1 (edited by attilafaravelli 2017-01-19 01:17:38)

Topic: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

It seems like nowadays one of the most debated topic between 'audiophiles' is whether USB cables sound different or not.

http://positive-feedback.com/audio-disc … ifference/

I must admit that I never ever had thought that a digital USB cable could make a difference, and I never heard it for myself..

@MC What do you think about that? Is it worth spending some money on a good hi fi USB cable to be used with the ADI-2 Pro, or is my printer's one just fine, which btw is the one I'm using right now:)?

Is the choice not to include an USB cable with the ADI-2 Pro just related to the fact that this converter has so many ports and option that USB connection is not the only way to get sound into and out of it? Or is it because the actual used cable makes a difference and then, when testing and designing the unit you felt like some of your 'more audiophile' customers might prefer choosing their own cable (with its own slightly specific sonic signature)?

Just for fun today I did an experiment, I placed a sound file I had sitting on my hd on a Logic track, i then recorded this song through the SPDIF out of the ADI-2 Pro (connected by USB) with an old Microtrack II (which has SPDIF in). I then imported the recorded file and syncronized the original file on the hd and the one which had run through the USB and SPDIF cables and recorded with my 10 years old pocket recorder.
When phase reversed no sound came out of the speakers, the samples were looking the very same when zooming at sample resolution, no jitter, no discrepacies, it seems that the copy was sample perfect which contradicts what the 'audiophiles' world is saying, but I'm sure that that's a better explanation?? It doesn't make much sense..

Any advice appreciated!

2 (edited by ramses 2017-01-19 07:37:19)

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Over 20y of USB and we IT guys put our data integrity at risk not taking audiophile quality cables ? For me this doesn't fit together. Transfers over USB means reliable transfers otherwise all of your personal data would be crap if cheap cables would be that lousy...

Some other examples:

1. of course HiFi shops tell you .. you need a very good CD player that fits to your "high end" HiFi in the range of i.e. up to €4000+. Yes, you need a better one if you want/need good D/A converters in the unit. The Oppo is i.e. a well known good choice, not so extremely expensive but still in the range €1800. But do you really need it or is a Panasonic BluRay player in the range of €300 still sufficient ?
What, if you connect your CD/BluRay Player digitally to your High End Class A Amplifier ?
The high quality D/A conversion is being done i.e. in high quality in the Accuphase DA-40 module.
And then you can connect a cheap CD/BluRay Player to it digitally and  get an excellent sound.

2. Pimp up for more digital ports. I am using now an Oehlbach Optosel 4:1 so that I can connect up to 4 sources to the DA-40 (UFX+, BluRay, TV). This has been confirmed by another HiFi seller who is more relaxed on this topic because he simply resells high end to other shops. He also said .. BluRay Player or CD Player of under €100, simply digitally connected to High End HiFi Amplifier, works. D/A conversion being done by D/A modules inside High End Amplifier. Fully sufficient.

3. Or .. the cable vodoo for connecting speakers. For the frequencies that we use 4mm copper cables is fully sufficient. Even 2mm should do with the small cable lenghths. But people go for silver cable and other esoteric solutions...
Better spend €1000 or even more for your Speakers, there the money is better invested. The rest is IMHO illusion and based on psychoacoustic effects which fits fully into the expectations of the HiFi Scene.

4. I think all of those people want to sell and tell you stories and all of those HiFi testers usually do not make blind or double blind tests and the base their business on psychoacoustic effects, because everybody wants to believe that its worth it.

5. Back to USB and alike .. IMHO more important is simply a solid connection between 2 devices, that you stay in the specs and simply to get a shielded quality cable with quality plugs.

