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Audioquest USB cables  

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Audioquest makes the Forrest, Cinnamon, Carbon, Coffee, and Diamond USB cables. I use a cheap generic USB Type A to Type B cable to connect my System76 Bonobo Professional to my Resolution Audio Opus 21 music system. I am curious about purchasing an Audioquest USB cable, but I am a little bit skeptical about doing so. I read a review on Amazon in which a gentleman purchased an Audioquest Cinnamon 3m USB Type A to Type B cable and he used it with a PS Audio Gain Change DAC and headphone amplifier. He wrote that the differences were not subtle and he heard significant improvements in bass, mid range, and treble and he heard a cleaner sound while using the Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable. I know that USB is a digital cable and that bits are bits so I am a little hesitant about spending good money on something that won't produce any noticeable sound differences. Yet, I am intrigued.

 

Does anyone here own any of these Audioquest USB cables? If so, then which one?

 

Does it make any difference whatsoever in sound quality?

 

What do you think? Amazon has a 30 day money back guarantee. I have returned products back to Amazon without any hassles. I am thinking about getting myself the Audioquest Forrest 3m USB Type A to Type B cable. It costs less $48.75 USD.

 

Please do not turn this thread into a flame war about voodoo science if you are not predisposed to having an honest and intelligent conversation. Thank you.

post #2 of 30
Thread Starter 

I selected the Audioquest Cinnamon 3m USB Type A to Type B cable in my Amazon cart. I am still unsure whether to proceed with this order or not. I did some searches and I found a lot of highly charged debates about boutique USB cables.

 

I use a cheap generic USB cable and I can hear constant drop outs and skips when I play my .FLAC files into my Resolution Audio Opus 21 music system. I want to get rid of these drop outs and skips so my .FLAC files will play just like the original CDs in my CD player. I know that my generic USB cable is not shielded.

 

I think that I will give it a risk free trial unless someone here replies with a definitive no with a conclusive answer.

post #3 of 30

I can't speak for the AQ USB cables in particular, but it might be better to have a well shielded USB cable and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Sounds like a pain free audition, so no problems there.

 

As for your drop outs, have you tried a different generic cable for verification? Could be a software problem.

post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 

It's not a software problem. I use Ubuntu 11.10 64 bit and I installed DeaDBeef as my software music player and I set it up to enable bit-perfect playback. I tried different generic USB cables and I still get drop outs and skips when I play .FLAC files, but this happens when I am using my computer quite heavily while listening to music. When I am simply playing .FLAC files and I am not doing anything else, then the problem goes away for me.

 

I'm still not sure if it is worth taking the risk of auditioning the Audioquest Cinnamon. There are so many boutique USB cables available that it is quite confusing. Cardas makes their Clear USB cable, but it is just too expensive.

 

My budget is about $100 USD which I think is kind of insane for a USB cable. Otherwise, I am looking to buy more music or a pair of Grado SR-60i headphones as an alternative.

post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 

I can buy a used Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB Type A to Type B cable for $39.94 USD from Amazon in a few days from today. The regular MSRP is $68.75 USD. It contains 1.25 percent silver conductors and solid high-density polyethylene insulation and gold plated plugs with precision soldering. It looks like this is a good deal at under $50.00 USD, but I am still unsure if this will make any audible differences whatsoever.

 

I am lowering my budget to $50 USD if I decide to buy a boutique USB cable after all.


Edited by PhoebeFairchild - 3/5/12 at 9:10pm
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 

I just placed my Amazon order. I should expect to receive my Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable by the end of this week. I also ordered Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball Special Edition CD and Hilary Hahn's Spectacular 3 CD albums.

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 

Since this is a digital and used Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable, I am going to swap it out with my generic USB cable and I am going to listen carefully to some of my favorite music that I know was well mastered. I really want to know if this Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable makes any difference whatsoever other than build quality and cosmetic appearances. I figured that I have boutique and very expensive power cords and interconnects so why not try this Audioquest Cinnamon USB cable? This is the USB cable that connects my System76 Bonobo Professional to my Resolution Audio Opus 21 music system so I figured that it must be an important cable well worth upgrading to a boutique brand like Audioquest. I read a lot of reviews and there is constant praise for the top of the line Audioquest Diamond USB cable so I figured that the Cinnamon must be pretty good even though it is not the top of the line Audioquest USB cable.

