When the opportunity of demoing a set of the Cardas A8's presented itself… I jumped at it. Partly because IEM's make a lot of sense for me personally… I spend half of my days typing up some documents and putting diagrams together to better explain things…
So when I'm out of meetings and workshops, I sit down and put on some IEM's, plug them in my laptop / iPhone and concentrate on the work. I would love to listen to my open back Grado's but for obvious reasons these won't fly in the open plan working environment. So IEM's it is.
For the last 4 years… i've been using the EPH 100's from Yamaha – which have also given up the ghost after life happened to them.
At around 4 times the asking price of the EPH 100's, the A8's had to be better than the Yamaha's at everything.
After collecting them from a man wearing a light brown jersey, somewhere in the JHB CBD – I drove to 13 Hof JHB, got a loan uDSD headphone amp / DAC – Went straight home, connected everything up – and left the amp to run in as the earphones have seen some use – my guess was that they needed no running in.
So the next morning I was up early and spent the morning listening to the A8's and the uDSD. Being a little bigger than i'm used to – I took some time adjusting their position – so I didn't hear myself swallow or the cable move. Once that was sorted, I kicked off with the new Corinne Bailey Rae album... followed by some metropolitan jazz affair...
The best way I can describe the immediate difference in sound – was like moving from a stand mount to a full range floorstander. The sound was much bigger, vocals were a lot fuller and the instruments were more 'alive'… bass was better defined, detailed and more present – but without muddying up the sound. Rae sometimes slurs up her words – but there were no issues on following what she is on about through this set-up.
After some music, I decided to watch a few movie scenes to see how the bass performs, as a few tracks earlier - I had hints of very descent bass. The movie selection included Real Steel, Jack the Giants Slayer, Ice Age Continental Drift, San Andreas and a few others. The bass iwas seriously impressive and well weighted. You could really get a feel of the action without wanting more on the sound. Dialogue and all the other sound effects remained very good and well balanced.
By now… the Snarky Puppy – Culcha Vulcha wav. album had finished downloading…
So I went back to the music. If anyone knows the band – its that they can have some seriously densely populated passages in their music. Once again – the A8's remained composed and did not struggle to deliver the music coherently without sounding congested.
I also tried out the A8's through my iPhone 4s, which is loaded with some iTunes MP3's. I liked how the sound was not too harsh sounding – which meant that you can use the A8's from your phone without being constantly reminded of how below par the mp3's can sound – but once you have paired them to something as good as the uDSD, it's very difficult to ignore how better the A8's can sound through it.
I realise that I have not touched on the uDSD much – but I pretty much agree with Mervins views on the device. It is a well executed piece of equipment, convenient – and sounds really really good. I'm glad that I got a chance to listen to the A8's through it. I just don't like that I'm itching to replace the music streamer II.
I hope to own this combo one day… it will make all those hours sitting behind a laptop much more pleasant.
Thanks for the oppotunity G.