the Blues where the multiple acoustic guitars are underpinned by the bass player was so much more enjoyable with the Morganas in place and disappeared when reverting back to the Naim leads.
I wrote earlier that the Morgana’s were very easy to listen to, but not because they lacked dynamics or were soft sounding. Far from it, dynamics and PRaT were outstanding with snare drums having a beautiful fast an explosive snap, exactly as should be. This made Anastasia’s Pretty Little Dum Dum so much more involving as was Lorrie Morgan’s My night to Howl. Cymbals on Paul Simon’s One Trick Pony sounded more metallic and much less tizzy and had that live sounding shimmering brass tone that so many systems fail to resolve. This was the same on Robbie Williams Mack the Knife.
The piano on Nat King Cole’s Let there be Love was just beautiful played with such expertise and feel.
Guitars were epic. In Roxette’s The Joyride, the multiple guitars were clearly separated but were in perfect harmony.
OnTommy Emmanuel’s Deep River Blues, his acoustic guitar finger picking was so precise and his strumming so rhythmic it was such a real joy to listen to, I had to pop the Kandid back in the run in groove and have another listen. The mixed guitars on Rockin Jimmi’s Little Rachel were bitingly alive and dynamic but never fatiguing and the whole track felt so “alive and real” that it had to be played twice as well.
On the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Handel’s Messiah the vocals were just superb and natural with that gorgeous natural pipe organ reaching deep, deep down as the bass pedals were expertly played.
Beethoven’s 9th concluding choral movement was sheer bliss with the four soloists so on note, involving and melodic.
Another important quality I should mention was that the acoustic sound stage was wider with much improved separation. Another happy bonus.
So in-conclusion, do I like those Morgana cables? No I absolutely love them!!
For some time now I’ve been using a Witch Hat Burndy between my SuperCap and Nac 52 and albeit that it’s a very old one, the combination of the Witch Hat burndy and the Witch Hat Nap 300 Morgana Snaics has taken my music to such a new level of enjoyment the equal of upgrading from my old Chrome 250 to the current Nap 300 DR and certainly given more improvement than a DR SuperCap. There is only one problem! I don’t get to keep them and will have to buy my own pair. Oh well ce’ la vie there are no pockets in a shroud. It’s only dosh! But my oh my the Isobariks have never sounded nicer, more musical and more enjoyable.