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I am currently looking for a USB cable that will fit my system, so I'm not looking for "THE BEST" cable, but the one that will work the best according to my ears.

I'd like to discourage those who do not hear differences in USB cables (or all cables) to post on this thread. I understand and respect your opinions and findings, but we'll have to agree to disagree. As human beings we all have different physical abilities. Some can run long stretches, some are fast swimmers, some are lift heavy weights... you get my point. This also applies to the physical part of listening, too. It's also true that we don't have the same experience (and/or training) in processing the information that our brain receives and, of course, this also applies to listening. So please, PLEASE, let's not let this thread become a discussion about placebo effects vs. hearing and listening disabilities, ok?

A few words about myself (for what it's worth): I have studied classical composition at a University level, have worked as a production consultant on a few albums and work with arrangements for voices, brass and orchestra now and then.

20121119_183021.jpg

The cables I had the chance to compare were: Resolution Audio Cantata stock USB Cable, AudioQuest Coffee, Wireworld Silver Starlight, Locus Desing Axis and Synergistic Research Basik Active. This is also the sequence in which I listened to them. I will sum up my findings. For those who want are more in-depth description please refer here to my original post in a Brazilian hifi-forum (for those who understand Portuguese or are willing to use Google Translate).

 

The AQ Coffee definitely didn't do it for me, though it was a very noticeable improvement compared to the stock cable. The name is very fitting: in my system it was very energetic, detailed and fast cable. The major problem was with the HF which was slightly veiled and had severe decay issues (almost no decay whatsoever). Timbres also suffered compared to the other cables. The result was a cable that was very detailed, but that didn't create a cohesive sound stage, resulting in a dissected sound. Therefore I had hyper-layering and very good placement on sound stage, but the music didn't mesh.

 

The WW Silver Starlight had all the detail of the Coffee, but with far better decay in the HFs. Timbres were better and LFs were stellar. Sound stage was larger, but had less depth than the Coffee. It bettered the Coffee in all regards except for depth and sounded far more natural.

 

The LD Axis had great LF, but not as good as the Silver Starlight. It had spectacular decay in the HFs, which gave the whole cable a very refined sound. Sound stage was large and spacious. In my system the Axis had good micro-dynamics. The mids, OTOH, were slightly veiled. Higher mids and treble had very good plasticity (for the lack of a better word). Treble is simply SOTA. It's a shame that the mids weren't on par with the HF.

 

The SR Basik Active's first impression was simply holographic. Sound was very, very 3D. Had similar depth of Coffee, but now I had a continuous and coherent sound stage. LFs were better than Axis, but not as detailed as the Silver Starlight. Excellent timbre all around. Treble decay was very good, but not in the same league as the Axis. Fantastic mids. Clear and clean, very musical and with loads of detail. Probably as fast as the Coffee, but without the negatives. The best tonal balance and, by far, the best mids of the group.

 

The best cost/benefit cable of the group was, without doubt, the WW Silver Starlight. The SR Basik Active was my favorite, but I'm very interested in getting to know the Platinum, based on what it's smaller sibling did for my system. The fact that I needed an extra outlet for the Basik doesn't make it very appealing to me.

I hope these comments might help point others into the right direction.

Best regards

André


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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I really really like Kimber Cable's USB Cu cable. All silver is a bit too bright for me, and all copper usually sounds a bit dull. The Cu has 6% silver, oversized conductors, and a decent insulation sheath on it. Sounds really great. Fast, accurate, no extended decay, no truncated decay either.

 

Cheap too. ;)

 

Your taste may vary of course, but this really really works well with my system.

 

-Paul


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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If your DAC doesn't need to see +5V from the USB port, try fitting a small piece of insulation in the USB socket to prevent pin 1 from sending out +5V to the DAC.

Alex


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

 

PROFILE UPDATED 26-12-2019

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thanks, Paul

Might be worth trying out. Would be great if it worked better than the others, since the price is right. ;)


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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Hi Alex,

thanks for the idea. though my DAC doesn't need the USB current, it does need it in order to do the handshaking. I tried a Revelation

Audio Single Wire and it didn't work because of that.

best regards

André


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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Mapleshade Audio Clearlink USB (Plus version) - at less than half the price of the Coffee, which I had in my system for months, it was clearly superior. Has some advantages due to not binding power and signal wires close together.


