Cardas Clear Speaker Cables - From cable skeptic to beliver in one fell swoop


Hello,

For many years I have been happily living with various flavors of Mogami speaker cable during the many stages of my audio journey and felt that they did an excellent job at presenting music in a clear, neutral and honest way. For the money I still consider them an excellent choice.

Recently I decided to take a trip to the dark side and go against my belief that an esoteric cable won't offer much more in terms of SQ compared to my super short run (2ft) of Mogami 2921 cables.

As a first test I started by dipping my toes into the water with a pair of Cardas Neutral Reference which fairly quickly showed some promise that maybe I was wrong all this time. I felt that they didn't really do anything wrong and in fact did some things better than my Mogami's did.

After this test I found myself asking the question, "Hrmm, I wonder how a cable further up the chain would sound". I was liking what I heard so far so why stop now.

Next up I tried a pair of Cardas Golden Reference. After hearing these  It didn't take long to realize that My system was indeed being held back by using the cheaper cables all this time. I liked many things about the GR cables but ultimatly thought they added a bit too much salt and pepper to the sound and seemed to round off the bass more than I prefered. But, the new details and soundstage depth/width they extracted became addicting.

As before, I started asking myself another question again "If these GR cables are this good I wonder if a cable even furthur up the chain would give me everything the GR does without the drawbacks?".

This time I decided to just jump in head first and quit messing around. So I borrowed a set of Cardas Clear from the Cable Co with much fear after seeing the price of the cables.

As my time winds down borrowing these Clear cables I can feel my wallet starting sweat. In all honesty it only took about 2hrs from the time the first note started playing until I began to hear these cables start to do EVERYTHING right. Soundstage Width- Check, Soundstage Depth - Double Check, Bass Accuracy - Impressive is an understatement, Soundstage Detail and Clairity - Yup, Everywhere in spades.

So with all that said, I can say with 100% certainty that I'm writing the check. After hearing what these cables did for my system there is just no going going back no matter how painful the price tag is.

As they say ignorance is bliss. In my case if I didn't take a chance and swallow my pride then I would still probably be oblivious to how much more my system had to offer.

Any other Cardas Clear users hear? What are your findings?

Thanks


eniac26
Doh... Seems I had a spelling error in the title...Can't edit title. Shakes Head :(
Cables are so system dependent.....  In MY system Cardas was the very worst cable..and it was recommended by the manufacturer.  I'm glad they work for you.
C'mon stringreen, I think everyone here knows by now that you dislike Cardas. You've only posted it about a hundred times. Nowadays you push the Clear Day cable brand. Last year it was Anti-Cable.

Nobody wants to rain on your parade, allow others to enjoy their systems in peace.

eniac26, thanks for sharing. I'm glad that you are enjoying the Cardas Clear cables. I have not had the opportunity yet to listen to the Clear series by Cardas.
Stringreen..I would be very interested in hearing about which Cardas cables you tried that made you feel they were the worst you've heard in your system and what you are using now that you feel bettered them?

As you say cables are very system dependent. But with that said and based on what I heard while using these Cardas Clear cables I just can't imagine how anyone could consider them the worst in any system no matter what caliber the gear.

I can certainly agree that the sound of the various Cardas cables available is quite different from one another based on my experience but it seems the Clear line changes things a bit. They don't seem to try and highlight any area in particular like some of the other Cardas flavors offered. Instead, they just seem to get out of the way and let the rest of the gear and source music's sonic signature shine thru unhindered.

I'm using the Clear with a combo of Magico, Hypex NCore1200, Meitner and Classe gear as a point of reference.

jmcgrogan2..Thanks for your response. Yes if you ever have the opportunity to take a listen to the Clear speaker cables I don't think you will be disappointed.

As another point...I think the beauty of the Cable Co lending library is that it allows one to evaluate a very expensive cable like this Cardas Clear with no real risk and because of that the cable can be reviewed in an honest and unbiased way since a large sum of money hasn't been exchanged yet.

We've all heard and seen the biased/unbiased review flag wavers here and elsewhere who talk about people feeling obligated to post a glowing review of a product because they just spent 4-5 figures on it. Well, in this case that doesn't really apply because the cables can just as easily be returned if they don't offer the return on investment that you were expecting.

