Directstream Mk 2 observations

The Inakustik Referenz USB was excellent value to me and made a real difference. Of course there is also their silver version for more $$$$

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If my USB cable is the source of my streaming quality discord (pun intended) then it makes me want to reevaluate my thoughts about the importance of USB cables. From my understanding from various reviews on the subject the USB cable should make relatively subtle changes in sound quality. What I hear when I substitute the Benchmark coax cable for the AudioQuest carbon USB cable was absolutely not subtle. I’ve only compared a few USB cables to my AudioQuest. In each case I found the Carbon to be better by a small margin. Certainly nothing to the magnitude of difference that I hear with the Benchmark. I’m not sure what to make of this. Either my Carbon and the other USB cables I’ve tried are defective in some way, which is unlikely, or the differences between USB cables are much more significant than I’ve been led to believe and I would need to look in a much higher tier of cable to experience that gain.

That’s been my experience!

Mine too.

USB cables are like any other types of cables, the higher the quality, the better the performance. I started with a cheap Pangea USB cable that didn’t sound much difference to a stock USB cable. Then I tried a Cardas and WireWorld Platinum which is when I started to detect indeed there are some positive gain in SQ. But it wasn’t untill I got the Audience Front Row that I realize how much difference USB cables can get. It doesn’t stop there. I discover even higher performance is possible with Nordost Valhalla2, Shunyata Omega, and ChordMusic USB cables. It’s really how much income and how much you’re willing to spend. You benefit more from the higher end cables from higher quality signals. The sound is simply breathtaking with my ChordMusic USB cable and a good DSD256 signal, even better than a AQ Dragon HDMI through I2S with the same signal. USB cables definitely can make a big difference with the MK2.

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As a person who is just beginning to appreciate the importance of a good USB cable to feed my MKll let me ask you this- which would you upgrade first, a good USB cable going in or a good interconnect going out? I’ve been thinking of the Iconoclast OCC for my next upgrade.

Both is equally important. But I would get my main system up to par before my source equipment or you are not getting the best from your DAC. I would work on my interconnect going out first.

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Do you have a good HiFi retailer who might loan you cables?

Nope

I actually think differently. You may not fully appreciate your interconnect upgrades if your source is not improved first.

While i think that good usb cables matter, i think usb implementation at the source and at the dac matter more. The ds mkii is not immune to source differences regardless of any galvanic isolation present.

The difference being heard between spidf and usb may just be the isb implementation in the current source. So i think trust your ears, stay with spidf until can get a better source/streamer.

Just my opinion.

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Skuli Severrisson-Strata 24/88.2
It’s is with transparent recordings such as this where my SPDIF cable really highlights the improvements over my old USB cable. It’s like a kink is removed from a garden hose. My DMP-A6 and my MKll are on the same page now. Those ones and zeros are really flowing.

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You can borrow cables from The Cable Company. Perhaps you could borrow four cables, two USB and two interconnects, at different price points and see what sounds best.

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I’ve owned a DMP-A6 for over a year and used it with external DAC’s with both the Coax and USB cables of equal quality. To my ears there is no drastic difference between the outputs themselves. The difference you’re hearing is from the two outputs is likely the difference in actual quality between the Benchmark cable and the Audioquest cable. While the A6 is certainly not the equal as a pure streamer of the Aries G2.2 in my main system, and for a seventh of the price shouldn’t be, it is still a quality streamer and more than a capable partner for the Mk II in that capacity. If you are interested in actually downloading or playing DSD material then look at a higher quaility USB cable and if not stick with Coax but you could probably still go up in quality on that front too. I would also suggest that there are plenty of quaility cables out there and many from Internet Direct companies that will get you a lot farther than the overhyped and over marked up Audioquest line. In my recent experience the cable between the source and the DAC has made the biggest change of any cable in the setups.

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And yet I’ve seen a number of YouTube comparisons of USB cables with the main theme is there any sonic differences between them. Usually they conclude that yes there are minor differences. I can only assume that their level of equipment isn’t all that great including the cables themselves. I marvel at how transformative a simple and inexpensive change can be for a system. Makes I think about what other simple things I could do to improve my sound even further. I have enjoyed improvements from isolation footers, particularly with my DAC, and I’m thinking it could be interesting to explore a few more options like that. It’s the little details that can keep this hobby interesting, I think.

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