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Nordost Tyr 2 Review (USB Cable)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Waste of money (piggy bank panther)

    Votes: 488 96.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 0.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 3 0.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 10 2.0%

  • Total voters
    504

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Nordost Tyr 2 USB cable. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,400 (no typo).
Nordost Tyr 2 USB Review Cable Review high-end.jpg

As you see, the cable doesn't look all that fancy but still has a premium feel to it. It highly resists rotating so when you try to align the USB cable, you may have to work hard at it. I think this is due to use of solid conductors.

I thought I start by quoting top line advertising from one of their resellers:

Nordost Tyr 2.0 advertising.png


It would be wroth it if it did all of that....

Nordost Tyr 2 USB Cable Measurements
We don't listen to USB cables but rather, the analog output of our audio devices, in this case, a DAC. I usually use my Schiit Modi 2 DAC for USB cable testing because its USB implementation is poor and highly dependent on the computer activity and to a minor degree, USB cable. Alas, today it would not produce a stable output with its SINAD jumping between 85 and 90 dB. It did the same with every USB cable so I put it aside and instead chose the Topping DX3 Pro+ that I had pulled out recently for other testing. This is a $200 DAC and headphone combo with superb performance.

For comparison, I chose to use my usual 6 foot Amazon Basics USB cable. I really like this cable due to its flexibility and durability having been plugged in and unplugged probably 1000 times in my system as I test various USB device. It costs all of $6.83 including Prime shipping!

Let's start with our usual dashboard, first with Amazon Basics:
Amazon Basics USB Measurement Cable with Topping DX3Pro+.png


Exceptional performance with distortion near -130 dB (15 dB better than threshold of hearing). SINAD is therefore determined by noise level which is around -115 dB (at threshold of hearing). Now let's swap the Amazon Basics USB cable for Nordost Tyr 2:
Nordost Tyr 2 USB Measurement Cable with Topping DX3Pro+.png


All we see are incredibly small run to run variations. Output voltage is the same to three decimal places. Frequency is the same to 5 decimal places. Noise floor is the same. SINAD is the same. We could stop here but let's keep going, testing with 32 tones at much higher sampling rate of 192 kHz (hence more traffic on USB cable):

Nordost Tyr 2 USB Measurement Multitone Cable with Topping DX3Pro+.png


Again we see both measurements being the same. We are digging deep down to -150 dB and can't find a difference. Notice how the top of the tones is the same indicating identical frequency response as well.

Maybe noise floor has changed. Let's measure that difference:
Nordost Tyr 2 USB Measurement Cable noise spectrum with Topping DX3Pro+.png


Just random run to run variation. Notice the super wide bandwidth of this test going 25X than maximum hearing range! And we still can't find a difference.

Let's widen our analysis of noise and distortion for 1 kHz tone:
Nordost Tyr 2 USB Measurement Cable with Topping DX3Pro+ FFT 90 kHz.png


Worst case noise and distortion is only -120 dB at around 50 kHz. The instrumentation has no problem digging so deep but is not finding a difference between these USB cables.

Ah, what about "timing?" OK, let's run a square wave through the system. We up the sample rate to 768 kHz to allow the edges to resolve well:
Nordost Tyr 2 USB Measurement Square Wave Cable with Topping DX3Pro+.png


No difference at all even if we highly zoom on the edge:
Nordost Tyr 2 USB Measurement Square Wave Zoomed Cable with Topping DX3Pro+.png


I did some testing for mains hum immunity by holding a transformer next to the USB cable. Neither cable caused any rise in mains hum into the DAC output. Doing the same by the way near its unbalanced RCA output did so proving that the test is valid. It is just that the DAC doesn't care about mains hum on USB or none was induced into either.

Nordost Tyr 2 USB Cable Listening Tests
I plugged in my Dan Clark Stealth headphone ($4,000) into the output of the Topping DX3 Pro+ to perform my listening tests. Stealth has one of the lowest distortions of any headphone I have measured and being closed back, nicely isolates outside noise allowing me to hear lower level detail better.

I started with Amazon Basics cable and my reference test tracks. Sounded great as usual. I then switched in the Nordost Tyr 2. The quick impression was that the sound became more compressed and congested. To confirm, I went back to Amazon Basics. It indeed sounded better. A bit later I switched back to Nordost. Now the Nordost sounded more clear and detailed! Listened for a bit more and switched back to Amazon. Now the Amazon sounded more detailed and clear! Continue to listen and these differences faded within a few seconds. Needless to say, none of this is real. The cables are not making a difference. It is me that is varying my perception as I go through plugging and unplugging stuff and music keeps playing.

Here was the kicker. I was listening to the Nordost and my wife comes up from the kitchen and asks, "what did you do to your system? It sounds so much better!" I told her not this time. And that I was wearing headphones so no way she could have observed that! Disappointed that she didn't score a point with me and hence couldn't cash it for something else, she went back down leaving me to write this review....

Conclusions
We could have concluded a priori that such a cable can't and won't change anything in the output of an audio device. Still, it is always good to put solid facts behind an opinion. And those facts are strong. There is not even a remote hint that the Nordost cable is impacting the performance of our DAC. We all know that it can't change the binary values going over the wire. All it could do was change the nature of noise it lets through and we measured that: it did nothing in that regard.

