Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014

Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014

DAC is Musical Fidelity V90
USB cable is Audioquest Carbon
Amp is Rotel 1090
Loudspeakers : Acarian Alon IV
No Pre-amp
Source is Laptop

Another option is the Audioquest Cinnamon at $75
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post #2 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 08:04 AM
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No. And $75 is outrageous.


Save money:
https://www.monoprice.com/category?c_id=103&cp_id=10303



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post #3 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 08:14 AM
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Just buy an Amazon Basic USB cable in the length you need, or stop by Office Depot. Then see if the store will let you borrow the expensive cables, bring them home and compare. If you hear an amazing difference, splurge. My assumption is that if you hear a difference it will be so minimal that the extra $70, or $145 dollars you are considering spending on one will not be worth it.

I tried an Audioquest Carbon USB cable in my system and could tell no discernible difference. I have a Cambridge Audio DACMagic Plus, if that matters to you.
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post #4 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 08:25 AM
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It depends on if you really love your DAC or not. Are you thinking of upgrading DACs? Then the answer is no.

If you love the sound of your current DAC and want to see if you can eek the last ounce of performance from it? Then the answer is yes.
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post #5 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 09:01 AM
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A USB cable is never worth $150.......I can buy in a bit on any specialty analog cables as they can possibly alter/shape sound characteristics due to different cable reactance. Digital, no....you either get error free transmission or you don't. There may be environments where additional shielding is needed to ensure digital signal integrity, but that's about the extent of my concerns for digital transport and can be addressed for much less than $150. A USB cable, built to usb specs is going to meet the standard as well as $150 cable. The $150 cable may be able to exceed USB specs, but that is meaningless since the source and destination transceivers will only operate to spec and below.
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post #6 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 09:06 AM
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So... a DAC upgrade and use the same USB is okay?
Or... if using/keeping the existing DAC, a more expensive USB cable will "improve" the sound?
Wouldn't "upgrading" both the DAC and a more expensive USB achieve the best sound quality?
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post #7 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 09:14 AM
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There is no reason to buy a $150 USB cable, it's all marketing BS. With a decent DAC there will be no audible difference between using a $10 USB cable and a $100 USB cable. This guy actually did some testing if you want more info:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...fference.1887/

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post #8 of 77 Old 02-08-2019, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qguy View Post
Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014

DAC is Musical Fidelity V90
USB cable is Audioquest Carbon
Amp is Rotel 1090
Loudspeakers : Acarian Alon IV
No Pre-amp
Source is Laptop

Another option is the Audioquest Cinnamon at $75

absolutely...however I'd get the audioquest ginger @ x2 the price as it's twice as good....

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post #9 of 77 Old 02-10-2019, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qguy View Post
Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014

DAC is Musical Fidelity V90
USB cable is Audioquest Carbon
Amp is Rotel 1090
Loudspeakers : Acarian Alon IV
No Pre-amp
Source is Laptop

Another option is the Audioquest Cinnamon at $75

Go to the site "Archimago's Musings" and search for USB cable tests. There is no reason to spend $150 on a USB cable, unless you need one that's 100 feet long.
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post #10 of 77 Old 02-10-2019, 07:18 PM
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AudioScienceReview recently measured an expensive USB cable against an AmazonBasics one. There were measurable differences, mainly attributed to the better shielding of the expensive one, BUT (and it’s a big but) even though there were differences in measurements they were far, far, far, below the threshold of audibility. The cheaper USB cable was still entirely transparent in terms of audibility. Just because there is a difference doesn’t mean you can hear it.
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post #11 of 77 Old 02-10-2019, 07:26 PM
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The only thing that matters with USB cables is data in vs data out, and you'll essentially get complete data transfer with even cheapcables unless we are talking long runs. There is no difference to hear.


