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Don't get why "Audiophile" USB Cable would improve sound quality - Page 47  

post #691 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

 

Mega-post (Click to show)

 

This is often true - qualities such as soundstage and instrument separation are quite difficult to pin down.  This could possibly be because many cables are all but indistinguishable - in my experience differences between say one copper USB cable and another are almost impossibly to cleary tell.  Much like with an SPDIF cable once you have a constant impedance (90 ohms for USB) changes are difficult to discern and to be honest from a technical standpoint this is what you would expect.  After having constant impedance, some cables have silver plated conductors which apparently can improve the signal waveform integrity by creating a more constant impedancy/frequency curve.  This probably depends a lot on the wire gauge, plate thickness etc and to be honest could be complete nonsense unless the cable designer shows some numbers to back this claim up.  The last thing that in theory can affect USB cable performance is cable length - where a shorter cable of the same construction should give better jitter performance as predicted by the USB standard paper.  The last factor is the succeptibility of the USB audio interface itself to jitter, along with other factors which may introduce jitter or noise into either the D/D converter or directly into the DAC.

 

You are quite right that soundstage and instrument separation are qualities which are rather easy to get confused about, and also in my experience many digital cables I have tested are very difficult to tell apart - I'm pretty sure I would fail a blind test with say 75 ohm SPDIF cables or USB cables of the same length and conductor type.  Personally I have heard more differences between USB ports and galvanic isolators than between different copper USB cables.  BUT I am personally quite certain I can discern between a copper USB cable and the silver plated copper cable I am using, and equally there is evidence that in theory different USB cables have different levels of jitter.  BUT the effects of jitter on D/D and D/A converters is fairly controversial, in no small part because there are innumerable variables in terms of hardware, but mostly because it is relatively simple to demonstrate that relatively large magnitudes of jitter (beyond that of any decent equipment) are not audible.

 

As you can see I personally am in quite a precarious position - I am forced to admit that on an priorised-knowledge level one cannot clearly predict that jitter will be audible.  However, based on experience I can say that elements such as USB cables have lead me to experience and articulate clear differences between USB and computer side hardware and software changes which I cannot readily explain and yet which I would not put down to cognitive bias.  As I already said I like to think I am willing to concede when I cannot clearly hear differences or when I hear negative differences.  When this happens I sell equipment very quickly as I would rather spend the money elsewhere.  Life would be much easier if I were an electrical or audio engineer researcher and had access to lab equipment to measure either electrical waveforms or jitter or even distortion levels at the output of the DAC.  Unfortunately most Audiophile tweaks are very short on technical insight and reliant upon anecdotal evidence to measure performance - and while I do not personally consider myself an objectivist - the points mentioned in this post, along with the preceding 45 pages of discussion should act as a warning not to spend too much money on digital cables.

 

EDIT: This is probably not that important but I feel I should mention that personally I prefer to focus on other factors such as bass bloom/tightness, midrange smoothness or grain, and imaging and focus (ie how clear the outline of an instrument can be discerned) along with upper midrange and treble fatigue.  These qualities are again not foolproof, but I personally find these easier to discern that soundstange and "air around instruments".  Best thing to do I would say is once you have selected a DAC -see if you can borrow a fairly short silver plated copper USB cables to compare against the generic USB cable - If you cant hear a clear difference then obviously it is not worth buying such a cable. 

 

 

 

I like your way of thinking, you have your personal impressions, but you don't give them more weight than what they deserve.

About the jitter, when you said that the ammount of jitter wasn't audible, it made it seem like jitter directly correlates with distorted music (analog). I was under the impression that up to a certain limit of jitter introduced to a USB signal, it would still get correctly decoded and so you still get bit-perfect stream. Kind of like how you can take a perfect drawing of a face and re-draw it worse each time, until at a certain point people can't tell what it was originally anymore. 

post #692 of 835

What difference does a 75ohm cable make over a normal one?

post #693 of 835

In a way, it makes zero sense  why certain usb cables sound different but, from my own listening, they do.

