Giving fellow entry-level headphoners a run for their money at CanJam SoCal 2016 were long-time cable stalwart Cardas. Their recently introduced second universal IEM might have been lost to the large hall’s gloom and this commentator’s jet-lag were it not for the red LED glow of the Ayre Acoustics’ Codex headphone amplifiers that lined their double-width table.
Cardas’ first ‘Ear Speaker’, the EM5813, arrived in 2013. Designed from the ground up by company mainman George Cardas, its golden ratio-d geometry saw copper-plated brass earpiece house a large (11cm!) dynamic driver, all wired up with Cardas Clear Light Cable. The sound was like no other IEM: a big, meaty midrange made it an ideal choice for those who found the more insistent top end of rivals too over-bearing. Cardas’ first IEM was a perfect choice for long haul flights.
However, the EM5813 didn’t arrive without some physical compromise. The cable was thick and a little unwieldy and the earpieces themselves proved too weighty for some.
Enter the all-new A8 Ear Speaker, introduced as a direct response to customer feedback on the originating model. The golden-ratio dimensions of the brass earpiece have been maintained but the newbie wears a blue rubber/plastic coating. The driver is different too: a “10.85mm Ultra Linear, Contour Field, Dual Magnet” deal – details here. Wiring up the whole shebang is a new, lighter cable – also blue, also with its own golden ratio structure and a neat party trick.
I won’t spoil the punchline. Cardas’ Brian Von Bork pulls back the curtain in this two minute video:
Taking the A8 for a brief spin on an Astell&Kern AK240 revealed significant audible differences to the original EM5813. The newer model brings a greater sense of clarity and more ‘air’. Talk about chalk and cheese.
I’d also peg the Cardas A8’s sonics as genetically closer to the RHA T20i than the EM5813. They’re closer pricewise too: the A8 sell for US$299.
Further information: Cardas