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  1. #1

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    Default USB Shootout V3 Enter Carbon

    Whats up everyone?
    I basically closed the book on USB cables after all my testing with the various cables I have had. But recently we got in the Audioquest Carbons which just simply called to me. I had to have one and give this book another chapter.
    After listening to Cardos Clear USB and the Audioquest Forest , I came to the conclusion , this is as good as it gets and there is no room for Better. Once you achieve the goal of sonic perfection , there is nothing more one can do to improve sound quality as the cable is providing 100% of the signal and doing it's job to perfection.
    Even knowing this and I have proved it to myself , I still had to give this another round , another try , another adventure as I think I may have a wire issue or obsession. Mybe I need help and need to lay on a couch and explain to someone what my issues are.

    The Audioquest Carbon is the highest end cable to date I had in my system for USB. It's 5% silver conductors over Copper and whats unique is the ends are also Silver plated unlike the Cinnamon I skipped over in USB due to only 1.25% Silver plated copper and the ends are Gold plated copper. How much of a difference can that possibly make? Well lets talk about that.

    With having 3 top notch USB cables , I was able to really get a firm grip on the mystery I call USB. With such precision and grace , all 3 cables seem to be sonically clear ( no Cardas Pun Intended). Does "Clear" fit the bill? I think so. Like my last listening test between the Cardas and the Forest , I really couldn't pick a "Clear" winner. Back and forth , with much time in between , I'm thinking sonic memory is playing a roll here as I tried my best to remember exactly what I heard before swapping them. What sucks is I can't do it fast like a true A B test. This I feel is the only flaw in my shootout here as I can't compare directly between the 2 cables other then remembering 30 seconds of a track that I know all so well. The Track I used here which I suggest all of you at least listen once is Jen Chapin " You haven't done nothing". This is amazing track that has the highest clarity and detail. Everything is spaced very well with accurate locations of each tone. I love this song as it's my new standard in testing. I still use all my older cuts , but this one I have taken to and have the ability to really judge a system , cable , speaker , room or what have you as I also use it in the field everyday. So to wrap up the shootout between the Cardas and Forest , no winner. They both play every single detail of the song and don't trip anywhere. This IMO holds a very high regard to Audioquest to be able to take a $35 dollar cable and compete with a over $100.00 cable. This to be speaks volumes. Doesn't take anything away from Cardas as it's beautifully built and uses very high end materials.

    Now lets talk about my new cable. The Carbon. I want nothing else for it to just destroy all others and be the king of the hill with it's superior build quality , killer looking jacket , Silver content and be badass. With no Clear winner between the Cardas and Forest , I decided to focus on the Cardas as in price , it's much closer. No reason to compare a $35 dollar cable to cables well over $100 mark here. It proved itself as a unbelievable value and I can't see anyone even with the highest end system not enjoying this cable.
    So back and forth I go trying to find the magic , trying to find that one note missing on the other 2 , digging deep into my soul and using every once of my being to prove once and for all the Carbon should be put on a Kings Throne of USB and stand alone from the Mountains. Back and forth again and I'm starting to get concerned. Can I hear anything?

    After a good period of time I figured the cable needs more break in time , I can't tell the difference between the 2. Is my system high end enough to really judge this level of cables? I know for sure when you move up the ladder from what I own , there is much room of sonic perfection. Is the Forest quality the perfect match for my system and I need nothing higher end as I'm not finding the Sonic benefits of spending well over $100 more for the Carbon and not getting anything in return?

    I'm not done yet , I'm gonna dig deep into my collection , there has to be a song I can hear something different. Maybe the Air pressure is all wrong , the weather has been strange lately as the temp shifts are over 20 deg day by day. Do I need to go get my hearing checked and make sure I'm not lost in translation? I have so many questions.

