Question Hi-fi usb cable

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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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Apparently they can be measurably and audibly different, though I’ve never needed one to connect a DAC, so haven’t any personal experience.

Here is an informative review. https://www.hifinews.com/content/chord-epic-usb-interconnect-cable
Hi,
This is a subjective review with an added waveform of a bit sent along the cable, for 2 different cable lengths.

Of course different cable lengths will show a different waveform, but this is never heard, as the bit is transmitted across the cable without error in both cases.

Regards,
Shadders.
 
Peddler? Hardly.
It must be a little frustrating to have your views automatically discounted because you are in the industry - particularly when I see no evidence that you have ever tried to push product here.

That said, I am interested in how digital cables might sound different from one another. Mrs 12th and I noticed a significant difference when I'd changed an HDMI cable (just in one thing - the crackling fire in the Pale Man scene from Pan's Labyrinth - we both looked at each other and said words to the effect that it sounded different). But every part of my rational brain is telling me that digital cables should either work or not work.
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
I can't help wondering, if a sub 2 metre USB cable can make a real difference to sound quality, how the hell can streamed music ever sound any good, when you may be getting your ones and zeros from a server thousands of miles away?
 
It must be a little frustrating to have your views automatically discounted because you are in the industry - particularly when I see no evidence that you have ever tried to push product here.

That said, I am interested in how digital cables might sound different from one another. Mrs 12th and I noticed a significant difference when I'd changed an HDMI cable (just in one thing - the crackling fire in the Pale Man scene from Pan's Labyrinth - we both looked at each other and said words to the effect that it sounded different). But every part of my rational brain is telling me that digital cables should either work or not work.
Nature of the beast nowadays. Experts are everywhere, and will always know better than people with decades of knowledge and experience. Most of these people don’t use dealers, they buy used off the internet and auction sites - their mind is made up that dealers are just slippery salesmen. Which, to be fair, is mostly true, but not a blanket description that should be applied to all dealers. I don’t push cables on anyone, but if someone wants to talk about cables with me, I’ll talk about cables. I’ve always been a strong believer of getting the basics of the system right first - if that’s wrong, no cables are going to make a worthwhile difference.
 
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That was not my intention but, you do sell those cables so, you do have an interest in trying to convince people that such cables are worthwhile. Proving they are worthwhile is another matter...
Personally, I don’t care if anyone thinks better quality cables are worthwhile or not. Most AudioQuest models are listed apart from some of the very top stuff. If someone is interested in talking to me about cables and approaches me, I’ll talk about them, but I don’t actively sell cables to anyone. I don’t even keep cables in stock, or have four or five brands of cables to sell, so that alone should tell you I’m in a different boat to other dealers, especially those who will sell anything to anybody online.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the “all cables sound the same” theory, based on my personal experience over the last 40 years in this hobby.
 
That was not my intention but, you do sell those cables so, you do have an interest in trying to convince people that such cables are worthwhile. Proving they are worthwhile is another matter...
He stocks them because some people do consider them worthwhile and are quite prepared to pay that price for them.
He doesn't have to prove anything....
 

nads

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2007
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I can't help wondering, if a sub 2 metre USB cable can make a real difference to sound quality, how the hell can streamed music ever sound any good, when you may be getting your ones and zeros from a server thousands of miles away?
exactly. The signal is sent. The bits either end comunicate that the data sent matches the data received. It is then turned into something to play.
if it does not match it is sent again.
 

record_spot

Well-known member
May 30, 2015
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They are actually not completely different. You need electricity(analog) to carry the data. Data Analag....and electricity. No matter how you turn it it will effect the quality all the way out to the listener. The Data and sound may not interfere with each other but electricity doesn´t wait for an invitation.
No offence, but you can apply that to any of our gear, at some point you'll need to use electricity. Yes, got that thanks.

It's the digital realm. and data transfer / data throughput either works or it doesn't. And if it doesn't you won't get behaviours exhibited by an regular RCA cable. Big differences. And a stable electrical supply - which we mostly have in the UK.

Happy to wholeheartedly disagree with the point I think you're trying to raise.
 

CleanCopperz

Well-known member
Feb 12, 2022
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No offence, but you can apply that to any of our gear, at some point you'll need to use electricity. Yes, got that thanks.

It's the digital realm. and data transfer / data throughput either works or it doesn't. And if it doesn't you won't get behaviours exhibited by an regular RCA cable. Big differences. And a stable electrical supply - which we mostly have in the UK.

