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USB cable supposedly improving DAC sound quality? How can I take other posts seriously after that? - Page 3  

post #31 of 256

Now I have to ask, does this same USB cable make your pictures clearer and more in focus? If it affects the sound going through it, I am going to assume it affects everything that passes through it. Try hooking it to your camera and see if it enhances your megapixels. rolleyes.gif


This is golden. OP, you are spot on. How can I believe anything I read? Especially when guys have 8,500 or more posts, I should trust him right ? (I know, postcounts right...) This is the problem I have at the moment, a lot of the advice I read seems to be based around the cost and value for money. I almost want a translation of Head-Fi. What does it sound like then?

 

Does anyone remember that music is simply amazing? Finding the perfect setup seems to have gone a step too far. Head-Fi is a fantastic resource, but have some people gone too far, have they gone mad? I have read some fantastic posts on here, truly amazing stuff, and some threads that I won't even get started on.

 

Good luck to us all.

post #32 of 256
Thread Starter 

@00940: Fair enough, I probably am over simplifying things. Though we do seem to somewhat agree here.

 

     Quote:

Originally Posted by 00940 View Post

Oh please, not again. It's not just "ones and zeroes". That's a gross oversimplification of what a digital connection is. An hardware implementation of "digital" is way more complex than that, especially when you carry or have to recover a clock. Under that respect, it has many aspects that are pretty much analog in nature.

 

For most USB devices (except the asynchronous ones), the USB cable is part of a system which can be affected by noise, jitter and the like in more subtle ways than making a 0 into a 1 or losing a packet. It's not a matter of silver vs copper of course  rolleyes.gif  However, as I pointed out in other threads, it's probably quite safe to say that the cable is usually a very minor contributor of problems in a typical USB connection, compared for example to the poor quality of the clock found in the source computer. While I do bother about low jitter (maybe beyond audibility but it's another topic alltogether), I wouldn't bother playing with USB cables. A decently built one is all that's needed imo.

 

 

@leeperry: You are correct, I don't have tons of experience with this, that's why I started a thread asking for opinions. I just posted after reading about something that, coming from a background in computers, I found very hard to believe. I honestly wasn't trying to troll or anything like that. I was not aware of jitter (though there seems to be disagreement over whether that's actually audible at all or not) and I was purely thinking of it in terms of streaming a digital file that is being decoded in the DAC. In my understanding, a digital file would be the same wherever it is decoded, regardless of how it got there (assuming of course no packets were lost in transmission). From what I'm reading in this thread, it looks like a high level of jitter in a bad cable could cause stuttering in the audio (consistent with my understanding of digital file transmission). However, I still, even after reading all the comments here, have a hard time believing that jitter and time signal disruption alone could account for a "warmer", more "full", higher resolution, etc, etc sound that I've heard attributed to upgraded USB cables. It seems to me that if jitter caused problems, if anything it would be in the timing of the audio, which (being a former DJ would be incredibly annoying and noticeable to me at a high enough level). However, to change the musicality or color of the digital file simply by the timing being changed or messed up... well I'd really just like a better explanation of the science behind that before I can agree there. And so far, other than the timing/jitter issues, I haven't heard any other science really mentioned in this thread to support a USB cable changing the sound of a digital stream. If you have any information in that regard, I'm very interested in reading it to better understand this issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by 00940 View Post

Oh please, not again. It's not just "ones and zeroes". That's a gross oversimplification of what a digital connection is.


I now see this kind of post as trolls...saying on an audiophile forum that all digital cables sound the same either proves that:
-no real world experiment has been conducted whatsoever, and somehow ppl want to convince themselves that everything sounds the same...you know, the same kind of thread that says that a $100 DAC and a $1K DAC are impossible to DBT on transparent headphones afrojojo.gif
-low end gear was used
-the testers either aren't trained for analytical listening or have hearing problems.

if all USB/coax/toslink cables sounded exactly the same, this would be such a wonderful world \o/

OTOH, the major issue is that some sellers obviously make 2/3 figures markups...they make you pay for their trial and error at finding the best sounding cables(to them, which might be a different story for you...YMMV as usual in the audio world).

IMHO and IME, the best cable is the shortest..less signal attenuation and less interferences/jitter. And my best sounding cables were cheap too. It's not because all cables sound different that a $100 USB cable will sound better than a $5. It's all about build quality and synergy.

The problem w/ snake oil cables is that those companies need to provide a lot of free review samples and bribe (british?) audiophool magazines to backup their bs arguments. You're paying to be conned basically.

