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Need USB cable. Does USB cable make a differences - Page 5  

post #61 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

Thats a contradiction right there. If you 'get' 0s and 1s, then you should also 'get' that those 0s and 1s are NOT sound. They're 'data'.

 

They become sound only when they'll be converted into analog signals by whatever device that receives that data. The same goes for any audio/visual signal.  Until the end system converts it into the final output, its all DATA.

 

Whether you transfer a .doc file, a photo, a .zip file, whatever. Its all 'data' to the usb cable.  Does this mean your USB cable determines how many spelling errors your document contains after a transfer? Would you believe a claim that a better usb cable would result in a 'clearer' file?  Or a better USB would automatically result in clearer photographs? 


Exactly. You would hear audible pops, clicks and audio dropouts not a reduced sound stage, clarity and detail like some claim to hear with "inferior" cables. If anything altered that data stream it would sound nothing like music because no audio is transmitted via USB, it's all gibberish if you somehow converted those voltage values of 1s and 0s to audio.

post #62 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by casperry View Post


Exactly. You would hear audible pops, clicks and audio dropouts not a reduced sound stage, clarity and detail like some claim to hear with "inferior" cables. If anything altered that data stream it would sound nothing like music because no audio is transmitted via USB, it's all gibberish if you somehow converted those voltage values of 1s and 0s to audio.

 

Thats right. I think you'd have to look pretty hard to find a usb cable that corrupts data. That would be something.

post #63 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

 

My thoughts are when the OP's question comes up is: What DAC are you using? Does the USB input use bus power or not? If it does, why not spend money on a USB power solution instead?

I think in the case where the DAC runs off of USB power and you are using a USB cable that meets the standard, and if there is a problem with the DAC having a problem drawing enough power through the USB cable---the precisely because the USB cable is within spec, one should conclude that they have a very poorly designed (or malfunctioning) DAC.

 

In a situation like this, rather than spend the $456.75 on a fancy USB cable for a marginal improvement in cable resistance (and I'm being optimistic) to mask the symptoms of a poorly made DAC, one could invest that $450 in getting a much better DAC. The Bifrost comes to mind as an example of a $450 USB DAC that has asynchronous functionality, and a power supply that is separate from USB power.

 

Nevertheless, I think your suggestion of getting a USB power solution is definitely preferable to trying an expensive USB cable.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hi Rez View Post

I so wish it were true that async DACs wouldn't benefit from aftermarket cables.  Before I tried it, I too thought there wouldn't be an effect.   So the quotes need to stay.

 

Just curious, have you actually tried any comparisons yourself?

 

I have a USB-powered DAC---a Schiit Modi. I had problems with "glitchiness" or dropouts or whatever it was. So I had to figure out what was degrading the audio. So I have firsthand experience with sketchy DAC performance. Want to guess what the problem was?

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

It wasn't the USB cable.
It wasn't the DAC.

It was the first-generation USB 3.0 ports on my laptop---they weren't playing nicely with the DAC.
I've since used the Modi on native USB 2 ports on several machines--including my laptop's USB 2 ports---with whatever spare USB cables I have, depending on whether I'm at home, in the office, or in the lab, and I haven't had a hiccup since. The USB cables I've used have all been spare cables that came with various USB devices (harddisks mostly).

When trying to debug a situation like this, it's really helpful to have a fundamental understanding of the underlying processes, that way fixing the problem doesn't end up becoming a witch hunt. The USB cable has to do two things for Modi--- transfer the 1's and 0's and transfer the bus power from the computer. The USB cable I was using was in good known working condition from it's performance with other USB peripherals---therefore, I could deduce that the cable wasn't causing the glitches and I could investigate whether the defect was in the computer or in the DAC.

I plugged the DAC into the USB 2 port on the other side of my machine and it fixed the problem---I got a huge increase in the quality of the music! Why? Because I finally got the system hooked up in a way where all the components were operating within spec. My USB3 ports have been buggy and hit-or-miss with other perhipherals in the past, so I had a good idea that the problem was with the computer.

The moral of the story is make sure your components all function within specification. if the cable gets the data from A to B and the power from A to B and is within the specifications, then you have maximized the cable component of the sound system. If there is still a deficiency in the performance of the system, it's because of a different component.

 

 

Have you ever checked to see gravity acts differently on the other side of the world? How do you know that people in the southern hemisphere don't see everything upside-down compared to folks in the north hemisphere? The reason you don't have to verify that yourself is because you understand how gravity pulls things toward the center of the earth.