One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> wi-fi to router -> EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> USPCB -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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While I solidly belive in the different sound from different cables my computer based system is too basic for me to hear any difference as I am used to hearing in my serious audio system. That said, I wonder if anyone has any experience with the Pangea line of cables? I find the power products to work at least as well as power calbes costing many times more. I can attest to the build quality of every of their product I have seen...

 

How do their USB cables sound in comparison to the high priced brands??


I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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Did you remove the ferrite cores from the sheath? This is the same cable I've been using (1m), but I've removed the cores. Interestingly, the Ag version doesn't have the RF filters.

 

I really really like
Kimber Cable's USB Cu cable. All silver is a bit too bright for me, and all copper usually sounds a bit dull. The Cu has 6% silver, oversized conductors, and a decent insulation sheath on it. Sounds really great. Fast, accurate, no extended decay, no truncated decay either.

A Digital Audio Converter connected to my Home Computer taking me into the Future

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I really really like Kimber Cable's USB Cu cable. All silver is a bit too bright for me, and all copper usually sounds a bit dull. The Cu has 6% silver, oversized conductors, and a decent insulation sheath on it. Sounds really great. Fast, accurate, no extended decay, no truncated decay either.

 

Cheap too. ;)

 

Your taste may vary of course, but this really really works well with my system.

 

-Paul

 

I was under the impression that silver plated was brighter than solid copper or solid silver. Something to do with the better conductivity of silver over copper and having the signal arriving at two different "times" with the plated. I'm not sure if this applies to USB cables but I've heard solid silver Tempo Electric analog cables that were anything but bright.

I also read on the Audioquest website that a USB signal tends to travel on the surface of the cable which is why their more expensive models have a higher percentage of silver plating.

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Honestly? I don't know- I can make a case for what you say. But pure silver USB cables (here at least) sound brighter and harsher than silver plated cables. I would conjecture that the copper/silver interface provides an environment that mitigates what I call bright, but it is only a conjecture. No proof other than my ears. ;)

 

Copper cables can sound very bright too, but most of the ones I listened too sounded a bit dull.

 

-Paul

 

 

I was under the impression that silver plated was brighter than solid copper or solid silver. Something to do with the better conductivity of silver over copper and having the signal arriving at two different "times" with the plated. I'm not sure if this applies to USB cables but I've heard solid silver Tempo Electric analog cables that were anything but bright.

I also read on the Audioquest website that a USB signal tends to travel on the surface of the cable which is why their more expensive models have a higher percentage of silver plating.


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Honestly? I don't know- I can make a case for what you say. But pure silver USB cables (here at least) sound brighter and harsher than silver plated cables. I would conjecture that the copper/silver interface provides an environment that mitigates what I call bright, but it is only a conjecture. No proof other than my ears. ;)

 

Copper cables can sound very bright too, but most of the ones I listened too sounded a bit dull.

 

-Paul

 

None of the pure silver USB cables I have used have sounded"bright", whatever that means. Are you referring to very high frequencies or is it lower high frequencies that sound that way with silver for you?


David

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Mapleshade Audio Clearlink USB (Plus version) - at less than half the price of the Coffee, which I had in my system for months, it was clearly superior. Has some advantages due to not binding power and signal wires close together.

Hi Jud,

Thanks for the hint. I'll try to contact them tomorrow and talk to them.

 

While I solidly belive in the different sound from different cables my computer based system is too basic for me to hear any difference as I am used to hearing in my serious audio system. That said, I wonder if anyone has any experience with the Pangea line of cables? I find the power products to work at least as well as power calbes costing many times more. I can attest to the build quality of every of their product I have seen...

 

How do their USB cables sound in comparison to the high priced brands??

Hi James,

I didn't see any USB cables from Pangea on their site. Where did you hear about them?

Best regards

André


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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I really really like Kimber Cable's USB Cu cable. All silver is a bit too bright for me, and all copper usually sounds a bit dull. The Cu has 6% silver, oversized conductors, and a decent insulation sheath on it. Sounds really great. Fast, accurate, no extended decay, no truncated decay either.

 

Cheap too. ;)

 

Your taste may vary of course, but this really really works well with my system.

 

-Paul

 

Hi Paul,

Maybe I'll just try to get one on loan from thecableco. It definitely would be fantastic if they could even compete in the same league due to their price.

