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USB cable makes a difference? Is Kimber Kable good?


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Hi all,

 

I have an admittedly mediocre DAC, an ARCAM rPAC. I know that using high quality analog cables makes a difference, but what about digital cables. Namely, USB?

 

I am using the USB A>B cable that came with the DAC. Would spending some money on an upgraded cable make a difference to my audio quality? If so, what brand and model of cable do you folks recommend. I only need a 1 meter (3 feet) cable.

 

Question 2- I am outputting to my studio monitors from my DAC via a pair of RCA to 1/4" TS cables. They are crap quality. I am looking to upgrade them. At the moment I am considering a pair of Kimber Kable Tonik for about $100. Is this a good cable? I used to have Kimber Kable speaker wire for my old hifi before it was stolen by a friend (*ex friend. Long story.) and I found the speaker wire to be of impecable quality. Just wondering if their pre-terminated stuff is as good as their non-terminated stuff.

 

Can anybody help me out?

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While there is disagreement about whether USB cables do make a difference (I think non this site a majority believes they matter somehow), one thing is very clear: the expenditure on any kind of cables should always be proportional to the total value of the system. You may want to consider upgrading the DAC before investing serious money into into cables.

 

By the way I personally use an Audioquest Forest, one of the cheapest of the AQ series. If you want to switch cables now, I probably wouldn't go above this entry level of cables.

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I have found that USB cables definitely make a difference. As is the case with everything in this hobby, many factors will determine whether an individual will prefer one product over another, but they do not all sound the same.

 

USB cables can get to be quite expensive, as in several thousands of dollars, which is more than I'm willing to spend. I did see several recommendations for the (relatively) modestly priced Mapleshade Clearlink Plus cable, saying that it outperformed many of the more expensive cables.

 

I borrowed a $1,000 Audioquest Diamond cable from a dealer and compared it to the Mapleshade and preferred the latter, without a doubt. Of course, your mileage may vary.

 

You can try the Mapleshade cable with a 30-day money back guarantee.

 

Clearlink USB 2.0 Cable - 3 Foot - Male A to Male B - PLUS Version-shop.mapleshadestore.com

 

Good luck!

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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While there is no direct correlation between price and performance, most people here feel that there is some audible difference between cables that function within the signal chain. There is less of a concensus as to whether power cords make a difference, and we won't go there right now.

 

I think it is reasonable to spend $50-$200 on a name-brand USB cable. The Cable Company, in New Hope, PA, has a loaner program where you can borrow a number of different cables for direct comparison in your home. A fee is charged for this service, which is applied to the purchase price of whichever cable you select. They do carry a number of well-known audiophile brands, although not all of the popular ones.

 

I have tested the following 1 meter USB 2.0 cables on my own modest system. There were audible differences between some of them. My preferences are entirely subjective, and are undoubtedly influenced by the synergy of my other components, the room acoustics, and my own ears.

 

C2G (Cables To Go) <$10

Supra USB $44

Wireworld Ultraviolet 7 $50

Kimber Kable Cu (copper) $60

Kimber Kable Ag (silver) $165

Elijah Audio Isolate Cu $180

 

My impressions: There was very little difference between the C2G, WireWorld, Kimber copper, and Supra USB. The Kimber silver was clearly brighter. There was more high end detail, but it was sibilant, and harsh-sounding, by comparison. The Elijah just sounded dull, muddy, and bad. Perhaps more burn-in time might have helped it, but I didn't keep it long enough to find out.

 

I felt I owed it to myself to use something better than the printer cable. The Kimber copper (with the ferrite beads removed) has the best balance on my main system, and the Supra on my headphone rig. As you can see, the two more expensive cables, were the two that I liked the least. Of course, YMMV.

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I was told the Supra was a good choice. Would you say the Kimber copper is better overall?

 

The Kimber B-Bus Cu was one of the first "audiophile" USB designs on the market.

Some very smart people in this forum like Supra for its design, build quality, and price.

