Can This Really Matter?

I hear it again and again, everything matters in the digital chain. So I recently unboxed my new Bryston BDP 3 renderer and it’s connected to my Ayre QB9 Twenty USB DAC. I have a SSD inside a generic enclosure (with a fan) that will power up via bus. I have a twenty cent USB cable running from the SSD to the Bryston. So here’s the question, does the enclosure matter and does the cheap USB running between between the SSD and into the Bryston really matter? If so, it wouldn’t seem practical to spend much money on upgrading these accessories. And if so, what do you suggest?


So, you've spent nice money on nice equipment? Of course, those things matter. I stream everything however so I wouldn't have much in the way of advice for a PC based source. Good cables DO make a difference.

I think your SSD is OK where it is. Of course you might get better sound with a dedicated audio server, but then you probably wouldn’t need the Bryston. The Bryston is probably made to optimize sources like yours. I agree a better USB cable is a good idea.

@tomcy6 I could probably go through my local dealer on a reasonably priced cable. And as I can sit it on top of the Bryston, it only needs to reach about eight inches. Know anything on Amazon?

You could avoid the cable altogether and install the SSD inside the Bryston BDP-3. That's what I've done and it works perfectly.

Cables matter in audio performance…sure …I am in that camp too .

BUT ….we don’t live in a world of absolutes. ….
Ergo, the IT pro tech perspective mirrors this link user posted above, that an SSD cable “upgrade” pontification is only an audio cable upgrade improvement outlier as pure marketing puffery and an arguably an audio improvements mirage.

as @cleeds pointed out, you might consider it as a convenience improvement along with an arguable deterrent to cable wear and tear. I use the direct USB inputs with USB thumb drives in my older BRYSTON BDP1-USB player, so I will decline any personal opinion on whether this SSD insertion option sounds “better”

PS I don’t see any mention in any of the BRYSTON manuals, nor any postings in the extensive BRYSTON forum posts that an SSD cable swap will make any difference. If James Tanner at BRYSTON is apparently agnostic to it, I would follow suit.


Choose wisely

In developing my office system I experimented extensively with USB cables. Yes they make a difference. But getting an inexpensive one is likely to result in a very small or no difference. After extensive testing of stuff like WireWorld Starlight and a bunch of other cables I finally found a $450 that made a very significant improvement. It took me many months of testing.



+1 I completely agree with Cleeds. Install an SSD inside the unit. Cable problem solved, more elegant. You can do it yourself.

@ghdprentice Of course there's no sound aspect coming from the SSD, it's strictly a matter of moving data, so I don't know how to determine which cable upgrade to settle on. My guess would be to just pick a price point and done.

@cleeds I'll probably send the unit back to Bryston to have a SSD installed but it will be a while from now. My thought is that having an internal SSD installed means that I could potentially loose all of those files, for example in doing a factory reset.

I’ll probably send the unit back to Bryston to have a SSD installed ... My thought is that having an internal SSD installed means that I could potentially loose all of those files, for example in doing a factory reset.

Bryston or your dealer can install the SSD for you but it’s not difficult to DIY. The BDP-3 system files are independent of the SSD, so you can do a system reset without affecting your files. I wouldn’t provide you that assurance without personal experience.


"does the cheap USB running between between the SSD and into the Bryston really matter?"

I'm also running Ayre QB-9 TWENTY, and noticed a very significant improvement when switching out from a Belkin USB cable to Cardas Clear.  Not very pricey, they go for  around $200.  Not sure if it has an effect, but it is known that Ayre internal wiring is Cardas sourced.  Hope this helps.

@sandstone The USB cable I'm running between the Bryston and he Ayre is a Wire World Platinum Starlight, their best USB cable. So today, I ordered a Wire World Chroma 8 USB 3.0 to run between the SSD / Enclosure and the Bryston. I'm thinking the transfer of data will be a lot faster. Also the shielding and gold plated terminations might help.

I went with a AudioQuest Diamond USB B Cable, but I'm sure the Wire World will be fine.

LAN cables are just a susceptible to interference as all other cable types. I'm using DbillionDa Cat8 Ethernet Cable with 4 shielded foiled twisted pair(F/FTP).

@pedroeb I’m assuming you’re using the Diamond USB cable to your DAC. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use an $800.00 cable to connect a Solid State Drive.

Think back in the day where components used copper chassis.  So the box can make a difference in a few ways.  You can use automobile dampening material which is cheap to try also.

I had the BDP-3 and a SSD drive connected to it.  I experimented with three cables, 2 of which I borrowed from a high end dealer.  I didn’t notice any difference.

