Audio Cables

Argentum Audio Cables: The Mythos Analog Interconnect, Argento Digital Interconnect, Aureus Speaker Cable, and Proteus Power Cable

ARTICLE INDEX


Introduction

Sometime in ancient history, when snakes freely roamed the earth without fear that their oil would be disparaged, John Johnson asked me if I wanted to review the complete line of Ultralink/XLO Argentum audio cables. Since I thrive on comparisons, be they of cabling, amplifiers, or sopranos, I welcomed the assignment. (The Argentum power cable is not necessarily just for audio, but we include it as such here.)

My history with cable comparisons goes back at least 15 years, to the time when I began to upgrade a fledgling high-end system by purchasing a $550 Rotel CD player. As I was about to cart it home, the dealer declared that I would have to spend at least $78 on an AudioQuest Ruby interconnect in order to get the most out of the player.

I was incensed that he would even dare suggest that I had to spend an extra $84 (with tax) in order to get good sound. I already knew that speaker cables made a difference, because I had once gone from lamp cord to 12-gauge silver wire on my old Advent loudspeakers, and immediately heard an extra octave (or so it seemed) of bass, and far more substance in the midrange. In fact, way before I had heard of "high-end audio," I used to thank people who would put me up for a few nights by buying them $25 worth of better speaker cable, and watching their mouths drop as their sound improved. But $84 for one lousy pair of interconnects? Wasn't the stuff from the Shack good enough?

Fit to be tied rather than cabled, I reluctantly marched out of the store with a loaner pair of Rubys. Ever the inquisitive one, I also made a near-fatal error, and asked to try the next level up ($110 plus tax), whose casing was blue.

Then I trotted over to a competitor's establishment, borrowed a $55 pair of MIT interconnects, and took all three pairs home for a listen. In short order, it became so obvious that the $110 interconnects transmitted far more full-range sound than the rest. With my head hanging low, I first returned the MITs, then visited my dealer to plop down $118 or so dollars for a meter pair of AQ interconnects.

Since then, other cables from AudioQuest, Harmonic Technologies, WireWorld, Nordost, Acoustic Zen, Kimber, Bybee, HighWire, PS Audio, Echole, and Elrod have passed in and out of my system. I've tried entry level, middle of the pack, and top of the line cables from many of those companies, and also heard a host of other brands at shows. (It's harder for me to comment on cables I've heard at shows, given that the reference system was different). I've wired an entire system with one brand, and a;sp experimented with mix and match.

For several years, my reference cables were Nordost Valhalla. Most recently, since the 2009 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I've had the loan of a complete line of Nordost Odin cabling. Valhalla is especially brilliant, open, and transparent in the high frequency range; Odin, to these ears, has all of Valhalla's strengths, but is smoother on top, more tonally neutral throughout the range, and far richer in lower midrange and bass information. While I have hardly auditioned all the top-end cables in my system, the general consensus among those who have is that Nordost Odin is among the best.

I'm especially blown away by the Odin power cables, which are pretty amazing. I've introduced Odin power cables to several people's system, including the home system of VTL's Luke Manley and Bea Lam. Each time, I have observed people's reactions when they've heard what a difference switching the power cable on the first piece of equipment in their chain (e.g. power conditioner or, if there is none, CD player or transport) to Odin has vastly improved the sound of the entire system. One of the most startling reactions was from Tim Marutani, a dealer and audio consultant who was beta testing TAD's excellent new CD player. Once Tim heard the player powered by an Odin cable, he called Andrew Jones of TAD to declare that it sounded like a totally different player.

Which brings us back to Argentum. The price difference between the Argentum and Nordost Odin line is huge. How, I wondered, would an Argentum Proteus-12 power cable that costs $1050 for 2.74 meters compare with a Nordost Odin power cable that costs $16,000 for 2.5 meters? More to the point, assuming that the price difference was reflected in quality, how could I even think of comparing the two?

Specifications

  • Design: Proprietary, Symmetrically Balanced Windings
  • Conductor: Multi-conductor, Cryogenically Treated, Laboratory Grade UP-OCC Copper
  • Insulation: Ultra-low Capacitance Teflon and Teflon-variant Fluoropolymer
  • Shielding: Full Copper Foil with Full Coverage Copper Braid
  • Termination: Precision Machined Connectors with 24K Mil-spec Direct Gold-plated Contacts
  • Proteus-12 AC Power Cord has Proprietary Counter-spiral, Multi-core, Multi-gauge Geometry; Low Capacitance Dielectric Insulation; Proprietary Double Shielded, Double Grounded Design and Proprietary Metal Shells with Premium Furutech Alpha Pure Copper AC Plug and IEC Connectors
  • MSRP:
  • Mythos Analog Audio Interconnect: 1 Meter Pair = $400/RCA, $500/XLR
  • Argento Coaxial Digital Cable: 1 Meter = $350
  • Millenia AES/EBU Digital Cable: 1 Meter = $400
  • Aureus-2 Speaker Cable: 6 Foot Pair = $900/ Bi-wired 6 Foot Pair = $1,000
  • Proteus-12 AC Power Cord: 6 Feet = $900
  • Argentum Acoustics