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post #1 of 242 Old 04-25-2019, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Good quality USB cable from laptop to DAC

Can there be a sound quality difference with a USB cable from laptop to my DAC if I'm using a longer (4 meter) cable from laptop to DAC versus a shorter cable?

I have the new DAC over on the equipment rack, but I like to use the laptop as a LAPtop so I can get some work done while listening. I thought as long as it works, you were getting the best sound quality possible, and if it didn't work, it buffers and cut out, etc. That it's all or nothing. Am I correct on this?
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post #2 of 242 Old 04-25-2019, 10:36 PM
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Right. You're not going to hear a difference in changing USB cable, regardless what the super expensive cable manufacturers like to claim.
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Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
Right. You're not going to hear a difference in changing USB cable, regardless what the super expensive cable manufacturers like to claim.

So length is irrelevant as long as it works ? It's either 100% or 0?
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post #4 of 242 Old 04-25-2019, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
So length is irrelevant as long as it works ? It's either 100% or 0?
I suppose with non-error corrected audio stream its possible to introduce some jitter but I dont know how much it takes to hear that. You can take the same cable and hook up a usb hdd to your computer and if you can get decent file transfer rates through that cable, then it has the throughput to handle audio with ease. For the most part, you should be either at 100% or 0, working great or not at all.
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post #5 of 242 Old 04-25-2019, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
So length is irrelevant as long as it works ? It's either 100% or 0?

The length of the cable matters. You have to check the particular cable, make sure it's good for the latest USB ( USBII or USBIII). You don't have to buy "special" cable, just make sure the long cable can support the fastest standard.

In more detail, it's the speed of the USB that the cable can support. There are cables that don't support the latest standard and you will lose data. As long as it's fast enough and don't lose data, it will NOT affect the sound quality. This is ALL DIGITAL, the only thing you worry is data lose.

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post #6 of 242 Old 04-25-2019, 11:19 PM
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OK, I don't feel confident in answer this as I never have an occasion to need a long cable. I also have not been follow closely on USB. I post the question on Physics Forums and here is the link. You can read the response yourself.


https://www.physicsforums.com/thread...-cable.970895/


USB is USB, it doesn't matter it's for audio or anything else, the thing to watch out is whether the link can support the speed of the USB standard. So there is no "special" cable for hifi, just knowing what to buy.


I looked on Amazon, this is what I found:https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters...gateway&sr=8-7

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post #7 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 02:24 AM
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Audio data speeds are pretty low, so as long as the data stream manages to get down the cable without getting corrupted you don't have to waste your money on an expensive USB lead.

By-the-way... These same questions pop-up from time-to-time on the forum: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/173-2...l#post57569816

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post #8 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 05:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
Right. You're not going to hear a difference in changing USB cable, regardless what the super expensive cable manufacturers like to claim.
True as long as you never take the time to listen to them.
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post #9 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone. I think you answered my question that a 4 meter length cable is going to be fine. I was concerned about the length.
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post #10 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 09:15 AM
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The longest USB cable I've ever used is 10' but I've never had problems with any of them.
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post #11 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 09:39 AM
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Don't listen to anyone telling you about USB cable can degrade sound. It's either perfect, or it will cut in and out or make strange sound. It will not just degrade a little bit. This is digital domain, it does not work the same as in analog domain.


The way it work is the data is sent out, the receiver will do error check, if there is error, it will request the sender to resend the data. Then check again and ask to resend again until it gets perfect data. If the cable is too slow, and if there is too many error, then it cannot keep up real time of the music and the music starts to break up. It does not degrade the sound just a little. It's either perfect or break up. There is no in between. You will know.


This is like portable CD player. If you bounce it too much, the sound will break up, not just degrade the sound. This is the same as the myth of "audiophile" CD players that have all the anti vibration and all, you either get good data or you have sound breaking up, there is NO in between.
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post #12 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
Don't listen to anyone telling you about USB cable can degrade sound. It's either perfect, or it will cut in and out or make strange sound. It will not just degrade a little bit. This is digital domain, it does not work the same as in analog domain.


The way it work is the data is sent out, the receiver will do error check, if there is error, it will request the sender to resend the data. Then check again and ask to resend again until it gets perfect data. If the cable is too slow, and if there is too many error, then it cannot keep up real time of the music and the music starts to break up. It does not degrade the sound just a little. It's either perfect or break up. There is no in between. You will know.


