|Posted by Amine Slimani on July 24, 2012 at 9:30 AM|
When nenno from Reference Tweaks first contacted me about his Miracle Wraps, I was very intrigued to say the least. I did not totally understand how such a “tweak” could have an impact on the sound, but since different cables with different shielding schemes have sounded different in the past, I agreed to do the review out of curiosity. The point that surprised most, besides the fact that the effect of the Wraps on the system was noticeable and unmistakable, was that it affected both unshielded and shielded cables. Hence, there is something very specific about the Miracle Wraps, whether it is a specific shielding or “conditioning”, which seems to elude all the cables I have in my collection.
I have read a few times the description of how the Miracle Wraps are supposed to work but I couldn’t understand the science behind; it is probable that PhDs in quantum physics are in a better position to evaluate the claims made by Reference tweaks. However, regardless of the theory behind it, the Miracle Wraps do work, so that is why I decided to write an article about them.
How does it work?
The Miracle Wraps are very easy to use. As their name suggests, you just have to wrap them around the cable you want to “improve”. In my review set, 4 wraps were included: 2 large ones to use with power cords and 2 small ones to use with a pair of line-level interconnect wires.
Wraps - Redesigned:
Although the set that was sent to me 6 months ago has worked perfectly even though I tend to handle them a lot as a reviewer, nenno informed me that Reference Tweaks redesigned the Wraps for even more durability. Below is an extract from the info I was provided with. As far as I know, the redesign did not impact the sound.
All Miracle Wraps are now made with two layers of Japanese paper and they are extra enforced on the essential points. We have done this out of precaution, so far we did not have to replace one Miracle Wraps from customers. We also redesigned the typography. We now use a bigger font and a dark blue ink.
Equipment used for the review
In order to get a good understanding of the effect of the Wraps I used them in two very different systems: my reference headphone based one as well as a secondary speaker system that I haven’t had time to fine tune yet.
Both systems are described below.
System 1 – Headphone Based (optimized)
Computer source: HP Pavillon DV6 (Core i7, 8GB), Windows 7 64bits SP1, Fidelizer, JRiver Media 17
Transports: Audiophilleo 2, Kingrex UD384, Jkeny’s modified Hiface MK1, Audio-gd Digital Interface (w/ Tentlabs upgrade clock), Teralink X2, Musiland Monitor 01 USD, EMU 0404 USB
DACs: Audio-gd DAC-19 DSP (with DSP1 V5), Kingrex UD384
Amplifiers: Audio-gd C2, Little Dot MKIII
Headphones: ALO recabled Beyerdynamic T1, Sennheiser HD650 with Artisan Silver Dream upgrade cable
Digital interconnects: Hifi Cables Sobek BNC, OyaideDB-510 BNC, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Analog Interconnects: Artisan Ultimate Silver Dream RCA, Norse Audio custom 8 conductor UP-OCC ACSS, Deep Sounds SPS ACSS, Kimber PBJ RCA
Power filtration: Bada LB-5600 Filter, Essential Audio Tools Noise Eater, Essential Audio Tools Pulse Protector, Supra Mains distributor
Power cords: Hifi Cables & Cie PowertransPlus (x2), Hifi Cable & Cie SimpleTrans, Olflex power cords
Vibration Control: Aktyna ARIS decoupling feet, Maple and Acrylic Platforms, E&T rack, Stabren Damping pads, Sandbox, Brass cones, Vibrapod, Yamamoto Ebony footers and Various Herbie’s Audio Labs tweaks
System 2 – Speaker Based (not fully optimized)
Yamaha CD 600 --> Kimber PBJ --> Yamaha AS500 / Populse T150 --> Qed Speaker cable --> Triangle Antal EX speakers
Reference tracks used for the review
My (usual) reference tracks:
Mahler - Symphony n 5- Decca - 16/44
Sol Gabetta - Schostakowitsch Cellokonzert Nr. 2/Cello - 16/44
Vivaldi - Concertofor 2 violins - Carmignola/Mullova - 16/44
Natalie Dessay - Italian Opera Arias - Emi Classics -16/44
Puccini - La Boheme - Decca - 16/44
Glenn Gould - The Goldberg Variations (1981) - 16/44
The Essential James Bond - City of Prague Philharmonic orchestra - 16/44
The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five - HDCD - 16/44
Diana Krall - Live in Paris - 16/44
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me - 16/44
Patricia Barber -Companion - 16/44
Johnny Cash - TheEssential - 16/44
Soundrama - "ThePulse" Test CD - 16/44
High Resolution quality:
Rachmaninoff Dances -HD Tracks - 24/96
Mozart Violin Concertos - Marianne Thorsen - 2L - 24/96
Dunedin Consort -Messiah - Linn Records - 24/88
Glenn Gould – The Goldberg Variations (1955) – HDTracks - 24/96
Keith Jarrett - Paris/ London - Testament - 24/96
Jazz at the Pawnshop- HD Tracks - 24/88
Alison Krauss and Union Station - Paper Airplane - 24/96
Ella Fitzgerald /Louis Armstrong - Ella & Louis - 24/96
Diana Krall – From this Moment on - 24/88
Diana Krall - TheGirl in the Other Room - 24/96
The World's Greatest Audiophile Vocal Recordings - Chesky - 24/96
The Kinks - One forthe Road Live - 24/96
The Eagles - Hotel California - HD Tracks - 24/96
Head-fi/Chesky Sampler - Open Your Ears - 24/96
As I mentioned in the introduction, the effect of the Miracle Wraps was surprisingly audible and repeatable across different systems. The effects were rather similar when used with different analog cables (interconnects, power cords) and were somehow a little bit different when used with digital cables.
