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Frequently Asked
Questions

We field questions over the phone and via email all day long. This page contains an amalgam of some of the questions we get.

Spades vs Bananas?

Spades provide a superior electrical & physical connection. Bananas making changing cables easier. And some plastic-encased binding posts make using spades difficult to impossible.

 

Bananas wear out, especially when they’re plugged & unplugged a lot. Spades basically last forever.

Bananas may be preferable to HiFi dealers, as they make cable comparison demos easier. End-users are better off using spades whenever possible.

RCA vs XLR?

If you’re connecting two components that both have both choices, go with XLR. It can be sonically advantageous sometimes, and rarely if ever detrimental. 

If you're connecting components in which one has RCA only, and the other has both XLR and RCA, use RCA. Don't use an adapter just so you can take advantage of the XLR jacks on one piece of gear. You can only get the (possible) benefits of a balanced (XLR) output with a pure XLR to XLR connection.

What does single-wire, bi-wire, and shotgun bi-wire mean?

These are all speaker-cable terms.

A single wire speaker cable has a positive & negative connector (spade or banana)  on each end of the cable.

A bi-wire speaker cable has a positive & negative connector on the amp-end, and on the speaker end, two positives, and two negatives. One set goes to the low-frequency binding posts on the speaker, and the other pair goes to the high-frequency posts.

A shotgun bi-wire is actually two cables, which are joined on the amp end. So that you have entirely separate speaker cables going to the lows and highs on the speaker.

I've heard the above terms used differently.

So have we. But if you're inquiring about Cardas speaker cables, that's how we use the terms.

Do you make custom cables?

In short, yes. But that can mean many different things. In order of the simplest meaning, to the most complicated:

1. An unusually terminated cable can be considered custom. Such as an interconnect that goes from XLR to RCA. Or a power cable that uses a Neutrik Speakon connector instead of a typical wall plug. 

2. A cable for a very specific application, such as a power umbilical that goes from an outboard power supply to a tube-preamp, using proprietary multi-pin connectors. 

3. A cable of your own design, using Cardas copper, manufactured by Cardas to your specifications, with a minimum order of 2000 feet.

All of these are possible. Just let us know what you need. Contact Brian Von Bork at 541-347-2484 to discuss.

Should I go with long speaker cables, or long interconnects?

If you have the option, go with long interconnects instead of long speaker cables. Interconnects cost less per foot (or per meter, if you're in the civilized world). And a really long interconnect will affect system performance less than a really long speaker cable. But sometimes you don't have the option, and you just gotta go with a long speaker cable. And that's fine. 

Do some cables need to be a specific, or minimum length?

Some people argue that power and/or digital cables need to be a specific length, or a minimum length. We've read the forums in which these arguments are put forth. We're unpersuaded.

The perfect length for any cable is long enough to comfortably span between components, but not so long that you buy more cable than you need.

Does a pair of cables need to be the same length?

Ideally, yes. We will make you an uneven pair if you want it, but you're always better off - in terms of sonic performance - with a matched pair. We strongly recommend avoiding wildly disparate lengths, such as a 1-meter left channel cable, and a 5-meter right channel cable. We'll do it, but we don't think it's a good idea. And if the length difference is minor, just get the matched length pair.

Can I buy just a single cable, such as a single interconnect or speaker cable.

Yes.

But my dealer says you only sell interconnects & speaker cables in pairs.

They're wrong. Our price book does only list typically paired cables, such as speaker & interconnect cables, as pairs. But we'll gladly sell you a single interconnect or speaker cable. 

I can't find the cable I want, or the specific length or termination I want on my dealer's website.

We offer more options than any dealer can be expected to show, or have in stock. If your online dealer's site doesn't show a particular option, you'll probably have to call or email them.

All Cardas cable dealers have access to our entire product line. The fancy boutique HiFi shop in the rich part of town that sells Clear Beyond Speaker cable can order a Cardas female RCA jack for you.  The online dealer that only shows standard lengths & terminations on their website can also get you an unusual length & termination. 

What is the capacitance (or inductance, resistance, etc.) per foot of a specific cable?

Contact us by email with the model of cable you're curious about, and the length you need to know the measurement for. We'll measure a cable of that length here at the shop, and let you know.

How do measurements (capacitance, etc.) affect a cable’s sound?

Minimally, if at all. There are a variety of values that can be measured using a multi-meter, an oscilloscope, and various other devices. But none of them will tell you anything about how the cable is going to sound. 

 

And a lot of the conventional wisdom touted on audio forums is inaccurate - we know, you’re shocked 😂. There are neutral, extremely accurate cables with high capacitance values. There are cables that measure nearly identically, and sound nothing alike. Our most accurate interconnect, Clear Beyond, has twice the capacitance of our second most accurate interconnect.

