Cable brands that work well with Cardas?

Are there any speaker cable brands that play nice with Cardas? 
I’m using Cardas Clear Reflection XLR’s and Clear Digital on my components. Top tier Cardas speaker cables are way out of my budget due to the length needed (14ft.) My current speaker cables are vintage Cardas Studio “C” which were made for the pro recording industry back in the 90’s. I have no complaints, I enjoy them immensely however I’d like to get a taste of newer cable. Budget is $800-$1K.



I think the speaker run stands on it's own merits. No need to match a single brand or interconnects, IMHO. 

From my experience speaker cables are the highest priority… then probably amp power cord. Well, assuming you don’t have $0.99 interconnects.


Looking at your system. To me Mark Levinson is really sterile… I think you should wait until you can afford Cardas Clear Beyond cables. I think they are the perfect complement… worth waiting for. 

Go to the Monoprice site and buy some speaker wire. Be frugal! No need for fancy costly boutique brand wire! I can assure you that it doesn't matter! Free yourself from the hype and expectation bias that drives the wire business! 

Now I see even former wire agnostic Herb Reichert touting expensive cables (Audioquest $1K Thunder PC and $3900 Thunderbird ICs) in the June Stereophile when reviewing the Kitsune Holo line stage and DAC. Got to keep the advertisers happy!

Hmmm … I run CARDAS CLEAR too.

I would strongly suggest you rethink sliding down from the your high-end CARDAS array you have . It may -and likely will - dumb down the overall performance step up delivered by those. It is the SUM OF THE PARTS that drives system synergy, You get what you pay for, 

here is a long length 7.5m run CLEAR REFLECTION speaker cables that meet your length requirements at less than half cost from new and he will consider offers



At that price point it would be really hard to beat Auditorium23 speaker cables.

jond’s avatar

jond 4,961 posts

At that price point it would be really hard to beat Auditorium23 speaker cables.


+ 1 👍 for the AUDITORIUM 23s.


FYI NOTE re: Long-run CARDAS speaker cables.

CARDAS recommends their CLEAR REFLECTION speaker cable model as their best performer in long speaker runs.

@jl1ny I’m in a different camp, after 25+ years with Cardas, I started intermixing Analysis Plus Crystal (Ohno, OCC) copper or Apature Silver over copper in with my Cardas collection at different locations. Liked it so much, sold off most of my Cardas and Apature. With some disbelief I circled back again and tried Cardas Clear Reflections, and it did not gel too well in my system this time around. Swapped back to AP Crystal Solo and wallah, 2x sound stage and less grain, smoother. Just better, lower cost too. While I now run mostly AP/Cryrstal front to back, I’m still running Cardas bi-wire speaker cables. Intermixing can produce interesting results too. Does not need to be the same cables end-to-end. All "system dependent" and results can vary with yours. Most of the internal wiring in our components, boards, connections is different too. It’s already varied. One other option on the table for review. Best of luck.

Thanks for all the responses. Ultimately at some point I’ll go for the Clear Reflection although not anytime soon. It’s a shame that I can’t jump on that sale that @akg_ca pointed out. Truth be told, I don’t find the cable game to be fun…it’s more of a PITA. I was also considering just playing with some cheaper cables that have a good rep like Canare 4S11 or a Ohno Occ copper cable (Audience Ohno III?) if they suck then no biggie and I won’t have to worry about selling them in order to move on to something else. 

The short cut is to pay to do the cable library program with TheCableCo. Pick three, keep one, send two back. Otherwise wasting buying/trying/reselling cables like many of us us foolishly do. One route is fast, the other is slow and expensive and less likely to get to the destination at all. 

I went from Clear Beyond to Silversmith Fidelium and took a step up sound wise!

I have GR Research 16 strand cables on the output of my Mac MA5300 feeding B&W 705 S2's. Not considering upgrading them at all!

Update: I scored (literally) a set of Cardas Neutral Reference speaker cables and I’m surprised at how considerably better they are over my Studio C cables. Most noticeably with the weight, clarity and impact of the bass. I should be completely content but damn it, this has me wondering how much better things could get with Clear Reflection or Silversmiths. 🤔

@jl1ny you might be okay with those, not too bad at all, and circling back on other areas to mess with next. What ICs do you have from source(s) to pre/amp now?

@decooney Cardas Clear digital from streamer to Dac, Clear Reflection Dac to Pre and Clear Reflection pre to amp.



Congratulations. speaker cables because of their length and cost are always intimidating. I got a set of very old Transparent cables… and the improvement convinced me to get new ones… $5K… well worth it in retrospect. 

