Thursday, April 18, 2013

USB Cable Comparison Part III

Synergistic Research Active USB vs. Fully Tweaked Wireworld 

This session pitted a stock Synergistic Research USB Active SE against the fully tweaked Wireworld Platinum Reference. This was probably the most economically fair comparison, as both cables push the $600 barrier for a one meter length. The Synergistic USB Active SE incorporates their quantum tunneling process, as well as their active shielding. Synergistic cables are typically very quiet, very holographic, and with a warm, rich tonal quality.

The Wireworld Platinum Starlight employs Wireworld's patent-pending DNA Helix conductor design, which uses six (solid silver) signal conductors – twice as many as other USB cables -- arranged in an innovative symmetrical geometry that provides precisely balanced 90-ohm impedance that far exceeds the official USB specification. They also keep the power separate from the signal.  Wireworld typically is very resolving and neutral to cool in their presentation. The Platinum series is very dynamic and lively, with a large, holographic soundstage. The Absolute Sound gave the Platinum Starlight USB a Golden Ear Award.

Both cables offered excellent, holographic soundstaging, a low noise floor, and good frequency extension on both ends. These are two very good audiophile USB cables. The most noticeable difference between the two was in the handling of the upper frequencies. The Synergistic USB Active SE was oh-so slightly more forgiving. It illuminates the subject with a soft glow. Warm, rich and musical. Think candle light. I found it more forgiving of poor source material as well.

The fully tweaked Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB with added Stillpoints ERS and the WA quantum cable chip was slightly more transparent, with a bit more air and high frequency extension. It digs a little deeper, is better at mining the low level detail. Transient attack is sharper, quicker, giving the music a dynamic liveliness. The downside is it isn't as forgiving. The subject is well lit under the spotlight, warts and all.

The tweaked out Wireworld was the winner here. But be prepared, it will reveal shortcomings in your music and any upstream components.

Up Next: We wrap the Synergistic USB SE with Stilpoints ERS and add the WA Quantum Cable chip to level the playing field against the fully tweaked out Platinum Starlight USB.

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