Review: USB Disruptor and "DaBigGenius" No 5 volt

Let me begin this review and testimonial by saying that although I wanted USB Disruptor’s USB Power and “DaBigGenius” USB No 5 volt cable to work and work well, I had no expectation that they would be such a shocking improvement. Yes, shocking! Bear with me and I’ll try to explain my journey and the discovery of USB Disruptor and “DaBigGenius”.

I had always felt that USB audio was an inherently flawed method of transferring digital audio signal (as is S/PDIF for different reasons). From the inherent computer noise (signal and power) to the timing of signal within the computer to the receiver chips timing issues and accuracies. PCs are notoriously bad at keeping a stable clock and renowned for being highly noisy. In recent time with the advent of asynchronous receivers, the timing problems between the computer and the DAC’s receiver were improved (this thanks to J. Gordon Rankin and his development of asynchronous USB). Although this minimized a source of timing errors (jitter) it did not eliminate the noise from the computer’s USB power supply or the inherent noise of the USB cable which carries both the 5 volt supply and the digital signal to the USB receiver chip of the DAC.

It should be obvious that USB was designed as a great convenience for communications between a computer and a device that uses the signal and the also the available 5 volt power. This eliminates the device’s need for a plug-in power supply. Think of the myriad of devices that both communicate and are supplied power from the ingenious USB connection. So why is it flawed?  If we look at the current state of consumer USB DACs we find several categories, those that have an internal power supply for the receiver chip, and those that rely on the 5 volts power from the computer (through the USB cable).

So the question is: How to reduce or eliminate the inherent noises from the cable and the noisy 5 volt power from the computer? Numerous approaches have been taken. Some manufacturers use noise filtering, some use active power supplies other simply state that the problem is overstated!

This brings us to my shocking revelation.   I did expect an improvement with the USB Disruptor Power Supply. It provides 5 volt at the DAC USB connection and replaces the 5 volt computer supply (transferred through the USB cable). This eliminated the noisy computer 5 volts from the receiver chip and supplied a very high quality, regulated 5 volts. The shock was the intensity of the improvement to the DAC’s sound. I knew jitter was a sound that was hard to articulate verbally but from the very introduction of the USB Disruptor it was clear that this noise or distortion was present (without the Disruptor) and radically reduced with the Disruptor. The closest description of the change was the lifting of a vail that was obscuring or smearing details, tonal structure and timing cues. I was in awe of the improvement and realized that this was the most substantial upgrade that I had made to my digital music system. Historically that journey covers numerous DACs and countless USB cables all in an effort to reproduce clearer and more musical presentations.

All of this shocking improvement came at a cost of $100.00 (current price of the Disruptor). No USB cable upgrade had achieved this level of performance and some of those USB cables cost 16 times the Disruptor’s asking price. This included USB cables that physically separated the signal from the power only recombining at the DAC. So, when I saw that USB Disruptor had introduced a USB cable “DaBigGenius”, I took the plunge. Remember that old adage “success breeds success”, how bad could it be?  

Now I can’t tell you much about the design of “DaBigGenius” and I did email Rob to confirm which cable to choose for my DAC. The “DaBigGenius” USB cable comes in two versions, the first is a standard cable for both signal and power and at $25.00 is said to be a very good replacement for those very expensive audiophile USB cables that I have tried, owned and now have abandoned. Unfortunately, I did not try this standard cable. With Rob’s help and direction, I chose “DaBigGenius” No 5 volt since I already owned the USB Disruptor 5 volt power solution. The No 5 volt versions costs $10.00 dollars more (labor) for a total of $35.00 and most importantly, it does not carry that noisy computer 5 volt supply to the DAC or through the cable. In fact it is eliminated the connection at the computer thus providing a shielded Data cable with no internal power supply runs and no internal noise other than that of the signal cables itself. Nice!

