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Stuart79



Joined: 29/01/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Northampton, UK
Does USB cable quality matter?
      #1081168 - 30/12/13 06:47 PM
I see a lot of high-end cable manufacturers are selling audiophile (expensive) USB cable on the premise that it makes a difference to hi-fi sound quality. Is there any truth to this or is it just snake oil? Consequently, is it worth considering a higher quality USB cable for an audio interface?

Regards,
Stuart.


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zenguitarAdministrator
active member


Joined: 05/12/02
Posts: 9020
Loc: Devon
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1081177 - 30/12/13 08:43 PM
USB is a digital interface, not an analogue one. In other words, no audio whatsoever travels along the wire, just a sequence of ones and zeros.

Better quality cable can offer a range of benefits, but improved audio quality is not one of them. More rugged cable and connectors can be useful if you are regularly plugging and unplugging. And a high quality cable can help if you need a cable that is longer than the official maximum length for USB. But other than that, any old cable you have lying around will be as good as anything exotic and/or expensive.

Andy

--------------------
When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro.


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Trevor Johnson



Joined: 15/05/10
Posts: 111
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: zenguitar]
      #1081180 - 30/12/13 09:35 PM
No, the exotic products as pedalled by the familiar names will not affect, i.e. degrade or improve audio quality, but as Andy rightly says, a good quality cable is more reliable than a cheap one. In my experience, all the USB cables supplied by the various manufacturers with equipment that I have bought have been fine. For example, the 2m USB cable supplied with my Lynx Hilo was a normal USB cable, so if Lynx thinks that is all right, it certainly is for me.


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BJG145



Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 3566
Loc: Norwich UK
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1081181 - 30/12/13 09:52 PM
Oh good grief.



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Stuart79



Joined: 29/01/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Northampton, UK
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: BJG145]
      #1081262 - 31/12/13 01:42 PM
I'm aware of the nature of the information being transported via a digital connection. However, the way in which digital information is transported involves an analogue signal.

To quote a fairly reliable source: "Digital data is transmitted as a series of very brief analogue pulses, so so if interference, noise or distortion becomes severe enough to prevent those pulses from being detected correctly at the receiving end, you have a problem." I was just hoping for a little detail on the extent to which the cable quality makes a difference (if any) and, if so, what are the key aspects of a good quality cable to look out for in order to avoid wasting money.


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BJG145



Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 3566
Loc: Norwich UK
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1081264 - 31/12/13 01:54 PM
When you're dealing with data, you can use a system to check it and ensure accuracy. Eg, USB uses CRC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclic_redundancy_check
http://www.usb.org/developers/whitepapers/crcdes.pdf

It's really not going to be a problem unless you use an utterly rubbish cable or you're working in a very unusual environment. Anyone charging more than a tenner is simply ripping people off.

http://www.audioquest.com/usb-digital-audio/diamond

£500. Oh dear.

A fool and his money are soon parted...


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
Posts: 5983
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1081274 - 31/12/13 03:00 PM
Quote Stuart79:

I'm aware of the nature of the information being transported via a digital connection. However, the way in which digital information is transported involves an analogue signal.

To quote a fairly reliable source: "Digital data is transmitted as a series of very brief analogue pulses, so so if interference, noise or distortion becomes severe enough to prevent those pulses from being detected correctly at the receiving end, you have a problem." I was just hoping for a little detail on the extent to which the cable quality makes a difference (if any) and, if so, what are the key aspects of a good quality cable to look out for in order to avoid wasting money.




That's an "if" which is only really going to happen if the electrical connection is broken.

The key feature of a USB cable is that it possesses sufficient length. 4 inches of airspace - which can easily happen if you measure hastily - guarantees data loss. Next in importance comes having the right connectors on each end, though this can be bodged in an emergency.

Really, don't worry. USB cables are so cheap and ubiquitous that there's no reason for a manufacturer to make a bad one. The only times I've ever known a failure is when someone trod on the plug. Avoid anything with over-sized connectors though, or over-sized cables. They just add weight that can stress the sockets on your equipment.


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The Boogiemen



Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 136
Loc: West Sand Lake, NY
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: BJG145]
      #1081281 - 31/12/13 03:43 PM
Quote BJG145:

It's really not going to be a problem unless you use an utterly rubbish cable or you're working in a very unusual environment. Anyone charging more than a tenner is simply ripping people off.

http://www.audioquest.com/usb-digital-audio/diamond

£500. Oh dear.

A fool and his money are soon parted...




Lots of fools with money. It's almost becoming synonymous! [You could argue chasing the dollar/wealth is a foolish reason for existence]

--------------------
Boogeymen Productions


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
Posts: 5983
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: The Boogiemen]
      #1081289 - 31/12/13 04:21 PM
Quote:

http://www.audioquest.com/usb-digital-audio/diamond

£500. Oh dear.





