In my system, the Shunyata Anaconda sounded more detailed, open, transparent, and revealing. Transient response seemed to be quicker with the Shunyata, and subtle dynamic shadings came through more readily as well. On the other hand, Clear Reflection sounded a little more organized, more relaxed, more liquid, and, dare I say it, more “organic.” I prefer the Shunyata on the whole for its dazzling dynamics and remarkable resolution, but I can easily understand if another listener—in a different system—might prefer the less expensive Cardas for its coherence and musicality.
In my audio buddy’s very well tuned system (Lou is a meticulous set-up guy, bordering on fanatical actually), the Cardas sounded a little more expansive and slightly more focused than the Siltech. The Cardas threw a larger, deeper, and more defined soundstage and individual images were a little better fleshed-out, as well. The Siltech and CR had similar respective tonal balances, with the exception of the CR emphasizing the lower midrange a bit more. (There’s that warmth factor again.) The two cables’ overall performances with dynamics were, for all intents and purposes, the same, but I would give the CR the edge in overall resolution. Now, I must stress that I have also heard the same Siltech cable in my own system and thought it did some things better than the Shunyata set did, such as throwing a wider soundstage and sounding a little more musically natural in some respects. These comparisons illustrate how cables can perform differently than expected across myriad systems.
So, the answer to the question of whether Clear Reflection can compete against more expensive cables is yes. Which cable you gravitate towards will probably depend on your sonic priorities, system, and budget. As a reviewer, I prefer the Shunyata Anaconda for its remarkable transient response, transparency, and open soundstaging (as I’d mentioned). Others will favor the more smooth, silk-like qualities of the Siltech, or lean towards the clean, balanced musicality of the Cardas.
When stacked against more expensive cables, Cardas Clear Reflection held its own and, accordingly, gets high marks for delivering good performance at a reasonable price. Clear Reflection is a fantastic cable in its own right. Cardas is on to something with its blend of the company’s previous Golden Reference design and its current Clear technology. I was charmed by Clear Reflection’s fluid, organized, detailed, and generally musically satisfying qualities. I would not hesitate to recommend it to others and would consider it myself for a second system. Mr. Cardas, take a bow.
SPECS & PRICING
CARDAS AUDIO, LTD
480 11th St. SE
Bandon, Oregon 97411
Price: Interconnect, $1150/1m (RCA or XLR), additional .5m add $300; speaker, $2800/2.5m (spade or banana), additional .5m add $350
Analog Source: Basis Debut V turntable & Vector 4 tonearm, Benz-Micro LP-S cartridge
Digital Sources: Ayre C-5xeMP universal disc player, HP Envy 15t running JRiver MC-20, Hegel HD12 and HD20 DACs
Phono stage: Ayre P-5xe
Line stage: Ayre K-1xe, Hegel P30
Integrated amplifier: H300
Power amplifiers: Gamut M250i, Hegel H30
Speakers: Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature, YG Acoustics Sonja 1.2
Cables: Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron signal cables, Nordost Heimdall 2 USB, Audioquest Coffee USB and Hawk Eye S/PDIF, Shunyata Anaconda S/PDIF, Shunyata Anaconda and Alpha ZiTron power cables
A/C Power: Two 20-amp A/C lines, Shunyata SR-Z1 outlets and Triton/Typhon power conditioners
Accessories: Stillpoints Ulra SS and Mini footers, Shunyata Research DFE V2 cable elevators
Room Treatments: PrimeAcoustic Z-foam panels and DIY panels