 

I am going to post my listening impressions and I will post a full review after I have settled down with this cable.

post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 

REVIEW: Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB Type A to Type B cable

 

I own a System76 Bonobo Professional laptop. Here are the hardware and software specifications:

 

System76 Bonobo Professional:
Ubuntu 11.10 64 bit
Ubuntu One with free 5 GB of storage
17.3" Full HD LED Super Glossy Surface (1920 X 1080)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M with 2.0 GB GDDR5 Video Memory
2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2960XM Processor Extreme Edition (8 MB L3 Cache, 2.70 GHz)
32 GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333 MHz (4 X 8 GB)
Dual 240 GB Intel 520 Cherryville SATA-III 6 GB/s Solid State Drives
8X DVD+/- R/RW 4X +DL Super-Multi Drive
Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 802.11 A/B/G/N Wireless LAN Module
Bonobo Pro extra Lithium Polymer battery
Standard Carrying Bag
3 year LTD. Warranty and 3 year Technical Support

 

I also own a Resolution Audio Opus 21 CD player, Power Centre, Extra Sources, and S30 power amplifier. I own the Ray Samuels Audio Emmeline HR-2 with OPA627BP operational amplifiers. I own a Balanced Power Technology BP. Jr II Ultra with custom BPT 9 gauge Litz power cord. I own the Cardas Golden Reference Power cord, Interconnects 0.5 meter RCA, DNM Reson RCA interconnects. I own a Sennheiser HD-650 headphone with stock cables and Moon Audio Blue Dragon cable.

 

I listen to a wide variety of music including pop, rock, jazz, classical, opera, blues, folk, Celtic, and mostly female singers or bands.

 

REVIEW:

 

I took home an Audioquest Diamond Type A to Type B USB cable from my local authorized Audioquest dealer today. He let me borrow it for the rest of this week. I ordered an Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter Type A to Type B USB cable from Amazon and I expect it will be delivered to my home later this week. I plan to do a comparison review and I will update this thread when I get a chance to compare both of them. Previously, I used a generic Type A to Type B USB cable to connect my System76 Bonobo Professional to my Resolution Audio Opus 21 music system. The generic USB cable sounded decent, but I realized that I have very expensive boutique cables connected to my home audio system and I thought it was the right time to upgrade to a boutique USB cable as I viewed this to be the weak link.

 

The generic USB cable sounds pretty flat. It has limited dynamic range and it distorts the tonal balance by softening the bass while it rolls off the treble regions. The mid range sounds dull and lifeless and the sound stage is narrowly constricted. In short, the generic USB cable was choking the full performance of my home audio system.

 

The Audioquest Diamond USB cable information can be found here: http://www.audioquest.com/usb-digital-audio/diamond.

 

It is an unbelievable USB cable. It uses a single AA battery to power the Audioquest Diamond USB cable so it does not need to be burned in for a significant period of time to sound its best. How does it sound? Amazing! Bass tightened up firmly and it sounds authoritative, punchy, and textures are quite vivid. The bass notes extend much deeper and they have more power and speed. Kick drums, high hats, snares, etc. sound much more vivid and they have an authoritative kick that gives the music a rock solid foundation. The mid range simply shines. It is like sitting in the first row of a concert. Gone is the distant veil and the haze from the generic USB cable. The Audioquest Diamond USB cable sharpens the focus of the mid range by adding layers of textures, details, and resolution without sounding edgy or hot. Clarity is the best word used to describe it. Everything sounds sharply focused and clear. Female singers sound fuller, richer, and more alluring as if she was singing right in front of me. Gone are the layers of haze and opacity from the generic USB cable. Imaging is precise and the sound stage sounds wider and deeper so that I can picture each musician and instrument in its proper place. Live recordings sound more real and authentic while pre-recorded songs sound much more vivid and clear. Treble is airy and extremely focused and clear. I can close my eyes and picture the dimensions of the sound stage perfectly and there is more air surrounding every singer and instrument. As I mentioned previously, the sound stage is full and airy with precision imaging so it makes the recording sound much more natural and effortless. Dynamics are definitely improved as the transitions from soft to loud sounds is more natural and the full dynamic range of the music is kept intact. Music sounds much more alive, natural, and real using the Audioquest Diamond USB cable for certain. I can listen to my music at lower volumes and come away more satisfied with every .FLAC file played.

 

This Audioquest Diamond USB cable adds vividness, clarity, focus, and textures that were immediately lost when I replayed the same .FLAC files using the generic USB cable. No doubt about it. I am now convinced that the most important cable between a computer and a DAC is the digital cable that connects them. USB is a universal and convenient industry specification. All computers have USB 2.0 or Super Speed USB 3.0 ports. Most modern DACs come with a USB port for home or portable applications. At $649.00 USD for a 1.5 meter USB cable, I will not be able to afford the Audioquest Diamond USB cable anytime soon. However, I now know what is currently possible with a state of the art USB cable if you own a high end audio system at home.

