Audio Cables

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

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Setup

(Argentum Cabling's Design Philosophy)

My first listen to Argentum cabling was to the Millenia AES/EBU Digital cable. At the time, my reference digital cable was Nordost Valhalla AES/EBU.

I was not enthralled by what I heard. The system sounded darker, more covered and opaque, and less detailed.

I wondered what was up. The explanation came at CES 2009, where Argentum cabling was officially unveiled. There, Nate Mansfield, Sales Manager for Ultralink/XLO, gave me the low-down on the difference between the design philosophy of the two cable lines in the Ultralink family, XLO and Argentum.

XLO's presentation is absolutely honest, Nate said in more words or less, and quite linear. Calling it "the high-end choice," he noted that it is totally hand built, and its geometry is clearly visible.

Argentum, on the other hand, was designed to overlook flaws in components. Its presentation is intentionally more forgiving, and tends to soften highs. It is priced in the middle of the XLO line, is only partially hand-assembled, and its geometry is not visible. It may have certain design similarities to XLO cables, but its ideal applications are different.

That explained a lot. It also left me wondering if I had the best reference system for evaluating Argentum cabling.

Back in the 20th century, when I owned used Kenwood and Pioneer solid-state receivers – I forget which replaced which when one of them blew up – my fledgling system tended to be bright, unforgiving, and monochromatic, with little midrange warmth. Since then, I have done my best to assemble a far more musical system. Instead of a mass-market receiver, I now use VTL prototype MB-450 Series II Signature tube monoblocks. I also have a number of devices to fine-tune the sound in my large, irregular living room. My system is anything but monochromatic, hard, bright, overly detailed, or etched.

At this stage of the game, the only component I own that needs forgiving – lots of forgiving - is a decade-old, entry-level Pioneer DVD player that resides in the upstairs, second system. Because this antiquated mass-market DVD player sounds so monochromatically bright, I've surgically removed its wired-on, stock power cable and replaced it with an IEC connector and Elrod EPS-2 Signature power cable. I've chosen the Elrod because it softens the unit's glare while bringing out far more midrange and bass than any stock power cable I've heard. Were I to instead use a Nordost Valhalla power cable, which is far more neutral, the player's brightness would be dismaying, if not downright irritating.

I'm well aware of the adage that cables are not tone controls. Nonetheless, adages are adages, and cables are cables. Cables may not be tone controls per se, but since different cables have different sonic signatures, they affect tonal balance. Once you get a handle on the sound of different cables, you can judiciously choose cables that best balance out sonic flaws in components.

The ideal situation, of course, is to own a synergistic match of tonally neutral, maximally transparent components, and to mate them with neutral, full-range cables that best transmit sonic truth. Some of us own such components. Most of us do not.

For those whose components are sonically compromised and far from neutral, a judicious choice of cabling can help maximize system strengths while balancing out flaws. Argentum cabling, which was conceived with the goal of transforming a bright, overly etched system into one far more neutral and pleasing, might be just what the doctor ordered.