Also interested in this question. I'm waiting with baited breath for the predictable post, "USB cables don't matter since it's just data...etc." Ridge is running a promotion until the end of the month for 40% off their USB cable. Also curious about the Kimber cable, which is a good 3-400 cheaper than either of the above.
I saw the RS site and the 40% off sale,so 285$ for .5 meter.I am A/Bing now the Kimber[1week old] and a Radio Shack.Either I cannot hear a difference or its not broken in yet....thats all I know which isn't much,sorry.
Someone here on Audiogon mentioned that he had both. I asked him for his opinion and he said if he had to pick one it would be the Ridge Street cable. I ordered one of the Ridge Street cables when I saw the 40% off deal. It has a 45 day money back guarantee if not impressed.
I compared one of the cheapie free USB cords that you get with a hard drive when you buy it to the USB cord that came with my Wavelength Cosecant. It doesn't have a name brand on it, it just says hi speed USB on the side. It does look a lot more substantial than the Lacie cord. I was floored by how much better the Cosecant cord was. It was really shocking, like probably the biggest change I've heard with any cable swap ever and I've done a lot. So if anyone says USB cords don't matter I know they're wrong.
Too bad you couldnt source the vendor for that one.....or can you?
Super question! IMHO cabling is very, very system dependent, so what you will possibly receive (at best) in reply is honest personal answers to your question, but those answers will all be system dependent.
That's why Robert's (RSA)45 day return policy, and the opportunity to borrow an SR USB cable from the Cable Company are important options for end-users.
Remember that it takes time for the cables and the electronics to settle in to changes made on this level. Initial impressions are not always the most valuable. Give the cables and system time to find themselves.
Yes, USB cables do make a big difference... and that is not just a subjective opinion.
The RCA dog would easily discern the difference!
I A/B'd the cables plus a regular USB printer cable for my highly sceptical son and his wife ("Dad... look, data is just data... ones and zeros... data is data"), both argued with great redundancy and circularity that data is just data... and both left the house after listening to the A/B muttering and sputtering... wrinkling their noses realizing that another axiom in computerland had just bit the dust.
"Yes, USB cables do make a big difference... and that is not just a subjective opinion."
So what IS the objective difference? Certainly it can't be the "nature" of the one and zeroes, right? There's nothing different about a 1 coming through a cheap cable versus the same bit coming through an expensive one is there? If not that then is it that lesser cables screw-up the bits themselves? Or perhaps cheap cables let unwanted "stuff" through the wire to the DAC?
I'm not trying to be a troll here. I just bought a Benchmark DAC1 USB and am using the stock cable from a laptop while working on the rest of the "real" system (NAS, wired network, fanless dedicated audio PC). If I'll get better sound with a better cable I'll buy one but I also know that the placebo effect can be strong. Hence I would like to know at least the technical theory behind high-end USB cables.
I too am very curious if a better quality USB cable will make an improvement since i am in the process of downloading my entire collection to an external hardrive. That being said, is it just going from your computer to an external DAC that will make a difference? The only USB cable i am using is going from my external hardrive into my computer and then i have a separate non USB cable(looks like a computer cable similar to one that goes to your monitor but not sure of the type) going into my outboard breakout box of my soundcard which has an internal DAC. From there i go out of the soundcard breakout box via 1/4" ends and then into my tube preamp via RCA ends. At this point i am very pleased with the results i am hearing but if a superior USB cable going from the external drive into my computer will improve sonics then i am all ears. But i too have previously read that they don't make a difference so i am very interested in hearing more about this matter.
Why remain in the dark?
Why not borrow the SR & Kimber USB cables from The Cable Company.
Take Ridge Street Audio's (Robert Schultz) offer of 45 days for a no questions asked $ return and decide for yourself.
You could even compare and contrast these cables to your favorite USB printer cables (all of us have several of those lying around somewhere). Bring it on with a premium Belkin USB cable from Best Buy or Circuit City.
