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USB and Other Digital Cables Roundup as of July 2020


Phil C

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Introduction

Sources for this cable roundup are mainly "Recommended Components" lists, "Editors' Choices" lists, and audio component reviews that mention the digital cable included in the reviewer’s stereo system.  If a cable appears frequently and over several years in these sources, my theory is that it may very well be a superior cable and worthy of consideration.  I hope that my fellow audiophiles and music aficionados will find this roundup helpful, for instance, when researching and shopping for a cable.  Speaker cables and analog interconnects are not included in this roundup.  

 

The cables are divided into two lists:  1) USB Cables, and 2) Other Digital Cables.  You can find prices following each list. 

 

USB Cables

 

2020

Audioquest Coffee USB cable was in Kalman Rubinson's audio system for a JL Audio Fathom subwoofer review in Stereophile, August 2020, Vol. 43, No. 8.

 

Nordost Odin 2 and Valhalla 2 USB cables were listed as associated equipment in Jason Victor Serinus's Gold Note DS-10 DAC review in Stereophile, August 2020, Vol. 43, No. 8.

 

2019

Audioquest Coffee USB cable were used by Sasha Matson in a Wilson Audio Sasha DAW speaker review and by Kalman Rubinson in a Benchmark LA4 preamplifier review in Stereophile, January 2020, Vol. 43, No. 1.

 

Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable was used by Herb Reichert in an Elac Carina BS243.4 speaker review in Stereophile, January 2020, Vol. 43, No. 1.

 

Nordost Odin 1, Odin 2, and Valhalla 2 USB cables used by Jason Serinus in his Gryphon Ethos CD player & D/A processor review in Stereophile, January 2020, Vol. 43, No. 1.

 

Black Cat Digit-USB cable was reviewed by Tom Lyle, Enjoy-The-Music online, March 2019 and by Dave Clark, positive-feedback.com, Issue 103, April 22, 2019.

 

Recommended USB cables listed in The Absolute Sound High-End Buyer's Guide 2020: 

Belkin Gold Series

Audioquest Forest

Audioquest Carbon

Audioquest Diamond

Straightwire USB-Link

Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7

Clarus Cable Crimson

Nordost Heimdall 2

Shunyata Research Sigma (TAS editor Robert Harley's reference)

Audience Frontrow

Synergistic Research Galileo SX.  

 

Kubala-Sosna Sensation USB cable was reviewed by Maurice Jeffries in positive-feedback.com, Issue 105, September 1,2019. 

 

Mytek USB cable was used by Ken Micallef in a Trenner & Friedl Osiris speaker review in Stereophile, November 2019, Vol. 42, No. 11.

 

2018

Skogrand Beethoven USB cable was reviewed by Dave Clark, positive-feedback.com, June 14, 2018. 

 

Audience AU24sx USB cable was reviewed by Ayles Astor, positive-feedback.com, Issue 98, June 25, 2018. 

 

Nordost Purple Flare USB review by Jeff Dorgay, Tone Audio website, October 2018.  

 

2017

Curious USB cable and Anticables USB cable was reviewed by Dave Clark, positive-feedback.com, Issue 90, February 20, 2017.

 

Kimber Kable Axios USB cable was reviewed by Robert Levi, positive-feedback.com, Issue 92, July 17, 2017. 

 

2016

Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable used by Chris Connaker, editor Audiophilestyle.com, in his MQA review dated February 5, 2016.

 

Audioquest Coffee, Nordost Blue Heaven, and Nordost Heimdall 2 USB cables were used by Kirk Midtskog in a Hegel H360 amp review in The Absolute Sound, Feb. 2016, Issue 260.

 

2015

Curious USB cable was reviewed by John Darko Audio online, 2015. He called it a knockout cable from Australia.

 

Audioquest Diamond and Cardas Clear USB cables were used by Jon Iverson is his review of the Apogee Electronics Groove DAC/headphone amp in Stereophile, January 2016, Vol. 39, No.1.

 

Audience Au24 SE USB cable was reviewed by editor Robert Harley at theasolutesound.com in the Guide to Cables, Power Products, Accessories, & Music 2015 (free download). He concluded, "priced at the very top end of the scale, but if you want a no-compromise USB cable, look no further."

 

Oyaide d+ Class A USB 2.0 cable was reviewed and highly recommended by Karl Schuster at theasolutesound.com in the Guide to Cables, Power Products, Accessories, & Music 2015 (free download).

 

Kubala-Sosna Research Realization USB cable received a positivefeedback.com 2015 Brutus Award by editor David Robinson. He said it "is absolutely the best USB cable that I've heard to date. You can quote me on that…and you can take it to the bank."

