Mojo Audio Lucent CFC and Lucent SE vs. Fusion Audio Romance IC 2


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Give Me Romance or Give Me My Mojo

I did not expect to do an interconnect shoot-out, but the opportunity for a battle of the interconnects just presented itself. After months of break-in, the wonderfully musical Mojo Lucent CFC and SE cables happened to reach the point of no discernible improvements during my review of the Fusion Audio Romance IC 2 interconnects. So, there you go…

Like the Mojo Basic interconnects that shocked me when they sounded smoother and more musically engaging than my far more expensive reference interconnects between my amps and preamp, the Mojo CRC and SEs sounded great right out of the box and also surprised me with just how musical and smooth they were with even greater refinement and liquidity than the Mojo Basic entry level interconnect. I decided to compare the Mojo CFC ($700 for 1 meter) and SE ($1100 – 1 meter) to the Romance IC2, rather than the Mojo Basic, since they are priced closer to the $1,600 Romance 2. Plus, both are clearly superior to the entry level Mojo Lucent Basic retailing for $400 (1 meter). However, I must point out that the Mojo Basic is an amazing cable at its price point, and still resides in my second system linking my Parasound JC-1 mono block amps to the NAT Plasma R preamp.
 

Mojo Audio’s website contains the following information about its line of interconnects:

Time, tune, tone, and timber.

Our Lucent ribbon interconnects set a new standard for neutrality, organic character, and harmonic coherency. Constructed from high-purity micro-dielectric coated 21AWG ribbons with edge-oriented parallel ribbon geometry and near-air cotton dielectric. Our unique topology eliminates phase and time distortions caused by skin effects, dielectric absorption, and proximity induction. Our CFC and SE versions incorporate a layer of carbon fiber braid improves shielding from RFI and EMI noise while providing additional mechanical resonance dampening.

Unique design - uncompromising components.

 

·    Ribbon conductors eliminate phase and time distortion

·    Constructed from 21AWG high-purity OFC copper and silver ribbons

·    Thermo-bonded micro-dielectric prevents oxidation of the ribbon conductors

·    Edge-oriented parallel ribbon geometry minimizes negative inductive effects

·    Near-air dielectric braided cotton intermediary layer minimizes dielectric absorption

·    Floating shield protects the signal from EMF and RFI without ground contamination

·    Mechanical resonance dampening to eliminate micro-voltage generation

·    Braided carbon fiber layer to further lower the noise floor on our CFC and SE models
 

Lucent Basic

·    High-purity micro-dielectric coated copper ribbons

·    Terminated with Furutech FP-126(R) and FP-601/2(R) connectors

·    Braided cotton dielectric/dampening intermediary layer

·    Floating braided copper shielding
 

Lucent Carbon Fiber and Cotton (CFC)

·    High-purity micro-dielectric coated copper ribbons

·    Terminated with Furutech CF-126(R) and CF-601/2(R) connectors

·    Braided cotton dielectric/dampening intermediary layer

·    Braided carbon fiber shielding/dampening layer

·    Floating braided copper shielding
 

Lucent Special Edition (SE)

·    High-purity micro-dielectric coated silver ribbon for ground

·    High-purity micro-dielectric coated copper ribbon for signal

·    Terminated with Furutech CF-126(R) and CF-601/2(R) connectors

·    Braided cotton dielectric/dampening intermediary layer

·    Braided carbon fiber shielding/dampening layer

·    Floating braided copper shielding
 

The Mojo Audio Cables Arrived But Did Not Leave

Mojo.jpgMonths ago I received three levels of Mojo interconnects from Benjamin Zwickel, owner of Mojo Audio, and I unexpectedly bought them all because as they broke-in I realized they were all better in important ways than my reference cables that cost quite a bit more. The more the Mojos broke in the better they sounded with significant improvements continuing until about 500 hours and slight improvements detected until about 1000 hours. While all the Mojo interconnects have similar sound characteristics (smoothness, with nice weight and texture in the midrange), as you go up the Mojo line the cables get better, with significant improvements in refinement, dynamics and liquidity.

