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REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable

38.122.6.26

Posted on July 8, 2011 at 13:11:21
Luminator
Audiophile

Posts: 2885
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
Model: Golden Reference Speaker Cable
Category: Cable
Suggested Retail Price: $804 termination; $752/meter; +$216 internal biwire; +$276 internal triwire
Description: Speaker cable
Manufacturer URL: Cardas Audio

Review by Luminator on July 08, 2011 at 13:11:21
IP Address: 38.122.6.26
Add Your Review
for the Golden Reference Speaker Cable


My audiophile acquaintance, Jorge, has been living near Miami. I had reconnected with him, and had a conversation with him. It went something like this.

Jorge: I've got something to say, and you can quote me. You've got the [unholy trinity] of sex, drugs, and rock & roll covered. But that means [manufacturers] can't quote you or refer to your posts.

Me: Well, maybe I cover the sex and rock & roll, but drugs? That's not my area of expertise.

Jorge: Aw c'mon Lummy, audio is our drug of choice.

I do not know if audiophiles are hooked on the Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable, but now that my audio buddies and I have lived with various samples for a number of years, it's time to review it.

First, the popular porn part. You guys love clicking on links. The links are where the "good stuff" lies. But again, don't just look at the pictures. Do take the time to read the words, and absorb the music, history, insights, caveats, and details.

Speak Of The Devil
Vacation
Just Outside Of Normal
When The Blackbird Sings
Fundamental
Deep Red Shadows
Dreamland
Poets And Madmen
The Jazz Singer
Time Does Not Heal
Nights Are Forever
Attack Of The Killer B's

Let's go back to autumn 1989. I was a freshman at UC Santa Cruz. I was used to seeing individuals walk around naked. But one night, my roommate and I looked out the window, and saw a large group of naked students casually walking, marching, strolling, meandering, and traipsing by. There must have been dozens of these students. And since it was late at night, weren't they cold?

Well, I now know that most of those students came from the university's Porter College, then known for the arts. I heard that, it is now Porter tradition, during the night of the first real rains of the fall, to walk naked across campus.

The Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable is available in a variety of bananas, spades, and pins. Cardas have recently added, at additional cost, their new compression die forged spades. Just as I had not seen so many naked people at once, I haven't tried the Golden Reference with the forged spades. However, I can tell you that my audio friends bicker over the sonic differences between the standard connectors. My advice is, go with the connector which best matches your gear. For example, my Jeff Rowland 312 only accepts spades. But other amps have those plastic-encapsulated binding posts, which preclude the use of spades. So go with bananas. The Totem Arro and original Sonus Faber Concertino have binding posts whose rods are too thick for any spade. So go with bananas. ProAc loudspeakers have recessed Michell binding posts, which makes attaching spades difficult. So go with bananas. On some stand-mounted speakers, the cable dangles better, when you use spades.

My friend and classmate from middle school, Elias, went to UC Santa Barbara. One winter break, we were both at home in San Francisco. While watching a Chicago Bears game, Elias remarked, "Hey, doesn't UCSC stand for UC Snort Coke?"

I replied, "Like most schools, we may do lots of alcohol, pot, shrooms, and maybe ecstasy. But coke? I'm unaware of that."

For too many years, audiophiles have complained about the Golden Reference's color, which looks like the Chicago Bears. It isn't quite black. It isn't quite dark brown. It isn't quite blue. Well, the audiophiles are grossly unaware that the Golden Reference can be had (at no extra charge) with a white outer mesh. As the cable portion underneath the mesh is dark-colored, the overall product becomes, in room light, a light gray.

If you do venture out to UCSC's Porter College, you may come across a red, ribbon-like structure. When I was attending UCSC, this structure had no name. Colloquially, it was known as the "Flying IUD."

My friend Jacey has likened the Audio Dharma Cable Cooker to birth control. I'm not so sure how the Cooker's designer, Alan Kafton, feels about that. But anyway, Jacey added, "But jeezuz, birth control's no good, if you don't know how to use it."

