The A8 is a unique looking earphone that really draws the eye. While the regular A8 is coated within a rubberized blue, the 30th-anniversary model I have here is instead finished in a delicious black chrome. The housings themselves are constructed from brass rather than aluminium which grants them with an incredibly solid in-hand feel. While they are built in China, Cardas are quick to note that they own a portion of the factory responsible for manufacturing, enabling more consistent quality control. My units were pretty perfect with no moulding or joining issues and an even paint job. There was some rainbowing to the rears of the earpieces though this could be intentional.
The earphones are also exceptionally well-shaped, they assume a traditional cable down fit though they are both comfortable and stable in the ear. The long, protruding nozzles ensure a deep fit while the smooth shaping of the housings prevents the formation of any hotspots. And though the nozzles aren’t angled, the earphones naturally sit at a comfortable angle in the ear, they were completely comfortable for me even after hours of listening despite their weight. Furthermore, the A8 is fully sealed which, combined with their dense housings, creates very good noise isolation that is only bested by more ear filling monitors like the Campfire and Shure SE earphones.
The cable is an interesting affair and this time, Cardas have engineered a cable that is very well suited towards an in-ear. While the original model has a modular cable that is detachable below the y-split, the 30th-anniversary model trades removability for a slightly longer cable with improved strain relief. It’s a fabric coated affair though microphonics are kept reasonably low due to the angled stems on each earpiece that prevent the cable from contacting the listener’s face. The earphones also work quite well over the ear though the cable is prone to flicking off the ear due to those angled stems. Below the y-split, the cable is quite thick but very light, it’s an intriguing design with the conductors weaving around a fibre, theoretically lowering stress on the conductors themselves.
The 45 deg jack and y-split are both super beefy with excellent strain relief, this is one of the hardiest cables I’ve come across. Above the y-split, the cable is thinner and splits into two colours, grey for right and black for left. This segment is quite prone to tangling but untangles easily due to its smooth texture. The cable is also quite supple considering its thickness and fabric sheathing, easily coiling for storage. While the cable is not removable, Cardas’ extensive experience with cables is clearly evident and I am very confident with the A8’s build.
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