Spec-chart for digital cables

Don’t want to start a flame war but looking for a comparison chart for the specs on digital cables.

I have read multiple articles, digital coaxial vs optical vs HDMI vs USB, I would like a comparison chart showing bandwidth, through put etc.

I seem to read that USB provides the widest, followed by coaxial but would like to see a true comparison chart.

Also, would entertain a discussion of opinion of users, what experiences have users found?

Lastly, I understand the conversation might want to direct to the material of construction, but I would like to stick to the direct fact of the cable 


I would refer you to Blue Jean and Belden WEB sites.  Not only do they have specs, but they are real and tested to them. 

HDMI cables are the biggest pile of junk I have found. After many false starts, I went Blue Jean and no problems since. Only a little bit more and I know they meet spec. 

Ethernet, again, the Belden cables meet spec.  I am sure others do, but who knows. I believe for anything outside a data canter, any old crap Ethernet cable is more than good enough but that encroaches on the "religion" part of audio. 

USB I found by testing, bad ones and good ones. Esoteric ones are just good ones. A good one works, a bad one can pick up a lot of noise. ( loopback tests on a Focusrite Scarlett)  Every free one that came with cheap DACs were in the "bad" category except one from JDS.  I only kept them for phone charging and my label printer. 

USB has the widest options for signal format. Optical breaks a ground loop if you have one. I prefer USB as the DAC can run WASAPI in asynchronous mode, so the better clock in the DAC is in control.  My main music server is USB only anyway. I tested Toslink on my desk and did not hear any difference. Don't know what advantage coax/PCM gives you other than distance as Toslink is limited to about 11 feet.  With the exception of noise passed through a poor input stage, at the digital level, bits are bits. Once inside a DAC, that is a whole different thing what you do with those bits. 

With the possible exception of Ethernet, shorter is always better. I'll match my Amazon 6 inch RCA "well made" cables to any uber-esoteric 1M cables.  My main system I have a 1 foot USB cable. No RCA is longer than 1M. 

For balanced XLR wire, it seems the Mogami cable is quite respected. I have not looked but I think they post real data. 

Do check out the video " for everyone"  I mentioned in an earlier posting and it will help with specs. 

HDMI cables are the biggest pile of junk I have found.

I’d qualify that if you’re using HDMI to utilize the i2S input on a DAC.  I did that and it kicked the living crap out of running SPDIF. 

Digital is just 1's and 0's.   

So now you think I'm a denier who thinks it is useless to upgrade digital equipment, it is perfect right?  

just the opposite.  

For file transfer it doesn't matter (much) as your computer will keep downloading until the new file matches the old file.  that is why sometimes it takes forever to download a file.  Dropped bits have to be re-downloaded.

for streaming, the FTP can't do this, so the key is to minimize the number of dropped bits since the music has to continue on without them.  So it is just 1's and 0's but it is a zillion of them coming out of a firehose and your equipment has to be able to handle them and your wires have to be able to transport them and the better they transport them, the less they mess up the rounded peak that represents a "1" the less bits end up going AWOL.  

So my point here is that it is more important to have the connectors and internal connections implemented properly than to choose a format.  USB got a bad rap, probably by measuring some generic equipment and then promulgated by those selling alternatives.  People will choose their equipment around which connectors it has, especially the I2S which has been marketed as the "replacement" for USB.  This is a fools errand.  Some of the best equipment in the world uses USB.

So you won't find the chart you want as it is a function of the manufacturer implementation rather than the cables.  I like silver plated cables by a reputable manufacturer.


No chart is needed. The only difference there is is how they look they all do the same job

If you are thinking a spec sheet will somehow help you determine what they might sound like, or to construct to a sound. It is not going to do either of those.  

Somewhere in the research labs of some of the major cable producers there may be such a thing. With long lists of variables and how they may affect the sound. But even these would likely only be generalities. 

I am by my nature a numbers man. As a scientist in my first career and years as an analyst in the corporate setting. I threw away the numbers other than a few high level ones in audio. They just led to erroneous conclusions. 

To your point, I will agree that digital is still garbage in/garbage out.


For streaming you have packet loss, latency, bandwidth etc. which effect the signal prior to reception, so I am looking to ignore these and do a direct comparison of cable formats. With all factors being even, which cable reproduces the cleanest signal.


And yes I understand that cable construction will also effect the system, so we don’t need to head down that tangent.



OP,  “For streaming you have packet loss, latency, bandwidth etc. which effect the signal prior to reception..”


A good streamer will buffer and cashe and completely make up for deficiencies in the data stream.

With all factors being even, which cable reproduces the cleanest signal.

That’s a fallacy.  You’re looking for something that simply doesn’t exist.  You’re also leaving out noise and shielding, which inputs are optimized on which component, etc..  There are simply too many variables to say “all factors being even.”  

I would refer you to Blue Jean and Belden WEB sites.  Not only do they have specs, but they are real and tested to them. 

Agree with @tvrgeek 100%. Great products and people. Hard to go wrong with anything Belden / Blue Jeans / Iconoclast makes.

One high end manufacturer(I cant remember which one) clearly states that 1.37 M for a RCA S/PDIF is their minimum length due to jitter.....interesting


"Digital is just 1's and 0's."


We've all read this, over and over...  And you know what, I was the same.  I saw this today and it really changed my opinion.  It's Adam Savage and two other gents who really go though the differences between expensive and cheap digital cables.  They specifically address the comment above.

Consider my mind changed.




@bigfatpaulie You beat me to it. I saw this yesterday and had a good laugh at the expense of those who say it's just 1s and 0s and that cheap cables are just fine to use. 

There's also this from Lumafield, who did the CT scans. It's about time someone stepped up to address this. 

All the best,