The Cardas Golden Reference, together with the Nordost Vahalla, are literally the some of the longest surviving reference cables used by reviewers all over the world. I have been very curious how the Cardas Golden Reference would do within the context of my humble system.

As some readers would know by now, I usually look in to the performance of major 5 qualities when cable testing.

1) Transparency

2) Bandwidth

3) Tonal Balance

4) Transmission to Noise Ratio

5) Coherence of Presentation

The pair I got was a demo sample, 3 meter long each, fitted with spades both ends. I plug the non-directional Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable between the Pass Aleph 0 and the Audio Physic Spark. A minor gripe about those chunky Cardas spades, the spade legs could perhaps be just a little bit longer, as it tends to slip out of the amp's speaker terminal, no matter how firmly I grip and finger thighten them!

The sound that greeted me was one of very transparent, yet on the warmish side of neutrality, but the cables sounded unbroken in, the music flow was somewhat uneven, and some sibilance were noticeable on the high mids. I removed the pair of cables from my system, hook them up to my kable kooker for 36 hours. And the final post cooked results are noted below.

This Cardas is one of the most transparent cables ever plugged in to my system. Minor and low level information is presented very convincingly, without appearing to try too hard. The bandwidth range of the cable is superb, with surprisingly good extension in both the the bottom and top octaves of the frequency extremes. Again, at first heard initially the cable can sound a little on the warm side of neutral, but there are no mid range blooms here and the sibilance heard earlier is now no more. This is a somewhat dark sounding cable, with lush smooth but never syrupy highs, mids sound very open and make vocals very convincing "there". The bass is deep and well controlled. The post cooked cable also allowed music to flow thru more freely. Transmission quality is excellent as this cable sounds much louder, yet quieter than my own present reference in use, the Straightwire Maestro II. In the overall presentation, I can only mark down an area where within the sound stage width is beyond the two speakers , but the layering within the stage depth is a little shut in, again comparing to my own cable in use.

The Cardas Golden Reference belongs to the ol' skool cable design, being extremely heavy built, with garden hose diameter thickness. I read in recent forum discussions that newer cable designs are moving towards lighter build, using purer material alloys for a faster transient response qualities. Time has being kind to the Cardas so far as it has managed to stay relevant as a reference for so long. Kudos to it's tried and trusted longevity factor!

Can't go wrong with this truly "Reference" grade cable.

Cardas is sold by Hi-Way Laser, tel: 019-2813399

the chinese believe that once we usher in the new year, your bad luck will go away and good luck will follow you for the rest of the year.

it is not the case with me. tonight, another horrible thing happened. my meridian g08.2 sucked my hugo's LPCD disc and the bl**dy disc can't be read and ejected! it is stuck in the slot drive.

as some of you may know, LPCD is actually made from CD-R, which is slightly thinner than normal redbook cd, maybe that's why the meridian can't seem to read it properly. i actually think the slot drive is a major design flaw. but i can't deny that the g08.2 is a major improvement from g08. i will give a short review once it is properly broken in.

i have put an "urgent" sticker on my task of building my hifi altar. i want to offer prayers on a daily basis to my hifi god.

i didn't buy. i think her debut album is better.

a lot of visitors to my house always wonder why i didn't use any tweaks. they always suggest that i should start using some to bring my system to another level. but they don't know that my biggest tweak is my mana table and mana soundframe which have been serving me very well for more than 7 years now and i swear by them.

many audiophiles, especially the younger ones (those who went into this hobby in the last 5 years) don't know about mana being a top-notch equipment support maker from UK. mana is expensive to start with and we don't have a local dealer. the funny thing about mana is that it doesn't like anything on top on it, which means to say it doesn't work well with other tweaks like cones and resonance controls.

tonight both panzer and ck witnessed how the ceraballs failed in my system. they don't work on either my preamp and cdp. the resultant sound is a taming of energy and musical flow, curtailing of air, slowing down of rhythm and compacting of images. the singer with ceraballs on sounded sedated, as if she has had a full meal and too lazy to sing, eventho' her image is more focused and sharper, the later being the only advantage. incidentally we tried a track which is full of energy, zing and PRaT and the ceraballs slowed down everything. we tried to turn the ceraballs up and down but the overall effect is still negative.

well, as i have said, my system is well balanced and it doesn't need much tweaking.

que cera cera, whatever will be, will be.

