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USB cable comparisons


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Today I took the time to compare my ASI Liveline Power Cord to the Mapleshade Double Helix MK2 Power Cord with Plus Upgrade. After a lot of back and forth the main differences became rather clear:

  • the Liveline has a more spacious sound, with more depth
  • the Liveline has a much cleaner midrange which is easier to notice on good vocal recordings
  • the Liveline has has a more detailed upper midrange and lower HF
  • the Double Helix + has a more textured LF and timbres are better, especially the larger string instruments. therefore makes big orchestras sound better and more real

The differences weren't night-and-day, except for the midrange. This means that the Double Helix Plus is a very good power cord for a very good price, but it wasn't better than my Liveline, though it does cost 3 to 4 times it's price.

For the sake of experimentation I exchanged my Rega Power Cord on my Cantata for the Mapleshade and the results were very positive. I got the detailed and more textured and timbre-accurate LF without losing the midrange clarity and spaciousness. OTOH, although I always thought that the Rega was a giant killer (a colleague sold his 3 Valhalla Power Cords and inserted the Rega in their place preferring their perfomance to the prior) the MapleShade Double Helix Plus still costs 75% more.

The DH+ will probably go back to them.

Sorry for the off-topic.

Best regards

André

LDMS Minix Server>Lampizator TRP w/ VC>Gryphon Diablo>Heil Kithara

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', (Power); Douglas Cables 'Mirage' (XLR); Douglas Cables "GLIA" (speaker cables & jumper); FTA Callisto (USB)

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

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If we are talking power cords instead of USB cables, I like Elrod power cables. If you cannot afford the new ones look for used older models. They will make great bass smooth everything else out. One heck of a power cord.

AMR 777 DAC, Purist Ultimate USB, PC server 4gig SOTM USB, server 2012, Audiophil Optimizer,Joule Preamp LAP150 Platinum Vcaps Bybee, Spectron Monoblocks Bybee Vcaps, Eggleston Savoy speakers, 2 REL Stentor III subwoofers, Pranawire Cosmos speaker wire, Purist Dominus Praesto cabling, Purist Anniversary (Canorus)power cables and Elrod Statement Gold power cable, VPI Aries I SDS w/Grado The Statement LP, 11kVA power isolation, 16 sound panels and bass traps TAD,RPG,GIK and Realtraps

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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.

 

I would agree if you found there to be no objectively measured difference from my listening experience. I do confess to keeping my AQ Carbon as its well built and keeps any *thoughts* at bay.

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Today I took the time to compare my ASI Liveline Power Cord to the Mapleshade Double Helix MK2 Power Cord with Plus Upgrade. After a lot of back and forth the main differences became rather clear:

  • the Liveline has a more spacious sound, with more depth
  • the Liveline has a much cleaner midrange which is easier to notice on good vocal recordings
  • the Liveline has has a more detailed upper midrange and lower HF
  • the Double Helix + has a more textured LF and timbres are better, especially the larger string instruments. therefore makes big orchestras sound better and more real

The differences weren't night-and-day, except for the midrange. This means that the Double Helix Plus is a very good power cord for a very good price, but it wasn't better than my Liveline, though it does cost 3 to 4 times it's price.

For the sake of experimentation I exchanged my Rega Power Cord on my Cantata for the Mapleshade and the results were very positive. I got the detailed and more textured and timbre-accurate LF without losing the midrange clarity and spaciousness. OTOH, although I always thought that the Rega was a giant killer (a colleague sold his 3 Valhalla Power Cords and inserted the Rega in their place preferring their perfomance to the prior) the MapleShade Double Helix Plus still costs 75% more.

The DH+ will probably go back to them.

Sorry for the off-topic.

Best regards

André

 

I suppose I started the OT by mentioning several times that the Mapleshade power strip and power cord helped improve what I heard with the Clearlink, especially in the low end. And as always, André, good to read your excellent reporting, and looking forward to any impressions of USB cables or other equipment (in the appropriate threads, of course;) you may want to post in the future.

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 -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry to be a cynic here, but if a 2M length of power cable makes such a huge difference after many KM of plain vanilla copper transmission lines,

and distribution transformers , then it suggests that the power supply area of the amplifier or whatever,could do with a lot of further improvement.

Even care with separation between power leads and interconnects can make a world of difference, as can ensuring that all mains plugs and sockets

are properly maintained.

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 13-11-2020

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just ordered the USB Cable from Purist (the cheaper one). let's see if it's as good as a few friends have been telling me

will post first impressions and later on will probably compare to the Clearlink and the Axis, if it's still here

LDMS Minix Server>Lampizator TRP w/ VC>Gryphon Diablo>Heil Kithara

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', (Power); Douglas Cables 'Mirage' (XLR); Douglas Cables "GLIA" (speaker cables & jumper); FTA Callisto (USB)

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

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Sorry to be a cynic here, but if a 2M length of power cable makes such a huge difference after many KM of plain vanilla copper transmission lines,

and distribution transformers , then it suggests that the power supply area of the amplifier or whatever,could do with a lot of further improvement.

