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USB C or A when connecting dac amp to laptop.


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Recently bought a new laptop that has usb C and high speed usb A. I want to connect a dac/headphone amp to the laptop. As far as I understand both the usb C and usb A transmit digital information I.e. it bypasses the laptops internal sound card whereas the headphone jack on the laptop is via the laptops sound card. I have a couple of daps that can be switched to dac/headphone amp mode so that the digital sound information coming from the laptop uses the daps dac rather than the laptops sound card. My question is am I best connecting the dap to the laptop via usb C on the dap to usb C on the laptop or usb C on the dap to usb A on the laptop of it doesn’t make any difference. I did read somewhere that connecting C to C would result in bit perfect transfer but not sure what that means.

 

 

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Try both, see which one you prefer, you can use a USB A to C adapter and visa versa.

Laptop USB ports are unpredictable in my experience, the front USB 3.0 ports on my PC sound different from the rear USB 2.0 ports. (I prefer the rear ports mostly). So your mission is to run some tests and decide what your ears tell you. :) 

Both USB A and C can play music bit perfect with the correct software.

Edited by eLicky
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The USB port shouldn’t matter on a laptop, just whatever is more convenient/whichever cable you have handy.

 

On a desktop PC however rear is always best as cables for the front ports are usually not shielded too well and easily subject to interference from any of the many items inside the PC that they goes past before connecting to the motherboard :)

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USB C connectors have right and wrong "orientation".

 

You can plug in the USB C connector in either orientation, they both work, but one orientation will sound better than the other one.

 

Make sure you flip between either orientation to ensure you get the best sound.

Edited by jeromelang
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What I would do first is check the USB C to USB C cable connectors' orientation at either end, and also the signal flow directionality of the entire cable. 

 

Once you find the correct connectors orientation and the correct cable directionality, you can make a fairer comparison with the USB A to USB C cable. 

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16 minutes ago, jeromelang said:

USB C connectors have right and wrong "orientation".

 

One orientation will sound better than the other one.

 

Make sure you flip between either orientation to ensure the best sound.

 

Sorry?  What do you mean by orientation?  

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I was looking up USB-C cables on Amazon and saw in the comments where one would drop out depending on the orientation.

Also another where the cable had a readout built in to the end(show Amps) and depending on orientation it was a lot higher depending on which way up or down you plugged it in for someone.

Another the data transfer from the phone would only work on a certain orientation.

Edited by rocky500
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1 hour ago, rocky500 said:

I was reading up USB-C cables and saw where one would drop out depending on the orientation.

Also another where the cable had a readout built (show Amps) and depending on orientation it would a lot higher depending on which way up or down you plugged it in for someone.

 

Ah ok I see.  So if you purchase a USB 3.1 compliant cable you won't experience any of those issues.  Prior to 3.1 the standard did not mandate bi-directional cables or reversible connectors (though there was never a reason not to produce them as such).  These type of issues are exactly why I personally advocate for people avoiding bespoke USB cables of questionable provenance (including those manufactured by some audio cable companies) and instead opt for a technically compliant cable from a reputable manufacturer!

 

2 hours ago, jeromelang said:

USB C connectors have right and wrong "orientation".

 

One orientation will sound better than the other one.

 

Sorry but this is not correct.  Only poorly designed and manufactured cables, or those that are not compliant with the 3.1 standard will have these faults.  I'm not trying to send the thread down a debate rabbit hole, but there is just so much mis-information regarding USB on this forum!

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The late, former chief engineer of Sony audio dept, 1 week before he passed away on the 2nd July made a post (in Japanese) on his Facebook page about the duality of the USB C connector and sound variances with its 2 orientation.

 

Screenshot-20220802-085245-Facebook.jpg

 

I will post the translation of his post here:

 

The troublesome story of USBtypeC.
USB type C works even if it is inserted in either direction. However, the back and front look the same, but the electrode arrangement is actually different, so the sound is naturally different.
This is the same for the iPhone lightning cable.
However, I don't remember seeing any remarks about the difference in sound quality between the front and back of the Lightning cable.

 

so I think iPhone users generally have a naive way of thinking about sound quality.


Aside from that, at least those who call themselves audio enthusiasts should be aware of the USB Type C cable front. Well, in general, it would be more convenient to not have a faceplate, but in terms of audio, the standard is actually not good.

 

what do i have to decide There are two cable entries, two cable exits, and the polarity of the USB Type C power source (e.g. charger). Above, we have 2X2X2= 8 and other combinations. Let's listen to this combination first. Then write the score on a piece of paper.


If the polarity of the audio system is well managed, 1/8 with the correct polarity of the cable and power supply will sound very good, and the rest is not so good, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find.


