But, being audiophiles and therefore by definition being limit-pushers, who among us would not—sooner or later—think to ask, “If good USB cables make digital audio sound better, what would happen if I used truly USB cables in my system?” With that thought in mind I recently met up with AudioQuest’s Joe Harley, Senior VP of Marketing and Product Development, and—after explaining that my once highly advanced USB cables had at this point grown somewhat long of tooth—I asked if he might loan me a set of AudioQuest’s top-shelf Diamond-series USB cables so that I could assess for myself how much sonic progress had been made in recent years.
Mr. Harley obliged, and sent me not only two sets of top-of-the range AQ Diamond USB cables (1.5M, $698.75; and 3M, $998.75), but also two sets of third-from-the-top AQ Carbon USB cables for comparison (1.5M, $168.75; and 3M, $248.75).
Why two sets each of the AudioQuest USB cables? The answer is that sometimes I run my system DACs from an AURALiC ARIES that resides in one of my equipment racks so that it needs only a fairly short USB cable, and at other times I run my DACs from a Lenovo-based music server, which is positioned across the room from my audio racks and thus requires a longer cable. (At Joe Harley’s recommendation, we avoided using 5M USB cables, even though AudioQuest offers them, as Harley felt sound quality might be better with the shorter cable runs.).
Since AQ’s Carbon USB cables are among the models covered in depth in Nicholas Ripley’s soon-to-be-published survey article, I’ll set them aside for purposes of this blog. But, I have been very excited by my findings on the top-tier Diamond models and felt compelled to share them with you.