Quality USB Cables. Any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Fletcher Munson, Mar 13, 2023.

  1. Fletcher Munson

    Fletcher Munson Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Glendale, Ca.
    I have connected a LG DVD drive to my Auralic Ares G1.1 via a USB cable for CD playing and ripping. Already it outperforms my Audiolab 6000 CDT transport. I got several Amazon $10 variety inexpensive cables to audition not thinking it would make much of a difference. Wrong. An Audioquest Cinnamon cable bested all the inexpensive cables so I tried an Audioquest Carbon. Yet another improvement. I have return rights on the Audioquest cables and if nothing else turns up, I will keep the Carbon. Actually the Carbon was suggested by the dealer where I got the 1.1.
    I won't be going crazy on the USB cable but something affordable that produces good sound would be the goal. Your experience?
  2. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Senior Member

    What do USB cables have to do with sound?
  3. mikeyt

    mikeyt Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA
    I really like Audioquest Carbons and use them in my Schiit headphone set-up.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2023
    Nascimento Brasil, Tim 2 and Roger C like this.
  4. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy - Touch The Face Of God -

    Northwest, USA
    I cannot tell you a model # but all I can tell you is I physically looked for "The Fattest Cable" and its a very big difference even with the high dollar usb cables especially when transferring files which is actually what you'll be using for. Before my media source or streamer use to stutter and lock. Now it doesn't do that anymore and it reads the files 5 times faster than before. I have a 256 gig dongle and no problem with the node 2i accessing the files
    Tim 2 likes this.
  5. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco

    Audioquest are pretty for USB. I like em

    Try some good USB filters like the Intona. More bang for your buck.
    Measurable too
    Tim 2 and TarnishedEars like this.
  6. LostArk

    LostArk Forum Resident

    New York
    +1 Intona. You can feed it noisy garbage, input cable doesn't matter as long as it meets USB spec; output is clean as a whistle. I haven't gotten around to spending $300 on a USB cable (yet), but my suspicion is that it wouldn't make as much of a difference as the Intona.
    Tone? likes this.
  7. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco

    Of course not. Not even close.
    The cable can’t do that from design if it tried
    TarnishedEars and kyouki like this.
  8. CN211276

    CN211276 Forum Resident

    Cardiff, UK
    Audioquest are good but I prefer DH Labs.
    Tim 2, mikeyt and hi_watt like this.
  9. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Senior Member

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    A USB cable is not just a data connection between the computer and DAC. A USB cable also carries power and is also an electrical ground connection between the computer and DAC.

    A USB hard drive connected to a computer where you're transferring a file doesn't care about the effects of the ground connection and power connections. But a highly resolving DAC connected by USB can be affected by electrical ground and electrical power issues through the USB cable. The 1's and 0's may be the same but the electrical connection caused by the USB cable can still affect the jitter and electrical noise transmitted to the DAC. So the idea that a USB cable cannot affect the audio is not true. Whether that is audible is up for debate, but there are measurements that show that the electrical noise the USB cable transmits to the DAC can affect the DAC.

    One such test is here: USB cable shield resistance technical measurements

    Where different USB cables were measured for what happens if you physically disturb them by squeezing them, or hitting them. And it turns out that while the bits delivered may be the same the electrical and other effects connected to the DAC can be affected by physical and other means. The better cables are more resistant to that than lesser USB cables.

    If you're using a specially designed streamer and audio computer that is specially designed to minimize electrical noise and other digital noise and grounding noise then you're more likely to hear differences like this. If you're using a gaming PC with a massive GPU and RGB lights and other electrical noise then you're unlikely to notice these types of USB cable differences.

    I don't use any exotic autophile USB cables for audio. But I still use high quality thick ones or ones that physically separate the power and data so there is less interference. None cost me more than $30 (one fancy USB cable came for free with a DAC and it would have been more than $30). I'm using either a laptop or mini PC. I'm not yet using any streamer or computer that has been optimize to minimize grounding noise and/or USB electrical noise. If I did I might care more about USB cable quality. For now I'm fine. When I get an audiophile designed streamer device that has been specially designed to minimize electrical noise and grounding noise connections I'll reconsider getting the higher priced USB cables and other electrical connections to the DAC and streamer. But for now I'm not willing to dismiss that USB cables cannot possibly make a difference when connecting to audio gear. But for connecting to my USB hard drives I'm going to continue using the stock USB cables. Cause when transferring data to a hard drive the bits are bits. But when transferring audio to a DAC there is more going on because there is an electrical connection involved along with the bits.
    Hifi-CB, Nika, Tim 2 and 8 others like this.
  10. John3655

    John3655 Infinite input

    Hampshire UK.
    I use qed graphite usb cable only £30 fully moulded and about three times the thickness of a typical phone usb cable. Just wanted something with decent wires in it.
  11. Naka9

    Naka9 music first audiophile

    Audioquest Carbon USB is my favorite.
    Tim 2 and mikeyt like this.
  12. Dino Villani

    Dino Villani Resident Senior Audiophile

    Destin, Fl
    Wireworld platinum or starlight 8
    alest likes this.
  13. alest

    alest Active Member

    US NE
    Try whatever WireWorld is in your budget.
    Tim 2 and ChrisR2060 like this.
  14. panhead

    panhead Active Member

    +1 for wireworld
    alest likes this.
  15. 500Homeruns

    500Homeruns Peaceful Punk

    Lehigh Valley, PA
  16. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    USB for me= Delicate, fragile.
  17. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    A lot. :)

    I use Audioquest Cinnamon Cables. Not too expensive but much better than generic brands.

