Digital AES/EBU cable dilemma - please help

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Old-School, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. Old-School

    Old-School AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Nearly 20 years ago when I was first assembling what would be my "warm system" one of the first things I had bought was the Audio Research CDT-1 transport, and a ARC DAC 5. But what cable to use? I wanted to get the best sound possible... So my friend says I have a good high end AudioQuest cable I can sell you for a deal. OK. I cant make out what it says on the jacket, so I have no idea what cable it actually is. I can see the aq logo on the XLR's so it is obviously a AudioQuest piece. He swears it's a high quality one and will be perfect for my setup. I buy it. And for all of this time, it has been the ONLY digital cable I have used!!

    I just got my old system hooked up and going again with a few new goodies, and that stupid cable has always bugged me. WTF is it? AudioQuest is proud of their stuff, so the name is always on the jacket of the cable. Finally I get some goo-gone and am able to make it out. AudioQuest Quartz X3 Hyperlitz!! What in the blazes!!
    I check around the web and on AudioQuest's site is the Quartz X3 under interconnects!!! Oh my....
    For nearly 20 years I have been using a standard balanced interconnect as a digital cable! Never once did I have a problem with it. It will sync as soon as I hit the power on the DAC. Sounds good. Works fine.

    Wow. I order a Apogee Wyde Eye online, used. Just to test it out. I put it in and immediately hear noise. Yes it sux. Bad.So i pull that piece out and put the old aq back in. Noise is gone!! LOL

    So you see my dilemma. I need another AES/EBU digital cable.. and its not going to be some used POS. I have always had good luck with aq products, but the new sidewinder RCA's are less than impressive. This coming from the audio truth lapis which I always liked a lot. Sadly they got sold off in the big sale.

    Anyway.. what to do. Sure I can leave the Quartz in there and say F it. It works. But something about it just rubbing me the wrong way.
    I see the aq carbon online for about $170 bux. Looks like it might be me?

    So let me get some input from you all, what AES/EBU balanced digital cable do you use, and what would you recommend.

    Thanks. And thanks..


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  2. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Hillsboro, Oregon
    I used a Wireworld Gold Starlight AES/EBU cable. Quietest one I've ever tried.

    It's now sitting in its factory case. My new DAC does not have an AES/EBU connection.

    I now use USB A to B from the music server, through a reclocker, then on to the DAC. The DAC connects to the pre-amp via Wireworld Eclipse 7 balanced XLR cables. Again, those are the quietest I've tried. I used a pair of Audioquest Mackenzie balanced XLRs for that connection but the Wireworld outperforms them, IMHO.

    AUDIO1MAN New Member

    Thousand Oaks, CA
    You can use short XLR cable and typically not have DATA PROBLEMS for the AES/EBU operation. The special AES/EBU cables are IMPEDANCE MATCHED 110 Ohm type. The AP 322's have a termination switch. Try standard XLR and if you have DATA PROBLEMS try a better cable.
  4. Smallies

    Smallies Super Member

    Why bother with any of that, you have the highly desirable "plastic" input.:rolleyes:
  5. jlb2

    jlb2 Well-Known Member

    I fully concur with Duke. Noise in digital interconnects is the consequence of a severely defective cable. More specifically, it is caused by clock errors which can can only be caused (on short cable lengths) by catastrophically bad electrical contacts or dielectric degradation. Even impedance mismatch does not cause this for short runs: once, during a digital audio class for TV engineers, I asked every student to bring the oldest, crappiest non-digital cable they had, connected them all in series (there must have been a dozen cables or so, for a total length exceeding 50 metres), then we measured the eye diagram with an Audio Precision AP2, and critically listened to the sound that came through that utterly unsuitable piece of crap. The result? Just fine, no problem at all (to our surprise). That's how robust it is.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not advising you to do the same, just saying that AES/EBU can easily withstand less-than-absolutely-perfect cable. It was designed this way. This also means that your Apogee cable is just plain defective. Fix it, toss it or demand a refund, and save those $170 for buying records, is my advice to you ;)

    My personal favorite: any 110 ohms cable from a reputable cable manufacturer (Belden, Canare, Gotham, S2CEB, or others), Neutrik nickel or gold-plated XLR connectors, and good soldering skills. The cables I made with these ingredients have never let me down.

    BTW why are you talking about RCA cables? AES/EBU (AES3 is the actual name) requires a balanced cable, if you use an unbalanced cable with an ordinary RCA/XLR adapter you are begging for trouble. Digital noise can certainly arise from such a configuration. It can still be done, it's even part of the standard (AES3id is the name), but only with a specific transformer sold by Neutrik and Canare.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  6. Old-School

    Old-School AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I was just stating that I was not impressed with the new audioquest RCA cables that I have. Yes I know the difference. Thanks.


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