Review: Purist Audio Design Proteus Interconnect

Category: Cables

Purist Proteus review.
As some of you may know I recently reviewed a pair of Purist Dominus. I also took a lot of grief from some of our fellow AudiogoNers for letting them get away. I had a couple of weeks with them which allowed me enough time to form enough of an opinion about them to write the review, but shortly after finishing it their rightful owner requested their return. This is when the well-deserved abuse began. I was chided for bringing something into the house, which I could not afford to keep. $7000 was out of reach for me so I saved my pennies and procured the model one step below the Purist Dominus, which as you can see is the Proteus. These cables retail for just under half of what the Dominus cost.
It is obvious by looking that these are two very different cables. The Dominus is about the size of fifty cent piece where the Proteus is sized closer to a nickel. I was surprised to see they were actually smaller than my Colossus ICs which are one model down from the Proteus. This must be one of those cases where size doesn’t matter. This is only a guess but I think Proteus and Dominus are filled with a different fluid than is used in the Colossus. As in all the better Purist cables the jackets are filled with fluid. Purist claims this reduces those unwanted electromagnetic fields that are floating all around our homes. Like previous versions the Proteus cable comes with a lifetime warranty to the original owner. After buying a $13,000 motorcycle two weeks ago that only has a one-year warranty this is pretty impressive.
Keeping the dollar figure in mind I wondered if they would be half as good as the Dominus and if they were how would I be able to tell. The only difference in my set up between when I had the former cable and when I added the Proteus was the placement of the amp. The Dominus cable was 3.5 meters long so it did not allow me to move the amp as far back from the equipment rack as the 5-meter pair. Otherwise everything is the same. The worst part of having to return the Dominus was I had to use a 5 meter pair of Nakamichi ICs which were not up to the task considering what they replaced.
Purist recommends about 100 hours of break-in before any serious listening. Being true to form I installed the cable and immediately put an LP on the turntable. I wanted to hear how Elvis sounded right out of the box. I listened to Suspicious Minds, Kentucky Rain, and In the Ghetto. The Proteus was already better than the Nakamichi. The midrange was much fuller and smoother, and there was actually bass where the Nakamichi had none. Was it as good as the Dominus? Don’t be dumb, of course not! But I could hear some of those characteristics trying to get through.
After the Elvis LP I put the Purist Burn-in disc into the SACD player in the repeat mode and let it go for about Twenty-four hours. For the next three days I alternated between CDs and the Purist disc running signal through the cable continuously. As I listened throughout this time I heard the cable's personality (do inanimate objects have personality?) come out. I began to hear the characteristics I would come to recognize as belonging to the cable and not other parts of the system.
The most immediately obvious were the improved midrange, and bass. The soundstage continued to grow, not so much from side to side but front to back. I have noticed with several LPs that the back of the soundstage seems to be deeper than the rear boundary of my listening room. I would be the first to say that it’s not possible to have an experience like I described. I cannot argue the point, I’m just telling you what I heard.
Several months ago I wrote a review of my Pass Labs Aleph Ono phono stage. One of the things I commented on was the apparent roll off in the upper octaves. Several people who owned the same unit responded that they had the same experience. Since having changed to the Proteus cable this roll off is gone. If the cable somehow makes up for some shortcoming in the Pass Labs it stands to reason that the cable should add to the treble of the SCD 777 ES. This was not my experience though. The treble of the SACD player was smoother than ever but not shrill or exaggerated.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but is it as good as the Dominus? Well, in a word: no. The two cables share many things in common as a person might expect but the Proteus is not a match to its big brother. The treble is smoother and more natural, the midrange is fuller and more musical and the bass has much more impact with the Dominus. The soundstage is wider deeper and more precise with the top of the line cable.
So is the Proteus a complete bust? Not at all! It’s a very good cable. It does so many things very well. It just isn’t as good as the cable that costs twice as much, and for the sake of Jim Aud and Purist Audio Designs it better not be as good.
I have spent a fair amount of time listening to these cables and have come to the conclusion that I can live happily with them for a long time. During this time I listen to redbook CDs, SACDs and LPs. They all made a very good showing. I listened to Jazz, some Pop, and even one country album, along with some orchestral pieces. The sound is very good, better than anything I have ever owned. I might pine for that one that got away just like my first high school sweetheart, but I’m still happily married and plan to stay that way.
If you are in the market for a superior cable but cannot spend the huge dollars for Purist Dominus, you won’t be giving up too much to settle for the Proteus. To answer the question you should be asking if you haven't yet; yes they are worth the money! I think all PAD cables are worth the money the question is how much can you afford. If you spend it on Dominus or Proteus you will not be disappointed

