The enthusiast's audio webzine

The VU-1 USB cable revisited

VUE Cables VU-1HifiZine recently published a review of the VUE VU-1 USB cable by Oliver Masciarotte. Our editor, John Reekie, thought it would be a good idea to get a follow-up response, and I jumped at the opportunity. Being a relatively entrant (one year) into the computer audio game, it’s all new to me and am fascinated by each new, little discovery. I had yet to compare USB cables so was more than willing to take John up on his offer.

I’ll preface my experience by saying this: up until this point, I was pretty much like anyone else and was skeptical. After all, 1’s and 0’s are 1’s and 0’s. I’m no engineer but how much difference could a cable really make in this domain?

Aside from the time spent reviewing the AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2, I used my Schiit Modi with a cheap USB cable that I had sitting around my house. Upon getting the VUE cable in the mail, I swapped it with the cheap cable, and BAM! – improvements were heard across the board. What did I hear? All the traits you would associate with upgrading to a better cable anywhere in your system. Music was more intact. Individual instruments sounded more like themselves. Imaging was more solid. Timing and space in between notes took on more significance. The soundstage was deeper. It brought the performance of the Modi much closer to what I experienced with the DragonFly (which may be one of the DragonFly’s strengths: no cable).

In contrast, after listening with the VUE cable in place for a few days, I put the cheap cable back in and music became harder. It became more “digital” – when we use the word as an insult. With the cheap cable, music also sounded smeared, as if the performance was a sloppy rendition. Drama, depth, definition and snap all suffered with the cheap cable in place. 

Oliver already did a wonderful job reviewing and comparing the VU-1 so I guess I don’t really need to go on anymore. Furthermore, as I already stated, I don’t have a wealth of experiences with USB cables to comment on how the VU-1 stacks up compared to other USB cables. What I am here to report is that I am no longer skeptical regarding the impact a USB cable has on a computer-based/USB system. If you are on the fence, jump off. You’ll be glad you did.



Publisher’s addendum.  The response to Oliver’s review was… shall we say, polarized. Perhaps we shall see the same here with Thad’s followup review? We’d like to offer “equal opportunity” to a HifiZine reader to evaluate the exact same cable using a methodology of their choice. Please use the contact form and include in it your proposed method of evaluation. As long as it’s reasonable, we’ll send you the cable for a month or so to perform the evaluation, and then work with you to publish your results in their own article here on HifiZine. When you’re done with the evaluation, we’ll ask you to send the cable back to me in Australia (or on to the next person if there is more than one candidate).

Interested? Let us know.

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