There are some bizarre questions and claims that surface from time to time in head-fi (sometimes right here in Sound Science), and among those topics are USB cables for audio and the supposed benefits of audiophile-grade cables or the use of USB 3.
I thought I might share the thoughts of an audio electronics designer (that some folks might have heard of) on what he thinks about USB audio: J Stoddard. This isn't science fiction, folks.
To sum up the main points:
- USB 3 is completely unnecessary for audio. USB has sufficient bandwidth for multichannel streaming of audibly-transparent, high bitrate audio
- issues with USB audio often stem from software issues
- issues with USB audio often stem from 'audiophile' USB cables
- issues with people using cables outside the USB spec (i.e., too long, or too old with questionable construction relative to the USB spec)
- hardware configuration issues, especially with USB 3 ports.
As I and many other members have said before, if you understand and follow the USB specifications for your equipment, everything will be fine. If your cables meet usb specification, but you still don't get proper operation, then one of the connected devices (computer or dac) is malfunctioning and/or broken.
The specifications for USB can be found here. There is a plethora of information there!
As always, wikipedia has literature on the topic as well here.