Best regards

André


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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Through Maggies, strings take on an artificial hardness that is unpleasant. You know how a violin can sound a bit edgy sometimes? The pure silver cables I tried all made violins sound edgy like that all the time, even over headphones. On the PSBs and Grados, the same thing happens but it also does something that makes all the treble sound a little artificial to me. I call that "bright" but that is probably the wrong term. It could perhaps be described as if the treble was recorded separately and overlayed, not part of the original performance.

 

That was true with Kimber, AudioQuest Diamond, Pangea, a Voodoo cable, and a few others. In the AudioQuest line, for example, I greatly prefer the Carbon over the Diamond. Cymbals shimmer but don't overwhelm the rest of the music, unless of course, they are supposed to.

 

Probably just personal preference. I didn't realize that most people heard those cables all the different until just now though.

 

-Paul

 

 

None of the pure silver USB cables I have used have sounded"bright", whatever that means. Are you referring to very high frequencies or is it lower high frequencies that sound that way with silver for you?

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Wouldn't sibilance be more like over-emphasized "ess" sounds? Or ess sounds overlaying a glottal stop in some words? If so, that isn't exactly what I am hearing, though actually, I thought it was at first.

 

More like if you took the ess sound and separated it by a few inches from the rest of the music. Instead of precise localization of an instrument like a violin - it sounds (in a very small way, not grossly exaggerated!) like there are are two violins. Or the shimmer in a cymbal crash is six inches away from where the cymbal sounded.

 

It's weird, and difficult to describe.

 

-Paul

 

 

-Paul

 

 

The term you might be associating with what you're experiencing is sibilance.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I like the DH Labs Silver Sonic USB cable. Well made, sounds good, reasonable price.


13.3" MacBook Air, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD; iTunes/Bit Perfect; MacBook Air SuperDrive; Western Digital My Book Essential 2TB USB HD; Schiit Bifrost USB DAC; Emotiva USP-1, ERC-1 and two UPA-1s; Pro-Ject Xpression III and AT440MLa; AKAI AT-2600 and Harman Kardon TD4400; Grado SR80i; Magnepan MMG Magnestands; and, Rythmik Audio F12

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If it's different than sibilance, one might make the case that it's distortion of some sort and obviously in a narrow range of the freq spectrum. It would be hard to attribute that to a change in USB cables as such a change would suggest manipulation of the actual bit structure.

 

The only other cause I can think of is input signal mismatch where the reference voltage of the waveform is greater than the waveform standard OR a poor ground. Either case is not likely but admittedly........possible.......but so are aliens and flying elephants so...

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I think the idea with silver plated wires is that due to skin effects conduction primarily occurs along the boundary with if plated in Ag gets you closer to silver performance at near copper pricing.

 

Nate Mansfield from Kimber suggested removing the ferrite RF filters from the USB cable if you don't have RF issues.


A Digital Audio Converter connected to my Home Computer taking me into the Future

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Whenever you eliminate the impossible- whatever is left, no matter how improbable....

 

The sound changes with different USB cables. Go figger- because I sure cannot. By the way, the cables *all* test perfectly well electrically, and all work perfectly well as data cables. But as audio cables....

 

On the other paw, probably should get someone with better ears to describe the effect. Other folks clearly hear a difference in my system when I change out USB cables. What exactly they hear, well, that now, I do not know.

 

-Paul

 

 

If it's different than sibilance, one might make the case that it's distortion of some sort and obviously in a narrow range of the freq spectrum. It would be hard to attribute that to a change in USB cables as such a change would suggest manipulation of the actual bit structure.

 

The only other cause I can think of is input signal mismatch where the reference voltage of the waveform is greater than the waveform standard OR a poor ground. Either case is not likely but admittedly........possible.......but so are aliens and flying elephants so...


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Check out the soon to be released iFi Audio Gemini cable. I can be used as a straight USB cable or with the twin heads with the iUSB power. It apparently exceeds USB standards in some areas.

 

More here:iFi Gemini Dual Headed USB Cable | Facebook

 

Excerpts:

 

Many USB DAC's or other USB Audio devices draw power from the USB bus for some functions (regardless of price).

 

This is the raison d'être for our iUSB Power supply. The USB cable complements and extends this and maximises system performance.

 

If you are 100% sure that your DAC does not use USB Bus power at all than you are lucky enough not to need any of this and you can use a normal cable.

