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Analogue interconnect + speaker cable

Cardas Audio

Manufacturer: CARDAS AUDIO, LTD.

Price (at the time of the test):
5500 PLN/1 m + 13 800 PLN/2 m

Contact: 480 11th St SE
Bandon, Oregon 97411 | USA


Product delivered for test by: VOICE

nowing how many brands of audio cables there are it is hard to believe that most of them actually uses conductors or even cables made either in USA or in Japan. The third large supplier is Taiwan. Sure, there are companies that do everything themselves like Swedish Supra, or Dutch Siltech, or even some Polish examples of brands using cables made in Poland, but these are rather exceptions and they don't produce large quantities of cables. So most cables come from USA and Japan. And there are two leaders – Japanese Furukawa and Cardas from USA. As George Cardas said during his interview for „The Absolute Sound”, the OEM production is in fact the majority of his activity today. Unlike in many other cases, here it is beneficial for both sides:

OEM is the largest part of my business. I love working with other manufacturers. They are very demanding and keep me on my toes. My metal would not be where it is today if not for the goading of Bill Low [of Audioquest]. My metal is art. My conductors are art. If my friends in the business want to use my “paint” to embellish their art, I am fact, I am dedicated.…

George Cardas, An Interview with George Cardas, interview conducted by Kirk Midtskog, “The Absolute Sound” 2015, Issue 254, p. 86.

Cardas Audio established in 1987 is a highly appreciated manufacturer not only of many different types of cables but also speaker posts, banana plugs, spades, RCA, XLR, DIN plugs and sockets, soldering elements, cartridge, and in the past they offered even a remarkable La Luce turntable – an object of dreams of many analogue geeks (image no. 1).

Golden Ratio

The core offer were always cables. Just like the ones under review – interconnect and speaker cable that belong to Clear Reflection line. Just like all other Cardas products they were designed using so called „Golden Ratio”, i.e. the ratio of proportions exemplified by the cross section of a nautilus seashell (the Cardas logo), as well as by the length, width, and height of many ancient Greek buildings such as the Parthenon, This ratio, expressed mathematically, is roughly 1:1.61803398871.

It was a brilliant idea – to find something so universal that would be from this point on associated with this particular brand. I always try to underline that so called „identity” is a key factor that makes a brand identifiable. Most company have to work really hard to achieve that, many fail to achieve such effect. George Cardas belongs to the most intelligent people in the industry. Every of his new endeavors brings great results – even the headphones he released not that long ago found their fans (more HERE; lang. Polish). It shouldn't be surprising that he build his company basing on one of the most recognizable elements that appeal to human intellect as well as to emotional part of our nature.

Clear Reflection

George Cardas first applied the Golden Ratio principle to controlling resonances in race car engines and exhaust systems. As it turned out later resonances had equally destructive influence on audio signals, also to those transmitted via cables. Some believe even that this is a key issue of signal transmission – British company Vertex AQ is a good example here.
Cardas applies the Golden Ratio to cables through the relative location and size of the various conductors within each cable bundle—for instance, the outer conductors are about 1.618 times larger than the conductors in the next inner layer, and this pattern is repeated until the innermost conductor ends up being the smallest.

The particular cables under review are no different in this regard. This models are direct replacements of the famous and very popular Golden Reference. They differ from the predecessor using improved geometry, better conductors (it is still copper though) and dielectric. When designing this cable, George Cardas, as one reads in the above mentioned interview, wanted to go back to a “classic Cardas sound”.

We have received RCA interconnect terminated with copper, rhodium plated Cardas SRCA connectors. As always when it comes to Cardas cables, they sport Litz conductors with PFA dielectric with air particles, in Crossfeed configuration, with double shielding. The speaker cables sport identical design but larger diameter. These are terminated with banana connectors made of copper and rhodium plated.

CARDAS AUDIO in „High Fidelity”
  • TEST: Cardas Audio EM 5813 Model 1 – headphones, see HERE (lang. Polish).
  • TEST: Cardas Audio CROSSLINK 1I, CROSSLINK 2S, TWINLINK – interconect RCA/speaker cable/power cable, see HERE (lang. Polish).