The terminations within the cable are sometimes a defect point, and can introduce problems.
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Last edited by DanPackMan; 02-10-2019 at 07:36 PM.
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post #12 of 77 Old 02-10-2019, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qguy View Post
Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014

DAC is Musical Fidelity V90
USB cable is Audioquest Carbon
Amp is Rotel 1090
Loudspeakers : Acarian Alon IV
No Pre-amp
Source is Laptop

Another option is the Audioquest Cinnamon at $75
I've used the AQ Carbon USB cable in a PC audio setup and it was a very noticeable upgrade over a generic printer USB cable. However, my DAC at the time was around $1,000. In your case I'd probably just do the Cinnamon though which is still a very good cable. Cables matter, don't listen to the haters, use your ears.

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post #13 of 77 Old 02-11-2019, 05:39 AM
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There is no practical way to compare two USB cables to each other using one DAC. The time it takes to swap cables and re-sync massively exceeds the interval of auditory memory. The fact the cables being auditions are fully known means there is no way to eliminate the powerful expectation bias of the price tag, appearance, feel, etc.

The difference you hear, if any, will track your expectations. There is no way to neutralize expectation bias in this case.
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post #14 of 77 Old 02-11-2019, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by drewTT View Post
I've used the AQ Carbon USB cable in a PC audio setup and it was a very noticeable upgrade over a generic printer USB cable. However, my DAC at the time was around $1,000. In your case I'd probably just do the Cinnamon though which is still a very good cable. Cables matter, don't listen to the haters, use your ears.
This post is like an Audio Woo bingo card.
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post #15 of 77 Old 02-11-2019, 06:30 PM
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If you're considering buying it because you like the build quality and looks, then sure. If you're considering buying it because you think it might improve performance, then no. You could also make your own USB cable that looks and feels like the super expensive ones and performs the same for fairly cheap.

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post #16 of 77 Old 02-11-2019, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qguy View Post
Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014

DAC is Musical Fidelity V90
USB cable is Audioquest Carbon
Amp is Rotel 1090
Loudspeakers : Acarian Alon IV
No Pre-amp
Source is Laptop

Another option is the Audioquest Cinnamon at $75
Hell no! Save your money dude. Audioquest cables are a total waste of money. I fell into this trap when i first got into HT. Check out monoprice cables they do the exact same thing for way cheaper.
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post #17 of 77 Old 02-12-2019, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qguy View Post
Does it make sense to buy a $150 USB cable when your DAC sold for $300 in 2014
$150 for a USB cable does not make sense regardless of how much your DAC cost in any year. I know it looks like a solidly built cable, but there are a lot of solidly built USB cables for prices with less than three digits. Any non-damaged USB cable will perform the same. Spend $9 and save the rest for something useful.

And I even buy the need for higher-quality analog and SPDIF cables. USB is a bridge too far.
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post #18 of 77 Old 02-12-2019, 02:34 PM
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If I had a spare $100 or so, I might consider a fibre optic USB cable - it would eliminate ground loops. 33 feet long, from Corning. Of course, the device must be self-powered, because there is no wired connection.
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post #19 of 77 Old 02-12-2019, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by MTVhike View Post
If I had a spare $100 or so, I might consider a fibre optic USB cable - it would eliminate ground loops. 33 feet long, from Corning. Of course, the device must be self-powered, because there is no wired connection.
+1,

The USB was invented by Intel around 20 years ago, it is a computer thing for the telecom industry. Audio companies in no way, shape or form had anything to do with the development of the Universal Serial Bus--and could not afford the cost to try. The only reason USB is in anything to do with audio is it was added later. If you are paranoid about it, go to a computer store and get whatever USB they use for server farms, mil-spec or whatever in telecom. An audio company that makes a USB cable? Really? It's just audio--I've used basic USB cables for years transerring programs bit perfect back and forth, uploaded programs and everything with no corruption of the files for computer programs. There is not "better 1's and 0's" no matter what--it works or it does not.

HDMI is the same, it works or it does not and that was developed by telecom and video companies--the audio signal is imbedded in the video signal so it gets split out after the data has transferred. Since video signal data packs are huge compared to the small audio file, anything goes wrong with the video and you can easily see it. If you want to know what a USB cable does, you can get programs that inform you how fast and bit perfect the connection--in case you wonder. Nothing wrong with that, give it a go!

