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How important is the USB cable for connecting external HDD/SSD?


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Just tested plugging an external SSD into my SOTM sms200Ultra streamer and I must say it sounds absolutely fantastic. Now I wonder whether I should invest in a better quality micro to type A USB cable which connects the external SSD to the streamer (the SSD is powered from the USB port of the streamer so the cable is sending both power and data).

 

There are many quality cables for this purpose on the market (Audioquest, Wireworld, even Curious make a cable like that, they call it HD to PC link), but I need to know if they make any difference.

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10 minutes ago, AmusedToD said:

Just tested plugging an external SSD into my SOTM sms200Ultra streamer and I must say it sounds absolutely fantastic. Now I wonder whether I should invest in a better quality micro to type A USB cable which connects the external SSD to the streamer (the SSD is powered from the USB port of the streamer so the cable is sending both power and data).

 

There are many quality cables for this purpose on the market (Audioquest, Wireworld, even Curious make a cable like that, they call it HD to PC link), but I need to know if they make any difference.

That's interesting, since most that tried with the non ultra said it sounded worse.

  I would use an adapter before any chord if possible. 

Just to clarify, your saying your getting better SQ by connecting your data SSD to your sms200Ultra over sending the data via Ethernet from a server?

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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6 minutes ago, ElviaCaprice said:

That's interesting, since most that tried with the non ultra said it sounded worse.

  I would use an adapter before any chord if possible. 

Just to clarify, your saying your getting better SQ by connecting your data SSD to your sms200Ultra over sending the data via Ethernet from a server?

Not saying it sounds better than Ethernet, need to do some proper A/B before drawing the conclusion. But it sounds great per se, very clear, detailed and dynamic. This is my initial impression as I haven't tried it before, expected it to be totally crappy but it's not.

 

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On 5/30/2017 at 1:44 AM, CuteStudio said:

A USB disk cable with either work or give intermittent failures.

 

One properly working cable will pull the data off disk and into memory with exactly the same speed, accuracy and power consumption as any other properly working cable.

 

The disk will be caching and bursting the data into memory buffers etc anyway, but remember the data rate of a computer disk is FAR bigger than audio requires, which is itself a very low bandwidth option.

 

For instance to copy a 30 minute album from a disk - even in uncompressed WAV format will take a few seconds, and on really slow systems perhaps almost a minute. That right there indicates the disk subsystem is at least 30 to 100 times the required speed, so there is plenty of system time to do other stuff.

 

Many audio buffs are unaccustomed to computer hardware and still regard the CD as advanced, whereas in computer terms it has extremely poor error correction, data rate and capacity that's considerably bettered by the cheapest USB stick these days. And about that error correction: if you get the data off a computer disk/stick AT ALL you know it's the correct data, unlike a CD where you hope it's right but you're never quite sure.

 

So as long as it works, a $10 USB cable to your disk is EXACTLY the same as a $1,000,000 USB cable as far as the disk, computer and laws of physics are concerned.

 

Therefore it cannot and will not have any effect on the actual sound, although it may still affect the observed sound.

 

This is because psychological influences affect what we hear and our mood and expectations colour our listening experience, and a nice shiny, expensive USB cable we've just invested in will sound better to the buyer than the old cheap grey cable that's now in the cupboard: despite the fact that the sound coming out of the speakers is exactly the same as before.

 

 

Hi,

 

Just my 2 cents: audio difference between USB cable are not because of errors caused (or not) by USB cable, because these are all good enough to treat data transfert without any errors. The problem is somewhere else : in a computer, you can see all port like a door, and bad cable will introduce noise inside the computer (like an antenna will reflect noise inside a radio). So this has nothing to see with the capability to treat digital signal, but moreover to keep the device isolated from electrical noise. These electrical noise will reflect inside the streamer/computer and will go in the DAC.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I would say you can use your audiophile usb cable elsewhere. And you have other area for improvement before worry about this.

DigitalDac: Chord DAVE, Amp: MC275 Mono, Preamp: FirstSound, Source: Esoteric K01X, Cable: TaraLab GME interconnect,
CASSOtM Trifecta Mod 75ohm MCI, TheLinearSolution TCXO Router

Analog: SME 20/2, SME V, Skala, Esoteric C03 Phono

 
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  • 2 weeks later...