If you have the single-wire Golden Reference, stop the Cooker after 4 days. If you have the internal bi-wire Golden Reference, I suggest 2 days of Cook time on the tweeter half, and 2 days of Cook time on woofer half. I over-Cooked one sample, and it required days of regular playing time, to reverse the effects of over-Cooking.

I cannot vouch for UCSC's other colleges. But while I was at Crown, the Resident Fellows (faculty members and their families who lived in the dorms) on selected Friday evenings would gather in the lounges, and host discussions about such topics as drug abuse, personal safety, date rape, peer pressure, stress, safe sex, and getting along with roommates.

I now know that my RFs purposefully singled out the shy, more introverted students, to use in skits. And that makes sense. The RFs did not need to use the students who were well-trained, and veterans at practicing personal responsibility.

I almost feel like a Resident Fellow, in professorially explaining that speaker cables come near the end of the audio chain. As such, speaker cables are at the mercy of the upstream components. Therefore, when you evaluate speaker cables, the upstream audio products better be of high quality. While it can be fun to stick Golden Reference on an inexpensive AV receiver, that is not going to help you properly evaluate the speaker cable.

Because my friends and I had several samples of Golden Reference over the past few years, we were able to throw a wide variety of gear at them. After cycling through electronics from Krell, Mark Levinson, and Simaudio, my friend Donald said one word: "competent."

Ouch! Taken out of context, that could be seen as damning with faint praise. But coming from Donald, "competent" is a positive remark. And I agree with him. There is nothing skewed, twisted, colored, or unprofessional about the Golden Reference. It just sits there, and lets most of the signal through intact. It was only through head-to-head comparisons with other speaker cables, were we able to pick apart the Golden Reference's sonics.

Kimber 4AG

Ideally, Led Zeppelin's "Going To California" should make me feel like I'm lying on UCSC's Great Meadow in the late afternoon sun. With its black background and bit of fizz overlaying the music, the Kimber 4AG reminds me of the girls who lived two dorm rooms down the hall from me. They strung up white Christmas lights. At night, with the curtains open, those Christmas lights "lit up" the room. If you can imagine "Going To California" playing in that room, that is what the AG sounds like.

The Golden Reference doesn't add any extra notes, but at the same time, it is relatively free from fizzies. So go back to the girls' dorm room during the day. Open the window. Let the natural sunlight in. That is the mood the Golden Reference recreates.

Kimber KS-3033

Cue up Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." On both cables, there is equal musical weight. However, the KS-3033 adds a subtle bit of warmth, which blurs image outlines. Worse, the KS-3033 makes the music sound like it is tripping over itself, turning "Black Dog" into the plodding "Kashmir." Score one for the Golden Reference.

MIT Magnum M3.3bw

Take the CD jewel case or LP cover of Led Zeppelin's Zoso. Now turn it, so that it is parallel to the ground. This is akin to the soundstage, which the MIT Magnum M3.3bw is so adept at setting up. This soundstage depth, coupled with nicely differentiated image sizes, is what gives "When The Levee Breaks" room to breathe. It's like being able to see that the rainclouds extend beyond your view.

The Golden Reference better captures the bite and processing of the guitar, harmonica, vocal strains and inflections, and drum kit. It is more akin to sitting with Led Zep on the levee, while being somewhat oblivious to the rain. It is up to you to decide which cable (if any) gets you closer to the musical truth.

Nordost Valhalla

Audiophiles like to talk of "black backgrounds." The Nordost Valhalla does have decently black backgrounds. So when you look at the forest north of the UCSC campus, it's like the ground being fog-free. But the Valhalla imparts this "white cloud" coloration, which makes it seem as though a light fog is wafting through the trees.

Cue up Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop." Now remove the Valhalla, and insert the Golden Reference. The backgrounds aren't as black. So when you look at the forest, perhaps the ground is dusty. However, the Golden Reference does not have that white cloud coloration. So you can see more of the the trees' crowns. You win some, you lose some.