6. BTW .. I never heard the HiFi Gurus telling that you require special cable inside of a computer .. if quality, then please "end to end". Or a warning, do not use the USB ports from the mainboard that lead to external brackets like this here: https://www.boston.co.uk/products/cbl-0083l.aspx. Maybe this is another nice idea to sell special cables now for computers. High end digital USB data transfer cable ... wink

7. Another thing thats also funny. Some people looked inside of expensive High End Speakers. Inside there is also quite normal cable, nothing compareble to the Voodoo people do between Speakers and Amplifier. Isnt it strange ? Cable vodoo outside of the speakers but not inside ? Ok, now you can argue, electrical interference is maybe more likely outside of the speaker .. but well .. I didnt hear a significant difference. Really a wow effect was, to connect my not so expensive BluRay digitally and then it sounded much better compared to a more expensive Denon, which was connected via XLR.

8. I got from my shop €1000 vodoo cables for XLR and the speakers. But tbh .. the only thing which was attractive to me was the optic of the cable ...

If you have the money to spend it because you feel better afterwards ... do it. I personally hear / see no merit in it.
But thats only my personal experience.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, Win10 Pro 1909, Cubase, UFX+, Octamic XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS BE/R BE, RayDAT, ARC USB

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Ramses I totally agree with you, every time I venture into the hi fi territory I don't get how people can hear an improvement by using esoteric gear when the people who make and record actual music and sounds simply don't use esoteric microphones nor cables (the mastering stage, when it's done in super high end studios, being maybe the only exception). In fact I do believe that a super expensive hi fi system is actually like a mastering facility, where every component adds some very pleasant and not so subtle harmonic distortion, which in the end produce a more 3d sound because of these nice phase distortions applied to the signal. It's like an art of enhancing the sound.
I.E. the only tool that I use that I consider kind of unnecessary are Vovox microphone cables, and I can't tell they make a difference.. what's funny is that I use some microphones that are so small that I can plug them directly to the XLR input of my mixer, and the Vovox cable sounded better than pluggin' the mic straight into the preamp.. meaning that what's good about them isn't their transparency or neutrality.. instead the carefully choosed materials affect the sound in a pleasant way, kind of enhancing some qualities and dampening others.
That said, if you take a read at the article that I posted, their arguments make some sense to me, digital transmission of sound not being the same as printing a file or transferring stuff between hard drives. Also, if you take a look at some if the smaller companies websites that produce these esoteric cables, not all of them but some,  I sometimes see enthusiastic artisans driven by actual passion into sound and not so much people who wanna steal money from unaware customers, I can't believe they are just wasting their life to fool people:) but who knows..
From my brief and superficial researches I sorted these, for example:
http://www.aqvox.de/profil.html
http://www.curiouscables.com
Also, I must admit that if you take a look at this (I wasted half an hour on this while feeding my 4 months old daughter last night as a form of distraction:) poor baby,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaHzNQJ_o_8
it seems like those guy know the science of electrical current very well, and all their arguments seem to be kind of solid.. but who knows.

I'd really like to hear MC about this related to the RME ADI-2 Pro.

4 (edited by vinark 2017-01-19 13:31:30)

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

I.E. the only tool that I use that I consider kind of unnecessary are Vovox microphone cables, and I can't tell they make a difference.. what's funny is that I use some microphones that are so small that I can plug them directly to the XLR input of my mixer, and the Vovox cable sounded better than pluggin' the mic straight into the preamp..

That is more likely caused by  (sound)reflections from the mixer!!!! Causes comb filtering.

Vincent, Amsterdam
https://soundcloud.com/thesecretworld
HDSP9652+ADI-8AE  2X HDSP9632
Cubase pro10

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

That is more likely caused by  (sound)reflections from the mixer

no, I did the test well knowing about this, the 'mixer' is a small 2ch portable preamp by Sound Devices (Usb Pre 2) and I took care about placing the mics similarly. I tell you there's a difference, get some Vovox Sonorus for try at some shop near you if u can and try how they sound for yourself with some hi end condenser mics, I bet you'll hear a difference yourself, it's not at all subtle..

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

I am not 100% sure, but I remember that some very cheap usb audio cards are clocked through the usb cable. Then and only then there might be a difference cause the cable can cause jitter. RME cards have their clocks onboard so no possibility for influence there, 100% sure!