Its a great service that I wish more companies offered
Cables are system dependent; therefore you can't get upset when someone doesn't like them. I too tried Cardas Clear in my system and found them dark, without detail. If they're great in your system, simple enjoy them.
JMC....I'm hear to share my experiences in this hobby..both happy and unhappy ones.  The top of the line with optional highest quality XLR connectors sound to these ears almost the same as the top of the heap Wireworld XLR interconnets....at a very much easier price.  ..and that is no small achievement.  I also have had almost every well known, and not so well known brands of speaker cable, and none work as well as Paul's ClearDay Double Shotgun.  I'm twisting no arms...just reporting that in MY system this is what I've found...and hope others can at least try these suggestions which cost nothing....decide for themselves.   My system is VPI Superscoutmaster/rim drive/Classic platter/Winfield cart/Lyra Etna/all Ayre electronics/Vandersteen 5A speakers.  Your results might differ.
eniac....I tried evey Cardas cable they make.  Colleen Cardas and I went round and round....she saying it needs more time to break in....yet, after a month of every day playing...it still had a signature, I could identify instantly.  Some of their models performed better, but they all had a Cardas sound which (to me) is unmusical. (by the way...I find Purist cables' signature ,though pleasant, unmusical as well)  I have to say, I'm not anti Cardas....I've heard some system that sound good using Cardas...I actually have Cardas balanced headphone cables on my Senheiser 650's which sound very good. 
I had ClearDay Double Shotgun cables a couple of years ago and thought they were very good. 
Since we're talking cables...here's an interesting experience...  I think Audioquest Everest and Sky are excellent cables.  ...naturally when Audioquest came out with their William F Lowe Signature line.....way more expensive then the very expensive Everest/Sky, I was anxious to hear what they would bring......awful.  Audio jewelry and nothing more...using MY system.  They might be wonderful on yours.
recred.....you might ask Paul if you had the older or better newer design.
stringreen,

I'm sure I had the older design, it was a few years ago. I'm very happy with my WireWorld cables and my entire system. For the first time I see no need to change anything.
Cables are system dependent; therefore you can't get upset when someone doesn't like them. I too tried Cardas Clear in my system and found them dark, without detail. If they're great in your system, simple enjoy them.

Not sure if this was for me or not? If so, I don't see any previous response of mine that should lead someone to believe that I am "upset" that someone else has a different opinion of these cables then myself.

Only a fool would post in a cable forum and expect that everyone who responds will feel the same way about the cable being discussed.

In any case, I'm not usually one to post reviews (or much of anything for that matter given my 60 total posts in this forum since 2009), especially about cables, but in my system and to my ears there was something pretty remarkable about what these Clear speaker cables did at first and continued to do right up until I had to box them up and send them back.

Dunno, maybe this post will motivate other cable skeptics to give them a listen also if they have the means to do so. After all, they certainly changed my mind.
A point that may be relevant is that Cardas Clear has a capacitance of 278 pf/foot, which is considerably higher than the capacitance of most other speaker cables. Mogami 2921 is more like 30 pf/foot. And by any chance was the Cardas Clear you tried significantly longer than the 2 foot length of your Mogami 2921? If so, that would increase the disparity in capacitance correspondingly.

While in general the capacitance of speaker cables is much less significant than it is for interconnect cables, if it starts getting up into many hundreds or even thousands of pf’s it is certainly conceivable that it could affect the sonics of the amplifier, in ways and to a degree that would be highly dependent on the design of the specific amplifier.

In any event, enjoy! Regards,
-- Al

I have had several posts with Stringeen on his opinion about Cardas Cables I never got a straight answer if he has actually listened to the ''new'' Clear line. I do not think that he has and is basing his opinion(s) on the older Cardas cables in which based on any given system.....his opinion may not be too far off. However, by not listening to the Clear line and always posting negative comments  about Cardas Cables on every single Cardas post here on Audiogon  is getting old .........Cardas will be coming out with a Clear Beyond interconnect shortly. I own the Clear Beyond Speaker cables and Clear Rev 1 interconnects and looking at listening to the CB power cords as well. In  ''my system''...........this Cardas line sounds more like real music ...at least to me and that's what matters most   
P.S. to my previous post: The reason for the relatively high capacitance per unit length of the Cardas Clear is most likely that it helps make possible the cable’s very low inductance (0.0176 microHenries/foot). The likelihood that a low inductance such as that will be beneficial (putting aside the potential effects of the high capacitance on the amplifier) will tend to be greatest if the impedance of the particular speaker is low at high frequencies, and if the length of the cable is longer rather than shorter.

Regards,
-- Al

I’ve auditioned Cardas IC’s and speaker cables thru the Cable Company.
My findings were that the Clear line of cables were vastly superior to the old Cross cables. The earlier Cardas have a warm sonic signature with rolled-off highs. The Clear and Clear Light were much more transparent with more detail and extension. Soundstaging was wider and deeper, but still had some of the Cardas signature warmth. I found them very enjoyable in my system.