If you don't get it at all, don't worry about it, it's just the audio system level or your ear level. It's a great environment to enjoy music.


But anyone who is a professional or who wants to say a word about professional work (including those who want to brand anything as occult) has to decide so quickly.

 

If the cable is really bad or the power adapter is really bad, the result will not come out, but it is also necessary to be able to judge that it is so.


This work needs to be done for all USB C cables after all, but the work becomes easier and easier when the results are determined to some extent. However, the first one is hard because it is completely fumbling.

In my case, I started working by attaching a USB A to USB C converter to my familiar USB A hub, but the first one took more than an hour. If you are not used to it, it may take a whole day. I bought and prepared 5 cables, but 4 were not suitable for audio applications. Of course, it can also be used as a charging cable.


I don't think USB C is a good standard for audio because it has other problems.

Edited by jeromelang
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Just saw this on youtube.

Wow, there is a lot to a digital cable and wonder if they all certify them the same way.

I have seen videos in the past where some fail to match their supposedly spec stated.

 

 

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I tested with the output from the laptop via a USB-C adapter through a 3.5mm cable into a single wireless speaker and can hear the differences clearly when I flip between the 2 orientations of the USB C connector.

 

FB-IMG-1659401466471.jpg

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41 minutes ago, jeromelang said:

I tested with the output from the laptop via a USB-C adapter through a 3.5mm cable into a single wireless speaker and can hear the differences clearly when I flip between the 2 orientations of the USB C connector.

 

 

The great thing about what you mention is it is simple & free to try for anyone using these type of cables.

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1 hour ago, rocky500 said:

Just saw this on youtube.

Wow, there is a lot to a digital cable and wonder if they all certify them the same way.

I have seen videos in the past where some fail to match their supposedly spec stated.

Good question. The vast majority of audio branded or audiophile label USB cables do NOT meet specification. They do not even try to measure it, and I can never recall a USB certification with any audio brand cable. The geometry usually doesn't even meet the design specifications.

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1 hour ago, jeromelang said:

The late, former chief engineer of Sony audio dept, 1 week before he passed away on the 2nd July made a post on his Facebook page about the duality of the USB C connector and sound variances with its 2 orientation.

 

Screenshot-20220802-085245-Facebook.jpg

 

I will post the translation of his post here:

 

The troublesome story of USBtypeC.
USB type C works even if it is inserted in either direction. However, the back and front look the same, but the electrode arrangement is actually different, so the sound is naturally different.
This is the same for the iPhone lightning cable.
However, I don't remember seeing any remarks about the difference in sound quality between the front and back of the Lightning cable.

 

so I think iPhone users generally have a naive way of thinking about sound quality.


Aside from that, at least those who call themselves audio enthusiasts should be aware of the USB Type C cable front. Well, in general, it would be more convenient to not have a faceplate, but in terms of audio, the standard is actually not good.

 

what do i have to decide There are two cable entries, two cable exits, and the polarity of the USB Type C power source (e.g. charger). Above, we have 2X2X2= 8 and other combinations. Let's listen to this combination first. Then write the score on a piece of paper.


If the polarity of the audio system is well managed, 1/8 with the correct polarity of the cable and power supply will sound very good, and the rest is not so good, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find.


If you don't get it at all, don't worry about it, it's just the audio system level or your ear level. It's a great environment to enjoy music.


But anyone who is a professional or who wants to say a word about professional work (including those who want to brand anything as occult) has to decide so quickly.

 

If the cable is really bad or the power adapter is really bad, the result will not come out, but it is also necessary to be able to judge that it is so.


This work needs to be done for all USB C cables after all, but the work becomes easier and easier when the results are determined to some extent. However, the first one is hard because it is completely fumbling.

In my case, I started working by attaching a USB A to USB C converter to my familiar USB A hub, but the first one took more than an hour. If you are not used to it, it may take a whole day. I bought and prepared 5 cables, but 4 were not suitable for audio applications. Of course, it can also be used as a charging cable.


I don't think USB C is a good standard for audio because it has other problems.

 

This may be an issue of the translation, but I am really struggling to understand what he was trying to say here and consequently I'm not sure what this contributes to this discussion beyond Mr Kanai having a view that there may have been some issues with USB-C.  This part "USB type C works even if it is inserted in either direction. However, the back and front look the same, but the electrode arrangement is actually different, so the sound is naturally different."  doesn't make any sense at all.  There is no electrode arrangement, and a suitably designed cable is perfectly bi-directional with reversible connectors.  Also not clear what he means by 'other problems'.

