Cable Designer Roundtable

Equipment report
Loudspeaker cables,
Digital cables
Cable Designer Roundtable

George Cardas - Cardas Audio

George Cardas has a gift for mathematics and electronics, and a love of music. This passion can be seen throughout his home. Musical instruments in every room. Walls lined with LPs, tapes, and discs. A Golden Cuboid listening room with padded walls. A reinforced concrete turntable stand running through the floor to a concrete block poured in the ground. Speakers, amplifiers, preamps, turntables, digital players, and recorders of every type. Prototypes everywhere.

One of those who pushed audio systems from hi-fi to high end, George is always searching for more accurate recording and playback systems. George identified the issue of conductor resonance, and controlled it by using a “Golden Ratio” progression of strand sizes in his cable designs. This insight can be found in the bulk of the high-end cables sold today.

George has developed methods for cable stranding, and created pressure- differential microphones as well as new connector designs. He often works with other designers to produce better speakers, amplifiers, and music-storage systems. His latest venture is in the recording industry, making records, CDs, and AADs to audiophile standards. Helping musicians reproduce their music has always been the focus of Cardas Audio.

Each of you participating in this roundtable is a pioneer, designing cables long before cables and interconnects became recognized as important contributors to high- fidelity music reproduction. Why did you choose to work in the cable arena rather than in other fields of high-end audio?

Actually I would say that cables chose me! Everything was square in the middle of my interest and skills. I was engineering transmission lines at the phone company, obsessively interested in music, and looking for a way to help musicians reproduce their music. I have always loved solving puzzles and this was the greatest puzzle I had ever seen. At the time I was involved with some local musicians who were literally selling their blood to make payments on their instruments. I had figured out a key part of the cable equation and the rest is history. I put my friend Kip Dobler to work making prototypes and eventually terminating the first cables.

What are your core beliefs that guide you in product development?

Interesting question! I believe that by seeking perfection in all that we do and associating with others of like pursuit we are on the path to understanding perfection itself. The dynamic range and simple genius of the two-channel stereo makes it the perfect pathway for development. I believe that the human hearing/nervous system is the ultimate tool for sorting out what is of highest quality. The product’s relationship to the musical signal is best measured with this tool.

On a theoretic level, I believe that the telephone transmission line is a huge magnifying glass for the anomalies of cable itself—the resolution of that model within the cable itself rather that with corrective networks was my ultimate goal.

Now that the cable industry has about 35 years of experience under its belt, has cable design approached its pinnacle where further improvements are likely to be marginal? Or will the improvements we’ve seen in, say, the past ten years follow the same trajectory?

I would say the process of perfecting what we are doing is an attitude not an end. Understanding and dealing with the things that affect cable performance is a dynamic, and if we are not vigilant we will regress to the easier ways. If the object becomes taking care of investors or simply satisfying tests, we might as well start over.

We will progress as long as we have the passion for perfecting what we do.

In a field that is overcrowded with competing designs and technical hype, what advice would you give consumers when choosing cables for their systems?

The Internet is the great leveler of all that is hype. I would say the answer is clear: simply listen and feel, share what you have experienced with the world, keep your eyes open. There really aren’t many different conductor designs, and there are many more people trying to hop on bandwagons that there are actual wagons. Musicality can be achieved in the simplest of systems if they are well focused. Work on focusing a nearfield system first—it will serve as your best tool in the end. If cost is an issue, start with simpler straightforward designs that focus on good symmetry in construction and excellent materials. Realize that the best design is not necessarily the most expensive design and that the things you are looking for will be found in the relationship of the music, the manufacturers, and their components. Look for products that are born of the passion for the sound of music.