In 1982 Sony gave us "Perfect sound forever," along with the attitude that, "it's just digital, so all CD players sound the same." That was disproved and qualitative differences between players became accepted truth. Next came separate transport and DAC combos, which brought with it the attitude that "all S/PDIF digital audio cables sound the same..." until that too became disproved. Now the frontier has moved once again. Is digital audio really just ones and zeros? AudioQuest don't believe so, and once you've had a chance to listen to Carbon USB, you won't think so either..
For many applications, the speed of digital communication is important. Most visibly, “speed” is about transferring large files as quickly as possible, or carrying enough data for an HD video. For USB audio (and for HDMI audio), “speed” is critical not because of how-much how-fast, but because time relationships within a digital stream are critical to the reconstruction of the analog wave form that brings information, music and joy to our ears. Time-based damage (jitter) to this information within the data package makes the sound small and flat instead of 3D, harsh and foggy instead of smooth and clear.
solid 5% silver conductors
Solid conductors minimise the harmful effects of both electrical and magnetic strand-to-strand interaction. For digital cables, whose signals are of such high frequency that they travel almost exclusively on the surface of the conductor, increasingly thick layers of silver plating are applied to AudioQuest’s Long-Grain Copper (LGC) conductors to further improve Noise-Dissipation. Placing the superior metal on the outside of the conductor produces the greatest benefit on overall performance—a superbly cost-effective way to maximise a digital cable.
5% silver semi-solid concentric conductors
Semi-Solid Cocentric Conductors greatly reduce strand-interaction distortion and reduce jitter. Silver-plated conductors are excellent for very high-frequency applications, like USB audio. These signals, being such a high frequency, travel almost exclusively on the surface of the conductor. As the surface is made of high-purity silver, the performance is very close to that of a 100% silver cable, but priced much closer to a copper cable. This is an incredibly cost effective way of manufacturing very high-quality USB cables.
hard-cell foam insulation
Hard-Cell Foam (HCF) Insulation ensures critical signal-pair geometry. Any solid material adjacent to a conductor is actually part of an imperfect circuit. Wire insulation and circuit board materials all absorb energy. Some of this energy is stored and then released as distortion. Hard-Cell Foam Insulation is similar to the Foamed-PE used in our more affordable Bridges & Falls cables, and is nitrogen-injected to create air pockets. Because nitrogen (like air) does not absorb energy and therefore does not release any energy from or into the conductor, distortion is reduced. In addition, the stiffness of the material allows the cable's conductors to maintain a stable relationship along the cable's full length, producing a stable impedance character and further minimising distortion.
carbon-based 3-layer noise-dissipation system (NDS)
It's easy to accomplish 100% shield coverage. Preventing captured Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) from modulating the equipment's ground reference requires AQ's Noise-Dissipation System (NDS). Traditional shield systems typically absorb and then drain noise/RF energy to component ground, modulating and distorting the critical "reference" ground plane, which in turn causes a distortion of the signal. NDS's alternating layers of metal and carbon-loaded synthetics "shield the shield," absorbing and reflecting most of this noise/RF energy before it reaches the layer attached to ground.
- Metal (USB A-B): solid 5% silver
- Metal (all other versions): 5% silver semi-solid concentric
- Dielectric: hard-cell foam
- noise-dissipation: carbon-based noise-dissipation for USB A - B and USB 3.0 A - 3.0 Micro
- Grey/black braid jacket