CAD USB Cable Review: Computer Audio Design have spared no expense when it comes to their premium USB cable design. With audiophiles in mind, this interconnect can add serious value to any premium digital HiFii system.
With a trio of products to their name, Computer Audio Design, AKA. CAD, is an rising ‘no holes barred’ independent British manufacturer of premium HiFi audiophile components. With this said, we live in a age where digital rules and, as such, CAD have purposefully designed each and every one of their products to juxtapose the obvious fallacies of digital audio. Their legacy of creation has, in fact, created a small batch of products that process a signal in such an organic means that it becomes indistinguishable from an analogue counterpart. Actually it was earlier this year that we labelled their CAD 1543 DAC as being “one of, if not, the best DAC’s in the world. However, we are now back to assess a newer creation that many will overlook; this is the CAD USB cable review.
Please note that CAD currently offer two variants of their USB cable design. The first is the ‘standard’ configuration which includes the +5v line which can be used for all USB 1, 2, and 3 class devices, the second on offer omits this line for specialist DACs that do not require this input. When ordering it is advisable to contact Scott Berry on the CAD website to ascertain which will work with your system. Likewise you will be able to discuss lengths, although termination configurations are currently not available.
If you are unable to attend one of the dealerships that stock the CAD USB cable for demonstration purposes, then you need not fear. Computer Audio Design are adamant in the patented design of their premium USB cable that they offer an unmatched thirty day listen and return policy. If the price is obtainable, then we see no reason why you should not try the CAD USB cable within your system; regardless of industry purpose -
In a professional environment, where latency is king, we have been able to establish that the CAD USB cable can fulfil all expected duties with minimal timing impact.
Scott Berry of Computer Audio Design has spent five years tweaking and perfecting his design and, after opening the CAD branded tin, it is easy to see that the cable really is carefully designed and beautifully assembled. As expected, much of the internal CAD cable construction is a closely guarded secret that is patent protected and consequently we shall endeavour to form an accurate descriptive, but certain details are omitted to respect CAD’s patents pending.
Initial inspection yields that this is a ‘rugged’ form factor cable sporting two obvious separate data and power transmission lines with solid black thick shrink tubing terminations at both ends. During construction, CAD identified that the two main inline issues that cripple USB class connections are the conductor/shield construction and analogue noise in the form of high frequency noise created by internal components within the source (ie. switch mode power supplies), electromagnetic interference (EMI), and radio frequency interference (RFI). In light of these difficulties, CAD has appeared to have manipulated the ‘Type A’ and ‘Type B’ connector constructions and conductor pins, leaving the connectors noticeably bulky. If you follow best practice (in the event that your computer does not have an inbuilt SSD) and use an external drive to stream music across USB then you may run into issues if only two ports are available side by side.
Continuing from the above, the fact is that the cable has been separated for a reason. This reason is that each of the four wires needed (+5v power line, ground, Data + differential signal, and Data -
For lower to midrange systems I will have say that there may be other components that should be upgraded before purchasing the CAD USB. However, when used as an interconnect between an Macbook Air and Mcintosh MHA100, Lynx Hilo, CAD 1543, and various others, the CAD USB clearly yielded a notable performance increase. This fidelity increase mostly exists around the often misrepresented areas of presentation absolutes. For example, the core instrumentation and their tonal qualities remains to stand tall, but the use of the CAD USB unveils the micro-
If you have been missing those complex reverb tails, the movement of a hand, the movement of a body, the position of the musician to the microphone, or the whaling of the audience, then the CAD USB cable may just be the final link in the chain.
Computer Audio Design are obviously onto something. Having spent the past number of years refining their product, CAD have succeeded in producing what appears to be a humble USB cable, but the CAD USB is far from humble; it is complex, underestimated, and powerful. As far as audiophiles are concerned, this is an item that will add serious value to any premium system. Overall The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Computer Audio Design USB cable with a four and a half star rating.