Signal wise, shouldn't matter for USB data leads with an SSD drive as long as run is short and wired to spec.However the SSD may be affecting your SoTM SQ if its drawing USB power, you may want to experiment with a  battery powered SSD case and taping over the power lead on the A end of the USB cable.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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On 5/29/2017 at 7:44 PM, CuteStudio said:

A USB disk cable with either work or give intermittent failures.

 

One properly working cable will pull the data off disk and into memory with exactly the same speed, accuracy and power consumption as any other properly working cable.

 

The disk will be caching and bursting the data into memory buffers etc anyway, but remember the data rate of a computer disk is FAR bigger than audio requires, which is itself a very low bandwidth option.

 

For instance to copy a 30 minute album from a disk - even in uncompressed WAV format will take a few seconds, and on really slow systems perhaps almost a minute. That right there indicates the disk subsystem is at least 30 to 100 times the required speed, so there is plenty of system time to do other stuff.

 

Many audio buffs are unaccustomed to computer hardware and still regard the CD as advanced, whereas in computer terms it has extremely poor error correction, data rate and capacity that's considerably bettered by the cheapest USB stick these days. And about that error correction: if you get the data off a computer disk/stick AT ALL you know it's the correct data, unlike a CD where you hope it's right but you're never quite sure.

 

So as long as it works, a $10 USB cable to your disk is EXACTLY the same as a $1,000,000 USB cable as far as the disk, computer and laws of physics are concerned.

 

Therefore it cannot and will not have any effect on the actual sound, although it may still affect the observed sound.

 

This is because psychological influences affect what we hear and our mood and expectations colour our listening experience, and a nice shiny, expensive USB cable we've just invested in will sound better to the buyer than the old cheap grey cable that's now in the cupboard: despite the fact that the sound coming out of the speakers is exactly the same as before.

 

 

true if you are talking about USB peripheral connection to a PC...false if the connected device is a DAC.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I tend to use optical as my final digital link to the DAC, it's just so good at isolating everything and to be honest USB/Optical links are pretty cheap these days too, some even built into the PC.

 

My ethernet and USB cables are all good quality $10 items that do the job as intended, going optical for the DAC may seem extreme but I must say it works like a charm and the $5 optical leads is faultless too.

Battling the Loudness War with the SeeDeClip4 multi-user, decompressing, declipping streaming Music Server.

 

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2 minutes ago, CuteStudio said:

I tend to use optical as my final digital link to the DAC, it's just so good at isolating everything and to be honest USB/Optical links are pretty cheap these days too, some even built into the PC.

 

My ethernet and USB cables are all good quality $10 items that do the job as intended, going optical for the DAC may seem extreme but I must say it works like a charm and the $5 optical leads is faultless too.

Its not extreme if both ends do a good quality Toslink implementation. WIth Aries Mini  to Metrum Octave, I couldn't hear any meaningful difference between good Toslink cable vs AQ diamond coax. Sadly Toslink out from most midfi audio devices isn't done well and the coax will sound better.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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28 minutes ago, davide256 said:

 I couldn't hear any meaningful difference between good Toslink cable vs AQ diamond coax.

 

Some people hear differences but the actual sound will be the same.

The problem with Coax is that it's a metal wire connecting one box to another so giving a possible path for RF and ground noise to travel.

 

I'm not sure how you'd implement a poor toslink, isn't it digital?

I suppose there is always the old timing jitter, but that's an issue for any digital link to an extent and easily cleared up by re-clocking at the receiving end. We're always re-clocking anyway: all those bits on the CD in the shelf or on the HDD have to be clocked out by something, if it's a computer then it'll be a variable speed clock on the CPU and a super cheap tiny clock on the sound chip :). 

 

BTW what makes you think USB cable quality makes any difference connected to a DAC?

Are you concerned with current pulses down the power wires of the cable?

Battling the Loudness War with the SeeDeClip4 multi-user, decompressing, declipping streaming Music Server.

 

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2 hours ago, CuteStudio said:

 

Some people hear differences but the actual sound will be the same.

