Interesting video on cables

At the risk of opening up this can of worms again, my brother sent me this video.  It’s incredibly interesting and goes some way to showing why cables matter and that all cables are not equal.  These are USB cables but I’m sure the principle applies to speaker and IC cabling.




That was a fascinating video.  It's hard for me to comprehend the amount of engineering and execution that Apple has put into a $130 cable.  It makes the long video Cardas produced to show how they produce their speaker cable, seem somewhat unimpressive now.   IMHO  

@bigtwin yeah when I saw the board with power supplies and integrated circuits it blew my mind.  The CT scan was amazing as well.

These are USB cables but I’m sure the principle applies to speaker and IC cabling.

No, not really.  This is geared more toward computer audio/video than USB as it’s used in more serious audio applications like sending a signal between a streamer and a DAC, and really nobody serious about audio is connecting to a computer at all.  And this really doesn’t have much to do with analog speaker and IC cables — it’s really just a different world and application altogether.  It’s an interesting video comparing Thunderbolt cables, but it doesn’t translate much to anything discussed on this site. 

Imagine building the machine to build the Apple cables. Such tiny pieces require mind blowing precision to achieve the high quality level shown. 

Ok, Apple is NOT a cable company.  Period.  They’re a computer company that lightly dabbles a bit in making some cheap cables purely for computer purposes.  That’s it.  I used their Camera Adapter for a little bit to get music outta my iPhone/iPad to my DAC and it was a total joke — a toy — and I was able to trounce it for a few bucks more with a cable made by a real cable company that actually knows how to make a good cable for audio.  Apple’s cables are functional, but for pure audio purposes they’re awful, and since this is primarily an audio site some perspective seemed to be in order here.  Apple is a lot of things but a cable company they are not.  Not even close. 

@soix I agree and understand that this particular application of USB cable is geared towards computer applications, the point I’m trying to make is that not all cables are equal.  This video is a great example of that even if it’s not audio specific.  Audio specific cables have different levels of quality and engineering as well.  By the way, I’m currently using my MacBook Pro as a source for streaming and I think I’m pretty serious about audio.  I think my system sounds good.  It’s just where I’m at in the process right now.  I’m not sure which streamer I want to go with and since I’m happy at the moment with the sound I have I’m taking my time sorting it out and the Tidal and Qobuz interfaces on the Mac are outstanding which may or may not be the case with streaming interfaces.  I had the HiFi Rose 250a for a bit but the interface was a bit crap and my Denafrips/Mac combo sounds better to me.  I know folks around here frown on computers as steamers but it works for me at the moment.

Ok.  I get it.  It’s a process and a progression.  But don’t say things like this…

These are USB cables but I’m sure the principle applies to speaker and IC cabling.

because that’s not accurate and why I said something.  No good audio-purposed USB or any other audio cable is designed like this or anything like it — see below as one example, and note how even the power and data legs of the USB cable are physically separated and definitely no electronics built into the cable.  That aside, I wish you the best of luck in finding a streamer that really makes a difference for you because it’s definitely out there and worth the effort in finding it.


@soix the quote from my post made me realize I'm was not clear in what I was attempting to say.  I did not intend to state that the Thunderbolt cables in the video were at all similar to audio specific cables.  When I said that the "principle" applied, the principle to which I was referring is the idea that not all cables are the same, not that audio specific cables are manufactured the same way Thunderbolt USB cables are.  I see why you said something, the way I wrote the comment was not clear as to my intended meaning.  Maybe the mistake was using computer USB cables, as an example that some cables are better than others, in an audiophile forum :).  By the way, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that the streamer that is going to make the difference is somewhere above $5k and I'm suffering a bit of paralysis by analysis at the moment since it's large investment and I don't want to get it wrong.  The interface and ease of use are important to me, not as much as the sound and quality of the device of course, but I suppose I just need to get out and see things in person to get a better idea of what appeals to me.  Thanks for the discussion. I, generally, learn things from your posts and appreciate your input.

Sorry man.  I feel like I’ve been a bit of a preachy jerk here.  I’m surprised you didn’t hear an appreciable improvement with the HiFi Rose streamer, but I’m also a huge believer in following and trusting your own ears and if you heard what you heard then that’s all that matters.  I might suggest trying something like this used Innuos Zen Mk3 that offers great performance and also comes with its excellent Sense app that some people even prefer over Roon.  If it doesn’t work out you can always sell it for little/no loss so very cheap to try.  Incidentally, not sure what Denafrips DAC you have but I have a Musician Pegasus that’s got some similar DNA and adding an Iris DDC and using the i2S connection was a big sonic improvement and maybe something to keep in mind as a potential upgrade going forward.  Anyway, FWIW.