 

JPlay JCat Reference USB cable was reviewed by Paul Candy, positive-feedback.com, Issue 79, May 24, 2015.  

 

Audioquest Diamond, Wire World Platinum Starlight 7, and Nordost Purple Flare USB cables were used by John Connaker in his review of the Schitt Audio Yggdrasil DAC in ComputerAudiophile.com on November 3, 2015.

 

Kubala-Sosna Research Realization USB cable was reviewed by Steven Plaskin at Audiostream.com on October 22, 2015. He compared it to the Audioquest Diamond, Light Harmonic LightSpeed 10G USB, and Synergistic Research Galileo LE USB Cables. He said that it "receives my strongest accolades as the most satisfying USB cable I have had the pleasure to audition."

 

The Shunyata Vemon and Audioquest Carbon USB cables were recommended as good matches with the Benchmark DAC2 HGC digital/analog converter by Steven Plaskin in the comments section of his review of the Kubala-Sosna Research Realization USB cable (see above).

 

DanaCable USB cable was reviewed by Wayne Donnelly at EnjoyTheMusic.com in the September 2015 edition.

 

Clarus Crimson USB and Kimber Kable KS2436 USB cables were reviewed by Neil Gader on August 26, 2015 in a The Absolute Sound online review. He gave the Clarus Crimson USB a Golden Ear Award 2015.

 

Stereophile online 2015 Recommended Components (queried May 15, 2015):

 

AudioQuest Forest iPod–USB cable

Transparent Audio Performance USB cable

 

Shunyata Research Venom USB cable. Reviewed positively by Steven Plaskin, Audiostream.com, April 30, 2015. In the review, he mentioned the Belkin Pro Series USB cable negatively and called the Audioquest Diamond USB cable one of his favorites.

 

2014

DH Labs Silver Sonic USB, Cardas Clear USB, and Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7.0 USB cables were reviewed online by Jonathan Lo, EnjoyTheMusic.com, mid-December 2014. The Belkin Gold Series USB cable is also mentioned in comparison.

 

Nordost Blue Heaven USB cable. Listed as associated equipment by Art Dudley, Stereophile, July 2014.

 

Audioquest Diamond USB cable, Stealth Varidig Sextet USB cable, and the Synergistic Research USB Active SE cable were compared online by Andy Schaub, positive-feedback.com, Issue 72, March/April 2014.

 

The Absolute Sound (TAS) 2014 High-End Audio Buyer’s Guide, Issue 237 recommendations:

 

Audioquest Carbon

Audioquest Diamond

Audioquest Forest

Belkin Gold Series

Straightwire USB-Link

Wireworld Platinum Starlight

Wireworld Silver Starlight

 

The Absolute Sound 2013 Editors’ Choice Awards, Issue 241, March 2014 recommendations:

 

Audioquest Carbon

Audioquest Diamond

Belkin Gold Series

Wireworld Platinum Starlight

Wireworld Silver Starlight

 

Audioquest Coffee and Belkin Gold USB cables were used by Stereophile editor John Atkinson as associated equipment in a  DAC review. Source: Stereophile, March 2014, Vol. 37, No. 3.

 

Audioquest Diamond and Cardas Clear USB cables were used by Jon Iverson as associated equipment in a DAC review. Source: Stereophile, March 2014, Vol. 37, No. 3.

 

Light Harmonic LightSpeed USB cable was used in a Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC review in Audiostream online by Michael Lavorgna on February 24, 2014.

 

Cardas Clear and DH Labs Silver Sonic USB cables were used by Erick Lichte as associated equipment in a DAC review. Source: Stereophile, February 2014, Vol. 37, No. 2.

 

Audioquest Diamond and Wireworld Sliver Starlight USB cables were used by Chris Connaker as associated equipment in recent reviews on 1/29/2014.

 

Light Harmonic LightSpeed and Synergistic Research USB Active SE cables were deemed the best sounding match with the Bricasti Design M1 DAC under review by Steven Plaskin in Audiostream online on January 20, 2014.

 

2013

Stereophile online 2013 Recommended Components:

 

Audioquest Forest

Transparent Audio Performance

 

Pranawire Photon USB cable won a Positive Feedback 2013 Brutus Award from editor David Robinson. He stated this is his new reference standard.

 

Purist Audio Design Ultimate, Wywires Litespd, and Light Harmonic Lightspeed USB cables won Positive Feedback 2013 Brutus Awards from editor Dave Clark.

