Am I understanding you correctly....you can hear the difference in USB cables...and USB ports?
57 responses Add your response
Ghstudio - Yes. If your system is resolving enough and you have a computer, switch USB outputs for yourself and give a listen. With cables, the differences are less dramatic in my setup, but still noticeable.
Mmarvin - Very true. I've had a Belkin pro gold all along, subtle difference compared to the other cheap ones, but better with my setup.
You likely would find the recent discussion here beneficial discussing the cables you mention. I use the Belkin Gold currently but have compared and easily hear a difference to a Kimber USB cable connected to my Brick DAC and Mac source. Others' Mileage May Vary.
I just added the Ridge Street Poiema USB cable. The only cable I had not yet upgraded was the usb. So in an effort to get the most out of my system, I picked up the Ridge Street cable. I figured if the improvement wasn't worth the investment, I'd return it within their trial period. After a few days in my system, the improvements are significant and I am not planning on sending it back. BTW, my wife also noticed significant improvements. The improvements she described were consistent with what I was hearing as well. In my system, I can only say that the Ridge Street cable made quite a noticeable improvement. There definitely is a difference between usb cables. Well, at least between the generic usb cable I was using and the Ridge Street cable. I can not say if there is any difference with the Kimber, Belkin, or other cables. I am happy with the Ridge Street cable. You might want to give it a try and if you're not happy with it, simply send it back.
FWIW - I use and recommend the Opticis fiber optic USB cable. This cable is designed for industrial applications and can be run hundreds of feet. It takes the USB input from the cable, converts it to light, then reconverts it at the other end.
Personally I think it sounds better then my Belkin Gold. Since this is debatable consider the science behind it.
Technically it absolutely and inarguably breaks the electrical connection between the CPU and the DAC thus eliminating any possibility of a ground loop or other interaction.
Note that the unit requires a 5v power supply at the receiving end. Most of us who use them replace the rather low tech wall wart with a UBS battery unit which further isolates the signal.
Price will be about $140 for the cable and a stand alone battery supply.
BTW I have also used the Belkin Gold for many years. Have not fiddled with the other newer cables since I am very pleased with the Opticis. FWIW I have run it on a half dozen different DACs always with excellent results.
It sounds to me that we are beginning to see the same kinds of differentiation that made everyone crazy with SPDIF - differences in cable construction and especially termination are cleaning up various aspects of the electro-mechanical installation at both ends.
Keith - The WireWorld Site shows the Utraviolet as a 75ohm coax SPDIF w/ RCA connectors. I could not find a USB cable on the Site.
Robert - thanks for the info on the Ridge Street Poiema. This is a new product and the last time I visited this Site the Poiema was not there.
Ckorody - The Opticis optical USB looks interesting. Problem is, the ones I saw were connectors w/ Type A connectors at both ends. http://usbstuff.com/fiberext.html
That means one would have to connect a standard USB A to B cable to connect to the sink, thereby breaking the optical connection. How do you set yours up?
Hey Mb - you wouldn't happen to be one of those AIG executives that just got a $7 mil bonus, would you?
Suggestion. I assume you are going to use the USB cable to coneect a computer to a USB DAC. Why not contact the people who made/sell the DAC and see what they suggest for a cable?
I'm not sure I want to be one of those b#stards, even if it meant a nice $6.5mil bonus for nothing more than negligence. Names will be named, then we'll see if the politicians and the tax system can provide some justice for a change.
It's an MHDT Havana tube DAC, but I'm using an Empirical Audio Turbo-3 USB interface. Steve Nugent of Empirical suggested the Belkin Gold that I'd already owned before buying his product. He also indicated that other USB cables do make a difference (i.e. Locus Design). I guess it's just financially morbid curiosity that has me interested in these other cables, I've already spent enough on power cords, etc. (all of which make a big difference as well). I feel pretty stupid even posing the question though...when you think about how much a single high-end USB cable costs, especially given state of things.
looks like Opticis has formed a new company:
and that prices have gone up:
MMarvin - the source side plugs directly into my Mac - at the other end after the converter I have a USB A to B cable - haven't tried to see how much I can spend on that yet...