 

Have you ever checked the performance of the magnets in your headphone drives to see if they operate differently if you are near the north or south pole, or i you are near the equator? Unless you think magnets are miracles, then you realize that the earth's magnetic field is irrelevant.

 

It's the same thing with state machines, serial communication, digital signal processing, and electricity and magnetism. If you understand the principles, you can save your self the time and hassle of needing to try absurdly over-specified cable that cannot possibly transfer digital information "better" than any other sufficiently constructed cable.

 

Even if a first-principles approach isn't your forte, inverlose has pointed out the emperical evidence that USB cables can't have anything more than a vanishingly small effect on the DACs performance (quatified to be at least as small as -140dB which is far below any sort of auditory threshold you could concieve).

 

To quote another headfier (i can't seem to find the post to link to) I experience the sun rise every morning, move across the sky, and set every night. Also, I don't experience any sensation of motion. Therefore, can I conclude that the sun orbits around me once every 24 hours?

 

Cheers

post #64 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by casperry View Post


Exactly. You would hear audible pops, clicks and audio dropouts not a reduced sound stage, clarity and detail like some claim to hear with "inferior" cables. If anything altered that data stream it would sound nothing like music because no audio is transmitted via USB, it's all gibberish if you somehow converted those voltage values of 1s and 0s to audio.

 

The most suspected culprit of quality loss is noise, not jitter error, which would manifest itself in reduced sound stage, not dropouts.

http://www.audiostream.com/content/qa-steve-nugent-empirical-audio-page-4

 

Is the goal here to get better sound or explore engineering theories?  If it's sound, then you can't make choices without using your ears.  You're never going to be right all the time no matter how good your ears are, but you're also not going to get the most out of your system by voicing it with a textbook.  I will refer you to a post from Dr. Bruce Brown who is a friend from the Pacific Northwest Audio Society and the owner of Puget Sound Studios (PSS does the digital encoding for several companies, such as HD Tracks and Wilson Audio).  Bruce went through this process, using his ears as his guide; he may have made a mistake, but I wouldn't bet on it.

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?11521-USB-cables&p=208511&viewfull=1#post208511

 

I still say JHIN should buy a 2M Belkin Gold and call it good.  Any improvement, real or imagined, is likely to be smaller than if he put his money into higher priority areas.

post #65 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fork View Post

 

The most suspected culprit of quality loss is noise, not jitter error, which would manifest itself in reduced sound stage, not dropouts.

http://www.audiostream.com/content/qa-steve-nugent-empirical-audio-page-4

 

Is the goal here to get better sound or explore engineering theories?  If it's sound, then you can't make choices without using your ears.  You're never going to be right all the time no matter how good your ears are, but you're also not going to get the most out of your system by voicing it with a textbook.  I will refer you to a post from Dr. Bruce Brown who is a friend from the Pacific Northwest Audio Society and the owner of Puget Sound Studios (PSS does the digital encoding for several companies, such as HD Tracks and Wilson Audio).  Bruce went through this process, using his ears as his guide; he may have made a mistake, but I wouldn't bet on it.

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?11521-USB-cables&p=208511&viewfull=1#post208511

 

I think it's funny that you link to a steve nugent interview and claim that it argues against jitter being the biggest concern with digital audio---Steve is the Jitter poster child

 

In either case, jitter is not the cause of audible problems because timing is handled by DAC oscillator and not the USB clock; however, this is what people most commonly claim to be the culprit. Jitter would appear as background white noise if it's uncorrelated. Electrical noise from the cable

*shouldn't* ever be the problem in a USB DAC---there should be proper power conditioning and filtering in the DAC, otherwise the DAC isn't worthy of a fancy cable in the first place. There's power regulation in my $99 dac, so anything remotely sophisticated should have equal or better power conditioning...

 

I don't think anybody here is going to recommend assembling a system from a textbook, nor is this an exercise in engineering for the sake of the exercise. I think everybody here is just trying to help people direct the time, energy, and money towards the places that will actually have a real effect on the performance of the system.

 

By all means I am in complete agreement with you that folks ought to go out and listen to headphones, amplifiers, and DACs when they want to upgrade their system. However, the issue of $450 USB cables for performance reasons is silly. If you like the bling for the sake of bling, then by all means get the luxury USB cable.

