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Impressions:  My Brutus Awards for 2019, Part the Third

01-15-2020 | By David W. Robinson | Issue 107

Ye Olde Editor at play… (Portrait by John Robinson)

Into the home stretch with my Brutus Awards for audio hardware in 2019. Just two or three more to go.

Cardas Audio Clear Beyond RCA Interconnects

The Cardas Clear Beyond RCA interconnect breaking in on audioexcellenceaz's audiodharma Cable Cooker…which is an essential component if you work with a lot of audio cables. I do.

Earlier in the year, Bob Levi had raved about Cardas' Clear Beyond Cables on his turntable system. In this case, knowing George Cardas and his magnificent designs for 27 years now, I decided to try them myself in our Wave Kinetics NVS reference turntable/Durand Tonearms Tosca/DS Audio DS Master 1. The Cardas would go 'twixt the output of the DS Master 1 EQ/Phono Amp to one of the line-level inputs of the PASS Labs Xs Preamp.

The front-end of the system that was tied to the Xs Preamp, with one of our Everest reissue in place…

…reaching the further end, the extraordinary PASS Labs Xs Preamp.

Angela Cardas readily agreed to my request, and shortly thereafter the Clear Beyond RCAs arrived. I ran it for about four days in our audiodharma Cable Cooker, and then installed it into the target turntable system.

This summary won't take long.

Right from the get-go, the Cardas Clear Beyond bested the other cables that I had been using in my turntable projects over a handful of years. As the name implies, the level of transparency (the king of audio virtues, in my book) and clarity were remarkable. The DS Audio DS Master 1 system was revealed in all of its crystalline glory, with groove noise declining to the point of the underlying tape noise (in the case of analog masters, of course).

I was startled…nay, truly gob smacked…by the quality of the improvement.

Detail and texture were naturally heightened by the leap in transparency. The organic flow of the music, and its harmonic integration, top to bottom, bloomed furiously. No exaggeration.

Well, this was an easy call, confirmed with many LPs, within days.

A 2019 Brutus Award to Cardas Audio!

Stillpoints Aperture II

The Stillpoints Aperture II system to the right of the Raidho TD4.2 Loudspeaker, with the Audionet MAX monoblock amplifier on its Critical Mass Systems rack and filter…ambrosia, amigos!

There's no need for extensive commentary here, since I raved about the Stillpoints Aperture II system back in November, in Issue 106. You'll find that photo-essay HERE.

Bruce Jacobs of Stillpoints with four of the Aperture II panels fronting our southern windows here at PF Central…

In sum:  The sonic benefits of the Stillpoints Aperture II system are obvious, inarguable, require no break-in, and so significant that to my way of thinking all audiophiles should look at securing a set for their own listening rooms. The control of first reflections in our reference stereo listening room made an extraordinary difference, enhancing the sense of a real soundfield here.

Recommended most highly, and with great enthusiasm.

Another 2019 Brutus Award winner!

Mytek Manhattan DAC II with Network and Phono Options