Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rich-sounding Furutech USB cable

Can a better-designed USB cable change sound quality? That indeed is the question that has sparked off many a debate in various online forums.

The argument is that since digital signals are all about 1s and 0s, why should the quality of the cable matter? If there is no signal, there is no signal and it is a ‘0’; likewise if there is signal, it is a ‘1’.

However, some people have pointed out that what flows through a USB cable is actually an electrical signal sent in packets and for time-critical functions like audio, they are sent on the isochronous mode. Timing interruptions can be caused by signal reflections, cables that are too long and impedance mismatches.


The Furutech USB cable looks and feels well made.


EMI/RFI  and ferrite beads - which are supposed to suppress EMI/RFI -  can also affect the integrity of the signal.

As a matter of fact, if a USB cable is not made according to specs, it will not even transmit any signal.

That calls for well-made and properly-designed USB cables which hi-fi nuts call ‘audiophile USB cables’ and pay large amounts of money for them. But do they work?

The Furutech GT2 USB2 cable features 24k gold-plated non-magnetic connectors and silver-plated (Alpha) OCC conductors, three-layer shielding and a special-grade high-density polyethylene dielectric.

The cable wrap includes damping materials that keep mechanical ringing from affecting the sound.

The Furutech GT2 USB cable comes in various lengths from 0.6m to 5m. Audiomatic in Amcorp Mall has brought in the 1.2m version which it retails at RM490.

The Furutech’s USB connectors are very tight fitting and the blue cable looks and feels well made though it is stiffer than the stock cable.

Fixed to the Toshiba laptop and the Benchmark DAC1 Pre, it was a simple matter of switching between the stock USB cable that came with the Benchmark and the Furutech to determine the differences in sound.

The rest of the system comprised the Bryston 4B SST power amp, MIT Shotgun MA biwire speaker cables and the ATC SCM40 floorstanders.

I used Media Monkey as the music player and played hires files from the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Raising Sand album and Linn’s Studio Master 24/88.2 files of Handel’s Messiah.

With the Furutech USB cable, the music sounded richer and fuller. Acoustic instruments like guitars and violins had more ‘bloom’ and body while vocals were ‘chestier’.

So, audiophile USB cables do make a difference - with the Furutech, computer audio sounded richer and fuller and reminded me of the Bryston combo that I had reviewed some months ago.


2 comments:

  1. I haven't tried the Furutech USB. I am using the WireWorld Starlight USB now, and i am happy with it. However I'd like to hear the difference of Furutech vs WireWorld if i had the chance. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. nibongese,

    just curious - what diff did u hear between the wireworld and the stock usb cable?

    ReplyDelete