The results of introducing “DaBigGenius” No 5 Volt into my digital audio system (that was already employing the “Disruptor” but with a very high quality (expensive) USB cable that carried the computer’s 5 volts) was again shocking but in a strikingly different way compared to the USB Disruptor. Yes the overall clarity, specificity and space increased (terms like: vails being lifted, less hash, less digital, more analog sounding, come to mind). Add to this the most unexpected effect: the overall perceived volume appeared to be less (at the same volume level it sounded less loud than before). This spoke to me as a possible noise floor improvement, it dropped and must have dropped by a perceivable amount!

Yea, right! As you might imagine I was not totally convinced that what I was hearing was something good. Loosing volume when adding a cable usually means loosing S/N and that would not have been a good thing. So, back to the old cable and then to “DaBigGenius” and then to an older cable and then … and then … and then, I kept coming back to “DaBigGenius”. It took me the better part of a week doing USB cable switching at the same volume levels and then, almost as if I didn’t believe it, I was convinced and well shocked!  This was an effect I had experienced years ago when I purchased a new preamplifier with very low noise floor and a dead quiet phono stage. Yea, you know that experience; things just sounded absolutely clearer and more precise and consequently allowed me to turn up the volume.

Now you might ask, what is he using, a $500 DAC and relatively inexpensive equipment? Well here is the lineup (you be the judge):

Speakers:           Adam, Tensor, Delta semi active

Amplifier:           Levinson No. 27

Preamplifier:     Coda Technologies 01p

DAC:                     Wadia 121

Analog:                 VPI Traveler with a Grado Reference cartridge on an air table by Townshend Audio, The Seismic Sink

Cables:                 An ever changing array of Nordost, Morrow Audio, and now “DaBigGenius” by USB Disruptor

In conclusion: The USB Disruptor (5 volt power supply) and “DaBigGenius” No 5 volt (USB cable), both under $150.00 are by a shockingly large margin the most cost effective improvements made to my digital audio system and have made digital audio as close to perfect as I have heard. Sure your equipment and results may vary but it is my sincere belief that this combination will go a long way to improve the sound accuracy of just about any digital system that employs a computer, USB, and an external DAC. Please give Rod a call or an email. He is a delight to speak with and as engaging in his beliefs and anecdotes as anyone I have spoken to in the audio world. But, the difference here is that the results speak so much more clearly than the metaphors we create to describe what we hear. In Rod, you have someone focused on solving problems and his commitment to resolve and understanding of these problems shows through in his products and their results. He believes in what he hears and now, so do I!

Great job Rob and thanks for your products. They represent real problem solving in the real world of digital sound reproduction. Most cost effective solution that I have heard to date. BRAVO!                  

Tried the disrupter in my system and it did nothing. I think the reason is that my dac produces it 's own 5 volts 
Alan, you've posted this several times, that USB Disruptor does not work for you.  However, in an email you wrote to me dated December 22, 2015 you say the following:

A combination that sounds very nice is USB cable from computer to a Regen feeding the Disrupter into the Melodius.

Just saying, 

I understand that with self powered DAC, like Wadia 121, you just need well shielded USB cable with no 5V wires.  That's all. Computer timing is irrelevant with asynchronous DAC.
I have the USB Disruptor feeding my Antelope DAC (which has it's own power supply). A nice improvement in focus and separation of instruments.

I think all USB to DAC users should give this an audition! It comes with a money back return policy. 

David Pritchard

Disruptor blurb:

My internal PC DAC was never anything great, so I finally purchased a Micca OriGen USB-powered external DAC to use with the JBL LSR308 active studio reference monitors for my PC. I immediately noticed a difference for the better. Bass was smoother, mids and highs were more articulate... The only "fly in the ointment", so to speak, was all the static popping, grinding and hissing sounds I had inherited since I started using an external DAC over the crappy one built into my motherboard.
Surprisingly, I could not find anything online that met my expectations in dealing with this issue. I finally stumbled onto the USB Disruptor & DaBigGenius!!  Rob(owner) takes a common sense approach to mitigating noisy USB connections. I was amazed at the degree of difference it made right off the bat. I thought my sound was already great from the DAC upgrade, so I was shocked at how such a simple fix could literally tighten up the soundstage even more, clean up the bass while dropping the noise by 95%+ WITHOUT interrupting the digital data stream in any way. The remaining 5% noise has been narrowed down to a grounding issue with my active JBL LSR308 studio monitors, which is negligible, but can be easily remedied with a Ground Loop Eliminator!

