Audio grade USB cables

I've had issues with this for years, trying to wrap my head around digital bits being lost, etc. Anyway, the debate in my head is settled, the USB cable does in fact make a big difference to your sound. But not because the cable is special or not special, it's the computer. The 5 volt power feed from the computer's USB output port literally infects sensitive audio electronics - USB DAC's specifically.

Some expensive USB cable designs may in fact improve this problem but they don't solve the problem. The problem is the dirty 5 volt power feed.

So why not just eliminate the 5 volt power feed? I've heard of people simply cutting the power lead in the USB cable. That may work for some DAC's but the majority require 5 volt power to function. And USB DAC headphone amps are often powered by USB alone - no wall plug. So you can't just cut the line in most cases.

What you can do is replace the dirty 5 volt power lead with a clean source of power - and by clean I mean any wall outlet is going to be clean by comparison to your computer's USB output port. Why? Because your computer has literally millions of circuits that are making noise and that noise is transmitted down the 5 volt power lead!

And that dirty power may mess up the data bits too, by interfering with the data lines inside the USB cable. So it's a problem with many dimensions.

I created a new product called USB Disruptor to solve this problem. I've advertised on Audiogon and have a unit for sale on Audiogon. It's a simple idea, disrupt the computer's dirty power and replace with an independent source.

The units are hand made by me with 7 welds per unit. I use silver bearing solder and the best parts available - though you don't have to go overboard with digital because it really is just bits - so long as you've dealt with the dirty 5 volt power issue!

The improvement to the sound can be dramatic depending on your setup. With my headphone setup it's very easy to pick out the differences, and these have been replicated with several test subjects.

With my reference system I've already spent over $1200 on a USB isolation product that is supposed to clean up the power and more, but sure enough it's improved with USB Disruptor. For example, last night I was listening to The Doors debut album - has light my fire and break on through - and it's a high rez from HD Tracks - and this time, with USB Disruptor, it sounds like Jim is totally separate from the band. He's hovering 3 feet above the center of my speakers and I can hear him tapping his hand on his leg maybe, something I've never heard before.

Dirty 5 volt USB power clouds the music, but in a way that is evenly spread across the frequency spectrum, so it's hard to consciously isolate a specific problem, it seems to sound normal. It's like a shade is put over your music. You can still enjoy but you're not getting the clearest and most lucid picture. When you use USB Disruptor the shade is removed and you can hear the quiet spaces between musical notes.

You will only appreciate the difference when you hear it. Don't all of us audiophiles (sometimes audiophools) swear our system is just perfect and then we add something new and realize we were still missing something?

That happens to me a lot, and I was surprised USB Disruptor functioned as well as it did in my reference setup.

It's logical though: if your computer is connected to your audio system by means of a USB cable then interference laden 5 volt power from the computer is getting into your DAC and other audio electronics. It's going to be very, very hard to stop that dirty power from affecting your music.

The best way to solve this problem is to completely disrupt the power from the computer's USB port. And that's what USB Disruptor accomplishes - it's simple, effective, and affordable.

I have no doubt that USB DAC's of many flavors have been sold off or given away by many of our audiophile brothers because they just sounded crappy - too shrill at times, flat stereo image, etc. But it wasn't the DAC - it was the dirty USB power. This is hard to believe but it's true. And I know it's true because I've heard the results.

Have any of you guys tried cutting the 5 volt power lead in the USB cable? Did it work for your DAC? It won't work for most, but maybe some.

Anyone else try other products that have helped? I know USB Regen is similar, they claim to cut the power too but it's still actually connected, not exactly the same as USB Disruptor. Of course, USB Disruptor is less than half the cost of USB Regen.

And that Audioquest jitterbug, that is more like a filter. I don't want to filter anything for fear I'll lose precious signal. Anyone use those?

The fact is there's a problem with USB. These products all tell us that. But don't make any mistake, it's the dirty power from the 5 volt output that's the biggest issue, and that's the problem USB Disruptor solves.
The Uptone Audio REGEN does much more than just address the 5 volt power lead. This post is nothing more than a blatant advertisement for the USB Disruptor, and I don't think it is appropriate in this forum. You can buy additional ads to sell your product.
Don't waste your money. I have a system that's far superior then this disruptor thing.
I bought a dual cable on ebay for $58 that allowed me to add a seperate power supply - solved the problem.

I followed Willie's advice (he's posted about this elsewhere) and bought from Doukmall on ebay (Chinese). The first cable they sent was dead but they replaced it even before they received the cable I was returning. It works fine and was quite a bit cheaper than some of the $200+ versions I've seen from "main-line" audio equipment companies. No affiliation with Doukmall.