This is like portable CD player. If you bounce it too much, the sound will break up, not just degrade the sound. This is the same as the myth of "audiophile" CD players that have all the anti vibration and all, you either get good data or you have sound breaking up, there is NO in between.

"Don't listen to anyone telling you about USB cable can degrade sound. It's either perfect, or it will cut in and out or make strange sound"

This is what I thought too is that it either works or it doesn't. However, any 'strange sounds' in the room are likely me. Thankyouverymuch.
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post #13 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 12:05 PM
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All the new digital link should be the same way, this include HDMI and all the other streaming data links. I designed USB, Firewire, RS232 and some other serial digital links, they all do the same thing, they ALWAYS do error check ( we called parity check). They are have protocode to error checking and request for resend. I never work with HDMI and those streaming data links in hifi, BUT I would expect nothing less.


Therefore, they all should behave the same, it's either perfect or nothing, just like you bounce the CD player and it cut off. Or even more common, if you watch movie on computer, they transmit data as a stream through your internet provider. If the link is weak, too many error, your picture will freeze, waiting for enough good data and the movie will continue. Somethings you see blocks of color on the screen and the picture all garbled up, that's when the data cannot keep up with the real time. It will never slightly degrade the picture or the sound, it's either perfect of freeze and complete blowout.


I hate to say this, audiophile or high end hifi is such a tiny tiny little field even though everyone listen to music and watch movie, most people are happy with low to mid fi. Hell, My second step son gave me the pair of Monitor Audio Silver speakers and bought a sound bar!!! There are very little research and very little effort putting into the high end stuff. Put it in another way, if an EE is that good, they move onto the more state of the art jobs where there is big money to be earned. I seriously question people even design high end electronics really are that good and really know what they are talking. There are just so many snake oil floating around that people have to be very careful. Like the super expensive CD player with all the shock absorber and all. Special pure copper cables or exotic metal cables, special connectors, power cords. They are what give the bad reputation. Unlike those RCA and speaker cables, USB, HDMI cables are big markets, everyone use them. Engineering effort is being put into it. They are RF design and there is no BS, they label the cable, like they specify USB 3 cables, they test them to spec and there is no if and buts about it.


Hell, even those RCA cables, how can you try to sell exotic cables, it's not even that critical. Just get those that are with bigger diameter cables and tight connectors, it's all good. Even as much as I make a big stink on speaker cables, I use copper clad aluminum core cheap speaker cables from ebay to make my custom cable. What the hell is pure copper or some other exotic cables for? All snake oil in my book. It's knowledge and design that make good products. And the sad part is most engineers are not even willing to look at this audiophile stuffs. There is NO JOBS in this field. The economy is so good that if I want a job now, I can find a good pay job in a day. But I tried to look for a power amp design job, NOTHING!!! There is no jobs and no money in this field, nobody even want to look at this field. Hell, I never even look at audio electronics in my 30 year career, there are so many more interesting and challenging jobs than audio. It's only now that I retired, and this is my crossword puzzle to keep my brain active. It's not that hard.
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post #14 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:01 PM
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There is a "max length" associated with USB cables before a repeater is needed. And IIRC, that number is different for each USB standard (with USB 3 being the shortest I believe). I would do some quick searches to make sure that what you're using isn't over that spec.

Not sure with audio though if it'd even matter, but better safe than sorry.
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post #15 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:35 PM
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It depends on the thickness of the wire and the strength of the cable signal amp built into the product, however generally speaking:

"The USB 1.1 standard specifies that a standard cable can have a maximum length of 5 meters (16 ft 5 in) with devices operating at full speed (12 Mbit/s), and a maximum length of 3 meters (9 ft 10 in) with devices operating at low speed (1.5 Mbit/s).[72][73][74]

USB 2.0 provides for a maximum cable length of 5 meters (16 ft 5 in) for devices running at high speed (480 Mbit/s).[74]

The USB 3.0 standard does not directly specify a maximum cable length, requiring only that all cables meet an electrical specification: for copper cabling with AWG 26 wires the maximum practical length is 3 meters (9 ft 10 in)"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Cabling

It is important to note that all of these assume a straight, uninterrupted USB run without the use of extension cords or any other type of junction. They introduce a small amount of signal loss and will make the maximum lengths even shorter. So, for instance, although USB 2.0 should be OK up to 5 meters it might [theoretically] get into trouble if you use a 2 meter cable plus a 2 meter extension cable at its end. "But, but, I was only using 4 meters in total so I should be OK because it is less the 5 !" Nope, not necessarily.