No concern about maintaining an unbroken fiber chain - once the DAC is isolated from the computer that's the end of any possible electrical interaction between the two
I really do like the Havana. I've had it for about two months. Steve actually tipped me off to it after I was ready to throw in the towel with computer audio (tried the Bel Canto DAC3 and owned the DAC1 for about 10 months). I was a bit of a skeptic about his Turbo 3, but it does what it's advertised to do. Pricey though. I didn't spring for the battery, just running it off my Hydra. Yes, it does have the superclock 4. To me it brings the Havana to a level comparable to the Benchmark DAC1 I used to own, so basically all the detail/dynamics of the Benchmark but the benefits of a NOS tube DAC. I didn't care for the DAC1 because of its brightness, but otherwise thought it was a good DAC (dealt with jitter pretty well).
Things have gone in various directions in this thread (which is fine), but I would like to refocus back to USB cabling.
All cables including USB cables are system dependent and user dependent and some combination of the two.
My best receommendation is that if you are looking for inexpensive USB cabling (in other words, if cost is the most important criterion) then an abundance of cables are available that are under $100. In that category you will find some much better than others, and many a whole lot worse than others.
But in order to find that out, you can't listen to people like me make referrals for you to make your decisions: you will have to break each of them in (sometimes 100s of hours running the computer into the DAC), listening to what you hear, and makign comparisons based upon adequately broken-in USB cables... that's the due diligence of cabling comparisons.
If you choose the inexpensive route, I suggest the cryoparts line of options:
Many careful users of USB cables have been highly impressed by their performance to price ratio. (These same users have been highly impressed by the Ridge Street Audio Poeima USB line.
I just took delivery of a 10' Cryoparts USB cable. I've had a 10' Belkin Pro Gold USB cable for a year now though 4 dacs, 2 sets of speakers and 5 amplifiers (the only USB cable I've kept in my system).
I'm really floored at the improvement the cable rendered right away (cold and no break-in ahead of time). I was skeptical at best beforehand. It's easily on par with going from cheap ICs to upper end cables. Let's see how it does after break in, but I was prepared for it to be harsh and sound like sh#t initially.
Not that I thought this was a farce as far as USB cables making that big a difference, but they appear to be on the order of ICs and power cables, if not moreso. And this was just a $100 "treated" cable. I guess in hindsight it stands to some reason as it's further up the signal chain, but basic intuition tells you digital is digital (1's and 0's).
Good to hear that you're trying this cable out.
My experience with it is that it gets much better the longer hours are put on it. I have several hundred hours on it, and it is much better now than when I first received it.
This cable works very well for me on a low-res integrated tube amp (updated McIntosh MA230) with a MacMini and iRoc DAC. But on my other better systems it still sounds a bit bright to my bright-sensitive ears.
A typical way to get lots of hours on the cable is to play Rhapsody or your music library into your DAC. No need to have the preamp on, but the DAC does need to be on. Give the cable a break (off-time, a rest) for an hour every twelve hours or so.
Let me know how things go for you.
Thinking on it now (and this is going to seem like we're manufacturing a sales pitch for Cryoparts), I'm honestly not sure I've noticed as big an improvement in any cable upgrade I've made so far compared to this one. Only thing I can compare this to is going from a Musiland MD10 DAC to the Benchmark DAC1 I used to own. I'm suprised the cable makes that big a difference (particularly since it's just a beefed up standard USB cable).
It is a tad on the bright/forward side (slightly), likely due to it being brand new. I'm not using a pre-amp, just going straight from my IMac to a Turbo-3, then to a Havana DAC and from there into a modified Rogue Audio Stereo 90. Itunes provides volume attenuation. I've never been a fan of separate pre-amps in my setup because they always seem to rob some of the signal or veil things when compared to directly driving the amp.
Thanks again for the input.
Definitely system dependent. I have just spent about 3 weeks with the Locus Design Polester ($250), taking it in and out of my system. I have used the Belkin Gold for 4 years now. The Polestar added a tiny bit of image density on my best recordings but I enjoyed the music no less when I put the Belkin back in.