 

Audioquest Diamond and Synergistic Research USB Active SE cables were deemed the best sounding match with the Benchmark DAC2 HGC under review by Steven Plaskin in Audiostream.com, December 4, 2013.

 

USB cables that Plaskin uses in his own high end system are: Audioquest Diamond and Light Harmonic LightSpeed.

 

In Audiostream.com, there is a review of three cables titled, “USB Cable Shootout” by Steven Plaskin, April 22, 2013, for the Audioquest Diamond, Synergistic Research USB Active SE cable with Enigma Tuning Circuits, and Wireworld Platinum Starlight.

 

2012

Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB cable won a TAS 2012 Golden Ear Award from Alan Taffel in the Sept. 2012 issue.

Audioquest Diamond USB cable review in TAS March 2012 by editor Robert Harley. This is his reference cable.

 

DH Labs Silver Sonic USB cable was reviewed favorably by Tom Gibbs in Positive Feedback, Issue 59, Jan/Feb 2012 edition.

 

DH Labs Silver Sonic USB cable won a Goodsound/SoundStage! 2012 Great Buy Award. Reviewed by Hans Wetzel, January 1, 2012.

 

USB Cables Price List

Anticables (1m $240)

Audience Au24 SE USB cable (length not specified; $895 single connector; $995 double connector)

Audience Frontrow ($1300)

Audioquest Carbon (0.75m $150; 1.5m $200)

Audioquest Coffee (0.75m $279; 1.5m $349)

Audioquest Cinnamon (0.75m $80; 1.75m $100)

Audioquest Diamond (0.75m $600; 1.5m $760)

Audioquest Forest (0.75m $35; 1.5m $50)

Audioquest Forest iPod–USB cable (1.5m $39)

Belkin Gold Series (1m $15)

Belkin Pro Series (6ft $8.25)

Black Cat Digit-USB (1m $749)

Cardas Clear (1m $168)

Clarus Crimson (1m $250; 2m $350)

Curious (1m, $399)

DanaCable (2m $895)

DH Labs Silver Sonic (1m $70; 1.5m $80)

JPlay JCat Reference (1m $499)

Kubala-Sosna Research Realization (1m $3500)

Kubala-Sosna Sensation (1m $2200)

Kimber Kable Axios (1m $900)

Kimber Kable KS2436 (1m/$1195)

Light Harmonic Lightspeed (1.6m $1399)

Mytek ($100)

Nordost Blue Heaven (1m $249; 3m $699)

Nordost Heimdall 2 ($1m $499)

Nordost Purple Flare (1m $200)

Nordost Valhalla 2 (1m $3500)

Oyaide d+ Class A USB 2.0 (1m $50; 2m $70; 3m $90)

Pranawire Photon (0.6m $995; 1.2m $1295)

Purist Audio Design Ultimate (1m $995)

Shunyata Research Sigma ($995)

Shunyata Research Venom (.75m $125; 1.5m $195)

Skogrand Beethoven (1.5m $14,000)

Stealth Varidig Sextet (1m $3,000)

Straightwire USB-Link (1m, $50; 1.5m, $60)

Synergistic Research Galileo SX (1m $2995)  

Synergistic Research USB Active SEe w/ Enigma Tuning Circuits (1m $595)

Transparent Audio Performance (1m $95)

Wireworld Platinum Starlight (1m $599)

Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 (1m $700)

Wireworld Silver Starlight (1m $275)

Wywires Litespd (1.5m $799)

 

Other Digital Cables 

 

2019

Straightwire Info-Link AES/EBU and coaxial digital cables recommended in The Absolute Sound High-End Buyer's Guide 2020.    

 

Audioquest Diamond AES/EBU digital cable was used by Sasha Matson in a Wilson Audio Sasha DAW speaker review in Stereophile, January 2020, Vol. 43, No. 1.

 

Esperanto Audio S/PDIF coaxial cable and a DH Labs AES/EBU cable were used by John Atkinson in a NAD M10 integrated amplifier review in Stereophile, January 2020, Vol. 43, No. 1.

 

Kimber Kable D60 Data Flex Studio coaxial cable was used by Herb Reichert in an Elac Carina BS243.4 speakers review in Stereophile, January 2020, Vol. 43, No. 1.

 

Kimber Kable AGDL coaxial cable was used by Tom Norton in a Monitor Audio Gold 300 speaker review in Stereophile, November 2019, Vol. 42, No. 11.

 

2017

Esperanto Audio Black S/PDIF coaxial cable was reviewed by Michael Zisserson at Positive Feedback website, Issue 91, May 5, 2017.

