This cable took about 100 hours to break-in. Although silver provides an enormous soundstage, air, and resolution, copper just sounds more musically shaped (especially for voices) and tonally accurate to my ears. I find silver to be initially impressive but not as involving over time. Of course, this depends on the purity of the silver and Neotech silver and gold/silver stuff is probably the best I’ve heard.
Kimber KS-2436-AG ($1,195 @ 1.0m)
When I first A/B’ed the Kimber with the Curious, I thought they sounded very similar as far as tone and resolution. Over time the Kimber AG is the better sounding cable by providing a smoother and more coherent listening experience. The Curious is slightly leaner with more “exciting” overtones. Whether Kimber AG is worth over three times the price will be something you’ll have to decide for yourself. To my ears, I’m not even sure the Kimber AG is double the sonic performance of the Curious.
Danacable TruStream USB ($895 @ 2.0m)
This is my reference USB cable. It’s not the most detailed cable but, in my opinion, probably the most musically accurate. In comparison, the Curious USB provides a more spacious soundstage with incredible depth and resolution. It’s more transparent and quiet. The Danacable is smoother, has more accurate timbre, and provides more body and weight to the music. Although I would prefer the more holographic sound of the Curious, I felt more at home with the Danacable.
Phasure Lush USB ($269 @ 1.5m)
This cable is aptly named. It’s a very tonally rich cable. Probably the polar opposite of the Curious USB as far as tone. If you’re a resolution chaser, you won’t like this cable as much as the Curious USB. In ways similar to the Danacable, it has a denser and sweeter sound. Romantic if you will. Swapping between the Curious and the Lush and I get a presentation for different moods. The great thing about the Lush cable is that it has the ability to layer the sound like cables at least twice its price. It’s a bit like the warmer counterpart of the Curious USB. The price/performance ratio of both of these cables cannot be understated.
Clarity Cable Natural USB ($1,250 @ 1.0m)
Tonally similar to the Curious USB (It’s the silver silly). The Clarity Cable has a slightly better spatial reproduction and is even more detailed. Timbre is also more accurate and overall smoother. That said, the Curious USB gets 85% of the way there. For what it’s worth, I prefer this cable over the aforementioned Kimber AG for its natural sound. As you could probably infer by now, the Curious Cables USB is looking like more than just an incredible value in comparison to the giants.
Kimber KS-2416-CU ($495 @ 1.0m)
Although I have a proclivity towards copper, I preferred the Curious USB over the Kimber Cu in this comparison. You get so much more sonic benefits at a cheaper price. The Kimber Cu has more accurate timbre but sounds quite flat in comparison. It completely lacks any delineation across performers and really doesn’t have enough air and resolution to sound convincing.
Chord Silver Plus USB ($100 @ 1.0m)
The Curious USB immediately replaced my Chord Silver Plus. It wasn’t even close. Every cable in this lineup sounded better than the Silver Plus. The Chord sounds overly smooth and dulls out all the texture in the music.
Purist Audio 30th Anniversary USB ($1,500 @ 1.0m)
The priciest cable of the bunch, I believe it beats the Curious USB on all accounts aside from the Purist having a more tamed top and low end. Some may prefer the more present and weighty low and top ends of the Curious. Both have dimension and detail but I feel the Purist does it in a more coherent and realistic way. The Curious USB is the more energetic and sparkly cable.
Audience AU 24 SE USB ($595 @ 1.0m)
This cable is a very neutral sounding cable. In comparison to the Curious Cables USB, it’s a bit bass light and relaxed. I found the Curious to be more engaging and fun to listen to. Acoustic decay, maco/micro-dynamics, and resolution were better on the Curious USB cable. The Audience has a calmer, more mellow, and easygoing presentation. In a way, it’s smoother and doesn’t “try too hard.” The Curious USB is definitely more vivid with a healthier dose of clarity.
Vovox textura IC USB ($390)
Like the Lush cable, this cable may complement the Curious USB cable. It doesn’t have close to the amount of layering or dimensionality (probably its largest shortcoming), but it’s superbly musical and provides more meat on the bones. It has better timbre and tonal balance but isn’t as resolving or airy as the Curious USB cable. I find myself going between these cables depending on genre and mood.
Comparisons with other USB cables:
A few commenters were curious about comparisons to other USB cables. I’m planning a full comparison chart soon but some of these cables are difficult to source. A few guys from the CA and Head-fi communities were kind enough to send their cables in. Please contact me if you’d like to do the same and I’ll add update my impressions.