• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

KIMBER KABLE: Do High-end USB Cables Make A Difference?

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
27,439
Likes
66,862
Location
Seattle Area
#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the KIMBER KABLE B-BUS USB cable. It is on kind loan from a member. The B-BUS in 1 meter length costs US $60 from the company.

Complain all you want about high-end cables. Where they usually distinguish themselves is the fancy look of their cables. Well, Kimber must have been absent on the day that marketing lesson was taught as the B-BUS is an ugly purple and looks as plain as it possibly could:


KIMBER KABLE KIMBER - B-BUS USB CABLE DAC Audio Review.jpg

Some lofty claims are made about the cable:

1580873438975.png


I sure hope so after paying 10 times as much for this cable. Then there is this endorsement from the founder of audiophilestyle online blog/forum, Chris Connaker:

1580873512952.png


You don't say Chris.... Let's find out if there are such interference that have been stopping the rest of us from hearing the "original recording."

USB Cable Audio Measurements
Let's start test this USB cable with one of the best performing DACs out there, the Topping D90:

KIMBER KABLE KIMBER - B-BUS USB CABLE udio Measurements.png


SINAD measures both distortion and noise relative to our main signal. At 121 dB, it is at least 5 dB better the absolute threshold of hearing. Distortion products are even better at whopping -130 dB. If you can hear them, you can likely tell when I flush the toilet at our house no matter where you live.

Now let's swap out that cable and put in a generic cable ($5) that I thought was Amazon Basics but it was not:

Amazon Basics USB CABLE audio Measurements.png


Wow, nothing has changed whatsoever. Output voltage is identical at 4.058 volts. Frequency is right on the money at 1.00000 kHz. Distortion is the same at 0.000094%.

Let's go for a much more sensitive test, namely jitter:

KIMBER KABLE KIMBER - B-BUS USB CABLE Jitter and Noise Audio Measurements.png


Not a hair out of place when comparing one cable to the other.

We are done here folks. There is nothing to see but the lowering of your bank account to the tune of $55.

Discussion and Conclusions
No, bits are not bits. The PC connection can cause noise to travel into a PC so there is some analog aspect to digital audio communication. It is the job of the DAC to be immune to that noise, jitter, etc. And that is certainly the case with vast majority of audio DACs.

Now, occasionally you may run into a ground loop with a USB DAC where you often hear the activity in your computer. In these cases, I suggest using a Toslink Optical input, or XLR output (if your DAC is so equipped). Swapping cables may randomly make a bit of difference but certainly not a solution to this problem.

Of course if you are not hearing any noise, none is there. The better fidelity you hear including "air" and "imaging" when you swap out your generic cable for premium cables is not there because the sound has changed. It is there because your mind has! You swap cables, focus more on what you are playing and all of a sudden hear better separation of notes, lower noise floor, etc. All of these were always there. It is just that your brain would explode if it had to remember all this detail so it normally ignores them until you start to compare audio components/tweaks. So we know why you "hear" a difference. A difference is there in your mindset. But not in the electrical signals coming out of your DAC.

Remember, no manufacturer ever shows such improvement in noise with their cables even though noise is so easy to measure. Or if they do, they show it on the digital side, not the side you listen to (output of the cable).

So don't let folks reach into your piggy bank and take out money that could go to much better use.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

This winter is dragging on so I am starting to get depressed. What would cheer me up is a higher balance in my back account so please donate what you can using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

bobbooo

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 30, 2019
Messages
620
Likes
743
#3
Great article. I've spotted a few typos though. The quote from Chris Connaker of audiophilestyle.com should read:
I've been a Kimber customer for years and I have very high expectation bias for Kimber products. It was no different for the Kimber USB. I had high expectation bias and those expectation biases were more than met.
;)
 