It should be noted that if you are using fully balanced components, there may not be a drastic difference in sonics between IC’s.
When using SE components, the different sonic signatures of RCA interconnects are very noticeable. Having said that, I found a great deal of difference in sonics between the Cardas models and other brand IC’s when used with my SE components.

In my shoot-out between Cardas and Purist Audio, I chose Purist for my IC’s and speaker cables. I found the Purist to reproduce a more natural, organic sound.
What Purist were you using as that would help

A point that may be relevant is that Cardas Clear has a capacitance of 278 pf/foot, which is considerably higher than the capacitance of most other speaker cables. Mogami 2921 is more like 30 pf/foot. And by any chance was the Cardas Clear you tried significantly longer than the 2 foot length of your Mogami 2921? 
In any event, enjoy! Regards,
-- Al

Hello Al,

Yes the Cardas Clear that I demo'd where longer. In this case the Cardas were 8ft longer then the Mogami for reasons that require to much motivation to list in this thread.

In any case I don't know why but there was an undeniable increase in the amount of musical information they conveyed. It wasn't even remotely subtle either. It was a true WTF moment each time I listened to them.

I believe my speakers (Magico S3) would indeed fit the bill you describe in terms of low Impedence nominal and even lower as the Freq increases.

One of the many reasons I like Cardas is because they as a company seem far more transparent about what goes into making there cables, especially in terms of having the guts to list actual measurement specs of the specific cable in question. Clearly most other cable brands are far less brave which is very aggravating. Other brands would rather try and Wow you with fancy scientific terms and various other Voodo methods that don't really tell you anything useful. If everyone posted specs and detail on cable layout design it would possibly help better explain why some cables sound so much different than others make shopping much quicker and easier. 

I wish I knew how having such a high capacitence and low inductance allowed the cable to present so much more information in my system compared to other cables I've heard but then again maybe the reason has nothing to do with either and more to do with how the wire is constructed.


Eniac, yes I certainly agree that Cardas (and a number of other manufacturers) are to be commended for providing meaningful information about the design of their cables.  Unfortunately those manufacturers seem to be in the minority.  And while in general such information will of course not enable one to predict how a given cable will sound in a given system, at the very least it may allow some cables to be ruled in or ruled out from consideration, especially if longish lengths are involved (since most cable parameters are proportional to length).  And it can provide confidence that the cable is not simply designed to sound different by virtue of having bizarre electrical parameters.  As well as providing confidence that the designers have a good understanding of what they are doing.
I believe my speakers (Magico S3) would indeed fit the bill you describe in terms of low Impedence nominal and even lower as the Freq increases.
Since the impedance presented by an inductance rises in proportion to frequency, and in the case of a speaker cable that impedance will assume increased significance as it becomes an increasing fraction of speaker impedance, in general that kind of speaker will be more sensitive than average to cable inductance.  And lower inductance will work in the direction of providing increased extension and detail at high frequencies.  However in this case I suspect that is not what is making the difference, because the inductance of the Mogami cable was also fairly low, by virtue of its short length.

What seems more likely to me, although without having knowledge of and analyzing the design of the specific amp it can't be said with any certainty, is that the 2780 pf of capacitance presented by the 10 foot length of Cardas Clear may to some degree have caused a resonant peak in the frequency response of the amp at certain high frequencies.  Perhaps in the ultrasonic or RF region, but with effects on audible frequencies occurring as a result of phase shifts and/or intermodulation effects. 

If so, a length that is considerably shorter than the 10 foot length of the cable you evaluated wouldn't necessarily provide similar results, even in your particular system.  But as you indicated, it's also certainly possible that neither of these parameters had anything to do with the differences that resulted.

Regards,
-- Al
 
@garebear, The Cardas Clear were excellent, but beyond my budget, so I compared Clear Light to Purist Aqueous Aureus - Luminist (4 meter, $2200).
I auditioned ICs and speaker cables; I liked the smooth highs of the Purist.
@almarg

Thanks for the detailed response Al. The increasing capacitance value does somewhat concern me in that when I go to purchase these cables I will actually need a 4m length in my setup. I borrowed the 3m length due to its immediate availability and just to get a taste of what they sounded like in my system.

In cases like my own is where knowing other cable brands capacitance value for the same length of cable would come in handy. If Brand X had a significantly lower capacitance and similar Inductance value as the Clear cables for the same 4m length it would certainly prompt me to give those a try as well before making a final decision to see how those lower values effect the sound.

There problem here is that I only know of 1 other brands who I would consider of the similar quality to the Clear who post actual cable specs (Nordst) but they aren't sold by the CableCo so demoing them wouldn't be an option. At these prices, that is not a gamble I am willing to take.

So I guess I can only cross my fingers that the additional 3ft of Cardas Clear that I need wont cause the SQ I heard with the shorter cable to decrease by a noticeable margin. I would like to believe that the added length wont make much of a difference compared to what I heard before.

