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USB cable and Sound Quality

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by rudybagel, Jul 4, 2012.
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  1. RudyBagel
    Dare I put my toes into the water? I'm a physicist and audiophile (establish credibility!). I've been into living room system audiophilia for 20 years. This pc-audio is new to me and I'm just starting up. Now, about USB cables: I can hear a small difference between cables. If we assume the bits are transferred properly (and there is some debate  about that in USB-audio vs. USB-data), I think the issue is electromagnetic nosie getting through the circuits and into, in my case, the headphone amplier. All EM noise is immediately spread through an entire system, end-to end. Since at the end of the day, something is converted to analog to hear it, the cleaner the power and the better the shielding, the cleaner the final D/A will be. This will not be anything that affects data transfer, per se. All billion TB of information can be transferred with perfect fidelity; when you open your word document, all the correct words are there. But we don't listen to data files. There has to be analog conversion somewhere. In my living room system, it was always well worth the effort to clean up the power and have well shielded cables. Do any of the audiophile USB cables actually provide effective power filtering and shielding, such that the headphone amp is cleaner even though connected to the PC? I don't know. This can be properly done in a living room system. But there are snake-oil produccts there too, of course.
  2. proton007
    A similar thread got locked just yesterday. Whats the point of this one?
  3. liamstrain
    Line noise in a USB cable would be irrelevant at the D/A conversion point unless it was so problematic as to actually affect the voltage swing enough to switch bits (extremely unlikely). 
    Any noise you hear after the D/A conversion would more likely be coming from somewhere else in the chain and should be unaffected by the USB cable. I could see maybe some case if the amplification circuit is powered via the USB... a ferrite choke cost about $2, and would be any easy thing to add to any USB cable to test if you continue to think that the culprit lies there.
    You state you heard differences between them. Did you do any sort of controlled/blind testing or ABX to determine this, or is this based on your own cable switching and general impressions. 
    ert likes this.
  4. Griploc
    I emailed a lady at mapleshade audio about isb quality and here is wht she had to say:

    The USB cable that we offer, the Clearlink USB, provides two main benefits which will enhance both audio conversion and sonics:
    Our signal wires are not bundled together with the USB power wires, which allows the signal wires to perform with less interference. If the conductor that is transmitting the signal is not fighting with interference, the end result is a more efficient signal which provides clearer sound. This is important because digital audio signals are prone to problems that analog is not, and if you can address those problems it will sound noticeably better. The other main benefit has to do with the materials used, which also allow the signal to travel more efficiently and with less interference. We use a very thin copper conductor and good-sounding dielectric. Both the design and materials have benefits for sonics and audio conversion. If you would like more detailed technical information, please feel free to contact our tech advice support at tweaks@mapleshaderecords.com. Thanks.
  5. Griploc
  6. BlackbeardBen
    How about mailing someone at the USB foundation instead?
    That would be infinitely more useful than the marketing spiel from a cable company.
    ert and MHOE like this.
  7. billybob_jcv
    With digital, how does "a more efficient signal" translate into "clearer sound"???  Is she suggesting that line interference would be causing transmit/receive errors?  If that were the case, I don't think it would be subtle at all - you would have signal dropouts and possibly stuttering - just like you do with any digital sound transmission (VoIP phones, cell phones, etc).  A dirty CD isn't subtle...
  8. LFF

    Line interference inject noise into the signal. That's why I have purchased a Uber Sonic Bandwidth Cord from an engineering friend. It's a custom designed cable that rejects noise and custom made to reproduce those 1's and 0's in the most straight (for 1's) and curvy ( for 0's) way possible.
    With this cable, I get no signal dropouts and no stuttering. It's simply amazing. I was told that each cable gets blessed by a JEDI and that the designer crys every single time he sells one because they are so dear to his heart and mind.
    ert likes this.
  9. ultrabike
    Correct, but the analog conversion does not happen at the USB interfaces.
    USB 3.0 expects a bit error rate of less than 10^-12 according to the spec: http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/ (USB3_r1.0_06_06_2011.pdf section and Furthermore, the cable description to fulfill the requirements is specified clearly in section 11.4.7 (28 AWG for 0.8m all the way to 20 for 5.3m.) These requirements don't seem too unreasonable in terms of $.
    ert likes this.
  10. Griploc
    The usb cable mapleshade audio sells are built from the ground up and custom ordered so i think she may have an idea what she is saying
  11. rhythmdevils
    Wow I would love to come over and feel your 1's and 0's some time LFF too bad we dont' live closer.  USB cables are so important, I don't get why all those crazies say they don't matter.  The thicker, harder, longer, and stiffer the better.  Mine is so girthy and stiff that I have to keep the back of my dac facing the back of my puter.  But man those 1's and 0's come through in such glory.  It could also be the virgin goat entrails I had custom lined on the inside of mine too.  It adds an organic richness plus it lactose free.  Win win win. 
  12. ultrabike
    I'm not sure how building something "from the ground up" and "custom" ordering means she knows what she is saying.
    She should elaborate on this.
    The thinner the conductor, the worse it performs. AFAIK there is no such thing as good-sounding dielectric.
  13. Griploc
    Could you support data regarding good dielectric not sounding good
  14. purrin
    Because any dielectric will polarize the electrons. Essentially the cable becomes a capacitor.
    The EMI theory however is more sound. I actually got a subtle, but notable improvement by wrapping my USB cable with aluminum foil.
  15. Griploc
    Interesting. I emailed the company's tech support to elaborate with supporting data and graphs to berify their claims. I will post the answer back as soon as i recieve it
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