Even care with separation between power leads and interconnects can make a world of difference, as can ensuring that all mains plugs and sockets

are properly maintained.

Alex

 

Cynical? Rather realistic...!

 

Roch

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Sorry to be a cynic here, but if a 2M length of power cable makes such a huge difference after many KM of plain vanilla copper transmission lines,

and distribution transformers , then it suggests that the power supply area of the amplifier or whatever,could do with a lot of further improvement.

Even care with separation between power leads and interconnects can make a world of difference, as can ensuring that all mains plugs and sockets

are properly maintained.

Alex

 

Well the whole discussion of power cabling is off-topic in this thread, but I'll take the bait here anyway:

 

Based on decades of empirical listening and testing, I fully disagree. All my components have very well engineered power supplies, yet power cords do make a difference. So much so that not only did I build my room with walls wired with the same heavy gauge, shielded cable as my power cords (and a dedicated sub-panel, plus #0 wire to the main panel), but I paid PG&E a lot of money to have the 120-ft. of aluminum wire--from my main panel to our power-pole transformer (of which out here in the countryside we are the only users of)--replaced with copper wire. It made a very real difference.

The other side of the transformer is of course miles of very high voltage transmission, and those lines have always been--at least here in the USA for the last 45 years--aluminum.

 

BTW, for almost 3 decades I have found that the 2 legs of the 240V sound different. That is, here in the USA we have 3 wires coming to the house: 1 neutral, 1 120V, and an opposite 120V. Move a single circuit breaker one position up or down the panel and you put it on the other side of the line. To find the best sounding side, turn all the other panel breakers off, do the shift, then listen.

It is important to have amp, preamp, and DAC all on the same side of the line--whichever side sounds best. The best will not be the side the at first "wows" you and is exciting and upfront. The musically correct side is more subdued and less fatiguing. Tighten very firmly all the breaker panel screws that hold the wires. (Sometimes the 240V stoves, electric water heaters, clothes dryers, or air conditioning units will be wired to your panel with large gauge aluminum wire. Those wires need de-ox compound on them because aluminum oxide insulates, and also need to be very tight or they generate heat and vibration.) Once you know which leg of your supply you like, you can look at everything else that is on that side of the line (remember, breakers on the left and right sides of your panel are NOT opposite legs, they are interwoven so that each breaker vertically is the opposite phase from the one above or below--that is why those ganged handle double breakers work for 240V). At least try to get certain appliances, such as washing machine and refrigerator, to the opposite side of the line. My room has VARIACs (variable transformers) for control of my 120V halogen fixtures, but I advise others to put dimmable halogen lighting (and all rheostat type room light dimmers throughout the house) on the opposite side of the line from your stereo.

I wired my room to be able to switch over to 240V, and I'll probably reconfigure my power amp for that first (it is a hassle to get at the large primary jumper wires on the transformers in my amp). It may be a nice thing.

 

We now return to the USB cable discussion in progress.

Actually, I have been following this thread because I am looking for a great sounding USB cable under $300. My NOS BB1704 DAC with 24/192 async XMOS USB input does not use 5V USB power at all, so I would prefer a cable that offers 5V disconnection if possible. Right now I insert a thin strip of business card into the USB connector at the computer side to keep power off the line. That sounds better in an obvious way. So if I choose a USB cable that still has the power wire--as 98% of them do--I'll just use the same free trick.

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If it's not clear already in this thread all USB cables "sound" different. It depends if A) your system has the ability to reveal small-moderate audible changes and/or if B) you as a listener have the ability to hear small-moderate audible changes. Those that don't believe it either don't have the ability to hear it, or don't have a good enough system to resolve the difference. You can A/B/X it all day long and the difference is there in a good system.

 

I've tried 1/2 dozen USB cables and they all sound different (Belden gold, WireWorld Starlight, AQ Diamond, etc). The AQ Diamond is levels better than the rest, as it should for 10x the price.

4x20A circuits | Audioquest Niagara 3000 | Paul Hynes SR4T + HDPlex HD500 PSUs -> Music PC w/JCAT Femto nic, HQPlayer, Roon, Tidal / Qobuz | EtherRegen + BG7TBL 10MHz OXCO clock + HDPlex HD100 LPSU  | Aqua Acoustic Quality LinQ streamer | Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula xHD Rev. 2 DAC | Audionet Pre G2 preamp | Audionet Max mono blocks | Vivid Audio Giya G2 Series 2 | 4 JL Audio Fathoms | Echole ICs and SCs , Shunyata PCs and EthCs | Critical Mass Center Stage footers -> components, Isoacoustics -> speakers + subs | Adona Eris 6 rack | Fully treated + dedicated 2 channel room

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sb6

Agreed. However the best USB cable is no USB cable, or a very short USB cable. Although usually not practical ,a right angle adaptor from the USB device to the USB port has been reported to sound noticeably better.

