Friday, February 11, 2011

New earbuds from Cardas Audio

Here are some nice photographs of the upcoming earbuds from Cardas Audio. I've been able to audition very late prototypes twice already; the last time was at CES where George Cardas himself demonstrated them against a very nice headphone rig consisting of a high quality DAC and a pair of Sennheiser HD800s. These earbuds have been a personal project of George's for quite some time, and I agree that these are something quite special.

I've experienced state-of-the-art headphone reproduction in the past; up until a few months ago I owned a pair of Grado GS1000s and AKG 701s modded with Stefan Arts Equinox cabling and a Woo Audio tubed headphone amp. In addition, I wrote the Headphone Planet column for TONEAudio for several issues in 2007-2009. So I like to think I know what a good pair of cans can achieve.

In addition, I haven't head a pair of earbuds that I truly liked. I'm fairly claustrophobic, and inserting devices into my ear canals has always felt intrusive, uncomfortable and aggressive. The Cardas earbuds were the first in-the-ear devices that felt comfortable and unobtrusive. I tried two sizes of these as well, and I actually preferred the slightly larger version. These buds felt like they had been custom-made for my ear canals and after listening for quite some time I felt little or no listener fatigue.

Okay, they're comfortable. But how did they sound? Well, the Grado GS1000s have always been my personal reference because they sound warm, open and expansive with full, realistic bass response. The Cardas earbuds easily matched and even surpassed the sound quality of the Grados, expanding on all of their strengths. These are the first earbuds that made me say, "I need these."

I talked to a couple of people in the Cardas camp about the projected price and date of arrival. Right now there isn't a set price, but I heard some ballpark figures that were much lower than I expected. I've seen and heard some of those earbuds that require a custom fitting for the ear molds, and the price tags of those products are fairly hefty. If the Cardas earbuds come anywhere near the projected and approximate prices, they will be a huge hit. Best of all, they're obviously wired with Cardas cabling.

I'm trying to get a little more information about the technology behind the Cardas earbuds, and I'll update shortly. But for now enjoy the pics of these precious little jewels and be prepared to audition a pair when they arrive. I'm putting my name on the list!

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