Why do USB cables make such a difference?
Status
Not open for further replies.
Sep 12, 2017 at 4:46 PM Post #166 of 1,606

Arpiben

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 25, 2016
Posts
489
Likes
192
Why would I go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a USB cable that made no difference? I find this offensive.

Why would I bet or spend hundreds of dollars on a USB cable in order to hope correcting:
  • source (DAP) impedance or any other deficiencies
  • load (DAC) impedance or any other deficiencies
  • source + load interoperability issues
  • etc...
A USB cable is a simple transmission line with dedicated specifications.Nothing more.
Are you buying 500 USD AC power cords in order to improve AC filtering?

Please do not take offense.
My approach is kind of like a doctor trying to find the proper cure.
Your approach is kind of not believing/knowing about possible cures and applying paralel ways.
We are free, both of us, to apply whatever medecine we feel like.
 
Sep 12, 2017 at 8:41 PM Post #167 of 1,606

chef8489

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 1, 2005
Posts
3,308
Likes
774
You know, I'm starting to get annoyed with some of these post. I'll admit, I too was skeptical about USB cables but I figured I would try some for myself and see. I was given the opportunity to try some higher-end familiar cables for free before I decided to make a purchase.... This is something that some posters here need to do before you start claiming we are all delusional when you haven't even tried a higher end USB cable. If you have tried some and still think it's nonsense, I will admit not all of the higher end cables necessary offer better performance, but some do, you have to be careful.

Why would I go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a USB cable that made no difference? I find this offensive.
1 there is a problem with the cable you are currently using and a proper in spec cable will work you just did not notice till you changed cables
2 there is a problem with your dac or source and you are trying to remedy it with an expensive cable instead of fixing it with the source or dac
3 you paid a lot of money and there really is no difference and would not notice a difference in a proper blind test or double blind test. It is all placebo.

And yes I have tried many expensive cables into the thousands of dollars. so your point is moot about me not trying them.
 
Last edited:
Sep 13, 2017 at 2:14 AM Post #168 of 1,606

gregorio

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 14, 2008
Posts
4,148
Likes
2,290
You know, I'm starting to get annoyed with some of these post. .... Why would I go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a USB cable that made no difference? I find this offensive.

If you are referring to my posts then I don't understand what you are getting annoyed about because I am NOT saying that you (or anyone else) who hears a difference between USB cables is lying and not hearing a difference. What I am saying is that there are three fundamental steps to hearing. 1. The sound which enters your ears. 2. The information your ears then send to your brain and 3. How your brain then interprets that information. Unless (potentially) you have a faulty/broken/flawed DAC or are comparing against a faulty/broken USB cable, the differences you ARE hearing are occurring entirely in step #3 (there is no difference in step #1, the sound entering your ears).

G
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 2:35 PM Post #169 of 1,606

Cartma

Member of the Trade: Al's Audio
Joined
Jan 1, 2016
Posts
63
Likes
20
Location
Alberta Canada
All USB cables I tried had their own sound signature as well as a sound signature that match their same line of cables. Same type of situation as digital coax cables carrying the same signature as the same line's power cables and interconnects. I think it's more than just doing it right or doing it wrong.
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 2:54 PM Post #170 of 1,606

chef8489

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 1, 2005
Posts
3,308
Likes
774
All USB cables I tried had their own sound signature as well as a sound signature that match their same line of cables. Same type of situation as digital coax cables carrying the same signature as the same line's power cables and interconnects. I think it's more than just doing it right or doing it wrong.
A usb cable has no sound signature at all.
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 3:22 PM Post #171 of 1,606

gregorio

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 14, 2008
Posts
4,148
Likes
2,290
On another related note check out http://antipodesaudio.com/articles.html . I received this link in a marketing email this morning to spend money on upgrading my music server. Of specific interest to this topic string are two links on this page to: 'Of Faith & Science' and 'Design Approach' (I could not get direct links to each specific topic article, so have to include the full marketing pitch -- sorry). Yes, it is marketing bumph, but I think this string's readership may find these two specific articles interesting, either in agreeing with what is put forth by Mark or in knocking holes in what has been stated, as you think is appropriate.

