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Transparent Audio USB vs Cardas Clear USB vs Audioquest Carbon USB

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

I'm currently using a 0.75 meters Audioquest Carbon USB cable to connect my Apogee Duet 2 to my iMac. This cable is a huge improvement over the stock Apogee USB cable. The soundstage sounds wider with no clutter and clearer. I need to get a longer cable to tidy up my desk space so I'm looking to get another cable. Here's what I'm looking at as well as another Audioquest Carbon USB : Transparent Audio USB & Cardas Clear USB.

 

Can anyone / everyone share their experiences with those or any other USB cable? Please no posts disputing if USB cables make a difference. I think they do and many others do. I've done several A/B test and everyone noticed a difference & picked the Audioquest Carbon as the better cable.

 

Thanks!

 

 

http://www.transparentcable.com/products/show_product.php?recID=69&perfID=1&catID=3&modCAT=

 

http://www.cardas.com/content.php?area=products&content_id=3&pagestring=Digital&product_id=106

 

http://www.audioquest.com/usb-digital-audio/carbon

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post #2 of 14

I tried the Audioquest Carbon USB cable in the past and I had a terrible experience.  I think the major problem was the crap sound coming from the Audioengine D1 DAC.  The USB cable is good, but the bottleneck is the D1 DAC.  The carbon USB did indeed clean up some sound artifacts (noise and a bit of distortion).  I learned the lesson not to buy D1 DAC.  It was a huge mistake. The DAC from onboard sound chip from macbook pro sounds way better. Sound signature is just wider and more relaxed and had more air.  Carbon USB did help sharpen that up to higher extent in the highs.
 

Just don't expect miracles from USB cable if the other components (i.e. external DAC/AMP/speakers, music source) are causing bottlenecks. 

 

No need for me to use USB cable now because I got rid of the D1 DAC.

 

 

I heard good impressions about the Wireworld Starlight Platinum USB cable - constructed with carbon fibre connectors and solid silver conductors. And the power and data are laid out separately.

 

 

Once I get a sub for my A2 speakers I'm going with Bettercable Silver Serpent silver/copper mixed 3.5mm jack cable and RCA cables though.  They are in the mid spot.


Edited by goodolcheez - 5/17/12 at 10:58am
post #3 of 14

Consider getting an external PSU for it first. I'm using a Vaunix USB Hub, which is designed for their lab-grade products with my Audiophilleo 1 and I felt it made an improvement, so something like the Duet 2 should benefit, if it is powered by USB. At the very least it will isolate the Duet 2 from any noise from the computer's power output. This will make better than a stab-in-the-dark improvement that USB cables tend to be IMO. smile.gif

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

I would be interested in getting one but $200 is steep. There's got to be a cheaper alternative?

post #5 of 14
I'm using the audioquest diamond which is pretty expensive but I find it unveils detail in my music as well as allow the soundstage to widen more when appropriate.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by dercius View Post

I'm using the audioquest diamond which is pretty expensive but I find it unveils detail in my music as well as allow the soundstage to widen more when appropriate.


Ooooo the diamond is a nice one.  Isn't that a grand...  I believe it what you said. They do provide a whole new level of sound qualities.   I even hear a noticeable improvement on sound depth, detail, and overall dynamic range + reduction in distortion / harshness out of my newly purchased Audioquest Bridges and Falls - Sydney ($200+) 3.5mm mini cable. Granted, it's not USB, but I do know both analog and digital has impact on sound.  I am loving this Sydney.

 

OP, I think the Audioquest Carbon will be the good choice. It should be similar to my Sydney as far as performance goes. 

post #7 of 14

I was wondering if anyone can help me with this. I recently purchased the AudioQuest Carbon cable to compare with the cable that came bundled with my Creative X FI HD. But I'm uncertain if I can hear $120 worth of difference. So I would like to improve the enviornment. One problem is my HP NC6000 notebook only has 2 USB ports and one is being used by an external Seagate 1 TB drive which is powered by the USB port. I understand that this can effect the overall performance of the USB Audio components. So I was wondering if using a self powered external hdd would make any bit of difference?

