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Lightspeed USB vs Transparent Performance+Ferrite choke


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I'm comparing the LS (split config) with the Transparent (about 1/10th the price). Both are thoroughly broken in (about 1 month on LS, more on Transp). This is from a Macmini 2009 (8gbRAM, 250GB SSD, Mavericks, Audirvana standalone) to an EmmLabs XDS1v2. I've added a ferrite choke to the Transp, on the computer side of the cable, which improved the cable noticeably.

 

Long story short: I find the LS dry and uninteresting (particularly vocals) vs the Transparent having a gorgeous and involving vocal presentation. The LS soundstage also sounds more recessed.

 

Firstly, I'm stunned that a USB cable can make this much difference. And it is not subtle at all.

 

One might argue that the ferrite is killing RF noise from the mini (which has a stock power supply). But I tried the ferrite on the LS as well and didn't find it to match the Transp sound.

 

Any comments?

 

Thx!

 

Miguel

 

PS: Rest of equipment is Kondo Ongaku and Avantgarde Duo Mezzo.

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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I'm comparing the LS (split config) with the Transparent (about 1/10th the price). Both are thoroughly broken in (about 1 month on LS, more on Transp). This is from a Macmini 2009 (8gbRAM, 250GB SSD, Mavericks, Audirvana standalone) to an EmmLabs XDS1v2. I've added a ferrite choke to the Transp, on the computer side of the cable, which improved the cable noticeably.

 

Long story short: I find the LS dry and uninteresting (particularly vocals) vs the Transparent having a gorgeous and involving vocal presentation. The LS soundstage also sounds more recessed.

 

Firstly, I'm stunned that a USB cable can make this much difference. And it is not subtle at all.

 

One might argue that the ferrite is killing RF noise from the mini (which has a stock power supply). But I tried the ferrite on the LS as well and didn't find it to match the Transp sound.

 

Any comments?

 

Thx!

 

Miguel

 

PS: Rest of equipment is Kondo Ongaku and Avantgarde Duo Mezzo.

 

There is a thread in the general forum "New Nordost Heimdall 2 USB" where a couple of users discuss this comparison.

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I read through it. Most of the comments where on soundstage as far as I could tell. I'd appreciate comments on tonality and presence as well.

Thanks.

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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I read through it. Most of the comments where on soundstage as far as I could tell. I'd appreciate comments on tonality and presence as well.

Thanks.

Miguel

 

Hi Miguel,

 

I used a Transparent Performance USB for a while. The I tried a Transparent Premium. In my system (Mac Mini/Audirvana+ -> Ayre QB-9 -> Herron VTSP3A(r02) -> Parasound Halo A23 -> Soliloquy 6.3i's, cabled with Nordost Heimdall 1 and 2), the Premium smoked the Performance in just about every way. Think of all the things you like about the Performance and enhance them tenfold.

 

Recently I tried a Heimdall USB on loan. While it may have lacked some of the fullness (richness) of the Premium USB, in my opinion the Heimdall was preferable. In addition to the soundstage improvements I mentioned in my post on the other thread, energy and clarity were superior with the Heimdall. One consequence of this was a better sense of immediacy and presence. This especially stood out with live recordings.

 

Now I'm on my third day with a LightSpeed USB, split version just like yours. According to friends who also have this cable, it's not yet broken in (takes 2-3 weeks is what I'm told). I've been running it 24/7, and I can say at this point is sounds as if it's heading for being the best of both of the Heimdall and Transparent Premium--and then some. Take the energy, clarity, etc. of the Heimdall, add the fullness (richness) of the Premium, and on top of that add a purity, smoothness, and effortlessness like I've never heard and that's what the LS sounds like to me.

 

If you're hearing something you prefer in your Performance (and I say this in all sincerity), good for you. You just saved a lot of money. But it doesn't square with my experience of these cables. As always, though, YMMV.

 

Good listening.

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I read through it. Most of the comments where on soundstage as far as I could tell. I'd appreciate comments on tonality and presence as well.

Thanks.