 

For those that will inevitably reply by stating that USB is a digital cable and all bits are the same, I urge you to find your local authorized Audioquest dealer and ask him or her to audition the Audioquest Diamond USB cable in your own home audio system for a week. Let your own ears be the judge. As for me, I am positively convinced that upgrading to the Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable will be well worth the price that I paid which is less than $40 USD compared to using my generic USB cable. In fact, I will relegate that generic USB cable to connect computer accessories such as a multi-function ink jet printer, a digital camera, or an external hard disk drive. The Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable will be used to connect my System76 Bonobo Professional to my Resolution Audio Opus 21 music system exclusively when I receive delivery of it. In the meantime, I just can not wait to re-discover my music library consisting of .FLAC loss less audio files all over again using the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable. Bravo to Audioquest for producing the state of the art USB cable for audiophiles!

 

post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 

I use DeaDBeef with the ALSA audio plugin and I disabled ALSA resampling and I released the device when stopped to enable bit perfect playback in Ubuntu 11.10 64 bit.

post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 

Amazon notified me today that the US Postal Service should ship my Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable this Saturday along with my Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball Special Edition CD. I should be able to compare the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB to the Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cables this Saturday and I will post another review.

post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 

I just came home from visiting my main US post office. I took home my Amazon package. I got my Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable and my Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball Special Edition CD album. It's way too early for me to post listening impressions of the Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable yet, but it is nowhere near the fidelity of the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable that I still have on loan from my authorized Audioquest dealer. I have to return it to him tomorrow night. Right off the bat, the Cinnamon sounds slower and less harmonically rich than the Diamond. The build quality of both Audioquest USB cables is excellent particularly for the Diamond. I am going to write up a review comparing the generic USB cable, Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable, and Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable tomorrow. Another thing that I noticed is that the bass is deeper and darker as if it sounds more distant. In fact, the entire presentation sounds kind of like I am listening to my music in the middle of a fog. The Cinnamon does not have the 72 volt DBS and I purchased it as a used USB cable so I think that it will need some proper burn in time to break in unlike the Audioquest Diamond USB cable which requires no break in period at all. Finally, the treble seems to be softer and it lacks clarity. I think that I am going to have to spend a lot of time listening to the Cinnamon over the course of the next several weeks as it continues to break in gradually. I have not tested it against the generic USB cable and I will do that later tonight and I will post my listening impressions.

post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 

I wanted to post an update to this thread.

 

As I wrote in my review of the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable, the generic cable sounds pretty lifeless with constricted dynamics, soft bass, and rolled off trebles and a narrow sound stage. It is a 3 meter long generic USB cable. I got it for free when I bought my Canon Pixma MX870 ink jet multi-function copier, printer, and scanner. I used this cable for several years. I know it extremely well. The only positive aspect about it is the fact that it increases the amount of volume for music. What I mean is that I leave my Ray Samuels Emmeline HR-2 headphone amplifier set at the 09:00 position regarding the volume control. Using the generic USB cable, the music is quite loud and it sounds distorted. I get skips and signal losses fairly regularly. I think it is due to the fact that it is a 3 meter USB cable and I do not have a powered USB connection between my System76 Bonobo Professional laptop's USB 2.0 port and the Resolution Audio Opus 21 Extra Sources box. So, the music plays unpredictably with regular skips, pauses, and total loss of signal. I got tired of this problem so I started to research high quality USB cables designed for high end audio applications.

 

Audioquest always stood out from the competition. They advertise their complete panoply of products regularly in Stereophile, The Absolute Sound, and various other high end audio magazines on the Internet. So, I naturally went with them. I wrote up my full review of the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable. It is by far the best USB cable that I have ever heard. It is truly state of the art technology and sound. It is shocking how unbelievably awesome this USB cable really is. I will regret having to return the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable to my local authorized Audioquest dealer tomorrow evening. It was truly revolutionary.

 