11pm here, I’m doing my usual late nite low level listening (Kenny Baron/Without Deception) and I’m still pleasantly surprised at the improvement these cables made. 

@jl1ny with your digi coax and ICs, I would likely prefer the speaker cables you have right now. If I may say, I don't think I'd opt change a thing.  Smooth up front, in the middle, and wide open transparency in the back. Very nice as-is.  

@decooney Cardas Clear digital from streamer to Dac, Clear Reflection Dac to Pre and Clear Reflection pre to amp.


@jl1ny fwiw, I’m starting to revert to a similar setup to re-test over the summer. Having made some tube changes recently, I ordered a pair of clear ref ICs yesterday. I had them once before. The plan is to intermix with a different cable loom once in a while. This 2nd setup is 50% Analysis Plus Crystal and 50% Cardas - as to your original post.

I am enjoying and learning from this discussion. Thank you guys. It’s especially instructive how you just ignore the troll and the person who just says the same thing every time (to buy something ASAP! ) Boy what a waste of time. I love your discipline.

@jl1ny Congrats on your new speaker cables excellent outcome. And just relax and enjoy them sometimes upgrading is a merry-go-round to get off and enjoy the music. Cheers!

@jl1ny Cardas, bi-wire. And, it’s more of a personal thing, not to say that AP/Crystals would not be awesome, they are. I’ve had these same speaker cables across five different solid state and tube amplifiers and choosing to keep this part constant.

Been a while since I had Neutral Reference speaker cables but went from them to the Golden Reference and now the Clear.  I think you will find a significant improvement in the newer Clear line of cables.  That long a run is a tough nut to crack, but definitely worth saving your penny's towards.


I just balked on a set of Golden Reference speaker cables. Im using clear Reflection XLR’s and ultimately would like to go with the same for the speakers. They will be a significant expense so I’m holding out until I get into a dedicated room. meanwhile I went I different route and scored a set of virtual Dynamics master series speaker cables…should be interesting. 

Golden Reference speaker cables are very unique and extremely warm. I used a set of biwired for at least twenty years when I had a largely solid state system with very revealing planar speakers…. that was way too bright. The Golden were sooo warm they made up for the deficiency in my system. Clear are still warm (as are all Cardas) but not nearly so.

@ghdprentice agree with your update on Gold Ref, they were okay with my SS system, not sot a good much with my tube systems. Resold them to two different ss amp owners.

@stringreen which ICs and speaker cables did you use?

I’m currently back to re-testing a full loom of Clear Ref ICs. Last week I compared a fully burned in pair with several hundred hours on them - - compared to a brand new (recently coiled up in a box w/tension) pair with less than 80hrs on them so far. Its not even like listening to the exact same cable - very different. I do not like the sound of the brand new pair vs. the other 90 day well burned in pair. Having been through this before, about 150 more hours to go on the new pair - - letting them relax in place, not touching them at all for 2wks. This worked in the past for me.

More from Cardas on "Insights for Break_In".

As to the OP question - for whatever synergy reason, I've had exceptional results with pairing up some Cardas Interconnects at my sources with downstream interconnects between the preamp and amps with Analysis Plus Crystals

This became an  affordable short cut not having to buy Clear Beyond for my downstream pairs. Will continue to re-test some of these theories. 

+Cardas Clear Cygnus vs. Analysis Plus Crystal RCA interconnects 


Past few weeks I've been intermixing both of these within my system too.   

I was trying to decide to stay all-AP or all-Cardas having full sets of both. Looks like intermixing may be a nice option to stay with. Some interesting results surfaced.   


-#3 Intermixing Cardas Clear Reflection with Analysis Plus Crystal ICs

-#4 Intermixing Cardas Clear Reflection with Cardas Clear Cygnus


Unexpectedly, in my system and for whatever reason, one of the nicest combinations is intermixing the AP/Crystals with Cardas Clear Reflection ICs.  

Can't keep all of it but its been a fun test before consolidating everything down. 

Intermixing works too, even designer Brian at Cardas suggested this to me once. 

VALUE for the $:

Again [in my system] The Analysis Plus is the hidden gem for the money between these, hands down. If you like ultra smooth grain free sound with a large sound stage, these OCC cables are unique.  A future test will compare these to Cardas Clear Beyond on demo at 5x the price. Kinda betting AP/Crystals hold their own.   






I once had Cardas Clear interconnects and went to Audiomica and find they had a more musical presentation at a much lower price. Then got Audiomica sc and have never looked back.

