Audio grade USB cables

I've had issues with this for years, trying to wrap my head around digital bits being lost, etc. Anyway, the debate in my head is settled, the USB cable does in fact make a big difference to your sound. But not because the cable is special or not special, it's the computer. The 5 volt power feed from the computer's USB output port literally infects sensitive audio electronics - USB DAC's specifically.

Some expensive USB cable designs may in fact improve this problem but they don't solve the problem. The problem is the dirty 5 volt power feed.

So why not just eliminate the 5 volt power feed? I've heard of people simply cutting the power lead in the USB cable. That may work for some DAC's but the majority require 5 volt power to function. And USB DAC headphone amps are often powered by USB alone - no wall plug. So you can't just cut the line in most cases.

What you can do is replace the dirty 5 volt power lead with a clean source of power - and by clean I mean any wall outlet is going to be clean by comparison to your computer's USB output port. Why? Because your computer has literally millions of circuits that are making noise and that noise is transmitted down the 5 volt power lead!

And that dirty power may mess up the data bits too, by interfering with the data lines inside the USB cable. So it's a problem with many dimensions.

I created a new product called USB Disruptor to solve this problem. I've advertised on Audiogon and have a unit for sale on Audiogon. It's a simple idea, disrupt the computer's dirty power and replace with an independent source.

The units are hand made by me with 7 welds per unit. I use silver bearing solder and the best parts available - though you don't have to go overboard with digital because it really is just bits - so long as you've dealt with the dirty 5 volt power issue!

The improvement to the sound can be dramatic depending on your setup. With my headphone setup it's very easy to pick out the differences, and these have been replicated with several test subjects.

With my reference system I've already spent over $1200 on a USB isolation product that is supposed to clean up the power and more, but sure enough it's improved with USB Disruptor. For example, last night I was listening to The Doors debut album - has light my fire and break on through - and it's a high rez from HD Tracks - and this time, with USB Disruptor, it sounds like Jim is totally separate from the band. He's hovering 3 feet above the center of my speakers and I can hear him tapping his hand on his leg maybe, something I've never heard before.

Dirty 5 volt USB power clouds the music, but in a way that is evenly spread across the frequency spectrum, so it's hard to consciously isolate a specific problem, it seems to sound normal. It's like a shade is put over your music. You can still enjoy but you're not getting the clearest and most lucid picture. When you use USB Disruptor the shade is removed and you can hear the quiet spaces between musical notes.

You will only appreciate the difference when you hear it. Don't all of us audiophiles (sometimes audiophools) swear our system is just perfect and then we add something new and realize we were still missing something?

That happens to me a lot, and I was surprised USB Disruptor functioned as well as it did in my reference setup.

It's logical though: if your computer is connected to your audio system by means of a USB cable then interference laden 5 volt power from the computer is getting into your DAC and other audio electronics. It's going to be very, very hard to stop that dirty power from affecting your music.

The best way to solve this problem is to completely disrupt the power from the computer's USB port. And that's what USB Disruptor accomplishes - it's simple, effective, and affordable.

I have no doubt that USB DAC's of many flavors have been sold off or given away by many of our audiophile brothers because they just sounded crappy - too shrill at times, flat stereo image, etc. But it wasn't the DAC - it was the dirty USB power. This is hard to believe but it's true. And I know it's true because I've heard the results.

Have any of you guys tried cutting the 5 volt power lead in the USB cable? Did it work for your DAC? It won't work for most, but maybe some.

Anyone else try other products that have helped? I know USB Regen is similar, they claim to cut the power too but it's still actually connected, not exactly the same as USB Disruptor. Of course, USB Disruptor is less than half the cost of USB Regen.

And that Audioquest jitterbug, that is more like a filter. I don't want to filter anything for fear I'll lose precious signal. Anyone use those?