The Audioquest Cinnamon is nowhere nearly as exemplary in terms of sonic performance or technology. Compared to the generic USB cable, the cinnamon seems to lower the volume of music by at least 3 decibels. This is merely my perception thus far. If I had to describe the Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable in one word, then it would be satisfactory. Unlike the generic USB cable, I have been listening to my .FLAC loss less audio files for the past several hours and I have not experienced one problem whatsoever. There are no signal losses, pauses, skips, pops, clicks, or extraneous noises emanating from the cinnamon. It solved all of those deleterious problems. This is why I decided to buy it. Another choice word that I would ascribe to the Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable is cohesive. All of my music without any single exception sounds more engaging, richer, fuller bodied, and tonally balanced. The bass is taut, deep, and punchy though it lacks the resolution to let textures seep through unadulterated. The mid range is clear, focused, layered, and deeper in expanse. Imaging is sharper and more delineated. I can picture every singer and instrument in the sound stage, but not with absolute precision and a palatable sense of air and space surrounding each sound in the music. The cinnamon unravels the spool of music commendably, but it lacks the resolution and detail to allow the music to be reproduced with effortless naturalness with fine nuances left out of the music. Treble sounds well extended with clarity, but they do not reveal the air surrounding every sound in the recording with holographic realism. The sound stage is markedly improved. Music sounds more layered in width and depth with better instrument separation and imaging, but this is surely not of reference caliber compared to the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable. Dynamics sound unrestricted with effortless energy and elasticity so that the contrast between the softest and loudest sounds sound more natural, but it lacks action and bloom to capture the wide dynamic range of orchestral and chamber classical music. The cinnamon is a nice looking USB cable with excellent build quality and its fiery red color is looks adventurous to me. I can not help but to feel merely satisfied if not underwhelmed now that I have auditioned the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable. The Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable is a reasonably priced and affordable option designed for demanding audio applications. It deserves an easy recommendation and praise and it can be a justified purchase for those looking to improve the critical digital connection between their computers and audio systems. I do not regret buying it as it neatly solved all of my problems with the generic USB cable in one fell swoop. In that sense, it is worth it for me. While my ears pang for the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable, my purse can not afford such an extravagant splurge, but I am grateful to have it for another day to audition in my high end audio system.

 

If you are looking for a less expensive option, then Audioquest has their Forest 1.5 meter USB cable available. The only difference between the Forest and Cinnamon is that the latter has 1.25 percent of silver plating for the conductors.

 

The lesson that I learned is that everything matters when building a high end audio system. I did not want to believe that a USB cable could solve all of my problems and it can still sound satisfactory to my ears, but I also can not believe that I listened to a generic USB cable that costs less than $3 USD to connect my very expensive laptop to my much more expensive high end audio system at home. The generic USB cable sounds terrible and it performs like a loser. The digital cable that connects your computer to your audio system is the most critical link that deserves careful auditions with a wide variety of manufacturer's products at various price points. For those that are still skeptical and believe that all bits sound exactly the same for digital cables including USB cables, then I suggest that you contact your local authorized Audioquest dealer and audition one of their products in your audio system.

 

One day in the not too distant future, I will upgrade to the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable. Having heard the state of the art USB cable from Audioquest, there is a sonic imprint in my memory that will not die and I will own it someday in the future. It is truly a superlative USB cable and the price is justified having auditioned it in my high end audio system at home. For now, the Audioquest Cinnamon satisfies my ears and it solved all of my problems associated with the generic USB cable at an affordable price point.

 

Cables do matter. You decide what you can afford and start to audition the products that you are interested in.

post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 

Tonight, I will return the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable to my local authorized Audioquest dealer.

 

In the meantime, I have been listening to the generic USB cable, Audioquest Cinnamon 1.5 meter USB cable, and Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cables all night. The generic USB cable still produces signal losses, drop outs, distortions, skips, pops, clicks, beeps, etc. It is horrible. The cinnamon is a big improvement. Music sounds smoother, richer, and more natural. This is a USB cable that I can live with for quite some time. Bass sounds tight, deep, and rhythmic with plenty of impact. Mid range sounds full bodied, warm, clear, and natural. Female vocals sing with warmth, intimacy, and seduction. Treble sounds clear, extended, and smooth without the glaring bite of the generic USB cable. The sound stage is wide open, deeply penetrating, and layered with accurate imaging and a good sense of the atmosphere is captured of the entire song. Dynamics sound unfettered with smooth transients, natural decay of notes, and propulsive power swings between the softest and loudest sounds. Overall, the cinnamon satisfies my ears by smoothing out the rough spots and edges found on the generic USB cable and it makes the music sound much more natural and effortless. The Diamond takes everything to the zenith. Here, the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable is capable of making the music sound true, natural, and effortless. The difference between the cinnamon and diamond comes down to more of the great stuff and none of the weaknesses of the former in favor of the diamond. The diamond captures every nuance of the music with sparkling clarity with unbelievable realism. It is like listening to a live music concert at home. It is the absolute sound by which we judge our audio systems against live music. Indeed, the Audioquest Diamond is the gold standard by which we aspire to in our quest for audio nirvana, but few of us ever attain in our everyday lives. It gives me the clearest look inside the studio as if I were a member of the band. Someday I will own it. It is truly an exceptional USB cable. I wish that I could afford to buy it right now. I love the Audioquest Diamond 1.5 meter USB cable!

post #15 of 30

Just get a Lacie Flatcable, I'm sure you'll love it wink_face.gif

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