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Top: FE Resonator.
Under: Cera Ball, Cera Puck & Cera Base.

Hifikaki had been poisoned by the FE Cera products, that we all know. He wants me to test it out to see if I feel the same. Ever so kind, he passed them all, the Cera Balls, Pucks and Resonator to me just before the CNY holidays to play with.

It been a few days that I've been playing with the Cera stuff plus Resonator, and can form my 2nd opinion of them.

First the FE Cera Balls, in my short, honest opinion, every hifi system, irregardless of price range, should at least have set of these sitting below the source components. If your budget allows, have a set below every component! Even though they're not exactly cheap, they're so good, they'd out last your component upgrades till the end of your hifi journey!(If there's an end to it all?)

Every component I put them under, from my friend's modest Marantz CD63SE to my own Marantz CD7, seems to wrought out very positive results, especially more so with budget to mid end equipment! With the Cera balls under the CDP, you can expect to get an overall the tightening up of rough edges in the sound, yet give mids, i.e. vocals, more density and "natural" presence within the sound stage. The bass also benefits from the tidying up, by sounding fuller, yet each note more distinct. Splashy highs are mostly subdued overall(if it's there, it'll still be there somehow, but only much less heard!).

Cera Balls unders my Rega, spot them?

Here's my surprising find, with the Cera Balls under budget CD and turntables(if my humble Rega P25 qualifies as one), you get the most bang for buck sound wise! Whilst placed under my own Marantz CD7, the result were merely a whiff of subtle the improvement found on the budget machines mentioned earlier! That said, you also can't expect a Marantz CD63SE with Cera Balls, to sonically out class the CD7 sans the Cera balls. You just can't turn sows ear in to silk purse!

Next up is the FE Cera Pucks, which works very much just like the Cera Balls, but on heavier equipment, like power amps and so on. I had no chance to try them under my mono blocks with only a set of 4 pcs. But opportunity presented itself when I got the back breaking heavy Isotek Titan power line conditioner for review. From my experience with the Isotek Sigmas, I knew the Titan would benefit from some kind of an after market feet or equipment stand. With the Isotek Titan sitting on the four Cera Pucks, the result were pretty much the same as I got from the Cera Balls under source equipments, but only more! There was much less back ground hash heard with the Cera Pucks placed under the Isotek Titan PLC.

Cera Pucks under Isotek Titan.

Lastly, the FE Resonator. I find that the resonator did absolutely nothing to the sound when placed on top of my CDP, pre-amp or phono stage! Strange, I thought I must have done it wrong! I checked the manual again, and follow the instructions carefully one more time, but the results were the same! I heard absolutely no difference to the sound coming out from my system, with or without the Resonator!

Then I remembered what a hifi buddy told me on an earlier listening session of my system. He told me that he had heard some metal ringing qualities in my system(yes, his ears are that sensitive!), and he had proceeded to check the top plate of every hifi equipment that I had by feeling it with his hands as we played the system aloud. He picked out the Isotek Sigmas's top plate as the culprit! Then asked me to do something about it. I haven't the opportunity to get around to it.

Resonator on top panel of Isotek Sigmas, note: instruction says you can't place Resonator dead center for good effect!(I tried that too!)

So the Resonator was put a top the Isotek Sigmas(see picture on top) and now, finally, I heard an overall smoother high mids. The high hats though previously non splashy and never edgy, now gained just very slightly more refinement and "air". I must stressed that the improvement is very subtle, and not easily distinguished. My very own opinion formed of the Resonator is that, unless you've got equipment with rather thin, undamped steel plates as top panel, I don't think it will do much if placed on most high end equipment with 5/8 inch thick aluminum top panels.

Did I get poisoned? Well, I am lining up to get my self some Cerra Balls!

