Cardas hierarchy - older/newer - who has experience?

Greetings all -

I recently moved from cable agnostic/apathetic to cable enthusiast when I was loaned a pair of Cardas Neutral Reference interconnects. The improvement in sound was so unambiguous that my entire loom is now Cardas. Two pair of NR interconnects, plus NR speaker wires and a Clear 75ohm digital cable.

My system is sounding really good but I know I’m nowhere near reaching the full potential of the various Cardas cables. My question is directed to those who have experienced Cardas cables and have an informed opinion on the relative rankings between the older range (neutral ref, golden presence, golden ref) and the newer Clear-based ranges - Light, Sky, Cygnus, Reflection, etc.

Some of the newer range will plainly be upgrades. Others will be side-ways steps. I’d like to avoid those.

Thanks, in advance, for any help you can provide.

BTW, I have no interest in hearing from those who deny that cables make a difference. It is annoying and I don’t really understand why they do what they do, but they make a big and musically and sonically important contribution and make it easier to understand the performing musicians artistic intentions and choices.



I understand your enthusiasm to grow more into the Cardas products. I got hooked years ago and have no plans or money to explore anything else. I have Golden Reference and Clear Reflection as ICs and Golden Cross speaker. I want to upgrade the speaker cables and when I am able I will try a few things from The Cable Company lending library. If you haven’t tried them, you should start there. That was how I got started and I can say the only cable I would consider apart from Cardas is Audio Purist, but my budget keeps me safe from that change. 

@theo Thanks for your comments. Pray tell, where are your GR and CR interconnects positioned? 

And what direction do you plan to go when you upgrade your speaker cables?

Have you tried other "levels" in the Cardas lineup?


Markusthemaimnut, I am running GR source to pre amp and CR pre to amp. My power cords are GR with the exception of pre amp and amp are Clear Beyond and Golden Cross on sub. I do use Kimber Kable D60 for digital. I tried a number of digital cables and landed on them. 
I plan to migrate the GR to CR over time, they are very similar in sound but the CR tames the highs and accelerates the bass response more to my liking. As far as speaker I am going to try a few from Cable Co, but probably going to land on the CR.

IME, this is exactly why we support our local dealers when they can lend out cables for you to audition in your own system.  If you don’t have a local dealer, try out the Cable Company’s loan program. 

Older Cardas were markedly warmer. Over time Cardas has moved to more detailed and transparent wires. Additionally they also have a sound characteristic hierarchy of more neutral ( brighter / detailed) the higher level the interconnect. The logic is that low level components tend to be bright and perhaps noisy (high noise floor) and will sound best with warm with a bit of attenuation of upper frequencies wires. As you get into more expensive components they need less and less warmth and the wires are more transparent and detailed.


For instance the Schiit Yggdrasil is a bit hard and brittle on the upper frequencies, so Cardas Clear Reflection is a good fit.


Even at the very top end of Cardas there is a slight warmth to them. As my system got to be very high end, I had to switch to Transparent. Transparent are, well, transparent. They can be too much for lower tier stuff. While I recommend Cardas a lot and respect the brand tremendously, they no longer work for me.

@markusthenaimnut I’ve stayed away from this thread hoping others like @ghdprentice and others would reply, as per above. I’ve owned about 80% of the older generation and newer generation Cardas past 30 years.

My entire system is back to all Cardas again now. No need to mess with it more.

If you can somehow manage to simply stay with Neutral Reference, it will help save you a lot of time and money. While each cable is different in design up/down the line, one is not always better up or down the line. After messing around with it for too long, I’m back to being a renewed and firm believer its also "system dependent". One set of cables works well in system A, and not system B fwtw.

My recommendation is to figure out what you are looking more or less of from your system. Once you achieve a transparent level system, the differences are noticeable with each model.

Some of the upper line Cardas in the "Clear" series can be more "clear" as you go up the line. This is why Clear Reflection came about, a hybrid blend design of the old Golden Cross design and the newer Clear line design, a blend of the two. Clear and Clear beyond simply get more expensive. I have a combo of Clear Reflection and Clear. I would not recommend it for everyone. Trying it for 30 days on dealer/demo loan is the best - and truly the ONLY way to really know, 110%.

Imo, it really comes back to your system and what you hear and need, and the #1 decision is your "budget" limit. You can dabble with two different cables up/down the line and use your budget as your baseline to figure out, that’s what I’d recommend. Again, each cable in the line is different in design, cost, and results. Best to work with TheCableCo, loaners, and take it from there. Best of Luck.