George Cardas, the founder of Cardas Audio products, has some innovative ideas with respect to designing cables. There is the Golden Proportion concept having to do with the layering of different size strands within a cable in an effort to control its resonance ( U.S. Patent Number 4,980,517), as well as Golden Section Stranding used to turn a cable into a silent conductor thereby producing a purer audio signal (U.S. Patent Number 4,628,151). The Golden Section Stranding design won, "The Most Significant Contribution of the Advancement of High End Audio in Cable and Accessory Design" from the Academy for the Advancement of High End Audio. For complete details concerning the above please refer to the manufacturer’s website. Using the Golden Ratio rule found in works of art and architecture, stretching way back to the Great Pyramid and ancient Egyptians, George Cardas not only designs audio cables but also establishes parameters for use in setting up proper listening positions as well as loudspeaker placement.
While many cable manufacturers create their own unique cables, Cardas Audio dives into the problem of loudspeakers placement with different size and shaped rooms with regard to that effect on the sound of one’s system. This is a concept unusual for a cable manufacturer to approach as it is most often times reserved as a topic for loudspeaker companies. When you think of it though which audio designer would not want their component displayed under the best possible situation and therefore seek to educate the public in ways to do so. Consumers are asked to reevaluate the position of loudspeakers using the Golden Ratio method, a mathematical formula based on room size and shape. This method has been widely accepted in many audio circles and a concept I have tried to follow during this review period in an effort to hear the cables under circumstances the manufacturer thinks would be best. Exploring websites is sort of a hobby of mine. Before approaching a manufacturer for a review a thorough examination of their website is undertaken in an effort to determine if this is an appropriate project for me to take on. Let me say right now that the Cardas website was one of the better ones seen to date. Not only was it packed with highly informative data, explained in great detail, but it was also easy on the eyes with its use of some very interesting sketches marking various tabs on the website. These sketches reminded me of primitive drawings, similar to those found on cave walls, left behind by our early ancestors. Perhaps this is a possible reminder of the root of some of these design concepts tying it to our ancient past.
So it seems that manufacturers are quite similar to us, in that after all the technical measurements are made, they sit down with the final product to see if they can ‘Enjoy the Music’. With that in mind let us now move onto a brief description of the products and then to the listening portion of this review to determine what these particular Cardas cables have to offer in the way of enhancing our own audio experience. One more thought to share though before proceeding. Cardas Audio products come complete with a sheet to guide you through the break-in process where it is suggested to install the cables and leave them undisturbed without moving them around in an effort to minimize stress to the cable which can cause some degree of sonic degradation. Handling the cables gently is how Cardas suggests you care for them and this is exactly what I did. On the other side of this sheet is a short version of their recommended guide for room placement of loudspeakers but you might want to go to their website for an in depth description which covers different size rooms and answers other questions if you need to. While my loudspeakers were only nine inches further out then suggested on that sheet, they were twenty two inches on each side further apart then recommended. Moving my loudspeakers to coincide with these recommendations also changed my listening position in order to keep at a distance enabling it to from an equal sided triangle with the loudspeakers. After all these adjustments were made in an effort to follow the Golden Ratio Rule it was time to sit down and to listen.
Musician's Reference Interconnect
Placing these interconnects on my mono block amplifiers and CD player took clarity to a new level with the song “Every Time I Sing The Blues” from Buddy Guy's CD Skin Deep [Silvertone Records 88697-31629-2]. Here each instrument was placed within a separate and distinct spot on the soundscape giving each their own individual platform to be displayed. Vocals came across as real as a much more forceful impact from drums was evident. One felt closer to the sound of the drum stick as it hit the drum's skin imparting a more defined image of the musician with his instrument performing on stage. There was less of what is termed digital glare yet the performance still retained its sharpness of character and unique distinction. I would say it combined the best from both digital and analog in keeping details yet finding that tube style warmth people often seek. With vocals sounding more like a live event and guitar notes taking on a sharp but not shrill flavor to them I could understand why this cable was labeled Musician's Reference. Sliding over now to a different style of music we have James Taylor from his CD Covers [HRM-30829-02] on the song “Suzanne”. Here we are treated to a cameo appearance by YO-YO MA found playing quietly in the background. These interconnects brought out just enough details to allow his stellar performance to come out from the back of the soundscape to be heard closer to alongside James Taylor adding warmth and texture to this classic song. Up next is a new SACD CD that has been recently added to my collection coming out of Oslo, Norway.
