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Cutting open audio cables

McFly

Active Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
101
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72
#1
Madness it would seem. Literally cutting up money. But has anyone done it for the good of the people/audio science? It seems most cables are only sold on marketing blurbs alone, and we are never given a look inside to see what difference there is. Yes I know we can measure cables, we can also measure amps and DACs. We can lift the lid on both the latter but not on the cables. And it doesn't have to be high end stuff, it could even be cheap stuff like USB audio cables not meeting the USB standards for example.

Here's an example, I have a USB 2.0 audio cable from the local computer supply store and an entry level Hi-Fi USB 2.0 audio cable (brand will remain unnamed for now). The first has a value of 3 dollars. The Hi-Fi cable, a value of $180. That's 60x as much. I hear no difference between them. No ~6000% improvement. Cables are the same length. And say I'm willing to strip them both right open to prove the only difference is cosmetic, what are your thoughts?

I can understand people wouldn't want to hack into their newly purchased beloved cables that will make their music sound like it were sprinkled with pixie farts, but if one were to do so, and post the physical results, would they be burned at the stake for exposing the snake oil or praised as a Robbin Hood of audio?

I for one, am darn CURIOUS to see the makeup of these cables.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2019
Messages
5
Likes
3
#5
Madness it would seem. Literally cutting up money. But has anyone done it for the good of the people/audio science? It seems most cables are only sold on marketing blurbs alone, and we are never given a look inside to see what difference there is. Yes I know we can measure cables, we can also measure amps and DACs. We can lift the lid on both the latter but not on the cables. And it doesn't have to be high end stuff, it could even be cheap stuff like USB audio cables not meeting the USB standards for example.

Here's an example, I have a USB 2.0 audio cable from the local computer supply store and an entry level Hi-Fi USB 2.0 audio cable (brand will remain unnamed for now). The first has a value of 3 dollars. The Hi-Fi cable, a value of $180. That's 60x as much. I hear no difference between them. No ~6000% improvement. Cables are the same length. And say I'm willing to strip them both right open to prove the only difference is cosmetic, what are your thoughts?

I can understand people wouldn't want to hack into their newly purchased beloved cables that will make their music sound like it were sprinkled with pixie farts, but if one were to do so, and post the physical results, would they be burned at the stake for exposing the snake oil or praised as a Robbin Hood of audio?

I for one, am darn CURIOUS to see the makeup of these cables.
If you send me these two USB cables, I can cut them open and report my findings to you ASAP. I somehow envy you. You don’t have to spend much to enjoy yourself. A two dollar USB is all you need to find bliss. Good for you. Enjoy yourself, life is too short.
 

Wombat

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
4,888
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3,402
Location
Australia
#7
If you send me these two USB cables, I can cut them open and report my findings to you ASAP. I somehow envy you. You don’t have to spend much to enjoy yourself. A two dollar USB is all you need to find bliss. Good for you. Enjoy yourself, life is too short.
You can tell what significant affect on sound they will have by looking? Tell me more.
 

Panelhead

Active Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2018
Messages
136
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39
#8
I used to snip the power wire in FireWire cables close to the computer end. Then wrap back up.
Saw the the only audio cable I ever purchased had almost no shielding.
An audiophile FW manufacturer recommend their 1,000.00 FW cable to connect the disc drives to a computer. This was for USB DACs.
Their recommendation for a generic cable was LaCie. Cut one open and the construction was flat spaced construction. No shielding. The iEE1394B spec is shielded twisted pairs.
At least with FW cables, some cables are not built to spec. I have read some audio USB cables cannot meet the USB 2.0 spec.
I no longer use a FW interface. But liked the Pearstone brand from B&H Photo. Well made and cheap. The USB cables from Pearstone looked like gimme printer cables.
Has anyone tried the Corning fiber USB cables?
 

McFly

Active Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
101
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72
#9
Ars Technica did a public ABX test of a $340 AudioQuest network cable and a $2.50 one before testing against spec and cutting one up.
This is what im talking about. Brilliant stuff there. Lets do it with RCAs, and USB cables. Cat 6 cables i see no point other than making sure they pass standard tests. These test are so thorough that we can tell a cable is a dud. I have access to those fluke cat6a testers. What are the standards for USB? I could possibly test my cables to see if they adhere to the standards, but i cant imagine a USB cable is subject to such strict specs as the CAT6.
 

somebodyelse

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Messages
456
Likes
309
#10
USB cable specification docs - given that USB 3.2 is specified up to 20Gbps some of the specs are probably quite similar to CAT6. There's not a lot of audio gear using USB 3 though, and as you say USB 2 is much less stringent. Does anyone make a USB cable tester like the network cable testers? My search results were swamped by things that just test for continuity and shorts. I'm not sure there's much to be achieved by cutting them up if they pass the tests though.
 
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