The ArgentPur 12 Loudspeaker Cables and Interconnects are causing a stir in the audiophile world. Howard Milstein and Douglas Moore give a detailed account of these brand-new products.
ArgentPur is a new audiophile cable company whose owner and designer Ernest Meunier is no newcomer when it comes to hi-fi. The company, whose name is a French term that translates to “Pure Silver” began quite recently as an assault on the standard requirements for transmitting audio signals.
Ernest Meunier grew up around giant pipe organs, and in the high-end Audio business. In this business, it is always great to have been a musician as well. He is a pianist with a Steinway B parked between his Parsifal loudspeakers, and is quite familiar with what a good recording of a Steinway sounds like!
Eventually, Ernie became tired of what he was hearing on his home reference system. “I decided to purchase subscriptions to the BSO (Symphony Hall) and The Cantata Singers (Jordan Hall) and reduced the amount of music I listened to at home, thereby keeping refreshed calibrations of live music’s “absolute sound”, if you will.”
“Tom Horrall, a renowned acoustician and recording engineer, as well as Michael Rudd, a former Peter Walker student, and preeminent laser interferometer, provided me with a wealth of knowledge.” I’d built a couple of speakers in my youth, as well as efforts with these titans in the 90’s….
“Knowing that the highest-quality amplifiers and speakers used solid silver wiring, I experimented with a variety of short connections that connected my amps’ output boards straight to my speakers. Until I personally experienced DIY pure solid Ag, they all sounded similar. Scaling up the Nordost ladder meant negotiating various treble and transient distortion artifacts. But now, as I sequentially replaced all links with DIY naked solid Ag, all of the Nordost’s (and their clones’) of the silver/copper bimetallic artifacts were gone!”
Interestingly, Mr.Meunier quite early on found some useful sonic surprises while testing his prototype cables. This is that the ArgentPur cables when used with certain power-thirsty Harbeth loudspeakers found that their already superb reproduction qualities became more macrodynamic…even in their bass responses!
He then proclaimed that it seemed improbable, but “maybe there’s something about solid Ag’s coherence that informs the ear-brain to squeeze out a bigger perceived bottom-end impact.”
“It’s a very real effect that cannot be explained by the simple mass of the conductor”. Yes, Ag is indeed 6% more efficient than ANY copper amalgam, but the psychoacoustic effect is larger than that. He continues, “It’s like the woofer jumped up a size, 5 to 6, 6-8, 8-10, etc. This has been especially true with Harbeths and classic Spendor loudspeakers that have superb midranges but more polite bottom ends”.
The genesis of ArgentPur became a reality when Ernie decided to revamp his reference Verity Audio Parsifal Encores to 25th Anniversary status, adding direct pure Ag wiring to close-sitting monoblock amps…and making new jumpers; all this from solid Ag conductors in roomy Teflon air tubes.
He was cajoled to delve further into perfectionist Ag wiring and cabling, establishing ArgentPur almost one year ago (along with starting a relationship with a fretless 4-stringed mistress named a violoncello in some parlance). But back to the Parsifals…
“Re-cabling and refreshing those Parsifal Encores to 25th Anniversary physical status last year provided the entry for experiments with solid Ag wiring. I was unprepared for the improvements over my silver-PLATED Nordost references as I moved from jumpers to speaker cables to interconnects.” The results acquired here were almost revelatory” such that the ‘Golden Eared’ folks around Fidelis Distribution pushed him hard to start his own company.
“Through prototyping I discovered a few design refinements, such as incorporating variable stranding using Golden Ratios, as well an insistence on complete Ag conductance, were required to achieve superlative performance. Three tiers of Interconnects based on performance and price would be the best starting point, with Speaker Cables iterations based on conductor mass.”
When speaking to Ernie, the advice he gives prospective audiophiles and clients is to try a particular level of his Interconnects along with an AgPur Speaker Cable that matches their speakers’ needs, as outlined reliably on their website (below.)
SILVER vs. COPPER
When comparing silver to copper, which has a technically defined maximum theoretical transmission of 100%, pure silver, (Ag) has a conductivity of 106%. Accordingly, even umpteen nines copper can’t come close to pure silver.
Non-incidentally, many of the silver-plated copper conductors that are available on the market today have left me personally feeling underwhelmed after trying them. Some may even characterize them as “bright,” “etched,” or having “glare” because of the compromised features that limit top octave clarity and coherence. Theoretically, such trade-offs are absent from pure silver, which also lacks its bimetallic SOUND.