    Pic's and round 2 coming up , Stay tuned .
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  2. #2

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    I hope for my wallets sake the Carbon and Cardas/Forest USB's are so close you cant tell lol. It opens up more options for my in my home office setup since I now have the option of getting a somewhat long run of USB cable for the computer to my DAC since the Carbon above 1m starts to get pretty expensive compared to the Forest.
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    Not to throw this off topic but to your point Mantis about a cheaper priced cable being on par with a cable costing considerable more..
    I just replaced all my HDMI cables with Mon$ter only because they were on a Great sale at my local Computer Store for $20 each..
    and Future Shop had the same cables listed for $80 and I figure sure you can spend $5 or $10 for a generic HDMI but the quality might not be there so I went with Mon$ter fully guaranteed..
    Then I saw an Interview with the owner of Mon$ter Noel Lee I think and he was asked whats the difference between his cheaper HDMI cable and his $$$ cable, his response was better looking $$$ cable and lifetime guarantee on replacement if they change the HDMI spec they will replace you $$$ cable which is Hundreds of dollars that you already spent anyway..
    My point is like you there is no difference that YOU could tell in your listening tests that the cheaper cable was a direct competitor with more expensive cable and if my local Computer store can sell the same cable that Future shop does at 1/4 the price then that tells us just how much of a markup there is on Cables..
    One thing I did notice was when I replaced all my HDMI cables was just how much tighter fitting the Mon$ter ones were, the others were nowhere near as tight fitting..
    mantis maybe you should call Audioquest and ask them for there music selection and what they listen to too gauge a higher end cable??, lol

    Oh and my other point is just because a cable costs more than another cable does not necessarily mean it is better in sound quality, I'm almost positive WE all would like it to be that way but it is not..
    Last edited by Jhayman; 04-23-2013 at 08:32 AM. Reason: forgot to add point

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    Jhayman, you have some valid points, however lets not turn this into a overall Digital Cable debate (we have had hundreds of those on this forum).

    This is about USB cables, specifically 2 Audioquest ones (entry level and mid level) v a competitors (Cardas) mid level cable. Mantis has commented once before that he did hear a difference with the Cinnamon HDMI cables he moved to in his system sound wise.

    Now maybe some of that has to do with the Silver content in the Cinnamon cable as in the analog world Silver has different audio qualities than copper.

    Regardless, lets just keep this on topic with regards to USB cables, and the ones specified.
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    Your Right it was not my intention to have it end up in a cable debate, my main point was commenting on HIS findings as a $35 cable sounding the same to HIM as a $100 cable that was merely my overall point..
    I'm Sorry if some are thinking I was trying to bait this as a cable debate , NOT at all, just my opinion and my recent experience..

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    Keep us posted Dan on how this pans out after the Carbon breaks in. Interesting shoot-outs you got going on.

    I'm using a Belkin Gold usb cable and haven't yet ventured into anything else yet.

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    I like the reviews on them Wireworld usb cables

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    Really the key is the burn in. If you play Yoko Ono on repeat for 100 hours or more, it doesn't matter what cable you buy... it'll all sound wonderful after you turn off Yoko and put on something else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sodablue View Post
    Really the key is the burn in. If you play Yoko Ono on repeat for 100 hours or more, it doesn't matter what cable you buy... it'll all sound wonderful after you turn off Yoko and put on something else.
    lol thats very true

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    Quote Originally Posted by sodablue View Post
    Really the key is the burn in. If you play Yoko Ono on repeat for 100 hours or more, it doesn't matter what cable you buy... it'll all sound wonderful after you turn off Yoko and put on something else.
    Nice post, Soda!

