AudioQuest vs Cardas XLR

Hello all,

Looking to upgrade my interconnects from my McIntosh C2700 to MC611 monoblocks. I am very interested in AQ Tbirds or Firebirds vs. Cardas Clear Beyond XLRs. I want an end-game cable and would appreciate some feedback. I'm open to any additional suggestions. I do enjoy the prodigious bass/midbass and the smooth midrange that the combo provides. It's a little light on top, though (as McIntosh is). I think Cardas and AQ will preserve my wishes, but is there anything out there that will keep my midrange/mid-bass/bass and improve upon the highs? I think I may be asking for too much, though! I would be very grateful for some direction. 


"much of our affluence is based on manufacturing in China"

yes it is a real problem. It's skewing the prices of goods in America, and inflates our materialistic, greedy nature. If prices reflected the cost of resources and human labor that go into a product, we would be much more mindful of our purchases.  This is only a short-sighted, short term gain. 

There is nothing normal about how many hours an American works for e.g. an iPhone, vs a person from another [almost any pick] country.

I’ve had Dragon and Clear Beyond. I prefer Cardas hands down…but it will come down to personal preference as both cables are great. Cardas just sounds much more natural without loss of detail/resolution. 

OP what about you tell us about the equipment you have and the rest of your cabling? Both Cardas and Audioquest are amazing manufacturers, but both are not universal. And so are the rest of the top cable manufacturers like Shunyata, Transparent and Nordost. The closest I’ve seen to « universally good match » is Siltech and even those are not liked by everyone…


McIntosh C2700/MC 611s, speakers Kef Reference 1 Metas, Aries Cerat Helene DAC. Current interconnects are Mogami gold. PCs are AQ Hurricanes and speaker cables Analysis Plus Oval 9 (circa the mid-2000s). The funny thing, many have steered me away from the Cardas/McIntosh synergy, considering my wishes to liven up the highs. Nordost has been suggested as a solution. The speaker cables will be upgraded at a later date. 

@jeffreyw  Well, having myself KEF Reference 3s with AQ power cords and having tried many combinations during the last 12 months, I would recommend you to go in the direction of pure silver or silver alloy (and not silver-plated) cables both for speaker and interconnects. 
The KEFs have amazing weight and physicality across the frequency range, but struggle to sound really « free » and unconstrained dynamically. Using silver-based cables really enables the speakers to shine. With the KEFs and the Mac amplification, I would tend to look away from Cardas, although I have no experience with the Beyond XLs which I hear are amazing. If you were to go the Audioquest route, I would go directly to the Firebirds then to get the PSS solid silver core. 
Personally, I preferred going outside of Audioquest because you get silver only starting almost at the top of their range, which would have meant it was beyond what I find still reasonable to spend for cables. Shunyata was a good match personally on my system but not everyone’s cup of tea (mix of solid OCC silver and copper tubes. Siltech was amazing as well. I read excellent things about Kimber’s silver cables but again, only available for their top-tier cables.

my 2 cents, YMMV