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post #16 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
It depends on the thickness of the wire and the strength of the cable signal amp built into the product, however generally speaking:

"The USB 1.1 standard specifies that a standard cable can have a maximum length of 5 meters (16 ft 5 in) with devices operating at full speed (12 Mbit/s), and a maximum length of 3 meters (9 ft 10 in) with devices operating at low speed (1.5 Mbit/s).[72][73][74]

USB 2.0 provides for a maximum cable length of 5 meters (16 ft 5 in) for devices running at high speed (480 Mbit/s).[74]

The USB 3.0 standard does not directly specify a maximum cable length, requiring only that all cables meet an electrical specification: for copper cabling with AWG 26 wires the maximum practical length is 3 meters (9 ft 10 in)"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Cabling

It is important to note that all of these assume a straight, uninterrupted USB run without the use of extension cords or any other type of junction. They introduce a small amount of signal loss and will make the maximum lengths even shorter. So, for instance, although USB 2.0 should be OK up to 5 meters it might get into trouble if you use a 2 meter cable plus a 2 meter extension cable at its end. "But I was only using 4 meter so I should be OK because it is less the 5 !" Nope, not necessarily.

I guess I'm sorta right at the limit. No buffering, cutting out or other 'known' bad behavior.
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post #17 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:44 PM
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usb cables can transmit noise from a laptop to dac. its annoying. i have a 6ft oyaide usb thats ok, but I still hear crap when laptop is working/doing other things. Im on pretty decent dac/headphones all in balanced/xlr

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post #18 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:46 PM
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Much greater distances are possible by using booster amps, self amplified [bus-powered] cables, or converting the signal to light instead of electricity.
https://www.adorama.com/ccacs2cva0.html
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post #19 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
It depends on the thickness of the wire and the strength of the cable signal amp built into the product, however generally speaking:

"The USB 1.1 standard specifies that a standard cable can have a maximum length of 5 meters (16 ft 5 in) with devices operating at full speed (12 Mbit/s), and a maximum length of 3 meters (9 ft 10 in) with devices operating at low speed (1.5 Mbit/s).[72][73][74]

USB 2.0 provides for a maximum cable length of 5 meters (16 ft 5 in) for devices running at high speed (480 Mbit/s).[74]

The USB 3.0 standard does not directly specify a maximum cable length, requiring only that all cables meet an electrical specification: for copper cabling with AWG 26 wires the maximum practical length is 3 meters (9 ft 10 in)"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Cabling

It is important to note that all of these assume a straight, uninterrupted USB run without the use of extension cords or any other type of junction. They introduce a small amount of signal loss and will make the maximum lengths even shorter. So, for instance, although USB 2.0 should be OK up to 5 meters it might [theoretically] get into trouble if you use a 2 meter cable plus a 2 meter extension cable at its end. "But, but, I was only using 4 meters in total so I should be OK because it is less the 5 !" Nope, not necessarily.

You cannot use extension cable, this is RF, you need to use repeaters.



It all depends on the design of the cable, they have USB3 cable that is 15ft long, I linked it already from Amazon and People in Physics Forums talk about it. The link I provided to Physics Forums talked about all these.

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post #20 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by torii View Post
usb cables can transmit noise from a laptop to dac. its annoying. i have a 6ft oyaide usb thats ok, but I still hear crap when laptop is working/doing other things. Im on pretty decent dac/headphones all in balanced/xlr

That's problem with the laptop, the cables are all shielded. The cable is really only the cable, they are impedance matched and the receiving end provide the termination. If I remember correctly, it's 80ohm differential termination. It's been a long time. The main thing that limit the length of the cable is the loss of the cable at RF, the signal gets attenuated along the cable. So better quality cable with low loss dielectric material is of most important. The wires cannot be too small as skin effect definitely in play. Bigger core gives more surface area.



