Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

To Hans Wetzel,

I have read many of your reviews and I'm wondering what your thoughts are on USB cables. Have you tried many? Do you feel they make a difference? What do you recommend for less than $100?

Ryan J.

Thanks for the kind words, Ryan. Contrary to common sense, USB cables do seem to make an audible difference in a signal chain. I have experience with four different USB cables: DH Labs' Silver Sonic, Dynamique Audio's Firelight, Nordost's Blue Heaven LS, and Ridge Street Audio's Poiema!!! R-v3 Digital Master. Each allowed for subtle improvements in sound, with the latter three offering slightly better performance than the DH Labs Silver Sonic cable. The Silver Sonic USB, which I own, is a fraction of the price of the Dynamique, Nordost and Ridge Street cables, however, and available for under $100. You could also check out some of AudioQuest's offerings.

With that said, I would only recommend investing in a USB cable if you are happy with the rest of your system. The improvements in sound that you will hear with a reasonably priced USB cable, such as the one from DH Labs, or even the several-times-more-expensive Ridge Street cable, are modest. In my experience, an upgraded cable will be slightly more resolving and sound a little cleaner than a basic USB cable. But again, it's a subtlety. If you're currently using a digital-to-analog converter that is more than a few years old, my suggestion would be to put your money there. In terms of performance per dollar spent, that is a far better investment. . . . Hans Wetzel