 

2016

Audioquest Hawkeye 75 Ohm and Shunyata Anaconda Ztron S/PDIF digital cables were used by Kirk Midtskog in a Hegel H360 amp review in The Absolute Sound, Feb. 2016, Issue 260.

 

2015

Empirical Design ED-120 Coaxial 75 Ohm Digital cable is part of reviewer's Karl Schuster's stereo system as noted in his review of the Oyaide d+ Class A USB 2.0 cable at theasolutesound.com in the downloadable Guide to Cables, Power Products, Accessories, & Music 2015.

 

Stereophile online 2015 Recommended Components (queried 5/15/2015):

 

Canare DigiFlex Gold model RCAPOO3F digital cable (75 ohm)

DH Labs Silver Sonic D-110 AES/EBU digital cable

Kimber Orchid AES/EBU digital cable

Kubala-Sosna Expression digital cable (75 Ohm)

 

2014

Black Cat Veloce 75 Ohm digital cable was listed as associated equipment by Kalman Rubinson, Stereophile, July 2014. (Also, reviewed in 6moons.com, July 2010, by Srajan Ebaen.)

 

DH Labs Silver Sonic D-110 AES/EBU digital cable was used by Stereophile editor John Atkinson as associated equipment in a DAC review. Source: Stereophile March 2014, Vol. 37, No. 3.

 

DH Labs Silver Sonic D-110 AES/EBU digital cable and Stereovox HDVX coaxial cable were used by Erick Lichte as associated equipment in a Benchmark DAC2 HGC review. Source: Stereophile, February 2014, Vol. 37, No. 2.

 

Straightwire Info-Link AES/EBU and Coaxial Digital Cable in The Absolute Sound 2014 High-End Audio Buyer’s Guide (other digital cables) Source: Issue 237.

 

Transparent XL Reference Digital Link cable (75 Ohm; 110 Ohm) in TAS Editor's Choice Awards 2014. Reviewed by Jacob Heilbrunn in TAS January 2014, Issue 239.

 

2013

Stereophile online 2013 Recommended Components:

 

Analysis Plus Digital Oval

Canare DigiFlex Gold model RCAPOO3F 75 ohm

DH Labs Silver Sonic D-110 AES/EBU

Kimber Orchid AES/EBU

Kubala-Sosna Expression

 

2012

Ocellia Reference Cables digital cable won a 6Moons.com Blue Moon Award in September 2012.

 

2011 and Prior

Stereovox XV2 75 Ohm Digital cable was reviewed by Rick Becker at EnjoyTheMusic.com in July 2006.

 

Stereovox HDVX Coaxial Digital cable was reviewed favorably in Enjoy the Music.com in January 2004 by Todd Warnke. This site has several other cable reviews.

 

Rick Becker, EnjoytheMusic.com, July 2010, reviewed three digital cables: Harmonic Technology Photon S/PDIF, Audio Sensibility Statement S/PDIF, and Teo Audio Liquid.

 

Kimber D-60 digital cable (75 ohm). Audio Advisor states that this was a Stereophile recommended cable in 1996.

 

Other Digital Cables Price List

Analysis Plus Digital Oval 75 Ohm (1m $190)

Audio Sensibility Statement S/PDIF (1.0/1.5m $199)

Audioquest Diamond AES/EBU (1m $1200)

Audioquest Hawkeye S/PDIF 75 Ohm (2m $200)

Black Cat Veloce 75 Ohm (1.23m $123)

Canare DigiFlex Gold model RCAPOO3F 75 Ohm (3ft $19)

DH Labs Silver Sonic D-110 AES/EBU (1m $99)

Empirical Design ED-120 coaxial 75 Ohm (3ft $96; 5ft $110; 8ft $131)

Esperanto Audio S/PDIF coaxial (price unknown)

Esperanto Audio Black S/PDIF coaxial ($1000) 

Harmonic Technology Photon S/PDIF (length unknown $1900)

Kimber AGDL coaxial (1m $600)

Kimber D-60 75 Ohm (.5m $228; 1m $390)

Kimber Orchid AES/EBU (1m $757)

Kubala-Sosna Expression (1m $775)

Nordost Odin 2 75 Ohm or 110 Ohm (1.25m $11,000)

Ocellia Reference Cables (1m $1027)

Shunyata Anaconda Ztron S/PDIF (1m $1250)

Stereovox HDVX coaxial (1m $100 in yr. 2004)

Stereovox XV2 75 Ohm (1m $150)

Straightwire Info-Link AES/EBU/coaxial (1m $300; 1.5m $400)

Teo Audio Liquid (1m $749)

Transparent XL Reference Digital Link (75 Ohm $3195; 110 Ohm $3595)

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