The first LessLoss review resulted in our ‘Victor’ award for this company’s C-MARC power cables. Not only did these prove to be the very best of their kind to this reporter’s ears, but also very useful journalistic tools. The incentive to dig deeper into the Lithuanian portfolio naturally intensified after this experience and that’s how the LessLoss C-MARC loudspeaker cables became this review’s main dish. Enjoy!
Years of quite extensive audio triangulations led me to think that cables act far beyond the key connective role, even though that’s their main purpose indeed. It’s also a matter of one’s own experience plus perspective and mine is as follows; every setup I view as an organism and cables are its veins. Since these necessary carriers move vital fluids from one organ to another, their health is essential for everything else to be in check as well. Nonetheless, these pipes aren’t alike and their different tailoring in our context translates to audible impact on sound. To some people this surely reads as blasphemy, madness or both, whereas to me it’s a fact. Point being, cables do matter to me not only as connective elements between all major hardware involved, but useful tuning tools as well.Audio cables vary not only in their core purpose thus place in a setup, but also in how they’re made. Aspects such as insulation, internal geometry, conductor type, diameter, shielding and termination all factor in and explain why different takes on the same product net audibly different results. At least that’s what my ears have been telling me for years. Truth be told, such items aren’t capable of turning things upside down as extensively as say one loudspeaker model ditched in favour of another, at least I haven’t yet heard audio cables this impactful. But their finishing touches can be and oftentimes are potent enough to shift sound flavour noticeably, which is worth digging into prior to taking more radical route of swapping out gear.It takes a degree of expertise, patience and awareness to intentionally move with cables in a desirable direction and without making things any worse. Tinkering with these items is also usually more cost-effective than performing major hardware rotations. Is a new amplifier too sharp, brittle and slim? A leash or two on the job at key junctions can inject some body, smoothness and moisture to net more relaxed, gutsier and pleasant sound. Speakers too thick, bloated, dark and constrictive? A quick, lit up and slim sounding set of wires might drop this proverbial veil to open the window and let some air in. The takeaway is that there’s room to at least audibly improve an underperforming setup via carefully selected connectors in-between its components. Numerous manufactures known for such items shaped the market to be very competitive, thus no bank needs to be robbed to arrive there.Audio snakes able to fix what’s broken (… or break what’s not, it happens) is one thing, but the ability to extract the very essence of each major device with no drawbacks along the road is a different story and league. Now the talk ain’t about a cable able to elevate one aspect at a cost of another, but a leash which allows a component to fully flourish yet remains unseen while doing so. I strongly believe that this is the top tier game and Louis Motek of LessLoss proved to me already rather bluntly that he knows how to play it. By pushing my setup’s potential a fair bit forward in very much revelatory fashion, his C-MARC power cables snatched our ‘Victor’ award for this service. And since the whole LessLoss loom is based on the very same set of principles and solutions, the incentive to dig deeper eventually led me to another specimen of this Lithuanian family. Will C-MARC on duty with loudspeakers be able to replicate the success of its power related kin? Now this remains to be seen…
Two foil bags with LessLoss labels sported not two but four cables in total to have each of my floorstanders’ ‘+’ and ‘-‘ terminations fed via separate runs. I have nothing against such a solution, on the contrary. Not one but two identical cables per speaker actually provided some aesthetic wiggle room. These cords could’ve been i.e. routed with some distance in-between them or twisted a bit to net different visual results on my carpet. And quite the view it was regardless of choice, because this review’s product was not stiff, thick, heavy or shiny but utmost flexible, rather thin, light and universally black, which rang all my subjective bells in just the right way. Usually such products tick two or three of these checkboxes at most, whereas these Lithuanian loaners nailed all four. What a pleasant surprise, ahh.LessLoss C-MARC loudspeaker cables share the core principle with their power related kin. The goal was to have them as silent as possible and the means to arrive there are as follows: each hair-thin wire twisted clockwise bonds with its counter-clockwise reflection of exact diameter and step though opposite polarization to be then replicated multiple times. The connection known as bucking coil is formed in the process, whereas multiple twisted wires with each conductor individually insulated is known as Litz topology. Two oppositely polarized and mirrored wires cancel mutually induced noise out when electrically summed at the ends, which greatly improves the product’s SNR.The on-site description of the C-MARC family isn’t shy on details and this review’s hero is no different. Based on coaxial cable and not black on the inside but white, it starts rather innocently. 24 strands of combed natural cotton fiber braid are its core, which is then surrounded via 192 strands (each 0.125mm thick) of enameled copper wire. Next 96 strands of mercerized and gassed black cotton threads form the third layer followed by the same copper conductor as previously. And lastly, two coats of the black cotton (each of 128 strands) one on top of the other are the product’s outer surface. 