Upgrade advice from old Cardas Quadlink 5 RCA Interconnects

I have been using these old 6 ft blue Cardas Quadlink 5 RCA interconnects for… I dunno…25 years (??) now and am considering an upgrade. I need at least 5 ft length.

What is the next upgrade in USED Cardas cables? I don;t understand their line nor how these older cables fit into them. I am pretty sure I want to stick with Cardas simply because I have been so impressed by these older cables.

For sound, I just like neutrality and not bright. I have another pair of MIT Magnum 3 (?) interconnects that are more modern and more expensive but I still feel the older Cardas is a better cable for me. I purchased these Cardas new but honestly, I am shocked by the prices of new cables… can’t believe it actually so am looking for used. I also tried inexpensive Transparent… other cheapies… none are even close to these old Cardas warhorses.

Usage: Between my DirectStream DAC and a PrimaLuna HP integrated.

Thanx for you help.

Bruce in Philly

I was in your position a year or so ago. My advice is to give Cardas a call, they were a big help to me. I ended up going with Golden Presence Interconnect and love them. I also have a PrimaLuna HP Integrated (Love it) and DirectStream DAC.

Here’s a very fair price on NEW Cardas Golden Presence RCA. These are the old version, but nicely priced. Limited stock though. I just bought a couple myself in .5 meter. They (PCX) also sell them on ebay at the 50 percent off price.

Parts Connexion is in the Toronto GTA where I live. I’ve made many purchases from them. Whatever is sold is genuine. They are a large authorized Cardas dealer. Sadly there are many sellers who do sell fakes.

I also used Parts Connexion. Great to deal with.

The more you purchase the better the deal is. This is from PCX ad on eBay.

CARDAS Mixed Quantity Pricing: 50% Off for 1; 55% Off for 2; 60% Off for 3+

Same discounts apply when purchasing direct from PCX. I’ve done both PCX and through ebay…you can mix cables too…say two Quadlinks, and one Golden Presence. It’s just the stock is very limited.

You are correct. Like you I have done business with them via eBay and direct.

Another thing if anyone use PayPal credit, they have a special where you buy 600.00+ and get 24 Months 0% interest. It ends 2/28/19 but they run the special every now and then. I used this a while back when I bought a ton of cables from PCX.

Thanx all… I contacted Cardas… “Quadlink was replaced by Parsec in our lineup. The next step up from Parsec is Clear Sky, and the next step from there is Clear Cygnus. Either would be worthwhile upgrades and provide greater detail and spacial imaging”

Where do those Golden Presence fit in to the line… a 1.5 meter of Clear Cygnus is about $1K, these Golden Presence are $1,000 for $540… Cardas notes on their website these cables are still available at dealers.

Thanx Again
Bruce in Philly

I also called Cardas prior to my purchase. I was comparing them at an equal pricing level, and the Cardas rep recommended the Presence over the Parsec.

I bought a used pair of Quadlink RCAs for between DirectStream DAC and an Ayre Preamp just to experience the Cardas sound. The Quadlinks replaced Audience AU24SE RCAs which were too much detail and not enough of a full sound to my liking. Maybe I am just getting more mature in my audio tastes. I liked the Quadlink sound much better in my system. Then got a pair of Ayre XLR interconects for DAC to Preamp, nice improvement, and moved the Quads to Preamp to Woo Audio headphone duty.

Next I bought a pair of new Golden Presence RCAs for Preamp to headphone amp and am very satisfied. I am using the Preamp tape out to the headphone amp, which means it is pretty direct DAC to headphone amp. I don’t think there is a difference in sound between the Golden Presence and the Ayre interconnects, which are often described as a bit better in the highs than the Cardas Golden Reference. And the Golden Presence are definitely more open than the Quadlinks.

I too felt that the prices of the newer cables were just too high and, after reading reviews, because I live out in the middle of nowhere miles from any audio dealer, felt the newer cables might be too much detail and too bright for my tastes, especially after my experience with the Audience cables. I lean more toward the more musical sound of Cardas. I am staying with the Cardas cables; no more changes.

There probably are other reviews online, but if you haven’t run across it here is link to a review of three Cardas cables including the Golden Presence: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/review-cardas-reference-series-golden-neutral-ref-golden-pres-inte. Hope this information helps you with your cable decision.

smjazz, Excellent assessment, I share a very similar experience but ended up with Clear Light.

What did you use before Clear Light and what about the Clear Lights turned your ears toward them?

I use a Cardas Clear XLR interconnect between my DS Jr and JR Concerto Preamp. Amazing cable!

Audience AU24 se.

So thanx all…

I ordered those Cardas Presence 1.5M from Parts Connexion. 'bout $500. First, I can’t believe that I ordered them at 4:00 PM and they arrived the next day at 2:00 PM. No chit. Sheesh! I paid for the next to cheapest shipping which was $2 more.