The fact is there's a problem with USB. These products all tell us that. But don't make any mistake, it's the dirty power from the 5 volt output that's the biggest issue, and that's the problem USB Disruptor solves.
Mesch - On the Doukmall cable there are 2 legs and a total of three USB terminals. The signal and power legs are joined at a shared B terminal that is yellow. The A terminal of the signal leg is also yellow. The A terminal of the power leg is black. I can't say whether the signal leg lacks power leads or if those leads are present and simply not connected. I did not think to try and connect only the signal leg of this split cable to confirm voltage is carried solely by the power leg, though that is my assumption; an easy thing to check, however. Hope this answer helps you.
Audiobb, I think in that scenario USB Disruptor would not be needed at all. The power would come from the DAC itself, just a 5 volt lead. And The DAC maker could leave the 5 volt pin off the USB connector on the DAC to guarantee dirty USB power can't leak into the DAC from the computer. I would bet that some DAC makers have figured out the problem and basically install a USB Disruptor type solution inside the DAC, which would be a great way to make a great sounding DAC, and then charge a big dollar amount because the sound is very different, and it's obvious to everyone that it simply sounds different. I'm serious, the sound with USB Disruptor is different.

In my opinion, and to my ears, the sound with USB Disruptor through my reference setup is the best sound I've produced in 25 years, and I think it's the best sound I've ever heard, on any system. It's not loud, I mean I could spend more to add 8 additional speaker drivers and more amps but that would only make it louder - it would provide no more clarity or detail.

I'm a total minimalist with the analog section of my system, having abandoned chunky preamps in favor of a single input passive preamp. The passive pre utilizes a state-of-the-art stepped attenuator, which is a volume control, but the signal passes through a single resistor only, and the volume control has 27 positions each with a single resistor for each level, so the total is 27 resistors. Bottom line on this, the signal is passing through what may be an absolute minimum in terms of volume, and for sure in terms of the preamp since there are no preamp circuits. It's hard to imagine a more pure circuit.

After the pre it goes to my custom Odyssey amp, then to my Von Schweikerts.

Again, it's hard for me to imagine a better sound - the Scanspeak drivers in the Von Schweikerts and the Sanken transistors in the Odyssey are found in some of the most expensive and best sounding audiophile gear- at any price. Buying another amp of similar quality, just more powerful, wouldn't help me do anything but go louder.

The point of this is that I didn't use USB Disruptor in this system until recently. And because of the difference I now know the cause of my digital woes to be dirty USB power.

Had USB Disruptor been invented years ago I may not have upgraded my Adcom amps or Mirage speakers, because the problem I was trying to solve, unbeknownst to me at the time, is caused by dirty USB power. The symptoms include shrill or sharp tones, a kind of graininess to the sound at times, and the silent spaces between notes are often lost. This becomes maddeningly apparent after using USB Disruptor, and I can't think of a single audiophile upgrade that accomplishes so much for so little cash.
"This becomes maddeningly apparent after using USB Disruptor, and I can't think of a single audiophile upgrade that accomplishes so much for so little cash."

That's because you make them.

          Thank you for your post and answer. We think alike, in terms of minimalism. I also don't use a preamp, I have volume control inside of my DAC. I've also used stepped attenuator before, now it's digital volume control in my DAC.
          And I haven't noticed any loss of resolution, unless i go under 50% setting. this is my favorite volume control this far, and I own 4 diferent types of volume control.

           Personally, i would go diferent path - low power SET amp0, high-sensitive and ohm-stable speakers, and separate amps for bass drivers. That's how i do it, and it is the best sound i've heard. Pretty soon, I will modify DAC to power USB input (amanero), from DAC, not USB cable. I will report with the changes in sound.

        """""This becomes maddeningly apparent after using USB Disruptor, and I can't think of a single audiophile upgrade that accomplishes so much for so little cash."

That's because you make them. """""

           Maybe. But maybe it is also because there is a logical science behind this product, and it actually works. I think it should. I would order it and try it, if I couldn't modify my DAC.
Ghosthouse, thanks for the clarification. I use the Audiophellio with the Pure Power supply. I believe the PP accomplishes the same thing, isolating power from signal.