Jump to content
Computer Audiophile
manisandher

USB audio cracked... finally!

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Of course, I haven't tried everything that's out there. But I wanted to give an idea of what I have tried...

 

Over the years, I’ve tried a whole bunch of different USB cables. Here are just a selection from my box:

 

5968c94b936c2_USBcalbes.thumb.jpg.0708fa11a81af23e1135eb98d6e72bb3.jpg

What amazes me is that these all sound different to each other. They represent a wide spectrum of sound, from ‘massively full-bodied’ (the Tellurium Black Diamond) to ‘crystal clear’ (the Phasure Clarixa). All the others seem to sit somewhere between these two extremes. Some have the 5V line disconnected (the custom-made AR-T) and others have the 5V line separated (the Ridge Street Enopias) - simply cutting or separating the power line seems to be no panacea.

 

As well as cables, I’ve played around with the USB ports in the audio PC. Here’s a Startech USB 3.0 PCIe card with its oscillator removed and replaced by an external Dexa clock and LPSU:

 

5968c9825a7dc_StartechUSB3PCIecard.thumb.jpg.421f73a575312a48ac35231395561129.jpg

I’ve tried USB isolation devices too. The Intona seemed to move things in the right direction:

 

5968c9a90e089_IntonaUSBIsolator.thumb.jpg.87f64a47139deedc4defcfc3ce3a1f05.jpg

But over time I came to the conclusion that it was adding a sort of unnatural ‘sheen’ to the sound.

 

I’ve also explored USB-to-spdif converters, such as the AR-T Veloce (a Legato with a 9V DC input):

 

5968c9fe05bc6_AR-TVeloceUSB-to-spdif.thumb.jpg.3ec608c286d2bc23196040b9bb7d75cf.jpg

This has a clock which is -89 dBc @ 1 Hz, and yet doesn’t cost the earth. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a DAC with a BNC spdif input that matches, let alone betters, the sound of my preferred USB DAC.

 

Like many others here, I’ve tried the microRendu (with built-in REGEN) and the LPS-1:

 

5968ca293b08d_SonoremicroRendu.thumb.jpg.60289000e0c537bbb132e87dcd325db0.jpg

5968ca329fa51_UptoneLPS-1.thumb.jpg.a3c11f7e9003e68d15e0e2784742197c.jpg

Well-engineered products that perform very well. After extensive listening, I decided that I prefer the sound of my dedicated audio PC (which costs a lot more than this combo, it has to be said).

 

None of the above ‘cracked’ USB audio, to my ears. But my latest addition has…

 

Mani.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very rarely have I come across a person whose brain seems to be wired in a totally different way to the rest of us. Back in 1993, I spent a very short stint at the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart, where I breathed the same air as Klaus von Klitzing. His brain seemed to be wired differently. I have a friend who is a QC in London, specializing in International Arbitration. His brain seems to be wired differently. And then there’s our very own PeterSt…

 

This is the man who as a day-job owns/runs a successful CRM software company. The man who always wanted to live next to a lake, so had one dug up (a lake, not a pond!) next to his newly-built house (the lake now acting as a nature reserve in his village). The man who, unhappy with how all computer software players sounded at the time, made his own… (along with designing/producing the best DAC I’ve ever heard, designing/producing the best audio PC I’ve ever heard, and having some input in designing an outstanding pair of horn speakers.)

 

Peter’s brain seems to be wired differently to most of the rest of us…

 

And I doubt anyone has a better handle on USB audio (Loesch, Rankin and Swenson included). Peter has continually improved the performance of the USB input of the Phasure NOS1 (most recently with the 'Phisolator' USB isolator built into the DAC), but I don’t want to talk about that here. I want to focus on the two USB cables that he's produced to date.

 

His first cable was the ‘Clarixa’. His objective here was to match the USB 2.0 spec (90 Ω, 480Mbit/s, etc.) more closely than any other USB cable available. Along with many others, I’ve been using this cable for a couple of years now, in which time it’s seen off many other contenders. As the name suggests, the sound is ‘crystal clear’… but weirdly, not necessarily very engaging.

