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"The 4th factor to consider is that Ii the USB 2.0 Audio Class standard, asynchronous transmission means real-time transmission. There is some basic error correction but there is no guarantee that the signal will be received bit-perfect as there is no error-then-resend mechanism. Transferring music samples is not like sending a file to your USB hard drive or USB printer. There is no retry. If a music sample is distorted, there will be errors reading the transitions from 0 to 1 or 1 to 0.

"The upshot is that maintaining data integrity is more important for a USB cable that's used for music than for a hard drive, keyboard, mouse or printer. USB really is one vast umbrella that covers almost every peripheral. This sadly confuses people to think that each USB cable is the same. Sorry but in truth it's not. That'd be just like thinking one could use an analog RCA cable to connect digital SPDIF signal. It might work but definitely won't provide optimal performance!"

I also asked Larry how the Lightspeed’s claimed 10Gb/s bandwidth benefits a USB cable when the USB 2.0 standard itself is limited to 480Mb/s. "The USB 2.0 standard has many different sub classes. Protocols for USB 2.0 hard drives, printers and so on differ from those used for music transmission in USB Audio Class 2.0 especially when asynchronous transmission is involved. Digital audio streams in real time. If a printer misses part of a signal, it'll ask the computer to send the signal over and over until it gets it right. Streaming audio to a DAC obviously can't work that way. If the DAC misses part of the signal due to noise or jitter, it will guess at the missing bits. You no longer have bit-perfect digital audio. If the timing of an arriving music signal package is altered, there's no way to correct it.

"The bandwidth of Lightspeed is like a 20-lane highway for the digital audio signal. This avoids any possible traffic jam or noise such as the clicks many other USB cables produce when downloading DSD files. Lightspeed is designed for highest speed transmission to be more than adequate even if used with the USB 3.0 protocol in the future."

I connected the Lightspeed between my Asus laptop and John Kenny JKSPDIF Mk3 USB/SPDIF converter which connects to my Audiomat Tempo 2.6 DAC. Also seeing service was SOtM’s sMS-1000 server and matching sDP-1000 DAC, the latter allowing me to sample DSD files. With either front end the results were staggering and well beyond what I thought possible with a USB cable. Playing the 24/96 remaster of Elton John’s Madman Across the Water [Island/HDTracks 24/96 WAV] I was struck by the sheer size of the soundstage and how real and present this album felt. The degree of detail and overall transparency was outstanding. It was a massive improvement compared to three other aftermarket USB cables I had on hand - Transparent Audio’s Performance, Cardas’s Clear Serial BUSS and Nordost’s Blue Heaven, hardly chopped liver themselves as each provided a musically significant upgrade over generic USB cables. The Lightspeed left them all in a cloud of dust. Not even close. The clouds did indeed part and light shone down from on high.

Another key area where the Lightspeed was clearly superior was low-level detail retrieval. Instrumental and vocal nuances, subtle inflections and timbral truth were far more apparent. Aaron Neville’s distinctive voice on Warm Your Heart [A&M/K2HD 5334172 16/44.1 WAV] clearly stood out in a huge silent background sweet, full and creamily smooth. Ry Cooder’s tasty slide licks on It Feels Like Rain were wonderfully vivid and tactile. Overall this album had a delightful vibe and toe-tapping flow I hadn’t experienced quite to this degree with a USB cable previously.

Reference Recordings Exotic Dances from the Opera [RR HR-71 24/176.4 WAV] was spectacular as was Jon Leifs’s exciting Saga Symphony [BIS CD-730 16/44.1 WAV]. Orchestral dynamics were superb and overall sense of scale was excellent. I could hear around the notes and unravel complex orchestral threads. The feel or atmosphere of the recording venue was damn near reach-out-and-touch-it palpable. There was simply less in the way between me and the performance.