Wireworld Platinum Eclipse

The Wireworld Platinum Eclipse has full treble extension, coupled with black backgrounds, blacker than the cables mentioned above. Compared to the urban Bay Area, the sylvan Santa Cruz has much darker skies. Thus, celestial objects are not only more apparent, you can better differentiate their shine, and variances in luminosity. Cue up Led Zeppelin's "The Battle Of Evermore." With the Platinum Eclipse, you may notice so much air and space above the mandolin and acoustic guitar. In terms of atmosphere, it's really like leaving the studio, and heading for Scotland.

With the Golden Reference, the sound is more "grounded." Robert Plant is firmly planted on earth, and it's as if he is singing to you and your room full of audiophiles. Again, you and your audiophiles may have to slug it out. Do you want to go space-tripping with the Platinum Eclipse? Or do you want bring back Led Zep with the Golden Reference?

XLO Signature 2 series

Now play Led Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll." The XLO Signature 2 will have a small edge in image outlines and transient speed. But the Golden Reference will have a small edge in image development. The cymbals which kick off the song are more visually 3-D via the Golden Reference. The Golden Reference better maintains instrumental timbre and texture, leaving the Signature 2 sounding somewhat dry. Both cables do a good job of capturing the song's crunch. The Signature 2 slightly better captures the snare drum's snap, but the Golden Reference slightly better projects the drums' power. You'll have an easier time choosing a condom, than deciding which speaker cable is "better."

Naturally, audiophiles want to know how the Golden Reference compares to the newer Clear speaker cable. As of this writing, I do not have enough experience with enough samples of the Clear. If I ever do live with more samples of Clear, perhaps I'll write a review of that product. If so, it is my responsibility as a reviewer to compare Clear to Golden Reference. But until and unless that happens, someone else here will have to make that comparison.

While living in the dorms, I had a meal plan, and ate in the dining halls. Now, when I entered college, I was a meat-and-rice kind of guy. I wouldn't go near things like veggies. But a funny thing happened. The dining halls used low-quality meats, and then proceeded to burn them beyond recognition. Even I, a meat lover, found the dining hall meats inedible. That forced me to try other foods, and get creative.

Normally, you increase your chances of musical success, by keeping the interconnects and speaker cables from the same brand. However, the Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable has enough neutrality (recall that Donald called it "competent"), that other brands of high-quality interconnects can be used upstream. In fact, the Golden Reference speaker cable shows that the matching and overrated Golden Reference interconnect (especially the balanced XLR) deviates from neutrality, sounds congested, and bloats the music. If you are going to use the Golden Reference speaker cable with Cardas interconnects, I recommend the Quadlink 5-C and Clear.

At UC Santa Cruz, walking around naked simply wasn't much of an issue. But in the fall of 1992, UC Berkeley's panties got in a bunch over one so-called Naked Guy. I had plenty of friends (including my future wife) at Cal. Some of them saw the Naked Guy go to class. He simply wore a backpack.

I remember the first time my friend Margaret (the same Margaret you've read about in my other reviews here on Audio Asylum) visited me at UC Santa Cruz. As we walked from the Baytree bookstore to my dorm, she said, "There's nobody here. So unlike crowded and congested Cal."

Because those were the drought years, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon in January. Margaret peered out my window, which overlooked the quad.

Margaret: Hey, there are naked people out there!

Me: Uh, they're just sunbathing.

Margaret: Um, no, one guy is sitting on a log, playing guitar. He ain't sunbathing.

Me: Maybe he...

Margaret: Hey! A nakey guy is kicking a hackeysack. And so is she! Wow, she's got a hairy snatch.

