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  1. #1

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    Default High quality USB cable for USB DAC

    Looking to get some suggestions on a good USB cord. I dont need anything super long as the DAC will sit on top the computer or off to the side so maybe 1 - 2 foot max.

    I think Wireworld USB cords get good reviews, but dont know of any other good cables. The USB DAC I am getting does not draw its power from USB, the USB is just for signal.

    Suggestions por favor!
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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    Audioquest makes some decent ones as well..I use an audioquest Forest cable, though if i end up staying with this Dragonfly, that cable will be going up for sale.
    HT - game room
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  3. #3

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    I totally didnt even think of them lol. I would probably go with the Cinnamon or Carbon since I have such a small run I can afford to spend a bit on em .

    Also looking at the Wireworld Starlight
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    yeah i've heard good things about the wireworld cables as well.

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    Audioquest, Cardas, Kimber, Pangea....many folks make them. I use an Audioquest Carbon.

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    Let me start by saying that I'm normally very sensitive to differences in cables. I"m a big believer in cables and have done a few blind tests where I"m able to tell cables apart every time. Cables make a difference.

    That being said, I have both the Forest and the Carbon and I've TRIED to hear a difference between the two and it just ain't happening. Even on my desktop headphone setup where I can usually hear every detail and nuance of the sound I just can't hear a difference. The Carbon may have other advantages, but I can tell you that at a length of 6ft sound isn't one of them, at least not to my ears.
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    I didn't like the color green so I bought the Carbon, no other reason here.

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    I have tried many of the above. I like Wireworld and the guy who makes USB cables custom without power leads. I may order another one of those. Personally I would upgrade PC first if not already.

    I have a Cardas I am not using. Some have said it sounds better with the magnet removed.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
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    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

  9. #9

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    I've been trying to avoid chiming in here, I'm really not trying to be argumentative here. But can someone explain to me why this is necessary? I'm a cable believer. I've got MIT interconnects and speaker cables, and a Signal Silver Reference coax between my Squeezebox and my DAC. But I don't understand why you would need a high-end USB cable. I'm equally perplexed by audiophile-grade network cables.

    So why do I believe in using a good quality coax cable into my DAC, but I'm inquiring about why you would need a better than $2 USB or network cable? Simple. The coax is transmitting a PCM stream. PCM is an extremely antiquated protocol. There is no handshaking, there is no packet-based transmission, no error detection or checksums. Nothing. It's just a bitstream of 16 1's or 0's coming over the wire at every 1/44,100th of a second (assuming we're talking redbook). Plenty of opportunities for errors and timing issues (jitter).

    USB and tcp/ip are completely different. Aren't transmissions over these protocols guaranteed to be 100% accurate? If a USB connection were not 100% perfect, then I wouldn't be able to accurately move photos from my 20 megabit camera from my compact flash card to my computer without errors. Yet I don't know of any professional photographers using Cardas USB cables. If tcp/ip was not 100% accurate, the internet would cease to work.

    What am I missing here?
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

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    For me it is for noise and piece of mind, for the money I have in my music server the hundred is worth it.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
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    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

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  11. #11

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    You can have packet loss in TCP/IP, what would make you think it's 100%? That's just rudimentary. As far as how that translates into USB cables? I have no idea, don't care in any way shape or form. I like to upgrade my cables in areas that are important to me and I already do elsewhere. On my regular home computer? Nah, I'll pass but on my audio rig, sure why not?

    I'm not stressing over $2 vs $50, maybe someone else does but it's simply not something I'm trying to find a deity in or explain the universe. I just do what I want, work hard for my money and have never tried to convert anyone, that's not my job. I'm sure someone can elaborate and pontificate, heck, maybe DK will run some charts on the cables and prove nothing....who knows. Have fun with your $2 cable Neil, it's as cool as mine is.
    Last edited by dorokusai; 08-21-2012 at 09:55 PM.

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    nspindle, firstly its totally cool to ask questions about this. I am still kinda testing the whole better digital cable water myself. However after thinking about issues computers have over USB & TCP/IP I agree with Doro. Plus here is my thinking. As mentioned you can have packet loss over USB or TCP/IP. Normally your not affected by it as its not enough to affect your loading of a page or its so small you dont even see its happening. But with audio that can affect how things sound (this is IMHO). You can have jitter and other handshaking issues all over the place that may end up in degraded sound quality. I have not yet tested this out but it makes sense in my head.

