by Kevin O'Brien and Brad Easton on February 2012

We recently set out to prove that there is indeed a difference between USB digital interconnects. After reading this article I think you'll agree we accomplished our goal. There is a lot of talk going around claiming there is absolutely no difference between the various USB digital cables out there. Apparently these "audiophile" cables are just a waste of money and there is no way to hear a difference between them. Afterall, USB cables simply carry 0's and 1's to your DAC and they either arrive or they do not. I agree but I disagree as well.

Would you skimp out on any other digital cable in your system? I wouldn't! Your system sounds only as good as the weakest link in your audio chain. Why spend thousands on gear to turn around and use a 5 dollar USB cable from China?

It just doesn't make sense to us and we set up a test to see if what the general public was saying about USB cables was really true.

We went ahead and purchased a plain ordinary USB 2.0 cable from our local computer store. We made sure it was under 8 bucks in cost and under 3 feet in length. These are the USB cables everybody sees in your favorite box store or computer store. Nothing special.

We then constructed our YFS USB-V1 prototype USB 2.0 cable from some decent 4-conductor data cabling we had laying around the shop. We kept the length under 4 feet and used the same connectors you could find in the Chinese USB cables. I do not believe there is a supplier of "High End" USB connectors as we could not find them anywhere!

We burned in both cables for a day each and then set out to test both cables with the same set-up. We switched back and forth and we could barely tell a difference between our prototype and the Chinese USB but it was there. The difference was mainly in the presentation of the music. Everything sounded more 'right' with the original YFS prototype.

We then figured we could do a much better job with a little more time and thought invested into the design. We subsequently came up with the YFS USB-V2 cable. We used the best data transfer cable we could find and employed our proprietary shielding technique and came up with our second iteration of our USB 2.0 cable. VERY COOL.

We did the same test as above but switched between our first prototype and our second. The only difference this time was that we did not burn in the new design and implemented it 'cold'. Apparently burn-in didn't play a big role in this test because what we heard between the two was very interesting. WOW! The USB-V2 produced bass that was noticeably more controlled and more present in the music mix. Highs were more extended and the mid response was nice and smooth. We hands down preferred the USB-V2 to the USB-V1. We all unanimously agreed. This was easy to notice unlike our previous test between the first prototype and the Chinese USB cable. We were VERY excited indeed!

So, the moral of the story here is that there is in fact a difference between various USB cables, especially betwen the 8 dollar Chinese cables and what are considered "audiophile" grade USB cables. We cannot speak for the other audiophile USB cable manufacturers but we can tell you our YFS USB-V2 cable is a VERY nice step up from what's coming out of China these days.

If you'd like to know the technical aspect of our USB cable design, head over to our F.A.Q. section and read about what design decisions we made in coming up with our YFS USB-V2 cable and how digital cables are designed in general. Good stuff!

Don't compromise your system with a cheap USB cable. It's just not worth it. Spend a little extra on your USB cable and know you're getting everything you paid for everywhere else in your system!

Click HERE for more info on purchasing currently available YFS USB cables.

THANKS for reading!

- KOB, BJE

 

 

 

Associated Equipment for this Review:

  • YFS CPU Prototype - HD Ref-1
  • Musical Fidelity V-DAC
  • YFS Custom Room Treatment
  • YFS/ SCH Custom Speakers
  • YFS Custom CA-60a Preamp and Custom 6L6 Tube Power Amp
  • YFS Custom Interconnects and Cables
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