Review: Cardas Golden Reference Interconnect

Category: Cables

I have just completed comparing the Cardas Golden Reference interconnects with the Cardas Golden Cross interconnects from the cd player to the preamp. The Golden Cross interconnects have a warm, but detailed sound. The voices and the instruments all blend to make a nice overall presentation. On the other hand, the Golden Reference had incredible detail, but the sounds did not blend. It had a higher and overall separated sound. It seemed to be bright on my system for a Cardas cable. The midrange stood out more noticeably and just didn't seem to blend for an overall presentation. I do tend to like my music a little on the warm side, but detailed. I felt the Golden Cross was more appealing and much more balanced. I did several different comparisions using several different types of music, from jazz to rock over a week period. I bought the Golden Reference a few weeks ago and it seemed to change the sound in different ways than I expected. Therefore, I decided to compare the two interconnects before passing judgement. My overall opinion is as good as the Golden Reference is, for my system and tastes, I choose the Golden Cross.

Associated gear
YBA CD1 Blue Alpha CD player
Kora Eclipse Tube preamp
1960's Siemens Gold pin tubes
Monster Cable AVS2000 Voltage stabalizer
Pass Labs X250 amplifier
Martin Logan Assent Speakers
Cardas Golden Cross interconnects and speaker cable
Cardas Golden Reference power cords

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How long was the burn-in period for the newer Cardas cables? You never mentioned it in your comparison.
Cardas Golden Reference must NEVER be used from a source component to the pre-amp, if Golden Cross is used from pre to amp. It must be the other way around, i.e. Golden Cross from source to pre-amp, and Golden Reference from pre to power amp. If used in the latter way, the sound is glorious!
I use Golden Reference interconnects both CD to Pre and Pre to Power and do not have any problem with the sound blending. I will say the soundstage is huge, larger than for Golden Cross, so wonder if speaker or listening positioning changes would cause the blending to occur for you. I usually find that adding anything new into my system requires some fine tuning of other settings for it to sound right. For me the Golden Reference ICs are faster, more immediate, more neutral, and have better pacing than the Golden Cross.
My Goodness, Irish hound, can you expand a bit on why there is a differance and enlighten us on what is going on between the component/pre-amp and the pre to power amp? i think we are getting a bit esoteric here, but I am interested......
Since my post on this a year ago, I have seen a lot of system changes and have finally settled in on golden reference balanced ic's from CD to pre and from pre to amp. The sound is detailed, but rich and textured, and never harsh. The soundstage is large with very good imaging. I recently tried using golden cross between pre and amp, and found the sound too thick in the midbass and a little rolled off at the extremes compared to the golden reference, at least for my system. I doubt I will be changing any time soon. Anyone need 1.5M XLR golden cross ic's? - Tim
Redkiwi got it exactly right when he says "For me the Golden Reference ICs are faster, more immediate, more neutral, and have better pacing than the Golden Cross."

But the Golden Cross can be a better match for some systems than the Golden Ref. The Golden Cross has a sweetness and refinement that can work wonders with systems that are a bit dry sounding. Speakers with metalic tweeters or pure solid state systems are good candidates for CGC.

So if you are looking for a fast, clean detailed cable extended top and bottom that will perhaps add a hint of refinement to your system, go with Cardas Golden Ref.

If you need more refinement and sweetness than the CGR offers, then I'd go with the Cardas Golden Cross.

Both are wonderful in the right applications, IMO.
I've had a pair of Golden Cross between the CD (Linn Ikemi) player and the pre-amp (McIntosh C100) and we A/b compared with Analysis Plus Crystal Oval.... the Analysis Plus had all the warmth but allowed a lot more detail, too.

Listening to some Celtic violin/fiddle music you could really hear the rosin on the bow/strings interaction....with Golden Cross it was gone! Just too much affect on the music for my tastes! Prefer to actually hear what's there.
oOOOOps. Please disregard my above post. It was for Golden CROSS, not Golden REFERENCE.
I have just added the Cardas Neutral Reference 3 meter speaker cable to my Rig and I just can't believe how much those cables improved my sound. The Bass had way more authority, the soundstage opened The whole sound smoothed out and became more natural and musical. I really could not be happier - even my wife hears the difference. My System is as follows: Krell 400xi Krell SACD Standard playing through Vienna Acoustics Baby Beethovens. I'm Using a Nordost Frey XLR interconnects between the Krells which I believe gives me Great detail - I would like to try the Cardas Interconnect just to see what that sound like. Thanx for the comments...TONY
I have used a Cardas Golden-Link HL cable for around 10 years connecting a Mark Levinson Power-amp and a Mark Levinson Pre-amp. Lately because of the corruption of one of my Mark Levinson amp channels I move to Krell KAV amplification and found that Cardas cable was inconsistent with the new system. I'm using the Proceed gel cable for 5 years but I'm not completely satisfied with it. My question is: it's advisable to move to Cardas again?
Updating an old thread here. Irishhound made an assertion that was questioned, but not answered. The assertion was that when mixing Golden Reference and Golden Cross, Ref should not be used on the source component. It Cross on source end, Ref on amp end. 

There seems to be a theory that I only recently became aware of that.  Most people say to put your best wire on your source components, because what is lost at the source cannot be recovered later.  But the alternative is to put your best wire, in this case Golden Ref, on the amp.  I think this approach is based on the theory that if you have the best wire on the source, and it goes through worse wire in the middle, the better wire will get muddied and lose its coherency.  There's a constriction in the middle.  But if you put the better wire at the end, it is like a hose that gets wider as it goes, opening up more.  And because it is the better wire, it will preserve what's special about the wire on the source components, while enhancing them (by doing less harm).  But if you have the better wire on the source, they cannot be enhanced by the lesser wire going to the amp; they can only be restricted by it.