Yep, I've seen this sort of thing numerous times before. It's nonsense but potentially it's not only nonsense, potentially it's very good marketing and it's very good marketing because it sounds entirely reasonable. In fact, to some/many who believe they hear differences, it probably sounds far more reasonable than the actual facts! However, with some basic factual knowledge and the application of some logic, it's really not very difficult to see that it's just nonsense. The author hopes that the reader either doesn't have that basic knowledge, isn't capable of simple logic or if they are, that they won't think to apply it. The basic arguments of this and similar articles are along the lines that digital audio is just a theory/model, models are not reality, theories are theories rather than absolute proof, science doesn't know everything and therefore it's just childish to accept on faith that there is no possibility of there being anything more than only zero's and one's (binary data bits). The reason this is nonsense is because these arguments do not matter, they are totally irrelevant! Let's pretend for a moment that the proven maths/science and demonstrated facts don't exist and assume hypothetically that there definitely is "something else", something other than just zero's and ones. A digital to analogue converter chip is by definition digital and therefore it's designed to accept only zeros and ones, as with all digital devices it's programmed (with zeros and ones) to perform instructions/calculations on other zeros and ones. Therefore, if we feed this "something else" into a DAC chip there are only two possible outcomes; either the chip is unaware of the existence of that "something else" and therefore completely ignores it or it throws an error/crashes because it only understands zeros and ones. In other words, this "something else" (regardless of what it is) either has absolutely no effect at all or causes there to be no output, no other options are possible. And of course, the same is true of all digital processing units, not just digital audio devices, zeros and ones or nothing.

Personally, I'm convinced by the proven math/science and the lack of any reliable evidence even hinting at the possibility of there being "something else". However, I cannot be absolutely certain there is not something else, all I can be absolutely certain of is that if there is something else, we'll need an entirely new technology for it, it can't be digital audio because digital audio by definition of being "digital" is only zeros and ones. So, whether or not there is "something else" or whether or not I or anyone else is open to the possibility of there being something else is completely irrelevant, as are all the other similar arguments about theories and what science might not know.

The question about this and similar articles is; why was it written? Either the author is just an idiot who effectively doesn't know what "digital" means or we come right back to point #2B above: If we accept the science and facts, that there can be no audible difference and therefore no reason to buy a competent DAC capable of more than 16/44 and no reason to spend more than $10 on a competent USB cable, where does that leave the digital audio equipment manufacturing/retailing industry? They only have two options. 1. A race to the bottom (who can produce the cheapest competent 16/44 DAC or USB cable) or 2. Marketing! Either simply ignore the science and present some nonsense marketing claims, misrepresent the science to back-up nonsense marketing claims or discredit the science and then any nonsense could be "fact"! Along with other some other time-honoured basic marketing techniques; price point, appearance and testimonials, just to name a few, that's more than enough to exploit the difference between audible and perceivable.

The Design Approach article is basically "The trouble with applying accepted science to music is we don’t have a reliable objective measurement of how well a piece of equipment conveys the emotion that was conveyed in the original performance." Which again is complete nonsense! It's not the job of an audio reproduction system to convey or reproduce emotion, that would be the job of an emotion reproduction system (if there were such a thing)! It's the job of the artists and engineers who created the recording to make sure that the audio contains and elicits the desired emotions, then it's just a case of reproducing that audio as accurately as possible. To reproduce/convey the emotion perfectly, the audio reproduction system therefore does not even need any awareness of emotion and entirely contrary to the claim; we can very reliably objectively measure the accuracy of audio reproduction (and therefore the conveyance of whatever the recording contained). The very last thing I would want is an audio reproduction system which markets itself effectively as an emotion reproduction system because that implies it is not trying to accurately reproduce audio (and therefore the art and emotion put into that audio by the artists) but is somehow deciding what it thinks is emotion/art and changing the audio from what the artists intended. This falls under the "misrepresent the science" marketing ploy. And the opening sentence "Our approach to product development is highly scientific, using blind testing to verify all findings", is of course just a bold faced lie, as blind testing is not "highly scientific", it's not even lowly scientific! The minimum requirement for science is double blind testing and even then, only with certain provisos and conditions!

The author of the article writes reasonably eloquently, so most likely he/she is not an idiot but is simply employing marketing tactics. However, I can't completely discount the possibility that he/she is simply employing marketing tactics and is also an idiot! :)

G
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 3:53 PM Post #172 of 1,606

theorist

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Posts
120
Likes
47
1) All USB cables I tried had their own sound signature as well as a sound signature that match their same line of cables. Same type of situation as digital coax cables carrying the same signature as the same line's power cables and interconnects. I think it's more than just doing it right or doing it wrong.

