Why do USB cables make such a difference?
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bfreedma

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Back on the topic of measurements, this interview with industry legend Dan D’Agostino is super interesting:

TLDR: measurements are good design guides but not definitive for sound quality


I suspect this same understanding (or lack thereof) of measurements is also happening with cables, DACs, and everything else audio

Someone with a financial interest in selling ultra expensive amps which show no measurable audible advantages over lower priced amps states measurements aren’t definitive. Shocking...

If I was selling monoblocks that sell for $130k a pair, I’d use the same sales and marketing tactics.
 
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Back on the topic of measurements, this interview with industry legend Dan D’Agostino is super interesting:

TLDR: measurements are good design guides but not definitive for sound quality


I suspect this same understanding (or lack thereof) of measurements is also happening with cables, DACs, and everything else audio
Please stay on topic. I believe the thread topic is why USB cables "make such a difference". I think we've established so far that unless they are produced out of spec, or the DAC they are feeding is out of spec / badly designed - then they don't.

Or at least that's my read of it so far.
 
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Steve999

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I might have a DAP to add to @bigshot's collection. Something that's puzzled me for a while is an effect I hear very strongly via the headphone-out of my QP1R when using the SE846. It's in the first 5 seconds of the Glass Hammer track "Towards Home We Fled" from the "Perilous" album. The bass player (Steve Babb) hits an F2 (~87.3 Hz) at the end of the second bar. He bends the string on the fretboard ever so slightly, but it's more or less 100% in tune via any of my other sources. That same note (F2) on my QP1R is notably flat. BTW, if I use a higher-impedance headphone, or I use a line-out from the QP1R->KSE1500 analog-in, the intonation is perfect again, so it seems like it's not the QP1R's DAC, but more likely the QP1R's current mode amp (along with, perhaps, the wild impedance swings of the SE846?) that does something with the timing that alters the pitch of that bass note. I've never found a plausible scientific explanation for what's going on.

Anybody got any thoughts?
I’ll check it out on my equipment through any streaming services I have that have the track. Plus as I always say it’s a chance to get to know some new music.
 
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GrussGott

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Please stay on topic. I believe the thread topic is why USB cables "make such a difference". I think we've established so far that unless they are produced out of spec, or the DAC they are feeding is out of spec / badly designed - then they don't.

Or at least that's my read of it so far.
No, when it comes to USB cables:

(1.) We've established there are a lot of speculative opinions based on assumptions, guesses, and personal experience since we have zero definitive research and/or data
(2.) We've also established a lot of people pretend to be experts, many wish they were experts, and a few have giant needy egos needing constant feeding (and come here to feed)
(3.) Finally, we've established there are a lot audiophiles easily discombobulated and frightened by uncertainty and ambiguity (which causes them to make up conclusions, panic and/or lash out)

But as for any data-driven definitive conclusion on USB (or digital cables in general), we've established nothing.

It's just science.
 
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No, when it comes to USB cables:

(1.) We've established there are a lot of speculative opinions based on assumptions, guesses, and personal experience since we have zero definitive research and/or data
(2.) We've also established a lot of people pretend to be experts, many wish they were experts, and a few have giant needy egos needing constant feeding (and come here to feed)
(3.) Finally, we've established there are a lot audiophiles easily discombobulated and frightened by uncertainty and ambiguity (which causes them to lash out)

But as for any data-driven definitive conclusion on USB (or digital cables in general), we've established nothing.
I suggest you go back through the thread then - perhaps a little less selective reading?

There has been at least a set of objective data which shows no measurable difference, and every instance of anecdotal evidence appears to have been debunked. Or can you point me to specific posts in the thread which show a measurable difference which can be attributed to cables?
 
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bigshot

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He’s making it all up to self validate
 
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GrussGott

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I suggest you go back through the thread then - perhaps a little less selective reading?

There has been at least a set of objective data which shows no measurable difference, and every instance of anecdotal evidence appears to have been debunked. Or can you point me to specific posts in the thread which show a measurable difference which can be attributed to cables?
Being this is the science thread, I feel honor-bound to point out everything in your post adds up to "we're guessing and speculating based on the anecdotes of amateurs".

