The Great USB cable debate poll

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mindblanking, Feb 22, 2015.

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  1. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Here it is. Simple question. I'm curious to see what percentage of forum members believe one or the other. Obviously I'm hoping this doesn't devolve into a forum "fistfight" and you don't really need to comment much as I deliberately made the question pretty simple but we'll see.
     
  2. SBurke

    SBurke Nostalgia Junkie

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Based on currently available information and theory, my answer is no. I'll repost here what I said in the other thread on this topic that's active right now, as I would be interested in seeing replies on this point:

    Here is how I think about USB cables. I approach the topic from a fairly ignorant, but skeptical and analytical, perspective.

    We know USB audio protocol does not include error correction. So we cannot think of it as a transmission similar to what occurs when you copy a file from a hard drive, which is checked for accuracy as part of the process. It is possible then for errors to appear in the stream. However no one has offered what I would consider to be a satisfactory explanation of how such errors might be persistent, recurring, and subtle, which in an abstract way is how I would define all variation within audiophile criteria (e.g. "The soundstage opened up," "There were blacker blacks"). Such variation is indeed subtle, compared to what I know an error in USB audio transmission can sound like -- a moment of loud white noise, a dropout, a pop, etc. If I'm not getting any of those, it's my sense that the connection is fine, is not going to get any better, and no further expense is warranted. So I buy the cheapest thing available and will continue to do so unless and until there's a sensible explanation offered for why something else would be worthwhile.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
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  3. Leigh

    Leigh Forum Resident

    Can anyone show me evidence that a thread like this ever changed a single person's mind about what they already hold dear?
     
    VinylRob, RomanZ, contium and 6 others like this.
  4. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    I think (or am hoping anyway) that if it's not overwhelming one way or the other, people here will respect that there maybe something to it.
     
  5. fuse999

    fuse999 Forum Resident

    Location:
    usa
    I think an Audioquest (or any other premium cable) has got to be better than a $3 cable from the Dollar store; from there up the price list I have no idea.
     
  6. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Looks like more people believe that upgraded USB cables can help than some people might've thought. Or we just get up earlier.
     
    RomanZ likes this.
  7. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    Hmmm no is wining. As long as the 1s and 0s make it through intact the then the DAC does everything else. Only 1 and 0 are getting transmitted. The values that is all. The quality of the 1s and 0s means nothing. Only the 1 and 0 count. That's what makes it digital. If something else counted it would not be digital. Super simple concept. People make way more of it then it actually is and the most vocal and high profile people make money off making more of it.
     
  8. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    That is the explanation I also see. People are usually not promoting things just because it´s fun, there is nearly always a type of agenda behind.
     
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  9. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    If your DAC is well designed then it can and should separate out the electrical power and prevent it from contaminating the analog output stage.
     
  10. triple

    triple Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    2/3 of the voters don't have a clue about digital audio? That sounds about right.
     
    DaveC113 likes this.
  11. Archimago

    Archimago Well-Known Member

    Ain't never heard a difference nor been able to demonstrate a difference with "working" bit-perfect USB cables:
    http://archimago.blogspot.com/2013/04/measurements-usb-cables-for-dacs.html

    However, if inappropriate cable used and error prone. Sounds like "snow":
    http://archimago.blogspot.com/2014/01/demo-measurements-what-does-bad-usb-or.html

    Therefore IMO, I do not believe upgrading USB cables make a difference so long as one wasn't using very crappy dollar store / freebie USB cables to begin with! (I'm of course assuming this question is asking about decent generic cables vs. "upgraded" expensive stuff >$20.)
     
  12. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Yes. I wanted to make it clear in the question that I wasn't including the jump from "junk" to decent but couldn't add enough text to say it properly so hoped it was assumed.
     
  13. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    That's what I found too, actually listening to cables. It appears that some, however are too personally or financially invested in this issue :laugh:
     
  14. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    Thank you for introducing the first unpleasant note of acrimony into the thread. Someone had to do it, I guess!

    :nauga:
     
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  15. triple

    triple Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Don't shoot the messenger...
     
  16. Colin M

    Colin M Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex
    Oh I hope no... but I'm sure it's possible to make a bad cable at most price points.
     
  17. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    Well, as unpleasant notes of acrimony go, it was pretty mild. :agree:

    I'm sure much worse is circling the runway as we speak.
     
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  18. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    I have to give this forum credit. I've almost never seen forum discussions on cables and tweeks that haven't devolved into personal attacks and name calling. Heck I've actually been involved in real discussions about these subjects that got a little nasty
     
  19. ROLO46

    ROLO46 Forum Resident

    USB spec is IEE standard,like kettle plugs
    As long as its implement to this spec there is no difference .
     
  20. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Don't indeed shoot the messenger. Just get an ODAC. :tiphat:
     
  21. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I don't know. I don't use a USB cable for audio so I cannot experiment at home. I wish the poll had that option.

    It would be easy to vote "no" because it seems that data transmission should be independent of the cable construction, but since there are many reports that there are perceived differences between USB cables, it may be better to sit on the fence.

    I have been wrong before when prejudging something in audio - before I tried an upgraded after-market power cable in my system, I had thought that it could not possibly have any effect. I was mightily wrong on that one.
     
  22. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    My guess is that pretty much everyone who votes yes has heard the difference for themselves while I'm sure the no voters include a fairly decent amount of people who don't use a USB cable and are voting no because they don't believe it's scientifically possible- which is fine of course.
     
  23. Blackie

    Blackie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I'd also be curious to see what percentage of voters (especially those who say there is no difference) have actually compared basic vs high-end USB cables.
     
    Roger C likes this.
  24. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Aherm...!
     
  25. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Not sure what aherm means but it stands to reason that someone who has never heard the different cables probably wouldn't vote yes, right?
     
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