Finite Elemente is sold by Audio Image, tel: 03-79563077

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Here are two recent CDs, released by ABC International Records, featuring the Burwen Bobcat mastering, done under supervision, by none other than the legendary Mark Levinson.

I got this two CDs recently and all I can is this, amongst all the high resolution mastering system employed ABC in the past, including JVC's K2 and HD Mastering, the Burwen Bobcat mastering system is by far the most natural sounding! It's very close to analog reproduction(based on comparisons with my own, very humble analog rig). In fact, ABC's 180gsm audiophile vinyl realeases are also mastered using the Burwen Bobcat system.

Of the two CDs the one on the left tittled, "The Soul of Analog is Back" is a compilation of various tracks, some available previously on the K2 Sampler and the HD series CDs. I happened to have those too and therefore, can make meaningful comparisons that support my conclusion above.

The other CD on the right titled, "From Mark Levinson" is a selection of favourite songs recorded by Mark Levinson, the man himself! Track no.2, 23rd Psalm, even features his ex-mother in law's voice, Shane Cattrall[if that last name sounds familiar, it's because she's Kim Cattrall(of Sex and the City fame)'s mother, ah..... Mark Levinson is indeed a very, very lucky man!]. He qoutes that Shane Cattrall "has a beautiful speaking voice". I agree with Mark, based on what I heard on the CD. All other tracks has a mixture of Jazz, Classical, and of course, great vocal recordings. I like the man's selection!

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Furutech FI-32(G), waiting, waiting, wait.........

It's the first day of Chinese New Year in to the year of the Ox. I have contemplated long enough and decided to go Furutech all the way! From power conditioner to sources and pre amps and power amps! However, most stocks from the existing batch imported earlier have been mostly exhausted by now, I managed to wrestle two last pieces of FI-11(G) for my source and pre amp to complement the earlier FI-11(CU) at the power amps. The FI-32(G) will have to wait till new batch arrives sometime in February. Needless to say, I am very happy with both versions of the FI-11 so far. Will report fully once the final piece comes in to play.

Top: Isotek Titan, Lower: Titan rear view.

Whilst at it, I have the flagship Isotek Titan power conditioner on review. Let's see if it will rise to challenge the so far undisputed leader, Torus Power, for the state of the art status.

Cardas Golden Reference speaker cable.

Also in the works is a pair of Cardas Golden Reference speaker cables on review. It's one of the longest standing member of the Reference moniker, does it still stand tall? Or has the cable market moved on?

Furutech & Isotek sold by Centre Circle Audio, Tel: 03-77282686

Other Furutech Dealers:
Audio Matic (Eugene - 012-3222698)
Dong Fong (Ken Sin - 012-4678788)

Cardas sold by Hi-Way Laser, Tel: 019-2813399

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Paradise Remixed LP

If I can be allowed to be greedy and take one more last desert island disc, this would be it!

Inner City duo is Kevin Saunderson and Paris Grey. Their R&B flavoured dance music was the rave in the UK during the late eighties, when yours truly, was still considered a hip young fellow. I find their music to be very classy indeed.

Paradise CD

This is a remixed version of the originally released Paradise album. The remix version takes the biggest hits from Paradise, namely, Big Fun, Good Life, Ain't Nothing Better, Do You Love What You Feel? and Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin', remixed with harder hitting bass and more synthesizer effects and song lenghtened to allow dancing joy, as 3 minutes plus is too short a time to sweat it out! The bonus track, House Fever is just that, a filler.

The sound of this dance LP is excellent, with tight and pacey bass, very open mids, and extended highs. Unlike other dance mix, the beat doesn't drown out Paris Grey's beautifully sultry vocals at all.

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This 2CD concert set, features Jacky Cheung singing other people's tunes for charitable causes. I love this CD very much since the day I bought it. Just can't stop listening to it every now and then.

Jacky's vocal performance and the band's arrangement is first rate! Even though the song's are not originally his, he makes every one of them his own. Some tunes, I felt is even better than the original performer. That's how good Jacky Cheung is.

The concert recording is good, with plenty of hall ambiance and the band sound is warm and lush backing Jacky's distinctly accomplished vocals.

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