The Cardas Golden Cross shifts the emphasis to the lower octaves. Great low end detail, but somewhat too much emphasis down below and a little controlling / restrictive of the upper frequencies. Great vocals, sounds like they are coming from a real human body, you can feel the vocal cords. Golden Reference simply shifts a little away from the hormonal lower octaves and gives a somewhat livelier upper end. That's my take on this. I compared them both to Nordost's SPM. I liked the SPM's imaging, but hated the paper thin vocals and it's lack of feel on the bottom end. If you have bright solid state amps, the CGC might be a good match. My 2 cents worth.