Why do USB cables make such a difference?
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Speedskater

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The differences are probably due to poorly designed connected components.
That was true about two decades ago. S/PDIF cables were said to sound different, but the cause was (again) poorly designed output and input stages.
 
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There's at least one measurement device that has measurements showing the effect of USB noise on the analog components. The noise is independent of the kind of signal being sent through the components, just as a ground loop hum can be. How it can affect the behaviour of digital equipment is worth discussion with people who design it. I don't think it is fair to make general comments that equipment has been "badly designed" (or even "well designed") when discussing these matters unless we have been making equipment ourselves. Remember that the Wyrd, and subsequently the Eitr, come from highly experienced and competent designers who were wyrd-ly surprised by their experiments and their results, having previously thought that the USB they had designed was good enough.
 
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gregorio

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[1] How it can affect the behaviour of digital equipment is worth discussion with people who design it.
[2] I don't think it is fair to make general comments that equipment has been "badly designed" (or even "well designed") when discussing these matters unless we have been making equipment ourselves.
[3] Remember that the Wyrd, and subsequently the Eitr, come from highly experienced and competent designers who were wyrd-ly surprised by their experiments and their results, having previously thought that the USB they had designed was good enough.
1. The signal and power are specified as part of the USB specifications. We shouldn't need to discuss with the designers the behaviour of a USB DAC being supplied with a standard USB signal. And, owners shouldn't have to go and buy non-standard cables (or other devices) to get a USB DAC to function correctly with a standard USB signal.

2. I can't agree with this, either in respect to audiophile manufacturers or manufacturers of any other type of product. Surely a USB DAC (or any other USB device) should operate flawlessly with a standard USB signal, otherwise how is it honestly a "USB" DAC? Why shouldn't the quality of the engineering design be commented upon? Are audiophiles really only interested in the appearance and marketing of the equipment, does the actual performance not matter in the least? Maybe this is the wrong sub forum to ask such questions? :)

3. Competent designers would have done those "experiments and results" BEFORE releasing the product, rather than effectively releasing an under tested/faulty product, then designing a new product with the faults fixed and not offering that fix to the purchasers of the original faulty product. This does not appear to be an uncommon scenario in the audiophile market, we even see it sometimes in the pro audio market, although typically only from some of the small, boutique manufacturers.

Have we ascertained is the OP actually has such a defective DAC? Even if he does, how would a "Nordost Blue Heaven USB" cable be an improvement over say an Amazon Basics USB cable AND, how would a "Nordost Heimdall 2 USB" cable be such an improvement over both?

G
 
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how would a "Nordost Blue Heaven USB" cable be an improvement over say an Amazon Basics USB cable AND, how would a "Nordost Heimdall 2 USB" cable be such an improvement over both?
I don't know gregorio, you tell me. There must be allot of poorly designed DACs out there considering every DAC I've tried the cable on sounded better. Have you even tried a high end USB cable before?
 
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gregorio

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[1] I don't know gregorio, you tell me.
[2] There must be allot of poorly designed DACs out there considering every DAC I've tried the cable on sounded better.
[3] Have you even tried a high end USB cable before?
1. I can't, beyond the obvious biases there is no other rational explanation.
2. Not in my experience, incredibly few in fact. Although, there do seem to be quite a few audiophiles with DACs which apparently require some sort of additional equipment in order to function optimally.
3. Yes, if you mean an audiophile USB cable, although it didn't belong to me. I prefer to stick to high end, non-audiophile cables though.

G
 
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Thats what better cables do, preserve signal integrity and minimize the impact of noise.

I used think that a power cord couldn't make a difference, then I bought two Shunyata power cables and discovered that I was completely wrong, and in a rather dramatic way.

When I got into computer audio, I also didn't think a USB cable could make a difference, the old 'bits is bits' thang, but...they do. Wrong again. An an Audioquest Diamond USB sounds considerably better than an Audioquest Carbon USB.

I'm a scientist, I just go by what the data tells me, and controlled experiments tell me these cable make a difference. Just as better power supplies do.
 
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Thats what better cables do, preserve signal integrity and minimize the impact of noise.

I used think that a power cord couldn't make a difference, then I bought two Shunyata power cables and discovered that I was completely wrong, and in a rather dramatic way.

When I got into computer audio, I also didn't think a USB cable could make a difference, the old 'bits is bits' thang, but...they do. Wrong again. An an Audioquest Diamond USB sounds considerably better than an Audioquest Carbon USB.

I'm a scientist, I just go by what the data tells me, and controlled experiments tell me these cable make a difference. Just as better power supplies do.
It is futile to try and convince the folks that cables do make differences. It is more conveniences to find the negativities about these cables and just buy a cheaper and more affordable one and thinking that it makes 0 differences. Really is futile to try and convince them. Not to mentions that many people "thought" that they are technically advanced and "believe" that they know many many things about these cables with just "googling skills."

