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Do USB Audio Cables Make A Difference?

trl

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@Reddy, there are reflections inside an optical fiber that transmits 10Gbps over few miles, but latency is few ms @ 1000 miles and a big percentage of this latency is caused by the active components (switches, routers).

What kind of reflections could be inside a 0.3ft copper cable able to disturbs the low freq. digital signal?

Can you please measure the jitter with both cables, please?

In case one cable really measures worse, then it needs to get dissected with a cutter and see what wiring and shielding are inside.

Thanks!
 
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think twice about what you say! amirm has already tested that some dac react to cables. I go a step further and say that cable bendings can have an influence.
 

Killingbeans

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the new cable sounds better in all aspects
Jitter measurements or it didn't happen.

You can't draw a parallel between a 328-foot ethernet cable and few feet of USB cable. The tiny bit of misalignment of the twisted pairs in a bent USB cable will most likely not have an even remotely audible impact on the jitter being present. I will eat my words if measurements shows otherwise, but I highly doubt it'll be more than make believe.
 
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think twice about what you say! amirm has already tested that some dac react to cables. I go a step further and say that cable bendings can have an influence.
Amir measured and published his results. You just claimed to have heard sonic improvements. That's not a step further.
 

graz_lag

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think twice about what you say! amirm has already tested that some dac react to cables. I go a step further and say that cable bendings can have an influence.
Hmm ... Here is someone (me) who prefers the sound if my data go thru my Weiss USB/SPDIF bridge over the USB direct link to the DAC.
From a pure engineering standpoint, that does not make any sense. :facepalm:
Ohh, my two DACs (Topping DX7s, NAD M51) are not broken as far as their USB infeed cards are concerned.
But I am happy with what my ears tell me so I keep the WEISS interface in the path.

Going back to your USB cable, buy the most expensive USB cable your budget can afford, but pls. do that for reliability if you want, not audio quality.
Paying "XXX" EUR for a USB cable will not get you better audio. You will get the same audio quality from a "X" EUR USB cable. o_O
The audio quality is a function of the original encoding, the decoding, the analog signal processing and amplifier, the speakers, the room acoustic and treatment, and so on ...
As long as the bits are properly interpreted, there is no difference in signal as a result of a cable.
 

trl

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Thanks, I see the point here, it's probably related to inductance of cable that being rounded may act as an antenna and increase crosstalk or get some external noises, things that might decrease the performance. But it's about LAN cables having about 100m length, not 1m of double shielded RCA cable, right?

However, jitter measurements might help a bit here, if possible.
 
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PierreV

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think twice about what you say! amirm has already tested that some dac react to cables. I go a step further and say that cable bendings can have an influence.
The link you posted is about Ethernet cables - yes, structurally, ultimate performance (data rate) depends on integrity. That being said, the performance degradation they talk about lowers the data rate below spec, but way above what you need anyway.

Cat 5e is able to deliver 125MB/s which is enough to deliver a 4.5GB BR disk in less than one minute (over 100m).
Assuming is degrades to Cat 5 level you are at 12.5MB/s (over 100m)
Streaming a CD at 1411 kbps requires 0.176 MB/sec.

That means, give or take a bit, that you could still sustain more than 50 streams simultaneously.

Now, I don't know how to repeat this in a way that works, but what leaves the data center, the hard drive, your telco's equipment is exactly what arrives at your place. If there is a random uncorrected bit error, bad stuff happens. Really bad stuff. If those errors were frequent, civilization as we know it would stop. Your car would stop, planes would fall out of the sky and the power grid would be a memory in most of the world.

The Blu-ray disk you are copying may be available a bit later on a twisted/strained cable, but rest assured all the pixels and bits of soundtrack will be there.

And finally, the impact of that damage can be measured (data rate, number of retries or corrected errors, etc...)

There are a few catches in audio, for example the fact that the old optical interfaces we use aren't error correcting and (weren't) self synchronizing. Those things literally count bits. Not so with Ethernet. Ethernet, unless physically damaged or stupidly implemented, has more than enough bandwidth and error correction to make sure everything works, always.
 
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I think I may have found the "ultimate" cable in terms of function and price. So basically, it seems all good cables should perform the same. If it's having problems, it's a bad cable, or the USB implementation is poor. Wirecutter reviewed a bunch of USB cables and basically judged their build quality, after drawing a line at their ability to maintain max throughput. So basically, "does it perform to specification" plus build quality. They concluded the Anker Powerline the winner, but they also provided an "Also Great" choice that's probably worth the extra few dollars, the Powerline+. The difference between the Powerline and Powerline+ is nylon wrapping (for aesthetic purposes) and three ground wires (vs non-plus's 1), which could help with longer lengths. For only a few more dollars, it's not going to break the bank so why not snag the "premium" version, of a well built cable, at a reasonable price?
 

tlr

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Am I correct that the arguments around USB cables can be broken down into 3 parts:

1. jitter: this should be a complete non-issue in properly designed asynchronous USB DACs, correct?
2. corrupted data: USB packets have a CRC so this should be easily detectable. It would be neat if DACs showed the user how many corrupted packets it has received in the last, say, 60 seconds. Kind of like RME ADI-2's "bit test" but without needing to play special WAVs.
3. analog noise: would galvanic isolation on the USB input essentially eliminate that?

Am I missing anything?

Of course, even if such a DAC existed there are still people who will insist their $500 USB cable sounds better.
 
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I wonder if this is exactly same even for Optical cables... Do you guys know the best Optical cable around 200$? I'm tempted to buy Atlas Mavros Toslink, as a reviewed talked like it was just near at Audioquest diamond in sound quality, even Audioquest vodka seems not bad..
 

RayDunzl

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Do you guys know the best Optical cable around 200$?
For what purpose?

Toslink is spec'd for plastic multimode fiber, good for 10 meters or so. Just don't buy junk. $5~$20 should be about right.

Glass singlemode fiber is what runs down the street, across continents, and undersea.

Having done the cross continent and undersea parts at work, going across the room isn't too worrisome..

I'd waste my money someplace else.
 
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For what purpose?

Toslink is spec'd for plastic multimode fiber, good for 10 meters or so. Just don't buy junk. $5~$20 should be about right.

Glass singlemode fiber is what runs down the street, across continents, and undersea.

Having done the cross continent and undersea parts at work, going across the room isn't too worrisome..

I'd waste my money someplace else.
Goddamn. I swear my 60$ Qed performance sound a lot better than a 10$optical cable that reviewers says it ''Sound as a cable that is 10x more costly" :p I even swear that QED optical sound better than usb stock cable of Sony pha-3 on PC.. I was looking to spent 200$ for the Atlas Mavros optical if I buy some good Dac/amp. I even swear that a 200$ Optical cable sounds like.. "An expense forever" Yep ^^
 

DonH56

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I wonder if this is exactly same even for Optical cables... Do you guys know the best Optical cable around 200$? I'm tempted to buy Atlas Mavros Toslink, as a reviewed talked like it was just near at Audioquest diamond in sound quality, even Audioquest vodka seems not bad..
Just plain old vodka will probably change the sound more than the difference in TOSLINK cables...
 

Sal1950

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graz_lag

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