I had a chance to recently compare 5 USB cables in my system. I thought it is quite an interesting experience and so I just want to share. The 5 cables, in ascending order of price, are 1) audio quest diamond 2) computer audio design (new high-end version) 3) vertere HB 4) crystal cable absolute dream 5) skogrand beethoven.
I have several observations
1. The difference a USB cable can make is tremendous. In my view the difference is really much bigger than normal digital cables (AES/EBU or Spdif) and even more than interconnects. I used to have a hard time investing in a good USB cable because usually they look flimsy, and my bias was that USB cables should be cheap. But simply from an impact point of view I now realize there is a good case to invest in a good USB cable.
2. More expensive USB cables are NOT necessarily better. Obviously this is true for interconnects, speaker cables, power cords etc., and AE is renowned for finding products that are best-in-class but also value for money. But I would argue that in the "interconnect" world if cableA is 5x more expensive than cableB, it is highly unlikely that cableB can comprehensively better cableA. But in the USB world, (in my subjective opinion) CC absolute dream is "beaten" by a cable that is 1/3 its price, Vertere HB, which is in turn beaten by the USB cable of Computer Audio Design that is 1/2 of Vertere's price. I think there is more technology and expertise in USB cables beyond using exotic materials, different material geometry and elaborate shielding.
3. Skogrand Beethoven is a "marvel". It is so much better than the rest of the field. I don't know why this could be the case. The cable is so anti-cable (so light and no "bling"), but it is better than the rest in all aspects.
4. When I spoke to Javier of Wadax he says from his view the best digital transmission is USB, not AES/EBU or others. This is news to me, because historically I always thought that USB cables are noisy and prone to interference. But with this test I now understand more, and it seems like computer audio may indeed come of age, and will eventually realise its full potential and better CD in sound quality