dense

Member
Manufacturer
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
Messages
10
Likes
15
Location
San Jose
#7
This reminds me of 2 different friends who said they noticed the difference in sound when their audio cable was connected in the reverse direction when they moved home.
They said something about electrons aligning the cable molecule structure and.....:facepalm:
 

majingotan

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
818
Likes
718
Location
Laguna, Philippines
#8

majingotan

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
818
Likes
718
Location
Laguna, Philippines
#10
Thing is the D50 when using generic cable has detectable noise, mainly the AC mains. But D90 doesn't.
Of course, the better the implementation of the DAC, the less relevant a better designed USB cable would be on the chain except on atrociously designed DAC. Still, there's a measurable difference but it's depended on the DAC involved unfortunately. If we can get Amir to test the Kimber under the same conditions as the Wireworld, that would be good data for comparison
 

garbulky

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
1,203
Likes
509
#11
$60 is considered "high end" for a cable? Yeah that's a little bit higher, but somewhat tame imo. Check out Audioquest for outrageous pricing! Their Diamond USB is like $599.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
27,439
Likes
66,862
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #12
$60 is considered "high end" for a cable? Yeah that's a little bit higher, but somewhat tame imo. Check out Audioquest for outrageous pricing! Their Diamond USB is like $599.
Which in turn is cheap compared to $12,000+ USB cables from Masterbuilt.
 

pozz

Machine
Forum Donor
Editor
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
2,063
Likes
2,959
#13
The only USB cable that actually made a measurable difference: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ents-of-wireworld-starlight-7-usb-cable.6599/

It's looks pretty good on my audio chain as well :)

View attachment 48731
I hope you didn't buy it because of Amir's review. The "measurable difference" is way below the noise floor and shows: 1) reduced mains hum but 2) increased high frequency spurs.

Edit: To be completely clear for anyone looking at these reviews: all the differences are below the noise floor.
 
Last edited:

majingotan

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
818
Likes
718
Location
Laguna, Philippines
#14
I hope you didn't buy it because of Amir's review. The "measurable difference" is way below the noise floor and shows: 1) reduced mains hum but 2) increased high frequency spurs.

Edit: To be completely clear for anyone looking at these reviews: all the differences are below the noise floor.
I did buy it knowingly that the measurable difference is definitely beyond audible range but I do wanted an USB 3.0 cable as I had a USB 2.0 cable that it replaced. I figured might go for something that actually has a measurable difference regardless and the looks factor of course. Aside from that, I do appreciate an USB design that actually works as advertised (reduced mains hum minus the subjective stuff of course) though their claims of "improved clarity (maybe distortion that makes the treble linger longer or have that shimmering body lol)" might have to do with the high frequency spurs on some less engineered DACs though personally there's no audible difference in my chain, but now I can plug-in a SATA to USB 3.0 SSD for high speed data transfers
 

pozz

Machine
Forum Donor
Editor
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
2,063
Likes
2,959
#15
I did buy it knowingly that the measurable difference is definitely beyond audible range but I do wanted an USB 3.0 cable as I had a USB 2.0 cable that it replaced. I figured might go for something that actually has a measurable difference regardless and the looks factor of course. Aside from that, I do appreciate an USB design that actually works as advertised (reduced mains hum minus the subjective stuff of course) though their claims of "improved clarity (maybe distortion that makes the treble linger longer or have that shimmering body lol)" might have to do with the high frequency spurs on some less engineered DACs though personally there's no audible difference in my chain, but now I can plug-in a SATA to USB 3.0 SSD for high speed data transfers
That makes sense. Wireworld does irk me though. They've convinced at least one otherwise sensible professional engineer to recommend their cables above generic products, which can get hideously expensive for anyone creating a home studio.
 

solderdude

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
5,551
Likes
10,059
Location
The Neverlands
#18
Amir's AP cannot measure 'magic' so they will all measure the same but still sound radically different.
It is time they learned how to make proper 'subjective' analyzers that will yield different results each time you test or make things up semi randomly, like in reality.
 
Top Bottom