The problem with Coax is that it's a metal wire connecting one box to another so giving a possible path for RF and ground noise to travel.

 

I'm not sure how you'd implement a poor toslink, isn't it digital?

I suppose there is always the old timing jitter, but that's an issue for any digital link to an extent and easily cleared up by re-clocking at the receiving end. We're always re-clocking anyway: all those bits on the CD in the shelf or on the HDD have to be clocked out by something, if it's a computer then it'll be a variable speed clock on the CPU and a super cheap tiny clock on the sound chip :). 

 

BTW what makes you think USB cable quality makes any difference connected to a DAC?

Are you concerned with current pulses down the power wires of the cable?

 specs in the optics electronics matter and using a toslink board section found in a $99.95 blue ray player is not going to get you to audio bliss.

 

I don't have to "think" about USB cables mattering since I have tried multiple USB cables, asynch USB converters, and DAC's. Each USB cable has an influence on the sound characteristics of a converter/DAC combination which I find extremely annoying. The REGEN helped somewhat with that but its still a factor. I don't intend to buy another DAC until I find one that natively supports optical Ethernet under $3k so that I can eliminate LRC issues with USB to DAC

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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No I don't think the specs do matter that much for optical, the steadiness of the clock is key, but beyond that it's digital, there's no physical impediment to perfection than I can imagine: is there a mechanism that I am missing?

If I use semaphore signalling to a friend on the opposite bank of a river, does it matter if my paddles are orange or white?

 

If your USB cables are influencing the sound of your DAC we need to look at the physics of the situation. Your transmitter is the same, your receiver is the same, just the cable differs.

 

Short of a digital error caused by a mismatched cable the only other thing is a partly mismatched cable causing reflections that may upset the timing slightly (by their levels being superimposed on the data levels).

 

But you say all cables sound different, so this discounts the digital domain because we'd expect a gaussian distribution of tolerances so we'd expect the majority to sound the same and the outliers to sound wrong.

 

We can also infer from your tests that all of the different sounds are wrong. It is unlikely that one particular cable is the 'right' one, therefore it points to a systemic flaw within the DAC itself. 

 

If we discount the digital and think about the mechanism of the error we're forced to concede that the analog section of the DAC is being influenced by the power or/and ground rail of the USB cable, insufficient filtering and/or isolation is therefore the likely problem with your poorly designed DAC.

 

Solution: buy another DAC, because that one's never going to be right.

Battling the Loudness War with the SeeDeClip4 multi-user, decompressing, declipping streaming Music Server.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
1 hour ago, ClothEars said:

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/34683-usb-audio-cracked-finally/

@CuteStudio

It might be worth reading this thread especially the later posts to get a handle on the issues involved with USB and cables. There is far more involved than you appear to acknowledge.

 

Being one to always interject some critical thinking into a thread:

 

Say you take two DAC's

 

Say you take two USB cables. One 'high end' and one built to spec but inexpensive.

 

Say both DAC's sound great with the 'high end' cable. Say one suddenly doesn't with the inexpensive but still built to spec. Do you see where this is going?

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33 minutes ago, plissken said:

 

Being one to always interject some critical thinking into a thread:

 

Say you take two DAC's

 

Say you take two USB cables. One 'high end' and one built to spec but inexpensive.

 

Say both DAC's sound great with the 'high end' cable. Say one suddenly doesn't with the inexpensive but still built to spec. Do you see where this is going?

 

Your example is not self consistent.

 

What do you think a 'high-end' cable actually IS?

It's a cable hopefully (but not necessarily) built to spec that has a high markup.

 

A USB cable has two components, a) power supply, b) a transmission line for data.

 

If you are going to power your DAC from the USB cable it's not really HiFi then is it?
If you are not drawing power then it's a transmission line. Transmission line theory has no idea of the cost of the line, it just knows if it is within spec. This spec is achievable for pennies.

 

If you really think your USB cable is worth spending lots of money on you may also find some use for spatial containers and pingu wood.

 

 

In the meantime the rest of us will be solving real problems and making real improvements to the sound.

Battling the Loudness War with the SeeDeClip4 multi-user, decompressing, declipping streaming Music Server.

 

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