760 threads is the final number, whereas the total conductive cross section is 4.608mm2.Not solid but Litz wire complimented via multiple fluffy cotton jackets are the key reasons behind our C-MARC’s flexibility. Each Lithuanian signal snake can be twisted, bent and tangled far more than the usual suspects yours truly had his hands on thus far. Routing in-between components is very easy with this one. From a typical consumer’s perspective this aspect has little to no meaning, simply because cables are what they are. In most cases all connections can remain in the same position for years to come, thus are rightfully viewed as a one-time hassle and that’s it. Nonetheless, yours truly tinkers with his tools constantly, a newcomer amp can be on and off duty multiple times per day when evaluation is in full swing and here’s where a product as nimble as today’s ups the convenience ante. If this writing’s main course would’ve been any less slinky, I wouldn’t be salty at all. Simply used to work with what’s sent my way, I’d manage with not a single tear shed. But the C-MARC made my journo struggle a bit more convenient and there’s no better time than now to mention this. Unsurprisingly it also proved to be easier to work with in comparison to its far stiffer and thicker power relative.Just as any other C-MARC leash, the one meant for loudspeakers arrived dressed all in black and that’s the only colour available. Prior to sending my loaner I was asked about preferred termination choice and suitable length. Spades and 2.5m long sections got my vote. These silver-plated copper finishes by Xhadow of USA are thick and solid and the same brand’s quality RCAs and XLRs are used in C-MARC interconnects as well. Each cable’s outer coating sported two pairs of translucent heat shrink tubes with series name and handy directional arrows near both ends. Either black or red material of similar type found on each spade prevented getting lost with the connection scheme of all associated hardware.Overall finish I’ve found top notch and the product feels utmost reliable, it surely can take severe beating. Each of the four cables delivered sported the same exact length and the same story was with heat shrink tubes’ size and location. All these fairly small things indicate an assembly process down pat and admirable attention to details. One could tell easily that this C-MARC is not a DIY struggle but something crafted by a well-established audio house.
In order to review the LessLoss C-MARC loudspeaker cable, my main setup was used. fidata HFAS-S10U handled storage plus transport duties and then LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.) took care of conversion. From there the signal travelled to either Kinki Studio EX-M1 and Boenicke W8 or Bakoon AMP-13R and then soundkaos Libération. The Amber modded Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence of the same length was the main opponent of this review’s hero.Although it was already mentioned a number of times in my past reviews, the matter of my reference loom needs to be pointed out once more. The whole Excellence family was deliberately designed to work with quite peculiar companions; transmission line loaded widebanders of high efficiency. Such products enjoy valve amps of low power and DF and in general benefit from tonal mass, roundness and substance injection. Audio cables are capable of pulling this off as well, that’s what my daily drivers do and their Amber mods amplify the core effect even more. With this review’s introductory talk on mind, it should now be clear where their place is. This Polish family alters the reality, shapes it to be denser, rounder and fuzzier, injects loads of its own character on purpose and as such is not neutral/balanced.After more than a year of almost constant usage I got to know the Amber modded Excellence range very well. Recently its power cords fought against LessLoss C-MARC, which helped me to understand these local cords even more. They revealed their character very explicitly in comparison to the former duo. There was no guesswork involved and the difference was severe. In order to get the full picture, please take a look at this report. To briefly summarize, the general voicing and quality gap between the two products was extensive and the Lithuanians were on many counts simply better; smoother, quieter, more organic and so on. Of course at this point it’s rather easy for me to figure out a scenario where the Excellence loom would do a far more synergistic job. Thin sounding, glassy, overly shiny, soulless and nervous setups would surely benefit from its input. At least past all experience yours truly had with this product, that’s his take on the matter. But as far as sheer refinement goes, namely overall seasoning and inherent posh, the twosome by LessLoss simply had an edge. Unsurprisingly, a similar outcome was expected in this case of the second C-MARC arrival.This time around though yours truly had more toys to play with. Dipoles by Martin Gateley along with Bakoon AMP-13R proved to be far more revealing than my reference integrated amps on duty with Sven Boenicke’s petite floorstanders. That’s why cable swaps in-between these components likely even more audible than ‘just’ power cords was the early assumption. Not. In comparison to its kin, today’s C-MARC wasn’t any more impactful or even similar on this count. Its presence was far lesser to begin with and the same story was with its Excellence equivalent. I should’ve seen this coming, power components are the most audible bunch of all minor adjustments within my setup. The list involves conditioners, filters and DC blocking circuits. Not only this, in my room the power line meant for audio exclusively is audibly better than the usual suspect nearby.The confession above doesn’t imply that