Ernie: “I continue to run into a significant number of professional and enthusiast listeners who characterize “silver” wires as always being problematic. However, continued listening to ArgentPur eliminated all of these prejudices. While pondering why no one was employing solid pure silver except at highly exorbitant prices, I merged a few technical pearls from Cardas (Golden Ratio building), Kimber (self-shielding), and Siltech (metallurgy).…
“I quickly discovered that not only did hand-built cables need a lot of time…4–7 hours for my speaker cables and several hours for ICs—but that the cost of materials was prohibitive for the established players.”
The AgPur Speaker Cables are arrayed by size according to current demands. For the majority of speaker loads, the AgPur13 is a “Goldilocks” model, which can be enjoyed by most enthusiasts’ systems, (at a lower price point) while the burlier 12 reviewed here, and 11 were typically designed for some of the Maggies, Wilsons, Apogees, and other choice speaker configurations.
Approximate the minimum AgPur Speaker Cable AWG required for your system by using this Selector Guide graph.”
“First determine your cable length requirement on the x-axis, as well as loudspeaker sensitivity on the y-axis.”
“Select a LARGER AWG if you have…
speakers with very low impedance possibly with a nasty phase angle large, “dead” room preference for max bass, with very large amps, or those with high output impedance’s a belief that the speaker mfr has overstated sensitivity””Select a SMALLER AWG if you have…
– speakers with a very easy, benign impedance
– small-to-average, or untreated (live) room
– moderate listening levels with moderate bass”A
To quote Ernest, “The optimum media for the Ag conductors to rest in are air, a vacuum (which is somewhat impracticable), and, if necessary, low dielectric effect insulative barriers. The fluorocarbons unquestionably represent the best of them.”
To minimize the dielectric effect further, each Ag strand used in ArgentPur is manually threaded through its fluorocarbon tube that is 5-10x larger, thereby allowing contact between the Ag conductor strand and its protective carrier to be dramatically reduced by this roomy air space. Capacitance and inductance are thus minimized, with the benefit of no “signal-hopping” destructive interference across the frequency spectra.
Achieving the necessary conductor mass involved individual strands of 9995 Ag to be aggregated in the company’s unique ‘Golden Ratios’ and placed in their capacious thin-walled Teflon tubes. The 9995 pure Ag strands floating in roomy air cushions through thin-walled Teflon to all the connectors made sense in every way.
Of course, reducing mutual inductance and controlling capacitance was mandatory, and the solid Ag strand cores of ArgentPur cables are initially formed as twisted pairs, and subsequently, they are aggregated into spirals and star quads. Twisted pairs or tri-braids create the final exterior geometry of these sets (AgPur Speaker or Interconnects).
A noise-canceling tri-braid external construction is used by AgPur single-ended (RCA) ICs to minimize the noise in an unshielded design, which should produce a purer musical performance than shielded constructions. (In particularly noisy situations, the end user is advised to add remote outside ‘’Faraday shields”, but only if necessary.
Premium low-mass, silver-plated tellurium-infused non-metallic RCAs are used for the single-ended designs while WBT0152AG locking RCAs are available for Pro or studio use at no extra cost. Balanced iterations use a silver-tipped Teflon body premium XLR, with locking Neutrik-Ag as a no-cost option as well.
Unlike many other “pure” silver interconnects that only offer perhaps 19-24 AWG total conductor mass, thus possibly reducing signal current, silver mass in ArgentPur cables starts at 19 AWG in its Harmonie model, increasing to 18 AWG in the higher resolution Athène, and culminates in an unheard of 16 AWG in the peerless Heracles, (reviewed here) providing extremely low series resistance and huge bass slam!
THE AgPur 12 Speaker Cable SOUND CHARACTER
The ArgentPur AgPur 12 (AWG) claims to enhance a high-resolution audiophile loudspeaker system’s overall performance quality with below-average to average sensitivity loads at most lengths as well as more difficult loads at shorter lengths. This model cable was an easy and simple choice for most reference systems and the one I preferred to evaluate here. Let’s now spend more time discussing the specifics of these cables’ audio performance.