Also I ‘m not sure that transmission is any faster with a pricey cable.  There may be better shielding

A bad (not to spec, defective) cable can cause trouble even in digital paths, but a solid cable will be no different from a really expensive one.  Bits are, in fact bits unless there is a serious defect (impedance, shielding, etc.)


Now, before people pop, there ARE issues int he digital path.  At the DAC chip itself (not the box) you must have timing. I explain this int he sonogyresearch blog -- but that only applies to SPDIF, not USB which is asynchronous.  A much bigger issue is ground and power noise, which is why sources, LPSs etc can affect sound.  I power all my sources with a custom low noise LPS, (linear power supply) and wherever possible I also use a bridge (e.g.: dedicated ethernet --> USB box) to further isolate the DAC from the noise of a computer. All streamers are computers, although they may be embedded in a fancy box.

You would not believe how much testing i have done on these various issues, both as me and through the company.  Many things surprise me and do matter.  Digital cables, past the point of engineering correctness, are not one of them.


Beware the placebo effect. One thing i can say, for sure, is every system sounds better with a glass of good wine.  really. And that tells you a a lot.  The wine (etc) variable must be accounted for in real listening if apples are to be compared to apples, which, when in this world, is my business.


The digital streaming argument is 1’s and 0’s are just that and you can’t change them. Yes this is correct but there are a lot of hitchhikers that will jump on the 1’s and 0’s in the form of noise. Noise in the digital signal path is not noticed until it is gone. One of the most cost effective upgrades you can do is to add a fmc into the upstream signal path for the 1’s and 0’s. You want to create and separate a dirty side a clean side for the digital signal. Yes all cables do matter in they way they introduce and eliminate noise. Enjoy the music!

You have to assemble the 1s and 0s correctly to produce an accurate waveform to correctly reproduce the music. That is where almost every product, be it hardware, software, or both, will differ somewhat. How different and how much it matters case by case is another story. Just like all the other fine details that go into good sound for discerning ears.

to sgreg1 and mapman

1. Yes digital noise is the enemy - actually ANALOG noise on digital paths, created by high frequency digital circuits and switching power supplies. Cables will do little to fix this. Filters and isolation components like bridges do a lot.

2. The reconstruction of the 1s and 0s into PDM or PAM, and the reconstruction of that into a continuous waveform, is, of course, the entire issue.The question posed is quite different: do USB cables in particular, which carry an asynchronous stream, of 1s and 0s, have much effect? As noted above they can't really block much noise unless they are far more than cables. And unless they really suck, they cannot create bit errors.



oh, i should add to the above to finish the logic...and the digitally generated noise impacts a) the reconstruction process and b) the analog stage during and after reconstruction.  Some posit that it can affect the quantized PAM/PDM --> analog, by affecting zero crossings, but i think that is unlikely given how well proven digital transmission intergaity is (witness: gigabyte internet into your house...amazing)

Cables matter more than one would ever expect or in many cases, hope, as a means to save on unnecessary expenditure. When in reality, a well designed cable tested with good rapport results with other components in the chain , can in fact make a appreciable jump in sound quality.

For me it was the Synergistic Research Atmosphere SX USB cable. Going from a Better Cables Blue Truth to the SR Atmos SX proved to be a genuine night and day difference in sound. Of course the price difference between the $200 Blue Truth and the $1k SR Atmos is substantial. Yet, worth every penny in my opinion given the immediate and appreciable increase in all aspects of SQ. I had demoed this cable with the WW Plat 8 & the SR Atmos just seems leagues ahead.

@sagur80 So your running this $1,000.00 cable from an external hard drive to a renderer/transport/streamer?

@goofyfoot Alas, the good ole fashioned way of usb port on pc straight to dac. Now, when using the cheaper Better Cables Blue Truth, all of the existing arguments about the limitations of the usb port did seem accurate. Then , after introducing the SR Atmos SX usb cable, it seemed like the musical performers were quite literally playing live within the speakers & not a rendered performance like before. Along with that in mind, in the initial stages of owning the SR Atmos SX usb cable, there was a habit of checking volume levels to ensure they had not changed. When in actual fact they had not & the same resolution familiar at higher volume was now present at lower levels. Suffice to say late night listening sessions take on a whole different meaning , becoming almost magical, with the addition of this usb cable. 

Btw, I demoed several usb cables from the Cable Company through their rental program. The SR Atmos SX was unavailable, so the Foundation Series X usb cable took it's place. This $600 usb cable was my pick vs the $1k + Kimber Cu , the $1195 Audience Studio One, $800 WW Plat 8 & $700 Cardus usb cable.. The SR Foundation X usb won the day. While sharing the same company sound print, the Atmos SX seems to bring better detail , separation, realism and event/location ambiance more into play than it's sibling. 

Clearly for me, the usb cable has leapfrogged to the very top in audio cable hierarchy.