I assume that you have read all the links listed at the top of this review. If so, you will have seen that most of them cover the internally bi-wired version. Some of our bi-wired speakers included the B&W 805S; Martin Logan Aerius i, Vista, and Ethos; ProAc Response One SC; PSB Silver Stratus i; Revel M22; Totem Hawk, Model 1 Signature, Forest, The One, Mani-2 Signature. The internally bi-wired Golden Reference was not as good as the single-wire version plus jumper [we used quality jumpers from Nordost, Stereovox, Tara Labs, XLO, and Wireworld].
The internally bi-wired Golden Reference suffered losses in soundstage dimensions, body, inter-image distance, air above the stage, bass grip and power, and contrast between music and silence.

On the other side of the Santa Cruz mountains is Stanford University. Because of the student code of conduct, you can't parade around nude. So on hot days, sunbathing students wear bikinis or shorts. Yes, you could say that this is like the internally bi-wired Golden Reference. On the other hand, the single-wire Golden Reference + quality jumper is more akin to the clothing-optional UC Santa Cruz.

Again, because of the nonstandard binding posts, the original Sonus Faber Concertino cannot easily be used with a jumper. In this case, you have no choice; you must go with an internally bi-wired speaker cable. But if your bi-wireable speaker allows you a choice, be sure to try the Golden Reference speaker cable in both forms, before you commit to an order.

Because Cal was densely-populated, there was a big fuss over public nudity. Even the police had to shrug and say, "As long as it's not sexual, we can't arrest anyone." But from that brouhaha rose the Nude & Breast Freedom Parade. According to my audio friends in the East Bay hills, that parade takes place every year, in September. And these friends *say* they are too busy playing with cables and listening to music, to observe or participate in the parade...

-Lummy The Loch Monster


Product Weakness: its mass can put stress on amps, speakers, and binding posts; takes a while to undo over-Cooking
Product Strengths: available with a white outer mesh; does not *need* to be used with Cardas interconnects


Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: numerous
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): numerous
Sources (CDP/Turntable): numerous
Speakers: numerous
Cables/Interconnects: numerous
Music Used (Genre/Selections): rock, pop, R&B, dance, Hawaiian, show tunes, TV
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner


 

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RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on July 9, 2011 at 03:34:55
SgreenP@MSN.com
Audiophile

Posts: 2928
Joined: April 23, 2007
I think this comes down to how each of those cables react with YOUR system. Truth be told, in MY system, there is nothing worse than any Cardas designed cable. I have nothing against the company and have heard some systems that sound fine with Cardas, but in my system, there is no depth, air, or width...just some fuzzy, brown sound coming from the speakers. I found their power cords to be the worst product they make (for MY system).

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on July 9, 2011 at 08:09:28
coolhand
Audiophile

Posts: 537
Joined: June 5, 2006
Nice man, very nice.

Straight to the ff-ing point, no camp dross to pad out the hours with purile self indulgent tossing off, YOU sir should be a reviewer...

Life is far too short !

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on July 9, 2011 at 11:56:02
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 9880
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
Great as always, Lummy!

 

You're One Of The Few..., posted on July 9, 2011 at 23:59:52
Luminator
Audiophile

Posts: 2885
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
...who communicate with me on the side, and post replies to any of my AA reviews.

I may or may not have mentioned that, if I neglect to bring a camera with me when I audition gear, there won't be any pictures. Indeed, when it came to the Cardas Golden Reference, I must have seen (and used) 8 different samples. Of these 8, I only got to photograph 2. And if I didn't photograph those 6 samples, that also means I didn't photograph the myriad gear used with those 6. Despite not having any photos, using multiple samples with tens of components and other cables is how a responsible reviewer, user, or shopper determines what the Golden Reference's true character is.

Yep, that new Whitesnake album, Forevermore, could fit in with any of the band's 1980s albums. And, back by popular demand, here is that 1989 photo of my wife in her Whitesnake shirt:

Yep, check out those posters. And on top of the dresser is my old Sony receiver.

The audiophiles love this one, circa August 1991:

Check out the Metallica, Megadeth, and Dokken t-shirts. Fuck yeah!

In this review of the Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable, I centered it on my time at UC Santa Cruz. Well, I actually found this:

It's from my junior year, 1991-2, in front of my apartment. Check out the Slayer and Poison t-shirts. If and when I write my next review, maybe I'll talk about the gals in the building below us. They would...

