The Importance of the Digital Cable

Good Sunday evening dear friends,

This point of discussion has been on my mind of late, as I have listened carefully to the results. This is a bold statement and discussed ad nauseam here I am sure, though I feel others may be encouraged to explore this more deeply as we share our experiences here.

I’ve had several digital cables, ranging from several coax, to toslink. I have not yet tried a dedicated AES/EBU XLR.

Listening to the Denafrips Pontus, a ladder DAC, fed from an Oppo UDP-205 as transport, I was compelled to try a few different cables, because the results were not as good as expected. I played a few albums; XTC ‘Nonesuch’ - a rather hot recording from the 90’s but very interesting and politically out front. Then an Everett Harp CD that highlights his wonderful sax playing. Then Robben Ford and The Blue Line, the album being ‘handful of Blues’.After that some Arjit Singh, and Tarkan (Turkish music).
The cables running from the DAC to the Pre/amp are Transparent Ultra XL (original). I like these cables because they have a very natural organic sound. They do lack some of the detail up top of some of the best in class and perhaps are a less exciting that some, but over all I love the naturalness, slight warmth in mid-bass, scale and soundstage of their sound.
But things didn’t sound quite right. I can always tell when something isn’t quite right, because it’s harder for me to get involved in the music. Some of the quieter words were too vague, and there was just a general fuzziness and vagueness overall. The soundstage was flatter and resolution of detail was lacking. The Pontus as you know, is a very good DAC, so I knew something was off.

I had the Canare digital cable in place, and decided to switch it out for my Black Cat Veloce. Wow! The sound transformed. Now the DAC truly shined. All the detail returned. The sound was certain and clear. The soundstage was very wide and the vagueness replaced with clarity. The music was now exciting and involving.

This begs the question, how can a digital cable make such a difference? After all, it is transporting a digital binary signal?
Please share your experiences.
When I first picked up a SPDIF converter (Musical Fidelity V-Link 96), I suddenly had the option of running either optical or coax cable from it to the DAC. I started with a glass optical cable and thought it sounded better than USB straight into the DAC (that's why years later, I'm still using SPDIF converters).

Then I read that digital coaxial cables might sound better than optical. So I picked up a 1.5M inexpensive Billy Jeans coax cable. And damned if they weren't right--it did sound better. So it was coax from then on.

Then I read that coax cables have a "sound" just like any other component. Easy to believe this--everything seems to have a sound. Read a few rave comments & reviews about Oyaide coax cables, particularly the silver DR-510 (1.3M). It's not cheap, but I figured what the hell, and bought one direct from Oyaide (many cables marked as Oyaide on eBay are copies). 

The DR-510 immediately sounded significantly better than anything I'd heard before. Here it is ~6 years later and that cable has never left my system. I'm about to install a DDC (Matrix X SPDIF 2) and that Oyaide cable is staying right where it is...

"  Make sure that you’re not using “analog” xlr cables for a “digital” signal. They look the same and have same XLR type connectors (although digital cable usually called AES) but different design internally.

same goes for unbalanced… spdif and analog interconnects both have RCA connectors but very different design internally."

This is not true. As mentioned by several here; the "digital" signal is actually electric and any ic might do a ok job, just try. Don`t let the salesman fool you
Black Cat makes a hell of a digital cable…

Yes, that Black Cat digital cable is out of this world. 

Made my previous one sound broken.
This is not true. As mentioned by several here; the "digital" signal is actually electric and any ic might do a ok job, just try. Don`t let the salesman fool you
This is not true.  As mentioned many times here digital signal is affected by time jitter (doesn't come in even intervals) producing added noise after D/A conversion.  One of the causes of the jitter are reflections of the signal inside of the cable on characteristic impedance boundaries.   Expensive digital cable might be (other than better shielding) not better than the cheap one.  It is all system dependent and better cable will be the one that has characteristic impedance matching better (especially to DACs input impedance).  Analog cables are likely to cause jitter since they are not designed for any specific characteristic impedance (not important for analog signals in audio band).  Some DACs might have strong jitter suppression but other DACs will be affected.  Jitter is the main cause why digital often sounds bright and harsh in comparison to analog.

I think that it's worth doing to the conversation that DACs are effected differently by jitter. My old school Monarchy DAC handles it poorly, to the point that I got a jitter box (that's old guy speak for a component that just reclocks the data stream). My Benchmark, on the other hand, doesn't care about what source I use, or what cable.