Miguel

 

Hi Miguelito,

 

I owned the Transparent Performance for about two weeks last year. It was superior to the Wireworld Starlight I owned at the same time. It was a really full sounding cable with natural tone and a lot of body. I liked the Transparent and the sonics quality it brought but I still found it was lacking resolution and air. I read that the Transparent Premium (6 times more expensive though) bring everything to the table. After experiencing with a couple of really highly regard USB cable (Oyaide Continental 5S and Audioquest Diamond among others), I decided to give a try to the Premium with money back guarantee. That was about 5 months ago and the Premium is still at my house. What a difference that cable made. It destroyed the Diamond. More resolution, more body and most important, more natural (analogue?).

 

And now, I'm contemplating the Lightspeed. Your thoughts are really surprising and goes against the vast majority but I am absolutly not questionning your judgment. You heard what you heard. It just puzzled me and make me wondering if I should simply stick with my beloved Transparent Premium.

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Hi Miguel,

 

I used a Transparent Performance USB for a while. The I tried a Transparent Premium. In my system (Mac Mini/Audirvana+ -> Ayre QB-9 -> Herron VTSP3A(r02) -> Parasound Halo A23 -> Soliloquy 6.3i's, cabled with Nordost Heimdall 1 and 2), the Premium smoked the Performance in just about every way. Think of all the things you like about the Performance and enhance them tenfold.

 

Recently I tried a Heimdall USB on loan. While it may have lacked some of the fullness (richness) of the Premium USB, in my opinion the Heimdall was preferable. In addition to the soundstage improvements I mentioned in my post on the other thread, energy and clarity were superior with the Heimdall. One consequence of this was a better sense of immediacy and presence. This especially stood out with live recordings.

 

Now I'm on my third day with a LightSpeed USB, split version just like yours. According to friends who also have this cable, it's not yet broken in (takes 2-3 weeks is what I'm told). I've been running it 24/7, and I can say at this point is sounds as if it's heading for being the best of both of the Heimdall and Transparent Premium--and then some. Take the energy, clarity, etc. of the Heimdall, add the fullness (richness) of the Premium, and on top of that add a purity, smoothness, and effortlessness like I've never heard and that's what the LS sounds like to me.

 

If you're hearing something you prefer in your Performance (and I say this in all sincerity), good for you. You just saved a lot of money. But it doesn't square with my experience of these cables. As always, though, YMMV.

 

Good listening.

 

Thanks a lot. To be honest, the cost of the LS is not really an issue (but I don't like to waste $1000 either).

 

Couple of questions if you don't mind:

1- What Mac mini do you have?

2- Stock power supply?

3- What ports do you plug the LS data & power to?

 

Thanks a lot.

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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Hi Miguelito,

 

I owned the Transparent Performance for about two weeks last year. It was superior to the Wireworld Starlight I owned at the same time. It was a really full sounding cable with natural tone and a lot of body. I liked the Transparent and the sonics quality it brought but I still found it was lacking resolution and air. I read that the Transparent Premium (6 times more expensive though) bring everything to the table. After experiencing with a couple of really highly regard USB cable (Oyaide Continental 5S and Audioquest Diamond among others), I decided to give a try to the Premium with money back guarantee. That was about 5 months ago and the Premium is still at my house. What a difference that cable made. It destroyed the Diamond. More resolution, more body and most important, more natural (analogue?).

 

And now, I'm contemplating the Lightspeed. Your thoughts are really surprising and goes against the vast majority but I am absolutly not questionning your judgment. You heard what you heard. It just puzzled me and make me wondering if I should simply stick with my beloved Transparent Premium.

 

Thanks for your reply. I'm puzzled as well as the opinion is, across the board, that the LS is above and beyond almost anything. I think I might give it a little more time... Same questions as I asked jwr: What mac mini? Stock power? What ports?

 

Thanks a lot.

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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Thanks a lot. To be honest, the cost of the LS is not really an issue (but I don't like to waste $1000 either).

 

Couple of questions if you don't mind:

1- What Mac mini do you have?

2- Stock power supply?

3- What ports do you plug the LS data & power to?

 

Thanks a lot.

Miguel

 

1. Late 2009, 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo with 8GB RAM, 40GB SSD

2. Stock power supply

3. For handshake I plug into the 3rd (data leg) and 4th (power leg) jacks, counting from the inside out. After handshake I disconnect the power leg.

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Thanks for your reply. I'm puzzled as well as the opinion is, across the board, that the LS is above and beyond almost anything. I think I might give it a little more time... Same questions as I asked jwr: What mac mini? Stock power? What ports?