In my scientificalogical experience, "hey that one time that dude did some stuff with some machines and such" doesn't cross the conclusive and definitive bar.

Further, pretending (or deluding yourself) that random amateur messing about has established anything is misleading at best. (although if he was wearing a white coat and safety glasses it would make it more fun)

In short, we have zero conclusive data of anything when it comes to cables; just guesses, speculations, amateur experiments, and bunch of either misunderstanding, fear and/or discomfort with that uncertainty. That should be the one place we can all fully agree ...

Because it is, scientifically, the state of affairs, and the only thing actually validated.
 
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He’s making it all up to self validate
It's funny you keep accusing me of having an opinion when I've been pretty consistent that i'm not an expert in:

* Electrical transmission
* Electrical properties of metals
* Cable design & geometry
* Digital signals processing
* DAC and digital audio electronics design
* Human hearing and sound waves

Thus, it's not only impossible for me (or anyone here) to have a definitive opinion, it's unethical for me (or anyone here) to give definitive advice.

That said, I have no problem sharing my experiences, my amateur's speculation of why, and disclaiming that my experience is likely not predictive of anyone else's.
 
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bigshot

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I have enough experience to form an opinion, and I'm happy to offer advice. Spending money on fancy USB cables is a waste of money. USB cables either work or they don't. There's no in-between. Any cable that performs to USB spec will do the job the same as any other cable.
 
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I have enough experience to form an opinion, and I'm happy to offer advice. Spending money on fancy USB cables is a waste of money. USB cables either work or they don't. There's no in-between. Any cable that performs to USB spec will do the job the same as any other cable.
Sure, but that's your amateurs speculative opinion, which you should be sure to tell people when they ask ... although I'm assuming you're not trying to misrepresent yourself ...

Any competent engineer or scientist who's been paid to make decisions that bet people's jobs, money, or lives, knows the danger and folly of pretending an amateur opinion is a fact.

That's my bias: nobody here knows - just a bunch of amateur guessing.
 
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Uh... I'm not an amateur. I have worked in sound recording, editing, and mixing in a professional capacity if that makes any difference.
 
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Uh... I'm not an amateur. I have worked in sound recording, editing, and mixing in a professional capacity if that makes any difference.
It does not. You're an amateur on this topic, and the fact that you don't understand that is how we know it's true.

Any competent engineer or scientist who gets paid to make decisions that affect people's jobs, money, or lives would never misrepresent themselves or their knowledge, and understand the difference between bet-your-money facts and we-don't-know-yet guesses.

That's why they're paid to make decisions and you are not.
 
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Really? You lot are arguing over USB cables?
It's a bloody digital signal. A "better" cable won't make your 0s rounder and your 1s straighter.
Digital either works or doesn't.

Seriously, audiophiles are like medieval people, believing utter nonsense despite bugger all evidence.

I could pick up a rock from the garden, wrap it in copper wiring then claim it improves digital processing and sell it for $300. I bet people here will talk about how it improves soundstage and tightens up the bass.
 
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GrussGott

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A "better" cable won't make your 0s rounder and your 1s straighter. Digital either works or doesn't.
Sure, but in our defense that's only because that's not true. Mostly that's likely due to the USB audio spec (as opposed to the USB bulk spec for file transfer) guaranteeing bandwidth but no error correction, thus errored bits in a word (noise) or mis-timed bits (jitter) can get directly converted by the DAC into analogue ... but really we don't know. (no matter what the inbred groupthink would tempt you to believe)

So feel free to bust out your source-side / DAC-side data analysis showing you're right, but realize you'll have to know the XMOS or C-media USB receiver chip firmware code, which is a trade secret, so you'll likely be easily identifiable by them, and nobody here would ask you to break your contract.

Or ... you don't have that data, don't know what that code says, and you're guessing. (but I get it's fun to believe everyone is just a big ole dope and you're such a smartie!)

My bet is on the latter.
 
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