 

My understanding is that Peter (with his differently-wired brain) wondered whether the regular USB spec was necessarily the best for audio. And in a manner that is totally incomprehensible to me, decided that it was not. He sat down and worked out his own ultimate spec for USB audio… and built a cable matching it. The result is his new USB cable, the ‘Lush’:

 

5968ddd0141fd_PhasureLushUSBcable.thumb.jpg.eab6948d979bd6e0007951f9d6837305.jpg

It’s difficult explaining the sound of the Lush, though the name should give a clue. Another Lush owner came up with the following image:

5968ddf3ac81f_Clarixavs.Lush(BD).thumb.png.92e8d8f45693195aae25aad10d7d646a.png

I’m not sure how helpful this is, but it resonates with what I hear too.

 

There’s no point in describing the sound in terms of “more of this” or “less of that”. It’s simply more ‘musical’, in a seriously foot-tapping way.

 

As with most people here, I listen to all sorts of genres. But I’ve noticed something in the short time I’ve had the Lush in my system: I’ve been listening to loads of late-‘60s/early-‘70s English rock! Led Zep. Rainbow, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Blind Faith, Deep Purple, Clapton (does he count?) – they all sound fantastic! If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say it was the rhythm sections that now sound so dynamic and utterly lifelike. I always thought John Bonham a ‘good’ drummer, but I now have an appreciation for the guy that goes way beyond that (and for John Paul Jones too, incidentally). All the way through Rainbow's 'Stargazer' I have a shiver down my spine now. I could go on and on...

 

The 'Lush' is the real deal. Designed not for a computer mouse, but for computer audio. For me, USB audio has been finally cracked.

 

Mani.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
semente   

Hi Mani,

 

In my view, "cracking" USB means that whatever hardware is before the input becomes (nearly) irrelevant (as long as the processing power can cope with the upsampling requirements).

Can this be achieved with the Phasure USB input + cable?

 

Cheers,

Ricardo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, semente said:

In my view, "cracking" USB means that whatever hardware is before the input becomes (nearly) irrelevant (as long as the processing power can cope with the upsampling requirements).

Can this be achieved with the Phasure USB input + cable?

 

[Highlight mine.]

 

Hi Ricardo, I haven't tried it yet, but I'd be very surprised if changing the hardware before the Lush/Phisolator didn't still affect the sound - USB audio just seems incredibly fickle. And if so, you may conclude that USB audio hasn't yet been cracked.

 

When I say that it's been cracked, I mean how a USB cable's electrical and mechanical properties, and its geometry affect the sound has been cracked. Peter now seems to know how to configure a USB cable to voice the sound from it. We are no longer in the realm of trial and error.

 

There is a guy up the road from me who has just purchased the same DAC as mine. He'll be over at my place at some point to compare his 'regular' laptop with my dedicated audio PC. I suspect that the sound of my audio PC will be significantly better than that of his laptop, but that his laptop will remain musically engaging with the Lush cable. I'll let you know once we've done this (hopefully very soon).

 

Mani.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, manisandher said:

Peter now seems to know how to configure a USB cable to voice the sound from it. We are no longer in the realm of trial and error.

That's great but I expect he will retain this information & we are none the wiser as to what changes in the USB signal translate into SQ changes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rikhav   

Hi

Great thread

 

If you don't mind can you list the config of your audio pc 

 

And with the pc you don't use any usb audio improvement devices like the uptone regen and the likes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
k-man   

I was half expecting something to put the Epitome or Trifecta to shame :D

 

But I am excited what this Lush cable can do to my setup. I currently have the Allo Sparky USBridge with a measured USB noise output of 12 uV. It can pull out more detail alone, compared to when paired with an ISO Regen, but lessens the 'musicality' which I will be needing to restore.