So some background… I really was happy with the Cardas cable I had… I think I paid $300 (??) for them back around circa 1990. But like most of us here, I suffer from occasional bouts of GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome. But I just could not bring myself to pay $700-$1000 for 1.5m of cable… just can’t do it.

So the verdict? Umm… I am not so sure yet. Which in of itself disappoints me because I just blew… um er… spent $500! Maybe I should have jumped to a more expensive cable? These $500 cables were supposedly $1000 but are being closed out… so… I guess they were a more expensive cable.

The old Quadlinks have better bass… the Golden Presence is more open… but a bit brighter. Its the brighter I have a bit of trouble with… but I do like the extra bloom and wider/bigger soundstage.

So I will report back in a few weeks when this all settles in or my ears adapt… then I will swap the old ones back and see how it goes.

I guess the lesson I learned… and seem to keep learning… when it comes to “infrastructure” like cables, good is good and then your are done. Otherwise you spend a ton to get a very limited return.

There is another issue going on in my system… I have an issue with the digital input card on my DS Senrior… PS Audio is sending me another… so maybe this has something to do with it.

But anyway, having tried a handful of interconnects and having a set of expensive MITs that stare at me like an expensive dead snake. I can say that I guess I like Cardas cable and that they did a really good job going back 20 years. And if you are looking for a “cheap” set of cables, pick up some used Cardas Quadlinks… However Cardas cables are really hard to find used… I think I know why.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

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Thanks for the info on the Cardas interconnects. I am considering trying the Parsec (the Quadlink replacement in the Cardas line-up) to provide sound that has some detail and openness, but that isn’t overly bright and emphasizes musicality over other qualities. I’ve been using a 25-year-old pair of Straight Wire Rhapsody II single-ended interconnects to connect my old amp and preamp, but my recent switch to a Stellar GCD preamp and M700 monoblocks has prompted me to re-think my cable choices as I move to balanced interconnects. My Straight Wire cables have a reputation for taming brighter speakers, and they were at one time a popular choice for use with speakers (such as my Thiels) that can get too bright with poor recordings or amps that tend to an over-analytic sound signature. The Rhapsody II seems to sound very musical and non-fatiguing with the Stellar stack when using the single-ended connections, but the BJC Belden 1800F XLRs I’m using for a balanced hook-up sound pretty bright so far. I hope I can find a balanced cable that is “just right.”

I’ve arranged to demo a few balanced interconnects next week from The Cable Company Lending Library, including the Cardas Parsec, the Shunyata Venom, and the Synergistic Research Level 1 Core. None of these are top-tier cables in their respective lines, but I’m hoping that a cable that is a little warmer and less resolving may actually sound more like real music in my system. If I figure out anything helpful, I’ll post some info from my quest in a separate thread.

Good luck with your new Cardas cables! Maybe I’ll get lucky with my cable search next week.

Good luck with Cardas… I think I will be a fan of their interconnects for a while… simply because I like them, I tried others, and I don’t swap stuff around very much. Plus, in my experience, cables have only a limited effect once you have a “good” cable. If you put something in that has a big effect, again IMO, then there is something not right about that cable. Gettin’ what I am saying here? A cable can only get out of the way, and I think Cardas does this well.

BTW, I had an opportunity many years ago to bring home a ton of speaker cables… filled up my back seat with … oh dunno… maybe 10 sets… all different prices and types. I learned me a few things… the more you paid, the better the cable… up to a point. Then all I heard were differences and I can’t honestly say a difference was better or not. I remember having a tough time choosing beween a Tranparent bi-wire or a Cardas cable. I went with the Transparent bi-wire because it was just more comfortable than the Cardas but the cardas was a tad more bright. However, it was so close that honestly, I think I selected the Transparent because they were cheaper. These were all used cables. Lesson? Again, once you have a “good” cable, well IMO, you are done.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

Bruce,

Thanks for the encouragement! I don’t have much direct experience with really expensive interconnects or speaker cables because the costs for wire have become so high. However, my impression is that most cable manufacturers want to build cables that “show well” in terns of transparency and drama while some of us are looking more for cables that “get out of the way” (in your words). The people who make Straight Wire (the cables I use currently) are not afraid to admit that all cables act as “complex passive filters” that need to be matched to the room, the listener, and the associated equipment - but that can be a challenging task. Right now, I’m searching for a cable that provides detail and transparency while never sounding harsh or bright in my system. I realize that I may have to give up a bit of detail to keep everything smooth, non-fatiguing , and musical, but that’s ok with me.

Bruce-in-Philly,

How are you feeling about the Cardas Presence interconnects now that you’ve been living with them for a while? I’ve ordered some Cardas Parsec IC’s, but they’re out of stock right now and my dealer is giving me the Clear Sky IC’s as an alternative. The Clear Sky is the next step up in the Cardas line, which is a good thing, but I’m a bit worried that they will be too bright in my system. Any experience with the Clear Sky IC’s?

SDL