As I initially started up the music using some streamed classical orchestral downloads, (the first being an exceptional live recording of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony conducted by Wyung Wun Chung ) the first thing that came to my mind was, quote “There is something extraordinary going on here and amazingly beautiful… Could it be magic?” Not unexpectedly…, as with many cable evaluations, I thought here we go again…! However, there was no mistaking that there was something different I was hearing, and these cables were all silver! (Most of which I cannot tolerate). And so, the journey proceeded.
After one hour of continuous listening with the AgPur 12” my mind said, “It’s the only (silver cable) I have auditioned that outranks the most expensive all-copper cables I have heard”;”…sounding as good as anything on the market… I still would not believe it to be so.
These first auditions gave me the inclination that these cables appeared to be very close to perfect in my mind. They incorporated a smooth ambient, creamy midrange effect similar to the best copper wires and a huge amount of silky transparency with detailed and subtle intricacies; all while maintaining and portraying a huge soundstage. The speaker cables’ inimitable bass response, was impactful and overtly deep in its character and depth. Otherwise, nothing and no part of its frequency spectrum ever shout AT YOU…offering up a boatload of such encrypted musicality!
My next move was determined and forthright. I quickly replaced the AgPur12s with my current top-notch reference copper cable I have been using for a few years. Banana plugs on both pairs saved the day bringing forth a fast switch—while allowing me not to lose my perception of the previous musical segment with the AgPurs. Sound levels were measured matched as close to equal as possible.
What was initially noticed with my reference cables (Inakustik LS 4004’s) was a tiny tad of extra “brashness throughout the midrange response, but this may have been an auditory miscalculation that is normal in all of us as we take on assessments such as these. What was indeed distinctly noticeable was in the mid-lower bass response and upper treble. It was here that the AgPur 12 seemed to take the sound to a slightly but significantly higher overall performance level. So far, fellow enthusiasts, all silver never sounded this good in my system!
Having relished the fact that I found a pure silver cable that did not destroy the mid-high frequency response in my system, I was quick to further establish what I did enjoy hearing through these AG/Pur speaker cables.
No doubt the full frequency gamut was wonderfully neutral, even, and they established great tonality of all instruments used in my old, but trustworthy Chesky Cd sampling disc. Unlike some silver-plated copper cables, there was no blurring and congestion in the midrange, and more importantly, the high frequencies did not appear to be “sharpened” or pushed up unnaturally in the sound spectrum.
Strings and massed violins exacted a clean, vibrant yet evenly ‘soft’ approach from all the loudspeakers they were tried with. They were especially responsive to my Harbeth Compact 7 and made a noteworthy improvement on the Q Acoustics Concept 500’s; the latter of which whose treble sometimes could be a ‘pinch’ scratchy on certain recordings. This was gone, and I could not be happier as such!
Surprisingly, the bass and mid-bass were adeptly strong, not over punchy, but disciplined from about 200 Hz and down to a solid 40 Hz on the above speakers. The top octave displayed a firm yet silky response while never exerting an overtly etched sound characteristics in any way. Violins are my test instrument and are where I am most critical of any system degradation. Again, I wondered, what was allowing these cables to work as if they knew instinctively what true musicality was all about.?
There were some enticingly shining moments when a few operatic aria albums were tested with the AgPur 12.. Again, the cables tonality was never accentuating the voices, yet they allowed them to “sing” freely and texturally throughout the auditioning.
My favorite here was the remastered voice of the late Dame Margaret Price on her “Great Singers” live recording on BR Klassiks and wow did her beautiful soprano voice come to the sound image with arresting clarity and smoothness! “Could other cables match these in vocal subtleties I thought to myself?”.
Sure enough, my previous cables did not project the fine “timbre”, exuberance, and musically intoxicating bliss of the AgPur’s. What’s more, the AgPur 12 projected this type of vocal timbre on just about every recording I proceeded to use. Mind you, one must not forget that the Harbeths and Q Acoustics Concept 500’s reproduction qualities did wonders to enthusiastically support these sonic observations… undoubtedly!
If you enjoy Hollywood’s finest film composers’ music, there is no need to look further than Bernard Herrmann. Joel McNeely has re-recorded the intoxicating and mystical soundtrack from Fahrenheit 451 (and other revelatory Herrmann scores) on Varese Sarabande.
Here you will marvel at lush and vibrant orchestral strings, in the Herrmann style as well as a boatload of different instrumental tones and shadings in a fabulously recorded album. It was not hard not to appreciate the brilliant sound quality of the “Silver” AG-12 with this album and their luxurious reproduction qualities.