@rsf507 I once had Cardas Clear interconnects and went to Audiomica and find they had a more musical presentation at a much lower price. Then got Audiomica sc and have never looked back.


Do you recall if you had the original version of the "Clear" interconnects or the revision, i.e. you’ll see folks refer to it as Rev-1?

Some people will report with descriptive words about the original version was kind of neutral, flat. Might be okay if that’s what you need. And, later on this updated version came out, and so did the new Beyond cables.



Have both orig. and rev 1.  Unless you listen side by side you'll never hear the difference and even if you do probably still won't.

@decooney they were the latest version, just before the Beyond version came to market. Yes still a great cable BUT the Audiomica was clearly more musical to my ears. 

@marco1 Have both orig. and rev 1. Unless you listen side by side you’ll never hear the difference and even if you do probably still won’t.


@marco1 Will follow up. iirc, that was about the time they went from soldered to the newer solderless crimped-end connectors. They spent a long time with the development on the first Clear too. Interesting how they updated it again.

@rsf507 Its good you found a cable that works well for you. I’ve been a 30+ year Cardas diehard along with a few others. Each sounds different in my system. Found Analysis Plus Crystal OCC copper interconnects to compete and/or intermix with some of the latest Cardas "Clear" line too.

Enjoy yours, Thx!




Interesting factoid:-)  I didn't recall interconnect rev1 was the crimped version.  I think I remember the clear speaker wires making that change about that time, but wow that's been quite a while ago.  How time flies.

@marco1 yep, and the factoid results may vary for others, yet one thing I tried a few years back was to send in two pairs of the older Cardas Golden Cross 1M RCA interconnects and had the soldered-on connectors removed, and re-terminated with the new no-solder crimped-on connector ends. It did sound a tad more transparent to me. Tried this setup with tube amps for a while before selling those two pairs.

Next, same as you, me also moving to the more recent Clear line of different cables. I’ve been comparing all-Cardas Grade-1 Ultra cables to all-Analysis Plus Crystal OCC, and intermixing them too for fun. Good results in all cases. What was unexpected and surprising is how good intermixing them sounds. Also very nice.


Coincidentally I used AP Solo Crystal before I got into Cardas.  Still have several pairs in my closet.  I'll give  intermixing a try too and see what happens 🤔

@marco1 cool, thanks for giving it a try.  Fwiw, my conclusion is I like the AP/Crystals more downstream in the system than upstream at the source where I place the Cardas.  As you may recall, when you pull those out [uncoil them] and put them in place they seem to take that same period to rest/play in place before they settle back in. Have fun testing if you do. 

I had all Cardas (mostly Parsec, some Golden Presence) and found that the Parsec speaker cables were holding back some much needed bass. So I tried some massive Clear Reflection cables which had awesome bass but unexpectedly set off my hot tweeters (Parsec is good at taming that). So I returned them to the dealer and ended up with Transparent Ultra which did not have that problem and also great bass.  So I would say Transparent is a great match!

Unfortunately they are just as pricey as the Clear Reflection, but you could call around - sometimes the factory has deals on previous gen models or trade-ins. You might actually prefer the cheaper Super to the Ultra.

Now I'm thinking of upgrading one of the Parsec IC to big old Cardas (not Clear) or Transparent.  I found out that I don't like any of the Clear line, not even the Cygnus phono cable.

@dr3 Clear Reflection cables which had awesome bass but unexpectedly set off my hot tweeters (Parsec is good at taming that). ...Now I’m thinking of upgrading one of the Parsec IC to big old Cardas (not Clear) or Transparent.

Another angle to consider, there may be a few other things to look into as well. 

Having owned Clear Ref, Parsec, and the "big old Cardas" you mention, and including all of the versions in the older Golden series, Cross, all laid back. And, some of the newer Clear, Ref & Cygnus too. Your mention of "set off my hot tweeters" is interesting. May be a key indicator. The reason I mention this is the Parsec and Clear Ref are moderately laid back cables to begin with, already capable of some taming. Clear Ref is a hybrid of old/new designs. Very quiet, and not overly neutral or not known for being overly bright or anything.

A few questions if I may:

  • What is your source being used to feed the Cardas Clear digital cable now?
  • Are you using an intneral or separate DAC with your source above?
  • What preamplifier and amplifier(s) are you using now?

Your existing cables might work fine, just wondering if something upstream is causing those "hot tweeters" you mention to get fired up a bit too much :)






@decooney it’s the strong Thiel upper-midrange, which they are known for. The parsec speaker cable definitely tamed the tweeter a bit but it did not have very good bass, so I sold it. Still have some parsec XLR interconnects but they don’t seem to have as much influence on the sound. I am running a full Bryston "cubed" stack (BDP-3, BDA-3, 17B3, 4B3). Walls and ceiling are treated.