  11. #11

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    [URL=http://s65.photobucket.com/user/Dmantis/media/IMG_5229_zps368cc412.jpg.html][/URL
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    I hope for my wallets sake the Carbon and Cardas/Forest USB's are so close you cant tell lol. It opens up more options for my in my home office setup since I now have the option of getting a somewhat long run of USB cable for the computer to my DAC since the Carbon above 1m starts to get pretty expensive compared to the Forest.
    I'm absolutely impressed with the Forest USB cable. For the money It simply can't be beat. Remember 5 meters is max for USB unless your using some kind of 5v powered extender.
    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jhayman View Post
    Not to throw this off topic but to your point Mantis about a cheaper priced cable being on par with a cable costing considerable more..
    I just replaced all my HDMI cables with Mon$ter only because they were on a Great sale at my local Computer Store for $20 each..
    and Future Shop had the same cables listed for $80 and I figure sure you can spend $5 or $10 for a generic HDMI but the quality might not be there so I went with Mon$ter fully guaranteed..
    Then I saw an Interview with the owner of Mon$ter Noel Lee I think and he was asked whats the difference between his cheaper HDMI cable and his $$$ cable, his response was better looking $$$ cable and lifetime guarantee on replacement if they change the HDMI spec they will replace you $$$ cable which is Hundreds of dollars that you already spent anyway..
    My point is like you there is no difference that YOU could tell in your listening tests that the cheaper cable was a direct competitor with more expensive cable and if my local Computer store can sell the same cable that Future shop does at 1/4 the price then that tells us just how much of a markup there is on Cables..
    One thing I did notice was when I replaced all my HDMI cables was just how much tighter fitting the Mon$ter ones were, the others were nowhere near as tight fitting..
    mantis maybe you should call Audioquest and ask them for there music selection and what they listen to too gauge a higher end cable??, lol

    Oh and my other point is just because a cable costs more than another cable does not necessarily mean it is better in sound quality, I'm almost positive WE all would like it to be that way but it is not..
    As mentioned , I have heard and seen a difference going from average HDMI cables to perfectly constructed Audioquest models. I use all Cinnamon in my system. I took one home years ago and was shocked there was a difference in sound and picture quality. When I discovered that , I re outfitted my entire system in Cinnamon.
    Dan
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    I'm absolutely impressed with the Forest USB cable. For the money It simply can't be beat. Remember 5 meters is max for USB unless your using some kind of 5v powered extender.
    Yeah, 5m is way above what I would need. 4m would even probably be more than I need.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ern Dog View Post
    Keep us posted Dan on how this pans out after the Carbon breaks in. Interesting shoot-outs you got going on.

    I'm using a Belkin Gold usb cable and haven't yet ventured into anything else yet.
    it's not easy man , with analog and speaker wires I can tell differences right away. It's very easy to hear differences in analog. Digital on the other hand is extremely hard. I honestly think that once a cable in the digital world is constructed correctly , uses high quality materials and meets and passes all standards , your done. No reason to keep climbing up the ladder.
    With this Carbon USB cable as nice and awesome as it is , I'm not getting any sonic benefits over my Forest or Cardas Clear USB's I already got. Honestly the best value in all this is the Forest USB. It's cheap in only 35 bucks and it seems to pass all of the signal correctly. I have tried many DAC's , higher end systems with better speakers and amps then I got and still have yet to find a better cable over the Forest.
    But the Carbon is brand new and needs more hours on it and I'll play all 3 for hours each so the dielectric on all of them are fully run in. Then if I still can't hear anything , the forest is what I'm gonna stick with. I might keep the Carbon anyway as It's a badass cable and I'm considering going all Carbon series for HDMI anyway. Everything will match not that that matters to anyone but me.
    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    I like the reviews on them Wireworld usb cables
    If we carried Wireworld , I would have one to test.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Yeah, 5m is way above what I would need. 4m would even probably be more than I need.
    Pick up a Forest man
    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    Pick up a Forest man
    Your such an enabler.... it might be a good thing you dont live closer. Though my system could use some tweaking every now and again, and it would be nice to have a connection to demo products lol......

    Pro's and Con's man, Pro's and Con's . Lifes full of em.