Vincent, Amsterdam
https://soundcloud.com/thesecretworld
HDSP9652+ADI-8AE  2X HDSP9632
Cubase pro10

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Please take even a fast distracted read at this
http://positive-feedback.com/audio-disc … ifference/
I'm talking about something different.. There's no numbers running into the USB cables but electrical current that the DAC has to interpret, when the voltage drops under a threshold you get a 0, above that threshold you get a 1. When you copy - transfer a file between hard drives there's an error check system that confirm the exactness of the copy, whereas with audio streaming this system, apparently, doesn't exist (this is my understanding). But please read that article, I didn't know about it before yesterday..
I must add that I don't wanna sound picky by asking about USB cables.. it's just that when dealing with DACs we are dealing with subtleties, if u read the ADI-2 Pro descriptions well it's all about minimizing distances between layers, shortest possible connections, chips built by hi fi gurus etc.
If there's a difference between USB cables with the ADI-2 Pro, I wanna know..

8

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

I can not reply to this in full length at this time, but the logic is mostly flawed. The jitter and noise increase over a not-so-good- USB cable has no meaning unless a 0 turns into a 1 and vice versa. Now if that happens you will see errors on the USB bus, clearly shown in our Settings dialog, and hear clicks. The digital Null test that you performed will fail then. A not-so-good USB cable will not cause worse THD, SNR or other such stuff in the digital domain. The fact that isochronous streaming as used for audio does not re-send a defective or wrongly received package does not mean you can't detect that error. A broken cable (the real wording for any USB cable that causes noticable problems) will cause clicks, connection/detection problems and dropouts up to a complete shutdown of a USB powered interface.

You already started to fall into their trap with your own wording:
> There's no numbers running into the USB cables but electrical current that the DAC has to interpret,

Not at all. The USB receiver has to check and decode the USB signal. Then follow some other stages, and just in the very end the decoded digital audio content will reach the DAC. Lots of stuff in-between, even when you see only one chip.

A different topic, always mixed up with the upper stuff, is the common ground loop problem. The only cure for that is either DI for the analog interface I/Os, or the Intona isolator, the only product that really galvanically breaks the ground with full USB 2.0 compatibility and conformity. This unit delivers more than any of the high-end cables (or incomplete versions of galvanic isolation, as performed by the Regen and many other similar units). Still most people will notice no difference even with the Intona because their current setup simply works - as expected and as it should. I have two of these Intonas, and use them whenever I need to resolve such a ground problem - and only then.

The ADI-2 Pro comes without USB cable as we thought these days everyone has one lying around anyway, and USB is just one of many applications. We tried to avoid shipping a cable for nothing that later is thrown away unused.

Finally: there are more ways to send audio over USB than isochronous, which in reality means that you even get a re-sending of dropped packets in certain interfaces and modes, in the same way as when using hard drives. For example the record path of our USB 3 interfaces supports that, and many of our USB 2 interfaces on both record and playback. You really don't need to worry about this.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

attilafaravelli wrote:

Please take even a fast distracted read at this
http://positive-feedback.com/audio-disc … ifference/
I'm talking about something different.. There's no numbers running into the USB cables but electrical current that the DAC has to interpret, when the voltage drops under a threshold you get a 0, above that threshold you get a 1. When you copy - transfer a file between hard drives there's an error check system that confirm the exactness of the copy, whereas with audio streaming this system, apparently, doesn't exist (this is my understanding). But please read that article, I didn't know about it before yesterday..

No, the DAC does not directly interpret the "current" that runs across the USB cable. To a certain degree, that can be said about digital transfer across SPDIF or other digital audio formats, but even there, not every bit that travels across the cable is an audio bit and directly represents a part of the audio signal. On a USB cable, the digital audio data is not sent directly, it is again digitally represented in the USB data packets, which may also be different from driver to driver (or for driverless operation, for that matter). But it's data going across USB, not audio. The DAC or audio interface will first have to extract the audio from the data, and then send it to the converter.  Any potential loss or alteration of the signal across the cable would first affect data trasmission, not audio.
With a digital audio cable, the effect would depend on whether a single altered bit were to represent a more or less significant audio bit, or part of metadata...