    Given the purpose of this particular cable (a hi-fi playback rig) as opposed to just a regular USB cable as well as the ridiculously short distance needed I felt I would get a decent USB cable. If nothing else than for my personal piece of mind. If I was looking at like a 4-5 foot cable I might balk more at spending that kind of cash on something, but as stated I could get by with a .5m or heck even a .25m cable. For that price as well as what I will have in the rest of the setup, 50-100 bucks on a good short USB cable I feel is warranted. Do I want to spend 200 or more on a USB cable, probably not, but more because at that point you may start seeing more diminishing returns.

    I also plan on getting good powercords for both the computers 12v DC powersupply and the USB DAC as well. It may seem like overkill but I want to do this once and in a way that I know I have covered all the possible signal and power issues as best I can given a relatively modest budget. As stated due to the short nature of these extra cords needed, thankfully it will not be as expensive as longer runs will be, allowing me to possibly jump up a line or two for the cables needed.
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 08-21-2012 at 10:16 PM.
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  13. #13

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    How is Jitter any different from Packet Loss? If you subscribe to one theory, you inherently subscribe to the other. Just saying....you can't believe in cables and then dismiss the other as stupid, but I totally support and understand the idea that it SHOULDN'T make any difference. In the end, we're talking about small cables, small lengths and you can upgrade your USB cable for $10 or $1000. Is $1K common or normal? does that make any sense? I'm a cable lover and that is the dumbest thing I can think of when it comes to USB but $50-100? I don't really see that as that crazy when it comes to this hobby and everything we spend money on. Tubes make a difference right? or do they? They can range from $2 or $1000 yet we don't question them. Yes, I know its an apples to oranges but it's quite relevant when it comes down to the wallet, piece of mind OR just plain common sense, which is what the other half would claim.

    Neil - I'm not saying your wrong and the $2 cable does everything mine does I am 100%, no packet loss, sure of that. What I've never understood is why this becomes such a heated argument when we're talking modest expenditures. When you mention cables, people automatically presume you spent $10,000 dollars and when you mention $500 they freak out and when you mention $150, then they waffle and try to figure outs how to call you a dumbs...with no real comeback. I'm not saying you're doing that, just speaking out loud....but the same issue has affected you as will us in this discussion. Do you think you are justified in your purchase and install of the cables you have in your audio rig? I bet you are, and I am as well, AND I support you.

    Why is it so crazy that I choose to buy a cable for my iPod? I've spent far more on my audio rig....to the tunes of a couple thousand but when I spend $50 on a USB cable, all of a sudden I'm nuts? I'm just seeking perspective and as I stated my personal opinion previously, I actually bought the cable based on looks....it was black/grey and the performance was secondary. Think about that? That not only puts me in the crazy category but the really crazy category.

    I'm not sold on the WHY of it all but I wanted something manufactured better, looking better and if for nothing else, just for ME....the end user is ALL that matters in audio. You never have to explain, LOL, here's the rub since we're talking about it, but its your stuff man....its my stuff and I stopped trying to rationalize anything audio a long time ago.

    All hobbies have their extremes and audio is no different and probably a bit more impractical since horsepower is a given, sound is never absolute.

    Mark
    Last edited by dorokusai; 08-21-2012 at 11:01 PM.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by nspindel View Post
    If tcp/ip was not 100% accurate, the internet would cease to work.
    TCP/IP is a software protocol that has nothing to do with cables. If a cable introduces an error into the packet then TCP will request it to be retransmitted. Same if a packet is lost.

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    Not impressed with Audioquest green (Forest?), but that's the only one I tried. LOVE the Wireworld UV for $50ish on Amazon. Huge improvement (to my complete surprise) over the basic cable I had on my office computer rig. And this gear is nothing great, just an entry-level HRT Streamer II async DAC (which I think is a tremendous value at ~$150). I was suddenly hearing details never heard before in a 270deg soundscape (on the office rig below). So impressed with the WW UV that I bought another one for the vinyl ADC.
    Craig
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai View Post
    Just saying....you can't believe in cables and then dismiss the other as stupid
    Mark, who said anything about "stupid"? I asked a question, in quite a benign way. I'm not criticizing anyone for doing anything, and I started my post by saying that I'm not trying to be argumentative. I'm simply wondering if there's any objective reasoning behind these cables, or if the reason is simply "because I like nice cables." If the answer is the latter, which apparently it is, great. I don't have a problem with that. Enjoy them. And I'm not trying to ask you to justify why your $50 cable is better than my $2 cable. I don't have a $2 cable. I don't use USB. I'm just asking a question.