 

Or you can use our Gemini Cable and just not connect the power section at all, or connect it and enjoy even lower ground resistance.

==========================

 

The Gemini Dual-Headed USB cable will ship in short/long lengths. The pricing will be in-line with the rest of the iFi range. Our beta testers have pitched the Gemini Dual-Headed cable against cables all the way up to 10x the price. Let's just say the Big Guns went home crying 'mummy'. Another iFi product with 'off the chart' performance!

=================================

 

iFi Audio's Notes

iFi Gemini Dual Headed USB Cable

Sunday

 

 

 

Features

Dual-headed (Gemini) connection USB design

Asymmetric Ground return and power line design (3 times more ground area)*

Adjustable RF Filter to tune cable to environment*

Multiple RF filters*

Heavy OFHC continues cast copper (up to 5A)

Double shields with different effective range

Custom PE insulation

*: iFi exclusive, world first.

=====================

 

 

Q: People like Steve Nugent say that 1.5m is the ideal length. O.5m is too short, so I pick 1 and 1.5m!

Monday at 9:11pm · Like

 

A: (iFi Audio) ‘Ideal’ length/s is NOT relevant for USB signal transfer... this comes from SPDIF and is only valid in cases where impedance mismatches occur. For High-Speed USB it simply either works or it does not. The Gemini USB-Cable strictly adheres to 90 ohm throughout which is one key USB.org specification (among many other things). Therefore, you only have to select the relevant length/s to suit your needs!

===========

 

The reason why some "handmade" USB Cables do not work with the iUSB is simple, they are not of sufficiently accurate impedance.

With a single short cable this is less damaging and the makers of such contraptions often can almost get away with murder.

 

However, as with the iUSB Power you in effect couple two cables together. In this case, if one cable has correct USB Impedance (e.g. the short blue tail included with the device) and the other has a different impedance additional reflections (on top of those at both ends of the cable) will be generated.

 

And even a robust system data transmission system like USB will eventually experience packet loss...

Sadly, the more expensive and exotic a cable is the less likely it is to be mass produced on machinery made for precisely mass producing USB spec cables.

 

It's not that we do not know how to make better USB cables, the problem is modifying standard cables for improved performance in ways that are compatible with industrial production methods and then finding someone to make such cables in moderate quantities.

=====================

 

Hi, sonic differences are indistinguishable between the shortest and longest. They all adhere to the strict USB data transfer standards (why we can offer longer lengths). Please see the 'iFi Gemini Notes' for an in-depth outline of how+why the Gemini USB cable differs.

=============

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Hi Jud,

Thanks for the hint. I'll try to contact them tomorrow and talk to them.

 

 

Hi James,

I didn't see any USB cables from Pangea on their site. Where did you hear about them?

Best regards

André

 

Audio advisor sells them..

 

Pangea Audio - USB cable - PCOCC & 4% silver-Audio Advisor


I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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In my system I have had an AQ Forest, Nordost Blue Heaven, and custom USB cable. Overall I preferred the Nordost. It seemed to be the most clear allowing me to hear detail that I did not in the others.

 

Mind you the level of detail difference was very small, and the Nordost was more expensive (double the custom) than the other cables. The best bang for the buck was the custom cable at half the cost of the Nordost and very close to the same level.

 

If I had to do it again, I would still go for the Nordost simply because it was the best and even at $249 still in the range of the components I was using.


Audirvana Plus on 27" iMac --> Moon Audio Blue Dragon USB --> Oppo HA-1 w/ Cullen Cables Crossover Series power cable--> Beyerdynamic T1 with Moon Audio Black Dragon balanced cable

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I'd love to do some sine wave sweeps, each with a different USB cable and see if there's a measured difference in FR. Some HD sweeps would be nice too. I'd be looking for a reduction/change in the 3rd and 5th harmonic. Waiting for my laptop to come back from service, maybe i'll give it a go if some members want to send sample cables my way. My friends vocal room is pretty close to anechoic so gating can go low, maybe enough to see a relevent part of the lower octaves.

 

Last time if did some testing and posted the results on another forum, the ensuing shitstorm was enough to convince me to not repeat it.......but this USB cable thing has me baffled.

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Mayhem13

Perhaps THD + Noise may be more appropriate ?

Regards

Alex


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

 

PROFILE UPDATED 26-12-2019

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