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Distortion: Ours vs Theirs

Why high-frequency extension, capacitance and picofarads go hand in hand regarding:

“How much of the music do you really hear?”

More Capacitance = More Distortion

HF extension or “high-frequency extension” can be described as the frequencies and harmonic structure heard at the sonically extreme levels in music. Part of the frequency/harmonic structure is not even heard but felt in music, through the inner ear bones, the face, the skull and so on. The sonic benefits are not only for cymbals, triangles, brass instruments but for violins which produce frequencies as high as 40 kHz. The high-frequency extension is needed in order to have a more authentic harmonic structure, which enables us to hear leading edge transients and the decay of musical notes. Otherwise the leading edge details of mid-range and bass notes sound dulled. This is also measurable with square waves, where high-frequency attenuation of ultrasonic and audio band frequencies causes distortion known as overshoot and ringing of the square wave.

Part of the reason that TARA Labs interconnects offer the listener more high-frequency extension than any other cables in the world, has to do with our extremely low capacitance (measured in pico-Farads or pF). This remarkable level of achievement has been accomplished through our thirty years of experience in technology & design. Even though this technology exists in all our interconnects, our flagship cables; The Grand Master Evolution interconnects offers a clear example of just how far we have taken this technology. While virtually all of the cable manufacturers in the world claim pF in the double digits, TARA Labs Grand Master Evolution interconnects has a remarkable pF of 2.0. This translates to, as Stereophile’s top reviewer Michael Fremer wrote regarding his review of the Evolution cables, “Limitless high-frequency extension.”

For a more detailed description of the importance of this technology, this can be explained as; For every doubling of the capacitance, the high-frequency bandwidth is reduced by a full octave, thereby high-end audio interconnects in the marketplace manufactured by the most well-known and respected audio cable manufacturers, such as Nordost, Cardas, Stealth, Crystal, Transparent, MIT, Kimber, etc, have capacitance numbers that are typically in the low double digits or slightly lower than 10 pF in their extreme top of the line audio cables. Which again in layman’s terms means; more capacitance equals more high-frequency roll-off and distortion. So for example, if you take 4 pF, double it to 8, double it again to 16 and then double this again to 32, this translates to doubling the capacitance 3 times, which means that each doubling is an octave lost of high frequency. In this example, 3 full octaves of music have been lost or filtered away.

In this particular case, three full octaves of high-frequency extension are lost due to the increased capacitance. More distortion, higher noise floor, loss of high-frequency extension, as well as the nuances that are lost when listening to music at this extreme level of audio technology. Please note the audible frequency spectrum ranges from 20Hz to 20 kHz then the ultrasonic spectrum from 20kHz – 100kHz and then the RF or radio frequency spectrum 100kHz – 300 GHz.

Due to the ultra-low capacitance of the Grand Master Evolution at 2pF, the listener is able to hear more of the music faithfully reproduced, more so than any other high-end reference audio cables in the world.

Below is a comparative list of how TARA labs interconnect audio cables compare in regards to capacitance levels measured in picofarads (pF) to some of the leading and most well-respected audio cable manufacturers in the world. Remember, more capacitance means more distortion.

Speaker Cable Capacitance & Inductance

Regarding capacitance in speaker cables: Signal voltage and current are much higher in speaker cables than interconnects, and therefor play a more significant role in speaker cables.

So capacitance is not really a predominate factor when evaluating speaker cables. Though TARA Labs does address the capacitance issue for our speaker cables by physically having separate “positive & negative” cable runs within each pair of speaker cables which greatly reduces cable capacitance. The most important factor is speaker cable inductance, in which TARA labs offers our “SP” speaker cable models.

*See SP info link:


NOTE: Cable Comparisons are classified by approx. Retail Price:

Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs Apollo Extreme 18 pF
Nordost Purple Flare 55 pF
Cardas Microtwin RCA 42.9 pF
Cardas Microtwin XLR 26.5 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs Caprice 16 pF
Nordost Purple Flare 55 pF
Purist Vesta 32 pF
Kimber Hero 23.7 pF
Cardas Microtwin RCA 42.9 pF
Cardas Microtwin XLR 26.5 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs RSC Prime M1 12 pF
Nordost Red Dawn 60 pF
Purist Musaeus 30 pF
Kimber Silver Streak 16.1 pF
Cardas Neutral Reference RCA 19 pF
Cardas Cross RCA 26.4 pF
Cardas Cross XLR 16 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs RSC Air Forte 10 pF
Nordost Heimdall 2 25 pF
Purist Poseidon 36 pF
Purist Aqueous Aureus 25 pF
Cardas Clear Light RCA 58 pF
Cardas Clear Light XLR 35 pF
Shunyata Zitron Cobra 28 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs RSC Air Evolution 8 pF
Nordost Frey 2 28 pF
Purist Venustas 40 pF
Purist Neptune 30 pF
Purist Corvus 28 pF
Cardas Clear RCA 16 pF
Shunyata Zitron Python 28 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs The 2 10 pF
Nordost Tyr 2 33 pF
Shunyata Zitron Anaconda-S 28 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs The One 8 pF
Stealth Metacarbon RCA 135 – 180 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs The 0.8 6 pF
Purist Dominus 39 pF
Stealth Metacarbon XLR 135 – 180 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs Zero Gold Gen2 4 pF
Nordost Valhalla 2 17 pF
Purist 25th Anniversary 20 pF
Stealth Indra V10 XLR 115 – 165 pF
Transparent Audio Reference XL 21 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs Zero Evolution 2.5 pF
Nordost Odin 19 pF
Transparent Audio Opus 21 pF
Cable Name Capacitance
TARA Labs Grand Master Evolution 2 pF
Nordost Odin 2 8 pF