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USB cable and Sound Quality  

post #1 of 134
Thread Starter 
I read that sound quality is not affected by expensive USB cables Then I read a better USB cable can help to isolate noise and prevent drop-outs and loss of information when streaming to your dac. Choose one please. Here is one for you.

500 bucks!

Synergistic Tricon USB

http://www.thecableco.com/prodListing.php?cat=95&man=44
post #2 of 134
I don't know how gold-plated tips are any better than nickel-plated, but I will pay a couple extra dollars for a durable, well-made cable.

I wonder how wire gauge, shielding, and ferrite cores affect the performance of a usb cable.
I think I recall reading that thicker gauge wires are spec'd for longer lengths, but I can't remember.
If anybody knows, care to fill me in?
post #3 of 134
Thread Starter 
I know this sounds crazy but I prefer the way my dac sounds with a cable that doesn't have the ferrite attached.
post #4 of 134
There is definately a difference between the freebie USB cable that came with my DAC and the kimber. The freebie cable sounds muddy. I probably should as an experimnet try out other normal cheap USB cables to see whether kimber is really better or not.
post #5 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesL View Post
I don't know how gold-plated tips are any better than nickel-plated, but I will pay a couple extra dollars for a durable, well-made cable.
------
I think I recall reading that thicker gauge wires are spec'd for longer lengths, but I can't remember.
I agree with both of your points

Firstly, I usually buy better cables for build quality (durability, finish) and longer lifetime (gold plated tips). I haven't been around long enough to justify buying very upscale cables; things like that $500 cat5 short-cable threw me off with this part in audio. If there was ever a cable that could reduce latency, I'm sure many online gamers in the world would own these.

Then secondly, I also read something along the lines of *thicker gauge = less resistance* somewhere.
post #6 of 134
I am cable believer myself...
So even if I have not compared USB cables myself, I have the strong mind that there may be differences.
post #7 of 134
Anyone who actually believes a fancy USB cable will sound better than a cheapo needs to go back to school. USB cables transfer DIGITAL DATA, 0s and 1s, thus it's PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for a the cable medium to impact the sound quality in any way shape or form. The ONLY factor that should go into buying a USB, or optical, or HDMI cable, (digi cable-etc), is it's sturdy enough to hold up normal wear and tear.


Let me repeat: It's PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for a "higher quality" USB cable to make your signal sound better. Either the digital signal is intact and it works, or it's not intact and it doesnt work (IE: you hear nothing at all)

If you claim otherwise you will forever admit yourself to easily deceived by placebo. :P
post #8 of 134
Thread Starter 
Cheap optical cable can increase jitter. Is there a way to know for sure all the proper 1s and 0s are reaching your dac? I also thought noise or EMI could travel through a USB cable since it carries power as well as data.
post #9 of 134
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lapwing View Post
Anyone who actually believes a fancy USB cable will sound better than a cheapo needs to go back to school. USB cables transfer DIGITAL DATA, 0s and 1s, thus it's PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for a the cable medium to impact the sound quality in any way shape or form. The ONLY factor that should go into buying a USB, or optical, or HDMI cable, (digi cable-etc), is it's sturdy enough to hold up normal wear and tear.


Let me repeat: It's PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for a "higher quality" USB cable to make your signal sound better. Either the digital signal is intact and it works, or it's not intact and it doesnt work (IE: you hear nothing at all)

If you claim otherwise you will forever admit yourself to easily deceived by placebo. :P
Im not doubting you but can you explain it to us in greater detail? Also can you explain why it could make a difference with a COAX digital cable but not a USB?
post #10 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by olblueyez View Post
Im not doubting you but can you explain it to us in greater detail? Also can you explain why it could make a difference with a COAX digital cable but not a USB?
If the COAX cable is used to transmit a digital signal it wont effect the audio/video quality. The only artifact you will get is what's called "macroblocking" which happens when the medium's bandwidth is degraded to a point where the decoder cannot understand what the 1s and 0s are. The end result you experience with video is what looks like chopped up and scrambled blocks of colors instead of the video, with audio it's even more noticeable - your DAC chokes on the missing data and you'll hear very noticeably loud chirps and gaps in your music. You've probably heard this to a much smaller degree if you've ever bumped an older model CDROM while it's ripping an audio disc. In newer DACs and ripping apps this is problem is totally negated with signal buffers, if the DAC or ripping program notices a missing piece of data it fills in the gap with buffered data.

Again, a digital signal will either work or it won't work. When it doesnt work it's VERY noticeable. It's impossible for your sound to be colored in anyway by a digital medium.
post #11 of 134
On a side note, I'm completely flabbergasted by the incredible price gouging some companies (*coughs* MOnster) put on their HDMI digital cables. A $5 generic HDMI cable will provide the exact same quality HD video/audio as a $250 HDMI, this has been confirmed by many professionals.
post #12 of 134
BTW:

Macroblocking occurs only with lossy encoding. When your signal stream is raw data the end result of degraded data is blacked out video or completely silent audio.
post #13 of 134
Thread Starter 
Ok, so you are saying a coax can degrade the data stream and send misinformation to the dac. If the USB buffer on the receiving end receives incorrect data then where does the correct data come from, does it go back to the computer to fill in the blanks if you will? Your saying I should hear nothing if if it screws the pooch?
post #14 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by olblueyez View Post
Ok, so you are saying a coax can degrade the data stream and send misinformation to the dac. If the USB buffer on the receiving end receives incorrect data then where does the correct data come from, does it go back to the computer to fill in the blanks if you will? Your saying I should hear nothing if if it screws the pooch?
I'm saying if the coax cable transfers a digital signal it behaves exactly the same as a usb/hdmi/optical cable, they will all suffer from the same artifacts or degradation.

I'll quickly step you through the process of digital buffering:

A digital signal leaves your source (a computer or CD player) and is pumped into the cable as a stream of 1s and 0s.
The signal reaches your DAC (or ripping program, etc.) and is recorded into a buffer (usually a couple of seconds). This means the audio you hear is a couple of seconds behind the real time of your source signal. When the DAC or computer program notices a gap in the digital signal it reads from the recorded buffer and fills in the gap and refills the buffer. If the gap in data is larger than the buffer you will hear the difference as silence.

Have you ever used a portable CD Player before? Modern day ones has the exact same kind of buffer system. When you first load a disc into them you'll hear it spin up really fast, this is when it's filling the buffer. If you smack the CD Player and make the laser skip the data on the CD your buffer will compensate. Try smacking it a lot for a long time, eventually the audio will skip into silence. It's a very noticeable effect.
post #15 of 134
Lapwing,

Not to disregard you or anything, but there was actually a study conducted a while back on different HDMI cables and whether or not they could pass a 1080p/1080i/or 720p signal over a given length. I dont understand the finer points but the results did show that certain lengths of different cables experienced bit drop and could not transfer 1080 signals over 6 feet. Heres the article for you to gaze at - The Truth About Monster Cable, Part 2 (Verdict: Cheap Cables Keep Up...Usually).
If there are differences in quality of HDMI cables, why then would there not be bit drop, electrical interference, or even bandwith choke or whatever it may be, on a USB cable?

Dave
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