Post removed 

I can’t wait to get my hands on one of those $130 cables and do some performance mods. Better caps. Beefier power supply, etc. The end would be the size of a toaster oven and couldn’t plug into anything, but imagine the possibilities.

@soix, it’s all good.  I did hear a significant improvement when I switched from my MA8900 internal DAC, connected to my Mac via USB, to the HiFi Rose.  The Rose was a little glitchy so I returned it and bought the Pontus II 12th Anniversary DAC.  The Pontus II connected to my Mac sounds every bit as good as the HiFi Rose.  I have considered purchasing the Gaia DDC for the IS2 connection to see where that takes things.

I have considered purchasing the Gaia DDC for the IS2 connection to see where that takes things.

Nice DAC! I think that’s a great thought but not sure you need to go all the way to the Gaia. You could pick up a used Iris for $400 (that’s what I did) just to dip your toe in the water and can just turn around and sell it if you don’t get a meaningful performance bump. That was my plan, but after hearing it my Iris ain’t going anywhere. @vthokie83 did the same thing and he also has a Pontus ll and maybe he’ll chime in here with his impressions that were basically identical to mine. There’s also a Hermes available for $750 if you wanna kick it up a notch and/or can use the SPDIF input in addition to USB. Anyway, here they are just fyi…

Again, FWIW.

@soix I love the Pontus, it is a great DAC.Thanks for the links and advice.  I was thinking I needed to go middle of the lineup for the DDC since the Pontus is kind of in the middle but good to know the Iris might be worth checking out, especially at around $400.

Ha!  I just looked at the Denafrips DDC lineup and i meant to say Hermes not Gaia.  @soix your link sorted that mistake out thanks!

So many DDCs, so little time.  BTW, and if u don’t mind me asking, what’s the rest of the equipment, cables, etc. in ur system?


As Soix mentioned, I've been in a similar situation. I however am using a BlueSound Node 130, instead of a computer based streamer. You've already come to the conclusion that you need a better streamer, and there are plenty from the Innuous/Aurender/Lumin usual well as others.

Adding a DDC will definitely (IMO) improve the quality of your streaming, but at what point does the computer based streaming become the limiting factor?

I bought the Iris DDC which upgrades the clock from the FEMTO clock in the Pontus II to a temperature controlled (TXCO) unit in the Iris (like the Venus DAC).....the Hermes and Gaia up the ante further to an oven controlled unit (OCXO) like that in the Terminator series.

It also allows the ability to use I2S as the primary connection, from the Iris/Gaia/Hernes to the Pontus. The reason why that is important, and worth reading up on, is that digital sources use I2S serial bus internally as their native way of communicating amongst themselves. Using an I2S connection from the Iris eliminates the conversion from I2S, to SPDIF/USB/??? and then back again to I2S in the Pontus. Electrical engineers please don't blast me here, I know it's a simplistic explanation.

Now that is getting somewhere! As Soix pointed out adding the Iris between the Node 130 and Pontus (and using a good high speed I2S cable between the two), was a complete game changer. Every single sound quality was improved, and not by a small was like I had installed a brand new high quality streamer, with much better specs. Now I am not sure which made the most difference, adding the DDC between the two or changing to I2S? I suspect both equally.....though I've done no testing on that theory as I made the changes simultaneously.

Here is my dilemma (and maybe yours I suspect), "when I upgrade my streamer, will I even need/use a DDC?" That is something I don't know the answer to, even though I have tested both an Aurender N10 and N200 in my system.....I did not have the Iris at the do a comparison. For me it would be much easier to buy and sell an Iris and lose a couple hundred dollars, versus the Hermes or Gaia where I could lose a bunch more....or buy used as Soix suggested.

I think it would be worth your time to send an email to Alvin Chee at Vinshine Audio (the distributor for Denafrips products), who I think would give you an honest recommendation and answer any questions you may have He has been very responsive to any and all questions I have had for him.

Thumbs UP for any Denafrips DAC.  The video makes a few points all participating in the Audio Hobby should take seriously.  A general message is that technical knowledge does not make one a subject matter expert for all things.  Clearly the two cables in question perform very different functions requiring very different design and manufacturing skill sets.

Points made in the video about wire being an antenna and EMI/RFI present in our environment are facts that cannot be brushed aside.  Do not assume that expensive cables are required in every situation.  Do understand that properly designed cable for the intended environment and function is required.  Do understand that those claiming L, C, and R measurements completely characterize all cable are wrong.  

Fascinating for sure!  I bet fakes of the genuine Apple cables are already in production in China if not already on eBay.

