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Cardas RCA Caps - Good Tweak/Good Price

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
After a few years hesitation on this topic I finally purchased a number of RCA caps, specifically the Cardas C caps, $2.25 @ from linearinterconnects.com. The theory behind these is to keep stray electrical noise from coming through the open holes of the unused RCA plugs. To decide about them I first tried the cheap route, covering the various unused RCA plugs with aluminum foil. I thought I could hear a difference so I splurged a few bucks on caps.

I just got these in the mail today and have put three in place on my office system, a cheap Technics CD player SLPG480A, running to an old Musical Fidelity X-ACT D-A converter, feeding a Stax SRM-3 Amp and Stax Lambda Nova phones. Not much else in the way of other tweaks, except an unpgraded power cord for the Stax amp, Sorbethane feet under the cd player and amp, and various bits of sorbethane stuck to the cd drive and circuit borad of the player. I however, do a lot to my cd's sand the edges, paint and polish as in Auric Illuminator, weight them with the old Allsop cd rings, and use Herbies grungebuster.

There are only three open RCA's in this system, two on the player, because it is hooked up to the converter with an optical cord and one on the converter, which would be the digital input.

The caps were a definite improvement over aluminun foil. There was a significant reduction in harshness of sound, so that most sounds were sweeter, the overtones were more distinct and there was even an increase in dynamics. I listened to Starvinsky's Firebird (London- Montreal) and found some of the orchestral attacks quite ferocious. A collection of Mexican songs by Linda Ronstadt Asylum, Canciones de mi Padre was hard to listen to on the stats because it was very harsh, close-miked and forward sounding. It is now very much more listenable and some of Ronstad's attacks are so dynamic, they just about take my head off.

I feel that the best tests of any improvement in your system, whether it's new equipment or tweaks, are 1) do you hear better things from recordings with which you are very familiar and 2) do they make you want to just sit down and listen to a lot of other recordings too. The caps meet both these tests well.

Not bad for a $7.75 tweak.
post #2 of 7
I've often considered getting some of those caps. I'm glad they worked well in your system.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have tried them in my other three systems since with similar results. However I would say that you are probably going to notice the effect more on headphones than speaker systems and more on high definition phones, all of my phones are electrostatics.

While this can be a cheap tweak with a simple system, the problem with my home theater set-up is the sheer number of open RCA's on it. I have plugged about 10 so far, all of the RCA's on the pre-amp, and cd player and about half on the surround amp/decoder unit and still have about 10 open RCA's. nevertheless, listening last night to the Return of the King, I noticed more subtlety on the soundtrack and Annie Lennox's closing song which had sounded grating before, now sounded pretty good. Listening to a dBx encoded LP of Joan Baez folk songs, there was a notable gain in expressiveness of her singing.

The oddest effect effect was with an AIWA portable dvd player which feeds to a Sennheiser 360 surround synthesizer and Stax SRDP/SR003 phones. There was only one open RCA on the AIWA for video. Plugging it gave the same reduction in harshness noted in other systems and even some improvement to the picture. However there was a large boost across the bass region, frankly too much for my taste. The 360 tends to bring out the bass, usually this is good but I may have to find some way to adjust this amount.

Hard to believe that there could be this much EM/RF noise out there and that it could get back into your boxes with deletrious effect. I ran a battery powered sensor which beeps in the presence of strong EM/RF and found that there was minimal leakage from the component boxes, and interconnects but that all the power cords, even the expensive add-ons, generated a detectible field. Since virtually all the equipment has a power cord, that would appear to be the source of a lot of the intereference that the caps are cutting down on. So any type of better shielding such as with beter IC's, caps, or moving the power cords as far away from the open parts of your components is probably going to be good for your system.

Ayway, I have gone through my first lot of 18 and have ordered another 18.
post #4 of 7
I use a set of Cardas XLR caps and rca caps. They are the expensive ones with the nautilus symbol on them. I'm sorry to say, but I can't hear a difference at all.
post #5 of 7
I've got a home theatre set up with many vacant rca jacks.
I may try them on my Headroom Maxed Out Home Reference, it has the two out put jacks vacant. Then the back of my Sony player has several vacant jacks. The Arcam player is all full up with cables.
I don't have any electrostatic phones, all I got is these RS-1s, do you think they are detailed enough to notice a change?

okay, I do have other phones, but the Grados is what I use with that amp.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Brandon Ottawa
"I'm sorry to say, but I can't hear a difference at all"

Possibly you would like to sell yours to me $2.00 each for the RCA's more, negotiable on the XLR's?

BTW any luck with the Bedini?
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have recently added a couple of XLR caps to my main player and while these are much more expensive than the RCA' s they also seem worthwhile on a good player. I was struck the other night listening to a choral work by Grainger performed by Gardner's Monteverdi choir that for the first time I could understand most of the words of the chorus through my Stax 404. Generally I find that electrostatics will allow you to decipher the words in this type of complex music, with orchestra and multiple singers, but even with the 404's I had been unable to pick up more than about 1 in 10 words. Now I am picking up about 80% of the words.

I would say that these types of cap will add noticeably to an good system. How much basic resolution you need before you can hear them I cannot say.
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