So I have been noticing some interesting things when I tried using each of my 3 total USB ports on my dell xps laptop from 2011. 2 of the ports are USB 3.0 and the other one is that USB 2.0/sata combo port. I use a schiit bifrost dac with the uber upgrade, and the rest of my chain is in my sig. Basically what I have been noticing is each port has like the tiniest of difference in sound. mainly when it comes to imaging/sound stage/layering; not so much with the tone or anything like that since its still the same data and USB ports should not have such differences. Yet every single time I switch to a different port, and listen to the same section of familiar music, I distincly notice the slight change. It is very slight though, I really want to make that clear, it took me a good week (since I got my set up running) to notice this. At first I used the farthest left USB 3.0 port, but everything I played through it started to seem like it was kinda distant for some reason, it felt and sounded slightly off or too smoothed over, yet still sharp and bright (because of my amp/dac). So I decided to experiment with the port perpendicular to it, and suddenly that sense of distance changed to the same kind of subtle sense of compression or layers playing over each other, instead of next to each other. Again all very subtle, but when I kept going between the two ports, I was able to keep confirming that each port had its own slight affect on the sound, and both ports just didnt sound right to me, like if I was told its all in my head and I should just get used to the sound, I would simply not enjoy the music over time. The subtle changes and "off" feeling is always there. So I figured maybe somehow it's a USB 3.0 thing, or at least the renesas drivers for them. I then switched to the far right USB 2.0/sata port, and now the sound is a third subtle varient, but thankfully as of me writing this, the closest to what I could consider correct sounding without feeling like something is off. I'll have to listen to it more to see if something different will start feeling off or if this will be the go to port from now on. The only real potential sonic annoyance that it seems to have is that the sound became very slightly more full, and busy/forward/in your face, but this may be due to my amp. I'll know for sure when I get my new amp in the coming weeks, as I'm selling my current one. If the sound doesnt change with the way the amp should roughly sound, then I'm back to being utterly confused as to why each USB port makes some slight modification to the overall sound.
And one last time, I want to be crystal clear that when I mean a difference in sound between the ports, I mean like you have to really listen to it with familiar music, and pay attention to how the overall sound feels, between the ports. There is enough change that I can tell that each port is definitely not identical to each other, if they were, then one port would'nt sound more right than another. I should also add I did not go into each port with an idea of what it should sound like, I expected them to be identical, so whatever I heard is purely out of objective observation to my best ability.
My main questions in regards to all this, is:
1. Does anyone else have a similar experience as myself, specifically with the same laptop I use (to potentially rule out, or conclude, that somehow this model laptop is the cause)
2. What port do you guys use, and why
3. Possible theories as to how it's actually even possible that different USB ports change the sound signature like that (since I'm using a self powered dac, so usb power issues are not to blame)
4. Any comments on the matter, other than saying its all placebo and I'm making it up, not that I don't respect that opinion, just that I swear to my best ability to unbiasdly observe that something is definitely different between each port.
(I should mention that I have made sure to also check the device manager so that nothing else is on the same port as the dac)
I'm very curious to see who else has noticed such a phenomena :)