Digital signals are very fast sinewaves, not quite 0's and 1's only. A million things can go wrong in a digital audio cable, believe it or not: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coaxial_cable#Issues

And unlike HDMI, USB audio and S/PDIF don't use ECC...what's lost *is* lost.


 

post #33 of 256

OP- don't lose faith.  Head-Fi is a large community.  There are plenty on both sides of each argument.  I think that is one reason for the success and popularity of this forum.  As a collective community we are not as polarized or rigid as Hydrogen or Head-Case.  However, just like the innernets you do need to do your homework and sift through what is applicable to you and what is not.  Like another poster said, stick around for a few weeks and you'll get a feel for who's who and what applies to your ears, budget, listening habits, etc.  Cheers!

post #34 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick_charles View Post
.....yet even this was deemed okay until the reviewer was told just how bad it was wink.gif

 


awesome thanks... so that being said, and since you clearly understand this much better than I do.. when jitter claims are made about a device like the Cyber labs solo used as a digital transport (not using the dac portion) vs using something like an ipad with camera kit, or the new fiio x3's digital out, and running them into something like the new JH3A which has a digital in, is it best to just ignore them.    I would hate to spend $600 on a solo to use strictly as a digital transport on the claims that "asynchronous" is the best way to go b/c it reclocks the jitter, vs just using the fiio x3 digital out directly into a jh3a digital in.   Do you think there will really be a difference?

 

thanks a lot.

 

 

post #35 of 256

Does this thread make anyone else laugh. It reminds me of he fake review of the $700 AudioQuest HDMI cable on bestbuys website. In case you haven't read it I will copy it here. Just to clarify, I did not write this. It is written by a BB user by the name of zaz1080p.

 

 

I must say, I was a bit disappointed in this cable. I saved up for 6 months to buy it. (I work at Wendy's so I don't make a lot of money). When I first plugged it into my dvd player, I was impressed at how well it fit into the socket. It's probably from the gold plating. When I went to hook up the other end to my 36" Dynex, I was so angry to find it only had a DVI input. So I bought a DVI to HDMI adapter at Radio Shak, and was able to make it work. I couldn't really tell much of a difference between my Monster cables, but it probably just takes a while to get used to. I would recommend it to a friend.
What's great about it: The length

What's not so great: The color

 

 

Edit: Thanks Br777, I had not heard of the x3 untill you just mentioned it. Seems like a very interesting product.


Edited by TruBrew - 3/27/11 at 3:41pm
post #36 of 256



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Br777 View Post




awesome thanks... so that being said, and since you clearly understand this much better than I do.. when jitter claims are made about a device like the Cyber labs solo used as a digital transport (not using the dac portion) vs using something like an ipad with camera kit, or the new fiio x3's digital out, and running them into something like the new JH3A which has a digital in, is it best to just ignore them.    I would hate to spend $600 on a solo to use strictly as a digital transport on the claims that "asynchronous" is the best way to go b/c it reclocks the jitter, vs just using the fiio x3 digital out directly into a jh3a digital in.   Do you think there will really be a difference?

 

thanks a lot.

 

 


If someone claims significant jitter reduction ask for solid proof including professional jitter measurements via something like the Miller J-test unit, especially if they want you to pony up several hundred dollars for it, demand also a set of professionally proctored carefully level matched DBTs showing that anyone can detect a difference between the Heath-Robinson solution ( ipad with camera kit) and the super-duper solution.

post #37 of 256
Thread Starter 

I was just gonna link you to the best buy page for the AudioQuest Coffee 39.4' HDMI Cable, but they took the page down :(

 

They had so many hilarious reviews on there I was literally laughing out loud for over an hour reading them. Stuff like "It made unicorns fly out of my TV. Pros: great picture Cons: unicorn droppings tough to clean up" hahaha

 

I wish I'd saved the pages as PDF or something, they were priceless!

 

EDIT: I found a consumerist page that has a few choice quotes -- SOO FUNNY:  http://consumerist.com/2011/01/how-this-2000-hdmi-cable-will-change-your-life.html

 

EDIT 2: Looks like they still have the reviews up but not the product page: http://reviews.bestbuy.com/3545/1267764/audioquest-coffee-39-4-hdmi-cable-white-reviews/reviews.htm
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TruBrew View Post

... It reminds me of he fake review of the $700 AudioQuest HDMI cable on bestbuys website....