When I inserted the Mojo Basic between my amps and preamp I immediately noticed that the voices were much smoother and weightier than my previous reference cables they replaced. However, there was one problem, I noticed a hum that I never detected before. I immediately called Benjamin, since I naturally attributed the hum to the new interconnects. But, Benjamin told me he believed the hum was likely in my system before the interconnect switch because his cables tend to reveal any deficiencies that may exist in a system. Darn if he wasn’t right. After switching around cables and power cords for a few days, I was able to isolate the problem, which was generated from a well-known active power cord on my Parasound JC-1 mono block amps. I replaced the power cords and the hum was gone. What remained was a lovely, smooth, engaging sound that was more enjoyable now that the hum was not distracting listening pleasure. Speed ahead several months, after acquiring and breaking in the next two levels of Mojo interconnects, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to test the higher end Mojos against the Fusion Audio Romance IC2 that I was in the process of reviewing.
 

Romance IC 2

Fusionaudio.jpgThe Fusion Audio Romance IC 2 review was the unexpected result of my chat with Fusion Audio owner Eric Love about picking up a second Romance IC 1. The Romance 1, as the name implies, provides a nice laid back romantic sound, with an added touch of warmth and texture to the midrange, similar to the romantic sound provided by tubes, so it meshes well in systems or components that tend to be forward sounding or edgy. Or, if like me, you like a euphonic sound, you will probably enjoy inserting a Romance 1 somewhere into your system. Smooth, warm and musically engaging are characteristics I routinely identify with the Romance 1.  I put a Romance 1 on an older CD player that wasn’t as smooth as I liked, with great results, and intended to do the same with a second Romance 1. But, Eric graciously offered to send me a review sample of his Romance IC 2, along with his Magic power cords. I jumped at the opportunity to see how the Romance 2 compared to the Romance 1, as it was purportedly provided significant improvements for an additional $500. I was also anxious to see how the Magic power cords would stack up against other cords I had on hand (the subject of another recent review).  
 

A Bit of Technical Stuff About the Romance IC 2 Interconnects

The conductors in the Romance 2 interconnects are multiple solid core conductors in each leg. The shielding covers the body of the cable from connector to connector. Vampire connectors are used for RCA versions and the most expensive Furutech for xlr. Very pure and expensive copper and gold (about 20 karat) stranded multi gauge wires are run in parallel, with Cardas silver solder being used for connections. Copper and gold wires are separately insulated and a shield is placed over each. The wires are joined at the hot and ground of each connector, another shield covers the individual shields, and a third three inch shield covers part of the connectors, which is secured by shrink wrap.
 

So What About the Sound?

edsheerin.jpgThe Romance 2 has similar romantic characteristics as the Romance 1, but was more detailed, a bit more refined, and slightly forward sounding on more detailed accompanying equipment. Having just listened to the Ed Sheerin X CD using the Romance 1 between my modded Audio Logic M 34 MSB DAC and NAT Plasma R preamp, fed by a Sony X779ES CD player, it was time to assess the Romance 2 with the same CD. From the first note my reaction was “wow” …these have a very smooth character like the Romance 1 but with a heck of a lot more detail. But, was it too much of a good thing? I was not sure. I noted that voices with the Romance 2 had more texture, nuance and weight, even though the Romance 2 had been sitting around unused for months.  

I couldn’t wait to listen the next day after the Romance 2s played all night, since I detected a bit of coolness/dryness to the overall sound, which I was hoping would subside. The next day they sounded a bit less forward, but were still mining out many more details than I detected with the Romance 1. Listening again to the Sheerin X CD I noticed harmonies on Song 11 were more prevalent than I ever remember hearing with the Romance 1, and little details and nuances in the music were heard for the first time. I let the Romance 2 play all night with a break in CD, hoping that the slight residual forwardness noticeable with some of the details would be gone.

onandon.jpgThe next evening I put the Sheerin CD in again and not only was the slight edge not as prevalent, there was significantly more bass slam present in every song and in every subsequent CD I played. The Romance 2 was still mining out details that I never heard with the Romance 1 but in a more refined way.  The next day I started some critical listening with Jack Johnson’s On and On CD. I noticed subtle nuances not preset with the Romance 1, plus the attack of notes was more distinct. The overall presentation was smooth but with a lot more details. I was also able to hear some sustained notes I did not hear with the Romance 1. However, I still detected a nagging bit of forwardness and dryness that detracted from my listening experience. However, I must note that I am not a detail freak like some folks and actually prefer a more laid back presentation. Perhaps someone that really likes a lot of detail would not be bothered by what I perceived as a tad bit of over the top detail and a very slight edge, albeit playing through my extremely revealing Sun Union Dragon Prince loudspeakers.