DoukMall ebay - USB w/separate signal & power
For those of you who want to buy a Chinese made cable, be my guest. The fact is that this technology really works and few tools address the problem. The DoukMall product doesn't actually come with a power supply.

USB Disruptor is hand made in the USA, tested by me personally, and includes an outstanding power supply for nearly the same cost as a Chinese made import.

This is not a blatant advertisement either, it's sharing information with my audiophile brothers. We're mostly men, we spend a lot, and we demand a lot. I'm giving back to you guys by sharing my learnings, and if I can help you reach sonic bliss, then great. If you want to buy my product, good, if not, that's okay too.
And one more thing about the DoukMall product: if you plug it into a separate USB port on your computer to act as the power then you're not disrupting the computer noise at all. For that product to work like USB Disruptor you have to plug it into a completely separate wall outlet. Doesn't look like it comes with that piece. So it's incomplete!
Robp - You are correct - you do need a USB power supply adapter

Plugging both ends into a computer is not advised - I did try it and although it was still better than my DH Labs USB cable, it did sound much better when plugged into the USB adapter

I use an adapter like this for $5.99
Enercell 5V/1A AC-to-USB Power Adapter Charger

I tried several adapters, ranging in price from $5.99 to $25 and ranging from 0.5 amps to 2amps and the one above performed the best.

I've since tried it with my new Samsung Tablet adapter and it did not sound too good with that either - so the power supply is critical.

Yup...the signal leg of the Doukmall USB cable plugs into a USB port on your computer. The power leg gets plugged into a 5V AC to USB power adapter as used for charging cell phones, etc.. This must be purchased separately but they're pretty ubiquitous and cheap (under $15). The "joined" end gets plugged into your DAC. Less than $75 for the whole shebang.
Schubert's just a cheapskate. I bet he wants me to buy one so he can get it for half price when I go to sell it.

If you advertise on FOX News Schubert will buy 2.
Walmart has 2 1m cables for $10. They work good. Not sure if they're audio grade or not.
Czarivey, do you connect your computer to your DAC with one of those Walmart USB cables? Because if you do, then you're being robbed of dynamics, atmosphere, tones that soothe, and silence between notes. It's not the USB cable, it's the computer. And you can't fix it unless you disrupt the dirty 5 volt power that the computer generates. It's common sense this power is dirty - think of the millions of circuits those electrons must flow through, think of hard drive noises, and all the operations being conducted in the background. That causes noise. And that noise goes into your stereo if it is physically connected to your computer by means of a USB cable. Even if you have a device, it doesn't matter what it does, it's still connected to the computer, and that is the problem.

So to make your USB DAC sound how it's supposed to sound, you need to supply a clean power connection to the USB cable, separate from the computer. There are few products that do this. Some of them have been mentioned above.

With one of these products your Walmart cables will sound at least as good as the expensive audio grade USB cable I used to test USB Disruptor.

Good luck.
I'll check if my 5V is clean or not. Have tools and oscilloscope.
I'm good tester by nature of my work and test everything i see and hear several times daily.
I am a software/systems engineer, but I use very basic USB cables mostly AmazonBasics which are not expensive and seemingly well made.

I have trouble getting my arms around what makes any digital cable worth a lot of money. Most any I try sound pretty good and leaving me uninspired to try anything different.

I have no such problem with analog ICs and power cords. I have heard clear differences in sound quality with these. I think I can with speaker cables as well though I have not tried very many different ones over the years.
Mapman, I tried a lot of USB cables while testing and they all sound equally bad running direct from the usb output port. When you disrupt the computer's 5 volt USB power line in many cases you get a really big improvement. And this improvement was not due to USB cables of one flavor or another, because when AB testing those units running the disruptor I couldn't tell one from another.

This finding is consistent with the logic of digital signal processing. There should not be a difference, not according to what we know, real and theoretical.

However, it is likely that some USB cable designs do in fact reject some of the USB power noise. But they can't get rid of it completely. And in that case one USB cable would in fact sound better than another, having removed some of the noise would improve the entire signal chain.

But it's still incomplete, and most people have not spent $1000+ on their USB cable to get that benefit, so in most cases it's very incomplete. And that means dirty power is leaking into the entire signal chain and polluting everything all the way to the speakers.

In that case it gets to be a very frustrating process of elimination to find the cause of the problem. In my case it took six years of experimentation to get to the truth.
I believe there are various versions and modes of usb operation some older and not well suited for hifi audio. I think getting a good asynchronous mode usb implementation on both ends is important and would not worry much about the cable until that is addressed.
Hi Robpriore,

I really appreciate audiophiles who contribute to tze hobby. Your USB disruptor certainly seems like a step in that direction.

