ADDENDUM: Cardas releases newer version of their cable.By George (Cardas), he's done it again!
I’ve been using the Cardas headphone cable for about a year now, and it has served as a key component of my rig, and my favorite of the available Sennheiser HD-580/600 replacement cables. As my above review might suggest, the Cardas headphone cable has been one of the most sonically successful cable-related upgrades I’ve tried, and it seems like many at Head-Fi have had similar experiences with it.
Lately, word has sprung up ‘round these parts that Cardas is now shipping a new version of the headphone cable (that replaces the previous version), and that is indeed the case -- my new-version cable arrived about two weeks ago. While the conductor and cable geometry remain the same, there are a few notable changes to the product with this new version, and one very key change. To start, the earpiece plug bodies are larger, and now more similar to those that come with the stock Sennheiser cable, resulting in a snugger fit within the earpiece receptacles than the previous version's plugs. The cable's outer jacket makes for a slightly thicker cable, but one that is also more flexible than the previous version, thanks to a softer, more pliable jacketing material. The most noteworthy improvement with the new version is the new 1/4" stereo plug -- plated with silver and then a rhodium flash -- designed by George Cardas to significantly reduce crosstalk.
Sonically, what does all this mean? Well, I have two HD-600s, and have tried both the old and the new Cardas headphone cable in each, with the same results: the main difference, sonically, appears to be in the treble region, with the new cable subjectively allowing still a touch more treble energy through to the headphones than the old cable. Also -- and I don’t know if it’s primarily due to the aforementioned treble thing, or something else I can’t put a finger on yet -- the new cable lends the HD-600 a slightly improved sense of overall clarity versus the already-excellent first generation Cardas headphone cable.
I asked Brian at Cardas what he thought would be the most likely cause(s) of the sonic differences between the two, and he answered that it’s most likely the new Cardas-designed 1/4" plug, as the rest of the cable is, for the most part, the same as the previous version.
However mild the sonic differences between the two cables, the new one is the better of the two to my ears. Would I recommend those with older cables pay ~$150 to land the new version? Probably not. I don’t plan to replace the previous version Cardas headphone cable I still have with another new version one -- I'll continue to run one of my HD-600s with the old, and the other with the new. However, if you haven’t pulled the trigger yet on a replacement cable because you’ve been sitting on the fence about which of the cables to buy, Cardas has, in my opinion, just given you another nudge in their direction.