    Might just pick one up for my headphone setup. Still hoping to pickup a steal of a DAC/headphone amp in another week or so (dont need suggestions, have my eye on the perfect candidate just need the cash)
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    He is an enabler. I'll likely pick up a Forest based off his results. Hoping to have a sparkling new 105 in my possession in about a month and the Forest ready to go. I got all the funds together but had to throw money into the car.

    Mantis, I think this will be the ONLY time I've ever bought an item based off one man's opinion, so nice job! I usually research the crap out of anything I buy, regardless of the money, but you've got me convinced.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    After a good period of time I figured the cable needs more break in time , I can't tell the difference between the 2. Is my system high end enough to really judge this level of cables? I know for sure when you move up the ladder from what I own , there is much room of sonic perfection. Is the Forest quality the perfect match for my system and I need nothing higher end as I'm not finding the Sonic benefits of spending well over $100 more for the Carbon and not getting anything in return?



    Pic's and round 2 coming up , Stay tuned .
    I was reading magazine reviews as I have been searching cables all week and one thing that struck me was about using really expensive cables. In summary he said that what are the wires made out of inside all your components, does the manufacturer use high quality or just wire to get the job done as thats as good as your going to hear. The AVR you use for evaluation has its limits but at least you got to find what them limits are with a trial comparison

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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    I was reading magazine reviews as I have been searching cables all week and one thing that struck me was about using really expensive cables. In summary he said that what are the wires made out of inside all your components, does the manufacturer use high quality or just wire to get the job done as thats as good as your going to hear. The AVR you use for evaluation has its limits but at least you got to find what them limits are with a trial comparison
    True. I was thinking along those lines with the Carbon. It has Silver plated conductors and Silver plated ends. On my Macbook Pro , it does not. it actually looks like Tin or some kind of sheet metal. Same goes for my USB DAC which is built into my SC-68.
    So spending the extra money on Silver plated ends and cables , will they make a difference? In this case I can't hear any. I'm a little down about my findings as I have been waiting a very long time to try out the Carbon USB cables. At this point I'm wondering if using a Cinnamon USB would make more sense. My entire system is Cinnamon and for no other reason then for them all to match , I would move the Forest and buy a Cinnamon.
    At this point I'm probably going to return the Carbon. I don't want to but I'm not getting any Sonic benefits so other then how badass it looks , I have no reason to spend the extra money with my current system.

    With all cables , some of us tend to way over spend on them but for good intensions. I for one am always looking for a way to squeak out the very last bit of performance out of my system. Wire as I discovered a very long time ago can reveal the last words of detail and balance in a system. Since then I have been testing everything I can get my hands on. Honestly I have hit walls when testing digital. The only time I discovered any differences is when I was using cables that didn't meet spec , poorly constructed , and the Cinnamon HDMI cables from Audioquest. Optical , Digital coax , HDMI and now USB have all been deeply VS in my systems over the years and in the places where I have worked. When I worked at Soundex , we carried the worlds highest end gear. I was really able to hear anything any cable could possible change in ones system. Back then is when I learned about MIT and Transparent.

    The wire on the outside has a different job to do then the wire on the inside. So using poorer quality inside can still yield the results of given product. It's less likely to pick up EMI or RFI. You also have to trust the brands you select to build the given product to perform at the highest level possible given price point. If you question this then one needs to look for products that do.
    Last edited by mantis; 04-24-2013 at 06:47 AM.
    Dan
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    Well I would not give up the goose just yet Dan as you still have to burn that badboy in so you may get another notch and if it sounds good as it is now it might be worth the extra expense for that gain no matter how small.