THE HERACLES INTERCONNECTS
The ArgentPur Interconnects have three models in the lineup, all of them listed by their model names; Harmonie, Athene, and in this case, Heracles. The addition of the AWG size, e.g. Harmonie 19, Athene 18, and Heracles 16 denote the equivalent Ag AWG of each model in helping to define each model to the users
To paraphrase the website, “For reference level systems, the ArgentPur Heracles interconnects offer unsurpassed top octave air, clarity, and a thriving, completely coherent full-frequency presentation thanks to its unheard-of 16AWG (1.3mm2) aggregate solid Ag structure”.
The starting sessions were a bit tedious with these well-built cables, in some measure, as they were terminated with an unyielding and fussy WBT-type binding connector. Granted, initial production started with WBT locking connectors for both regular and pro use. (Current production for enthusiast audiophiles uses updated RCA connectors).
In the first instance, the most notable problems were the WBT connectors’ barrels falling off when loosened and some initial problems with a solid ‘locking’ follow-through. However, the new RCA connections proved to be much more intuitive and easy to handle with many components, although my samples were a touch ‘easy’ to push in…perhaps inherent in their polymer body structure.
Also, my first observations on the original cables commencing sound quality began without any break-in, which I later was told by Ernest they perhaps needed. The resultant sound was slightly bright, a bit “cranky” and somewhat forward in the soundstage. Nevertheless, the updated samples sang a different story altogether.
They started out light and airy in the upper mid/treble range with a very beautiful and natural sound as the interconnects endearingly (quite gratefully) mated with the AgPur12 speaker cables very well, indeed. Very early first impressions indicated a touch more of a deep bass impact on huge percussive bass drums of some orchestral recordings. Even more so, their top end was now infinitely smooth, explicit, and well defined, just as it was with the AgPur 12 speaker cables.
I decided to take out my refurbished Spendor BC1s from storage, which surprised me to no end. I was taken aback at the quality of sound the ArgentPur interconnects and cables revealed with these almost 50-year-old relics. More surprising than that “magical” crystalline midrange was the nicely ‘controlled’ treble response, (Celestion HF1300) that sometimes gives these speakers a bit of trouble. It is worth noting that the lower priced Athene level Interconnect may sound identical to the more expensive Heracles in almost all systems with a higher sensitivity loudspeakers.
Erich Kunzels, adenture film spectacular on Telarc Records was a case in point. Unbelievable depth, smoothness, openness, detail, and outright bass impact were immediately noticed, to say the least. The interconnects and speaker cables found the BC1 to be a match made close to heaven. Surprises came with these interconnects when least expected; and with a plethora of good program sources that followed. A happy camper was here!
If you have not been particularly enthusiastic about pure silver speakers cables, and /or may be looking to upgrade your current cables, you owe it to yourself to try to audition the ArgentPur cables—as you may be missing out on an incredibly enticing listening experience.
No doubt the market is filled with audiophile cables of many types and varieties ranging from pure copper to silver plated and of course all silver. I have personally used and evaluated many (too many) cables over the years. It should therefore come as no shock to the average audio connoisseur that most of these are of good to excellent quality while also ranging in price that would be considered affordable to outrageous!
The ArgentPur AG12 cables and interconnects (as well as their whole line) fit into the middle ground of luxury cable pricing, while exhibiting a superlative overall sound experience. When I say middle ground, no, they are not inexpensive, per se, but they offer a prodigious quality of sound and build caliber that is quite inimitable at their respective price points. There is little more to say except they deserve an outstanding recommendation!
Components used for evaluation: Loudspeakers: ~ Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 XD loudspeaker ~ Q Acoustics Concept 500 loudspeaker ~ Spendor BC1 ~ Digital: Mojo Audio ‘Mystique’ X DAC ~ Innuos Zenith Mk.3 server/streamer ~ Audio Note (UK) CD3.1x/2 player/DAC Analog: Audio Technica LP-7/ZYX Bloom 3 mc cartridge Amplification: ~Pass Labs XP-12 preamp, Pass Labs XA30.8 power amp ~PS Audio M1200 monoblocks,~ Allnic Audio A-2000 25th Anniversary SE amplifier ~ Cables/ Conditioners: Inakustik AC-3500p power station &, AC-2404 reference Air Power Cord ~ Audience Studio 1 interconnects and speaker cables~ Clarus “Crimson” 75-ohm digital spdif / Audio Art 1 e” AC Power Cord
Douglas Moore comments:
Some cable companies set out to use the knowledge they’ve acquired with what they know about transmitting audio signals quite distinctively. They create speaker and interconnect cables that take the “do no damage” philosophy to the next level. ArgentPur is one of these companies.