It's a telecom thing, I would trust Intel whom invented the thing in the first place to fully understand what is required to run on their design. If you want the "best" get the "best" from the telecom industry they might actually fully understand how it works, what does not and can configure it any way you like. Same goes with power cords, if you want a cut above, go for hospital grade--if it is good enough to keep you alive for months on end--it might be "good enough" for something as simple as 1950's technology class A/B amps. Go to a hosptial, how much audioquest cables to do you see there? Granted, they would remove it because of various rules/regulations/NEC and NFPA guidelines that are in place for life saving medical devices (the government does care about that!)

Intel VS Audioquest--you decide.

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post #20 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 08:49 AM
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+1,

The USB was invented by Intel around 20 years ago, it is a computer thing for the telecom industry. Audio companies in no way, shape or form had anything to do with the development of the Universal Serial Bus--and could not afford the cost to try. The only reason USB is in anything to do with audio is it was added later. If you are paranoid about it, go to a computer store and get whatever USB they use for server farms, mil-spec or whatever in telecom. An audio company that makes a USB cable? Really? It's just audio--I've used basic USB cables for years transerring programs bit perfect back and forth, uploaded programs and everything with no corruption of the files for computer programs. There is not "better 1's and 0's" no matter what--it works or it does not.

HDMI is the same, it works or it does not and that was developed by telecom and video companies--the audio signal is imbedded in the video signal so it gets split out after the data has transferred. Since video signal data packs are huge compared to the small audio file, anything goes wrong with the video and you can easily see it. If you want to know what a USB cable does, you can get programs that inform you how fast and bit perfect the connection--in case you wonder. Nothing wrong with that, give it a go!

It's a telecom thing, I would trust Intel whom invented the thing in the first place to fully understand what is required to run on their design. If you want the "best" get the "best" from the telecom industry they might actually fully understand how it works, what does not and can configure it any way you like. Same goes with power cords, if you want a cut above, go for hospital grade--if it is good enough to keep you alive for months on end--it might be "good enough" for something as simple as 1950's technology class A/B amps. Go to a hosptial, how much audioquest cables to do you see there? Granted, they would remove it because of various rules/regulations/NEC and NFPA guidelines that are in place for life saving medical devices (the government does care about that!)

Intel VS Audioquest--you decide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpiylFF6sV4
Transferring files over USB does not rely on a continuous stream with precise timing like music does. It's a whole different ball of wax.
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post #21 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by emcdade View Post
Transferring files over USB does not rely on a continuous stream with precise timing like music does. It's a whole different ball of wax.
Let me get this straight...

A music signal is far more complex than telecom signals? OK, let us assume you are correct. Does Google, Apple, HP, General Dynamics, Samsung or Sony know about this? If they did, you can bet the Audioquest, Kimber and Monster Cable "engineers" would be tracked down and hired for their companies. Heck, if they knew that 35 years ago and snatched up those brainiacs designing wires, cables and DACs... We could of cured cancer, had flying cars, hover boards (like Marty!) free electricity and global prosperity by now!

Intel: "Behold the USB, parallel processors and ever smaller, more efficient telecom equipment"

Audioquest "Hold my beer"... "Cables so great even telecom can't measure our greatness!"

Those Audioquest cable people better watch out, the North Koreans might kidnap them so they can really boost their technological prowess. It would make a good movie
Terminator 5 Audioquest builds Skynet

Now I understand, the root cause of China and their technological advances can be traced back to the IP transfer to them from Monster Cable and Audioquest... Better purchase those cables now, the tariffs on audiophile gear from China is about to really push the prices up.