2) A usb cable has no sound signature at all.

And we go around the circle again with someone asserting position 1) (which I more or less agree with) and then the same several people coming on the thread asserting position 2) based on their beliefs, often I assume, derived from their own experiences of the failure of the hypothesis that there is a difference occurring between USB cables when a double-blind testing is used, or perhaps based of extensive other relevant experience, such as years spent in the recording/mixing studio.

Can anyone suggest a way that we can respect that both positions are valid, at least to the individuals believing them, but in a way that we can continue this thread in a manner that moves the debate on by answer why both camps can have contrary positions. Perhaps this can start by addressing questions such as (one from each camp):
  • How significant is expectation bias eg marketing hype, self-justification, in forming our opinions/beliefs, or even how we mentally interpret what we hear
  • Why double-blind testing has a lot of methodological issues in duplicating the emotional listening experience of reproduced music created by the artist (and skill of the recording engineer), eg the sense of relaxation involved in typical home listening experience versus being involved in a 'test' situation, etc
Undoubtedly, we could make a pretty long list here from both camps!
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 4:17 PM Post #173 of 1,606

chef8489

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 1, 2005
Posts
3,308
Likes
774
You are transmitting a 1 and a 0 not sound. There can not be any sound influenced from the cable that is the whole point of digital audio. If the cable is not malfunctioning there is no audio charismatics the cable can impart in the audio chain. While we are at it. I have some beach front property available in Nevada for sale along the Pacific ocean. The purpose of digital audio is to not have anything be able to influence the music from the source to the dac and get as pure and perfect as to the source as possible. Again the only reason why you hear a difference is because you have not done a popper double blind test or your equipment is faulty.

You know why we are asserting this. Because we have done the testing time and time again, which you all refuse to do thus you contuse to believe in the magical usb cable sound changes.
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 5:39 PM Post #174 of 1,606

theorist

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Posts
120
Likes
47
we have done the testing time and time again, which you all refuse to do thus you contuse to believe in the magical usb cable sound changes.

On the contrary, I would love to do a double-blind testing of USB cables in my system and see if I can find any differences to when I swap cables myself.

Accordingly, this weekend I have a friend coming over to swap USB cables in and out randomly for me when I am positioned out of sight of him and my system (although my isolation will be limited by the length of my HP cable) and to record my better/worse rankings. I will test the freeby that came with my Auralic DAC to my Nordost Valhalla 2 USB cable with a US list price of $3500. I will test the two cables against each other on the same track repeatedly (having my friend use the 430HA mute function button when changing the cables so as to not change volume). If I can hear a consistent better/worse difference between the cables, I will then test each of these two cables against a Tellurium Q Blue USB which has a UK retail list cost of 186 pounds. If anyone has any methodological suggestions/protocols please post them in the next 24 hours and if they are not too difficult to implement I will use them provided they don't impinge on my personal privacy.
 
Last edited:
Sep 14, 2017 at 6:29 PM Post #175 of 1,606

castleofargh

Sound Science Forum Moderator
Joined
Jul 2, 2011
Posts
9,516
Likes
4,914
here is an idea for those who purchase various and expensive USB cables pretty often. do yourself a favor and go buy a soundcard with a real good input, or an audio analyzer for a few hundred bucks. so you can really see how one cable improves your sound, or pisses all over it. and measure the improvements on more than a graph with a dollar axis. I can't claim it will bring peace of mind to everybody, but it's an extra reference. not marketing, not forum hype. simple relative comparison between 2 cables while measuring various stuff at the output of the DAC. not specs done nobody knows how, real signal coming out of your system. if it measures good, you probably have a great system. how cool is that? it's very serious, very real information, the kind that would force @chef8489 to admit that your claims of audible difference aren't in your head so we could move on from doubting everybody, to looking into a specific case with clear information and maybe learn something.

and if you prefer the "worst" cable after measuring it, look the audio analyzer right in the inputs an tell it "I do what I want!". a machine is not taking away free will(not yet).
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 6:49 PM Post #176 of 1,606

chef8489

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 1, 2005
Posts
3,308
Likes
774
Yes please do, so we can figure out what is either wrong with your system and fix It, or maybe those that do see that there is no sonic difference in their cables as long as they are functing within spec and transfering perfect data without jitter. Cartma.
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 6:59 PM Post #177 of 1,606