    I would also like to request some porno shots of that carbon cable showing the connectors

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    At this time if you have read some of my replies , the Carbon maybe a bad match for my level of system. I can't confirm for sure that your system wouldn't benefit from the Carbon as you might have a much higher end system then I currently own( But if things go my way , that will change as I'm so hot to get a MBL system).
    I don't want to discredit higher end cables due to my current findings with USB. Maybe the truth is once you achieve the goal , nothing more can be done. This for some reason keeps proving itself to me in all areas of cables. Some systems can't benefit from such high end cables , the Carbon is a mid level cable from Audioquest and my system is a Mid level system. I thought it would be a good match , I was wrong. Right now I feel the Forest is the right choice and for just a few bucks more , I can pick up the Cinnamon USB which will match the rest of my systems wiring. It has only 1.25% Silver plating and Gold plated ends just like all my HDMI cables do. It probably isn't going to to anything better then the Forest other then my own personal reasons for matching my cables I like that and having only one forest in my system , I just feel out of balance. Shrink you think? Yeah maybe a couch I need.

    I'm also now on the fence of even bothering myself to bring home Carbon HDMI cables , yeah the Cinnamon made a difference but I was using a custom brand in Binary which we had some failures from them. HDMI sucks as I'm a hater of the technology due to my pain in the field over the years. It's the #1 issue with all gear including Tv's. But I own IMO and many other the very best TV ever build in my Pioneer Elite Kuro and if a Carbon HDMI cable can polish off the last word in it's ability to give me the absolutely best picture it can produce , don't I owe it to myself to demo some on my own system or does my findings support that the Cinnamon level is where it's at? Honestly in the field , I Install more Forest then any other cable. We do the Cinnamon's Chocolates , Carbons hear and there but the Forest for some reason is the standard which all others should be judged.

    FYI Forest HDMI cables are now .5% Silver which is a first for that series. They also have new redesigned ends which I like a lot. I think Audioquest feels adding Silver to this already perfect conductor is the last coat of polish it needs to be perfect.
    Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    FYI Forest HDMI cables are now .5% Silver which is a first for that series. They also have new redesigned ends which I like a lot. I think Audioquest feels adding Silver to this already perfect conductor is the last coat of polish it needs to be perfect.
    When did that happen? Thats VERY interesting to note and I what markings if any the box has to denote the non silver from the silver ones?
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    If I am not mistaken, the design changed slightly as well with the Forest cables that have the .5% silver. It's only a slight difference in the jacket and ends.
    Their website doesn't show the updated information yet but a call to their customer service confirmed it for me when I was trying to make sure I got all 4 of mine the same (local shop had both in stock and mixed together...they have since split them up and reduced the price slightly on the copper only version).

    I don't have a box in front of me to see if it is noted on there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    When did that happen? Thats VERY interesting to note and I what markings if any the box has to denote the non silver from the silver ones?
    it tells you right on the front of the box .5% silver or long grain copper. The new Forest cables come in a slightly small box as well. They have new ends which look and feel really nice.
    They just came out I'd say about a month ago. I have used many of them in the field already and really like them.
    Dan
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    http://www.amazon.com/Pangea-Audio-c...s=panga+cables

    I cant comment on the cables mentioned above but, the Pangea USB vs stock, I heard a difference. The Pangea seems to have a similar build as the forest with 4% silver / pure copper.

    They also have for 70$ a 24G. solid silver signal conductor version.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mantis View Post
    If we carried Wireworld , I would have one to test.
    Well get on it man you need a better selection!! I have also wondered about the WW HDMI & IC's. The HDMI's look to be built very good but pricey. I must say I have had Monster M1000 HDMI and bought a 20.00 Sewell premium HDMI and I'll be darned if it did not beat the Monster in picture can't explain as it just goes from Dish Hopper to my Panny Plasma but it is a keeper for sure.

    Sorry for the HDMI derail

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    Well. some useful info here. I am discussing it with friends... I would also like to request some porno shots of that carbon cable showing the connectors!

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    Quote Originally Posted by samreddevilz View Post
    Well. some useful info here. I am discussing it with friends... I would also like to request some porno shots of that carbon cable showing the connectors!
    You may want to check out wireworld as they seem to have the most advanced usb cables out there for the least amount of money. They have the white papers to backup their no error transmitting cables

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