Cardas Clear has remained one of my go-to cable systems since first I heard it. Its lyricism, precision, and just plain ease of listening keep me coming back to the design. There are faster and more exciting sounding cables, more immediate and more ostensibly detailed sounding cables, but few have that laid-back charm and almost graceful overall presentation.
Clear Beyond is more of the same, in every respect. This began with the loudspeaker cable and then the power cord, and the circle is complete with the interconnect. Like Clear, it’s made of strands of Cardas’ own copper (Cardas has its own smelting furnace). These are wound into a quartet of 26.5 AWG copper conductors, individually insulated using an enamel coating, and then arranged in a star-quad geometry. This geometry is suspended by carbon-impregnated air-tubes in Cardas patented Golden Section arrangement, while the conductor core itself is double-shielded, using a proprietary combination of both plated and bare copper. Between these is a pair of Litz drain wires.
In Clear, Cardas introduced its Matched Propogation technology, where the propagation rate of the copper is matched to that of the dielectric. The whole cable is terminated in a blue jacket of Alcryn. The cable is of an inherently balanced design, so for single-ended use, Clear Beyond is supplied with the company’s own XRCA adaptors, and a redesigned proprietary XLR connection for balanced use.
Cardas isn’t a fussy cable, and the run-in period seems to be about as long as it takes to remove it from its stiff plastic bag and plugging it in place. This is a refreshing change, given the product that was supposed to be reviewed this month is still in its ‘conditioning’ stages after several months of use. Naturally, I re-wired my whole system with Cardas Clear and directly compared Clear Beyond with Clear.
There are two schools of thought regarding Clear Beyond. The first – Cardas own, derived from the speaker cables and power cords – is that Beyond is the ‘heavy lifting’ version of Clear. Use it in situations that demand more meaty signal transfer (longer runs of cable between preamp and power amplifier, for example). The other is simply that it’s Clear, but a bit better. Ever the fence-sitter, I think probably both concepts are right.
Beyond is the perfect upgrade for Clear users, because it gives the listener all the things they like so much about Clear, and adds a little more separation, detail, microdynamics, and image depth, without any sacrifices in performance elsewhere. This doesn’t make for a massive change in many systems, in part because Clear is so damn good to begin with, but it simply gets you that bit closer to the musical intent of the musicians (in the way Clear does so well). If this sounds like hedging my bets, it’s because original Clear is so good, that it sets a very high standard. Clear Beyond betters this high standard in almost every manner, however. It doesn’t make mincemeat out of Clear, but instead adds a new level of Clear-style performance at the top of the tree. What Clear Beyond does that is so great, in my opinion, is it manages to better combine the two goals of ‘sounding good’ and ‘sounding accurate’ even better than Clear. This is no mean feat, as Clear was one of the few that did this without falling into the ‘warmth’ trap. Beyond does this to an even higher degree; it’s warm and easy to listen to, without being warm-toned – quite the achievement.