Cartma

Member of the Trade: Al's Audio
Joined
Jan 1, 2016
Posts
63
Likes
20
Location
Alberta Canada
You are transmitting a 1 and a 0 not sound. There can not be any sound influenced from the cable that is the whole point of digital audio. If the cable is not malfunctioning there is no audio charismatics the cable can impart in the audio chain. While we are at it. I have some beach front property available in Nevada for sale along the Pacific ocean. The purpose of digital audio is to not have anything be able to influence the music from the source to the dac and get as pure and perfect as to the source as possible. Again the only reason why you hear a difference is because you have not done a popper double blind test or your equipment is faulty.

You know why we are asserting this. Because we have done the testing time and time again, which you all refuse to do thus you contuse to believe in the magical usb cable sound changes.

The title of this thread is Why do USB cables make such a difference? Not Do USB cables make a difference? Titled this in effort to keep people like you out. Every time you post you are going off topic.
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 7:44 PM Post #178 of 1,606

chef8489

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 1, 2005
Posts
3,308
Likes
774
The title of this thread is Why do USB cables make such a difference? Not Do USB cables make a difference? Titled this in effort to keep people like you out. Every time you post you are going off topic.
So your object is to keep the well experienced people out that have done the studies and tests so you can perpuatue the magic and nonesesce. Sorry doesn't work like that and that's why we keep these threads to the sound science sub forum for just that purpose. one thing I love about head-fi is the community is pretty good about policing itself and calling out bs audiophile trends that other audiophile groups go all gushy over. This community is pretty good about showing proof and refuting claims and going into great detail at explaining everything. Then the people that contually go down the same path usually don't last long around here. Saw it with power cords and other items.

It's funny theorist is willing to do the tests and if he were local I would love to have him by and we can chat an run some tests together. But alas different countries.
You on the other hand have nothing to back up anything you have posted. And by scientific standpoint and purpose of sub and digital audio, what you say makes no sense at all.
Do something to back up what you say. Throw some evidence behind it other than I paid a lot more and now it sounds better.
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 8:10 PM Post #179 of 1,606
Joined
Jan 30, 2011
Posts
13,315
Likes
24,305
So your object is to keep the well experienced people out that have done the studies and tests so you can perpuatue the magic and nonesesce. Sorry doesn't work like that and that's why we keep these threads to the sound science sub forum for just that purpose. one thing I love about head-fi is the community is pretty good about policing itself and calling out bs audiophile trends that other audiophile groups go all gushy over. This community is pretty good about showing proof and refuting claims and going into great detail at explaining everything. Then the people that contually go down the same path usually don't last long around here. Saw it with power cords and other items.

It's funny theorist is willing to do the tests and if he were local I would love to have him by and we can chat an run some tests together. But alas different countries.
You on the other hand have nothing to back up anything you have posted. And by scientific standpoint and purpose of sub and digital audio, what you say makes no sense at all.
Do something to back up what you say. Throw some evidence behind it other than I paid a lot more and now it sounds better.

Except that this actually is the "'Cables, Power, Tweaks, Speakers, Accessories (DBT-Free Forum)", and in this case Cartma is correct. This is the place where cable believers can discuss the topic without having to provide proof (ie completely subjective). What makes me smile a bit though is the title. By introducing the "why", then you're never going to get the answer unless you take it to Sound Science. But for this particular forum (chef8489), the rules of engagement in Sound Science don't apply. Its probably why I'm a bit surprised the thread has taken the turn it has. And bravo to both theorist and gregorio for having such an informed and informative conversation without the usual escalations.
 
Sep 14, 2017 at 8:51 PM Post #180 of 1,606

chef8489

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 1, 2005
Posts
3,308
Likes
774
I am greatfull theorist is truly open to explore other possibilities. He comes from a great deal of analogue audio knowledge and it shows and I would love to spend hours chatting and exploring audio and music with both with him and gregorio. We are all passionate about music and audio. I am sure we could learn something from each other about something, if not I am sure it would be a great night of conversation and expermitation.

On the same side, I am willing to do the same and be proven wrong.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Users who are viewing this thread

Top