 

I think a Belkin Gold would work perfctly well in a USB based system. $30 for a usb cable is a bit steep, however, if you already have a perfectly well functioning spare cable lying around.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fork View Post
 

 

I still say JHIN should buy a 2M Belkin Gold and call it good.  Any improvement, real or imagined, is likely to be smaller than if he put his money into higher priority areas.

I think everybody here agrees with this point! biggrin.gif

 

Cheers


Edited by ab initio - 7/31/13 at 2:35am
post #66 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post

I think it's funny that you link to a steve nugent interview and claim that it argues against jitter being the biggest concern with digital audio---Steve is the Jitter poster child

 

From the links I posted, Nugent didn't say jitter isn't an issue, he just said he didn't think it was an issue caused by the cable.  And Bruce didn't refer to noise in his components; he has a 500 lb Equitech transformer in his wall.

post #67 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fork View Post

 

The most suspected culprit of quality loss is noise, not jitter error, which would manifest itself in reduced sound stage, not dropouts.

http://www.audiostream.com/content/qa-steve-nugent-empirical-audio-page-4

 

Is the goal here to get better sound or explore engineering theories?  If it's sound, then you can't make choices without using your ears.  You're never going to be right all the time no matter how good your ears are, but you're also not going to get the most out of your system by voicing it with a textbook.  I will refer you to a post from Dr. Bruce Brown who is a friend from the Pacific Northwest Audio Society and the owner of Puget Sound Studios (PSS does the digital encoding for several companies, such as HD Tracks and Wilson Audio).  Bruce went through this process, using his ears as his guide; he may have made a mistake, but I wouldn't bet on it.

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?11521-USB-cables&p=208511&viewfull=1#post208511

 

I still say JHIN should buy a 2M Belkin Gold and call it good.  Any improvement, real or imagined, is likely to be smaller than if he put his money into higher priority areas.


Did you look at the previous data posted where no matter the cable the noise and jitter was identical when measured?

post #68 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

Even a $2 cable will beat this unshielded botch. There's a reason for the "tight" cable specifications in the USB standard.

 

Also, there is not a shred of evidence that expensive USB cables cause better sound quality.

 

Honestly, who cares about the evidence?  All we want is cleaner signals.  It's not snake-oil if there is real science to back it up.

 

I think there is evidence in fields like medicine, since companies pay millions to look for it.

 

http://hifimediy.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=122

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

post #69 of 170

The first sentence of BB's "review" (it's more of a promo really) ends with "USB was never meant for audio streaming" which is evidently wrong. I stopped reading there.

 

In general, most of what you read in such "reviews" or articles is:

- I believe

- I think

- I assume

 

but never:

- We know from [reference here with proper blind listening test or measurements]

 

 

Why is it so hard in the area of voodo... eh audio to come up with proper articles? Is it the large promo checks, the golden ear status, cognitive dissonance? WHAT?

 

 

edit:

 

Quote:

Honestly, who cares about the evidence?  All we want is cleaner signals.  It's not snake-oil if there is real science to back it up.

Everyone who doesn't want to take cable claims on faith? If there is science to back it up there is evidence, so I don't understand what you're trying to say.

 

Quote:
I think there is evidence in fields like medicine, since companies pay millions to look for it.

Sure but there are also companies in that field that make millions with inert pills or solutions, i.e. placebos. They work for some people.

The main reason seems to be that when lives are at risk, you need something that actually works.


Edited by xnor - 7/31/13 at 4:32am
post #70 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

 

but never:

- We know from [reference here with proper blind listening test or measurements]

 

Who gonna pay for dat?

 

Take Shakespeare "I think, therefore I am"

 

Translated to audio "I hear, therefore it is"


Edited by Theta Alpha 1 - 7/31/13 at 4:32am
post #71 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

 

Problem is, a measurement doesn't say necessarily how, if at all, something will affect what people hear. I've only read one distinct description about how jitter (just to give an example, not specifically regarding USB cables) could affect the sound. 

 

 

I'm assuming you're not an engineer? To those who design systems, measurements are probably the only reliable way to make good systems, and they form the empirical representation of a phenomenon.

Most 'consumer' technologies started out as something else, a means to solving an engineering problem. Once a problem is solved, its implementation is passed on to the consumer domain, where all forms of voodoo and magic start to appear, because, money.

Hence, behind a measurement, there's always a definition of what that value means. Most salespersons don't want the customers to know, and a lot of customers either don't know or don't want to find out for themselves.

