Country of Origin


C-MARC Stellar Entropic

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, 40GB RAM, Sonoma 14), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Studio, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 & SW-6 switch, Laiv Audio Harmony and Sonnet Pasithea; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & Gold Note monoa on subwoofer; Headamp: Kinki Studio THR-1; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Kinki Studio Earth, Furutech; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: FiiO R7 into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Amplifier: Kinki Studio EX-M7; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: Acelec Model One
Headphones: Final D-8000 & Sonorous X, Audeze LCD-XC, Raal-Requisite SR1a on Schiit Jotunheim R
Upstairs headfi system: FiiO R7; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro, Fiio FT3

2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: $2'450/2m

"From what I've deduced over the past 25 years, break-in is not about how much voltage, current or power we can shove through a wire. If it were, power cords would break themselves in, right? Sorry, refrigerator guys. No, I believe it's all about the electrical and magnetic fields generated within the dielectric, i.e. the insulation between conductors. Think of a cable as a capacitor. You break those in by doing essentially the same thing, exercising the fields as much as you possibly can. That's what our original FryKleaner in the generation prior to FryBaby did. It produced a signal equal to playing a hundred songs at the same time—basically white noise—while also modulating that signal in amplitude for more low-frequency content. It then swept that modulation in time such that there was no constant steady-state information. The result sounds a bit like a vintage steam train speeding up and slowing down.

"But that's not all there is to it. We already know that large voltage and current don't do the trick. So what does? I believe it's not the amplitude of the fields doing most of the work but rather how fast these fields change in time, that is, frequency. The secret to break-in are high frequencies operating well above the audio band. This is also why I think USB and CAT5 cables tend to break themselves in. Think of RIAA correction for a minute. It was an attempt to de-emphasize the 6dB/octave slope characteristic of the generator (cartridge) where output voltage (or current) is proportional to velocity. This is exactly what I think goes on with burn-in. It's all about the rate of change of fields so velocity. For example, a power cord at 120V and 60Hz (I don't care how many amperes) doesn't do much to break in that cord not even across thousands of hours. Let's double that frequency seven times over to ~7.7kHz. To me a 1V signal at 7.7kHz has similar burn-in capability as does the original 120V/60Hz. If we doubled frequency x 12 (4096 * 60 = 246kHz), we have 32 times more oomph (2^5). This is exactly what my FryCorder can do (FryBaby goes up to 500kHz). You cannot do that with a refrigerator. Fast-changing electric and magnetic fields are what work the dielectric to break in faster than playing music itself."

That was Stuart Hagerman from this thread which reader Jonas Harrow pointed me to by way of suggesting a worthy very affordable review subject. Electrical engineers tend to throw tantrums at such statements. Some makers like Hagerman Audio Labs and Audio Dharma do something about it. Remember the Irrational But Efficacious break-in CD from Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics? Louis Motek of Lithuania's audio house LessLoss too thinks that break-in is a real albeit misunderstood phenomenon. Unlike Stuart, he doesn't sell a £151 power-cord burn-in generator in a translucent case with a 30-day return privilege. Instead all LessLoss cables with the 'Entropic' suffix are built using a specialized production process which claims to minimize subsequent break-in time. Louis' best Stellar cord can be had with US, EU and UK plugs and 15A/C13 or 20A/C19 IEC. Standard length is 2m. Both shorter and longer are possible. To read his thoughts on the matter, go here. If that and the earlier Hagerman quote brought on the fantods against 'all cables sound the same' and 'break-in is imaginary' beliefs, best leave now. There are places which support such worldviews with plenty of argumentative proof. Ours isn't one of them. We actually try things for ourselves to honestly report on what we heard or didn't, lack of convenient—or any—explanations be damned. LessLoss aren't afraid of naysayers either. "We're in planning for a few new products: a stand-alone Firewall for line-level signals, another one for headphones and an incredibly whacky new ambient field conditioner for the car. The latter will finally involve no tear-down of integrated audio/phone/navigation systems. We'll elevate the audio listening experience and even driving experience by means of advanced ambient field conditioning. In black leather, of course!" Bring your own whips and chains. Choking optional.