  • Recordings used for this test (a selection)

    • Abraxas, 99, Metal Mind Records/Art Muza JK2011CD07, gold-CD (1999/2011).
    • Carmen McRae & Julie London, Carmen McRae & Julie London Bethlehem/Victor Entertainment VICJ-61458, “Bethlehem K2HD Mastering Series | No. 8”, K2HD CD (1954/2007).
    • Depeche Mode, Ultra, Mute/Sony Music Labels SICP-30543, Blu-spec CD2, (2007/2014).
    • Rogers Waters, Amused To Death, Columbia/Legacy/Analogue Productions 5478842, SACD/CD (1992/2015).
    • The Modern Jazz Quartet, European Concert. Volume One + Two, Atlantic/East West Japan, AMCY-1186-7, "Atlantic Jazz Collection, 50 Years", K2HD, 2 x CD (1960/1998).
    • This Mortal Coil, HD-CD Box SET: It’ll End In Tears, Filigree & Shadow, Blood, Dust & Guitars, 4AD [Japan] TMCBOX1, 4 x HDCD, (2011).
    • Thom Yorke, The Eraser, XL/Warner Music Japan WPCB-100001, CD (2006/2007).
    • Tomasz Stańko Quartet, Lontano, ECM 1980, CD (2006).
    Japanese CD editions are available from

    Although I'm not old enough I can't start this review in any other way than: I remember a listening session with Cardas Golden Reference cables. It happened years ago when I prepared a review for „Audio” magazine and it was one of the first advanced cable systems I had listened up this time (more HERE; lang. Polish). Golden Reference was, at the time, the top model of this American brand – Clear and Clear Beyond were not to come for many years. That's why I wanted as many of my friends from Cracow Sonic Society as possible to listen to these cables, also in their own systems.

    All of us had similar impressions and maybe that is why I remember them so clearly. These were remarkable cables with their own, distinct sound signature. What made them so special was this amazing liquidity, smoothness, delicate treble, and slightly emphasized mid-bass. The result was a huge sound, music delivered with impressive scale and this music was based on very solid bass foundation – which was an elements that many even high-end systems of that time, lacked. With this picture in my head (it's been so long ago, 10 years to be exact, that I wouldn't call it a memory) I started my listening sessions with cables that are successors of the former Cardas reference.

    What surprised me from the very beginning was that these two cables sounded (or modified sound) differently, I mean IC sounded differently than speaker cable. If I remember correctly both Golden Reference sounded almost identically. This time these were two cables of the same class, sharing the same DNA and many sound features and yet, combining them into different configurations.

    Interconnect is very... calm. Depth and liquidity of the sound are its main features. The emphasis is placed in the midrange. Treble is slightly rolled off. Not enough to make cymbals from the 1960 Scandinavian live recording of The Modern Jazz Quartet lose their vibrancy, but enough to place them rather in the background instead of presenting them almost in the front, which was done by Siltech Double Crown and the newest cable from Mr Kazuo Kiuchi-san, the Hijiri HGP-10R “Million”. And while the latter offers incredibly open sound, Siltech on the other hand never emphasizes the attack. And yet, Cardas IC offered lower, warmer sound and – which was really important – beautifully organic one. Only the Siltech Triple Crown outperforms Cardas clearly in each and every of these aspects. Both of the above mentioned cables offer better overall performance than Cardas, while being significantly more expensive too, but Cardas offers a mix of features that might be a perfect choice for many systems.

    The speaker cable offers more transparent sound, if by “transparent” we understand more open with flatter frequency response. But I never doubted that both, IC and SC, were made by the same man. Both presented the same slight emphasis placed on the mid-bass, that made it very nice, soft and dense. None of these cables offered perfect definition nor control in the bass area. Percy Heat's double bass on the above mentioned double album of TMJQ, as well as very low, synthetic bass on Depeche Mode's Ultra Depeche Mode had dense texture, beautiful timbre, but there was no proper decay.

    Knowing already what I knew about IC and speaker cable, I listened carefully to them playing together in a system. Long story short – this is the best choice, to use them together. It's like they have to work together to offer their full potential. And it is not like they have to correct each other flaws (every cable has some – that's physics). They work together to support each other upsides.

    They both together offer more open sound than IC used alone. The IC takes credit for a beautiful softness of the treble and amazing richness of the midrange. Speaker cable contributes better control and definition of lower end and more open treble. The result of both cables used together is dense, large scale sound with a delicate but shiny treble. Resolution clearly supports the richness and depth of the sound, and so does the selectivity. So one shouldn't expect an abundance of details and subtleties. Unless they make a musical sense – particular musical events tend to be presented in details but only as a part of a bigger whole.

    Cardas cables deliver spacial effect in a particularly impressive way. It so happened that when I reviewed these cables I received the latest re-issue of Roger Waters Amused To Death. This material encoded with Qsound systems has been for years used as a perfect example of the use of spacial effects. With Cardas in my system it sounded in a very powerful way transferring album's acoustics into my room, that finally disappeared living me alone with the music. The same happened when I listened to a Polish album using the same technique, the 99 by Abraxas. It was produced by Jacek Gawłowski, Grammy Award 2014 winner for Włodek Pawlik's album. Also in this case music surrounded me, holding me inside this dense cocoon.