 


Edited by mus1cjunk1e - 3/27/11 at 10:59pm
post #38 of 256
Want to know what's funny about "audiophile USB cables"? There's some that were sold that don't even meet basic USB specifications. If that's supposed to "help" your sound then I ask that you please don't "help" mine . . . ever.
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post

well, it's on a strictly IME/YMMV level...


Facts . . . you have none?
post #39 of 256

The Sound Science part of the forum wishes proof that jitter is audible. Subjective posturing is for the rest of the forum.


 

post #40 of 256
If you can't hear it you're just not trying hard enough.
post #41 of 256
Thread Starter 

OK, but what are we talking about here? Some messed up timing to the music? Slight pitch shifts? Minor stuttering? Certainty not the improvement to the sound signature and sound stage that I've heard attributed to better digital cables. Once again, I'll repeat my point that to make changes like I've heard described would take an actually change to the music data to achieve, or changes after it's converted to analog. Jitter is just that -- a swaying of the timing of the 1s and 0s. That may be able to affect how the DAC reproduces the sound, but that can only go from "timing way out of whack" to "timing perfect", there's no additional coloration of the music going on. By definition, if the timing is perfect (i.e. perfect square wave) you're just going to get the exact sound from the recording, nothing more. If it's off, you're gonna get stuttering or timing issues. That's the only two things it can do. Anything else is pure placebo.

 

Now for anyone that hears more than that with upgraded USB or other digital cables, I'd love to see some science to back that up (just a scientific hypothesis backing up the claim so I can understand how that could even be possible, not even a test or anything).
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post

If you can't hear it you're just not trying hard enough.


 

post #42 of 256


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post

If you can't hear it you're just not trying hard enough.


LOL.  Those are the polite ones.  Usually the responses are:  "I'm glad I'm not deaf."  "You also need to upgrade your (this) and (that)..."  "You're brainwashed."

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post

Want to know what's funny about "audiophile USB cables"? There's some that were sold that don't even meet basic USB specifications.


Oh, but audio is "different".  tongue.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mus1cjunk1e View Post

I was just gonna link you to the best buy page for the AudioQuest Coffee 39.4' HDMI Cable, but they took the page down :(

They had so many hilarious reviews on there I was literally laughing out loud for over an hour reading them. ffee-39-4-hdmi-cable-white-reviews/reviews.htm


Reminds me of this Amazon review:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001K3IXW8/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_7  ("Best Watch Ever!")  It's the same in all hobbies.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mus1cjunk1e View Post

OK, but what are we talking about here? Some messed up timing to the music? Slight pitch shifts? Minor stuttering?


How about just being able to tell the difference good or bad without looking at the equipment?  Too much to ask?

post #43 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mkubota1 View Post


 


LOL.  Those are the polite ones. 


I thought about also throwing in "Education is the key", always a personal fave of mine.
post #44 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by mus1cjunk1e View Post

I was just browsing around the forum, reading various threads and I ran across a post where someone mentioned the huge upgrade in sound that an upgraded USB cable brought their DAC. Then another person chimed in talking about how great the USB upgrade was. They were talking about increased sound stage, "musicality", "tonality", and all the usual stuff I hear mentioned with regards to sound quality. The only problem is, it's physically impossible for an upgraded USB cable to provide those things. USB is digital. The data going from the computer to the DAC is 1s and 0s. It either gets there or it doesn't. I.e. music either plays or it doesn't. It's not analog, so the cable simply can't affect the sound that way as there is no actual sound traveling through the cable, just data that gets decoded by the DAC. It's just like saying a $100 HDMI cable makes the picture on your HDTV really "sparkle" and really "brings the colors out". It's just physically impossible.

Now it's possible that a well shielded USB cable could improve sound quality over a cheapo cable by reducing outside interference, but they weren't talking about lowered hiss or interference sound. And this wasn't the first thread I've heard people talking about better sound from a USB cable on this forum either.

What bothered me was the realization that if Head-fi'ers are making posts like that, and even agreeing with one another on such patently false information (thus creating a consensus which can further sway others' opinions), how can I take anything that is posted here about the sound quality of amps, DACs, upgraded cables, or even headphones seriously? How likely is it that so and so amp doesn't actually increase sound stage or "musicality", but is purely placebo. Or a DAC or headphones. I've seen a confirmed case (usb cables), so that makes me wonder about every other opinion on sound quality that I read here.

