Product Review - Nordost Moonglo Digital Interconnect Cable - December, 1999 Steven Surprenant
Nordost Moonglo Digital Interconnect
Impedance: 75 Ohms (110 Ohms for AES/EBU Version)
Conductors: 2 Silver/OFC Copper
Capacitance: 29 pF/ft
MSRP: $200/Meter Unbalanced, $300 Balanced (AES/EBU)
Moonglo digital interconnects are a unique product designed to eliminate the effects of mechanical noise and resonance found in digital signal cables. Both versions consist of two separate Teflon coax cables. Each coax contains a silver-plated, multi-filament center conductor. This is covered with a layer of Teflon, which is in turn shielded with a layer of silver. This is then covered with a layer of extruded Teflon. The coaxes are twisted together with two cushioned filaments of Teflon and jacketed with another layer of Teflon. This is a superb way of eliminating timing errors, jitter, and mechanical noise in the cable.
Each cable is terminated with Moonglo RCA connectors. This interconnect is also available with AES/EBU connectors. Moonglo is a very detailed and fast cable with incredible imaging.
In the Beginning . . .
In January 1991, Vincent Garino, his brother Jeffrey, and Joe Reynolds made their all-important first connection by founding an audio company called Nordost Corporation. Their ambition was to create the most technologically advanced wire company in the consumer electronics industry. They wanted to manufacture loudspeaker cables and interconnects manifesting such clarity that the product "sounded" of nothing at all. In their view, the ultimate audio connection was silent and invisible. The best wire should simply act as a reliable viaduct for sonic signals to travel, with razor sharp speed, from one audio component to another.
This simple and elegant Nordost philosophy was born out of the excesses of the 1980s. During this period, the cable industry was discredited by voodoo technologies that meticulously claimed to have reinvented the wheel of wire production. Such promises were either plain weird or just bogus, and the absence of a legitimate scientific foundation undermined the credibility of audio cable in the eyes of many consumers. The Nordost Corporation was determined to re-establish this credibility. And to do so, the fledgling company understood that cable needed to build on more legitimate scientific grounds.
Product under test - Nordost Moonglo digital interconnect with balanced connections (AES/EBU).
Equipment - Marantz CD63SE (used as a transport), Genesis Digital Lens, California Alpha DAC with Mallory milspec tubes, Rotel RC 995 Pre-amp, Levenson 331 Amp, B&W 601S2 and Quad ESL63 speakers.
Cables - Tributaries (digital), Audioquest Emeralds, Rapco.
Wires - Esoteric Micro Reference, Audioquest Midnight.
Personal Statement I think all of us are searching for the Holy Grail of audio without having to mortgage our homes. Many consumers are under the impression that to attain this Holy Grail we need to buy the highest (most expensive) quality components. This is absolutely not true! Granted, even the least expensive high quality is not cheap, but it is within the means of most of us, and while the very best equipment will probably be better by a certain degree, that degree will be minimal if we are careful in selecting the equipment we own so they work synergistically together.
Cable Background Up to this point, Ive used Audioquest, MIT, Discovery, and Tributaries as my digital cables. The Tributaries were my cable of choice. It had the best transparency in my system. Ironically, it was the lowest priced cable in the group.
For this test, I kept a singled-ended Tributary between the CD transport and the Genesis Digital lens. I inserted the Moonglo between the digital lens and the DAC.
My first impression of this cable was that it sounded just like the Tributaries with less at the higher frequencies. It was just as clear sounding, but less top end. Because of this loss, the depth of the sonic image decreased, and string plucks didnt have quite the bite I was accustomed to. Also, the cymbals lost some of their metallic shimmer. However, the sound was still quite good.
This is where we go to step 2, burning in the cable. I put the CD on repeat and let it run over and over. Every so often I listened to the music and found that my impression was changing. It seemed that it was beginning to sound better, more open. One thought that kept crossing my mind was that the images were taking on more body, perhaps even better than the Tributaries.
When I awoke the next morning, I set the track to play one of my favorite tunes. It sounded glorious! In the past, Ive listened many times to this cut because it brings a tear of joy to my eyes for its sonic qualities, and today was no exception. I replaced this CD with another that I like to use because its transparency seems to change readily to the changes in the equipments transparency. It sounded somewhat like the day before, the highs were somewhat less apparent, but the body of the images were very believable.
Let me make a note here to explain why I dont mention CD titles. I have found that everyones taste is different, and what I enjoy, others might not. What I think is more important to you is my perception of the characteristics of the equipment under review. I believe that these characteristics are what you will be aware of when you have this cable in your system.
Just remember, every reviewer, including you, is working from a baseline, meaning that our systems present us with a very unique sonic quality, and each system responds to changes differently. For instance, lets say your system is a tad too bright and a little hard around the edges. My impression is that the Moonglo would be a step in the right direction. Its sound is very smooth. In other systems where the top end is just right, this interconnect might increase the level of detail but reduce the level of highs. This may be desirable or not, depending on the priorities of the listener. There are other considerations too. If your system is not capable of allowing you to hear the differences between cables, then you should upgrade other parts of your system first.
Let me tell you a little story. My friend, who lives about 500 miles from here, was listening to CDs through his computer with a thin miniplug connected to his stereo. His stereo was not high-end stuff, but it was pleasant to listen to and most importantly, he liked the way it sounded. I had this great idea about showing him what his equipment was capable of, so I loaded the car up with thousands of dollars worth of transports, DACs, and cables, and rushed down there. I have to tell you, I was in for an education, because after I hooked everything up, it sounded worse. I tried everything I knew to make this system sound better, but the bottom line was, his computer CD was far more synergistic with his audio system than all of this expensive gear I had brought. Lesson learned!
Back to the review:
After listening to the Moonglo for many hours/daysm, I had forgotten how the Tributaries sounded.
The Moonglos were very pleasant, and I had no problem becoming satisfied with them.
Now it was time to switch back to the Tributaries and compare with my initial impressions.
The results: My initial impressions still stand, but with reservations.
The Tributaries were still more open on top, but now they seemed to be a bit on the bright side. They gave a little more soundstage depth and sparkle to metallic sounds.
The Moonglos still gave a slightly better impression of image body and naturalness to voices. They made overly bright/harsh sounds more palatable.
For my personal choice, I cant decide! I like them both for different reasons. I think for long term listening at louder volumes (I usually like to listen at lower volumes), I would prefer the Moonglo. At very low volumes, like at night when I need to be a little quieter, I prefer the Tributaries. But then my mood could change my preference. They are both very good cables.
Now, if I could find a cable that fits between these two, I would have my Holy Grail of digital cables. This does leave me with other choices. I can change the interconnects from the DAC to the preamp to one that is a little brighter then the present AudioTruth Emeralds. I have many more choices if I go this path. Forgive me, but I am a constant tweaker.
Recommendations: Ask yourself two questions.
1) Does your system sound a little bright or harsh?
2) Do voices seem on the thin side (no body to the voices)?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, then this cable might be what you need to step to the next level.
One more point, my system is very transparent with the Tributaries. If your digital interconnect is less transparent then this cable, then going to the Moonglo will definitely be a step up (or two) in transparency.
The Moonglo is a very good cable. Even though it is expensive (all good digital cables are), if it does the trick for you, its well worth the price.
- Steven Surprenant -
© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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