But the weird thing is that people who claim that USB or SPDIF cables can "sound different" will actually acknowledge that the transmission is bit-perfect. Everything else would be a corrupt transfer, which is not a matter of "sound quality", but a purely technical fault that would need to be fixed. What's more, no one making such claims has ever managed to explain how such changes without changes (different cable, bit-perfect transfer) can not only affect audio, but manage to specifically affect such elusive parameters as stereo separation, width, or even frequency response.

Regards
Daniel Fuchs
RME

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

It affects the most sensitive part; the brain....
Most real differences, for example from different converters, are way less then from moving your head a few inches (or cm if you are European like me). Or different rooms or speakers etc etc.


The most difficult trick is to get your brain in the I am gonna hear something new mode, without spending silly money. Sometimes moving your speakers a few cm and listen seriously for differences will do the trick....

Vincent, Amsterdam
https://soundcloud.com/thesecretworld
HDSP9652+ADI-8AE  2X HDSP9632
Cubase pro10

11

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Same for headphones. Move them a few millimeters forward or backwards will do the trick...

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

12 (edited by attilafaravelli 2017-01-20 15:21:59)

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Hey! Thanks everybody for your advice, your clear replies really save me and others reading this from wasting money on expensive audiophile USB cables. I finally ordered a standard printer like cable (pretty unusually down angled on the USB B port though) that will fit better my setup by pure ergonomics ..

All this USB cable story is very interesting from a psychological perspective, it made me want to search into the hifi world with an anthropological-sociological eye;  when reading the load of cables' reviews and testimonials, well... people are so convinced that they heard differently that I guess they actually did, mind's power.. it raises questions about the way that we (or at least some) actually listen..
what's even more impressive is the 'precision' and almost analytical quality of these conditioned suggestions, you can see that in the fact that if a cable manufacturer reports that his cable has the ability to enhance the tridimensional sense of music, and when designing it he was inspired by the experience of listening to music in the analog era, his customers too report how the cable makes their system sounding almost 'vinyl like', with an 'exceptional soundstage'..

there's plenty of examples but this is the one product that strikes me the most:
http://www.curiouscables.com

thanks again:)

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Is there any cable legth limit for audio on the ADI2Pro?
Or is it also until 5 meters?
Thank you!

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Can you please be more specific .. what do you mean by cable for audio ?

Do you mean for Analog Out, ADAT, AES, etc .. ? According to the standards of each transfer medium.

A synchronous cable can definitively support longer cable length than 3 or 5m.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, Win10 Pro 1909, Cubase, UFX+, Octamic XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS BE/R BE, RayDAT, ARC USB

15 (edited by Viennacalling 2017-02-24 09:23:39)

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

I mean the input named USB 2.0 on the Adi-2 pro beside the power connector.
Sorry, i thought, it should be clear, as it is the only usb-cable which can be connected to the RME
(The title is usb cables and Adi-2 Pro)

16

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

USB is USB, and the standard specifies 5 m as longest cable - unless it is a special active repeater solution. You better tell us what length you need, then we might be able to tell how to accomplish that.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Viennacalling wrote:

I mean the input named USB 2.0 on the Adi-2 pro beside the power connector.
Sorry, i thought, it should be clear, as it is the only usb-cable which can be connected to the RME
(The title is usb cables and Adi-2 Pro)

I know the thread title, but you irritated me by saying "audio cable".

An USB cable is an USB cable, not an "audio cable" .. it transfers simply digital data.

So I thought you mean one of the other I/Os on the ADI-2 Pro.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, Win10 Pro 1909, Cubase, UFX+, Octamic XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS BE/R BE, RayDAT, ARC USB

Re: USB cables and ADI-2 Pro

Ok, thank you.
I will use 3m USB from iPad Pro to ADI-2 Pro for the RME arriving next week.

I meant cable for audio, because it will be used for audio and not for computers - sorry for the irritation