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1 hour ago, jeromelang said:

I tested with the output from the laptop via a USB-C adapter through a 3.5mm cable into a single wireless speaker and can hear the differences clearly when I flip between the 2 orientations of the USB C connector.

 

FB-IMG-1659401466471.jpg

 

Ok...but this is a presumably inexpensive USB DAC not a USB cable, which is the subject of this discussion.  

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Oh, I just remember we just bought a pair of KEF LSX ii for sound comparison.

It has a USB C input.

I can go buy a USB C to USB C cable, or I can temporarily try using the USB A to USB C cable (that was supplied with the MiniDSP UMIK-2 microphone) for testing.

 

Edited by jeromelang
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Haha, the sonic differences are so audible, it is laughable.

 

So, I got out that USB-A to USB-C cable that came supplied with the minidsp umik2 microphone and connect it between my laptop and the KEF LSX ii. 

 

As I've experienced with the single piece of active speakers near the end of June, the LSX ii exhibit vast differences in soundstaging size and imaging perspective when the USB-C connector orientation at the back of the LSX ii was flipped back and forth.

 

20220802-164929.jpg

 

Track tested: Trisha Yearwood's "On a bus to ST. Cloud" via Tidal

 

Even with this level of equipment I can hear sonic differences, easily.

 

No doubt those with deeper pockets to afford better gears will hear more differences than I. So do try to check USB-C cable connector orientation for your self to ensure you get the best sound.

Edited by jeromelang
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The next thing I gotta check is this supplied cable that came with the UMIK-2 microphone, whether will it make the mic pick up any differences when I do frequency response measurements, if I swap the USB-C connector orientation at the base of the mic...

 

20220802-184320.jpg

Edited by jeromelang
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I can see that there is much confusion particularly with usb C. I have read that many new monitors have usb C inputs to connect laptop to external monitor. Technically they are termed thunderbolt but look like and compatible with usb C. Apparently a special usb C to usb C cable is needed. My laptop hasn’t arrived yet so I’m unable to try the many possibilities but I’m starting to think that a usb A dongle is the way to go, at least there should be no wiring or compatibility problems. Can Anyone recommend a good buy not expensive usb dongle.

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On 01/08/2022 at 9:10 PM, jpw007 said:

The USB port shouldn’t matter on a laptop, just whatever is more convenient/whichever cable you have handy.

 

On a desktop PC however rear is always best as cables for the front ports are usually not shielded too well and easily subject to interference from any of the many items inside the PC that they goes past before connecting to the motherboard :)

 

Not true, and not my experience. 

Not all ports are created equal, that's for sure. 

Especially between PC's. 

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On 02/08/2022 at 1:49 PM, jeromelang said:

The late, former chief engineer of Sony audio dept, 1 week before he passed away on the 2nd July made a post (in Japanese) on his Facebook page about the duality of the USB C connector and sound variances with its 2 orientation.

 

Screenshot-20220802-085245-Facebook.jpg

 

I will post the translation of his post here:

 

The troublesome story of USBtypeC.
USB type C works even if it is inserted in either direction. However, the back and front look the same, but the electrode arrangement is actually different, so the sound is naturally different.
This is the same for the iPhone lightning cable.
However, I don't remember seeing any remarks about the difference in sound quality between the front and back of the Lightning cable.

 

so I think iPhone users generally have a naive way of thinking about sound quality.


Aside from that, at least those who call themselves audio enthusiasts should be aware of the USB Type C cable front. Well, in general, it would be more convenient to not have a faceplate, but in terms of audio, the standard is actually not good.

 

what do i have to decide There are two cable entries, two cable exits, and the polarity of the USB Type C power source (e.g. charger). Above, we have 2X2X2= 8 and other combinations. Let's listen to this combination first. Then write the score on a piece of paper.


If the polarity of the audio system is well managed, 1/8 with the correct polarity of the cable and power supply will sound very good, and the rest is not so good, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find.


If you don't get it at all, don't worry about it, it's just the audio system level or your ear level. It's a great environment to enjoy music.


But anyone who is a professional or who wants to say a word about professional work (including those who want to brand anything as occult) has to decide so quickly.

 

If the cable is really bad or the power adapter is really bad, the result will not come out, but it is also necessary to be able to judge that it is so.


This work needs to be done for all USB C cables after all, but the work becomes easier and easier when the results are determined to some extent. However, the first one is hard because it is completely fumbling.

In my case, I started working by attaching a USB A to USB C converter to my familiar USB A hub, but the first one took more than an hour. If you are not used to it, it may take a whole day. I bought and prepared 5 cables, but 4 were not suitable for audio applications. Of course, it can also be used as a charging cable.


I don't think USB C is a good standard for audio because it has other problems.

 

Very interesting. 

 

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