Less is (almost always) more in audio and the Pure Audio IC comes as a fresh testament to this.
I was resisting for some time the temptation to get and test this IC in my rig – i’m a long time believer in solid copper “for everywhere” and could have jumped at it at first encounter, but did not until Roy finally convinced me to give it a try and promptly shipped a pair to me. After some delay the pair arrived at my door, and i was soon holding in my hands something gentle and fragile, and rather “organic” to touch – some naked copper, which if you stepped on would forever be different 😉
The interconnect this Pure Audio was about to challenge was an old favourite of mine – VDH The First Ultimate, a pure carbon, metal free structure, which has served me well as the rig changed over the years and upgrades took place – it has never been perceived or heard to be the limiting component.
I am not going to go further into what happened next or the doubts and even disbelief at times – in the days of auditioning.. It was over a week of critical listen to both hi res and CD quality material, from jazz to prog rock to Arvo Part and David Lynch. Below are my findings which made me keep this cable in my rig, and being so convinced about its virtues i requested Roy for distribution rights in Gauteng, which Roy agreed to give me ! So, just write to me if you want to try this wire which i am about to start romanticising in the next lines.
I must state on the outset, that the Pure Audio did not “destroy” The First. It was subjectively better, by a tiny margin in virtually every metric ! What was unexpected is the varying degree of improvement based on material played – the better recorded the material – the bigger was the improvement, the worse the material – the more it revealed the problems.
Micro detail and instrument textures. Pronounced improvement over The First ! It was as if a fine white curtain was lifted in front of the speakers. A audiophile friend visiting yesterday commented that one can almost fall asleep with The First, while all the information with the Pure Audio will surely keep you awake for much longer. He also noted that the The First had this slightly coloured sound when compared to the purity of the .. Pure Audio of course.
Instrument placement, soundstage and air between instruments. Another area where the Pure Audio excelled, even if by a tiny margin. The soundstage grew in all directions, but i felt that the biggest improvement was front / back – its depth .. Again – very dependent on the material and actual recording, but i can confirm my surprise on David Lynch’ Crazy Clown Time in 16b, Genesis Revisited II of Steve Hackett (24b) and Some Devil of Dave Mathews (16b). Then this sense of instrument separation .. With The First the instruments and indirectly – the soundstage felt as if gathered more together, towards a relative middle, with the Pure Audio, they started standing more on their own, yet within the limitation of the soundstage (of course)
Frequency Response. I’d say perfectly linear, with no particular frequency taking a preference or a knock .. The higher frequencies were extended and breathing more freely compared to The First. Slightly, ever so slightly lighter mid range, especially noticeable in vocals (see below) – there is this Mullard EL34 thickness in The First which i immediately heard, and confirmed on almost every material. Is this a bad thing ? I am not sure and stopped thinking about it already.
Character & Voice. If anything, i’d say that my music sounds a notch sweeter now, i guess, by not taking anything away from the Jadis – that is how it feels, a case of the curtain lifted .. Far from and even further from a SS sounding or SS converting the sound – on the opposite. As Vusi pointed, The First is probably best suited for bright (SS) systems, while The Pure – i believe – for warm, valve rigs.
Attack & Decay. This last one and terribly important to me as a metric, was another pleasant surprise. Improvement on everything i listened – more with decay, than with attack – there was this extension of time of notes, which one hears easily with analogue, and which is so rare in low spec digital rigs, even more so with CDP.
All above combined, led to a sense of liquidity and harmonic richness, naturalness which could be compared to changing valves to some exotic NOS from current production EHs or Teslas, or .. having all source converted to a hi-res – this is what dawned me eventually – this is how hi-res files must be sounding on my far from perfect, but so synergistically researched rig, pun intended.
Was there something i’d prefer in The First. Yes, there is .. This is (again subjective) body of instruments and vocals – ever so slightly more solid somehow with The First, not that Pure Audio can be called thin, not at all, just this presence of the matter – possibly due to veiled detail. The more in the face voices .. Not sure i prefer this, anyway.
The design & materials
Upon close inspection i found that two coppers go for the active, hot pin and 2 – for the ground. That is all. The outer coper shield is connected at the source end (the cable is directional) and acts as a RF screen.
Following my request, Roy sent some enlightenment, some of which i include here :
“Further than that, I can divulge it is a very good quality of copper but do not have a specific figure for purity.
As you are aware the signal moves along the surface of the conductor, skin effect, therefore we have opted for single conductors. We believe stranded cable muddies the sound. We use two different gauges of wire in order to cover a wider range of frequencies. We use only silver solder.
Another principle is the use of a very thin polymer insulation so there is minimal storage of the energy. In the case of most insulations the energy is stored and released micro seconds later muddying the incoming sound. The plastic insulations such as PVC are the worst for storage. Teflon is the best of the plastic ones but it is not good. Air is the best dielectric hence our use of a coil, for the shield, well spaced from the signal conductors by air.”
This is it. Four signal coppers and a fifth one – guarding them in place. A good case for romanticising a wire.