Check them out.
I have emphasized that there are marked differences. That there are differences is not in question.
The qualities and your preferences in relation to those (sometimes considerable) differences are what should be carefully considered.
The question wondering if there are differences is "elementary, Watson".
Followup: for reasons that have been explained to me but which I seem to not fully understand: the USB lead from the peripheral HD to the computer doesn't seem to make a difference. It's the USB lead from the computer to the DAC that seems "mission critical."
I am part of a group of audiophiles that compared the Ridgestreet to Kimber to Cryoparts to Synergistic to the Belden "Gold" USB cables. The good news is that the clear winner was the Ridgestreet USB cable (by a healthy sonic margin). Every single sonic parameter (that differentiates USB cables sonically) was clearly better with the Ridgestreet offering. As a side note, I must give Cryoparts some kudos here too for offering a clear step up the sonic ladder for very little money (by far the cheapest of the bunch but not cheap sounding). It's not nearly as good as the Ridgestreet but both of these USB cables are solid recommendations in my book. One as a low cost upgrade and the other that may represens the best sounding USB cable in the audio marketplace today (at this point in time mind you). I'm sure that Nordost will offer a $5.000 USB cable "for us" once we start seeing more USB dacs approaching the $20k mark ;-)
As for the other companies making USB cables (in this comparison) I seriously started to wonder if they really did their research as they created their offerings or just tried to "grab some marketshare" by quickly "baking up" something that "looks good" and put USB connectors on each end ;-)
Ehider,The good news you mention I would say is actually bad news.Good news in the sense you determined the best sounding cable,bad news in the sense 450$/meter or whatever the price is too much for many people in the neighborhood I live in.Thanks for the tip though.Its almost Christmas and I do like to dream,cheers,Bob
Did you use the iRoc for your tests?
I suppose in the end it will be a matter of having to try it to really "know". Still I'd like to try to understand the science behind it. I read the technical information on the Ridgestreet site but I couldn't glean why anything they claimed that their cable does affects the sonic product. Surely there's a way to describe effective benefits of a cable in terms of what it transmits (or does not transmit) to the DAC and why it's beneficial. In other words, if comparing cable A to cable B . . .
If bits are bits then
If the differences are bit-related then
- does A change fewer bit values than B?
- does A transmit with less data loss (null values) than B?
- does A transmit data with better timing than B?
- does A reduce a need to resend data over B?
- some other effect?
If the benefits are not bit-related then
- does A limit superfluous energy sent to the DAC better than B?
- some other effect?
If bits are not bits then
What about the nature of bits (not the value) affects the performance?
I'm not trying to dispute anyone's claim of sonic superiority of A over B. I would just like to know why . . . even just a rough idea . . . before spending hundreds of dollars on something that I don't remotely understand. Again, a previous poster stated that the superiority of some USB cables "is not just a subjective opinion." So what's the fact or theory behind them?
>I would just like to know why . . . even just a rough idea . . . before spending hundreds of dollars on something that I don't remotely understand.<
M3pilot... probably like that old movie conversation in which one guy says...
"those that knows ain't saying..."
I don't really understand how that electricity comes into my house and powers my whatevers... but I still use it and mostly enjoy and appreciate everything it does for me.
Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio posted some thoughts in this Computer Audiophile thread as to why different USB cables may sound different.
The reason why USB cables don't matter when it comes to connecting hard drives and data retrieval and such is because there are multiple layers of error correction involved. If data is passed over a network, the TCP protocl will handle checksums and retransmissions if data does not match. The OS will also verify that data is written/retrieved perfectly.
USB audio OTOH, is handled in a streaming fashion, meaning the data is sent and forgotten about by the computer. That DAC doesn't respond back with a 'hey I got everything!'
The best way to handle this is to have some connection-oriented protocol between the DAC and transport, that way data that reaches the DAC is perfect regardless of the cable. Why this hasn't been done, I don't know.