I don’t have a Cardas digital cable (Transparent Premium AES/EBU there). I am using short Cardas Cross XLRs on the DAC, and Golden Presence RCAs on the phono.

So far these Transparent Ultra Gen V speaker cables are the best match. They have good bass and transparency without emphasizing any frequency. I agree that the Clear Reflection should have been the ticket. Bass was phenomenal but it also sounded harsh - as if they were not broken in enough, although they were trade-ins, not brand new. That is not what I would expect so I don't think I was imagining it.

I am curious to try the older Golden Reference when a used pair comes up. I tried Golden Presence speaker but it has some extra upper-mid air or "presence" that the GR is not supposed to. There is something about the Clear line that I just don’t like. When I tried a Cygnus phono cable it seemed to emphasize upper mids and bring vocals forward in an unrealistic manner as well.

@dr3 "also sounded harsh - as if they were not broken in enough, although they were trade-ins, not brand new."

Fwiw, the exact same occurred for me, on my first go-around. I came from the direction you want to revert to now.  I had just resold my two pairs of Golden Reference ICs to guys with edgy SS amps wanting to stream various qualities of content.  Those Gold Refs were  part of a brief rerun Cardas did on those over a year ago. After those, I was still looking for smoothness, transparency with nice tone and texture. On first attempt, tried new Clear Reflections and Clear Cygnus. Liked them okay first try. Both got returned prematurely - as I painstakingly realized later. I should know better having done Cardas for 30+ years now. Duh.  

Coiled up Cardas sound bad imo right out of the bag/box. Absolutely benefit after 14-21 days (30 days preferred) just to relax the conductors and dialectric inside. Everything events out given some patience and not fighting it. Retested this theory many times even with used cables from Cardas and Analysis Plus. Impatience gets the best of us some times. It's not ears/brain adjusting.  There is real truth to what George Cardas reports here, along with other reasons why these damn cables take so long to settle in. Weird! Exact same thing use to occur with my older Golden Cross interconnects if coiled up in a bag/box sitting a side on rotation. Expect 14+ days, all over again.  

Round-2: A year later, 2nd retry. Today In my system today is two pairs of Clear Reflection ICs at two sources and one pair Clear Cygnus between my tube preamp and two tube monobock tube amps. The Clear Refs were horrible the first 1-7 days, veiled over, could not double-up end to end, at all. Cygnus was weird too, grainy when brand new. With added reminders and pressure from an insider colleague, gave it 30 days of relaxing, settling in, more play time. Low and behold - Wallah, there it is!

If you do go with Golden Reference, give them time too. imo, I’d look real close again at your beloved older gen "Cardas Cross on the dac". I still have some older Cross too. Nice but just not at the same level of the newer design, quality, of later conductor and dialectric materials now. Maybe you can retry some loaners from TheCableCo.

To triple-prove this time/relaxing theory, I compared 30 day old In-use Clear Ref ICs to a 2nd brand new unused coiled up pair of Clear Ref ICs, side by side. Was like listening to completely different cables. Weird, perplexing, all of the above. Then gave that 2nd pair a full 30 days too, and it all evened out and came into focus too.


@decooney I am just reading your reply now however I came on to report recent developments. I will admit I did not give the Cygnus phono cable more than a few minutes of listening because it was too far off my expectations, however the Clear Reflection speaker cables were left in place for 2 weeks with minimal disturbance. After the first day there was an improvement but there was still a problem with the highs that did not go away until I reverted to the Parsec (temporarily).

Since upgrading the Parsec speaker cables to Transparent Ultra and enjoying a more full range sound, I believe the extra transparency allowed me to detect some smaller problems upstream that the Parsec was probably masking.

1) Vinyl playback was leaner than it should be and there it was again, that Golden "Presence" I had such high hopes for, but this time in the form of interconnects on the turntable and phono stage. So I reverted those interconnects to Parsec and smooth vinyl fullness was back!

2) Next I looked to the Cross XLRs on the DAC, as you suggest there may be a deficiency there, so I moved Parsec XLRs up there from the amp. Since the amp position was now vacant I asked my dealer if he had any Clear Reflection XLRs on sale but he did not. He did have a good deal on a demo pair of Transparent Super and this turned out to be a perfect match.

Very happy with the way things turned out: Parsec on all source components, Transparent from preamp down, no glare and a nice clear soundstage. The GP by the way works very well on my tube system, just not a good match for my Bryston system I guess!