 

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 13-11-2020

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Actually, I have been following this thread because I am looking for a great sounding USB cable under $300.

 

See my sig. Half the price of the Audioquest Coffee it replaced.

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 -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Wireworld Platinum Startlight 1,00m replaced a Audioquest Coffee 0,75m here. Very nice cable, but expensive...

1. ITX PC - Mola Mola Makua - Apollon NC800SL - Thiel CS3.7

2. LG 77C1 - Marantz SR7005 - Apollon NCMP6200 - Monitor Audio PL100+PLC150+C265 - SVS SB-3000

3. PC - RME ADI-2 DAC FS - Audeze LCDi3 - Neumann KH 80 DSP

4. Phone - TempoTec Sonata E44 - Moondrop Aria

5. PC - Meizu HiFi DAC - Moondrop Chu

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Has anyone tried synergistic research usb cable?

Musician Setup

 

Black Mac Pro 2014 ->Lynx Hilo Thunderbolt ->Synergistic Research Thunderbolt Cable --> Harmonic Tech Magic Link 2 XLR --> Focal Twin BE 6's --> 2 Silent Source The Music Reference Power Cords --> LAT International Signature Power Cords --> Balanced Power Tech AC power Cord with Furutech Connects ->>Balanced Power AC Pure Power Center-->Dedicated AC line with PS Audio Soloist Limited Edition.

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Juan,

if you look at the first post of this thread you'll see that I have.

best regards

André

LDMS Minix Server>Lampizator TRP w/ VC>Gryphon Diablo>Heil Kithara

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', (Power); Douglas Cables 'Mirage' (XLR); Douglas Cables "GLIA" (speaker cables & jumper); FTA Callisto (USB)

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

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Juan,

if you look at the first post of this thread you'll see that I have.

best regards

André

 

Howdy, oh now i'll take a and look and read, thanks.

Musician Setup

 

Black Mac Pro 2014 ->Lynx Hilo Thunderbolt ->Synergistic Research Thunderbolt Cable --> Harmonic Tech Magic Link 2 XLR --> Focal Twin BE 6's --> 2 Silent Source The Music Reference Power Cords --> LAT International Signature Power Cords --> Balanced Power Tech AC power Cord with Furutech Connects ->>Balanced Power AC Pure Power Center-->Dedicated AC line with PS Audio Soloist Limited Edition.

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Purist arrived yesterday. had a listen to it today. first impressions are that the Clearlink Plus is clearer and more spacious and that the Purist has more body and is darker. will leave the Purist in the system and will compare it after aprox. 150 hours again

best regards

André

LDMS Minix Server>Lampizator TRP w/ VC>Gryphon Diablo>Heil Kithara

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', (Power); Douglas Cables 'Mirage' (XLR); Douglas Cables "GLIA" (speaker cables & jumper); FTA Callisto (USB)

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

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Thanks for settling that once and for all.

 

Please don't be snarky. Especially to someone's first--and reasonably thoughtful post. Sb6 might or might not be new to computer audio and/or he might have decades of listening experience and a really fine system. We need a greater diversity of voices around this place, and I'd hate to turn people off and have them thing that CA is just like AA or, heaven forbid HA.

 

Cheers,

ALEX

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Please don't be snarky. Especially to someone's first--and reasonably thoughtful post. Sb6 might or might not be new to computer audio and/or he might have decades of listening experience and a really fine system. We need a greater diversity of voices around this place, and I'd hate to turn people off and have them thing that CA is just like AA or, heaven forbid HA.

 

Cheers,

ALEX

 

A fine sarcasm (which should not be confused with mere snark) is a wonderful thing on occasion. I personally think there are other reasons why one might not hear a difference besides a system that isn't sufficiently resolving or being a cloth-eared idjit. (For example, if sonic differences stem from differences in susceptibility to transmitting noise, AC and computer power that aren't very noisy might explain a lack of such differences.) Being called on a sweeping general statement (that BTW was fairly dismissive of all those who don't hear differences) with quite mild sarcasm wasn't unduly harsh, it seems to me.

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 -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Those that don't believe it either don't have the ability to hear it, or don't have a good enough system to resolve the difference.

So what you're basically saying here is those that do believe it don't have the ability to properly isolate their sensitive equipment from all of the electric noise?

If you had the memory of a goldfish, maybe it would work.
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If I may beg to interrupt with another cable comparison? Yes, I know, terribly bad form and all, please to forgive.

 

I've got one of these newfangled Meridian Explorer thingies (as recently reviewed by our fearless leader). Jolly nice sounding it is too btw.