How much of this stuff is just in Head-fi'ers heads as a placebo affect? How much do we want the $300 upgraded Cardas headphone cables to be better so we hear it that way and post about it, thus priming others to feel the same way when they buy there's because now they heard it's better so they look for a change that isn't there -- and hear it. I feel like the natural group-think that online forums have contributes even further to this, echoing around each individuals placebo affect so that they not only get it from themselves but get it fed back to them in the form of a group consensus (which is a powerful force on the brains decision making processes and on the way we experience things).

I'm interested in everyone's opinions on this. I don't have much personal experience with different equipment, so it's hard to evaluate others' evaluations because I don't have a good frame of reference. But reading things like that a USB cable noticeably improved sound that a DAC was putting out makes me take everything else with a HUGE grain of salt.

Now on the flip side, I just bought a pair of Sennheiser HD600s (my first pro quality headphones) partially based on feedback I read here and they sound absolutely phenomenal -- worlds better than any headphones I've ever heard in my life. And they are highly reviewed here, so obviously there is good info here. I just wonder how much other info found on this forum is purely placebo.


pretty much anything regarding cables is placebo, unless the cable is built incorrectly there is no difference in sound quality, cables do one thing and one thing only, transfer electrical impulses from point a to point b, nothing less nothing more. regarding amps amp a should sound no different to amp b, once again, amplifiers are supposed to do one thing and one thing only, take current and amplify it without changing the signal at all, if it alters the signal in any way at all it is adding distortion, and that is never a good thing. most of the claims on soundstage i find to be false as well, while a different frequency response may make a sound more open or more closed, headphones do not have differences in dispersion patterns like speakers do and therefore do not really have much of a soundstage at all. with speakers the soundstage quality is largely dependent on how well the tweeters intergrate with woofers and how wide the dispersion of the tweeters is compared to the woofers, the more uniform the dispersion across all drivers the better the soundstage is. being that headphones are single driver devices they radiate all frequencies equally directly into the ears.
 

 

post #45 of 256

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mus1cjunk1e View Post

 Jitter is just that -- a swaying of the timing of the 1s and 0s. That may be able to affect how the DAC reproduces the sound, but that can only go from "timing way out of whack" to "timing perfect", there's no additional coloration of the music going on. By definition, if the timing is perfect (i.e. perfect square wave) you're just going to get the exact sound from the recording, nothing more. If it's off, you're gonna get stuttering or timing issues. That's the only two things it can do. Anything else is pure placebo.

 

You'll have to excuse me for being blunt but you're speaking out of misconceptions, you're missing by a whole kilometer how jitter affects digital to analog conversion and you have no right to state your misleading opinions as if they were facts.

 

On the basics of digital audio transmission (most of it applies to spdif, but USB audio isn't too far away), here is a good beginner's introduction, if a bit audiophile minded: http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/diginterf1_e.html

 

Nick_charles mentionned (see his post 29) earlier the work of Dunn and Hawksford, here are some links:

 

http://www.nanophon.com/audio/jitter92.pdf (Dunn, "Jitter: specifications and assessment in digital audio equipment")

http://www.essex.ac.uk/csee/research/audio_lab/malcolmspubdocs/C41%20SPDIF%20interface%20flawed.pdf (Hawksford and Dunn, "Is the AES/SPDIF interface flawed ?")

 

I'd add this paper by Dan Lawry, "On jitter" : http://www.lavryengineering.com/white_papers/jitter.pdf

 

If you want even more reading, here is a catching account on how a USB audio receiver was designed at Texas Instruments and about what kind of problems engineers encounter in real life when dealing with that supposedly easy digital stuff: http://www.eetimes.com/design/audio-design/4009467/The-D-A-diaries-A-personal-memoir-of-engineering-heartache-and-triumph

 

 

It is scientifically established (by theory and measurements) that jitter is affecting the digital to analog conversion in subtle ways. There are indeed perfectly valid ways to measure jitter down to around 100ps at the analog outputs of DAC with overall THD+N figures below 120db.

 

The point of disagreement in "audio science" isn't "does jitter affect the D/A process or not ?", because it does and if you had a superhero's hearing you'd hear it without a doubt. The point of disagreement is "when does it become audible for us mere mortals ?". At that point, the studies linked to by Nick_charles offer you a strong basis to put in doubt claims to hear extra low jitter. Not because jitter doesn't have an effect on the final analog sinewave but because the distortions it induces might not be audible.

 

Aos was right on the money with this rant: http://aoselectronics.com/jitter_article.html   very_evil_smiley.gif

 

 

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