    And I'm fully aware that you can have packet loss, I have a masters degree in computer science. But the bandwidth required for audio transmission is minuscule compared to what the USB 2.0 protocol can handle, and dropped packets have plenty of time to recover without affecting the transmission. That's the whole point of digital handshakes, checksums, etc. Ditto with tcp/ip. And if the transmission is bad enough that it can't recover the lost packets, you get a failure.

    This is extremely different than jitter. Jitter is the result of clock differences between source and destination in a pcm stream. There is no handshake in pcm. The transport spits bits onto the wire, and the dac catches them. If there are differences between the clocks in the two components trying time your 1/44,000th of a second, you get jitter.

    Packet loss is different. There is a handshake. "I sent you some data, did you get it?" "Yes." "Here is the checksum for the data I just sent, if you calculate a checksum on the data you received, does it match?" "Yes." "Great! Here's the next packet, does your checksum match mine?" "No." "Ok, I'll send it again. Does your checksum match this time?" "Yes." "Ok, here's the next one." Once you begin employing an error detection scheme like that, there is zero chance that an error gets through. The transmission is either a 100% success, or it fails.

    USB 2.0 has a theoretical bandwidth of 480mbits/sec. That's enough to move a cd's worth of data in about 15 seconds. You never really reach that theoretical bandwidth, but certainly under real world conditions you can pipe a cd over USB 2.0 in under a minute. The cd plays for 45 minutes or more. So there is plenty of bandwidth for recovery from packet loss. In the case of tcp/ip, if this were not the case, the internet couldn't work. I can't type the word "otherwise" and have "otherwide" show up in this thread. Ever.



    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai View Post
    What I've never understood is why this becomes such a heated argument when we're talking modest expenditures.
    Maybe because when someone asks a benign question, people get totally defensive and start flipping a wing nut. Nothing about my question was "heated." Just sayin'......
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

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    As I said Neil, not saying YOU and the rest was just a general comment. Dude, read more, read into less and chill out man....I'm not one way or the other hotshot. I could care less what happens with this conversation, literally and figuratively. I'm not your enemy and maybe I should have started finger pointing so everyone knew the pecking order I guess.

    It's no different from jitter in regards to practical application of information or data transfer, sorry man, we'll never agree on this so that's cool. If you want to get super involved, I'm going to bow out and just say you're right and bob my head with my Audioquest Carbon cable in tow.

    I didn't know this was going to become a match of degree's and who's more educated....by all means, do what you gotta do man....I'm certainly no match for your intellect. I thought we were just talking about audio and just cables....simple theory, not pissing on each others' knowledge or lack thereof in regards to areas of expertise.

    Mark
    Last edited by dorokusai; 08-21-2012 at 11:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    TCP/IP is a software protocol that has nothing to do with cables. If a cable introduces an error into the packet then TCP will request it to be retransmitted. Same if a packet is lost.
    I agree with you - that was kind of my point. But it does have to do with cables in the sense that generally you move tcp/ip packets around your house with cat5 wire. That's why I scratch my head and say "huh????" when I see something like this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Denon-AKDL1-De...pr_product_top

    Folks actually use cables like that one to connect a Squeezebox to a network, thinking sound quality will improve. I would respectfully disagree.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorokusai View Post
    ...chill out man
    Trying to figure out where I'm not chill in this discussion. I couldn't be more chill about this. I'm just asking a question about what you're doing. Not having a heated argument, not calling anyone stupid. I asked a question.

