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What about Firewire Cables?


Kid-A
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Esoteric make a Firewire cable with gold plated connectors for use as an iLink between their SACD players and DACs. I do not know if it electrically the same as a general computer Firewire cable. The cost of the cable is about US$700 and hopefully this reflects its quality.

 

MacBookPro/8GB/ApogeeDuet/ProTools9/CalDigitAVDrive/AudioquestDiamondUSB

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http://store.cablesplususa.com/cpcgx1394aa-06.html

 

For Firewire 400, the usual recommendation for best sounding cable is the GoldX. Costs about $30 for 6 feet, I paid $15, and it's on sale now for $8 at the link above. :)

 

Firewire 'traffic' seems less susceptible to vagaries of cables than USB and all variants of S/PDIF (I.e. Coax, AES/EBU, etc.).

 

And fortunately audiophile cable companies haven't starting preying on those with audiophile nervosa with respect to Firewire cables yet, at least as near as I can tell.

 

Please don't imagine that you need a $700 Firewire cable. It's not necessary. In all fairness to Esoteric, their cable may have been developed for other, special requirements. They use something called "flow rate control" over the(ir) i-link connection - which sounds suspiciously like a custom version of Firewire, but it just might benefit from a $750 cable for best performance, whereas Firewire protocol in general does not, in my experience (nor have I heard anyone convincingly suggest otherwise).

 

The GoldX comes highly recommended by Vincent Sanders, the gentleman who worked with Sonic to develop Amarra from their pro product Soundblade.

 

Like the $750 Esoteric cable, the GOldX has gold plated connections.

 

Here's a quote from a recent thread here at CA on Firewire cables:

 

" I liked the $17 GoldX better than $50 Monster; others like Vincent and Jonathan at VRS claim the $1000+ cables don't seem to add anything...unlike in other cable categories."

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Firewire-cable-specification-connect-Weiss-DAC2-Macbook-Pro

 

 

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Opticis. This is pure conjecture but I have looking at the Opticis range of fibre optic Firewire for some time. Having both electrical isolation and distancing the computer from the rest f the system could help. Anyone tried?

 

Kamil

 

Kamil

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Kamil,

 

I have NO experience with Opticis. One very well respected, but also very well heeled, participant of AA's Computer Audio Asylum used Opticis USB for awhile, and then abandoned it for an expensive audiophile USB cable. He uses Gordon's Async USB DACs, upgrading to each current evolution as available. You might try searching over there, his moniker is Mercman.

 

Many have suggested that with Firewire and Async USB there should be little impact that a cable can make, but Gordon counters otherwise (at least for Async USB, but his arguments are not protocol specific).

His thoughts were posted here, so a search might find them.

 

As stated above, the armchair engineer (in me) believes that in no way should Firewire (or Async USB) be as sensitive to cables as AES/EBU or Coax Digital, with garden variety USB likewise somewhere in the middle with regards to potential sensitivity (given that it does NOT have to carry a multiplexed clock signal in the same manner as AES/EBU or Coax S/PDIF). TO be clear: I'm positing that AES/EBU & Coax S/PDIF could be quite sensitive to cable choice, non Async USB could be somewhat sensitive, and Firewire & Async USB would likely be less sensitive than the others - perhaps not in absolute terms, but relatively speaking - due to the nature (i.e. the 'physics') of the protocols.

 

The likely 'fatal flaw' of the Opticis would be the converters (from electrical to fiber & vice versa), just as with Toslink.

 

Your mileage may vary. As always, the 'map is not the territory', and when the two differ, once should reconsider the map (as well as one's own interpretation of the map & the territory). Ditto for armchair engineering 'theories' and one's own experience.

 

clay

 

 

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Another good post Clay.

 

I would like to add a few things that I have found playing with the stuff. I don't know where the concept began that Asynchronous USB is somehow less sensitive to the particular USB cable selected, but this is not true. USB cables do sound different with Asynchronous DACs. I have found this to be true not only with my Crimson, but the Cosecant Version 3 and the Proton.

 

As for the Opticis cable, it does reduce noise from the computer going to the DAC. I used a Socket battery supply to replace the noisy switching power supply that came with the cable.

 

Gordon suggested that the VBUS line be eliminated in USB cables for his DACs as the power line was not used. This was suggested at the time that I reviewed the Synergistic Research Tesla USB cable. Ridge Street Audio Design made me an Enopius cable without the VBUS line. It is an excellent sounding cable and highly recommended.