I agree with you - 5V in USB cable is a problem. Definitely.
If one is able to completely cut it off (let's say, makes a DAC with USB input powered from the DAC itself) - and then makes a USB cable without +5V leg - would you USB disruptor make a difference in such case?

USB cable then would have + DATA, - DATA, and -5V (ground) legs - and that's it.

Would your product make any difference in such case?
On the Doukmall dual cable, is the signal leg identified separate from the power leg and lack the leads for power?
Mesch - On the Doukmall cable there are 2 legs and a total of three USB terminals. The signal and power legs are joined at a shared B terminal that is yellow. The A terminal of the signal leg is also yellow. The A terminal of the power leg is black. I can't say whether the signal leg lacks power leads or if those leads are present and simply not connected. I did not think to try and connect only the signal leg of this split cable to confirm voltage is carried solely by the power leg, though that is my assumption; an easy thing to check, however. Hope this answer helps you.
Audiobb, I think in that scenario USB Disruptor would not be needed at all. The power would come from the DAC itself, just a 5 volt lead. And The DAC maker could leave the 5 volt pin off the USB connector on the DAC to guarantee dirty USB power can't leak into the DAC from the computer. I would bet that some DAC makers have figured out the problem and basically install a USB Disruptor type solution inside the DAC, which would be a great way to make a great sounding DAC, and then charge a big dollar amount because the sound is very different, and it's obvious to everyone that it simply sounds different. I'm serious, the sound with USB Disruptor is different.

In my opinion, and to my ears, the sound with USB Disruptor through my reference setup is the best sound I've produced in 25 years, and I think it's the best sound I've ever heard, on any system. It's not loud, I mean I could spend more to add 8 additional speaker drivers and more amps but that would only make it louder - it would provide no more clarity or detail.

I'm a total minimalist with the analog section of my system, having abandoned chunky preamps in favor of a single input passive preamp. The passive pre utilizes a state-of-the-art stepped attenuator, which is a volume control, but the signal passes through a single resistor only, and the volume control has 27 positions each with a single resistor for each level, so the total is 27 resistors. Bottom line on this, the signal is passing through what may be an absolute minimum in terms of volume, and for sure in terms of the preamp since there are no preamp circuits. It's hard to imagine a more pure circuit.

After the pre it goes to my custom Odyssey amp, then to my Von Schweikerts.

Again, it's hard for me to imagine a better sound - the Scanspeak drivers in the Von Schweikerts and the Sanken transistors in the Odyssey are found in some of the most expensive and best sounding audiophile gear- at any price. Buying another amp of similar quality, just more powerful, wouldn't help me do anything but go louder.

The point of this is that I didn't use USB Disruptor in this system until recently. And because of the difference I now know the cause of my digital woes to be dirty USB power.

Had USB Disruptor been invented years ago I may not have upgraded my Adcom amps or Mirage speakers, because the problem I was trying to solve, unbeknownst to me at the time, is caused by dirty USB power. The symptoms include shrill or sharp tones, a kind of graininess to the sound at times, and the silent spaces between notes are often lost. This becomes maddeningly apparent after using USB Disruptor, and I can't think of a single audiophile upgrade that accomplishes so much for so little cash.
"This becomes maddeningly apparent after using USB Disruptor, and I can't think of a single audiophile upgrade that accomplishes so much for so little cash."

That's because you make them.

          Thank you for your post and answer. We think alike, in terms of minimalism. I also don't use a preamp, I have volume control inside of my DAC. I've also used stepped attenuator before, now it's digital volume control in my DAC.
          And I haven't noticed any loss of resolution, unless i go under 50% setting. this is my favorite volume control this far, and I own 4 diferent types of volume control.

           Personally, i would go diferent path - low power SET amp0, high-sensitive and ohm-stable speakers, and separate amps for bass drivers. That's how i do it, and it is the best sound i've heard. Pretty soon, I will modify DAC to power USB input (amanero), from DAC, not USB cable. I will report with the changes in sound.

        """""This becomes maddeningly apparent after using USB Disruptor, and I can't think of a single audiophile upgrade that accomplishes so much for so little cash."

That's because you make them. """""

           Maybe. But maybe it is also because there is a logical science behind this product, and it actually works. I think it should. I would order it and try it, if I couldn't modify my DAC.
Ghosthouse, thanks for the clarification. I use the Audiophellio with the Pure Power supply. I believe the PP accomplishes the same thing, isolating power from signal. 