While none of the wraps that were sent to me were intended to be used with digital cables, I nonetheless did try the small ones with both digital spdif cables and usb cables.
The result was mainly a smoother and more focused side. With my digital cables (Oyaide DB510 and Hifi Cables & Cie Sobek), the effect was too much smoothing out, while the effect on USB cables was much better. Perhaps that the fact the USB cables carry both analog (usb bus power) and digital (usb data) signals explains the better results I have had with the Miracle Wraps on the USB Cables in comparison with “simple” spdif digital cables.
All analog cables seemed to benefit positively from adding the Wraps around them. Regardless of the type of conductor, geometry used and shielding scheme, the Wraps did always make a improvement into the right direction. The only difference I noticed is that with my Artisan Ultimate Silver Dream, I preferred the Wraps at the source while with my ACSS (current mode) Norse Audio interconnects, I preferred them at the amplifier side. Even though, the positioning did not make a day and night different, it is still worth trying since it does not take involve much effort doing it.
Overall, given the similarity of the effect of the Wraps on the analog cables, I will not make a distinction between the use of Miracle Wraps on power cables and on RCA/ACSS interconnect cables. The effect is cumulative, so I encourage anyone that is open to the idea of trying such a tweak to try a whole set (i.e. interconnects and power cable treatment).
Timber & Tonal Balance:
For whatever reason, I was expecting the Wraps to soften somehow the sound. I thought that they would act as some kind of filter and perhaps smooth the sound by softening the transients. Since it was a passive device, that “could not” add anything, it could only subtract things (edge of transients) in my reasoning. This digression is intended to show that despite having the best intentions of objectivity; one always forms an idea on how a new piece of equipment might sound like.
Surprisingly, the main effect of the Miracle in my system is the transformation of my usual sound into a bolder one. Instead of smoothing the sound as I was expecting, the sound became “rawer”. It is like if the garbage and fuzziness surrounding the harmonics were cleaned up without turning the sound into the aggressive side. The audiophile “veil is lifted” cliché could perhaps be applied here but it would not totally describe what I heard.
The effect of the Wraps is impressive in the way that it adds both directness and naturalness at the same time, as superior components should always but so few components actually do.
When taking each audio band separately, there is no increase in bass or lowering in the highs (i.e. change in the frequency domain). So for those looking for a way to alter or fine tune perhaps their system in the frequency domain, you should probably look elsewhere. What the Wraps do is that they provide you with a closer experience to the true color of real instruments in real life. It is difficult to quantify but it is unmistakable for music lovers and enthusiasts.
Soundstage & Imaging:
Because of that “cleaning” effect around the notes I talked about earlier, the instruments and performers stand with better accuracy and definition in the virtual soundstage. While, I was impressed in the beginning by the increase in the size of the soundstage, I did not pay much attention to the size of the soundstage later on. For those looking to increase the size of the soundstage, switching from a regular copper interconnect, such as the Kimber PBJ, to a pure silver one, such as the Artisan Ultimate Silver Dream, might provide better results in that respect.
The Miracle Wraps allow you to have a slightly better defined, the instruments and performers are better carved in space but, overall, the effect is relatively small in scale.
When I first listened to my system after adding the whole set of Miracle Wraps, I had the impression that the volume was raised a little bit. In fact, I had already experienced that feeling with some equipment and cables, and it is usually due to a greater clarity in the sound.
While the sound felt “louder”, I curiously found myself listening to even higher volume levels than usual. Adding the Wraps to a system is the equivalent to adding a more powerful engine to a car, or putting the same engine into a lighter one. Everything sounded unrestrained and more alive. Some little hardness in the sound that was not obviously audible was released and allowed me to turn the volume higher without feeling any objectionable sounding distortion
With the already ultra-clean sounding ALO Beyer T1s, I could listen to “realistic” levels without any sign of strain or hardness. I had to teach myself to back down a little bit in order not ruin my hearing.
Meanwhile, listening at lower levels than usual was also very enjoyable.
As a result, the Miracle Wraps improved noticeably the perceived dynamics while providing with better enjoyment for both low level and high level listening.
Definition & Transparency:
As a passive component, I initially thought that if the Miracle were to have any real effect on the sound it would necessarily imply a loss of transparency and definition.
The end result is unsurprising if you had read the previous sections.
By cleaning the sound from the “un-musical” information, it actually increases both definition and transparency while retaining an interesting level of musicality.
I did not have any seriously flawed or tipped up system to try it with, so I don’t know if the increase in resolution and transparency can become too much after a certain point. But if I had to guess, I would say that the Wraps would be worth trying even in such systems since it has mostly taken my system in the right direction, regardless of the associated equipment and whether it was used in my optimized headphone system or the speaker system that I am currently setting-up.
To sum up, I would say that I have been extremely pleased with the Miracle Wraps and that I will be keeping the set after the review. In my opinion, and in my particular situation, the Wraps represent an excellent value as they take the sound into the right direction (more realism and more directness) without showing any noticeable drawbacks. While the improvement the Wraps make on my system are not quantifiably big in scale, it is nonetheless difficult to live without it after a while.
So, should everyone jump and buy the Miracle Wraps? I believe that the answer is no. The Miracle Wraps are for those who already own a “decent” system (which does not necessarily mean expensive) and have already experimented with cables and other accessories and understood what type of effect they might induce in their system. The average tweak-fi reader will probably fit that description and will probably benefit greatly from adding the Miracle Wraps into their system.
The Miracle Wraps are a highly recommended tweak. It is easy to try and not ridiculously priced for the type of improvement it provides.
Categories: Cables & Tweaks