Few system upgrades are as popular and easy as a cable swap. And cables between $500 and $1500 are in the most hotly contested price range. Joining the ranks is Argentum Acoustics—a division of the Toronto-based cable giant Ultralink/XLO. The Argentum line comprises Aureus-2 speaker wire, Mythos interconnects, and Proteus power cords.
Aureus-2 is made of eight-conductor, 99.99998% pure, continuous-cast (Ohno) crystal copper in an ultra-low-capacitance DuPont Teflon dielectric.1 The Mythos interconnect is essentially a two-conductor version of Aureus with an additional shielding of copper foil plus a full-coverage copper braid and mil-spec contacts plated in 24-karat gold.
It only took a few minutes listening to familiar tracks from Dire Straits, Norah Jones, and Joan Baez’s latest Day After Tomorrow [Razor & Tie] to hear the “excitement factor” written all over the music. The Argentum was dynamic, alive with swift and spicy transients. It has a strong midrange flavor with the perspective just slightly back of the front couple of rows. In many ways the Argentum reminded me of the slightly darker, midrange-fueled nature of Tara Labs RSC Air Series 2 that I favorably reviewed a few years ago and still reference today. Vocals of all stripes were richly and continuously well defined. On the Baez, images of acoustic guitar, mandolin, and acoustic bass were focused and stable and there was a reasonable amount of air in the soundfield surrounding them. Orchestral works weren’t reproduced with quite the unbridled openness of some more expensive designs and the soundstage was flattened a bit, but performance was well within expectation in this price range. The real surprise was bass extension and resolution, which were flat-out state of the art—more than a match for comparably priced efforts like Crystal Cable Piccolo and Nordost Blue Heaven.
While the Argentum wires share more similarities than differences with competitors, there are two sonic criteria worth discussing—treble resolution and low-level transient/dynamic gradation. A good example is solo piano. I found that during Evgeny Kissen’s performance of “The Lark” the harmonic decay of rapid-fire upper-treble arpeggios was less articulate than it should have been. And during BS&T’s cover of “And When I Die” [Columbia, SACD] I lost the puff of air hitting the reeds of the solo harmonica during the intro. Also, electric bass, kick drum, and trombone weren’t as distinctly layered as they are with top o’ the heap wire. What this says to me is that the cable may be muting microdynamics. So, yes the Argentum leaves a shred of transparency on the table but, brother, not much.
At a couple grand, a basic configuration of Aureus-2 and Mythos isn’t chump change. But it says a lot about the sheer musicality and overall performance of the Argentum that it can proudly hold its head up against cables two or even three times as much. It also says something else. There’s a new midpriced cable in town.
1 Ohno Continuous Casting (OCC) is a process of drawing copper ingots into wire in a way that minimizes the grain structure in the wire. Grain is tiny discontinuities in the copper that adversely affect the audio signal passing through it. OCC copper has about one grain in 700 feet, in contrast to about 1500 grains per foot in standard casting techniques. —Robert Harley
SPECS & PRICING
Argentum Aureus-2 speaker cable
Price:Aureus-2 speaker, $1500 /3m pr.
Argentum Mythos interconnect cable
Price: Mythos RCA, $400/1m pr.
Argentum Proteus power cord
Price: Proteus power cord, $900/6', $1050/9'
1951 South Lynx Ave.
Ontario, CA 91761