The piano performances of Ola Gjeilo are highlighted here within the CD Stone Rose [2L48]. These IC's added extra depth to the piano on ‘Snow In New York’ as it seemed to fill my room with its magic. High notes were sharp and the gentle decay of music could be heard with just the right amount of timing to make it all fit together so perfectly. Grandiose is a term that comes to mind when speaking of the piano as it is definitely not a small instrument and should sound large when played back in our audio systems. Play this song loud and one gets a true sense of its size along with the hall within the Sofienberg Church in Oslo Norway where the recording was made. Attack of notes was quick and bold with a detailed texture that made music come alive. Moving lastly to a hybrid SACD recording of OLE BULL Violin Concertos [2L67] “Concerto In A Major” with its string, horn and percussion sections made me a little nervous as sometimes this combination can sound slightly too shrill when played back through the wrong equipment even with a good recording. With the IC's from Cardas all such fears were quickly put to rest as the brilliance of this magnificent performance could be thoroughly enjoyed. Each section from the orchestra was placed distinctly on the soundscape and all nuances of the violin solo was clearly heard and enjoyed in its splendor as bow met strings to the enjoyment of all. When the violin hit high notes all was marvelous as the IC's from Cardas was able to play it back in a manner I would imagine close to the way it sounded live. One must stand up to applaud these Musician's Reference interconnects as they brought extra enjoyment to whatever great musical passages was played through them.
Cross Power Cord
Next up was a CD borrowed from Philip O'Hanlon (Luxman's USA distributor) simply labeled Philip's Demo XII (this is not for resale). Found within this CD are some fantastic musician's engaged in equally incredible performances. While listening to “When Things Go Wrong” music immediately sounded louder and clearer as if a veil of haze had been lifted from my system. The attack of notes from the piano of Horace Parlan was presented with lightning quickness and the saxophone of Archie Shepp had a truer ring to it making it sound more like the horned instrument it was. Rather than a more uniform display of music, one could hear fluctuations in sounds as notes changed and there was honesty to the timbre of various instruments. The piano displayed a more refined top and bottom end as its music took on a greater sense of depth. When listening to Neil Young's Harvest [Reprise 48100-9] on a DVD Audio disc it was nice visiting some of the old songs like “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man”. On the former it appeared that I was getting more from my CD player then before as bass notes took on added depth with vocals become a little more clear and lifelike. Music had an overall better feeling behind it while exhibiting greater dynamic contrasts. Even with the variety of different musician's on stage together images stayed focused and clear making for a thoroughly enjoyable performance from this old classic. On “Old Man” we not only get Neil Young and his band but James Taylor on Banjo as well. With the Banjo sounding so real it seemed as if I was floating down stream on a riverboat on the mighty Mississippi River as Pace and Timing were also excellent.
There was a natural sound to music which when played through the Cross Power Cord brought out the gold in older recordings making me want to dust them off to listen to once more. Just to see if anything would change I moved the power cord going from the CD player to the power conditioner to now being attached to the power conditioner and into the wall socket. With this the Cross PC was then placed into the now empty IEC connector on the back of the CD player and into the power conditioner. The Cross PC now being directly attached to the source. Revisiting the John Lennon Imagine CD [Capitol CDP 7 90803 2] was a great deal of fun. Here the first group of songs were original Beatles tunes performed by the fabulous four before moving onto others written and performed by John Lennon with his new group after the Beatles split up. There really did not appear to be a large difference whether the Cross PC was placed before or after the power conditioner as long as it was in the loop it took hold yielding a positive effect. There did though seem to be a slightly better flow to the music in this configuration making me wish the power cord was long enough to reach the adjacent socket without the power conditioner and the extra cable or that there were two Cross PCs to test giving me more of a pure Cardas feel to everything. It certainly sounded way smooth as it worked its magic selections from the Beatles, like “Real Love”, “Twist and Shout” and “Help”. One thing about this PC that seemed shared in the Cardas lineup was its great sense of midrange magic that could put music at ease making it a more enjoyable experience overall.
Golden Power Cords
Mary Chaplin Carpenter's “Can't Take Love For Granted” on the CD Party Doll [Columbia CK 68751] was a good test for the Gold Power Cords as it is very revealing of details and clarity. Here the decrease in noise floor when used with my mono block amplifiers made for a readily apparent quieter backdrop where musicians could now be better heard. There was added weight to everything, vocals, drums and guitar lending to a more realistic feel to the recording. On “Wherever You Are” there is a verse stating, I'm looking for a strong and steady heart, which kind of sums up my feelings about this cable. While it would not change a poor recording or performance into one that was spectacular it did nevertheless take the best of what it had to offer and present it for all it was worth. This was indeed one strong and steady performer. Inserting it into my review system elevated my amplifiers to a level beyond where I had heard them before.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Silent Night [CBS Masterworks MK 37206] CD was such an example. Previously the choir would appear a bit more distant and lacking in strength at lower volume levels but with the Golden Power Cords things were different. Here one was transported forward from back of the hall seating to one approaching center stage about ten rows distant, a vast improvement. Vocals showed a stronger presence with an added three-dimensional quality. Imagery was better as various distinct parts of the choir could now more easily be heard. On “Hallelujah Chorus” extra spaciousness was perceived as the recording hall took on a larger and taller sense to it. Yet no matter how complex the various parts of the choir sounded, as they sang with voices overlapping each other, each vocal section remained sharp and in focus treating my senses to the enormous spatial nature of this recording. The ability of these Power Cords to snap into focus all performers within the soundstage was evident on the CD by Carlos Santana, Supernatural [Arista 07822-19080-2] featuring Rob Thomas on the song “Smooth”. Here the guitar work of Carlos Santana comes out from behind the backdrop to be heard as clear as if front center stage as he plays alongside Rob Thomas. Not that he was heard as loudly but just that even though in the background could be noticed and enjoyed if one wanted to listen as many surely will. The ability to take notice of performances within a performance was a characteristic of all these cables from Cardas Audio, a trait that brought great joy to my heart.
