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