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High Quality USB Cable for USB DAC?  

post #1 of 128
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know if it's worth buy a "high" quality USB cable to connect a PC/Laptop to USB DAC? I'm looking for a cable to connect an EMU 0202 USB to my laptop. I read somewhere that the best USB cable you can buy is the Tricon USB by Synergistic Research, but they aren't available online, there is no price listed, and the store locater does not work (I don't know what the big secret is?). It's probably too expensive anyway (My guess is around $100).

What about the Belkin Home Theater USB 2.0 Cable? Belkin

or Monster Cable Performance Digital USB 2.0 Audio Cable Buy Monster Cable Performance Digital USB 2.0 Audio Cable at Musician's Friend

Does anyone know if these have any different cables have any effect on the audio quality?
post #2 of 128
I have done a lot of research on this, including a lot of reading of the USB spec. High priced USB cables are not worth the money in general. Cheap USB cables however can lead to audible errors.

And some manufacturer's care about video quality, or meeting shielding requirements more than audio quality.

I would NOT buy the Belkin or the Monster, certainly not at Musician's Friend (which has been horrible shipping the AT AD2K's to several of us this week).

The manufacturer Newnex is fully certified and quite cheap. Available at usbstuff:

USB 2.0 Cables Active Extensions and Angled Cables from Newnex
post #3 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post
I have done a lot of research on this, including a lot of reading of the USB spec. High priced USB cables are not worth the money in general. Cheap USB cables however can lead to audible errors.

And some manufacturer's care about video quality, or meeting shielding requirements more than audio quality.

I would NOT buy the Belkin or the Monster, certainly not at Musician's Friend (which has been horrible shipping the AT AD2K's to several of us this week).

The manufacturer Newnex is fully certified and quite cheap. Available at usbstuff:

USB 2.0 Cables Active Extensions and Angled Cables from Newnex
Belkin seems to make pretty good fully rated cable; what don't like about them?
post #4 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by ath1337 View Post
Does anyone know if it's worth buy a "high" quality USB cable to connect a PC/Laptop to USB DAC? I'm looking for a cable to connect an EMU 0202 USB to my laptop. I read somewhere that the best USB cable you can buy is the Tricon USB by Synergistic Research, but they aren't available online, there is no price listed, and the store locater does not work (I don't know what the big secret is?). It's probably too expensive anyway (My guess is around $100).

What about the Belkin Home Theater USB 2.0 Cable? Belkin

or Monster Cable Performance Digital USB 2.0 Audio Cable Buy Monster Cable Performance Digital USB 2.0 Audio Cable at Musician's Friend

Does anyone know if these have any different cables have any effect on the audio quality?
I have one of these in my setup:

Kimber Mini BUS 0.5M @ HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears

The cable is very well made and I use it in my system:

EAC > Foobar2000(ASIO4ALLv2) > RSA Predator > Shure SE310/Senn HD580's

Does it make an audio difference? I think so, but some do not find that it matters much. Some do, however.
post #5 of 128
As long as the usb cable is within specs, it should make no difference in sound quality over short distances.

Its pretty much the same thing as sending a music file between two computers... all data is intact. Although i think usb transfer has some type of data-correction protocol.
post #6 of 128
A poorly made cable will make a big difference - intermittent connections, dropouts, etc.

Cables that are well made and up to spec will sound the same between each other.

Just get the cheapest cable that's USB 2.0 certified that's well-constructed.
post #7 of 128
What are examples of well made cables?
post #8 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by vo_obgyn View Post
I have one of these in my setup:

Kimber Mini BUS 0.5M @ HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears

The cable is very well made and I use it in my system:

EAC > Foobar2000(ASIO4ALLv2) > RSA Predator > Shure SE310/Senn HD580's

Does it make an audio difference? I think so, but some do not find that it matters much. Some do, however.

