Digital Cables Make Little Difference in Sound Quality
High end digital cable connectors probably provide the least noticeable improvement in sound quality, but to my surprise, there was a “subtle” (as defined in previous articles) difference. I tested the Audioquest Diamond USB mini to USB .75mm connection on my headphone mini system. The Diamond is the best digital connector Audioquest makes and this one came with a $500 price tag.
The digital information that goes from iTunes in my laptop to the Meridian Explorer DAC is a collection of “1’s” and “0’s.” It seems logical that no “1’s” or “0’s” would drop off in the transfer or otherwise get lost. Nor can there be any quality issue with the black and white nature of “1’s” and “0’s.” There is no in between. The information is either a “1” or a “0.”
The Audioquest Diamond USB mini to USB upgrade cable that replaced the cable that came with the Meridian Explorer is all silver and top of the line by anyone’s standard. By the time it arrived, the Audioquest Angel that I have been using to connect the Meridian Explorer DAC to my HiFiman EF5 amplifier had at least 75 hours of burn in time.
As expected, the Diamond did not make what I have defined as a “noticeable” difference, but it did make a “subtle” difference. The sound signal seems a touch louder or ever so slightly more transparent. It is not the same “loud” that I get when I turn up the volume. The soundstage does not seem louder. The voice, the piano and the subtle background guitar seems just a bit louder. When I say “louder”, I am also not talking about one full notch on the EF5 dial. I am talking more like a 1/4 notch if that were possible but again to use the word, “louder” is not accurate.
Since I did not expect any difference in sound I was surprised. Perhaps it is the silver or the way the connector is treated that alters the sound somehow, but there was a minor, barely noticeable (I call it “subtle”) difference in sound quality that I can attribute to the Audioquest Diamond digital cable. It was an improvement but not a $500 improvement.