 

I was at Frys Electronics and saw one of these:

 

5030885.box.GIF

 

My DAC is rather small (HRT Music Streamer II+), and so I could easily stick it right up to my Mac Mini to hook it up using this (bigger DACs, I doubt it would be possible).

 

After trying it, it turns out that this stupid little $2 adapter sounded a ton better (instruments were more separated, and not as "blurred" together) than various $30 Belkin/Monster cables. I have no clue why, but I just assume it may be due to it being basically the shortest USB "cable" possible.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

To be honest I cannot even be bothered to mess around trying USB cables until I see some hard evidence other than subjective opinions which conclusively proves that a "audiophile USB" is going to make any difference at all.

 

I am 99% sure that a reasonable quality USB cable will be completely fine to send the data to my async USB DAC.... The nature of this DAC should pretty much eliminate jitter and the cable of reasonable quality which conforms to USB standards should be 100% ok to transfer the data to the DAC.

 

Companies like wireworld and all this IMO are scammers who are trying to make money from snake oil and expectation bias.

 

 

While certain claims these companies make are certainly puffing the results of these cables, what company doesn't do that? Apple's iPad is "Magical" you know :P

 

Wireword uses a flat cable design that physically separates the power conductor from the other conductors. I own a Wireworld Starlight and it certainly sounds better than other cables I've used. While it's not the cure-all for your audio system, I think that design is a smart idea and a high quality cable.

 

 

Why do USB cables sound better/different? Not a clue. But my ears definitely hear a difference. It may just depend on the DAC (being powered from the USB cable, or elsewhere?). It may just be the fact that they have higher quality materials.

 

 

One last question I've read on another forum:

 

If these "digital" cables are bit-perfect and either work or don't work... Then why do a ton of USB cables (my mouse, my keyboard, and tons of others) have Ferrite Cores on them? That's a question I haven't seen an answer to.

post #694 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcAngel66 View Post

 

If these "digital" cables are bit-perfect and either work or don't work... Then why do a ton of USB cables (my mouse, my keyboard, and tons of others) have Ferrite Cores on them? That's a question I haven't seen an answer to.

 

I don't know. None of mine have them. It could be just cheap insurance from manufacturers who skimped on shielding. 

post #695 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcAngel66 View Post

In a way, it makes zero sense  why certain usb cables sound different but, from my own listening, they do.

 

I was at Frys Electronics and saw one of these:

 

5030885.box.GIF

 

My DAC is rather small (HRT Music Streamer II+), and so I could easily stick it right up to my Mac Mini to hook it up using this (bigger DACs, I doubt it would be possible).

 

After trying it, it turns out that this stupid little $2 adapter sounded a ton better (instruments were more separated, and not as "blurred" together) than various $30 Belkin/Monster cables. I have no clue why, but I just assume it may be due to it being basically the shortest USB "cable" possible.

 

I have been trying all ways to rely solely on adapter but it is just impossible. Can't stick my gears beside each other. If there are companies that build their gears like a Lego brick, it would be great!

 

As much as I hate spending money on cable, I have to agree with your experience that they do make a difference in sound and that pisses me. On paper, they shouldn't. We all know that.

 

On some gears, I don't hear any difference while on others, I do. It could be that the USB receiver unit is not as good and that tells me I should be putting my money in that area instead. However, that does not explain the problem here.

 

How much money should we spend on getting a 'high' quality USB cable? That question is beside the point.

post #696 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcAngel66 View Post

If these "digital" cables are bit-perfect and either work or don't work... Then why do a ton of USB cables (my mouse, my keyboard, and tons of others) have Ferrite Cores on them? That's a question I haven't seen an answer to.

 

They're also used to filter the noise generated by the device itself so it doesn't interfere with other devices.

post #697 of 835

Hmmm well to me it seems like "expectation bias". "Psycho acoustics" is a powerfull thing and I would be willing to bet that in a BLIND test where you couldnt see what cable it was that you probably wouldnt be able to tell a difference. It is a data cable transferring data to the DAC. The usb specification would mean that a reasonable quality cable will pass all the information bit perfect and especially if you are using an async dac I really cannot see why I would make any difference other than psycho acoustic reasons. eg. you look at your nice shiny cable and for some reason it just sounds better... It just does... Yes it does sound better but not because the cable is better but because you think it does. In reality the sound is probably identical to a bog standard USB cable.