 

Thanks a lot.

Miguel

 

1-Toshiba Notebook Intel i7-3630QM CPU @ 2.40GHz with 16 GB RAM

 

2- Battery or AC no differences as the USB is plugged in an Audiophilleo2 with PurePower battery (absolute zero noise contamination).

 

3- One of the 3.0 USB ports of the Toshiba.

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1. Late 2009, 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo with 8GB RAM, 40GB SSD

2. Stock power supply

3. For handshake I plug into the 3rd (data leg) and 4th (power leg) jacks, counting from the inside out. After handshake I disconnect the power leg.

 

Cool thx. I have a late 09 as well, 2.66GHz, 8gbRAM, 250gb SSD, stock supply. Will try the ports you're using.

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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1-Toshiba Notebook Intel i7-3630QM CPU @ 2.40GHz with 16 GB RAM

 

2- Battery or AC no differences as the USB is plugged in an Audiophilleo2 with PurePower battery (absolute zero noise contamination).

 

3- One of the 3.0 USB ports of the Toshiba.

 

Thank you. Interesting, haven't heard of that power supply, will check it out.

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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Thank you. Interesting, haven't heard of that power supply, will check it out.

Miguel

 

The Audiophilleo2 is a USB to SPDIF converter. You can buy it stand alone and powering it by the USB 5 volts of your computer or buying the PurePower battery module option for a couple of hundreds dollars more and significant sonic benefits. The PurePower option simply canceled the noise coming by the USB port of a computer because it feeds pure DC current to the Audiophilleo converter and let noise out of the signal path. The two options required two USB cables. In my set up, the PurePower is plugged with a generic USB cable (only required power from USB) to an AC receptacle with USB 5 volts converter. The Audiophilleo is feed by the Transparent Premium USB cable from the laptop for the signal transfer.

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A ferrite is more likely rounding the USB waveform than removing noise, at least in my experience. The smoothness is accompanied with a loss of detail and timing. Lightspeed is a demonstrably good digital cable, the bandwidth exceeds 10GHz. Im almost certain the Lightspeed has superior technical performance.

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A ferrite is more likely rounding the USB waveform than removing noise, at least in my experience. The smoothness is accompanied with a loss of detail and timing. Lightspeed is a demonstrably good digital cable, the bandwidth exceeds 10GHz. Im almost certain the Lightspeed has superior technical performance.

 

The ferrite around the whole cable removes common noise - that is noise in phase in both lines. It does not act on the differential USB signal which is how the data is transmitted. If you put a ferrite around each wire of the differential pair you would get what you say.

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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The Audiophilleo2 is a USB to SPDIF converter. You can buy it stand alone and powering it by the USB 5 volts of your computer or buying the PurePower battery module option for a couple of hundreds dollars more and significant sonic benefits. The PurePower option simply canceled the noise coming by the USB port of a computer because it feeds pure DC current to the Audiophilleo converter and let noise out of the signal path. The two options required two USB cables. In my set up, the PurePower is plugged with a generic USB cable (only required power from USB) to an AC receptacle with USB 5 volts converter. The Audiophilleo is feed by the Transparent Premium USB cable from the laptop for the signal transfer.

 

Right. I would only need the PurePower part of this (there are others as well like Kingrex Upower). The Upower is $199 and likely comparable to PurePower.

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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Long story short: I find the LS dry and uninteresting (particularly vocals) vs the Transparent having a gorgeous and involving vocal presentation.

 

I was not going to not jump in here as I have not experience with any of the Transparent USB cables, but Miguel asked that I comment.

 

The description above of the LS had me wondering if maybe Miguel had a counterfeit LS, because the LS that I own cannot be described this way. Vocals sounds stunningly realistic, as the clarity and transparency of the LS makes it sounds like you are in the same room as the vocalist. This is true of instruments too.

 

In terms of tone and timbre, the LS is truly spectacular. Last night before going to bed I listened to the rip of the Esoteric SACD of Curzon's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No.20 as shown here. The string tone was gorgeous! The other USB cables I've tried overlaid a slight bit of hardness on these, but there was no hint of this at all with the LS. The piano was very convincingly reproduced too. This is truly an exceptional recording - and the LS gets the heck out of its way, allowing you to hear how great it really is.