Thanks for the tip.
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post #22 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 10:00 AM
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I have heard errors in digital audio streams. They do not manifest themselves as less detail, thinner bass or a narrower soundstage, they sound like super loud pops and clicks or actual silent gaps in playback. If you are experiencing these things then you should replace it with a professional cable like a Hosa. If you want something that looks nicer maybe pick up one of these for $12, available in eight colors!
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post #23 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 10:24 AM
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I have heard errors in digital audio streams. They do not manifest themselves as less detail, thinner bass or a narrower soundstage, they sound like super loud pops and clicks or actual silent gaps in playback. If you are experiencing these things then you should replace it with a professional cable like a Hosa. If you want something that looks nicer maybe pick up one of these for $12, available in eight colors!
Have you heard noise and timing errors?
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post #24 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 11:04 AM
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Ill go ahead and chime in with everyone else, short answer no, long answer NO. its a digital signal it either works or it doesn't, stuff like this has been tested to death there is no argument. If you want a nicer looking cable then get a nicer looking cable, but every time people do a double blind test there is NEVER a difference. People that swear there is a difference, no offense to any of you we all are entitled to our own opinion, are subconsciously trying to justify the extra expense by claiming a difference.
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post #25 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 11:37 AM
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I can't imagine that the audio data speed running through a typical USB lead will become corrupt enough to introduce audio signal errors... But if you're worried a basic USB 3.0 (5Gbps) lead should be more than adequate!

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post #26 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 12:04 PM
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If someone is susceptible to expectation bias to the point that they sincerely believe they can clearly hear a difference in audio performance between a properly engineered and manufactured, reasonably priced, basic digital cable and a really expensive specialty version I see no harm in them enjoying the personal satisfaction of believing the extra cost was worth it to them. The only issue would be trying to convince others that they would clearly hear the same difference and get the same level of personal satisfaction from that financial investment, which is demonstrably untrue.
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post #27 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 12:05 PM
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I can't imagine that the audio data speed running through a typical USB lead will become corrupt enough to introduce audio signal errors... But if you're worried a basic USB 3.0 (5Gbps) lead should be more than adequate!
It’s not about bandwidth, it’s about timing errors and noise.

A good rule of thumb is the shorter the usb cable the better, regardless of cost.
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post #28 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
If someone is susceptible to expectation bias to the point that they sincerely believe they can clearly hear a difference in audio performance between a properly engineered and manufactured, reasonably priced, basic digital cable and a really expensive specialty version I see no harm in them enjoying the personal satisfaction of believing the extra cost was worth it to them. The only issue would be trying to convince others that they would clearly hear the same difference and get the same level of personal satisfaction from that financial investment, which is demonstrably untrue.
Your absolutely right, especially with the last part. I have no issue with anyone that wants to spend a lot of money on a cable regardless of type, but its people like the OP, who may listen to some people, like the folks at Audioquest, or in the past Monster Cable or even us AVS people, and believe everything that's said wholesale and then end up spending money they didn't need to in the first place. There was a similar argument/discussion (it all remained civil) where basically someone said something along the lines of well you have to have sufficiently expensive speakers (read good enough) and THEN there is a very big difference between cable's that anyone can hear. Which again has been shown to be false numerous times.
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post #29 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
If someone is susceptible to expectation bias to the point that they sincerely believe they can clearly hear a difference in audio performance between a properly engineered and manufactured, reasonably priced, basic digital cable and a really expensive specialty version I see no harm in them enjoying the personal satisfaction of believing the extra cost was worth it to them. The only issue would be trying to convince others that they would clearly hear the same difference and get the same level of personal satisfaction from that financial investment, which is demonstrably untrue.
Totally agree. There actually can be positive benefit to the result of expectation bias. Maximize the enjoyment.

The question is one of whether there is actual improvement, only perceived improvement based on bias, and which is worth paying for. Ultimately its an individual choice. It would be nice if all choices are informed ones, but in practice if the individual feels he is informed and is satisfied with his choice, he's happy. Reality isn't always part of the picture.

The issue becomes one of the proclamation of fact when in reality it's a proclamation of opinion. Fact is backed up by objective proof, opinion can be based on objective proof or subjective observation, or any blend of the two. Many people can't tell the difference, and that's where product value becomes blurred.
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post #30 of 77 Old 02-13-2019, 12:27 PM
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A good rule of thumb is the shorter the usb cable the better, regardless of cost.
That's a good rule of thumb for any cable. Paying a tad more for aesthetics and/or construct is up to the consumer.



If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein
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