 

We’re happy to provide measurements if you're curious. But understand that buying a cable based on capacitance (or any other value) is like choosing a meal at a restaurant based on weight. A steak and a salad can weigh the same. Weight alone tells you nothing about what you'll get. And there is no way to measure or quantify the taste of food.

Why are your cables blue? My wife says it clashes with the decor and won't let me have them in the house.

That sounds controlling and manipulative. Blink three times if you need help.

Can I mix & match within the Cardas product lines?

Yes. You can use a Clear Sky speaker cable with Parsec or Clear Cygnus interconnects, and a Clear Beyond power cable. Or whatever. People do that all the time. There is no need to stay within a specific product line.

Can I use a Cardas cable in a system that already has non-Cardas cables. Such as a Cardas speaker cable with (other brand) interconnects.

Of course. Our cables play well with each other, and with other brands. As a general rule, If it sounds good and nothing breaks, go with it.

How does a Cardas cable compare to another brand's cable?

That's really a question for your dealer.

When posed with such a question, we're faced with a quandary. Do we go for the low hanging fruit, and tell you that obviously our cable is better? Or do we decline to answer? 

There are a lot of other cables out there. We haven't tried them all. We're kinda focused on our own thing. It would be like asking the Beatles if their music was better than The Rolling Stones. Asking BMW if they make better cars than Mercedes. Asking Rolex if they make better watches than Omega. The answer you get will tell you more about the graciousness of the answerer than anything else.

And we're obviously biased. We think there are a lot of good reasons to buy a Cardas cable. Sound being the main one. But there are many other reasons, which you can read about all over this site.

When we have compared our cables to other brands, we've never felt that ours lost the shootout. And that's all we'll say on the matter.

What is meant by "musicality"?

For us, musicality is a spectrum that spans from "barely listenable" to "I can't stop listening". 

As an example of the former, your smart phone has speakers. You can pull up Spotify, and play a low bitrate MP3 of your favorite song on your phone's speakers. You'll recognize the song. But will it move you? Will you feel it? If you're into high performance audio, the answer is "no". Because the tiny speakers built into your phone aren't capable of sounding musical.

On the other hand, a decent stereo system, properly set up in the room, playing your favorite song from a high quality digital file or an analog source will move you. You'll connect with it. You'll feel it. You'll experience the emotional message contained within. You might even tap your feet, or get up and dance. You might shed a tear. This is because a nice stereo system is musical.

That's what we mean by "musical" and "musicality". And the right cables - Cardas or otherwise - will improve upon the musicality of a system.

What will I experience with Cardas (or any decent) cables?

A good cable will not fix a bad system. And never build a system based on the cables. Work the other way around. Curate the best gear you can. Set it up properly. And then chose the appropriate cables for the system, based on the gear you have, and considering that gear's strengths and shortcomings - as well as the room in which it is placed.

A good cable, like the rest of the components, makes the system sound better. You'll get deeper, tighter bass. Stronger mid-range. More high frequency extension without harshness. Spatial imaging - the sense that the music extends beyond the speakers - improves. 

A bad cable will make the system sound thin and brittle. Bass is muddy. The midrange is lifeless. The high frequencies are either lacking, or overly accentuated and unpleasant. Your wife tells you that something doesn't sound right. Because she has better hearing than you. #truth. Unless you are the wife. In which case, did you realize your husband doesn't have the same ability to hear high frequencies as you? 

 

Why are all of your connectors plated with rhodium over silver?

This is a tried and true plating method that results in a beautiful finish that is durable, highly conductive, and sounds great in audio applications. There are thousands of Cardas connectors plated this way going back over 35 years, that still sound & look as good as new today.

Bare copper is a great contact material, but is oxidizes quickly. And copper oxide is not a good conductor. We do sell some bare copper parts, but we generally suggest plated parts unless you enjoy spending quality time with steel wool on a regular basis.

Gold plated parts seem like a great idea. Unfortunately, the vast majority of gold plated parts (like 99.9999% of them) have a magnetic nickel under-plate, to add shine to the gold, and to prevent the base metal from leeching through the gold plate. This results in a connector that is inferior to both rhodium/silver and bare copper. A true hard/thick gold plate, without nickel underneath, is extremely expensive - we just received a quote for pure/thick gold plate on some parts and it was $900 per connector. NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS EACH. **OUR COST**.  So yeah, your gold plated connectors have nickel underneath, and that's not so great. Did we mention that we suggest rhodium over silver?

What kind of copper is in Cardas Cables.
We use our own Cardas Copper, produced using our own proprietary method developed by George Cardas over 35 years ago. Crosslink & 101 speaker use Cardas Grade 2 copper. All of our other cables use Cardas Ultra Pure Grade 1. Many other high-end manufacturers, and scientists at laboratories around the world also use Ultra Pure Cardas Grade 1 for its superior electrical and thermal conductivity.

