Choosing A Cable
Choosing A Cable
The best source of guidance in cable selection is to talk with us directly, either by phone or email. Our tech specialist, Brian Von Bork, can be reached during business hours (US Pacific time) Monday through Friday, at 541-347-2484. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you’re more of a “form guy”, fill out the form at this link.
But maybe it's outside of business hours, and you just want a general idea of how to pick a Cardas cable. And that's why you're here.
On this page we’ll present our cable offerings by product line, arranged from entry level (101 Speaker) to flagship (Clear Beyond), with a brief description explaining for whom each is intended. And I think we just used “whom” correctly… or is whom never correct? Who knows (whom knows?), we’re a cable company, not a grammar… place. We’re definitely not a grammar place.
A brief explanation of Cardas Cable product lines.
We offer nine distinct product lines of cables. Each product line contains at least one cable, and as many as seven. For example, 101 contains only a speaker cable. Parsec contains an interconnect, speaker, power, and a digital cable. All of our product lines feature conductors comprised of Cardas copper. Everything from Iridium and upward contains our finest copper: Cardas Grade 1 Ultra Pure. Our highest performing cables are part of the Clear range, and within the Clear Range are our top 5 product lines.
People often ask if they have to stick within one product line? No. All Cardas cables "play well" with all of the rest. You can splurge on your speaker cable and the interconnect for your most used source component, and then pick something more economical for the gear you use less often. And Cardas cables play well with the cables from other manufacturers too.
Bigger is not always better, and spending more doesn't necessarily give you better results.
Some of the biggest, most expensive speakers will certainly perform at their best with our flagship Clear & Clear Beyond speaker cables. Likewise, Clear Beyond & Clear Beyond XL power cables will ensure that a big, power hungry amplifier will shine. But putting an extremely revealing (and expensive) cable on an entry-to-mid level system will not take it to the next level.
Our entry level cables are not just more affordable. They're designed to accommodate for the inherent shortcomings of the gear with which they're paired. For example, AV surround systems tend to require a lot of cables, and therefore the cable budget can become an issue. However these systems also have a tendency to accentuate the higher frequencies, and can convey harshness that our 101 Speaker, Crosslink and Iridium cables can help smooth out. Whereas putting a Clear cable on such a system will just emphasize these issues - and also result in your cable investment exceeding the cost of the rest of the system.
Our higher-end cables are created with the assumption that the equipment with which they're paired is designed with few if any compromises. They take for granted that the equipment is placed in a room designed with acoustics in mind. And that appropriate room treatments are in place to account for any acoustic issues.
A high-end cable will not make your entry to mid level system perform like a high end system. And a cheap cable will make your high-end system sound very mid-Fi. Some of the worst sounding systems in the world have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in speakers & components, hardware store wire for speaker cable, and an owner who swears cables don't matter.
There are some analogies that can be drawn between cables and automobile tires. The tire designed for a Bugatti will not improve - and will likely degrade - the handling of a Honda Civic Si. Likewise, the tire designed for the Civic will ruin the handling of the Bugatti.
Buy the correct tires for your car. And the right cables for your stereo.
We hope this page gets you up to speed. Please contact us for any further clarification.
Below is a summary of our cable product lines, arranged from entry-level to flagship, with links to get more information about each one.
Named after the state highway that runs through Bandon, Oregon, and also as a reference to a beginning level college course, 101 Speaker is our most affordable speaker cable.
"Class, welcome to Cardas 101. This semester we're going to learn about cables."
101 Speaker features Cardas Grade 2 Copper, and can be purchased terminated with spades or bananas, or in bulk, to be cut, stripped, and prepared by your dealer, or even yourself. 101 Speaker can be used as a bare-wire cable, tinned, or terminated with connectors.
101 Speaker is ideal for small systems, bookshelf stereos, and surround sound systems in which so much speaker cabling is required that anything more expensive would result in the cable budget exceeding the price of the rest of the components.
We do not offer a 101 interconnect, as the labor involved in terminating interconnects is too involved to keep it within the price point. However 101 Speaker pairs well with Crosslink Interconnect.
Crosslink features Cardas Grade 2 Copper, and is intended for smaller systems, entry level systems, and AV surround sound systems.
Crosslink Speaker & Interconnect can be purchased in bulk, or terminated at our factory. Crosslink Speaker can be used as a bare-wire cable, tinned, or terminated with connectors. In addition, Crosslink Speaker is CL2 rated, and can be legally run through walls.
•Speaker •Interconnect •Phono •Power
The Iridium Cables are our most economical to feature Cardas Grade 1 Ultra Pure Copper. This is the finest quality copper wire in the world, and is used in every Cardas cable from Iridium on up to our ultimate flagship cables.