Owner Ernie Meunier makes his cables with pure silver which has a hugely larger conductivity rate compared to copper. Having pure silver and not silver-plated cables is what gives Ernie’s cables their ultimate “magic”. Here is my summary of my time with his cables and XLR interconnects.
In my opinion speaker cables make the largest difference in an audio chain as they carry more current than other cables in the chain and have the most chance of altering the audio.
My review cables were sent with spades on one end and bananas on the other as I requested. They came in a simple shipping box but were packaged very nicely in reflective bags with logos. They were clearly labeled and easy to get set up to install. One thing I will mention is that while installing these cables I noticed that ArgentPur chose to use a different banana-style plug than I am used to. These fiction-hold keyed banana pins are different, if not a bit difficult to work with. (now updated and quite excellent!… Editor.)
Once I figured out where the key part went they were very easy to install. As a high-end equipment reviewer I am constantly changing cables and components and worry that the friction hold nature of these cables would wear down and become loose after some time. (which my first sample did, editor). Otherwise, the connectors were of great quality. The cables were quite flexible and easy to work with.
Moving on to the XLR cables were just as easy to install and were also quite flexible. The only issue I had with them was that the source component male side of the XLR cable had a connector without a lock on it. In my opinion, having a locking button on XLR connectors is a great thing to have to make sure the XLR is properly and fully seated in the connector.
I am not sure why there are connectors made without them as it would seem an easy fail-safe to ensure connection. However, the ArgentPur XLR has a locking female connector which is very nice though. I do not doubt that the connectors on these cables are top-notch electrical transfer devices but having both sides lock would make me feel better.
Having my reference Iconoclast SPTPC cables and Interconnects to compare proved to be greatly beneficial as both of these companies use all engineering they know to make their products. I used the Argent/Pur XLR and Speaker cables together from my preamp and then from amp to speakers to get the full effect of them being in the system. I did the same thing with the Iconoclast cable XLR and Speaker cable combo.
The ArgentPur cables had great detail and transparency while keeping things smooth with exceptional midrange clarity. They allowed any component put in front of them or after them to shine. Compared to my reference Iconoclast cables they were both transparent and had all the resolution one would ever need.
The bass was just slightly weightier on the ArgentPur but the Iconoclast cables had a slight edge in bass delineation and definition. Both companies cables allowed their midrange to shine with the ArgentPur cables only being slightly mellower and more ‘exact’ in vocal tone and speech while allowing very deep male vocals to take on a more natural weight.
Soundstage and imaging were excellent from both of the cable setups. Instrument separation and layering were top-of-class as well. Any of the differences heard between these two cable combinations are very slight and might be missed in many systems.
I truly think both of these cable setups could grow with the user with about any component/speaker combination and would not be out of class in any high-quality audio system regardless of price. While the Argent/Pur’s are not inexpensive by any means, they can equal or better many cable companies’ products that demand double the cost of these!
It is very easy to highly recommend the ArgentPur cables as they sounded glorious in my system and gave my beloved reference Iconoclast cables a good run for their money while beating them in a couple of areas. If I had not already bought into the Iconoclast cable line I might have thought about adding the ArgentPur to my reference system. I think if Ernie looked into the Male XLR lock issue he might have a total end game on his hands here!
Speaker Cables (bananas and/or spades) Custom lengths available at lower prices!
AgPur 16 $2925. 2.5M.
AgPur 14 $3875. 2.5M.
AgPur 13 $5000. 2.5M
AgPur 12 $6000. 2.5M.
AgPur 11 $7000. 2.5M.
Harmonie 19 $1700 1M
Athene 18 $2500 1M
Heracles 16 $3500 1M
Harmonie 19 $1350 1M
Athene 18 $2000 1M
Heracles 16 $2800 1M
Ernest Meunier email@example.com
WHERE the MUSIC BEAT meets the AUDIOPHILE ELITE !
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.