... I was told a week or so back...
I came to the conclusion that USB cables now matter greatly
(with the NOS1a
) about 3 weeks ago. I wasn't even looking for differences but just stumbled upon them. I was experimenting with where I could place my PC and NOS1a, and had pretty much resigned myself to having them both sitting exactly between my speakers in my main room. I then decided that it would be better to have the PC in the corner of the room, which would require a 3m (or so) USB cable. I got out my (very) expensive 3.5m USB cable, plugged it it and immediately thought WTF?... this sounds way worse than the 'standard' 1m cable I had been using!
I then went through a bunch of USB cables (all cheap printer cables) of various lengths, and they all seemed to have a slightly different sound. Unfortunately, with the way things were situated, I couldn't try a 0.5m length - maybe Paul (Scroobius) can share his findings with short lengths when he tries one. But what I did try was a long 5m USB cable. And you know what? It sounded way
better than any
other cable I had tried. So with my setup, there isn't a clear inverse correlation between length and SQ. If I had to hypothesize, I'd say, generally, the shorter the USB cable, the better... BUT...
... Very long USB cables (getting to the edge of the USB spec) may
sound even better. I know they are very different animals, but I've found exactly the same thing with spdif/AES3 cables. The longer (~5m) cables sound better
than shorter ones. For these types of digital cables, the practice actually matches the theory - they are terminated (or should be) so RF reflections come into play. As for whether the same theory would apply to USB cables, I have no idea.
Oh and BTW, I get absolutely zero USB errors showing in the USB Control Panel with the 5m USB cable.
I think Peter's advice of trying a few 'standard' (i.e. non-audiophile, non-expensive) USB cables of different lengths is bang on. So my strong recommendation is to buy a bunch of 'standard' cables from 0.5m to 5m lengths and give them a go. I mean, why not? The outlay should be no more than 20 Euros max, right?