Out in Rob Woodland's open is disinterest in connector porn. Some audiophiles grow hard over big connectors; the bigger and heavier, the poppier their veins. Think machined aluminium sleeves with deep brand engraving to ensconce gold-plated USB plugs [$3'500 Kubala-Sosna Revelation at right]. It's no different than adolescent obsession with aftermarket rims for their rides. On that count, the Curious goes limpnik. Anyone familiar with the original Bullet Plug of course knows. Eichmann's legacy doesn't champion the usual metal (over)dose. And curious audiophiles have already chatted up those speaker manufacturers who secretly admitted to them to using nuclear-proof connectors only because they look more impressive and their clients expect them. It's not because they sound any better (or in fact, worse but who'd ever know?). To be sure, whatever makes you happy, goes. Curious happiness simply won't be about bling socketry. Ditto for a leather-bound presentation box, certificate of authenticity or serial number. And yes, I am stretching this thin. In my defense, the whole curious angle made me do it. Snap.

So what do you get if not reaffirmation of your manhood from cable girth and connector gilding? A plain cardboard box with a plain and affordable cable inside. The very thin power leg's propensity for doing a bit of its own thing rather than perfectly conform to how you drape the data bundle could seem a tad funky. But, really, who's gonna see it behind your rack? All user and media reviews at that time referenced a need for conditioning before this cable would fully blossom. Speaker cables must be accompanied by ear, through whatever dark period they suffer (unless you drove chunky load resistors). A USB leash can thankfully go on endless repeat without a peep. I had two eval scenarios. My desktop runs an HP Z230 pro workstation on Win 7/64 into a pair of Swiss Eversound Essence active speakers. Their USB DAC and active linestage were penned by Gordon Rankin of Wavelength/AudioQuest fame whilst 4th-gen ICEpower handles power and a quality Alps analog volume. The drivers in their aluminium cabs are custom 4.5" coaxials with soft-dome tweeters. To raise them to ear level, mine squat atop tempered glass shelves of jewel-case height. As a result, the virtual soundstage is a perfect overlay on the 30" ZDisplay monitor, not a low rider below it. A Gallo subwoofer augments the LF below 40Hz underneath the desk.

Our main system is fronted by a fully loaded 5K iMac with the most current PureMusic and Audirvana software players handing over to a Fore Audio DAISy 1 DAC via a 3-metre run of KingRex's red double-header USB cable. Those would be my launch pads for interplanetary USB trips to the perhaps seventh moon. First up would be the desktop with Qobuz or Tidal full-resolution subscription streaming. For that, a BlueJeans Cable certified 2-metre CAT6a Ethernet link connects our router to the PC. Here the standard USB cable is a slinky Telos. For the big rig, I also had the double-header LightSpeed from Light Harmonic. My iMac sits in a lazy-susan type base from an Apple accessory provider. I routinely rotate it to suit different seat positions. The LightSpeed's plug has a propensity for slipping out just far enough to lose contact. The tighter KingRex remains glued to the action no matter what. Ergo my preference. But to mix my rocket fuel, the LightSpeed would certainly make an appearance. A third audition would route the iMac's USB appendage directly into the Aura Vita integrated. That serves living-room headfi with the HifiMan HE1000 on a 3-metre leash. The Vita's own USB DAC is merely basic, hence I usually feed its balanced analog inputs off the DAISy 1 instead. For this test, would a plainer USB DAC obscure or eliminate cable differences? With John Darko having handed the Curious USB a KnockOut award already; and with him and I seeing perfectly eye to eye on digital (reference his Darko DAC index for itemized proof), I was prepared to see darko again.