Mesch - I’ve just been reading about the Audiophilleo product range and it looks very interesting.

I would agree with your assessment, but only if the Pure Power option is used.

The Doukmall cable addresses one basic issue...

  1. IF your DAC utilizes the "unstable" power normally supplied via the cable connected to the computer - (many do not, so it is not an issue) you have the option of connecting it to a separate "clean" power supply.

The Audiophillio Products with the Pure Power option will also alleviate this issue - i.e. by NOT using the power provided via the USB port.

THEN -  they go to some extraordinary lengths to ensure extremely  clean power is supplied to the digital circuitry.

However, if the Pure Power option is not used, the Audiophillio USB-SPDIF Converter uses USB power. In which case, it too is subject to the same issues any other USB powered device is subject to.

  • In this scenario the Doukmall Cable along with an Enercell power supply will be of benefit - but probably not as good as the Pure Power solution.

Personally, I have tried many "experiments" with providing "clean" power - especially to digital circuitry and found it paid big dividends in SQ every time and the Audiophillio products seem to be addressing this to the highest order.

It would be very interesting to hear Audiophillio + Pure Power compared to my Doukmall setup - I would imagine the sound is very nice indeed - alas, the price is the only thing stopping me.

You wouldn’t happen to reside in the Toronto area would you? :-)


Sorry Willie, I live in southern Illinois. It seems that the Doukmall cable is a good inexpensive way to separate power from signal and probably would provide much of the sonic gain provided by the PurePower to the Audiophilleo. I would like to try the Doukmall in my 2nd system. It seems Doukmll makes several cables. Is there a particular make?
I have the Audiophilleo with PurePower and run the USB Disruptor there too.  The difference is the same, dirty USB power infects that product too.  I think the dirty power is composed of super high frequency noise that is able to travel on the surface of components.  It's hard to clean up, so it's best just to disrupt it for good.
FYI, USB Disruptor is $49 and made by me in USA.  So we're already less expensive than the Doukmall cable, and it's from USA!

Rob - I've just looked at your web site and at the pictures of the Disruptor and "in principle" it is very similar to the Doukmall cable...

  • in that there is one cable for the digital signal and a totally separate cable for the power supply.

Basically - As I see it, the differences between the two products are...

The Doukmall product...

  • is made in China
  • uses high quality USB cable
  • BUT requires an additional power supply - the choice of which is left to the discretion of the consumer.
  • But which power supplies are good?
  • Poor quality power supplies will degrade DAC performance!
  • There are literally hundreds of USB power supplies to choose from and they all perform to different levels - I have tried 9 to date - the Enercell 5v 1 amp being as good as a battery USB supply

The Disruptor product...

  • is made in the USA
  • uses a high quality power supply
  • BUT requires an additional USB cable, the choice of which is left to the discretion of the consumer.
  • But which USB cables are good?
  • Computer grade USB cables may, or may not offer the ultimate in audio performance - there are hundreds to choose from
  • One might "assume" any cable provided by the manufacturer of the DAC to offer the best SQ - but as seen many times - it may not be the case.
  • High Quality third party "audio" USB cables may (or may not) provide the "ultimate" in SQ performance.

The debate about the use of Computer Grade vs Audio Grade USB cables for audio data transfers will be ongoing and the outcome is always based on the "opinion" of a specific consumer.

But one thing that is certain - asynchronous USB data transfers, as used in streaming to DACs, ARE NOT vetted  for completeness by the DAC, i.e. it is not known whether the data sent by the computer actually arrived at the DAC intact - and as a result SQ can be affected.  

With all that said, I do believe the Disruptor offers an alternate  approach to providing "clean power" to the DAC, which will improve the performance of any DAC/SPDIF Converter that utilizes power normally made available via the computers USB cable!

It is unfortunate that I had not seen your product earlier, otherwise I would have purchased it - it just did not show up on my Google search at the time. :-(


You guys might want to try the Curious Cables. very impressive.

Rob, like Willie, I also might have purchased your Disruptor had I checked out your site, may still as I have a second system. I really think your product, as the Doukmall, makes sense.  