If your system leans more to the warm side, the Romance 2 would likely provide a better synergy in my view than if your system is already extremely detailed or toward the forward side. On the other hand, if you system already has plenty of detail, the Romance 1 may be a better match with its warmer overall character, but with less detail. Since I lean toward the euphonic side of the equation, I felt like the Romance 2 was too much of a good thing on the detail side with my Sun Union Dragon Prince loudspeakers, but also felt like I was missing a heck of a lot of detail when I switched back to the Romance 1. There was no doubt that the Romance 2 was more forward than the very relaxed Romance 1. This was especially noticeable on less than stellar and older CDs, such as John Mayer’s 2001 Room For Squares. Too much detail for me with a slight coldness were my initial impressions. Just sayin… When I put in the Ed Sheerin X CD, which is definitely better recorded than the John Mayer, things definitely improved, but I still detected a nagging slight forwardness, and a colder overall presentation than the same CD sounded when I later put the uber expensive Stealth Indra interconnect on the same set up. To these ears the Indras seemed to have a more musically engaging presentation, and were more balanced. But, in all fairness the Indra in the latest configuration retailed upwards of $6k vs. the Romance 2 that retails for $1600.

My initial impressions of the Romance 2 were also based on using them from my Audio Logic DAC to my NAT preamp. The Audio Logic already provides plenty of detail, so I decided to next test the Romance 2 on my Sony XA 5400 SACD/CD player with Vacuum State Electronics (VSE) modds installed by Bill Thalmann of Music Technology in Springfield, VA. The modded Sony has a much more laid back overall character than the Audio Logic feed by the older Sony X779ES CD player, so I expected the Romance 2 would be a better match with the XA 5400. But, the real question is whether it would sound as good as my reference cable, the much more expensive Stealth Audio Indra prototype that was presently on the Sony XA5400. I listened to the Sony XA5400 with the Indra using some test CDs that I am intimately familiar with, and then switched to the Romance 2.  

norafeels.jpgI started with Nora Jones Feels Like Home CD, and throughout the CD I noticed some details that seemed a bit more prevalent than on the Stealth, but I could not convince myself those added details and the slightly coldness of the presentation I heard with the Romance 2 was worth giving up the overall more musical and engaging balanced character of the Stealth Indra. Perhaps the detail I was hearing was a function of the more forward sound of the Romance 2.  This was interesting given that the Romance 2 was supposed to be romantic, which I expected to translate to more laid back.  But, even on the more laid back Sony XA5400ES, I was still not enjoying the music as much as with the Stealth, although I was hearing some new details.  

The Romance 2 was definitely a better match with the XA 5400’s laid back character. But, as with the other SonyX779ES/Audio Logic combo, I definitely liked the 5400 better with the Stealth Indra. The Romance 2 absolutely appeared to let more details come through that I never noticed with the Indra. But, in the end it was the Indra interconnect that I preferred since its more musical and balanced character on both Sony players was more in line with my personal preference. Ok, sometimes money can buy you love.

I let the Romance 2s play continuously for four more days with a burn-in CD, to make sure any residual coolness was not due to break-in, and popped in an SACD of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. I had listened to the same SACD on my main system with the Revel Salon 2s, and was surprised that I found the sound smoother overall on my second system with more revealing loudspeakers. I pulled out the John Mayer Room For Squares CD that I definitely thought was previously too in your face with the Romance 2s. On the first notes I definitely thought it was smoother, and less forward than during my previous test. Although not a great sounding CD to begin with, I had new found hope for the Romance 2s. It still had a bit of dryness but not like before. So, additional break-in time seemed to help, and I noted the CD was both smooth and detailed. So, caution to make sure you have lots of time on these cables before any critical listening.