If your system is reasonably revealing you will hear differences whenever you change something in it. Don't be fooled into thinking that different is always better. You have to try these cables in your system over many weeks to be able to decide whether it is a real improvement.
That's a similiar experience I'm having with the 10' Cryoparts USB cable. It clears up the presentation moreso than the Belkin gold and does add a sense of dimension and weight, particularly to the midrange frequencies (fairly noticeable in my system). I can skate by with the longer USB cable given the USB converter I'm using, otherwise I wouldn't even consider anything over a 6' cable like when I owned Benchmark DAC1 a while back.
I decided to try the Ridgestreet Audio Poiema USB, but it hasn't arrived yet. We'll see how it fairs and if the money is worth any margin of improvement.
Pardales and Mb9061... the RSA USB Poiema is a really good cable, and another 'gonner who probably might read this thread just traded up to the RSA Alethias USB cable... which is quite a statement because of his and other's initial skepticism. If he choses to "testify" (and I hope he does) his insights have been valuable to me as well.
As George Z says, "you'll like what you hear."
I took delivery of the Poiema cable yesterday. Right out of the bag it's incredible. I liked what the Cryoparts cable does versus the Belkin Pro Gold, but the Poiema is honestly in another class. I'll spare all the cliches on describing the improvement in sound and its characteristics, since results may very based on the system this cable's inserted into, but it is as has been advertised (and it still needs time to settle in).
Pound for pound, I'm beginning to get the impression digital source cables may have as much or more impact than analog ICs and/or power cords.
Mb9061, yuare comparing Cryoparts entry level USB cable with a more expensive Ridge Street Poiema so of course it's gonna outperform. Try comparing Cryoparts higher end cables if you really want to be blown away. These cables are under the Locus Design name, the Polestar(which I haven"t tried), the Axis and the very expensive Nucleus USB cable (I've owned both). While I personally haven't listened to Ridge Street's top line Alethias! cable, I have compared the Poiema! to both the Axis and the Nucleus. Both Locus Design cable offered more refinement and extended frequency range than the Poiema cable which I found to be slightly laid back but by no means was it an inferior cable. Once you've witnessed the differences, it's hard to accept something less. I have no doubts that the more expensive Alethias! cable would have made these comparisons even more interesting. Therefore if you're not willing to spend, by all means don't try these cables out.
BTW, my IC's and SC's in my system are Ridge Street Poiema!!! and I love these cables as much as I love the Locus Design Nucleus cable (and previously the Axis). ANY of these higher priced USB cables are well worth the price IN MY OPINION when compared to cables like Belkin Gold OR Kimber,,, both of which sit in my closet. ;)
Color me skeptical - but I just put a Locus Polestar in my rig and the difference is dramatic.
This is the proverbial window wiped clean kind of change - best I can figure is that Lee and his buddies have managed to eliminate a whole lot of trash and grunge in the mids and upper regions. The effect is much more detail, more air and as a result a much more layered and nuanced presentation.
The reason I find this so surprising is that the Polestar is attached to my battery powered Opticis fiber cable - there is obviously much more to this design then just isolating the 5v lines coming from the USB port on the computeer.
And to think I was a data is data guy...
Hey Mb9061, you stated earlier;
"I was mulling over the Locus Design Polestar, but he doesn't offer demo periods. Ridge Street indicated a 45 day demo period. Not sure I'll cough up $450 for a USB cable just yet, but maybe eventually."
Just to let you know as of 5/15/09, Locus Design is now offering a 30 day trial on their cables with a 20% restocking fee on returns. I will repeat my earlier advise Mb9061, DON'T try these cables unless you are serious about spending the $$$ as returning them will hurt much more than that 20% retsocking fee . LOL
Satfrat's advice is about the best I could give to anyone thinking about trying higher end USB cables..."If you're not willing to spend, don't try these cables out". If you buy one of them, you'll likely keep it.
The Poiema is a great cable and the improvement is on par with changing a source component like a DAC (in comparison to the Cryoparts or Belkin cables). They definitely do take a long, long time to settle down though, and the frequency emphasis shifts around during break-in/settling. That's been the case with every USB cable I've tried.
