Cable & Interconnect Reviews

by Yuri Hajtko on September 18, 2018


I set out to do a USB cable shootout this summer to see if I could actually hear a difference between USB cables from various manufacturers. The test was simple: I play the same test track (2 Cellos 'May It Be') using several different USB cables, starting with a $5 printer cable I had laying around. I inserted each cable into my rig and gave my comparisons via a set of notes I kept after listening to each cable. I did not test a 'Split' USB design and went with a standard 4-conductor cable to make the comparison fair.

I have listed the cables in order from best to worst performance with my listening notes laid out below each cable title. Read on for my findings which I thought were very interesting.


1) Hemingway Audio USB

This was the best cable out of the bunch. More dynamics noticed in the background. Attack is very good. Air on bow pulls feels more natural than every other cable tested. Individual notes of timpani are noticed as well as their positioning in the performance (panning in channels). The speed of the cable is excellent. Loud passages have great dynamics and the largest sound stage. Great width, depth, and height. Small micro details were noticed that were not heard before using any of the other cables. 


2) YFS Ref USB

This was my winner based upon price to performance ratio. If basing my tests purely on performance though, the Hemingway wins. With that being said, The Hemingway Audio, JCAT Reference, and Albedo Silver Monocrystal sounded VERY similar to the YFS cable but were MUCH more expensive. Background strings were more prominent from the very beginning of my tests and much more dynamic. Cellos have clean sounding vibrato. Air on bow pulls sound stronger and deeper. The low end is also smooth and powerful. Timpani notes have great separation just like the Graham Slee Lautus. Loud passages have good dynamics and are controlled without any frequencies overpowering each other. Overall, the music sounded natural and lifelike.


3) Albedo Silver Monocrystal USB

From the onset of my comparison the strings have a different 'airier' feel to them vs. the YFS cable. Vibrato is present and very similar to YFS. Air on bow pulls is again very similar to the YFS cable, but slightly less pronounced. Individual notes of timpani are better than YFS by a small margin. Very good controlled dynamics on loud passages - engaging but not overpowering. This cable is the best contender to the YFS Ref USB and is very well suited for the type of music I am comparing with (strings / classical).


4) JCAT Reference USB

This cable was almost identical to the YFS Ref USB but at 3 times the price! See YFS notes for how this cable performed.


5) Graham Slee Lautus USB

Strings are a bit more laid back than the AQVOX and similar to the printer cable. Background strings are a bit forward. Air on the bow seems to have more of an echo-type quality to it vs. the AQVOX which sounds more natural. The notes on the timpani and their separation is better than the AQVOX. Vibrato is present and similar to the AQVOX. This cable is more laid back compared to the AQVOX.


6) AQVOX Excel USB

This cable was stronger sounding than the printer cable I started out my test with. Strings have more air, vibrato is more noticeable than with the printer cable. Background strings are more separated and play subtly but are noticed. Air on the bows of the cellos is more pronounced than with the printer cable. Loud passages are more dynamic with a bigger sound stage.


7) Printer Cable

This cable sounds just "ok". Details are all there but do not pronounce themselves. There is very little separation in the music. The music sounds muted and dull. This was my baseline for my test from which I compared every other cable to and if not, compared to another cable that was way ahead of this one. You have to start somewhere but I would not recommend using this cable in an audiophile system unless money is tight and this is all you can afford. Cables matter! 


Thank you for reading. I wanted to get out a comparison that shows fellow audiophiles that cables do make a difference and that the most expensive option is not necessarily the best sounding option. I would like to thank Kevin at YFS for allowing me to get my thoughts down on his website for others to see.

Most importantly, I was not paid nor did I receive a discount for a weighted review towards a certain cable. I did not tell any of the manufacturers I was comparing their cables at the time of purchase. The results above represent an unbiased view point as I am not a professional reviewer nor did I have an agenda. My only goal with this test was to figure out the best USB cable I could buy for my system for my money.


- Yuri Hajtko in Toronto, Canada


by Kevin OBrien and Brad Easton on 03/28/2012


We were interested in seeing how our YFS USB-V2 stacked up to the MUCH more expensive Silnote Audio Poseidon Silver USB cable. We went ahead and compared the two with our Minimax DAC Plus using the USB input. We could not conduct an A-B comparison due to the equipment involved. One must take the care to turn off the DAC BEFORE unplugging his or her USB cable to avoid damaging both the DAC and the computer. This did not allow us to hot swap or A-B the cables unfortunately.

We started with the Silnote Audio Poseidon USB which is no longer available. Silnote Audio has recently come out with a newer version but you'll get the idea by checking that out here. The Poseidon Silver USB retailed for $400 for a 1 meter length. The 2 meter length was almost double that cost ($650-ish). Whoa! That's a little steep for our liking but plenty of folks are willing to shell that out apparently. The Poseidon uses silver conductors with isolated signal and power lines with a proprietary shielding technique. Pretty cool!

Don't get us wrong here. This Silnote Audio USB digital cable is the real deal. We've tested it against some other expensive cables such as the Revelation Audio Labs Silver Reference USB and it won every time.

Let's see how our YFS USB-V2 stacks up against the Silnote Audio USB.

We played some classical, pop, rock, and jazz with the Poseidon USB to get ourselves familiar with its signature sound. We then played the same selections using our USB-V2 cable. To be honest, we could not tell a difference (especially during our blind test) between the two. We did notice a very slight advantage in the P.R.a.T. department as well as the mid-range response over our YFS USB-V2 cable but again, it was a slight difference. It just had a different feeling to the music. All the information was still present in the mix with both cables. They both sounded EXCELLENT!

We are not entirely sure how the economy is faring country-wide yet but we think it's safe to say that most folks are still looking for great deals on audio gear at this point. We're not sure about our readers but we know we'd rather shell out $99 for a 2 meter USB cable instead of ~ $600 for practically the same performance. The final call is yours but we think you'll be overjoyed with the performance of our YFS USB-V2 compared to the other guys especially for the price.

Until next time...


Associated Equipment for this Review:

  • YFS Computer Music Server - HD-Ref-1
  • Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus
  • Quicksilver Audio 12AX7 Preamp
  • Quicksilver Audio Silver 60 Monoblocks
  • Von Schweikert VR-5 HSE Speakers
  • YFS Custom Room Treatment
  • YFS Custom Interconnects and Cables
  • Herbie's Audio Lab Dampening Products


by Kevin OBrien 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 'budget' 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 'budget' 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 between the 8 dollar 'budget' 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 your local box store 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!



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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