But yes, you can design longer cable even for USB3 which is 5GHz or 10GHz. They usually spec the cable. Like I found a 15ft USB3 cable on Amazon.



USB is balanced transmission.....that's what we called Differential drive.( same idea as XLR).

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post #21 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
I guess I'm sorta right at the limit. No buffering, cutting out or other 'known' bad behavior.
At my sister's house I was shocked to see her use several, passive USB extension cords in series to reach even further and when I asked her if it had any issues she assured me it worked fine. I guess she was lucky.
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i was thinking my laptop noise issues most likely is due to laptop design or dac design....but I have alot of laptops at my disposal and all transmit noise. lots of dacs also....2 mac airs, 2 alienware 17's, 2 dell xps....topping dacs, geshelli labs dac, chinese knockoff dacs....

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post #23 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
At my sister's house I was shocked to see her use several USB extension cords in series to reach even further and when I asked her if it had any issues she assured me it worked fine. I guess she was lucky.

This is a no no. She might only use in low speed transmission that can withstand a lot of error and resend. In RF, reflection is a BIG BIG problem. You use extension, each break cause reflection and mess up the signal level and cause error in detection. You need to use repeaters. Read the link to Physics Forums on the repeaters. You don't mess with RF.

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post #24 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by torii View Post
i was thinking my laptop noise issues most likely is due to laptop design or dac design....but I have alot of laptops at my disposal and all transmit noise. lots of dacs also....2 mac airs, 2 alienware 17's, 2 dell xps....topping dacs, geshelli labs dac, chinese knockoff dacs....
Usually this can be fixed by wrapping the cable around a ferrite choke. Some USB cable comes with ferrite choke wrapped already. Here are some:


https://www.amazon.com/s?k=usb+cable...b_sb_ss_i_1_18
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post #25 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
Usually this can be fixed by wrapping the cable around a ferrite choke.
MEASUREMENTS: USB Cables for Audio DACs [2013-06-18 UPDATE]



" Conclusion:
No evidence in these tests to suggest that the different USB cables used here with the asynchronous CM6631A USB-to-SPDIF converter, direct asynchronous TEAC UD-501 USB DAC, or adaptive isochronous USB setups should sound different (even though one would expect Cable C to be the worst). Subjectively, listening to music with Cable C through Sennheiser HD800's sounded fine."
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post #26 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
MEASUREMENTS: USB Cables for Audio DACs [2013-06-18 UPDATE]



" Conclusion:
No evidence in these tests to suggest that the different USB cables used here with the asynchronous CM6631A USB-to-SPDIF converter, direct asynchronous TEAC UD-501 USB DAC, or adaptive isochronous USB setups should sound different (even though one would expect Cable C to be the worst). Subjectively, listening to music with Cable C through Sennheiser HD800's sounded fine."

Im not here to argue science...just sharing my 2 cents. with laptops playing music to dac via usb...noise can/will be heard

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
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post #27 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by torii View Post
Im not here to argue science...just sharing my 2 cents. with laptops playing music to dac via usb...noise can/will be heard
It is likely a ground loop which is why some DACs even come with a USB ground breaker (isolater) filter in the box. They sometimes prefer to use their typical scaremongering boogeyman to describe it though, such as a "jitter reducer", etc.

Last edited by m. zillch; 04-26-2019 at 03:47 PM.
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post #28 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
It is likely a ground loop which is why some DACs even come with a USB ground breaker filter in the box.
possibly...just saying in numerous tests of my own gear/cables a difference can be made. by noise I dont mean hum.

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
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post #29 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 03:46 PM
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Im still researching a new usb cable to try over my oyaide cable. wont spend more than 60 bux tho, so limiting on choices...I paid 60 for oyaide cable and think 10 bux a ft even crazy.

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
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Subs: Rythmik FV25HP, Rythmik FV15HP
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post #30 of 242 Old 04-26-2019, 03:53 PM
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this is oyaide cable i am using https://www.amazon.com/Oyaide-Neo-Cl...M1CQKK7F1W6F4B


its ok.

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
Speakers: Focal aria 948, Focal cc900, Klipsch synergy KSF 10.5, Magnepan LRS
Subs: Rythmik FV25HP, Rythmik FV15HP
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