johnmayer.jpgThe Mayer CD was definitely more listenable than before, but I still detected some edge, but after flipping through the remainder of the CD I noted it was definitely better. Perhaps my assessment would improve with a better CD, so I pulled out Jack Johnson, On and On. Better still… Great detail but no edge. I concluded that the Romance 2s were surprisingly pretty darn revealing, and everything came through, whether good or bad. Definitely not what I expected from an interconnect that was purportedly on the “romantic” side. The On and On CD has tons of detail but it all came through with a very nice smoothness without any hard edge that had peeked through from time to time on the Mayer CD, and the slight dry/forward character that had been present when I previously played this CD on the same set up was no longer there. Surprise! Surprise! Plus, I noted nice weight to Jack’s vocals. I could definitely live with this. Must have needed more break-in time I concluded. I recommend giving these babies more than a few hundred hours play time before you reach any conclusions (at this point they had about 350 hours of play time).

My last test on my second system was a replay of Nora Jones Feels Like Home CD. I previously detected a slight edge with this disk. As soon as I heard the first few notes of the first song I said OMG, I really couldn’t believe how good Nora’s voice sounded and with all the detailed instrumentation behind, without any of the previously detected hardness. I even wondered if I needed to bother testing the Romance 2s on my other more laid loudspeakers, since it sounded so darn good. But, I did anyway.  I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions, so I carefully listened to the entire Nora CD. While I detected a slight hint of dryness here and there on some of the instrumentation, it was nothing like I previously noted when listening prior to additional break-in time. Overall, the presentation was very musical, and the voices were to die for; textured, weighty and nuanced, and the dynamics were excellent from top to bottom.

At the time of this review, my main system included Carver VTA 305M tube mono blocks driving Revel Salon 2 loudspeakers using Synergistic Research Apex speaker cables, a Conrad Johnson Act 2 preamp and the Esoteric K-03 CD/SACD player.  The Romance 2s seemed like they would be a better match on this system, due to its more laid back character.

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Comments:

  • Benjamin Zwickel
    08 February 2016 10:35
    Wow!

    I never expected such a detailed comparison and evaluation. Our Lucent ICs have been reviewed and given awards several times over the past five years but this is by far the most comprehensive review of the lot.

    I thought I would let you all know the rather subtle differences between our Lucent ICs...serious trade secrets and all that ;-)

    The only difference between our Lucent Basic and our CFC are the Furutech plugs and the addition of a layer of carbon fiber braid. And the only difference between the Furutech FP-126(R) we use on our Basic and the CF-126(R) we use on our CFC is the plug barrel has carbon fiber in it providing better electrical shielding and better mechanical dampening.

    So the differences you heard between our basic and our CFC are 100% attributed to a layer of carbon fiber from plug to plug.

    Makes you think, right?

    The only difference between our CFC and our SE is that the SE has a silver ground ribbon. Everything else is identical. We found by using the copper signal ribbon combined with the silver ground we get the best of both worlds...the smoothness and warmth of copper with the detail and speed of silver.

    We actually used to make an all silver version of our Lucent ICs but we found them to be a bit on the thin and forward side compared to the combo of copper and silver we use in our current SE.

    Another thing you may find interesting is the effect the cotton dielectric has. In the original version of our Lucent ICs we had the ribbons floating in a flattened Teflon tube. Though technically it was a near-air dielectric, sonically it performed very different than cotton.

    Switching from Teflon to the cotton dielectric in 2013 improved the time and tune which in turn fleshed out the tone and timbre. It also corrected phase/time distortions in the bass.

    I think if you were to compare the Romance 2 to our SE again you'll notice that the robust base comes at the expense of time and tune. Simple physics. We'd found that any polymer dielectric will absorb bass energy like a capacitor and release/recharge at a timed interval resulting in a more robust bass at the expense of time and tune.

    Since this was by far the most intensive review our our Lucent ICs I though I would respond by revealing our secret recipe. I hope you enjoyed learning how such subtle changes in materials can make such significant changes in performance.

    Enjoy!
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