 

Read more about Cardas Copper here.

 

Is Cardas copper Oxygen free (OFHC)?

We're pretty sure all copper in the audio industry is OFHC. There was a time when Oxygen free copper was cutting edge, but now it's all OFHC. The $20 interconnects at Best Buy are probably OFHC.

 

Seeking out OFHC copper cables is like seeking out a car that's been NHTSA certified, or meat that's USDA certified. It's a bare minimum, and a given, that audio grade copper is OFHC..

Is Cardas copper OCC?

Our nearest equivalent is Grade 2, found in 101 Speaker & Crosslink. Our higher end cables (from Iridium to Clear Beyond) all use Cardas Grade 1 Ultra Pure copper.

On many occasions, our copper has been compared to OCC by manufacturers and laboratories seeking the best quality copper, and to the best of our knowledge, Cardas Grade 1 has never failed to win out.

Click here to see photomicrography images of ​standard copper, OCC copper, and Cardas Copper.

Do you make silver cables?

We made a silver speaker cable once and we didn't like how it sounded. It now collects dust in storage. Eventually we'll strip out & sell the silver, and send somebody's kid to an Ivy League university with the proceeds.

We do make silver wire for other manufactures but we barely use it ourselves.  We have found that with a sophisticated design, a copper cable will match or even outperform a silver cable, at a fraction of the cost.

Our Clear Beyond Headphone Cable incorporates a single strand of Cardas Silver in each conductor, with multiple strands of Cardas Copper.

 

What is "Matched Propagation"?

The subject of George's US Patent 7,674,973, Matched Propagation solves an age old problem with transmission line conductors dating to the early days of the telephone. You can read more here, but here's a summary:

The audio signal travels through a cable at basically the speed of light. The dielectric (surrounding) materials charge and discharge at about 70% the speed of light. This mismatch in speed results in a loss of intelligibility. In a Matched Propagation conductor, each strand of wire is exactly the same length, and twisted at a pitch that makes each strand 30% longer than the cable itself. We're slowing down the signal to match that of the dielectrics. This solves the intelligibility issues that early telephone engineers faced, and that causes a degradation in sound in otherwise highly articulate audio systems. The telephone companies installed coil boxes on the cables to address the issue, but the was an after-the-fact solution. The Cardas Matched Propagation solution solves the problem within the cable, every inch of the way. Such that the loss of intelligibility never happens in the first place.

Should I use a cable burn-in or break-in device?

In our experience, these are ineffective at best. We can't speak for other brands. Perhaps there are cables that respond well to the sine waves & square waves being run through them for hours. We have found that Cardas cables break in faster - and better - by playing music through them.

If you have a cable burner at home, you might be able to use it to expedite break-in. But you'll have to be extremely quick about transferring the cables from the burner to the system. Like, superhuman quick.  If the break-in device is elsewhere, such as your dealer, by the time your get the broken-in cables home, they're not anymore.

There are two primary aspects to cable break-in. One is the building of a uniform charge in the conductors and dielectrics. This charge is almost entirely lost the moment a cable is remove from the system (or break-in device).

The other is physical, as the internal components in the cable relax from being coiled for packaging and shipping. 

Cable burners can do nothing to speed up the process of physically relaxing the internal components, and the charge they build up in the cable doesn't last when going from the burner to the stereo. 

There really isn't any need to fret over cable break-in time. It takes, at the most 200 hours. Usually half that. That's just a few days. Days go by fast, and they never top coming. Just hook up your cables, leave the stereo running, and enjoy.

What if I buy a Cardas cable, but eventually I change my system and I need different connectors.
We can re-terminate your Cardas cables with the connectors you need. Learn more here.

 

 

What is the warranty on Cardas cables?

Lifetime.

How long does a Caras cable last?

Forever. Litz conductors have a protective enamel coating on every strand of copper. Among other benefits, this prevents the copper from degrading due to oxidation. Since Cardas cables will never oxidize, they last forever. And if they don't for some reason, we have a lifetime warranty. So bam, you're back to it lasting forever. Put it in your will.

How do I solder to your connectors?

Click here

How do I work with your chassis wire or bulk cable?

Click here

Why are you located in Bandon, Oregon

Because it never gets hot here, and bad traffic is a tourist slowing down to take in the view.

Back in 1992, the lease on the facility that housed Cardas Audio in Upland, California (near Los Angeles) was up for renewal. before signing a new lease, George & Darcy Cardas took a drive north along the California and Oregon coast, seeking out a new home for the company. When they arrived in Bandon, they knew they had found it. So they moved the company and most of the staff to Oregon. 

What's George up to these days?

World travel. Golf. Bicycling. Driving electric cars. George does what he wants.

Have a question you don't see answered above? Send us an email

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