Long USB runs

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brh

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Long USB runs
« on: 29 May 2015, 01:56 pm »
Alright, this isn't really a LIO question, but I like you folks so I figured I'd ask here first... Has anyone used longer runs of USB cabling in audio applications, and if so, have you experienced dropouts or the like? Not a believer in USB cables changing sound quality, but I am a believer in things going horribly wrong and having audio break up, etc. Trying to plan my system layout in a new apartment, and with the bedroom (computer) and living room (LIO) adjacent, I think it'd be practical to just run USB and not worry about wireless streaming or anything at this point. USB maxes out at about 16 feet, which I might be able to pull off, or the other route is a bit more of a concern - going active. Has anyone here used an active USB cable for audio applications?

TomS


brh

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #2 on: 29 May 2015, 02:16 pm »
Corning has a good option

Thanks for that - never seen those before, pretty clever!

djtw

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #3 on: 29 May 2015, 02:24 pm »
Check out the thread at Computer Audiophile about the Corning optical USB cable.

You could also use a USB hub midway to help with signal integrity like a Schiit Wyrd.



Vinnie R.

Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #4 on: 30 May 2015, 06:16 am »
Hi brh,

I would also consider looking into the Corning - it looks like it would be a good option for you!
(but I have not tested it for compatibility... should be fine).

Vinnie

JLM

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #5 on: 30 May 2015, 11:46 am »
Will be posting a review of a variety of USB cables (waiting for samples of the last 3 to arrive).  I'm in pretty much the same scenario (want to use my MacBook Air from the listening chair) with cable lengths of 6 feet (minimum) to 15 feet (ideal).  Like you, am looking for feasibility first, then sound quality.  Note that I've been running a $6, 35 foot Monoprice optical cable from my iMac with no reliability issues and good sound quality for over a year.  (I'm too old school to drop serious coin on cables.)

So far a "mildly" filtered cable suffered dropouts or just wouldn't work.  A borrowed inexpensive 10 ft cable worked with the right USB port on the MacBook, but not the left.  No dropout problems with super inexpensive 6 ft or 15 ft Blue Jean cable but the 10 ft Blue Jean cable intermediately works or doesn't work with different ports/settings.  A 10 ft Straight Wire USB works fine.  The 3 cables I'm waiting on are midstream audiophile grade.  My review will be basic (again looking for feasibility first, no facilities to do double blind or instant A/B testing, and it'll just the impressions of my old ears).

brh

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #6 on: 31 May 2015, 12:02 am »
Thanks to all who responded... will be a while, but I'll be sure to follow up once I get things situated.

brh

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #7 on: 8 Jul 2015, 06:31 pm »
Just to follow up with people, the Corning cables do not appear to want to work with LIO's DAC. Can't really say why, but this doesn't look to be a viable solution for long runs with LIO right now...

Vinnie R.

Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #8 on: 8 Jul 2015, 06:45 pm »
Hi brh,

Sorry it didn't work out.

I'm wondering if a USB 2.0 extender like these would work out:

http://www.cablestogo.com/category/usb/usb-extenders-extensions/usb-active-aa-cables

These do not convert to optical.  They use a repeater at the end of the cable so you can connect
to another USB cable.

How long do you need?  This is rated for 39.4 feet:

http://www.cablestogo.com/product/39000/12m-usb-2.0-a-male-to-a-female-active-extension-cable-39.4ft

Reviews look good, but never tested it.

Vinnie

youravhandyman

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #9 on: 8 Jul 2015, 06:45 pm »
While I haven't tried either product for audio purposes personally, Monoprice has Active USB extender cables and several of my vendors sell USB extender baluns which use CAT-5e or 6 for long runs.  I have used a 50 foot USB extender cable to access and download video from a camcorder without issue.

If anyone needs the USB extender baluns and cannot find them from another local source I can get them for you.  Just message me directly.

Matt

Regalma

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #10 on: 8 Jul 2015, 07:16 pm »
There are many USB over Cat 5E products. They go to about 50 meters using the PC's USB power supply. Longer than that you need to use external supplies. We use them for instrumentation. I can't say how if they would degrade the sound. My favorite are made by a Canadian company whose name I can't remember right off. But they don't sell retail in the US anyway. They are very tough and the company really knows what they are doing technically, unlike no-name Chinese brands. Blackbox sells them under their name. www.blackbox.com

brh

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #11 on: 8 Jul 2015, 07:31 pm »
Hi brh,

Sorry it didn't work out.

Eh, it happens! Though I'm curious why if the DAC and XMOS are powered internally... something to do with signalling voltage or the like?