 

Similar to you Mani, I sold off my microRendu to look for better. Back in that USB rabbit hole again :/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not another USB chord savior, argggghhh.  What a thread title let down.  After hearing the USPCB from Uptone in my system,  upstream and downstream of the ISO Regen, another USB chord will never be entertained again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rando   

Could you clarify the meaning of this photo comparison.  In general, outside of the supermarket women's magazines, leaving the pores attached to female faces is considered a hallmark of good quality post-production.  In your example a filter was simply applied over a lengthy professional conversion that  had already created an unrealistic ideal.  Which would seem to be at odds with your impression of this cable.  

 

 

Clarixa vs. Lush (BD).png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kumakuma   
1 minute ago, JoeWhip said:

Sorry, but this reads like an infomercial.

 

But wait there's more!

 

If you order in the next ten minutes, you'll get two cables for the price of one and the amazing digital data degunker absolutely free.

 

Call the number on your screen now. Operators are standing by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kumakuma   
3 minutes ago, rando said:

Could you clarify the meaning of this photo comparison.  In general, outside of the supermarket women's magazines, leaving the pores attached to female faces is considered a hallmark of good quality post-production.  In your example a filter was simply applied over a lengthy professional conversion that  had already created an unrealistic ideal.  Which would seem to be at odds with your impression of this cable.  

 

 

Clarixa vs. Lush (BD).png

 

I had similar thoughts.

 

The picture on the right seems to be higher fidelity. However I haven't been close to a women this young recently so I have no live event to compare it to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt a cable can suppress noise from the PC, since the prime purpose of the cable is provide little to no loss in the transmission. The OP would prefer the mix of noise from the PC and how it interacts with the DAC, to that end, I have no problem with. 

 

For USB, I'll stick with isolation/PC Card treatment methods to block leakage currents from the PC in combo with a cable that can provide reliability.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, One and a half said:

I doubt a cable can suppress noise from the PC, since the prime purpose of the cable is provide little to no loss in the transmission. The OP would prefer the mix of noise from the PC and how it interacts with the DAC, to that end, I have no problem with. 

 

For USB, I'll stick with isolation/PC Card treatment methods to block leakage currents from the PC in combo with a cable that can provide reliability.

 

Agreed. USB cracked is to not use it at all......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, One and a half said:

I doubt a cable can suppress noise from the PC, since the prime purpose of the cable is provide little to no loss in the transmission. The OP would prefer the mix of noise from the PC and how it interacts with the DAC, to that end, I have no problem with. 

 

For USB, I'll stick with isolation/PC Card treatment methods to block leakage currents from the PC in combo with a cable that can provide reliability.

 

7 minutes ago, Speed Racer said:

Agreed. USB cracked is to not use it at all......

Really? no USB cable can suppress noise? Hmmmm

http://kgs-ind.com/wp-content/uploads/products/pdf/LNC-Noise-Suppression-USB20-Cable.pdf

 

 

USB cable noise.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, One and a half said:

but, but, it's not 90 Ohm or gold plated anything, how could it possibly work for audio?

This cable also changes the sound of USB audio - amazing, isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still don't see where it says that cable suppresses noise put on the USB lines by the computer BEFORE they exit the computer. I know why...they don't! That cable is only effective IF there is EFI affecting the sound quality. Other cable can certainly block EFI as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
elcorso   
8 minutes ago, Speed Racer said:

I still don't see where it says that cable suppresses noise put on the USB lines by the computer BEFORE they exit the computer. I know why...they don't! That cable is only effective IF there is EFI affecting the sound quality. Other cable can certainly block EFI as well.

 

Of course they are... The problem they (sometimes) block musicality too.

 

Roch

 

PS/ I don't own (but like to try)  the "Lush"...life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, Speed Racer said:

I still don't see where it says that cable suppresses noise put on the USB lines by the computer BEFORE they exit the computer. I know why...they don't! That cable is only effective IF there is EFI affecting the sound quality. Other cable can certainly block EFI as well.

 

33 minutes ago, elcorso said:

 

Of course they are... The problem they (sometimes) block musicality too.

 

Roch

 

PS/ I don't own (but like to try)  the "Lush"...life.

There you go!

So who's to say that cable configuration & dielectric material won't effect noise on a USB cable?

 

I can  tell you that the LNC cable above also sounds lush because it cuts off some HF (as well as noise hash)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×