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Purist Dominus (3.5 meters RCA)
Purist Colossus (1 meter RCA)
Kimber Kable KCTG (.5 meter)
Cardas Golden C
Tara Labs Pandora S
Hey Nate, how about a ranking of the list of cables in your "similar products" list, including the Proteus. Inquiring minds want to know!
Glad everything has worked out for the best. Has Albert received his check from PAD yet?
Hello Nate,
I feel your pain brother,but keep in mind "JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE ON A DIET DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN'T LOOK AT THE MENU". Hope that helps some. I've just put in a offer on a Dominus digital this morning. Hopefully I will owen it by the end of the day.If the Audio Gods grant my wish, it will be my second Dominus digital. I also owen 2 Proteus digitals and I am working myself towards Dominus interconnects and speaker wire.Cost of the Dominus digital you ask? I've offered my next born male.Your review was spot on.Great cables,great company, and a GREAT review.Keep up the good work (all of you out there in AUDIOGON LAND)and don't be afraid to "LOOK AT THE MENU"
Thanks for listening
TWL here's my opinion, for what little it's worth. Although knowing what you're doing right now it might be helpful.

Purist Dominus (3.5 meters RCA)
Purist Colossus (1 meter RCA)
Kimber Kable KCTG (.5 meter)
Cardas Golden C
Tara Labs Pandora S

I would rate these cables in this order:
1) Purist Dominus (without a doubt)
2) Purist Proteus
3) Purist Colossus
4) Cardas Golden C (I think this is a very good cable and can be had relatively inexpensively)
5) Kimber Kable KCTG (this is one of the earlier silver cables)
6) Tara Labs Pandora S (this is several generations old but still works well on the Nakamichi tapedeck)

This is only a rating of cables I have owned or auditioned recently. It is not an exhaustive list of everything out there, so don't complain if your favorite is not mentioned.

I hope this helps, Tom
Zaikesman , would you please call Purist and explain that? They seem to have forgotten.

I've been eagerly waiting for a big fat commission check for weeks now. What is going on, do they expect Audiogon members to loan equipment to each other without rewards?

Yea, I guess they do.
Thought I'd add a word to this Purist lovefeast. They're wonderful cables, and with the exception of the tonearm cable, which is a Proteus because of the weight of Dominus, my entire system is done in Dominus Ic's, both analogue and digital. BUT, because of their size and weight, I have had lots of trouble with RCA-terminated Dominus cables pulling out of the preamp and not staying in place when you try to put them back. I finally gave up, had them all reterminated for XLR termination--Purist is great on this, fast and reasonable--and bought a new preamp. Yes, I love the cables more than I did the preamp. If you have to use RCA's, that's another reason to save money and use Proteus RCA's instead of Dominus--as well as saving $, of course.
I have an iron clad rule: I NEVER bring home anything I can't afford.I'm sticking with my "AQ Ruby" ic's.
In as much as I remember most of Kelly's stuff;I don't remember what wires were his favorites./?
George, Kelly had sent me some balanced versions of Tara's "The One" with active shielding to throw on my burner for him. As far as i know, that is what he is still using but i have not spoken to him in ages. I hope that he does not mind me sharing this bit of info. Sean
Mgottlieb, you make a wise observation. I did not give this any consideration while using the two cables, but Dominus is soo much bigger I can see the size being an issue on single ended cables. I don't know what electronics you own but I bet your system sounds fabulous. Where do you live and what nights are you not home???
I have listened to the Dominus interconnects and speaker cables extensively and feel the new Venustas interconnects provide the same level of performance for considerably less money. Forget the Dominus; the new Venustas interconnects and speaker cables are a steal.
I have found that the new plasma jacket used on the Purist Audio Museaus and Venustas cables is quite an improvement over the old liquid jacket design used on the Dominus cables. For example, the Venustas, compared to the Dominus, is faster, more extended on the top and bottom frequencies, and offers much better focus and detail. The Dominus, on the other hand, sounds slow and a bit murky compared to the Venustus. What is really amazing is that the Venustas is only around 25 percent of the cost of the Dominus. When you compare the two cables side by side it's a no-brainer on which one to go with.
I'm getting a pair of Museaus soon and I'm curious about how it compares to the Colossus. I talked to someone else about the Venustas vs Dominus and they thought Dominus was still the better cable, but I can't speak from experience.
I would like to try the new Venustas but I would only be able to compare it to Proteus.
Nrchy - The new Purist Museaus kills the old Colossus.
Very good review,I have a pr of Museaus ICs and will probably buy a pr of Venustas soon!
I had a pair of Museaus, but I sold them to a friend. Can you say 'sold' if he did't pay for them yet?