I'm wondering if a USB 2.0 extender like these would work out:

http://www.cablestogo.com/category/usb/usb-extenders-extensions/usb-active-aa-cables

These do not convert to optical.  They use a repeater at the end of the cable so you can connect
to another USB cable.

Yeah, active cables were my original thought with this thread, and was curious how they'd worked out for people for audio runs. May still consider this, though the electrical situation in my new location is pretty awful, and keeping my system as isolated from the grid as possible feels wise... Will keep it in mind though. Anyway, thanks for the tip!

There are many USB over Cat 5E products. They go to about 50 meters using the PC's USB power supply. Longer than that you need to use external supplies. We use them for instrumentation. I can't say how if they would degrade the sound. My favorite are made by a Canadian company whose name I can't remember right off. But they don't sell retail in the US anyway. They are very tough and the company really knows what they are doing technically, unlike no-name Chinese brands. Blackbox sells them under their name. www.blackbox.com

Interesting, I'll certainly look into that as well, though cost starts becoming an issue there... Thanks!

JLM

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #12 on: 8 Jul 2015, 07:56 pm »
My USB cable report is on file in the critic's circle.  I ended up with 6 of 9 cables that worked (10 foot Blue Jean, 3 meter Straight Wire USBF, and 10 foot data cable didn't work); final results were opposite of my first impressions; the rest were reasonably close (without 40 musical samples from different artists and note taking it would have been nearly a toss up); the best two were 2 meter Voodoo Magic Bus and 3 meter Straight Wire USB with the Straight Wire winning (more bass/dynamic, good tone/detail, less enclosed/dull sounding).

But contact the Cable Company to arrange an in-home audition of multiple cables to find out what you think sounds good in your system.  And pick up Blue Jean cables (2 of the 5 top finishers in my auditions were super cheap Blue Jean cables and are available up to 15 feet long).

BTW also use a $6 35 foot Monoprice optical cable from my iMac with nary a problem and no real complaints regarding sound quality.

brh

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #13 on: 11 Jul 2015, 01:33 am »
My USB cable report is on file in the critic's circle. […]

Thanks for the advice (and here's the link for others following this thread — good read), but I'm specifically concerned with runs longer than the standard/passive USB length of 5m. Also, I'm not really sold on audio quality of USB cables, and am trying to leave that (heated!) aspect out of this discussion; but with the tricks used for long cables, there are additional issues (will it work at all, will it drop out constantly) and concerns (do I have to inject my dirty mains power at one additional point?).

Have on order a 15m active cable from SIIG, which allows for a power tap at the device end, if need be. Will report back…

jtwrace

Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #14 on: 11 Jul 2015, 01:37 am »
Just to follow up with people, the Corning cables do not appear to want to work with LIO's DAC. Can't really say why, but this doesn't look to be a viable solution for long runs with LIO right now...
If you use a REGEN it more than likely will work. 

TomS

Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #15 on: 11 Jul 2015, 02:13 am »
I don't have a Corning cable, DH Labs in my case, but the Regen works very well with the LIO DAC.

jtwrace

Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #16 on: 11 Jul 2015, 02:25 am »
I don't have a Corning cable, DH Labs in my case, but the Regen works very well with the LIO DAC.
Perhaps it should be built in.   ;)

brh

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #17 on: 11 Jul 2015, 02:26 am »
If you use a REGEN it more than likely will work.

Which kind of defeats the purpose of the optical solution not requiring additional mains power… If I'm going to involve my ridiculously bad wiring here, I'm going to spend a lot less doing so!  :?

jtwrace

Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #18 on: 11 Jul 2015, 02:27 am »
Which kind of defeats the purpose of the optical solution not requiring additional mains power… If I'm going to involve my ridiculously bad wiring here, I'm going to spend a lot less doing so!  :?
The REGEN (Hub) does do something for the Corning though....and I'm not talking sonically.  But good luck.

brh

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Re: Long USB runs
« Reply #19 on: 11 Jul 2015, 02:38 am »
The REGEN (Hub) does do something for the Corning though....and I'm not talking sonically.  But good luck.

If you're not talking sonically, then… I'm genuinely not sure I understand. Regen should do two things, no? Inject power & clean up what's already going on in the USB signal. This would apply to a $20 active copper USB cable, or a $160 optical Corning cable. The only motivation for trying the Corning was that it seemed like the cleanest solution without tapping into mains at the receive end. My garbage outlets run the gauntlet from lacking ground to a rather weak (~10V differential) ground (for illustrative purposes only — the wiring here is poor).

Wasn't trying to be short, but I feel like if I'm going that route, the USB cable part is no longer so important… Curious to hear your insight though!