$500-600 for a USB cable? That's just plain silly. No more than $30 should get one a very good cable. Any more than that is money wasted frivolously...
RW - yeah well, it certainly would be nice if it were a non-issue, but in my experience it ain't. I'm not seeking to veer into a cable quality "legitimacy" debate, I can only say that the move to the Locus Axis from "standard" USB cables made a discernible difference in the sound quality of my system. The technology has advanced sufficiently in terms of metallurgy, shielding, connector design, etc. in the years that I've owned the Axis that I feel there are likely to be better sounding USB cables now, in the price range that I, personally, am willing to spend. Maybe I need to spend less time hangin' at Computer Audiophile!
I traded my Starlight platinum for the Cabledyne Reference Silver USB. The Cabledyne USB has discrete power and signal leads and is pure silver wire. Price was around $140. I could clearly hear the sonic benefit.
Thanks to all who have responded, much appreciated. I'm still hopeful that someone out there with "ears on" experience with the Axis will be able to give me some comparative sense of the Axis' sound quality versus the current field of "contenders". It may be that I'm still very well situated with the Axis and that'd be swell. If investing in a more current design can reap tangible sonic benefits at comparatively reasonable expense, count me in! My "evolution" in USB cables, all providing noticeable gains in SQ:
"office" USB > Wireworld Starlight > Locus Polestar > Locus Axis > ???