Thanks
Cardas Clear rev1 2m speaker cables, 2 pair of Clear xlr cables, and all Clear Beyond powercords here.....get my vote*********
System: Magnepan 20.7's, Bryston 28sst2's,lumin A1 streamer, Blue Circle Pre.

Cardas are good but MIT delivers such a vast improvement in any system I've owned...other cables sound lifeless and 2 dimensional!
.......I have always wondered why MIT needs a box to sound good ?  Wouldn't a good cable design correct that ? The OP's post is on Cardas not MIT  
There's always room for MIT:)!  It is because of the BOX that the music which other wires hold back is able to flow...silly question.
I'm not a fan of adding another box or doodad directly in the signal path between my amp and the speaker. There are plenty of those doodads in the amp and speaker already.

Besides that, after seeing pics of what's inside that MIT box I quickly lost my appetite. Just one more thing to break or slowly degrade the sound over time IMO.
If you find the Clear speaker cables expensive, do not audition the Clear Beyond.  I have Pass XA100.5 amps and these speaker cables blew me away.  If you have a high amperage amplifier like the Pass and money to burn, you will not regret it.  I also use the Clear Beyond power cables
When you find the optimum speaker cables for your system you have won an audiophile's lottery. When the system clicks it is just so emotionally satisfying that the myriad troubles in the world seem to vanish.

I congratulate all who have found their special set of cables.

If you have not yet tried any Audio grade fuses, might I suggest auditioning a Synergistic Research Black fuse in the system.They take 100 to 150 hours to fully settle in. I do think they complement systems that already have satisfying cables in place. 

They do come with a 30 day money back policy. They have significantly elevated the satisfaction level of my system.

David Pritchard
Well stated- David.  Happy Listening!
Cardas clear!!! Reference speaker cable of the world!!! Mention them at Munich Germany top electronics show and they'll know the best! New speaker cables called Cardas Reflection are on market! I own them! Very close cousin to clear, better on wallet! Clear are not bi wire capable! Cardas reflection are!!!! Rule of thumb ! If cables cost more per run than individual speaker, clear is over kill!!!!
@russ75 I have no doubts that if I were to audition the Clear Beyond cables I might be setting myself up for financial suicide. Thanks but No Thanks :) I'll just have to learn to live with my cheap bog standard Clear's instead ;)

@davidpritchard 
Looks like I'm in luck here on this one, my amp came already equipped with a Synergystic R fuse of some flavor so I'm good to go in that area.
Heres another thumbs up for the Clear Day double shotgun. Just a great cable at a very reasonable price. Paul, the owner and cable maker, is really a good guy to deal with also. He will send you the cables to try out and then you can either buy them or send them back
To experience an MIT Oracle cabled system is to touch the face of God...all else pales in comparison.  Having not experienced a properly set up MIT lashed system is akin to living under ground believing that all you have seen and heard is the world, only to realize that the sun and wind and sea have been waiting for you all along...if only you dared venture beyond your self created acoustic prison.  Dare to dream...dare to MIT!!
TY- dave_b.

what gear is in your system?
To experience an MIT Oracle cabled system is to touch the face of God...all else pales in comparison.  Having not experienced a properly set up MIT lashed system is akin to living under ground believing that all you have seen and heard is the world, only to realize that the sun and wind and sea have been waiting for you all along...if only you dared venture beyond your self created acoustic prison.  Dare to dream...dare to MIT!!

ROTFLMAO!!
I wonder if dave_b (MIT), audiolabryinth (Tara Labs), and ddraudt (High Fidelity) are all actually the same person.

Good one John .....wow and I thought they were just cables. I will ask my priest if they can take the place of me going to church on Sunday. .

And even more ; '' silly answer '' 


Laughing..

I cannot find fault w/ the panel above. If you are not having a religious experience w/ your system, you have not reached "nirvana".
JMC - priceless!  And probably true.  Maybe the Trenton NJ lottery winner will come forward - he will have just enough to wire up with MIT Oracles!

Krell Cipher, Duo 300, Illusion 2 and Resolution 2 speakers (my favorite so far).  Oracle 3.5 IC's and 1.5 Biwires!  Oracle AC 2 PC's and Transparent MM2 for Cipher.  

Wasn't this post about one members favorable comments on Cardas Clear Cables .....how did we get to '' this point '' about someone listing what there own system is ? Huh ...? Silly response
That's Audiotainment!!
eniac26 touches on an important point...don't bring something home to listen to in your system if there is no way you can afford it.  It is really hard for many of us to be at peace with our system if we've auditioned a component of any type that we can never posess.