Happy to wholeheartedly disagree with the point I think you're trying to raise.
You simply dont try hard enough. Think
 
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Vincent Kars

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2021
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This is how I understand digital signal transmission.
It is done by sending block pulses over a bus.
Of course, this is done using 100% analog electrons and of course these block pulses are imperfect by design ( infinite rise time doesn't exist).
This is my favorite pic



This is how a block pulse might looks in real life.
If this would be interpreted as an analog signal (using the absolute value), this would be a disaster.
The over/under shoot, the rise/fall time, the ringing, etc., all would manifest themselves as distortion.
The moment our interpretation is digital (the electrons remains analog of course), we don’t have these problems.
Despite all the distortions, we can clearly detect the rise to approximately 100% and the fall to approximately 0% of the signal.
As long as we are able to detect this marked change of state accurately at the receiver, we will receive not only the right bits, but will also be able to reconstruct the signal.
This is why digital is to a large extend insensitive to noise and can be delivered all around the world without loss in accuracy.
Might apply to a USB cable as well :)
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
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670
It's true, you need to have a voltage, across the cable, for data to move. However, this voltage will have zero impact on sound quality. The digital data, ones and zeros, will not be influenced by this voltage. So long as the sender and receiver, have the same data, with sufficient error correction, then whatever this digital data represents, it will be converted into the relevant output, be it picture, or sound. If your HDMI cable can carry the amount of information it needs to, at £10 then a cable at £100 won't carry that information any better. Speaker cables are different, due to many technical values, capacitance, inductance, reactance, resistance, phase distortion etc. Different materials, their purity, metal crystal size and direction, all make a difference. Different frequencies need to be carried over different thicknesses of cable also, to avoid the signal moving to the outside of the cable, a feature known as the 'skin effect'. A cable's ability to reject RFI and mains interference, is also vital. Speaker cables behave like long aerial leads and can pick up anything from radio, to spikes in power supplies and noise from all the appliances nearby, even through walls and from neighbour's lawn mowers etc. A USB or HDMI cable, needs to carry digital information. If it can do this without signal loss, then all the data should get there, intact. Adding gold and fancy stuff to these cables, won't make the cable carry digital data, more accurately. There's a lot of snake oil in the HIFI sector. I remember seeing Sony headphones in John Lewis, many years ago and the packaging said 'for digital' and was supposed to convince people, to buy them. What does that even begin to mean? Utter nonsense.
 
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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
462
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19,270
It's true, you need to have a voltage, across the cable, for data to move. However, this voltage will have zero impact on sound quality. The digital data, ones and zeros, will not be influenced by this voltage. So long as the sender and receiver, have the same data, with sufficient error correction, then whatever this digital data represents, it will be converted into the relevant output, be it picture, or sound. If your HDMI cable can carry the amount of information it needs to, at £10 then a cable at £100 won't carry that information any better. Speaker cables are different, due to many technical values, capacitance, inductance, reactance, resistance, phase distortion etc. Different materials, their purity, metal crystal size and direction, all make a difference. Different frequencies need to be carried over different thicknesses of cable also, to avoid the signal moving to the outside of the cable, a feature known as the 'skin effect'. A cable's ability to reject RFI and mains interference, is also vital. Speaker cables behave like long aerial leads and can pick up anything from radio, to spikes in power supplies and noise from all the appliances nearby, even through walls and from neighbour's lawn mowers etc. A USB or HDMI cable, needs to carry digital information. If it can do this without signal loss, then all the data should get there, intact. Adding gold and fancy stuff to these cables, won't make the cable carry digital data, more accurately.
Hi,
There is no phase distortion with cables, just a phase change, which is different for cables depending on the parameters you have listed. Here is a simulation of the phase change (amongst other things) of QED79 and Kimber 8TC Cable, both at 2 metres length.
Cable Compare Phase.jpg

Not sure if you can see it, but at 20kHz the phase difference between the two is approximately 1deg. Below 20kHz the phase difference is less, and at 1kHz it is 50milli-degrees (0.05 degrees). Any phase differences are inaudible, assuming that the ear can distinguish such phase differences.

As you have said, the voltage has no bearing on sound quality in a USB cable. It merely exists to distinguish at the USB receiver the 1's and 0's, which are represented by that voltage. It is peoples belief that they hear differences in speaker cables, that then means all cables have a sound.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
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Cheers for that. I do think the ability of a speaker cable, to carry certain frequencies, hence a cable's susceptibility to the 'skin effect', is the main reason they sound different. Having a thick cable, for low frequencies and smaller diameter 'multi-strand' cables, wrapped around the thick cable, for higher frequencies, must influence the sound. The amount of signal arriving at the speakers, must play a part in the speaker cable's 'tonality'. There is one thing I'm convinced of and that's speaker cable differences. I had blind listening demos at a HIFI shop, granted, when my hearing was much better, years ago and I did hear the difference between cheap copper cables and better quality copper cables, with silver plate around them. It was appreciable and I would have put money on it, back then. I can tell the difference, between Pepsi and Coca cola, by smell alone, never mind taste. I don't listen to many cables these days, but I am convinced the many elaborate materials and designs, do have an impact on the information being sent to speakers. There are so many variables and technical things to consider, but I don't obsess about this stuff now. I have decent cabling and I doubt an upgrade would be worthwhile, at my age and with the current kit I own. I remember Peter Belt trying sometimes crazy things, to improve sound quality. Having a clean power supply is one, but keeping HIFI a certain distance from copper pipes and water, might seem like overkill. I suppose if it can make a difference and you eliminate every potential problem, you would end up with the perfect sound. At the end of the day, however, we all hear things slightly differently, so its not a panacea.
 

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