the abso!ute sound

the abso!ute sound

review by John Marks

MARIGO AUDIO LAB D2 PRO High Current Distribution System

“Music is feeling then, not sound,” wrote Wallace Stevens. But several of his poems suggest that High End phenomena such as noise, floor and dynamic subtlety mattered to him:

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

The “just after” of a musical sound is almost as important to its faithful reproduction as is the reproduction of the sound itself.

Capitulating to the insistent urging of Plinius importer Larry Galbo, I asked Ron Hedrich of Marigo Audio Lab to send me his D2 PRO Distribution System , even though I was not really expecting to hear a worthwhile improvement.

Here’s why: Mr. Stevens’ system in its present state of evolution includes only two devices needing AC power, so the two power cords have been going straight into the wall outlet. David Hancock, the engineer of Dallas Symphony/ Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances fame, once told me that he had never tried an AC line power filter or conditioner that did not leave a sonic thumbprint on the master tape. Banking on Hancock’s experience, and also on some of my own, I expected that the Marigo box would either make no difference in the system, or it would soften or veil things a bit. I took the Marigo box out of its shipping carton and installed it frosty-cold right off the UPS truck into the system.

Re-powering the system and re-cueing the title track, I sat down to listen. Flabbergasted, I immediately went back to the amplifier, to turn the volume control down. Without question, the dynamic peaks had just gotten louder. In part because of a lower noise floor, but in part because they were just louder. This was counter-intuitive, to say the least.

How can a passive power strip increase dynamics?

I phoned Marigo Lab to vent my incredulity. Ron Hedrich’s philosophy boils down to the precept of “first do no harm.” He did not dispute my relation of David Hancock’s experience and conclusions, but he did suggest if the problem is approached with finesse, instead of attacked with brute force, surprising results are possible. He told me that the selection, routing, and soldering of the internal wiring was critical and that he modifies the outlets they use.

The Marigo Audio D2 PRO Distribution System is black crinkle-finish powder-coated metal with a handsome mirror finish gloss black faceplate. It measures 3.5 inches tall, 19 inches wide, and 8.25 inches deep. The rear panel holds 9 high-quality outlets and one high-quality IEC-standard AC inlet for the supplied detachable ‘Resolution’ power cable. (The D2 PRO/Ultra Distribution Center model is supplied with a $595 Ultra series 2 power cable for an additional $300.)

A non-MOV circuit provides 20,000 amperes of surge and spike protection on all three legs. I played mix and match both here and elsewhere with Marigo AC cables. I concluded that the system sounded best with the more expensive Marigo Ultra 2.

Marigo Lab will soon release an active power conditioner, which I am quite eager to try. The Marigo Audio D2 PRO Distribution System made an improvement of an order of magnitude. And spike protection is no laughing matter. I recommend that you audition the Marigo Audio D2 PRO Distribution Systme, which is available with a money-back guarantee.

Questions or comments, please e-mail me at

ref.   the abso!ute sound,   excerpted reprint issue 117, April/May 1999


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