The Iridium cables can be used with great results on anything from mid-level to higher end systems.
Iridium Speaker pairs well with highly efficient loudspeakers.
Iridium Phono is our best selling phono cable.
Iridium Power, while our smallest gauge power cable, exceeds the current capacity of every power cable packaged with every power amp on the market.
•Speaker •Interconnect •SPDIF Digital •Power •Headphone
Parsec, while one of our more economically priced cables, is a very high end, high performance cable line. Parsec brings strong mid-range and smooth high frequencies, with excellent spatial imaging.
Parsec cables can be said to have the most of the original Cardas DNA, in terms of being warm & musical, and taming the harshness of CDs & poorly recorded digital, or systems that accentuate the higher frequencies too much.
Clear Sky is the beginning of the Clear product line. Clear uses Matched Propagation Conductors designed to be braided more quickly than the other conductors from this product line, making it more affordable, but without leaving a lot of performance on the table.
Clear Sky cables are natural, neutral, and revealing.
Clear SE9 MP Speaker
Clear SE9 MP is designed to bring Clear levels of performance to lower power single-ended tube amps and horn speakers. This is kind of a niche sub-section of audiophilia, and if these terms don't sound familiar, you're not in it 😂.
However, Clear SE9 MP can certainly be used in any high-end system, specifically ones that employ smaller or highly efficient speakers. Not all bookshelf systems are entry level. Some are quite esoteric, and SE9 MP can be a great choice in these situations.
We do not offer an interconnect with this product line, as these sorts of systems do not demand a specific sort of interconnect in the same way that they do with speaker cables. Therefore if you're using SE9 MP speaker cable, your choice of interconnect can range from entry level to flagship depending on the level of components in your system.
•Speaker •Interconnect •Phono •Power
Cygnus is our most popular amongst the Clear cables. Cygnus cables are neutral and transparent, with extended high frequency response, deep, tight bass, and spectacular imaging.
While far more economical than it's big brothers, Cygnus is at home on even the most high performance and expensive of systems.
•Speaker •Interconnect •Power •Headphone
Clear Reflection is the outlier in the Clear Range, and not just because it's the only Clear cable that isn't blue. Reflection takes design geometry from our previous flagship cables, Golden Reference, and adds our latest Matched Propagation conductors. Whereas the rest of the Clear cables strive for the utmost in neutrality, Reflection gives you all of the dynamics and spatial imaging, but with a touch of warmth.
Among other applications, Reflection is perfect for a no-compromise system placed within a less-than-ideal room. If you've assembled a dream-team of amps, speakers, and source components, but want to place that system in your home's main living space rather than an ideally designed & treated man-cave, Clear Reflection may well be the cable for you. If you spend hours listening to music rather than listening to your equipment, Clear Reflection may well be the cable for you.
•Speaker •Interconnect •Phono •Power •AES/EBU •SPDIF •USB •Headphone
Clear is a product line unto itself, containing a variety of cables, and is also the parent name for our entire upper range, from Clear Sky to Clear Beyond. And it's our second from the top of the line within that range.
Why so confusing?
We can explain.
When the original Clear Speaker & Interconnect were introduced, they were an entirely new direction for Cardas. They employed the first Matched Propagation Conductors, and reached a new level of performance not before seen (heard?) in audio cables. At the time, they sat at the top of our entire range.
Over time, we developed new, faster ways of braiding Matched Propagation Conductors. We experimented with substituting slightly more economical dielectric materials to go around those conductors. And we realized that by doing so, we could develop cables that achieved much of the performance of the original Clear, at price points that were a bit easier on the budget. Which is why we now have Sky, Cygnus, and Reflection.
And going in the other direction, we pushed the envelope, and developed more complicated conductors that eked out even more detail from pristine recordings, and surrounded those conductors with dielectric materials and cable geometries that took a no-compromise approach. And thus we created the Clear Beyond product line.
To use an automotive analogy, Clear is the Ferrari that everybody and their brother knows about and lusts after. Clear Beyond is the unattainable Ferrari that looks a lot like the other Ferraris, but it's really special and only true Ferrari guys recognize it. And they lose their freaking minds when they see one. But hey, even that "everyman" Ferrari is an insanely nice car. Likewise, Clear is an insanely nice cable line.
•Speaker •Interconnect •Phono •Power •Headphone
Clear Beyond. Our zero-compromise, pushing the envelope, aspirational, incredible, ultra high performance, lives up to the hype, cable line.
The Clear Beyond cables are intended for the highest performance components in acoustically perfect environments.
Click here to learn more about Clear Beyond.