With our eyes shut, I don't think that you or I could hear a difference between them. I think either product would satisfy your needs.

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Cable preferences are highly subjective. Just because a cable is highly praised and well regarded in the market doesn't mean that it'll be a good match for your system and your tastes.

 

I think it's wise to try a few cables out and keep your favorite. They can sound very different, so if you only go by someone else's recommendation (even mine), you could wind up missing out on a cable that you would have greatly preferred - and not even knowing it.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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USB (asynchronous) definitely made a difference in my system. I have an Arcam irDAC. Check out my profile to see my setup.

I now love Kimber cables, but hadn't found a local dealer and so hadn't considered them before I bought the Audioquest Carbon usb cable

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Interesting. This is why I find audio so frustrating. It's subjective. Charlie likes brand A and Mike likes brand B.

 

Charlie drives a BMW, and Mike drives a Lexus. Who has the better car?

Audio equipment is like every other consumer product out there. The technology is pretty much a level playing field, so companies rely on marketing and image to sell their products. There's always going to be something better/more expensive.

 

If you hang out here, you might learn something about electronics, but enjoying music is the aim, not obsessing over the geekiest gear.

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For USB, the Belkin Gold is considered quite good. Honestly, I would get that and start there. Wait three or four months. Then go from there and you'll have a good grounded opinion. Kimber is my personal reference for cables, obviously others like other companies as well. Of all cables, I think USB is the most controversial. Mapleshade can come across as a bit crazy, but they do seem to deliver on extreme promises now and then. Definitely get theirs if you want, but I would start with Belkin so you can decide later if it actually is better. Definitely try their sampler CDs for some of the best recorded music available.

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For USB, the Belkin Gold is considered quite good. Honestly, I would get that and start there. Wait three or four months. Then go from there and you'll have a good grounded opinion. Kimber is my personal reference for cables, obviously others like other companies as well. Of all cables, I think USB is the most controversial. Mapleshade can come across as a bit crazy, but they do seem to deliver on extreme promises now and then. Definitely get theirs if you want, but I would start with Belkin so you can decide later if it actually is better. Definitely try their sampler CDs for some of the best recorded music available.

 

I already ordered the SUPRA USB 2.0 for audio cable off Ebay days ago. Several C.A. members told me to get that cable, and the price was right. Again, I don't have super high end equipment so things like the corning optical USB+regen seemed too esoteric for a pleb/noob in the field.

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  • 5 months later...

I tried the Supra, Audioquest Carbon, and Kimber AG (blue) B-Bus USB cables.

Compared to the Audioquest, the Supra was meaty (richer bass and lower mid) but held back a lot of detail compared to the Audioquest.

The Kimber is even more open and detailed than the Audioquest, but also manages to be more refined in the top end. The Kimber is also at once rich and detailed in the mids and lows.

When I first plugged the Kimber in, it sounded dry (don't know how else to describe it). It took a very long time to burn in - about 100 hours, but then it was perfect. Really, really nice cable imho, especially when paired with the Amber Regen - match made in heaven.

I was going to try the Furutech GT-2 and Starlight Wireworld Platinum for comparison, but I'm so happy with the Kimber I won't bother. If you try it, remember the 100 hours of burn in.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just became a true believer in the Mapleshade Clearlink USB 2. I had been A-B'ing headphones and various PC connections a good part of today when the Clearlink arrived at my doorstep, and I immediately plugged it in. I had been using Ronstatt's "Luck of the Draw" CD as the sampler mostly, so I had a good idea of what details were what - especially with the title track. Immediately noticeable with the Clearlink was that all of the high note harshness in her voice had been reduced. There was also apparently the other enhancements listed by some of the members here - wider, fuller soundstage. more distinct separation of instruments, more presence - non of which makes any sense considering these are digital transmissions. The other thing I noticed immediately was that the music could be played at higher volume without become irritating.

There is possibly something incomplete about our theory concerning digital playback, or we are embarking into an area that has to do with higher harmonics and field effects that have heretofore been considered extraneous to an audio system.

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