With regard to my system I find that Shunyata cables matter. It will be a long time before it is fully loomed at the higher ends though.

@soix I have an MA8900 integrated, the Denafrips Pontus II 12th Anniversary, the speaker cables are Vogue Audio Silver Strand cables, OSD Aurum power cables for the DAC and the integrated and Fritz Rev 7 SE speakers sitting on 24” sand filled speaker stands.  I have some GIK bass traps installed behind the speakers and on the rear wall.  There’s more room treatment to do but it measures pretty well right now. 

@vthokie83 Thanks for all the great info.  Sounds like you were on a similar path with respect to DAC/DDC decisions. I think I'm leaning more toward the Hermes but will send Alvin a message and see what he says.

@jastralfu - Interesting technology and to some extent would help in discering the different cable geometries used. Unforunately it does not address the metal use in the wire e.g. OFC, vs. OCC ot Copper vs silver or the type of insulation

Many of the good cable companies do divulge what goes into their cables e.g. Inakustik

Here are some pointers on What makes a Good Cable


Regards - Steve

No, this video is not proof that the gimmickry employed by audio cable manufacturers is anything other than just that. Completely different applications. Time and time again, measurements have proven that cheap audio/power cables perform as well or even better than the ultra expensive stuff hawked by the likes of snake oil companies such as Synergistic Research. Those are just the facts. If you go searching for videos that prove this, you’ll find plenty. The major problem with society these days is people seek out only the data or anecdotes that support their preconceived notions. In the case of the OP, the data doesn’t even apply to the topic under debate. 


@helomech I agree it’s not an apples to apples comparison since they are two different applications (which I think I addressed in the conversation) but I disagree that cables don’t matter.  The quality of copper or silver or whatever conductive material matters as does the dielectric material.  It’s just as easy to find measurements that confirm that cables measure differently and affect sound quality, hence cable quality matters.  If a cable manufacturer claims something that turns out to not be true then I would not consider it a quality cable.  Outside of all the measurements it comes down to what folks hear and in my system at least cables have made a difference.  There are many other folks here who would make the same claim.

Great video and like it says, most people use the cable for charging.  My big Black Friday buy was 5, 6’ USB C to USB C cables for $9.98 and they weren’t even on sale!

Now the USB cable I have running from my streamer to the DAC is a whole kettle of fish different.  It is strictly for music.  It’s isolated,insolated and doesn’t have any charging wires in it. Oh and it cost a bit more than the above purchase.

Gentlemen - cables certainly make a difference.

The purpose of a cable is to transmit a signal while causing the least harm. Or, stated another way - with the highest fidelity.

Technically, how do cable transfer the signals? Explaining the many parts of a well designed and constructed cable requires a good technical understanding of electricity, metallurgy, dielectrics, electro-magnetics and physics. Each cable design and construction becomes critical for premium performance.

With a great system, set up in a treated room to perform optimally - it's easy to hear differences between cables.

Outside of all the measurements it comes down to what folks hear and in my system at least cables have made a difference.  There are many other folks here who would make the same claim.

Booyah!!!  Well said and goodonya!

I have an MA8900 integrated, the Denafrips Pontus II 12th Anniversary, the speaker cables are Vogue Audio Silver Strand cables, OSD Aurum power cables for the DAC and the integrated and Fritz Rev 7 SE speakers sitting on 24” sand filled speaker stands.

@jastralfu , all the trouble with cables, streamers and whatever else rabbit holes for this dinky lil speaker?? (that a guy goofed with in his garage)...Get a higher resolving/more substantial speaker with some real engineering dude.

Here are some better things in a similar price bracket.

Mofi Sourcepoint 10

Yamaha NS-2000A

JBL HDI 3800

KEF R11Meta



@deep_333 I’m not quite sure how to respond to your advice.  I don’t think I can take it seriously if you think that the Fritz stand mounts (I refer to them this way cause at their size they really aren’t bookshelf speakers) are dinky lil speakers goofed with by some guy in his garage.  Fritz speakers are well respected by many on this site and have been well received/reviewed.  He’s not just some guy tinkering in his garage.  Personally, I would put them up against many speakers at twice the price and that’s not because I own them but because they are that good.  They may not be my end game speakers, but whenever I have gone to listen to something that might be a replacement (Focal, Fyne, B&W, Sonus Faber) I always leave thinking the speaker I just heard might sound different but not better and probably not worth it at twice the price.  I also use stand mounts rather than floor standers due to space constraints, so, even if I agreed with you, the speakers you recommend are entirely too large for my listening space. 

There is a special hell for audio cable curmudgeons, and to judge by the audiophile forums they are burning in it all the time.