Sorry, Next Time,
-Lummy The Loch Monster

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on July 10, 2011 at 14:33:42
Frihed89
Audiophile

Posts: 15090
Location: Copenhagen
Joined: March 21, 2005
I also have gone through a lot of cables looking for ones that complement (and compliment) my system best. In the end I found a family of cables that really bring the best out of my various set-ups and i have never looked back. There may well be others, but I have never been tempted to switch. I have even re-wired most of my gear with signal cables from this line and always noted an improvement.

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on January 2, 2017 at 10:01:12
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
While this is an older review, I appreciate the effort that goes into it (and the blog). Largely as a result of this review (and prior Cardas experience) I have been using Golden Ref speaker (single wire) as my primary reference for about six months.

As with most Cardas cables from the old lines that have now been phased out (Cross and Reference), I hear a slight congestion or lack of ultimate (see-through) transparency compared to some other cables, and I think the OP hears this more now as he writes in his Clear Beyond review. I find this more apparent with Cardas speaker cable than interconnects. It may be that the cold-forged spade connectors of the new Clear line are largely responsible for the improved clarity of the Clear. Some users have had their Golden Reference or Golden Presence speaker cables re-terminated with the cold-forged spades, and reported favorable results. At $600 for re-termination, it seems a good stop-gap for those not ready to pony up for Clear or Clear Beyond speaker.

Cardas cables are available with a larger, 9mm spade connector, which I have on my Gold Refs. These will fit the larger European binding posts on the old Sonus faber and JMlab/Focal and have more surface area for tightening the binding posts (mentioned in one of the blog posts). (I'm not sure if Sonus faber and Focal have now moved to 1/4" (6mm) binding posts with newer models.)

I have also been rotating through complete sets of Golden Reference, Golden Presence, and Neutral Reference interconnects with the Gold Ref speaker cables. I agree that the Gold Ref ICs are not neutral, while the Neutral Ref may be even more detailed than cables like AudioQuest Colorado. Golden Presence fits neatly in between, being more golden than Neutral Ref, and more neutral than Gold Ref. I will probably post full reviews of one, or all, of these old Reference line ICs once I have logged more listening time.

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on January 2, 2017 at 20:37:14
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 9880
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
What gear is in your system? The Golden Reference was a fave by much of the Audio Press at one time.

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on January 3, 2017 at 11:58:43
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
I have sold a few of the cables listed below, which were used in a very long (more than a year-and-a-half) cable upgrade process, but I've taken copious notes. It takes a lot of time to identify character consistently, and even more time to determine whether you can live with the character. I find I cannot gauge equipment simply with a few reference tracks, but must live with it in daily use with a variety of source material to take its true measure. At this level, changing power cords makes almost as big a difference as changing interconnects, and necessitates continued listening to reconfirm impressions.

I used Neutral Reference speaker for years, but unfortunately did not have them in-house at the same time as the rest of the wire listed below, so have not compared Neutral Ref to Gold Ref speaker in the same system context. I also used Quadlink ICs for years (and posted a review here in 2009), and agree with Luminator's suggestion here that they are more neutral than not. Again, unfortunately, I sold the Quadlink, so have not done direct comparisons in the current system context, though I have an idea of how they stack up.

Anyway, for those who think Cardas Gold Ref ICs are not neutral (like Luminator and I), I suggest Neutral Ref and Gold Presence ICs will also work with Gold Ref speaker, with greater neutrality than some of the other Cardas ICs.

I am not trying to take away anything from the excellent review; rather to add to the community knowledge. Many have good systems built on older, but still relevant, gear; and I'm sure these discontinued (but in many cases, still available from some dealers as of this writing) Cardas products will remain in demand on the used market for some years to come.

