23 February, 2015
Happy Chinese New Year of the Goat
Again, Happy New Year!
I spent mine with family. During a stolen moment I got to play a little music for myself. At first I put on the Bartok Quartet #5 (Harmonia Mundi; Arcantro Quartet) but that seemed to be at odds with the moment. I decided on something more grand. So Bruckner it was to be. But which one? I quickly decided on my first encounter, the third.
Celibidache, what magnificence! The symphony unfolded naturally, leisurely, yet with immense power. That is promising, for the year to come.
04 February, 2015
Brief Reviews: Five USB 2.0 A to B Cables from Unitek, Copartner, Sunf Pu and Belkin
Talk CAS/Talk Cables - USB Cables
Revised March 25, 2015 (Friend Nelson's evaluation added; see Sonics Part II below)
My readers know that I do not go to heroic lengths for my desktop but, excited by the recent changes made to my desktop, on a whim I put this quintet to test. The current desktop configuration: Microsoft Windows 7-iTunes-USB-Micromega MyAmp-Sparkler S301 (pic at bottom of article).
- Belkin Gold This is the only well known member of the trio here, and long a TAS favorite. The official website lists it as Part Number F3U133, but you could buy it substantially discounted at Amazon and other sites. Only problem is, it is commonly available only in 6-, 10- and 16-ft lengths (designated -06, -10 and -16), not the shorter 3-ft/1 m preferred by audiophiles (I agree longer ones sound worse usually). Belkin apparently also makes a 3-ft version that bears the same Part Number F3U133, followed by -03 (like this one sold at Amazon and others), but for some reason this one does not say "Gold". Confusing? You bet! Mine is 6-ft, marked in gold letters and clearly labelled "Gold Series".
- Belkin Hi-Speed 2.0 Shielded My grey 10-ft cable seems to be an old model. It is rather thin, marked E330337 Style 2725, and is 28 awg + 26 awg. These spec's don't match anything I can find on the net.
- Unitek 科盛國際 This is a Hong Kong company (official site) without great US presence. Even in HK, the USB cables are not widely available. Try Wanchai 298 Computer Center (where my friend Nelson bought one for me) or Mongkok Computer Center. Mine is 1.8m, model Y-C419 (3m and 5m are available as -C420 and -C421). This cable (pic above) is unusual in that it has a brown transparent sleeve, through which one can see its braided shield.
- Copartner 聯穎科技 This is a brand from Taiwan (official site) that is not hard to find in the US. Mine is marked E119932 Awm 2725 80c 30v Vw-1 28aw, same as this one that is available at Amazon and PC World. Mine is 10-ft, bought for a dollar or two from (I think) Parts Express, one of those Buyout Specials (pic above).
- Sunf Pu 松普科技 Again, this is a brand from Taiwan (official site), though it seems its products do not have a good US presence. My 6-ft model is actually an old Hewlett-Packard cable OEM'ed by Sunf Pu which I found in my drawer, marked E132276-A 24/28 AWG CSA LL-64151-A.
- Best sound was obtained by the Unitek, Belkin Gold and Sunf Pu (though marked HP). They sound somewhat different from each other. The Belkin Gold is quite smooth, the HP a little crisper, and the Unitek somewhere in between. I ended up using the Unitek now. Highly recommended for HK readers.
- As these are 6-ft in length, it DOES seem possible that USB cables should not be too long. The longer (10 ft) Belkin Hi-Speed and Copartner were obviously inferior, but to be fair, it would be nice to test out their 6-ft counterparts.
- I am also going to let my friend Nelson , who uses exclusively CAS, to test out these for me, so the article may be updated when his verdicts come in..
- Nelson listens almost exclusively to CAS, Windows/iTunes to Micromega MyDAC, Counterpoint electronics to Haydn Grand SE. I think he spent more time than I did in his comparisons (His CAS should not be too different from mine, given his Micromega DAC!).
- Similar to me, Nelson picks Unitek and Sunf Pu (HP) as the best of the lot, with Unitek the winner. Different from me, Nelson regards the Belkin Gold as the worst performer, kind of "foggy" in his own words (I can understand this, "smooth" (my term) and "foggy" (his) are but two sides of the coin). In his opinion, the Belkin Hi-Speed and Copartner performed somewhere in between.