Have a look at the pseudo-science they wrap around the product. It's quite amusing.


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Brian M Rose



Joined: 05/09/11
Posts: 60
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #1081298 - 31/12/13 05:02 PM
The more mature among us may remember Professor Stanley Unwin, a highly amusing, ex-engineer comedian:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7uykB6wGG4

Listen to the above and you will hear that it makes a lot more sense than some of the claims made by some cable manufactures. I recently met some old friends from BBC R&D. They related the story of an invitation they made to a certain speaker cable manufacturer to run some tests against his cables and ordinary mains cable. He was quite happy until they laid out the methodology; full double blind with peer reviewed results. Evidently, he declined the invitation.
It really does annoy me, but then if people are stupid enough (and they can afford it) then why not sell them a $73K speaker cable?


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The Boogiemen



Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 136
Loc: West Sand Lake, NY
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #1081299 - 31/12/13 05:03 PM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

Quote:

http://www.audioquest.com/usb-digital-audio/diamond

£500. Oh dear.





Have a look at the pseudo-science they wrap around the product. It's quite amusing.




Yeah, been here done that with Monster et all. While analog cabling differences can be measured, the stuff they posted regarding those usb cables is flat out lies/figment of their imagination. "Sound appears from a surprisingly black background with unexpected detail and dynamic contrast." OMFG

They get away with this BS because anyone foolish enough to buy into it has likely already sank tens of thousands (foolishly) into vaporous amps, $1000/foot solid gold speaker wire, and platinum plated diamond infused speaker systems. So what's another $500 to ensure all the gremlins stay cute and cuddly?

--------------------
Boogeymen Productions


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 7039
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1081341 - 31/12/13 08:15 PM
Yup, it is all hogwashh.

I had a "problem" with two usb cables but mainly of my own making.

I wanted a run of 5mtrs twixt two computers and an NI KA6. I bought two cables, one about £3.00 and one about £7.00. I found the interface would refuse to lock in (usb light dropping out) on one cable into a 3G P4 running XP but either cable was fine into a 2core 2.7G W7/64 PC. The AI was fine on both machines with the supplied 3mtr lead or indeed even the crappiest one I could find 3mtrs or shorter.

So it would seem, based on a very tiny sample, that if you pay more than about £1.00/mtr you are fireproof even up the maximum allowed length?

Dave.


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Folderol



Joined: 15/11/08
Posts: 3881
Loc: Rochester, UK
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1081368 - 01/01/14 09:52 AM
I've often wondered what results you'd get if you bunged USB down a cat5 cable.

--------------------
It wasn't me!
(Well, actually, it probably was)


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 7039
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Folderol]
      #1081370 - 01/01/14 09:58 AM
Quote Folderol:

I've often wondered what results you'd get if you bunged USB down a cat5 cable.




http://cpc.farnell.com/_/usb-busboost/usb-extender/dp/CS1423...

Might give a pair a do one day. I have had good results with sound and video over their CAT5 adaptors.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!

Hmm, just noticed, mention is made of extending keyboards, webcams and other low thruput devices. I doubt they would work well for AIs? At least not at the full suggested 60mtrs. Still, even a third of that could be very useful?

Dave.

Edited by ef37a (01/01/14 10:02 AM)


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The Boogiemen



Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 136
Loc: West Sand Lake, NY
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: ef37a]
      #1081417 - 01/01/14 03:15 PM
Quote ef37a:

Yup, it is all hogwashh.

I had a "problem" with two usb cables but mainly of my own making.

I wanted a run of 5mtrs twixt two computers and an NI KA6. I bought two cables, one about £3.00 and one about £7.00. I found the interface would refuse to lock in (usb light dropping out) on one cable into a 3G P4 running XP but either cable was fine into a 2core 2.7G W7/64 PC. The AI was fine on both machines with the supplied 3mtr lead or indeed even the crappiest one I could find 3mtrs or shorter.

So it would seem, based on a very tiny sample, that if you pay more than about £1.00/mtr you are fireproof even up the maximum allowed length?

Dave.




The only variable I can think of is if the USB device was receiving power over the USB cable, in which case it's likely the older P4 computer was sending less power (or was USB 1.1) (?). Are you 100% sure only one of the cables failed on the P4? That would indeed be strange.

--------------------
Boogeymen Productions


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 7039
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: The Boogiemen]
      #1081435 - 01/01/14 04:59 PM
Quote The Boogiemen:

Quote ef37a:

Yup, it is all hogwashh.

I had a "problem" with two usb cables but mainly of my own making.