Congrats on a kick ass product!!


Sorry for the long delay, but the experimentation and critical listening took additional time to arrange and execute. I too was perplexed about the Distruptors place in a system where the 5 volt power supply is unnecessary. This became a bit of an obsession with me since I was hearing a difference and as kijanski points out the Wadia does not need the external 5 volts to operate.

Our first experiment was to establish the facts about the Wadia and indeed it functions perfectly with just the ‘DaBigGenius” No 5 volt. The nagging issue for me is that I thought it sounded better with the now clearly unneeded Disruptor and thus the need for the next experiments.

Our second experiment was to do a series of evaluations with and without the Disruptor while using “DaBigGenius” 5 volt. We used three participants to execute this experiment. Each participant was given 10 opportunities to guess at which configuration was being used. Each test was randomly generated and each participant was asked to leave the room so that there was little or no bias introduced. Each participant was asked to pick 3 songs that they wanted to use for the evaluation. Each evaluation session took approximately 7 minutes, 4 minutes of listening and 3 minutes out of the room for the configuration change (whether it happened or not based on the randomly preselected sequence). This experiment was focused on identification of the configuration i.e. can I hear the 5 volt Disruptor when it is in the digital signal path. The results were unexpected as each participant identified the Disruptor in place correctly 87% of the time.

RESULT: The panel was able to identify when the 5 volt supply was in or not even though the Wadia does not require the 5 volt supply.

Our third experiment was to identify which of the configurations sounded better. We used an experimental design identical to our second experiment: 3 songs, 10 tests that were randomly generated configurations, 4 minutes of listening time, 3 minutes of “not in the room” while configuration changes were made (or not) as predetermined.

RESULT: The panel chose the “Disruptor” as the best sounding configuration 85% of the time when it was in play, so essentially they not only picked it out correctly most of the time they also said that it sounded better.

The participants were my 25 year old son, my wife and myself (son took care of all of my trials so I was just as in the dark as they were). Now I know this is not a highly scientific result but given that the tests were as blind as possible, it surely speaks, in volume that the combination of “DaBigGenius” and the Disruptor in my system was the better choice.

As we all know, your mileage may vary. After reading Rob’s white paper on the advantages of his products, I now understand a little better as to why I could hear a difference with and without the Disruptor. In my opinion the Disruptor is a vital part of my digital chain in spite of the fact that my DAC, the Wadia 121, does not need a 5 volt USB supplied power source.

Final thoughts; the disruptor and “DaBigGenius” are inexpensive products that yielded extraordinary results in my system. The improvements were both easily recognized and appreciated. The improvements observed were a lowering of the noise floor. Articulation thru ought the audio range was enhanced. The space around instruments increased with greater specificity in imaging, Dynamics were enlivened on both the macro and micro scale. My first reaction: “an opaque vail has been lifted”, I believed the combination of the Disruptor and “DaBigGenius” to be a very good, if not startling, improvement. After this round of experimentation, I am quite convinced that the product is well worth your evaluation time and best of all you have nothing to lose. If you don’t like it, you can return it for a full refund.

Perhaps an out of focus dirty window vs a pristine new glass window. “I can see clearly now” sums it up!

Great product, great price, great support and great results! I couldn’t ask for anything more!


"Great product, great price, great support and great results!"

Let's add, great review to that list of "greats".  Well done, Sam and thank you for taking the time to do the experiments and write up.    


Thank you for such a comprehensive and detailed report. Your experience mirrors my findings using the Disruptor with a self powered and expensive Antelope DAC. The Disruptor added to my system made a bigger sonic improvement than when I added the Antelope's Volticus external power supply ($1000.00 upgrade).

With a 30 day no hassle return policy I do think this is an inexpensive   upgrade that most audiophiles should audition. The cost benefit ratio is simply too good not to give the Disruptor a try.

David Pritchard