Amplifier: Musical Fidelity A308cr (Recapped with Nichicon/Muse)
Preamplifier: Musical Fidelity A308cr; Musical Fidelity kW Phono
Source (CDP): Musical Fidelity A308cr
Source (Analog): Pro-Ject RPM 10.1 Evo, Ortofon 2M Black; Rega P25 with 24V motor upgrade, TTPSU, Ortofon 2M Bronze, Groovetracer Reference Subplatter & Acrylic Platter, JA Michell Technoarm; Tangospinner dual brass pulley and Opal clear silcone belts
Speakers: JMlab Electra 915.1
Interconnects: AudioQuest Columbia, AudioQuest Colorado, Cardas Neutral Reference, Cardas Golden Presence, Cardas Golden Reference
Speaker: AudioQuest Gibraltar, AudioQuest Volcano; Cardas Golden Reference (all single-wire)
Power: Signal Cable Magic Power, Cardas Quadlink, Cardas Cross, Cardas Golden

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on January 3, 2017 at 22:38:21
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 9880
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
You have a very nice system- readargos.
I like that MF A308 stack (pre,power,cdp).

 

RE: REVIEW: Cardas Audio Golden Reference Speaker Cable Cable, posted on January 3, 2017 at 22:39:59
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 9880
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
AQ Volcano is excellent! Let me know if you find another pair (8ft or longer).

 

AQ Volcano, posted on January 4, 2017 at 08:09:38
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
I've owned two pair of Volcano over the years. Gold Ref speaker is on par. However, even as the better wire from each brand closer approximates neutrality, you still have a lot of the signature AudioQuest and Cardas sound.

 

MF A308 stack, posted on January 4, 2017 at 08:25:06
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
The preamp and power amp won a couple product of the year awards when they came out, while the CD player was compared to the dCS for its soundstaging capability. New capacitors in the amp, which needed replacing anyway, ameliorated a slight tendency toward brightness.

Tastes vary, but Musical Fidelity had a great run from the NuVista gear of 1999 through the Titan in 2009. They haven't gotten as much good press recently.

 

RE: MF A308 stack, posted on January 4, 2017 at 21:04:13
RandyB&W
Audiophile

Posts: 271
Joined: February 20, 2002
Was wondering where you got your MF recapped. I'm currently using a NuVista CD and an A300cr power amp ... the amp may need recapping at some point and I was looking for a source. Oh, and I'm using GR speaker and ICs, and really dog the sound.

 

RE: MF A308 stack, posted on January 4, 2017 at 21:04:39
RandyB&W
Audiophile

Posts: 271
Joined: February 20, 2002
Was wondering where you got your MF recapped. I'm currently using a NuVista CD and an A300cr power amp ... the amp may need recapping at some point and I was looking for a source. Oh, and I'm using GR speaker and ICs, and really dig the sound.

 

RE: AQ Volcano, posted on January 4, 2017 at 22:22:24
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 9880
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
Cardas , to my ears, is rolled off on top.

 

RE: AQ Volcano, posted on January 5, 2017 at 10:24:07
SgreenP@MSN.com
Audiophile

Posts: 2928
Joined: April 23, 2007
Fantja....in MY system Cardas has a definite sonic signature....not only rolled off, but very grainy, closed in, 1 dimensional as well.

 

RE: MF A308 stack, posted on January 5, 2017 at 11:35:33
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
I used Deltronics in Chicago. They did quality work. Amp returned in same condition as when I dropped it off.

You can always try calling or emailing the the North American/US importer to find an authorized (or recommended) repair shop in your area. Audio Plus Services is the US importer as of this writing, Plurison for Cananda.

 

RE: AQ Volcano, posted on January 5, 2017 at 12:05:11
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
I understand your characterization, fantja, and don't dispute it. Of the old Cardas line, I think Neutral Reference are the least this way (speaker and IC), followed by Golden Presence (IC - haven't heard speaker), Quadlink (speaker and IC) and Gold Ref speaker (but not IC, which is decidedly dark). As I said, both brands retain their signature sound.

