MIT MI-330 Proline Shotgun interconnects & MH-750 Shotgun speaker cables
A bit of background
MIT cables have been established, if controversial, fixtures on the high-end audio scene since about 1984. Designer Bruce Brisson actually began building cables several years earlier, and for the first half of the 1980s was responsible for several of Monster Cable's premier designs. Since founding MIT, Brisson has raised eyebrows: first for his high-capacitance cables, and, more recently, for his large terminator networksthe "boxes" that make MIT cables so distinctive.
To understand MIT's technologies and products, it's useful to look first at the basic tenets of Brisson's design philosophy. On one hand, he feels that the mainstream positionseither dismissing cable properties as insignificant at audio frequencies, or discounting measurements as irrelevantare overly simplistic. "They neglect the second-order effects, the change in properties with frequency and current...the reflections and resonances," he explained to me. "The complex interactions are what are significant, and they are measurable."
At the other extreme, there's the pure-physics approach of viewing signal transmission as the creation and propagation of electromagnetic waves surrounding the conductor and dielectric (footnote 1) In this world, everything matters, no matter how minute. "It's technically correct," Brisson agreed, "but you don't need to go to that level of complexity. With the right measurements and a carefully designed set of networks, you can get the characteristics you want."
A popular way to think about cables is to liken them to a pipe or hose, with voltage as head, and current as the rate of flow of the water. In the MIT approach, this isn't a bad concept, but it's critical to recognize that the "hose" is elastic, so the flow isn't instantaneous or perfectly linear. Charging the cablefilling the hosetakes time, during which the cable pressurizes and deforms in a complex manner. When the water, or current, is finally released, it doesn't do so in a manner necessarily identical to the way that it entered, or even completely.
It's the extent to which this process is incompletethe extent to which energy is stored, and the way the stored energy is releasedthat MIT concentrates on. Some cables, as Brisson has apparently found with measurements and listening comparisons, release their stored energy erratically and at a very high frequency. When this happens, he says, the energy is wasted, and uncontrolled reflections can blur detail and transients down into the upper audio band, and even shift the tonal balance upward.
MIT's networks, in contrast, are designed to control the energy storage and release in the audio band. This approach, according to Brisson, maximizes usable energy transfer, results in an even tonal and energy balance, and minimizes any spurious reflections.
After spending a few days with him, I couldn't help but be impressed with Brisson's understanding and engineering expertise. I came away convinced that, regardless of how his cables worked in my system, the man knows what he's doing. I mean that in the most literal sense: Brisson understands the electrical engineering that will give a network certain parameters, and how those properties relate to sonic characteristics.
What he doesn'tcan'tknow is what a given listener will like. "I don't have a problem if you or anyone else doesn't like my cables," he told me. "I've tried to understand what audiophiles like and to design my cables to provide those characteristics. For a recording engineer...I know that they want different things, and I design those cables accordingly.
"What I'm really trying to do is point out that there are sound, established engineering principles that govern cable performance," he explained, "and they can be measurednot simply or easily, but they can be measured. Some listeners may like another cable better, or may luck into a combination that works well in their system. But trial and error with expensive equipment and cables really isn't the best approach....it's a recipe for frustration, and it's costing usthe hobbypeople. We can do so much better."
Boxes, boxes everywhere
As I sorted out and optimized my system over the course of a year, I ended up trying a number of MIT variants with a wide range of equipment. The final configuration was MI-330 Proline (balanced) Shotgun interconnects and MI-750 (solid-state) speaker cables in a system consisting of a VPI/Grado/Sonic Frontiers analog combo feeding an Adcom GFP-750 line stage, plus a Wadia 830 CD player, Mark Levinson No.20.6 monoblock power amplifiers, and the Thiel CS7.2 loudspeakers.
Footnote 1: See Malcolm Hawksford's "The Essex Echo" in the October 1995 Stereophile, Vol.18 No.10.