Cables

Digital Cables: Chord Company SilverPlus USB vs. Supra USB

I didn’t really subscribe to the idea of USB cables making difference. I was pretty much in the same camp as these guys and these guys. However, as I’ve learned on this climb up the audio food chain, everything matters for audio. It’s not as simple as 0’s and 1’s. There’s timing involved, noise pollution from components, EMI/RFI (From your home’s power line, power cables, etc), the material itself, length of cable, etc.  I didn’t realize how much jitter/noise came from a laptop until I tried an Uptone Regen. This journey has taught me many things.

So I was using a Supra USB cable with my Uptone one day and realized I kept taking off my headphones due to fatigue. It was an extremely detailed cable but a bit too harsh with my Sim Audio Moon 430HAD + Abyss headphones. A friend of mine (Thanks Dean!) recommended the Chord SilverPlus USB cable.

I didn’t expect a huge difference but it was night & day. I felt the Chord was more expansive as far as soundstage, low-end was MUCH better, better clarity, and more natural overall. It offered fresher dynamics and coherence. In addition, it adds this muscular and fuller body I didn’t know I was missing with the Supras. The overall presentation was just so much more seductive and enjoyable. I just couldn’t go back.

Conclusion

If you have darker/warmer gear (headphones/DACs/amps) like the Audeze LCD-3 or even the Philips Fidelio X2, the Supras might work well. For my preferences and setup, I much MUCH prefer the Chord SilverPlus.

If you don’t believe USB cables could make an audible difference in sound, you  just haven’t heard enough of them. Even between cheaper cables, there’s a difference. USB cables do have their own sound (which admittedly, is super annoying). That’s why companies like The Cable Company are a cost and time efficient way to evaluate them. When I first heard about the company, I thought it was ludicrous people would actually want to try so many different (and some very expensive) cables. Now I get it. Before accusing reviewers of selling snake oil, try them out for yourselves and use your ears to judge.

 

 

Jay Luong

Mr. Audio Bacon himself. An open-minded electrical engineer and software developer by trade. I have an obsession with the enjoyment of all things media - specifically in the realm of music and film. So much heart and soul (and money) go into the creation of this artistry. My aim is to find out which products get me closer to what the musicians and directors intended.

View Comments

  • I have to say I agree on everything about the Supra cable you wrote on my setup - windows 10 pc, winyl music player (hope you know music players also sound different due to different libraries and timing), apogee groove dac to srh1540. I'd describe it as clear and bright, laidback and somewhat forced (but fantastic) detail. Super sensitive to high passing in the music. Especially processed voices, violins and cymbals (ouch). I also found that the bass on this sounded "bootleggish" for lack of a better word. Had everything, depth, pitch differentiation, precision, even the texture differentiation but lacked weight. I hear everything about the rumble except the feel. Supra is the only thing that removed the tactility I get on my headphones (they typically rattle on your skull with heavy bass notes).

    I wish to buy the curious cable but it's too expensive for me at the moment. Any alternatives you'd recommend me around 60-100$ ish other than the chord company cables?

    • I forgot to add one thing in the original comment. I only described the deficits there. I still love most of the things the cable does. Exquisite rendition of high pitched voices and flutes when the recordings are good. I wouldn't want to miss that, at all. Just need a bit better body and not overreact to high passing

    • I totally get what you mean. I'm evaluating a few more cables now - but they're all pretty expensive (over $1,000). I'll let you know if a good sub $100 comes up.

  • I got the uptone uspcb a few days ago and have been loving it. The detail of supra, but with less of the lossy/modulated flaws. Now I'm fighting buffer overrun issues on my pc but that's a problem of my pc not the uspcb. It's technically not a cable, and is very short, so may not work for everyone. But for me, it does pretty much everything I want it to do.

    Also I saw your old post on music players. I have also been comparing music players. I don't like foobar btw, have measured it to have worse distortions and even more unmeasured issues. I have never liked any paid players either for direct connection to usb dac (jriver, roon etc), except hqplayer which is based on bass audio library. Audirvana was ok.

    If you are on windows, for a free software, please try musicbee (configure it to flush full to ram, remove all fade out things, and set volume to 100%). I also recommend winyl 64 bit which is based on same audio library, and imo has better timing but has a show stopper bug, which I'm trying to fix. I'll let you know if that is done. Another software that I like on windows which sounds very nice is hysolid, but the android remote app is broken beyond android 6, and the app is quite buggy. Sq is clearly a league above every other player I've tried on windows. It sounds very much like a nicely saturated compressor.

    And if you haven't tried, do check out some recommendations from focusrite: https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207355205-Optimising-your-PC-for-Audio-on-Windows-10

    All above are only if you want to battle windows. I remember someone recommended you wtfplay in the older post, and my recommendation is the same. It sounds fabulous and is multiple tiers above any player in windows, hysolid being a distant second in my list.

  • Hi Jay. Based on your recommendation, I went for the Chord SilverPlus. So glad I did. What a difference. It's anything but snake oil - more like audio lube. Bass is better defined, mids and tops more accurate and a good deal sweeter. A great find and not silly money.

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