I give Robert at RSAD a hearty reccomendation as he's a fair guy to deal with and customer service was well above average. Can't comment on Locus other than the Cryoparts cable, which was great in it's own right. I do like the Poiema for it's laid back attributes, it's definitely more polite while giving you plenty of detail and dimension.
Received my Axis usb cable from Locus Design today. Right out of the box, it's impressive. It reminds me of when I went from generic speaker cable to Cardas Golden Cross, a lot more detail & presence. The sound is substantial, if that makes any sense to anyone. It's been through Locus'"proprietary conditioning cycle" and is still supposed to settle in for another 100-150 hrs. So I'll put off any critical listening until then, but it's quite good now. My previous usb cable was just a generic from Best Buy, which is my only point of comparison.
I only have limited experience with USB cables for computer audio but here it is: I first tried an Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable but was surprised and alarmed at all the drop-outs I was getting connecting my MacBook Pro to my Northstar USB 32 DAC, using Pure Music as the player. I ended up returning the Cinnamon to Audio Advisor and just using a generic computer USB cable which at least stayed plugged in sufficiently to not cause sound drop-outs. Recently, when I bought my BAT monoblocks and preamp from Perotta Consulting, he suggested trying a Wireworld USB cable, the Silver Starlight. I was wary of using a silver cable since I do NOT like bright etchy sound. However, the Silver Starlight allayed my fears. It is of very high quality construction, seals tightly to both DAC and computer, and I have not experienced one drop-out. Also, the sound is superb. It was definitely a step up from the generic computer USB cable. Whether you need to go as far as Wireworld I don't know, but I am glad I did. It is a perfect match for the Northstar DAC and my MacBook Pro.
I was using the usb cable Steve sent between my sever and the Off Ramp 5. This cable had bettered every othe cable i had available to try but the obvious differences I was hearing convinced me that it was worth it to invest in a really highend usb cable. I ended up with the Acoustic Revive usb-1SP. The benefits were totally worth it - every aspect of the sound went up to another level. I'd say that the usb cable is as important as any other in the audio chain,
Thanks for the input. I had the chance to try a Locus Design Axis in my system, but unfortunately it was not my cup of tea. It bettered the stock cable that I got with my RA Cantata in most areas like wider soundstage, better depth and cleared up the mids very well. OTOH I lost height of soundstage, it took some snap out of the whole musical experience and took away my LFs. Now I'm no LF addict, but I checked back and forth and first I thought that I might have some LF bump and that the cable cleaned that up, but after some comparing I think that it did too much of a good thing. I'm sure it's a great cable, but unfortunately it didn't work well with my system.
I just ordered 3 USB cables the TheCableCo's library (Audioquest Coffee, Wireworld Silver Starlight and Synergistic Basik Aktiv) and will test them over the next two weeks. Will report back as to what suits my ears and my system best.
Have done some testing with Audioquest Coffee, Wireworld Silver Starlight, Locus Design Axis and Synergistic Research Basik Activ. I wrote a kind of detailed review in Portuguese here:http://www.htforum.com/vb/showthread.php/199786-minha-saga-montando-um-novo-sistema?p=4599395&viewfull=1#post4599395 and since I don't feel like translating everything I guess that google translate might help out. I would just like to point out that I had forgotten to give my system a proper warm-up before listening to the Axis. With a properly warmed-up system (aprox. 1h play time in my case) things looked different. It wasn't my favorite and, for the money, I prefer the SR Basik, but the delicacy and extension of the highs were, by far, the best of the pack. Best bang for buck: the Silver Starlight. Fantastic LF. Am very curious about the Platinum.
Thanks for the shootout. Axis was one of my favorites.
Make sure that when you do these tests, that the USB DAC or USB converter is powered from the same AC circuit as the computer that is driving it. Otherwise the common-mode noise can get in the way of the performance. One way to reduce this noise is a USB cable filter, but even with this you should power them from the same circuit:
I used a SB Touch with USB out to do these tests (with Welborne Labs PSU). They were all on the same circuit.
I have to say that the additional PSU for the Basik is not very practical. Would be great if SR did sth like Audioquest does: with batteries.
For that kind of price I'm very, VERY interested in seeing what the Platinum has to offer. Also interested in Revelation Audio.