    Clearer sound, more detail without harshness, etc.

    I have a denafrips Pontus II 12th.
    Tim 2, rem 600, CD Addict and 4 others like this.
  18. fish

    fish Senior Member

    NYS, USA
    Im using the Carbon. I tried a coupe of others. All sound different. 1 was about the same price (forgot which one, Audience?) and didn't sound as as good as the AQ Carbon. The other a Purist Audio which I thought was significantly better, went to buy it and found it was $900+ It honestly wasn't that much better than the AQ Carbon to me.

    Also had a computer grade USB cable that, in comparison, was foggy, soft and lifeless. Had a high-speed gold Amazon brand one that was not much better.

    Tried the cheapest Audioquest (cinnamon?) that was much better than the Amazon brand. Much. But the Carbon was better and good enough for now.

    and in 3...2...1 comes the hate mail.
    jenkovix, Roger C and mikeyt like this.
  19. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    CD ripping has error correction. Even if you were using a flaky USB cable that was cutting out -- and somehow didn't notice the disconnect/reconnect sounds and system tray notifications your computer was producing to alert you to the problem -- any errors would be detected and the data would be re-read as many times as necessary until it is correct.

    Not to mention, if any data was being lost during CD ripping due to a bad USB cable, it would affect all data being read from a disc. If your Word documents aren't being turned into gibberish and your Excel spreadsheets aren't showing bogus numbers, then your CD rips are fine, too.

    And if you connect a USB cable and hear noise through your computer's sound card, you don't need a more expensive USB cable; you need a better sound card that doesn't have such appalingly poor noise isolation. Even the Sound Blaster Pro 8-bit, 22 kHz card I had in my 386SX in 1992 didn't have any hum or buzz in its output; surely today's Hi-Res 24-bit, 192 kHz sound cards can do better than that!

    JediJoker, VQR, Agitater and 6 others like this.
  20. shug4476

    shug4476 Nullius In Verba

    If you are happy, stick with the Audioquest.

    I use QED Silver Reference USB.

    I should add - I only bought the QED as the connection terminals became unreliable on cheaper cables, and I found it on offer for $20.
  21. jonwoody

    jonwoody Tragically Unhip

    Washington DC
    I don't use USB in my system but I do use ethernet and Blue Jeans ethernet cables were a revelation I am sure their USB is good too. And affordable!
    Tim 2 likes this.
  22. OhHiMahk

    OhHiMahk The search function is your friend

    I also recommend Wireworld. I'm not making any sonic claims, but I've used their 2 lowest end USB cables for a few years, (one in a lab situation) and the durability is outstanding. I had an AQ Cinnamon before that and it couldn't survive moderate abuse.
  23. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Independent Head

    New Mexico USA
    Without wading into all the old battles, I'll just make an observation that these discussions of USB cables having a meaningful effect on sound quality, when the cables being compared are all well-made, without physical defects, and operating to provide bit-perfect data transfer between high-quality source and target components, seem to be losing steam and engagement. People committed to the existence of obvious improvements provided by exotic and high-end brands and their cables still offer their testimonials and recommendations. People who find that inexpensive non-junk USB cables, operating within spec, result in sound quality that no expensive audiophile cable can improve upon make that point. War fails to break out. Life goes on.

    It's definitely a good thing that the hostility and flaming and emotionalism have receded from the conversation, mostly. My bias is that digital audio engineering has solved most of the problems and quashed the anomalies and sources of unreliability that once gave audiophile arguments from vendors of exotic cables an opportunity to introduce USB FUD and FOMO. Which leaves us with "I hear it! It sounds better!" Meanwhile most people get excellent and robust sound quality, without noise or distortion, from inexpensive but decent quality USB cables and there has been no startling new evidence to say otherwise.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2023
  24. Old Zorki II

    Old Zorki II Storm Watcher

    near Tampa, FL
    For many years I am using 15 feet USB cable from PC to my printer. It is Pangea cable, I think it was $60. It was stepped on it, run over with office chair and my 230 lb in it, squeezed with a door.. still going strong. Well made indeed.
    budgethifiman and Roger C like this.
  25. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    I believe that the Cinnamon is the cheapest Audioquest that has a % of silver in it.

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