Review: Argentum Acoustics Mythos - XLR Interconnect
Argentum Acoustics Mythos Interconnects (XLR)
About 2 months ago, I found myself in the position to be able to afford some minor additions to my stereo rig. I had been considering trying some new ICs and had been researching what choices were available for about $500/meter. During this same time, I read the following review on Positive Feedback Online (Issue 40):
Argentum Acoustics Mythos interconnects
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
The price for a 1meter pair with xlr connectors was $500. This is roughly a 20% increase in cost as compared with my current ICs. This seemed a reasonable increase in investment given the strong review by Mr. Levi, although I prefer to "audition before buying" whenever possible. I am also a bit skeptical of the idea of chasing after the "latest" component du jour. At the same time, I do not have the luxury of auditioning a large number of stereo components and part of the value of component reviews is to provide an insight into the product via other peoples' experiences. This insight can be used in support of the decision-making process and, hopefully, yield better results that decisions made in a vacuum.
With this tenuous rationale firmly in hand, I contacted Wild West Electronics (www.wildwestelectronics.net) and ordered a 1m pair of the Mythos ICs. The order was filled and, within about a week, I took delivery of the cables.
The cables were delivered in a Argentum Acoustics (AA) branded cardboard carton. Inside, there was a 11X11X4, black presentation case packed in fitted, foam packing materials. The cardboard carton showed evidence of UPS "careful" handling, but the contents were unmarked and undamaged.
The presentation case is covered in what appears to be leather, right down to the subtle marks and patterns that are expected in a natural material like leather. My guess is that the material is not leather, but rather a very high quality leatherette. Real leather or not, the presentation case is well-made with straight seams and uniform stitching that lends a look of quality to the case. The top of the case is branded with the AA logo which is embossed into the surface. There is a lock on the case, but its appearance is somewhat plain and detracts a bit from the overall appearance. Inside the case, the surfaces are black velvet (or velvet-like) material with another AA logo (this time on a label) stitched into the underside of the lid of the case.
The black cables were tied together with a piece of plastic-wrap. All connectors and bright-work were covered by plastic, woven-mesh covers. Overall presentation was commiserate with the product price. Also inside the case was an information-insert, a symbol of authenticity including the serial number, and a key that fits the lock on the presentation case. The insert has a listing of all the products in the "Collection," a little bit of company philosophy, and information concerning the physical construction of the products. All of this information, and much more, is available on the AA web-site: www.argentumacoustics.com
There are no instructions included with the cables, but I'm not sure cables should require instructions. On the enclosed card are the following recommendations:
"Better sound doesn't immediately draw attention to itself - bad sound, however, is really easy to hear. Give your Argentum Acoustics cables time to break in; use as many in your system as is feasible, and then just try going back to ordinary cables."
It is difficult to accurately gauge how many hours are in "time to break in," so I decided to 100-hrs as an appropriate length of time. My impressions during the break-in period are as follows:
0 - 10 hours:
Initially, the sound was very bright with exaggerated high frequencies and diminished mids and lows. Not really listenable.
Overall sound is more balanced between the high and low frequencies. Mid-range and bass are better defined, but somewhat congested. Highs now seemed almost rolled-off. Listenable, but not alluring.
Sound is now balanced across the sonic spectrum with no range of frequencies emphasized. Sound has a rich quality without being dark. Highs are now much more natural and precise. The mid-range and bass are no longer congested. However, the mid-range seems a little inconsistent in tonal quality. Listenable.
Sound has stabilized with no further noticeable changes in tone or frequency range. Burn-in cycle is considered complete. Frequency range is extended and without noticeable distortion across the spectrum with perhaps the slightest hint of emphasis in the high- frequencies. Then again, maybe not...could just be my ears, equipment, power-grid, etc. Very listenable.
I placed the first pair of Mythos ICs between the CD source (Marantz SA-11 s1) and a P2000B Marsh Sound Designs pre-amp. The connectors mated with the equipment without requiring undue attention. Fit was snug and positive. Initial impressions were of more micro-dynamics and details as well as extension in the high and low extremes. Overall presentation was very musical with no particular audible shortcomings noted.
My initial impression was favorable so I decided to order another pair of Mythos ICs in order to complete the replacement of xlr cables in my system. Same order process with the same vendor and same good service and delivery. I inserted the new ICs between my pre-amp and a MSD A400s amplifier. There was less change in the sound of the system upon adding the second pair of ICs compared to the first, but there definitely some cumulative synergy between the cables. I then repeated the 120 hr. burn-in process. When completed, I then ran the system for an additional 100 hours before sitting down to critically listen. BTW, if you don't believe that there is any value in a burn-in process for a piece of wire, I respect your right to your opinion. I don't, however, wish to debate the subject with you.
In the separate review, I will be describing my experiences listening to selections of CD/SACD material I know well, but for now a "quick-hit" of my listening impressions.
Without question, the overall sonic presentation is much improved. No noticeable drop-outs or over-emphasized frequency ranges. Music seems faster with a little more drive, but, at the same time, the music is more nuanced and complete.
Acoustic guitar recordings have the appropriate amount of "wood" sound as well as demonstrating the harmonics that are present when a well-made guitar is properly played. Even fret buzz sounded "real" as opposed to an electrical representation.
Female voices (Sade) are rich in tone and the sound is accurate enough to hear lip movement as well as her breathing style. Sade also utilizes a lot of bass (acoustic, electric, synth) in her recordings. The bass had good tone and pitch without being muddy or indistinct.
I spent a very enjoyable week or so listening/exploring the new release by Silversun Pickups, SWOON. This CD has a wide gamut of different musical styles with a variety of sounds focused on guitar, synth, bass, and drums. Well produced and the highest quality recording made by the band yet, the Mythos cables allowed me to hear the music as a unified, consistently coherent presentation. Regardless of what you think of this review, SWOON is highly recommended.
The last comment I would care to make about the new ICs is that I had to reduce the reference level on my pre-amp because of the sonic changes (more sound of higher quality) introduced by the ICs. After installing the Mythos ICs, I also made some small position changes in my GamuT L-3 speakers in order to take advantage of the increased sonic range and enhanced soundstage presentation.
Nothing in my experience with the Argentum Acoustic Mythos ICs contradicted the review in Positive Feedback. Although I wouldn't recommend purchasing any stereo component "sight un-heard," I must admit that, in this case, the risk proved to be well worth it. I would suggest that these cables offer exceptional value, as well as exceptional performance, at this price point.
Thnx for reading.
Marsh Sound Designs - P2000B pre-amp
Marsh Sound Designs - A400s amplifier
Marantz SA-11 s1 - SACD/CD player