I know someone will say, "but you tested one device." Yes but given the sensitive nature of our instrumentation, if this cable had made any difference we would have seen it. If it can't possibly make a difference on some DACs, then it better say so. Statements of benefit are unconditional. From Nordost advertising for this cable: "The Tyr 2 USB 2.0 Cable is guaranteed to take your computer audio system to the next level. "

Well, the guarantee failed. I measured no difference let alone taking my system to the next level. Listening tests showed the same past the vagaries of such tests.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the Nordost Tyr 2 USB cable. Save your money and buy more music with it.

Edit: here is the video review:


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

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Last edited:

phoenixdogfan

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Well, the jacket and plugs on the Tyr-2's look just so bitchin' I just have to have 'em. ;)

And I'm certain, I'll be able to hear the dramatic audio difference! My system will be able to breathe now, even if my bank account won't.

And take note. Did Nordost just sit on their duffs when they made the world's finest USB cable, the Tyr-1's?

Hell no, they didn't settle. They said "we can do better!"

And so they have! That's why they were able to give the world the Tyr-2.

Bravo, Nordost! Well done, sirs!

And all for only the price of an Octo DAC 8 Pro, or a VTV Purifi Amp, or a pair of LS 50 Metas, or a miniDSP SHD. or a pair of Revel 105's, or an LG C1, or an Intel NUC I7, or an SVS SB 3000.

A true bargain!
 
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Doodski

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After all the new gear that I've handled over the years of selling and servicing audio gear I can imagine what the sales meetings with these guys look like. The mark-ups will have to be astronomical to attract the special type of buyers and sellers of this sort of hyped stuff. I imagine we are thinking along the lines of several multiples of $ cost to a sell price for both the manufacturer, the wholesaler and the retailer/etailer. Imagine buying a cable for maybe $500.00 and selling for ~$1200.00 at retail. They would have to be so profitable for people to sell them and continue hyping the gravy train.
 

Chrispy

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After all the new gear that I've handled over the years of selling and servicing audio gear I can imagine what the sales meetings with these guys look like. The mark-ups will have to be astronomical to attract the special type of buyers and sellers of this sort of hyped stuff. I imagine we are thinking along the lines of several multiples of $ cost to a sell price for both the manufacturer, the wholesaler and the retailer/etailer. Imagine buying a cable for maybe $500.00 and selling for ~$1200.00 at retail. They would have to be so profitable for people to sell them and continue hyping the gravy train.
They'd be idiots to buy the cable at $500, tho
 

liquidlino

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I think at this stage we all know that cd transports are all the same, and digital cables are all the same, power cords make no difference, power conditioners make no difference, speaker cables make marginal to no difference. Given the choice I would rather your valuable testing time was spent on measuring things worth measuring like speakers, headphones, etc.

I think it's disgusting that snake oil products like this exist, with all the unsubstantiated claims of improvements, and even worse that there are idiots who buy them. But 100 percent those folk are not your audience.
 

Chrispy

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I think at this stage we all know that cd transports are all the same, and digital cables are all the same, power cords make no difference, power conditioners make no difference, speaker cables make marginal to no difference. Given the choice I would rather your valuable testing time was spent on measuring things worth measuring like speakers, headphones, etc.

I think it's disgusting that snake oil products like this exist, with all the unsubstantiated claims of improvements, and even worse that there are idiots who buy them. But 100 percent those folk are not your audience.
Or think you need to pay that much even for different aesthetics in cables....just stupid overall
 

Doodski

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I think at this stage we all know that cd transports are all the same, and digital cables are all the same, power cords make no difference, power conditioners make no difference, speaker cables make marginal to no difference. Given the choice I would rather your valuable testing time was spent on measuring things worth measuring like speakers, headphones, etc.

I think it's disgusting that snake oil products like this exist, with all the unsubstantiated claims of improvements, and even worse that there are idiots who buy them. But 100 percent those folk are not your audience.
The comparative information about this sort of snake-oil should be laid out in as simple a format as is possible as @amirm did today with this review. It is making a difference and will require more time and energy to get the word out.
 

PeteL

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I can understand the hunger for gain, the frauds, all of that is in our society
After all the new gear that I've handled over the years of selling and servicing audio gear I can imagine what the sales meetings with these guys look like. The mark-ups will have to be astronomical to attract the special type of buyers and sellers of this sort of hyped stuff. I imagine we are thinking along the lines of several multiples of $ cost to a sell price for both the manufacturer, the wholesaler and the retailer/etailer. Imagine buying a cable for maybe $500.00 and selling for ~$1200.00 at retail. They would have to be so profitable for people to sell them and continue hyping the gravy train.
Yep, but that don’t surprise me that much, the power of the greed is strong in this world. Me I was more trying to imagine this guy at the Nordst boot at a trade show hustling this stuff… Damn, how can you keep a straight face… that’s what my mind can’t register… So used to lie they come to believe that BS themselves? The human mind is fascinating…
 

liquidlino

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The comparative information about this sort of snake-oil should be laid out in as simple a format as is possible as @amirm did today with this review. It is making a difference and will require more time and energy to get the word out.
There's nothing new about these tests. There was a test over twenty years ago of a coat hanger vs a top end digital cable, that showed there was zero difference. Sadly the plonkers that buy that crap just won't be swayed by science or logic.
 

Chrispy

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I can understand the hunger for gain, the frauds, all of that is in our society

Yep, but that don’t surprise me that much, the power of the greed is strong in this world. Me I was more trying to imagine this guy at the Nordst boot at a trade show hustling this stuff… Damn, how can you keep a straight face… that’s what my mind can’t register… So used to lie they come to believe that BS themselves? The human mind is fascinating…
Joe Reynolds pix I think tell you all you really need to know.
 
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