To be fair, early on I felt at least mildly skeptical about such a claim. But LessLoss have been around and their impressively documented portfolio is held in high regard by reviewers and consumers alike. Many items label generous on the price/performance index. All of this evidence couldn't be based on sheer luck I thought so with these boxes checked off, personal curiosity did the rest. Word is that Sven Boenicke is soon going to include certain LessLoss tech in upcoming goods. As a happy Boenicke speaker owner, this additionally incentivized me. Lastly, Louis proved to be very communicative to actually set a new record. Most of his messages arrived within the hour and some after mere minutes. Several days past our first exchange, two C-MARC power cords were on their way. To begin, let's take a closer look at their portfolio. Various cables have always been their bread and butter but today they share space with far different products. With $90'000+ on its tag, the Laminar Streamer remains the most expensive LessLoss to date and by far. This direct-driven audiophile SD card transport is a one-off proof of concept built to make a statement. Nothing else like it exists as far as I'm aware. This gorgeously minimalist audio sculpture I only spotted once in Munich in a room full of people surrounded by electronics I never heard at my place. I thus had no means to judge its sonic contributions. All I know is that this platform handles SD card content with its own short lightning-fast code immune to compatibility issues. It is free from time lag, buffering, moving bits and PC-related components. That last fact is of utmost importance since the entire concept behind the Laminar Streamer is digital purity free from complications and noise, hence no WiFi, Ethernet, a fancy display or remote control. If such single-minded extremism floats your boat and financials are no issue, this deck can be ordered with a 3-5 months lead time.
Here it's worth introducing Vilmantas 'Vil' Duda largely responsible for the Laminar Streamer project. He grew up in Lithuania and considers his homeland situated between East and West also mentally to mean awareness of one's own ideas and dreams, untiring work ethic and educational drive. This unique mix formed Vil's character and is something he's proud of. He holds a degree in electrical engineering, has been active in audio for his entire life and is up to date on all computer-audio developments. To upgrade the latest affordable tech into outdoing far pricier offerings has been his aim for years and presumably also hobby since he actually takes greater joy in the creation process itself than prolonged listening to his own machines. Currently he works on a dream system for his own use. He's into phase-perfect digital filter algorithms and their potential in an ideal crossover. Vil worked as a sound technician for several Lithuanian recording studios, then moved to California for a year. As a computer specialist, he configured several machines used in popular productions like the hardware used by the keyboardist who co-wrote Michael Jackson's "Thriller". In spite of real learning opportunities in Los Angeles to see his talents more fully appreciated, Vil still felt that his electro-technical expertise was not fully exploited yet. Configuring machines meant to be used by others as their creative tools was his daily routine back then to eventually undermine his own creativity. He had been building custom DACs for more than two decades. As the head engineer at LessLoss, he can now fully implement all the knowledge gained over the years.
Moving on in the portfolio, LessLoss Echo's End DAC comes next. This compact wooden box based on Soekris discrete R-2R modules is available in three versions – Original ($5'342), Reference ($19'628) and Reference Supreme Edition ($34'000). The amount of internal LessLoss tech, type of topology and enclosure set them apart. The entry-level Echo's End runs a stacked Ply casing, the pricier siblings hand-waxed Panzerholz aka tankwood with a hand-made brass decal. Not having heard even the most affordable version, I can't comment in any meaningful way except to say that Louis and Vil seem to be into extensive tweaking. To me the mid-tier Echo's End looks very intriguing and the other hifi knight Marek has already praised the most affordable one elsewhere.
Next in the portfolio are three passive components meant to improve any setup at various junctions. The Firewall Current Conditioner ($410/ea.) addresses noise pollution in power and USB lines without caps, coils, fuses, diodes or inductors. The Bindbreaker decoupling feet ($160/e.) provide vibration control. LessLoss also sell Firewall 64X modules ($40/ea.) to DIYers for installation in hardware they already own. They even handle custom projects of which the most ambitious power-related project to date runs 116 Firewall units into ten power sockets. It's safe to say that LessLoss are no one-trick pony. Which gets us at their latest cables.
Like the DAC, the LessLoss dynamic filtering power cables originally separated out into three models – Original, Signature and Reference. This cable family was designed to be as free from noise as possible thanks to proprietary LessLoss skin-filtering technology. The live lines of the Signature and Reference versions had their conductivity doubled and additional ground wires woven into the main braid. Each model's price reflected its potency. The stronger the filtering action and additional measures, the heavier the ask. After years of service, suddenly the three DFPC musketeers along with their kin meant to work in different junctions all discontinued. Presumably many sleepless nights preceded that wholesale decision but Louis had found a way to up his silence game. Voilà, the common-mode auto-rejecting cable aka C-MARC. According to Louis, C-MARC outperformed thus dethroned every previously released LessLoss design to propagate across the board shortly after. Here it gets interesting. Today's subject has consolidated the three prior versions into one and made things lighter on the wallet at the same time. To replace costlier models certainly suggested demonstrable superiority. Although C-MARC and DFPC are somewhat similar in effect by stripping noise from the signal, Louis is confident that his latest cable family does the same job far better yet.
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