ESPRIT ▻ Celesta-Eterna-Aura-Lumina

Cable is a strange field where the best sometimes comes into contact with it, to say the least… Yet no serious audiophile would consider today not wiring his system properly from the source. And it doesn’t matter if computer scientists scratch their heads and look at us with their black eyes when we say that a cable through which digital data flows has a significant influence on sound quality. Surprising, isn’t it?

An essential link in any digital source operating on the basis of files stored on a hard disk, the USB link has been tested by a large number of cable manufacturers, with results ranging from poor to excellent. Much closer to this second option, we were able to test the Celesta, Eterna, Aura and Lumina models from the French manufacturer Esprit.

Richard Cesari, who has been at the head of Esprit for 22 years, is a French manufacturer of high-fidelity, high-music cables. He is one of those craftsmen to whom we give our credit, first of all for the quality of their work, but also for their constancy in experimentation. Like many other national creators, Esprit perpetuates a kind of know-how of French cable. Its very wide range makes it possible to reach the «first-time access» music lover as well as the experienced audiophile capable of going very far in the material (and financial) investment of his system. Whatever the cable, the manufacturer provides little technical information on the structure and composition of its cables. On the other hand, we know that the most important thing is a drastic choice of properly sorted components. 

For example, on the entry-level Celesta USB, pure long crystal copper strands were used in symmetrical assembly, isolated from noise by integral shielding and protected by a high-voltage dielectric.  The rather sophisticated insulation work includes a quadruple air protection. The connection system is qualitative and the cord is covered with a nylon braid. A silkscreen print is applied to the two heat-shrinkable tubing tubes. This cable, assembled manually, is guaranteed for life. As for the Eterna USB, its structure includes pure copper strands preserved by a complex assembly, first an asymmetrical dielectric, then a double progressive shielding on air with integral optical coverage, and finally a multiple insulation on air. The Eterna USB cable is therefore larger but still loses its flexibility. Manual assembly takes several hours per cord… This cable is also completely assembled by hand and guaranteed for life. 

The Aura USB model is approaching the summits. The symmetrical configuration of the data conductors ensures high immunity to electrical noise. There is an asymmetrical configuration of the dielectric, but the shielding is both partial to ensure that the data bus is isolated from the power supply bus and integral for total protection of the entire structure, is achieved by double screen. As for the Lumina USB, the manufacturer’s best USB cable except for the limited edition Lumina Signature, it combines all the technologies previously used in a more extensive formulation and implementation.

We use the USB connection at the output of an Apple laptop, network drive, or server. On the other hand, to obtain the best results, we avoid entering directly into the USB converter. We prefer to use a USB interface, in this case a 32-bit/192 kHz Matrix X-SPDIF that allows us to attack converters in AES/EBU when possible, or S/PDIF on RCA. In this way, the jitter level at the DAC input is drastically reduced. The four Esprit cords were placed in the same place at each stage of the comparison, after an identical running-in period of about fifty hours, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

First in the running, the Celesta, offers a beautifully crafted sound result. It should be noted that just under 400 €, this is already a cordon of a certain price from which we expect a quality service. And we are not disappointed, thanks to a wide sound spectrum, and especially a lack of stress, hardness, a beautiful opening and a silky and delicate palette of tones. At its price, nothing to say, the Celesta already gives a lot, in a fluid and delicate style, with a well channelled energy. The transition to Eterna does not revolutionize the sound personality of this line. This is a Celesta whose roughness would have been erased, the ends of the spectrum extended, and the dynamics released. Objectively, the passage from Celesta to Eterna gave us the impression that the speakers were bigger, that the sound was increasing in size and sitting. The gains are clear and going back is very difficult. With the Aura, we clearly change category. We go from a very nice supercharged 4 cylinder to a six cylinder in line, noble in its simplicity. The sound acquires a higher class of evidence and refinement.

The bandwidth does not seem dispropor-tionately higher. On the other hand, the listening is much wider, richer. Each recording is now characterized by an even better designed personality. The specificities of sound recording emerge much better. The listener’s sensory perceptions are more solicited. In short, «we are there», and in a very tangible way. At this point, we even wonder why go higher. It is the passage to Lumina that offers us the answer to this question. With it, you gain two cylinders to benefit from even better breathing. So much air, and what sensations. Here everything is only calm, luxury and voluptuousness. The seat is sovereign, the bass majestic, the medium extremely natural, and the treble totally free and absolutely free of artificial tonic. The price is high, but the performance is there. It’s one of the very best USB cables we’ve ever had the opportunity to listen to.

These 4 cords are very well made and deserve your full attention. What we can tell you is that it is essential to choose with the help of your reseller the one that will best match your system. So, on an excellent converter whose USB input is not at the same level as the S/PDIF or AES/EBU input, which happens regularly, we were able to get better results with the Aura than with the Lumina. With the Aura, the sound was completely balanced and musical. With Lumina, the higher resolution power and the better dynamic capacity highlighted the deficiencies of the link, and made the result dull. And when we inserted the Matrix X-SPDIF interface, it was the Lumina that worked better, simply because its environment allowed it to express itself fully. It is therefore important to take these criteria into account to make the best choice between these four excellent cords.


€ 390 (Celesta)
€ 790 (Eterna)
€ 1.480 (Aura)
€ 2.600 (Lumina)