    One thing man learns in audio world is trusting manufacturers that have proven themselves before. Sure, each of them might offer a not so good product once in a while, but even such least successful one would still offer a decent level of performance even if not as high as the best products of this particular manufacturer. It is a good idea to keep trusting such manufacturers as there is not that many of them in this industry.

    Cardas and his Clear Reflection are perfect examples of such a manufacturer and such a successful product. Manufacturer claims that it offers an absolute transparency, and this is his right to do so. In fact they do modify signal and they do it in a quite distinct way. But what they do serves music well. They produce very rich, deep sound with large images of instruments. Music comes from the depths of the huge soundstage when needed or close to the listener, although that doesn't happen too often. High treble and lowest bass are slightly rolled off and you need to take it into consideration when planning your system. You can't be wrong buying Clear Reflection no matter what kind of system you have – it's a beautiful cable from beautiful people.

    I tested Cardas Clear Reflection using ABA comparisons, testing both cables together, and separately, between CD Player and preamplifier (IC) and amplifier and loudspeakers (SC). I compared them with my reference cables – Siltech Double Crown IC and Tara Labs Omega Onyx, and with two other sets: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.5TRIPLE C-FM + SPC-2.5TRIPLE C-FM and new top product from KBL Sound called Himalaya (more about these cable in our NEWS section – review due in October).

    I tested cables in my reference system but also with some other devices under review like: Audio Research Galileo GSPre (IC) and system by Einstein Audio – preamplifier The Preamp and power amps The Silver Bullet OTL.

    Polish distributor:

    VOICE Spółka z o.o.

    ul. Mostowa 4 | 43-400 Cieszyn

    Nichi Nichi Kore Ko’nichi

    Released: 2015

    For-Tune 0056 (006), CD

    As one reads in promotional materials, P.U.R. Collective proposes music that combines elements of jazz and contemporary music. Band's leader is a remarkable composer and a brilliant improviser, professor Krzysztof Knittl, other members are saxophonists: Aleksiej Krugłow from Russia and Jurij Yaremchka from Ukraine. P.U.R – is short for Poland Ukrain and Russia. It is an avant-garde music based on a collective improvisation. Material for this album of “orange” series was recorded within two days, on July 7th and 8th 2014 in Genetix Film Factory Studio in Warsaw. Michał Kupicz is responsible for recording, mixing and mastering of this album.


    You should buy this album even if you don't like this type of music very much. It will show you how music should be recorded – and I mean both, acoustic and electronic one. Sound that is so clean, so resolving, so nicely differentiated and so palpable usually comes only from the best recording studios, from the best sound/mastering engineers in the world. I think, although I can't be sure, that this amazing clarity and selectivity of the sound was achieved by recording all musicians simultaneously, and maybe also because there no particular pressure here, this was never supposed to be a great commercial success so sound engineer didn't have to “adjust” the sound to any sort of expectations. This lack of pressure or expectations allowed an “artistic” approach to realization of this material instead of “commercial” one.

    Whatever the reason – sound is simply outstanding! There is a very good bass extension when it comes to electronic music (see r 01) and amazing treble when it comes to percussion cymbals (duets 02 for example). To be honest I really didn't care about analyzing sound as such, I simply enjoyed the music, listening to it felt truly comfortably. Even if you're an owner of a super-sophisticated, 100 kEUR system you will listen to the music and not the sound.

    Spacing, soundstage depth and 3D imaging are simply fascinating. Sound of acoustic instruments merges perfectly with electronic ones, which is a rather rare case. Also dynamics is remarkable – this album seems not as loud as most recordings, most likely because sound engineer used only minimal compression, just enough for all pieces to come together. So one can crank up the volume and enjoy particularly dynamic presentation, almost live-like.
    This album gives an answer to the seemingly unanswerable question – how to record electronic music so that it sounds naturally. Because if it blends so well with acoustic music it means for sure that it is natural, despite the fact that it was created in chips and processors.

    It's my great pleasure to award this album with BIG RED Button, for outstanding sound quality.

    Sound quality: 10/10



    - Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
    - Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
    - Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

    - Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
    - Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
    - Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
    - Power amplifier: Soulution 710
    - Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

    - Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
    - Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
    - Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
    - Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
    - Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
    - Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

    - Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
    - USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
    - LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
    - Router: Liksys WAG320N
    - NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
    System I
    - Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: fuse – power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) – wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
    - Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
    - Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
    - Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
    - Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
    - Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

    - FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One