I think this one is a safe bet. I have 2. Some would argue that an "audiophile usb cable" is not worth it, but these are reasonably priced and offer good shielding with a high quality build. I wouldn't recommend them at $100+ but there approx $40 price is reasonable.
post #9 of 128
Thread Starter 
After reading this review Kimber Kable: Kimber USB Review | Computer Audiophile

I think I'm going to go with the Kimber Cable.
post #10 of 128
reason i went against kimber and ended up with the cryo-parts, is that kimber has inbuilt ferrite cores which are, from a certain school of thought, deleterious to the realtime stream, fine for data transfer

see this quote from the proprietor of empirical audio

the cryo parts usb cable is founded from an already decent quality usb cable, cryo'd and then wrapped with ers paper and an expensive carbon shielding which will pay dividends in terms of external noise fields.
post #11 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quaddy View Post
reason i went against kimber... is that kimber has inbuilt ferrite cores which are, from a certain school of thought, deleterious to the realtime stream, fine for data transfer

see this quote from the proprietor of empirical audio
Quaddy is right, and Steve (Empirical) is right -- it's not just a "school of thought", it is a strong suggestion from the USB spec folks. I have posted this in other threads, sorry to repeat, from usb.org:

Q. What are the most common signal quality design mistakes?

A: Signal Quality is a mandatory test. See the signal quality test description for details. Most problems are the result of EMI "control" components like ferrite beads mounted on the signal lines. Often, these manage to destroy the integrity of the signal as well as make emissions worse.

from:

USB.org - USB FAQ


Kimber has ferrite beads. Some Bekin's have it too. A reasonable price line Newnex does not, and Newnex has been certified by usb.org. See my first answer to the OP for a link to buy.

Before I knew all this I bought the Kimber. It sounds identical to the Newnex, so the beads don't hurt it. But it did cost me 3 times as much.

It's not that beads will hurt for sure, but usb.org suggests controlling EMI without using them, so it upsets me that Kimber did resort to them. That's all. No logic here, just emotion.

But $15 cable sounded as good as $45. I have a $1 cable that sounds poor, btw, so not all cables sound the same. The $1 cable has beads, but it looks and feels like the junk it is.
post #12 of 128
CHALLENGE:

Can any of you provide any proof whatsoever that a USB cable can have any effect on digital audio passing through it? I think you're all reciting old wives' tails (or old nerds' tails). If what you all say is true, than USB backup hard drives would routinely be corrupted - not because the hard drive breaks (which is common) but because, given the vast amount of data being transferred, statistically speaking if it's at all likely that an error can be transmitted and not detected (and corrected), there's no way USB backups would work. Yet they do! OOOH AHHHH!

This is a call out, mother ******!!! Make your case, or admit you're wrong and beg for mercy.

-Garret

PS: this is all in good fun
post #13 of 128
garret, we are talking about real time digital streams as in music being transferred across said cable to a very fine implement such as a dac, no one is arguing that its mission critical for a hard drive to have such a quality cable for the mere purpose of storing and using data files.

its like comparing a telecoms companies policy of always on broadband. if you read their smallprint, most if not all actually dont guarantee you data (adsl) down the line, they only are willing to provide a high percentage of QOS and uptime for voice.

reason being voice is robust compared with 1's and 0's

this can be equated to the differences between storage and streaming of music which is more finicky and prone to error, streaming is not as error adaptive as even broadband (with its interleaving) and plain ol' data storage, which often has the host OS to deal with blips, CRC redundandcy checks or alike.

its not a case of having to prove it one way or the other, if it was i am sure we would ask you non-believers to prove that it doesnt have a beneficial outcome with using a higher quality/noise rejecting cable

its simply a case of peace of mind for most, i know it is with me, having spent a lot of money on a dac, hours and hours of managing music and the highest quality interconnects etc etc, i will sleep easier knowing i spent a few more bucks on a cable that is less likely to have a negative affectation on my music listening!
post #14 of 128
Yeah, in this instance it is cable quality.

If you buy something not a default Ratshack $3 lead, but spend a bit more, you can expect better overall build-quality and a more stable signal/mirror of data which went in.



In fact my Zen came with a good USB lead. It has quality connectors/it is shielded and gray.
The same connection as my DAC.
post #15 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garret Jax View Post
CHALLENGE:

Can any of you provide any proof whatsoever that a USB cable can have any effect on digital audio passing through it? I think you're all reciting old wives' tails (or old nerds' tails). If what you all say is true, than USB backup hard drives would routinely be corrupted - not because the hard drive breaks (which is common) but because, given the vast amount of data being transferred, statistically speaking if it's at all likely that an error can be transmitted and not detected (and corrected), there's no way USB backups would work. Yet they do! OOOH AHHHH!
USB disk reads and writes have error-correcting and re-tries built in. No problem. This has nothing to do with USB digital audio transmission, which has hard real-time constraints -- deliver the bitstream in time as the music plays.

This comes up over and over again. I'm gonna have to dig up a bad cable and do a demo somewhere.
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