 

The LS soundstage also sounds more recessed.

 

The LS can throw a huge soundstage. It can stretch wide and deep, and on some tracks actually envelopes my listening chair. The staging on the recording mentioned above was stunningly reproduced. It was as if I had been transported to that concert hall.

 

Couple of questions if you don't mind:

1- What Mac mini do you have?

2- Stock power supply?

3- What ports do you plug the LS data & power to?

 

1: Early 2009 Mac mini w/8GB RAM and 60 GB SSD

2: Stock

3: The power leg, when connected, is connected to the leftmost port when looking at it from the front. It was placed there as this is the easiest to reach. I think the signal is two over from that. Both these ports were confirmed to not be shared with anything else on the USB bus.

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Gustard X26pro DAC 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps, Stillpoints Aperture panels

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The description above of the LS had me wondering if maybe Miguel had a counterfeit LS

 

Purchased from Amazon. Are there known counterfeits?

Thanks for the post, Kenny.

 

Miguel

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

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Purchased from Amazon. Are there known counterfeits?

 

No, I've not heard that there are any…. yet.

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Gustard X26pro DAC 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps, Stillpoints Aperture panels

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Miguel,

 

You have a PM.

 

Best,

 

Jim Smith

Various speakers, electronics, cable, etc. on loan for manufacturers' evaluation.

More or less permanently in use:

 

Schiit Iggy (latest), Ayre QB-9 DSD, Ayre Codex, Uptone Audio ISO Regen/LPS-1 Power supply, Berkeley Audio Alpha USB, PS Audio LanRover, Small Green Computer, Sonore ultraRendu, gigaFOIL4 ethernet/optical filter - Keces PS-3 power supply, (3) MBPs - stripped down for music only,  AQ Diamond USB & Ethernet, Transparent USB, Curious USB, LH Lightspeed split USB, Halide USB DAC, Audirvana +, Pure Music, ASR Emitter II Exclusive Blue amp, Ayre K-5xeMP preamp, Pass X-1 preamp, Quicksilver Mid-Mono Amps, Pass XA-30.5 amp, Duelund ICs & Speaker Cables, Paul Hynes SR-7 power supply, Grand Prix Audio Monaco Isolation racks & F1 shelves, Tannoy Canterbury SEs w/custom Duelund crossovers and stands, 2 REL 212SEs, AV RoomService EVPs, ASC Tube Traps, tons of CDs, 30 IPS masters, LPs.

 

http://www.getbettersound.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

FWIW, after many many hours of break-in, I do prefer the LS. Whether break-in was in the cable or my ears is something I cannot answer. :)

mini+Roon > RAAT > dCS Rossini DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

system pics

Link to comment
Nice!

 

Mine Lightspeed is a split one in 1.5m length. It sound very good fresh from box and it wins my pre-owned $150/1m usb cable hands down. And now it improves further in 20 hrs service time. I just wonder what would it achieve by 200 hrs time.

 

BTW, my DAC equips a self-power USB input. The Lightspeed power leg is in fact abundant. Much appreciate if there is a pure signal version Lightspeed at a lower price tag.

Rockna WDN disc transport> Rockna Wavedream Signature Balanced DAC >

Zen wave D4 rca> VEFT PP 20W class A or Jeff Koneff 45 SET or Transcendent Sound SEOTL >

1mm UPOCC silver in silk tubing> Ocellia Celia Silver Loudspeaker

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correction: "The Lightspeed power leg is in fact idle."

Rockna WDN disc transport> Rockna Wavedream Signature Balanced DAC >

Zen wave D4 rca> VEFT PP 20W class A or Jeff Koneff 45 SET or Transcendent Sound SEOTL >

1mm UPOCC silver in silk tubing> Ocellia Celia Silver Loudspeaker

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Much appreciate if there is a pure signal version Lightspeed at a lower price tag.

 

Just unplug the power leg and voila... you have what you are asking for.

Speakers: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen/URendu | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus/Lampizator Golden Gate | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | Revel B112 subs  

Headphones: Lampizator Golden Atlantic/Holo Spring 3 KTE | Blue Circle Audio SBT pre|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE/Arya Stealth/Audeze LCD-4z

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