The Cardas Room Setup Guide: FAQ: System Setup

A collection of questions we've received over the years about setting up a system

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Wood Properties

Q.) Mr. Cardas, I see on your site that you use Myrtle wood for resonance control. I am in the process of developing a better understanding of the resonant qualities of different types of woods. I am currently experimenting with some different racks for my sound system. As you know, the resonant signature of different types of wood can change the sound drastically. Right now, I have used birch plywood, and MDF. There are obvious differences in the sound of these two woods. The MDF is darker, and less resonant. The birch tends to be brighter, and sound livelier. This may have quite a bit to do with the finish I have applied to both.

What I would like to do is try some different kinds of wood to find the right one for my system. Would you think that Myrtle would have sympathetic resonances in the audio frequency range? Also, how would you go about finishing the wood to bring out those resonances? Thank you, Brandon R.

A.) Hi Brandon. Many woods have excellent resonate properties, one reason a wood instrument sounds better than a plastic one is the diffusion of material. Woods are materials of progressive densities, wood has many layers and each layer varies in density and thickness thus they sustain an image of the original sound with no sharp sound of their own. plastic materials have uniform density and have a single note they accentuate so there character is predictable and identifiable to the ear. Certain woods are preferred for music instruments because they have a high strength to weight ratio which allows them to make good diaphragms as well as produce sound good. For the purpose of a cartridge you want a hard wood that is very defuse in its structure like Brier or Myrtle. Myrtle is by far the most varied and defuse of woods especially burls yet it will still absorb a bit of oil (for damping). I find lightly oiled Myrtle to be the best combination of sweet sound and damping.

For racks I would imagine a combination of Myrtle and Maple would be excellent. If you want to use plywood you should be looking at the marine grades fine ply with a soft core and hard surface, or you can have custom ply made in this area. I think a yellow cedar core with an oak surface would be a great combination. - George

New XLR Cap

Q.) I recently purchased what I thought was going to be a "standard" female XLR cap. When I received it, the shaft is about 1/2" longer than my other caps and it doesn't have the hot pin "cover." It does have the Cardas logo on it. What did I buy, AES/EBU or? Thank you. - Randy

A.) You have the most current version of the XLR cap. The female has a grounding "tab" that makes contact with the body of the XLR or in this case the cap. It is longer because there are chassis mount females in the field that set deeper into their equipment, so it was necessary to make it longer. - Colleen

Q.) Thanks for taking time to respond. I am a very HAPPY Cardas customer. I own some of the first Cross interconnects made and some of the last Golden 5C speaker cables; cables I selected over 4 or 5 competing brands. - Randy

A.) Always nice to hear from a happy customer. - Colleen

Myrtle Harvest

Q.) I like the idea and principles behind wood for use in audio component isolation/stands, but I was concerned when reading the information regarding your Golden Cuboid Blocks being made from such a rare and exotic species of tree. Are these being sustainably/ecologically harvested and is the wood used for the Golden Cuboid's from waste product?

A.) I share your concerns. The Myrtle, though rare and exotic in other parts of the world, is fairly common here. It has little or no commercial value because, like brier, it is very convoluted and difficult to work with. I doubt that anyone has done any myrtle "harvesting" since it is not suitable for construction of any kind, even cabinets, because it does not shrink evenly, even when compared to another piece of itself. The only thing I have ever seen it used for is our blocks and little carvings or statues. Cutting down a tree is seldom necessary if you live in the forest. Natural turnover and one wind storm a year will bring all that you can use many times over. Commercial tree harvesting in this area has all but stopped. 80% of the forest is in preserve or replant. It is next to impossible for companies to cut remaining old growth. It is relatively easy to find eight or ten year old "falls" that are well seasoned. We have such a tree and I imagine it will last us for the rest of our lives.

I believe in sustainable, or renewable forests and spend several weeks every year reforesting clear cut. I purchased a small piece of clear cut and I have been working for the last 5 years to replant it. We now have at least thirty species established in a random pattern on the property. My favorite is a tree called Port Orford cedar. The species is threatened by a tree born fungus. It is a beautiful tree with an awsome fragrance. I also have a nice grove of Madrone's that I am caring for. This species is a very pretty and super convoluted hard wood. - George

Minimum Speaker Cable Length

Q.) Hey George, Is there a minimum length for speaker cables? Chris

A.) Hi Chris, There is no minimum length from a cable standpoint, however, there is an "effective" minimum length as you do not want your amplifiers acoustically coupled to the speakers. A 5 ft seperation will cover most situations. Also, a substantial separation of the front end components, especially turntables and CD players, from the speakers is a definite benefit. Best Regards, George


Q.) George, I'm evaluating the Gryphon Exorcist, a device that purportedly eliminates DC and magnetic build-up where it's not wanted. If the Exorcist's fading 1kHz tone does what it's advertised to do, does this shake-up, on the molecular level, not interfere with audio-cable maturation? I'm curious to know what you folks think about that. Cheers, Mike Silverton

P.S. Your cables are a delight.

A.) Hi Mike, The Exorcist is a excellent device. It is actually a copy, of sorts, of my sweep record. Gryphon used to give me credit in their brochure. In any case, it is good for settling cables and other components. If you have a record player try the sweep record. I think it degausses even better. George