 

The same way if you were to take a load of drugs or something... The music would sound absolutely amazing to you... But in reality it is exactly the same sound quality that sounded horrible the other day when you woke up with a hangover lol.


Edited by nicholars - 5/9/12 at 7:21pm
post #698 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcAngel66 View Post
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

In a way, it makes zero sense  why certain usb cables sound different but, from my own listening, they do.

 

I was at Frys Electronics and saw one of these:

 

5030885.box.GIF

 

My DAC is rather small (HRT Music Streamer II+), and so I could easily stick it right up to my Mac Mini to hook it up using this (bigger DACs, I doubt it would be possible).

 

After trying it, it turns out that this stupid little $2 adapter sounded a ton better (instruments were more separated, and not as "blurred" together) than various $30 Belkin/Monster cables. I have no clue why, but I just assume it may be due to it being basically the shortest USB "cable" possible.

 

 

 

While certain claims these companies make are certainly puffing the results of these cables, what company doesn't do that? Apple's iPad is "Magical" you know :P

 

Wireword uses a flat cable design that physically separates the power conductor from the other conductors. I own a Wireworld Starlight and it certainly sounds better than other cables I've used. While it's not the cure-all for your audio system, I think that design is a smart idea and a high quality cable.

 

 

Why do USB cables sound better/different? Not a clue. But my ears definitely hear a difference. It may just depend on the DAC (being powered from the USB cable, or elsewhere?). It may just be the fact that they have higher quality materials.

 

 

 

 

One last question I've read on another forum:

 

If these "digital" cables are bit-perfect and either work or don't work... Then why do a ton of USB cables (my mouse, my keyboard, and tons of others) have Ferrite Cores on them? That's a question I haven't seen an answer to.

 

The ferrite is there to absorb some high frequency noise.  If properly engineered ferrites can be very effective at this.  If just clamped around a cable then the results may vary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Hmmm well to me it seems like "expectation bias". "Psycho acoustics" is a powerfull thing and I would be willing to bet that in a BLIND test where you couldnt see what cable it was that you probably wouldnt be able to tell a difference. It is a data cable transferring data to the DAC. The usb specification would mean that a reasonable quality cable will pass all the information bit perfect and especially if you are using an async dac I really cannot see why I would make any difference other than psycho acoustic reasons. eg. you look at your nice shiny cable and for some reason it just sounds better... It just does... Yes it does sound better but not because the cable is better but because you think it does. In reality the sound is probably identical to a bog standard USB cable.

 

The same way if you were to take a load of drugs or something... The music would sound absolutely amazing to you... But in reality it is exactly the same sound quality that sounded horrible the other day when you woke up with a hangover lol.

 

Hmm something makes me think you resurrected this thread just to troll rather than to ask questions or gain insight, so I may consider adding you to my block list.  Making sweeping generalisations and assumptions is not scientific or logical thinking.  You know expectation bias cuts both ways - if you listen and don't expect to hear a difference this is likely what you will experience.  As I have stated previously I have tested components regardless of price which I did not perceive to bring performance benefits and I sold them.  It is rude to constantly insist that opinions people are offering are due to expectation bias.  Get some manners.

 

Asynchonous USB interfaces are not very succeptible to jitter originating in a USB cable or the USB controller - they can however pass on noise and are not completely immune to jitter.  "Jitter immune" is more marketing nonsense than cable manufacturers selling high performance USB cables.  Bit perfect is another misleading term, as you can have massive quantities of jitter which lead to (audible) distortion and yet have a bit perfect stream.  If you have a good asynchronous USB interface then buying a USB cable will probably not deliver massive, day and night differences, but again there are too many factors here to say this conclusively.