loudspeaker cords are not worth the hassle and expense, on the contrary. In spite of being positioned lower on the priority ladder, such items in most cases introduce impact audible enough to bother and both Excellence and C-MARC proved to me this rather bluntly. The former was clearly chunkier, softer, soundstage wise a notch constrictive and with limited upstairs reach. This one also sketched vocals bigger and elevated the upper realm of low FR to make it at times boomy with the W8. The LessLoss sounded less veiled, more orderly, sported cleaner more lively and movable background and served all nuances in more subtle and delicate fashion. It did far better on detail retrieval and sounded cleaner yet not artificial at all. Not in the slightest. The Lithuanian seemed to act less intensely at first to reveal that its own character is no character at all, just like its relative. It provided far more polishing touches yet didn’t shift the meta as much as the Excellence equivalent did. It remained faithful to what my speakers were all about and from the reporter’s standpoint this is an attitude I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.It’s interesting how much several cables can grow on an innocent reviewer. What was viewed early on as the more explicit personality in case of the Excellence eventually morphed into rather extensive colouration, whereas the calmer more withdrawn and less impactful approach of the C-MARC turned into its utmost valuable core virtue, additionally sprinkled via seasoning of finer grade. Polish and Lithuanian cables helped my W8 to express in two distinctive yet equally attractive ways, thus for a good while I thought that this time around it was more about apples and oranges than different quality tiers. The leverage the C-MARC had was lesser in comparison to its power relative. Nonetheless, the Bakoon AMP-13R along with dipoles by soundkaos proved to me clearly that the Lithuanian was the higher tiered performer of the two.The Swiss-Korean team pulls off remarkable imaging acts, disappears like a champ and sings utmost tunefully and vividly. It’s also far better than my regular hardware on counts such as quickness, detailing, smoothness, energy, scale aka on-stage grandeur and directness, whereas the insight it provides is second to none. There’s no need to tinker with the result this good, all it takes is to push it further in the same direction and that’s it, we’re dandy. Naturally the C-MARC proved to be the more synergistic fit for this task, that’s a given. But it also did far better in showcasing what the AMP-13R is truly capable of and there was a lot to show. Not even one thing the Lithuanian did of lesser quality than the Excellence and the more I switched between these two vastly different cords, the more I acknowledged that the difference between ‘em went far deeper than their voicing. Just as with the power snakes, one leash simply delivered more refined and sophisticated outcome. This had nothing to do with synergy or character, but everything with sheer quality and class. That’s where the true distinction was hid and there I’ve found my answer: the C-MARC left the battlefield with a shield.
The very first C-MARC story published here not only ended with the ‘Victor’ award, but also significantly raised the bar for anything LessLoss in the pipeline. Simply put, this company’s loudspeaker cables weren’t a tabula rasa case for yours truly, but a product which invoked high expectations long before its arrival. Just as the LessLoss main man Louis Motek foretold, this review’s hero introduced particular performance and qualities the C-MARC power twosome did a while ago, which tells us several things.
Two different C-MARC products voiced very much alike suggest that the LessLoss sound profile does exist indeed as far as cables go. The goal behind these items was the very same and so were all necessary measures to arrive there. All this is pleasantly reassuring due to reduced mismatch risk within one’s own setup, but it gets even better and safer. The C-MARC loom’s core strength revealed itself in the exposure of enough evidence to enable the extraction of each component’s core characteristic. As such it won’t prettify, alter or tweak to counterbalance subjectively audible downsides. It’s a weapon aimed to reveal what’s off in the first place. Due to inherent refinement and overall quality, it does this not rudely, but in utmost graceful fashion instead.
Put shortly, loudspeakers too thick won’t get any slimmer with today’s hero and if too thin, won’t morph into something beefier. If either of these is your main issue, perhaps you should look elsewhere. But fabulously black background for music, fine detail retrieval, smoothness, maturity, balance and insight are what this product will provide instead. It’s meant for an enthusiast seeking to fully unlock his setup’s potential to push it even further, yet with its core flavour intact. Such top league performance is the reason why LessLoss C-MARC loudspeaker cable gets my vote, whereas visuals, slinkiness and build quality justify its already digestible price even more. ‘Till next time!
- Amplifiers: Kinki Audio EX-M1, Bakoon AMP-13R
- Sources: LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.), AMR DP-777SE
- Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8, soundkaos Libération
- Transports: fidata HFAS-S10U
- Speaker cables: Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence
- Interconnects: Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence
- Power components: Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence/LessLoss C-MARC
- Rack: Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack
- Music: NativeDSD
Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (excl. VAT):
- LessLoss C-MARC loudspeaker cable 1/1.5/2/2.5/3/3.5/4 meters: $975/$1’285/$1’595/$1’905/$2’215/$2’525/$2’835