Golden Presence Loudspeaker Cables
Billy Joel's CD River of Dreams (Columbia CK 53003) has many songs worth spending time on but for today the title piece “River of Dreams” will suffice. Here these loudspeaker cables from Cardas Audio exhibited a great balance between, piano, drums and background vocals. They were heard not with a whisper but rather clear and quite present. While the main singer, Billy Joel, held center stage with his voice the others also came out from behind the curtain announcing their presence. Nothing stayed hidden or lost as these cables revealed details within the music that other cables might miss. Dusting off an older CD, Janis Joplin Super Hits [CMG A 705280] it was time to fire up that old masterpiece “Piece Of My Heart”. Neutral and transparent are terms that can be used to describe their effect on the sound of this music. One gets a much better feeling for the performance as details within the song emerge from the shadows of the background and the presentation is more dynamic with the intricacies of Janis Joplin's voice clearly standing out. Drums were more authoritative and detailed while vocals from the band members in the background sounded more upfront and closer to the audience being easier to hear. When you loaded up the volume Janis Joplin's voice came out full force with all the energy and emotion she was loved for.
With some equipment it would be better to keep the volume lower but not here as the cables from Cardas Audio responded well to being held wide open with all thrusters on full force. Leo Sayer Live [BMG 7551745717 2] starts out on track one with the song “One Man Band”. This was a joy to hear as the Golden Presence Loudspeaker cables lay bare a singer that likes to put it all out there for his audience to experience. These cables put that extra step in the parade making it that much more wonderful to hear with a tempo was upbeat and exciting. Speaking of which you should hear “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”. Nothing seemed held back as it was like experiencing Leo Sayer live in front of a real audience with all the background noise that comes with it. Here it felt great to crank it up to get a feeling of being there. The opening harmonica sequence astounding me with its realistic timbre; thus making me sit in awe hearing it in such a powerful soulful context. Then when Simon Basley and Ronnie Johnson were introduced with each giving a short solo performance they did so with great clarity and an uncanny live presence. Meanwhile the drum beat was tight and quick. Overall, the musical event made one feel front row center stage as about as close as you could possible get (unless you were actually performing on stage with the musicians of course). Now that is real!
Today I prefer not to explain with words to my close friends and acquaintances why one might spend thousands of dollars to outfit an audio system with cables; instead they are invited over to listen to their favorite musical passages. Since this is not possible to do with all of you, words must suffice, but please understand words alone cannot adequately describe all events. Back in 1963 my mother put my sister and myself with her on a train to go from Connecticut to New York City (less than a one hour ride) to see the visiting Mona Lisa by Michelangelo. We waiting for hours outside on the sidewalk that hot summer’s day, for only a quick glimpse of that great masterpiece, but it was enough to make me understand why she brought us there. So impressed were we that after only a brief one minute tour (they keep you moving right along) we got back in line again for another chance to see that great masterpiece. Look at all the pictures you want, read about it in detail, but seeing that painting in person is what leaves a true impression. These various cables amazed me with traits of transparency, realism, neutrality and power. Sounding crystal clear they made me feel not just as if I was looking through a window but instead that my head was actually transported beyond it to where the cool breeze was blowing on my face. Yes it was that real. It is time for me to do just what my mother instinctively knew and leave you to go back and “Enjoy the Music” one on one, with these cables from Cardas Audio, inside the confines of my own room, and I suggest you do the same.
Monarchy Audio SM70-PRO Solid-State Class A Amplifiers (2) used in mono block configuration through RCA inputs
OPPO Digital BDP-83 Special Edition Universal player
Fit And Finish 4.5
Cardas Cross Power Cord
Fit And Finish 4.0
Cardas Golden Power Cord
Fit And Finish 4.0
Cardas Golden Presence Loudspeaker Cable
Fit And Finish 4.5