 

A 75 Ohm SPDIF cable has a constant impedance which reduces the possibility for signal reflections within the cable whcih occur when there is an impedance change.

 

Being prudent with your spending on hi-fi gear is wise, but in the end you have to use your ears to select components such as DAC, amplifier and headphones.  Many audiophiles take this further and select cables and USB interfaces by ear, and in many cases if the DAC is good enough they hear no difference and sell the USB interface.  Please do not misinterpret this to be evidence that all USB cables are the same - it is merely an example of what I consider to be prudent testing of audio equipment.  Other people have tested USB cables and not found any audible differences with the equipment they use, I'm fine with this also and consider their experience more than valid.  In my own experience I have also found that due to my lack of experience in audio my evaluation of even the most concrete modification (eg an earpad change) is liable to change with time, therefore I like to hold onto components for at least 3 months to allow me to properly understand what I am hearing.  I should also add that I too have tested USB adapters and found them to be superior to even $100+ USB cable I own, and because of this I use the USB adapter and not the more expensive cable.

 

 

Use the knowledge from your research and discussion to inform how you select and evaluate components as this is a fruitful way to spend your energy.  I would not suggest trying to use your meager knowledge to try and tell other people that they are wrong on the internet, as this is not going to get you anywhere except on peoples block list.


Edited by drez - 5/11/12 at 9:34am
post #699 of 835

lol please carry on and block me I really couldnt care less... I was merely giving an opinion as to the probable reason why these people are hearing differences when there has been repeated proof of no measurable differences between usb cables. Infact please do block me beacuse I would prefer not to speak to you again if you are going to insult me for giving a perfectly reasonable explanation!

 

My intentions for my post was to possibly discourage people from buying from companies like wireworld which are clearly extorting customers with borderline illegal marketing and sales tactics... By all means carry on and buy it if it makes you happy I was merely giving another viewpoint.


Edited by nicholars - 5/10/12 at 11:21am
post #700 of 835

I think what drez was saying was that although he's aware of expectations bias and all those effects, that still doesn't detract from the fact that he hears a consistent difference between USB cables, although he knows that theoretically there shouldn't be one. Of course if this was under blind testing it would have more weight.

 

Also a lot of the people who hear differences between cables usually hear huge differences between setups with minute changes - or even in setups where there's no difference, if the tester is feeling particularly cruel. So considering that he admitted to hear no difference between certain snakeoil cables and sold them, it gives a certain weight to his opinion when he does hear them. Kind of like in |joker|'s IEM review, when he says he hears no difference from burn-in in the majority of models, when he does hear a change after time it's normal to assume that you will too. If it was someone who reported "night and day" differences from burn-in with most models, you would assume expectation bias was more at play.

post #701 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

As I have stated previously I have tested components regardless of price which I did not perceive to bring performance benefits and I sold them.  It is rude to constantly insist that opinions people are offering are due to expectation bias.  Get some manners.

Sir, I think perhaps you might be susceptible to a variety of cognitive distortions when you attribute the following audible effects to a physical change that evidence suggests is beneath the threshold of audibility.

vs.

You're an idiot and it's in your head and you smell bad.


One does not have to take any reference to psychoacoustics as an aspersion. Doing so, from this reader's point of view, reflects little more than insecurity.
post #702 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

you smell bad.

 

I think that would hold true regardless of whether or not he hears a difference when using different cables.

 

biggrin.gif

post #703 of 835
Everyone knows that bad smells are a perceptual delusion primed by expectation bias.

/that's my excuse
post #704 of 835

It is very possible that he does smell bad although this may be a result of expectation bias due to his remarks.

 

Considering this from an objective viewpoint I would conclude that, although there are no double blind, placebo controled studies to confirm this I would assume that he probably does smell bad.


Edited by nicholars - 5/10/12 at 1:02pm
post #705 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Considering this from an objective viewpoint I would conclude that, although there are no double blind, placebo controled studies to confirm this I would assume that he probably does smell bad.

 

What?  According to that viewpoint he shouldn't smell like anything and you would have no assumptions..

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