I have one pair of Venustus, one pair of Opis on my office system, from Albert Porter, and One 4 meter pair of Dominus running between the pre-amp and amplifier. My speaker cable is a 1.5 meter pair of Venustus.

Then there is a pair of Virtual Dynamics Revelation between the phono stage and the pre-amp.

I would not say that museaus blows the old Colossus away, but it is a good cable. I have never bought any Purist cable that did not impress me.

Thanks for the kind words Ray, I would suggest at least auditioning the Venustus. It is a serious upgrade from Museaus.
I have never auditioned Dominus ICs in my system (which is all Venustas from cartridge and DAC to speakers) Except I do have both Dominus and Venustas PCs. And on my amp, at least, the Dominus is very audibly better than the Venustas. I couldn't figure out why since they're both the same 10 AWG.

When I contacted Jim Aud about it, he said (in his typically cryptic way), "It's all about power transfer. The Dominus does it better." Go figure!
When it comes down to it, there are very few companies that make wire, and even less that make good wire. The big difference between cables is not so much the wire as the shielding, and all the crap going on inside the jacket. Puirst does that better! I do think cryoing stuff helps too!
Venustas interconnects and a Dominus power cord are tied at the top of my "Best Purchases of 2005" list.

Really glad I tried them.
what if I can not afford The proteus? What about Venustas?

You shouldn't be comparing Proteus with Venustas because the Proteus (and now the Canorus) models are solid core designs.

I agree with Tvad that a system comprised of Venustas IC's and speaker cables and Dominus power cords (for amps and power regenerators or conditioners) represents just about the best value for the money among the higher priced cables out there.

Venustas power cords are also excellent for all lower powered components, but there are many power cords that perform as well for less money; while Dominus power cords just seem to be in a class by themselves -- among many brands and price levels. They have always in my experience added just a little something extra to the performance (especially) of amplifiers.

The one Purist cable I would change in my system would be the Venustas speaker cable. It's excellent, but I have electrostatic speakers, and they do best with speaker cable with the lowest possible capacitance. Vensutas are 22pF per foot if I remember what PAD told me (which is already quite low, compared to say Cardas Golden Reference at 450 pF per foot +/_) but the Proteus is REALLY low at 16pF per foot. I've A-B'd the Proteus v. Venustas, and there is a slight sonic improvement in HF detail (which is what you'd expect) but not enough for me to write another big check ;--)
My friend Elrocco has 38k worth of P.A.D. and will never go back to anything else he as owned many fine cables BUT the P.A.D. are keepers you may see his system in my Flickr photo album.
Some people may say that 38k for cables is crazy but i say if you can afford it it's your money and you should spend it the way you want to. My friends system is worth about 150k he is a single guy living alone in a condo that is paid for and as a very good job. If i was in his shoes i would probably do the same thing.