I make my cables, and they all make the differences, be it USB cables, or Headphones cables.
 
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It is futile to try and convince the folks that cables do make differences. It is more conveniences to find the negativities about these cables and just buy a cheaper and more affordable one and thinking that it makes 0 differences. Really is futile to try and convince them. Not to mentions that many people "thought" that they are technically advanced and "believe" that they know many many things about these cables with just "googling skills."

I make my cables, and they all make the differences, be it USB cables, or Headphones cables.
Yeah, I know. I made some fun of this once when I posted a picture in Steve Hoffman forums using one of my Shunyata Black Mamba power cables connected to my VPI record cleaning machine, claiming that using it results in notable improvements in the form of less noise and "blacker blacks" (i.e., cleaner records! LOL.) Some folks thought I was actually serious.

I was skeptical about power cords for a long time; then I read Cealin Gabriel of Shunyata Research's actual patents on cable design and using Rochelle salts for RFI and EM noise rejection. And found out that he used to work for the NSA for 25 years in "signals intelligence" signals processing and figured trying a couple of power cables out that I bought for a 50% discount in a controlled experiment would be worth a shot, given that they were designed by someone who actually knew what he was doing. Been using Shunyata products ever since...
 
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It is futile to try and convince the folks that cables do make differences. It is more conveniences to find the negativities about these cables and just buy a cheaper and more affordable one and thinking that it makes 0 differences. Really is futile to try and convince them. Not to mentions that many people "thought" that they are technically advanced and "believe" that they know many many things about these cables with just "googling skills."

I make my cables, and they all make the differences, be it USB cables, or Headphones cables.
Or maybe many of us have been down the cable rabbit hole and tested them, had labs test them, and proven it is a bunch of rubbish and placebo. We have been at this a long time. Anyhow this really needs to be in sound science sub and not this one.
 
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You all know that Silver is more conductive than Copper ? And it is 5% more. So...tell me.....can it make the differences ? What is a "tolerances" rating in electrical components ? 10% tolerances vs 5% ? Never mind......i don't know what I am talking about....do you ?
Or maybe many of us have been down the cable rabbit hole and tested them, had labs test them, and proven it is a bunch of rubbish and placebo. We have been at this a long time. Anyhow this really needs to be in sound science sub and not this one.
 
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You all know that Silver is more conductive than Copper ? And it is 5% more. So...tell me.....can it make the differences ? What is a "tolerances" rating in electrical components ? 10% tolerances vs 5% ? Never mind......i don't know what I am talking about....do you ?
In an analogue cable yes. It can change the sound. In a digital cable. No it can not change the sound.
 
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You all know that Silver is more conductive than Copper ? And it is 5% more. So...tell me.....can it make the differences ? What is a "tolerances" rating in electrical components ? 10% tolerances vs 5% ? Never mind......i don't know what I am talking about....do you ?
It's 5% more conductive when the conductor's cross-section are exactly the same. Does it matter if the cables are 100 inches or 105 inches long? Of course not!

In interconnect cables conductivity does not change the sound. Be it the shield, low conductivity can add background noise.
 
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The manufacturers I've spoken to, two of whom have posted here about it, thought that their USB implementations were good enough until they either did experiments themselves (with electronics, not cables) and/or had feedback from customers that they could be better.
 
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I have been down this rabbit hole and popped out the other side. Needless to say to those in the know, but a USB cable designed to the specs required by USB.org and built to meet those specs is usually just fine. Problem is lots and lots of USB cables do not meet the design specs when they are made. Slight errors in manufacture can cause the transmission spec to not be met.

An article a few years back found that a majority (not sure if it was 75-80% but it was high) of the usb cables they tested did not meet spec. My guess is lots of the differences in bespoke cables vs run of the mill types is due to how well they are made.

Shielding is important and often times can affect the audible differences we hear. I know placing a ferrite on a cable in my enviornoment usually helps. Placing several cause the highs to go too soft. I am not a physicist but engineers might point to rfi or emil hopping on and riding the signal all the way to receiver and decoding chips.

All I know is I have purchased a bunch of the upper crust USB cables only to challenge myself to really listen and pick a winner. Anyone want a good price on a short Wireworld USB?

Here is my favorite usb cable and one which is used in all 3 of my computer based audio systems. It sounds as good as any of the fancy cables.

Good reading:
http://www.7ms.com/enr/online/2010/02/notebook.shtml

http://www.ti.com/sc/docs/apps/msp/intrface/usb/emitest.pdf

http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/hs_usb_pdg_r1_0.pdf

http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/devclass_docs/CabConn20.pdf
 
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