    Ok, I'm going to bow out of this discussion now. I knew I shouldn't have chimed in. Zero vested interest in this topic, I don't use USB. Was only trying to satisfy my curiosity. Enjoy whatever cables make you happy, I wouldn't suggest otherwise.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

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    By the way, the reviews of that network cable on amazon are hilarious.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

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    The reviews of the cables in the rig you have in your signature, so prominently displayed, are also laughed about in other forums but you don't see me ****ting in your hatbox do you? Just some perspective. Again....not your enemy here, just thought I could state my opinion and be realistic yet that seems to be lame I guess.

    Mark

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    Mark, did someone short sheet your bed today or something? I'm not laughing at you. I'm not ****ting in your hatbox. I asked why you're using something. You gave me an answer. You don't have any scientific reason to use them, you just like them. I'm perfectly fine with that answer. I have no ****ing clue how this turned into an argument.
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

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    I'm pretty sure I was clear on why I bought what I did in post #7. The rest is just conversation, no argument.

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    Hah! Ok, then we're good

    <cyber hugs to Mark>
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    Actually, only stupid people don't like green cables.



    KIDDING!!!!
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

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    My WW UV A-B is 1m, but I think they offer .5m and .75m. My A-miniB was 0.5m only from Amazon affiliate SoundApproach.

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    Man, I missed it last night by hitting the sack early lol.

    Neil its all good, thanks for the information as I am a bit of a computer geek myself but didn't get a degree in it (my degree was in computer animation, spatial graphics, etc) and did enjoy learning a bit. I dont mind hearing/seeing both sides of the issue and I appreciate your input.

    I will say at the end of the day part of it is also a "because I want to" type decision. I just know some of the guys here who are using USB DAC's like Falconcry, and others are using more expensive higher quality USB cords and was curious as to if there was one brand that most tended to default to. It appears that is not so much the case but that many just go with whatever one they want. I also figured for the miniscule price of the item compared to other items in my HT system and even this system why not give it a try. At the end of the day thats the only real way to form your decision. Just like the MIT Demo. Even if I thought cables didnt make a difference (totally different subject ) I would still sign up because it would be an opportunity to test that theory for myself rather than just read about it and then make my own conclusions that may or may not be the same ones I had going in.

    That and I do agree with Mark, the forest cables are kinda ugly.

    As this will be exposed on my desk 24/7 I want to get cords that match my color scheme if possible (all black, nothing special ) and if not maybe I will cover them with techflex myself lol. I think there was a thread somewhere about USB cables that was a shootout, but I will have to do some searching to find it.

    I am by no means trying to start an argument, just looking to take a small baby step into the land of better USB cables to see what if anything it holds for me .
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 08-22-2012 at 08:09 AM.
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    Found the thread, but no time to read it right now

    http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/show...Cable-Shootout
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    Hey, I hope nobody was misunderstanding me last night. I totally get the "because I like it" side of the decision process, as well as the "with all the money I've spent, what difference does it make?" Raife will be the first to tell you that putting Cardas binding posts on your speakers isn't going to make them sound any better. But at ~$75 for a set of them.... they look really nice! And with the $2000ish that I'll be spending on my CRS+'s, the mods, and the dreadnought, I want them to look good, and what difference is $75 when I'm spending 2 grand. I totally get that! The only purpose for my post was to find out if people are actually finding that these cables make an audible difference. From what I'm gathering here, the answer is "nah, not really, but they look pretty." That's perfectly fine by me.

    A $10,000 cat5 cord, on the other hand, is a different story. Anyone check out the comments on Amazon?
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nspindel View Post
    Hey, I hope nobody was misunderstanding me last night. I totally get the "because I like it" side of the decision process, as well as the "with all the money I've spent, what difference does it make?" Raife will be the first to tell you that putting Cardas binding posts on your speakers isn't going to make them sound any better. But at ~$75 for a set of them.... they look really nice! And with the $2000ish that I'll be spending on my CRS+'s, the mods, and the dreadnought, I want them to look good, and what difference is $75 when I'm spending 2 grand. I totally get that! The only purpose for my post was to find out if people are actually finding that these cables make an audible difference. From what I'm gathering here, the answer is "nah, not really, but they look pretty." That's perfectly fine by me.

    A $10,000 cat5 cord, on the other hand, is a different story. Anyone check out the comments on Amazon?
    No worries mate I understood your thougth process in the morning after reading through it all . As to an audible difference, well I will wait to hear or not hear it for myself.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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