And does it make any difference whether the DAC outputs through an analog port or digital?

 

Also I'm curious as to how you've come to notice your differences, was it through head phones or speakers?

 

 

PS Oh and one more thing, could upsampling clean a audio signal distorted by low/bad power or other devices sharing the same USB bus? 


Edited by TJ Max - 9/10/12 at 8:54am
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ Max View Post

I was wondering if anyone can help me with this. I recently purchased the AudioQuest Carbon cable to compare with the cable that came bundled with my Creative X FI HD. But I'm uncertain if I can hear $120 worth of difference. So I would like to improve the enviornment. One problem is my HP NC6000 notebook only has 2 USB ports and one is being used by an external Seagate 1 TB drive which is powered by the USB port. I understand that this can effect the overall performance of the USB Audio components. So I was wondering if using a self powered external hdd would make any bit of difference?

And does it make any difference whether the DAC outputs through an analog port or digital?

 

Also I'm curious as to how you've come to notice your differences, was it through head phones or speakers?

 

First, it is wise to take the hard drive out of the system that's taking up your USB source.  Get a self-powered external hard drive.

 

Second, you need to give enough time to burn-in your sound card.  Right now your components (cables and card) are not burned-in so the sound will be harsh no matter what you put in.  Put the Carbon usb cable and let it burn-in for a week. Play music as much as you can and don't do any critical listening.  Remove the Carbon cable.   Put on the generic cable that came with the sound card. Let it burn-in for a week. Start the critical listening shortly after.  Listen carefully for a couple of days.   NOW, remove the generic cable.   Put the Carbon cable back on.  Do critical listening and see if you hear the difference.  Lemme know. ;)

 

 

When you do critical listening, actually I suggest you do it for a week. A few days may not be enough for each cable.  So yes, it's a time consuming process. This can't be done in a day.


Edited by goodolcheez - 9/10/12 at 9:55am
post #9 of 14

 Oh and TJ Max, try what I said with either a good set of headphone or external speakers. If the speakers are designed for near-field listening, be sure to listen in near field.  Don't seat too far away as it will be harder to articulate the difference in sound. This varies depending on speakers too.
 

post #10 of 14

Well I was suspecting that A self powered hard drive may help. I am currently in the process of transfering my music to an old external drive I had in my closet with its own power supply. I am curious though how much difference it makes compared to not using the USB port at all.

 

BTW not all my equipment is new, just the cable.

 

My current set up is.

HP Compaq NC6000 notebook with Windows XP / external HDD

AudioQuest Carbon A to Mini B 0.75m

Creative X-Fi HD DAC & Headphone amp using Analog output

Onkyo TX-8050 Receiver & Onkyo C7030 CD player

BIC America FH-65B Speakers

Sennheiser HD558 Headphones

Music Files are in FLAC and Apple Lossless

Primary music genre is Jazz but I plan to add some classical.


Edited by TJ Max - 9/10/12 at 12:15pm
post #11 of 14

You mentioned analog. What analog cable are  you using to connect from external sound card to the speakers?
 

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodolcheez View Post

 

 

 

When you do critical listening, actually I suggest you do it for a week. A few days may not be enough for each cable.  So yes, it's a time consuming process. This can't be done in a day.

to the o/p please carry this out, I'd love to hear the results

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodolcheez View Post

You mentioned analog. What analog cable are  you using to connect from external sound card to the speakers?
 

 

 

They are Auvio Stereo cables from my DAC to receiver. I mentioned it because I could use TOSlink optical.

post #14 of 14

Just to remind you, even though the rest of your hardware is well burned-in, the new cable you received (Carbon) needs to be burned in as well.  It may sound a bit harsh.   Let it burn-in for several days and then you can do critical listening.

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