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Or just add an UptoneAudio Regen and benefit from both the +5V separation and regeneration of data for a bit more money than the Disruptor but definitely worth the little extra. Add an affordable hand made Supra USB cable and you're good to go for a solid upgrade. If you like (even) more sonic improvement, the Curious Cable from down under is worth looking into.
I can tell you from many years as a Audiophile and experimentation and working in pro audio the noise on the 5 v digital line can be  very dirty .
i bought first a Jitterbug which does filter the incoming digital signal . Two 
can can strip out  some of the  fidelity of the music.
the USB Disruptor  has been by far the most out effective product used anywhere in my system and I have tried a lot of tweaks.
and it was do simple to implement just plug it in  to  a outlet connect to your dac 
then plug your digital  cable into that. The sonic benefits were like lifting a sheen or fog ,separation of instruments was clearly better ,yes even more so then the jitterbug  with more Bass impact and depth of soundstage.even at 2 x the price 
a steal in my opinion,With a money back guarantee you have nothing to use .
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Jaybe - the phrase you quoted RE: "But one thing for certain..." is from one of my posts - so in response...

I read it here...

Isochronous (continuous) transfer mode uses error checking but no retransmission in case of CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check) errors.

And here...

Isochronous transfers occur continuously and periodically. They typically contain time sensitive information, such as an audio or video stream. If there were a delay or retry of data in an audio stream, then you would expect some erratic audio containing glitches. The beat may no longer be in sync. However if a packet or frame was dropped every now and again, it is less likely to be noticed by the listener.
    Isochronous Transfers provide
    • Guaranteed access to USB bandwidth.
    • Bounded latency.
    • Stream Pipe - Unidirectional
    • Error detection via CRC, but no retry or guarantee of delivery.
    • Full & high speed modes only.
    • No data toggling.

And several other places on the web

If that has since changed - I stand corrected.


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Jaybe - not a problem - I had to search all over when I started  looking at why different USB cables perform differently.

I originally "assumed" USB transfers would error check and resend - just as a computer communicating to a USB drive would - but that was not the case for streamed content.


Williewonka, the operating principles of USB Disruptor would suggest that the type of USB cable from the computer into the Disruptor would not matter, so long as it's a certified USB 2.0 cable.  I tried testing it with a range of USB cables and I could not hear a difference.  I have some empirical data that may help explain why it works.  I've added that to my website:

Jaybe, check out this part of my site for some answers to your questions:

The Jitterbug may be filtering something out because I heard it on a very resolving system with USB Disruptor and it caused an unwanted ringing around one of the voices in Guinnevere by CSN.  It was repeatable and was the Jitterbug.  Maybe it doesn't play well with USB Disruptor, not sure, it really shouldn't matter though because USB Disruptor is really very, very, simple in terms of what it does, which is to disrupt the influence of the 5 volt power coming from the computer.  We don't force the signal through any circuits, it's a very hands off approach in terms of the signal.  That's why I said I don't like to knowingly filter anything when it comes to audio.


Williewonka, the operating principles of USB Disruptor would suggest that the type of USB cable from the computer into the Disruptor would not matter, so long as it's a certified USB 2.0 cable.

 In my case, I tried several cables attached to the signal cable of the Doukmall cable and although the differences were small I could discern improvements between several cables - especially when using a higher quality DH Labs Cable.

But even the DH Labs cable did not perform as well as simply connecting the Doukmall Cable directly to the computer.

Perhaps the USB connector could have introduced problems? - I don't know, but it was very simple and a very short female/female adapter like this one

Without actually trying the Disruptor I am unable confirm your observations.

But I do believe the Disruptor achieves the improvements you cite and provides a very affordable solution alternative to overcoming the inadequacies of computer USB power.


Thanks Williewonka.  If it sounded better without the extra cable, no matter what type of cable, then it could be a shielding problem.  The connector would have to maintain the shielding and maybe it's not as good at doing that as a properly constructed USB cable.  That may account for the sonic differences you heard, especially if it was better without the extra cables.

There is more to this issue than claimed here. It is certainly good to provide ahigher quality USB power source than that provided by the cable/computer, particularly for those USB interfaces that utilize the 5V in the cable.. The the other issue that is a primary cause of jitter is the common-mode noise in the USB connection.. Replacing the power supply will not fix this.. CM noise requires filtering in the cable.

There are several companies that sell USB power supplies and there are several that sell filters.. None of these combine a really low-noise, fast-reacting supply withan effective CM filter, except Empirical Audio.. Our Power Block contains effective filtering with a custom Hynes-regulated USB supply.

The filter will not adversely affect SQ.. In fact it will improve it.

As for these things affecting the data, I have tested this and they dont.. My DAC does not have resampling in it and any data errors are immediately rejected by muting the DAC, or causing clicks.
Hi, would common mode (CM) noise  show up on a scope?  We did readings between using a certified USB 2.0 cable and the same cable with the USB Disruptor connected.  The readings displayed the 5khz tones and we didn't see anything problematic.  We may already be filtering it out, our solution is shielded.