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Is this the placebo effect at work?


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I've always been of the opinion that a USB cable is a USB cable, that is transmits 1s and 0s, no more, no less. Either the bits are there, or they're not. I've never understood how anyone can argue with that. I still don't know how one can argue with that.

 

Which is why I am confounded to report...my perception of a subtle but unmistakeable improvement in the sound I'm hearing from my gear since switching from a $15 BestBuy house brand USB cord to $35 Pangea audio USB cord.

 

This must be a placebo effect, right?

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Probably not, you might be hearing a real difference. But does it really matter?

 

If it sounds better, it sounds better. (grin)

 

-Paul

 

I've always been of the opinion that a USB cable is a USB cable, that is transmits 1s and 0s, no more, no less. Either the bits are there, or they're not. I've never understood how anyone can argue with that. I still don't know how one can argue with that.

 

Which is why I am confounded to report...my perception of a subtle but unmistakeable improvement in the sound I'm hearing from my gear since switching from a $15 BestBuy house brand USB cord to $35 Pangea audio USB cord.

 

This must be a placebo effect, right?

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Probably not, you might be hearing a real difference. But does it really matter?

 

If it sounds better, it sounds better. (grin)

 

-Paul

 

Ain't it the truth. But if it is the placebo effect, wow, the placebo effect sure is amazing. And if it is the USB cable, well, that's amazing.

 

Either way, I'm amazed. Just wish I knew which way it was.

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Which is why I am confounded to report...my perception of a subtle but unmistakeable improvement in the sound I'm hearing from my gear since switching from a $15 BestBuy house brand USB cord to $35 Pangea audio USB cord.

 

This must be a placebo effect, right?

 

Have your SO swapit a dozen or so times, hiding the cable. If you can tell half the time, there's no difference.

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Yes, but I'm not clear on the USB cable's role in jitter regulation/minimization beyond boundary level conditions. If that's what you're getting at, and you wouldn't mind elaborating...

 

It was more a reference to the "Either the bits are there, or they're not". I don't know if the USB cable affects jitter.

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This must be a placebo effect, right?

 

No.

 

There are many technical reasons USB cables can and do sound different.

 

The best known one is the data is near the power in the cable and spikes and other junk from the usual switching mode supplies in computers contaminates the data lines. This doesn't affect detecting a 1 or 0 so for things like an external disk drive it makes no diffeence, but DAC's rely on more than that - the timing is also important. Also these spikes can radiate inside the DAC and cause issues.

 

DAC's can be designed to address these issues, but I only know of one that is 100% effective - that's the Phasue DAC. USB cables make absolutely no difference with that DAC. But the designer has gone to a LOT of trouble to ensure that (eg its own internal linear regulated power supply for just the USB) - most manufacturers don't - yet strangely still claim USB cables etc make no difference - actual listening however shows otherwise.

 

Thanks

Bill

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No.

 

There are many technical reasons USB cables can and do sound different.

 

The best known one is the data is near the power in the cable and spikes and other junk from the usual switching mode supplies in computers contaminates the data lines. This doesn't affect detecting a 1 or 0 so for things like an external disk drive it makes no diffeence, but DAC's rely on more than that - the timing is also important. Also these spikes can radiate inside the DAC and cause issues.

 

DAC's can be designed to address these issues, but I only know of one that is 100% effective - that's the Phasue DAC. USB cables make absolutely no difference with that DAC. But the designer has gone to a LOT of trouble to ensure that (eg its own internal linear regulated power supply for just the USB) - most manufacturers don't - yet strangely still claim USB cables etc make no difference - actual listening however shows otherwise.

 

Thanks

Bill

Fascinating. Thanks for that explanation.

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Great idea. My SO will not have the patience. But I might be able to enlist a friend this weekend...

 

The way we often do it here is I ask Karen to listen to this and tell me if she likes one better than the other, or if she can hear anh difference. I do not generqlly twll her what is getting switched. If she can hear a difference and describe it, I usually just accept it is a real difference and go on from there. If not, I ascribe what I hear to imagination and just enjoy it anyway.

 

Be careful here, you can absolutely convince yourself you do not hear a difference where one really exists- every bit as easily as the other way around.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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The way we often do it here is I ask Karen to listen to this and tell me if she likes one better than the other, or if she can hear anh difference. I do not generqlly twll her what is getting switched. If she can hear a difference and describe it, I usually just accept it is a real difference and go on from there. If not, I ascribe what I hear to imagination and just enjoy it anyway.

 

Be careful here, you can absolutely convince yourself you do not hear a difference where one really exists- every bit as easily as the other way around.

ah yes, the 'non-audiophile spouse' test

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OT: Something fishy is going on here... I know darn well I corrected at least two of the typos that are in the post below. Most irritating... Apologies for the terrible typing guys.

 

-Paul

 

 

The way we often do it here is I ask Karen to listen to this and tell me if she likes one better than the other, or if she can hear anh difference. I do not generqlly twll her what is getting switched. If she can hear a difference and describe it, I usually just accept it is a real difference and go on from there. If not, I ascribe what I hear to imagination and just enjoy it anyway.

 

Be careful here, you can absolutely convince yourself you do not hear a difference where one really exists- every bit as easily as the other way around.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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OT: Something fishy is going on here... I know darn well I corrected at least two of the typos that are in the post below. Most irritating... Apologies for the terrible typing guys.

 

-Paul

 

I have had similar experiences with minor corrections.

 

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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