 

Anyways, I wanted a slightly longer usb cable for my purposes and got a half metre Wireworld Ultraviolet A to mini B. Internally on these cables the power line is somewhat separated from the other lines, so I figured since the Explorer is usb powered there might be some advantage there.

 

So I've been able to compare that to the short Meridian cable that came with the Explorer. Listening via Senn 600s. First impressions: Absolutely no difference. Certainly it does not change the character of the DAC in any way I can detect, it sounds good with either cable. Obviously, being a joyless objective type I wouldn't dare extrapolate this to sweeping statements, and equally I'm interested if anyone has done similar comparisons and *enlighten me*, could be there's some subtleties that I've missed on first listen.

 

Just for the record, I don't plan on sending the Ultraviolet back - it looks nicely made and does the job I wanted, I'm just not convinced it makes much of a sonic difference to the supplied cable.

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Good post. Thanks!

 

Was never able to do such a nice A/B comparison, but I did appreciate the fit, finish, and correct length of my replacement USB as well.

 

If I may beg to interrupt with another cable comparison? Yes, I know, terribly bad form and all, please to forgive.

 

I've got one of these newfangled Meridian Explorer thingies (as recently reviewed by our fearless leader). Jolly nice sounding it is too btw.

 

Anyways, I wanted a slightly longer usb cable for my purposes and got a half metre Wireworld Ultraviolet A to mini B. Internally on these cables the power line is somewhat separated from the other lines, so I figured since the Explorer is usb powered there might be some advantage there.

 

So I've been able to compare that to the short Meridian cable that came with the Explorer. Listening via Senn 600s. First impressions: Absolutely no difference. Certainly it does not change the character of the DAC in any way I can detect, it sounds good with either cable. Obviously, being a joyless objective type I wouldn't dare extrapolate this to sweeping statements, and equally I'm interested if anyone has done similar comparisons and *enlighten me*, could be there's some subtleties that I've missed on first listen.

 

Just for the record, I don't plan on sending the Ultraviolet back - it looks nicely made and does the job I wanted, I'm just not convinced it makes much of a sonic difference to the supplied cable.

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

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Disclaimer: I cannot and will not recommend a USB cable, as I have done no comparisons of my own. I used to do fairly extensive capacitor, air foil, resistor, loudspeaker cable and internal wiring, symmetrical and asymmetrical audio interconnect, as well as 75Ω and 110Ω digital cable comparisons in my prime, needless to say in every unscientific to scientific mode of testing from non-blind to double-blind (since taken a break from DIY). A lot of what I tested may no longer be produced and vice versa. These are merely general recommendations that may or may not be of use to some.

 

I merely thought I'd add the relatively few hard-won conclusions I reached over the years, not regarding a single product or comparison, just speaking from experience:

 

• There may be a distinctive "sonic flavour" to copper, silver, even silver-plating and gold alloys. However, less so the better the construction (adherence to specs etc.). In other words, there need not be any of the brightness sometimes associated with silver cabling or wiring. The reason, if I had to venture a guess, may be that the more wide-band a cable is, the lesser the impact of the materials on the sound.

 

• Unshielded cables sound better if: short, not coiled (nor, preferably, bent), loosely and irregularly braided, not run parallel to other cables (minimum distance 2 inches or 5 cm), and nowhere near e.g. transformers, power cords etc. Forgot to say no pets… I rarely use or recommend them. (But try DIYing a solid wire USB cable just for fun, you'll be surprised.)

 

• Ironically, science has it that digital cable lengths under 1.5 meters are among the most problematic when it comes to reflections/mirror imaging, whereas signal loss increases with cable length, thus depends upon the cable, driver, system…

 

• Do not ever underestimate terminations. I won't even go into a rant on audiophile cabling and (non-)adherence to technical specifications, but as a rule of thumb, the more heavy-duty those plugs looks and feel, and the thicker and harder the gold plating, the worse. Also, soldering is an art form (crimping also, albeit to a lesser extent).

 

• It's usually smart not to mix (= try and do system cosmetics). According to probability theory one will tend to add up/multiply flaws, not sonic benefits. Experience has taught me (the hard and costly way) that this is almost universally true.

 

• Don't ever think something can't make a difference because it shouldn't (= as yet ignorant of the reason), nor ever expect a difference because technically speaking there should be one. Bias goes both ways, and none of us is immune.

 

• QPR is a one-way: that something's cheap does not prove it's no good (my mom always says many of the best things in life are for free); more importantly, that something's costly doesn't prove a thing (as to its purported quality, that is).

 

• Whatever you do, don't buy on recommendation alone. It's one thing to ask for input, then try and judge for oneself, but another to be aware of and free oneself from prejudice (= note I do not mean other people's - that's the easy part).

 

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

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