Its true that the measurement in question may directly, or indirectly represent the more discernible part of a physical phenomenon, but the onus is on the customer to understand these things for his own good.

 

No, but engineers from manufacturers I've talked to don't look at it in this black-and-white way. There is a good example of this in a Youtube video (I need to find the link) of a talk given by ESS Tech at RMAF about how their DAC chip designs came about. You could look at that as trying to solve an engineering problem, but it started as an aim to understand why people felt the old style R2R DACs sounded better. From there, they worked out exactly what was going on and based their designs around the goal of overcoming it. 

 

The problem with putting the onus on the customer to understand anything is that audio is a very complex subject in which many generalisations simply don't work. In my experience, the more equipment I try the more many generalisations fall apart as exceptions come to light. The OP asked a very general question about USB cables, to which the answer is, really: It depends on the DAC. But the only general answer I can give from my experience and understanding is that money is better spent elsewhere, eg: On better USB power, a better DAC or maybe a good USB to S/PDIF converter (if the DAC is good but its USB implementation is poor).  One of my favourite examples of this is the USB-powered Calyx DAC 24/192 (which I regret selling now) where I used it both with both of the above with fantastic results. On the other hand, my main DAC (Audio-gd Master 7) which has one of the best built-in USB implementations I've ever encountered, powered by the DAC itself and with the 5V line cut to avoid noise entering. Both of the above ended up costing about the same (give or take) including the extras and were very hard to tell apart. I didn't notice any significant difference between the different brand USB cables I used with either though.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

If you 'get' 0s and 1s, then you should also 'get' that those 0s and 1s are NOT sound. They're 'data'.

 

They become sound only when they'll be converted into analog signals by whatever device that receives that data. The same goes for any audio/visual signal.  Until the end system converts it into the final output, its all DATA.

 

Whether you transfer a .doc file, a photo, a .zip file, whatever. Its all 'data' to the usb cable.  Does this mean your USB cable determines how many spelling errors your document contains after a transfer? Would you believe a claim that a better usb cable would result in a 'clearer' file?  Or a better USB would automatically result in clearer photographs? 

 

Digital audio depends on the timing of the received signals and audio circuits can be affected by noise, which digital lines can also carry. Computer data doesn't depend on timing and except for the audio circuits inside computers, isn't affected by noise in the same way. 

post #72 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theta Alpha 1 View Post

Who gonna pay for dat?

Any audiophile spending large money on cables could save a lot of money by doing proper tests.

You can set up a blog for free. Post your test including all details there. Or post a youtube video. Let others try to reproduce it. It's that simple.

 

I always thought being thorough was an integral part of the hobby, but obviously it's just buy buy buy.

 

 

Quote:

Take Shakespeare "I think, therefore I am"

 

Translated to audio "I hear, therefore it is"

And: I see, therefore it is?

 

That's a pretty ignorant and gullible way to "deal" with claims.

post #73 of 170

Hahahahahahahaha!

 

Okay, you win this round.


Edited by Theta Alpha 1 - 7/31/13 at 4:48am
post #74 of 170
How come you guys don't take it a step further and buy internal audiophile music cables for transmitting the digital signal before it even gets to the USB port? Audiophile hard drives? As long as a USB is functioning correctly you will not notice any difference between cables. If the cable is not functioning properly there will be pops and drop outs.

http://archimago.blogspot.ca/2013/04/measurements-usb-cables-for-dacs.html?m=1 shows that all 3 cables he tested functioned exactly the same. Digital signals can not even in theory affect sound quality.
post #75 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by invrlose View Post

How come you guys don't take it a step further and buy internal audiophile music cables for transmitting the digital signal before it even gets to the USB port? Audiophile hard drives? As long as a USB is functioning correctly you will not notice any difference between cables. If the cable is not functioning properly there will be pops and drop outs.

http://archimago.blogspot.ca/2013/04/measurements-usb-cables-for-dacs.html?m=1 shows that all 3 cables he tested functioned exactly the same. Digital signals can not even in theory affect sound quality.

 

What institution gives you the authority to make assertions like that?

 

This cable http://hifimediy.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=122 makes such a clear difference to certain systems, i.e. internal computer noise, that it's not even worthy of a blind test, that'd be like blind testing pizza and pancakes, no one does it since no one cares.


Edited by Theta Alpha 1 - 7/31/13 at 5:56am
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