Customers are finding that using the USB format to transfer digital data is an easy, and increasingly, a musically effective option. At Vertex we have to admit we love our Macs and DACs, and happily stream data about using USB leads. “Once you have all your music in iTunes and an iPod touch in your hand with the ‘Remote’ app, its very hard not to use it all the time”, says John Cheadle.

We have 2 performance levels of USB lead – the Standard and the HiRez. And like all the Vertex leads, the standard has the basic acoustic absorption which offers considerable immunity to acoustic transmission down the lead. The HiRez has the more advanced acoustic absorption which lowers acoustic transmission even more. But of course the HiRez also has all our anti-RFI technology too – and customers with any HiRez products will know what that’s capable of delivering.

But there is a feature within the USB format that seems to have a very significant influence on performance. As well as the 2 data lines, configured as a twisted-pair, and a ground line, the USB cable also carries a power line. The full USB specifications detail the complex requirements, but basically its a +5V supply from the master device that can supply up to 5 slaved units. But the provision of that power in your typical PC or Mac seems to be pretty basic, and boy it seems to be pretty noisy!

We did some experiments between a Mac mini and an external hard drive storing the music, and putting a bit of our RFI absorption just onto that 5V line made a massive improvement (even though the hard drive is not really using it – there is still clearly a noise interaction issue!). So in our HiRez USB lead we pay special attention to that 5V line, giving it lots of RFI absorption.

So if you want to use USB in a mid to high-end system, then whilst our standard USB is good, the jump in performance with the HiRez USB is, in many cases, massive. Just thought you’d like to know.

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