I wanted a run of 5mtrs twixt two computers and an NI KA6. I bought two cables, one about £3.00 and one about £7.00. I found the interface would refuse to lock in (usb light dropping out) on one cable into a 3G P4 running XP but either cable was fine into a 2core 2.7G W7/64 PC. The AI was fine on both machines with the supplied 3mtr lead or indeed even the crappiest one I could find 3mtrs or shorter.

So it would seem, based on a very tiny sample, that if you pay more than about £1.00/mtr you are fireproof even up the maximum allowed length?

Dave.




The only variable I can think of is if the USB device was receiving power over the USB cable, in which case it's likely the older P4 computer was sending less power (or was USB 1.1) (?). Are you 100% sure only one of the cables failed on the P4? That would indeed be strange.




Pretty sure about this. I could repeat the exercise when the household is back to "normal". Can't be a power issue or a 1.1 port since the AI works fine on the P4 with shorter cables or indeed one of the longer ones.
I have to say this was a rather rushed setup and I WAS more interested in getting things working than in diagnosing a weirdness! But if I have the time I shall give it another do.

Dave.


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Kounoupi
new member


Joined: 22/01/03
Posts: 2
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1109053 - 23/06/14 02:04 AM
This covers the all USB cable details with diagrams and photos:
http://ww3.microtek.com.tw/tw/uploads/faq/pdf/comparison-usb2.0-cable3.pdf


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Martin WalkerModerator
Watcher Of The Skies


Joined: 28/02/01
Posts: 17811
Loc: Cornwall, UK
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1109277 - 24/06/14 04:08 PM
I certainly agree that there's no difference in audio quality after a signal has traveled from one end of a USB cable to the other

However, USB 2 cables handle a much wider-bandwidth signal than their USB 1.1 counterparts (480Mbps, mega-bits per second, instead of 12Mbps), and are therefore generally of higher quality than many cheap USB 1.1 cables.

Sadly, some sub-standard cables were churned out by certain companies at low prices in the early days of USB, and this is why a new breed of 'USB 2 certified' cables appeared. Some helpfully have USB 2 printed somewhere on the cable insulation or on a tag, but others don't. So if you're buying a USB 2 audio peripheral and a high-quality cable is bundled with it, do make sure you keep the two together, particularly if the cable is not clearly marked.


Martin

--------------------
YewTreeMagic


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The_BPP
active member


Joined: 13/05/04
Posts: 1700
Loc: Lincolnshire
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: The Boogiemen]
      #1109391 - 25/06/14 08:47 AM
Quote The Boogiemen:

Quote BJG145:

It's really not going to be a problem unless you use an utterly rubbish cable or you're working in a very unusual environment. Anyone charging more than a tenner is simply ripping people off.

http://www.audioquest.com/usb-digital-audio/diamond

£500. Oh dear.

A fool and his money are soon parted...




Lots of fools with money. It's almost becoming synonymous! [You could argue chasing the dollar/wealth is a foolish reason for existence]




I like the reviews at the bottom of the page... "significantly improved clarity" says one. Brilliant!

I have an expensive USB memory stick. The quality of the stored Word documents is far greater than when I held them on a cheap memory stick. Bigger words, nicer font. After all, you get what you pay for.

--------------------
Touch & Go


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 7039
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: Stuart79]
      #1109418 - 25/06/14 10:41 AM
I have just remembered that in the network industry they fight a losing battle against very cheap imported patch cables for the very good reason that for 99% of users the cheap stuff works fine.

I know from when I was "in the game" that to keep cables up to absolute top specc' took constant testing. The fact was that a CAT5e patch lead was almost never called upon to deliver its ultimate performance because very few people had systems that could run the transfer rates.

Audio via USB is different as I understand things? Even a quite low end AI might call upon almost all the bandwidth of the system, however briefly and if said system cannot deliver..Crash.

Dave.


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The_BPP
active member


Joined: 13/05/04
Posts: 1700
Loc: Lincolnshire
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: ef37a]
      #1109442 - 25/06/14 11:58 AM
Quote ef37a:

Audio via USB is different as I understand things? Even a quite low end AI might call upon almost all the bandwidth of the system, however briefly and if said system cannot deliver..Crash.




That's the thrust of this thread. The cable will either deliver or not, there will not be the slight loss of quality one associates with cheap analogue cables.

--------------------
Touch & Go


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Pete Kaine
Scan Computers


Joined: 10/07/03
Posts: 3681
Loc: Manchester
Re: Does USB cable quality matter? new [Re: The_BPP]
      #1109782 - 27/06/14 04:04 PM
Quote The_Big_Piano_Player:


I have an expensive USB memory stick. The quality of the stored Word documents is far greater than when I held them on a cheap memory stick. Bigger words, nicer font. After all, you get what you pay for.




I'm using this one on the shop floor.

--------------------
ScanProAudio & 3XS Audio Systems
ScanProAudio Blog


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