Cables, cables, cables. What are we supposed to do? Yeah, there are those who feel that regardless of what one hears, they can't be hearing what they are hearing, because, well you can't hear that as cables done correctly do nothing... to the sound. That is, cables cannot make a difference as long as they are built to reasonable standards… wire is wire and so there it is. And they can think what they are hearing is what they are hearing because they want to hear what they are hearing… so we hear whatever because we are fooling ourselves. But then... well...
Here I am with the new-ish Purist Audio Luminist Revision Neptune cables that have superseded my older Proteus Provectus cables reviewed way back HERE in 2008. Damn that is a lot of water under the bridge. So what is new? Well the Neptune cables are a complete redesigned line from speaker to interconnect to power to digital over that of their predecessors. Jim decided to make some rather significant changes to the PAD lines, and this is just one example—that is, when Jim has an idea on how to improve or move forward, well, one should consider the changes to be drastic and new. A re-envision-ment of the older cables—build upon, as opposed to tossing them out with something new and different. Jim never abandons his sound or character… he finds a way to further it; to better it with advancements in materials and design.
From Jim Aud….
What are the differences between the older Proteus and the new Luminist Revision Neptunes?
The name "Luminist" pays homage to an art movement which emerged from the Hudson River school and would eventually inspire more well-known schools such as the Impressionists. In a way, 'Luminism' was the underdog who started it all.
- Engineered and built in the U.S.A. by skilled artisans
- New RCA connectors made from beryllium copper with silver then gold plating
- New spade and banana design to allow for easy change from spade or banana
- Reengineered to allow a more flexible design
- Improved the metallurgy of the wire
- Enhanced build quality and design
- Improved Triple Cryomag© process
- Reduced the insulation around the conductor lowering the capacitance
- Improved Fluid
- Improved cosmetics
How does the Neptune line differ from the other PAD cables (above and below the Neptune line)?
The first thing, it has Fluid surrounding the conductors - the model above and below has Ferox. Ferox is doped silicon-based granular material, with superior properties of EMI and RF rejection, resulting in excellent vibration characteristics.
What do you see to be the greatest influence in how your cables perform?
To eliminate noise, RF and EMI and also to address vibration… that is our greatest strength.
I notice that the speaker cables weigh a lot... fluid?
Yes the fluid adds a lot to the weight of the cable. A lot.
So yeah, the new cables are considerably lighter and easier to use with the previous Proteus being heavier and considerably stiffer. Sure, one could get them to go here or there (the interconnects being more pliable than the solid-core way stiff speaker cables which needed to be bent to sit 'right'), but the Neptune is so much nicer to deal with… flexible-er and light-er. Lighter as in what they weigh as one still gets all the heft and solidity... bass extension to the nether regions and beyond as is ever possible. The Vandersteens are quite happy. Oddly the Neptune speaker cable is considerably heavier in weight though than the older Proteus (bi-wire is two runs of wires—one end is a single spade for right and/or left at the amplifier end whereas the speaker end is split with two spades for right and/or left). It's the fluid... and two cables as opposed to one. Even so, they will lay nice and all, and there is no need to bend them to fit 'right' at either end. Nice.
So what do ones get with the new PAD line over the older line? For sure there is a greater sense of space and presence. The sound stage is that much bigger and present. Present in the sense of space and air. More there stuff. Not that the older cables were a slouch in this area, no, this has always been a character of PAD cables… but the new line gets you more. Yeah, I said character. All cables have a character. Some more of a character than others, but then not having much of a character is still a character. And as such, I have always found cables to be tone controls—not band-aids, but certainly something one can go to for the final touch. For me getting the rest of the system right and then placing this cable or that cable here and there… to make the music just so is, well… what we do. Meaning for sure cables are used here, though rather judiciously, to add or subtract this or that to the music. Much like seasoning food. To our taste and preference—with our music and wants. But not in a gross way… in a way that is just right.
And for sure the PAD line has a character. Big, spacious, warmer than leaner… though not in a way that is overly warm or ripe… the Neptune line is a whole lot of fun. Which is what we are hearing when we play music—not only from ourselves, but from many others passing through. You get the resolution and details, but not in an analytical, in your face presentation. Nothing is pushed at you, suggesting that the cables are quite even in terms of frequencies—that is, they are not hyped or rolled-off. There is neither a euphonic coloration or any sense of some anomaly to push this or that on our music. Balanced and musical. Sweet. Warm and musical.
No doubt Jim's attention to shielding and such is letting more of the music come through by mitigating noise and such, and previously would have obscured it to some degree. You get more music and less crap. One of my all time mantras and why I have gone to such extremes with power supplies and filtration… less crap, more music. Especially so with the grounding boxes from Entreq and Telos… more music and less noise. Drop the noise floor! Drop it good! With the Neptune line you hear farther, deeper into and within what is there. Less stress… more fun. The texture and real-ness-ness is so tangibly nice. Slam and dynamics... space and pace. Flow... it is all good.
They won't fix what is wrong nor will they make bad recordings good... but they will present you with many hours of fun… the system is simply grinningly fun with the Neptunes. Your good and better stuff will be stellary right.
Extended, quite, clean, and articulate… the PAD Neptune cable line is a real winner. For sure the price of entry is rather steep and any perceived value ends up being made by the end user. You have to decide if the price is worth it to you… I find them to be a reference for me here and as an obvious replacement for the stellar Proteus line. The Proteus have been my reference for a good number of years (as used from the PS Audio Directstream DAC, Playback Designs MPS-5 player/DAC, and Heed Thesis phono stage to the PS Audio BHK preamplifier and then out to the PS Audio BHK -250 amplifier and from there out the Vandersteen Quatro CT Wood loudspeakers) but now with the Neptunes building upon all that they have offered by going just that much further… without throwing anything out the window. If you loved the Proteus, you will go nuts over the Neptunes. Evolutionary in every way I can think of... Kudos Jim for a wonderful revision.
Oh, Jim also sent the Anniversary USB cable from his top line… more on that later. But uh... damn.
Purist Audio Design
Neptune Bi-wire speaker cables 2.0 M $3560
Neptune Balanced interconnects 1.0 M $2000, 2.0 M $2290
Neptune RCA interconnects 1.0 M $1900