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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent, Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03
Power amplifier: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2; Crayon Audio CFA-02, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Clones 25i [on loan]
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5, German Physiks HRS-120, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Zu Audio Submission
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 + Vibex Two 1R on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Desktop system: iPod/AK100 digital transport, Wyred4Sound minT, Gato Audio DIA-250 [on loan], Gallo Strada II + TR-3D, Amphion Ion + [on loan], Ardán Audio Elevation stand
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component retail: $150/1.23m ($99/24")

USB. Universal serial bus.
Despite being popular and packed for bear, there our bus can derail. Universal means mice, printers, keyboards, network-attached storage and backup drives, spot cameras and whatever else one might conceivably tether to a computer and into the LAN. Is a generic freebie USB leash the last word in sound quality? Maybe yes, maybe no. Hope for better invites hooey, bling, gauging and wishful thinking. That goes with the audiophile turf. What's a clever cat to do?

As early as 1992 Chris Sommovigo proposed that a proper digital hifi cable wasn't about reterminating and relabeling a pair of analog interconnects into two digital wires. As the success of his Illuminati true 75-ohm S/PDIF wire proved, bandwidth, speed and shielding parameters for a purpose-engineered digital audio cable differ from what's required for a '20Hz-20kHz' analog cable.

Sommovigo's Tombo Trøn

Of geese, ganders and what's good for 'em. Why did it take Sommovigo until the close of 2013 to release his first USB cable? It's not because he was late to the PC audio party. He in fact owns what Gordon Rankin thinks could be the very first Wavelength Audio Cosecant USB DAC ever sold. That stops the clock in December 2004 nine years ago. As Chris quips candidly on his website, his first USB cables "were so miserably bad, they wouldn't even allow an external hard-disk to show up on the computer's desktop, much less allow the transfer of files between desktop and disk!" As it says there too, he eventually discovered a fairly simple fix which according to beta testers renders his final $150 direct-sell wire on the level with serious $700 efforts elsewhere.

[Original Illuminati DataStream Reference at right.]

This begs a few questions. Why the nine-year gap? It's not as though he'd vacated the sector. There's my $1.995 Stereolab Tombo Trøn above. It's billed as the world's finest S/PDIF cable made. On the other end sit various more budget efforts refined over multiple iterations though there's currently no true AES/EBU. As a self-proclaimed expert on digital audio cables, what about USB stumped Sommovigo's first efforts to not even serve basic computer duties? How did our feathered friends disagree so that what worked so well for S/PDIF did not migrate to USB for an open and shut case? Was the fairly simple fix a small filter network inside the send-end's USB connector? What about 5V power conductors paralleling the signal conductors in the same sleeve?

Stereolab XV-Ultra

To back up a bit, what about the general subject of square-wave digital transmissions? How does it affect bandwidth and speed requirements? What makes one cable faster and of GHz bandwidth whilst another craps out in the MHz band? Apple's Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3.0 which outruns USB 2.0. What gives: geometry, conductors, dielectric, shielding, connectors, capacitance or resistive values? What's realistic cable bandwidth to stream high-resolution files at minimal jitter when software players like PureMusic, Audirvana, Jplay & Co. can perform steep upsampling on the send end? And with the Silverstar as budget effort, what more could Sommovigo throw at the genre for an ultimate Trøn-type USB statement?