 

What I find most perplexing about this topic, is that the guys who feel that USB cables don't make a difference, or that Asynchronous USB is somehow immune to the USB cable selected, have never even listened to this stuff.

 

Einstein was able to do thought experiments, but these guys are not Einstein.

 

Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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"Need one take an IQ test before being allowed to think?"

 

Not at all. But a little first hand experience wouldn't hurt...would it?

 

Opinions are fine, but somewhere along the line, listening experience does count for something. And this seems all to often to be missing with the theories presented by some of our fellow audiophiles.

 

Quite frankly, I can't see myself getting upset over this. Why should you?

 

 

 

Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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I agree, we should have respect for others' opinions.

 

The point I was trying to make is that theory is fine, but should be followed with experimentation. Again, back to the original problem which was about Asynchronous USB DACs not being influenced by different USB cables.

 

It would be nice if some of the folks giving opinions actually listened to this stuff. It would give them a bit more credibility.

 

But it's only a hobby.

 

 

 

Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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"What I find most perplexing about this topic, is that the guys who feel that USB cables don't make a difference, or that Asynchronous USB is somehow immune to the USB cable selected, have never even listened to this stuff."

 

While I believe I can understand why they (i.e., those who believe Async USB is somehow immune) might have gotten the idea, I don't understand why they would persist in the face of contrary evidence presented by those that have experienced it - which I believe is the crux of the sentiment (er, frustration) being expressed by Lars.

 

The genesis of the idea that Async USB is (or should be) impervious to cables relates to the manner in which it carries data. The thought seems to be this - without the need for precise timing data coded/multiplexed/choose-your-own-word/embedded along with the digital data, the 'bits is bits' argument is valid. IOW, the belief seems to be that it's just like Ethernet, at that point.

 

This argument would seem to ignore any possibility that detrimental artifacts (aka noise, EMI/RFI or other forms of interference, etc.) can be transmitted from computer to DAC (or picked up along the way) by the cable.

 

Thanks for the kind words, Chris and Lars.

 

Clay

 

PS, hopefully I can say this without fanning the flames - I'm not sure the word 'only' and 'hobby' belong in the same sentence, except to say "If only I had another hobby, perhaps I wouldn't take this one so seriously".

;)

 

PPS, personally, I have LOTS of other hobbies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Below is a post from AA - Computer Audio, by John Swenson:

He's addressing a comment made by another poster, who said:

 

"I am not disputing that USB cables can make a difference when using adaptive usb. However, if async is implemented properly and works as advertised, then such issues should not have any effect. If they do, then async usb is not the solution I have been lead to believe."

 

John's reply:

"Thats not true, async USB sends the data in exactly the same way as other USB audio modes. The difference is an extra connection going between DAC and the computer that tells the computer to speed up or slow down a little so the average data rate changes slightly.

 

Here is the difference between adaptive mode and async mode using the 1020 that Gordon is using:

In both modes the data is coming in at a continuous rate from the computer, there is NO handshaking going on, the computer sends the packets and the receiver grabs them and puts them into a FIFO. The difference is in the clock used to take the data out of the FIFO. With adaptive mode it is a PLL based frequency sysnthesizer. The circuit monitors the level of fullness in the FIFO and adjusts the clock frequency so the FIFO doesn't get too full or too empty. In the async mode the clock is provided by a local crystal oscillator. When the FIFO gets too full or too empty it sends a command to the computer to change the rate at which it puts audio packets on the bus.

 

The clock coming from the local crystal oscillator has much lower jitter than the clock coming from the frequency synthesizer in the 1020 chip so the jitter going to the DAC chips is way less.

 

You seem to be making the argument that since different USB cables can still effect the sound quality that async mode is worthless, this is far from the truth, the jitter is FAR FAR lower with the async mode.

 

At this point we don't really know the mechanism by which different cables effect the sound in async mode. But because the levels of jitter have been drastically reduced the audio signal is so much cleaner that it becomes possible to hear effects that had been masked by the jitter in previous implementations.

 

So I would not say that async is broken, rather that it has allowed far subtler effects to be unmasked and its going to take some time for the engineering community to figure out what those are and come out with methods to combat them."

 

end of post...

 

 

I would say that the point about the signal being cleaner so that it becomes possible to hear - other, as yet unnoticed - effects that had been masked by the jitter seems quite plausible to me.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

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