Cardas are also more mercurial. They take ages to break-in if you don't have a burn-in device. Break-in times vary depending on the cable model. Different models have different geometry and different levels and types of shielding. Golden Cross and Golden Presence seem to require the longest break-in.

Cardas may be more sensitive to environmental conditions (like late-night listening with less demands on the grid). They may also be sensitive to movement (installation), as Cardas alleges. There have been times when I listen to a Cardas wire, and can't stand it, and other times when it sounds like the best cable I've heard in my system, so I have concluded that there must be something else going on - mostly break-in - but some of these other factors, as well. I am sorry to the extent that any of this sounds mystical, but that's what my listening experience suggests.

At any rate, Cardas will not be for all tastes.

 

RE: AQ Volcano, posted on January 5, 2017 at 12:35:24
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
SgreenP, I understand your observations, as well. What some people hear as "grain", others hear as "atmosphere". Cardas' atmosphere do a good job presenting a palpable acoustic, but others hear this as too much grain, and/or a lack of transparency.

If you are in a large space, like a concert hall or a church sanctuary, listen to the sound of the building, and then the sound of voices or instruments traveling in the space. Living in Chicago, I sometimes hear live unamplified music in large open spaces, such as the Daley Plaza. I submit that these examples of "live" sound are not as transparent or crystalline as what a lot of listeners look for, or prefer. I am not arguing right or wrong, or saying that Cardas is not a good match for your system. Rather, I am trying honestly to address why two listeners can come at the same set of cables (or any piece of gear) and reach different conclusions.

Some listeners look for things in home reproduction that enhance the listening experience in the absence of visual cues. Others like gear to lay bare the composition of musical pieces, such as how jazz musicians play off each other, or how a composer employs counterpoint. Ultimately, it is about musical communication. What improves our understanding of the music, and enhances our relationship to it? I do these things myself. These are not wrong choices. We want the best of all possible worlds in home playback, but we all make choices based on budget and tastes.

The only comment I don't get is one-dimensional, as Cardas are generally regarded as having a generous, even sometimes overblown, soundstage. But, obviously, I can't say they don't sound that way in your system!

 

RE: AQ Volcano, posted on January 5, 2017 at 13:47:20
SgreenP@MSN.com
Audiophile

Posts: 2928
Joined: April 23, 2007
Everyone hears differently....I am a pro musician...have been listening to real instruments in real space for about 50 years...Cardas doesn't make it for ME.....(by the way...that's true for all their offerings..heard them all. Colleen Cardas and I went round and round with this)

 

RE: AQ Volcano, posted on January 5, 2017 at 14:15:14
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 9880
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
Thanks! for sharing- guys,

good to read that others feel the same way.

 

RE: AQ Volcano, posted on January 5, 2017 at 20:25:43
readargos
Audiophile

Posts: 47
Location: readargos
Joined: October 31, 2002
Yes, Cardas argue that they spent a lot of time listening to live music in the design (voicing) of their cables. You are right that we all hear differently, or at least prioritize different aspects of live sound, and thus look for different things. Gear-matching - achieving synergy - is also important.

Pierre Sprey, of Omega Mikro and Mapleshade, obviously spends a lot of time listening to live music, as well. His products offer what I analogize to race car performance. The designs and the sound are stripped down, tweaky (esp. Omega Mikro), but offer great dynamics, leading edge definition, sharp transients, immediacy, impact, etc. They sound very different from Cardas and AudioQuest, but someone who values that sound will have a very hard time finding better at the price of the Mapleshade products.

Anyway, people like George Cardas and Pierre Sprey both listen to a lot of live music, yet design very different cables! I am not going to say one is right and the other wrong. I hear the faults of Cardas, too. In my reviews, I try to point out the good and the bad, and why I reach a certain value judgment, as well as why others may feel differently. I think Luminator does that in his reviews, as well.

I guess I revived this old post a little. The community here is important, and I've found a lot of info on the Asylum that I haven't found elsewhere. I think this Golden Reference speaker review is more insightful than the professional reviews I've seen, as one example. Thanks for sharing, all!

 

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