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Light Harmonic LightSpeed USB cable meta-review

  • Call me a coward if you like but I’ve been holding out on writing this post.Β Reviewing cables tends to attract a lot of unless-you-prove-it-with-a-double-blind-test-your-conclusions-are-invalid comments. Having said that, I was encouraged by the reader civility that met my previous cable review, that of Mike Morrow’s MAP-1. But that was for a power cable that sells for US$149.

    Today, I wanna big up a USB cable that sells for $999.

    Yes, you heard me: USB cable. One thousand dollars.

    lightspeed_USB_3

    The LightSpeed USB cable comes from Californian’s Light Harmonic – the same guys that make the $30K Da Vinci endgame DAC and the same guys that Kickstarted a $300 DAC/headphone amp called Geek. I guess they like to work BOTH ends of the money rope.

    A standard length is 0.8m. Β 1.6m will run you US$1399, 3.8m is US$1999.

    By physically splitting the 5V power feed and the digital audio stream, the LightSpeed seeks to minimise the former exacting electrical disturbances on the latter, which would cause timing errors – jitter.

    Some maths: the LightSpeed promises 20x the bandwidth delivery of USB 2.0’s 480Mbit/sec. cables. 20 x 480 = 9600Mbit/sec = ~10Gbit/sec.

    If you’re the kind of person that gets off on deeper technicalia, check out Steve Plaskin’s review of the LightSpeed over at AudioStream. I read Plaskin’s review, agreed with pretty much all of his conclusions and dusted off my hands as if to say, “nothing more for me to add”.

    lightspeed_USB_2

    Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself…

    I first picked up on the significance of the LightSpeed USB cable’s improvements when playing switcheroo with USB DACs a couple of months ago, initially (and mistakenly) attributing better separated detail to the Resonessence Labs Concero HP. Replicating this game-lifting with a couple of other DACs sealed the takeaway container: this USB cable brought improvements far larger than anyone might reasonably expect…

    …and then you look at the US$999 price tag again. Entry-level it ain’t.

    Yes, the increase in tonal density is greater than that brought by iFi’s iUSBPower. In this context, the USB cable amelioration is price commensurate.

    A thousand dollar USB cable probably won’t be set to work with a thousand dollar DAC. You’d be better off buying a two thousand dollar DAC. However, if you’ve got a $5kish decoder, the LightSpeed is well worth a look. I’ve now got it running direct out of a MacMini and into Resonessence Labs’ flagship INVICTA Mirus. Does it bring improvements? Yessir.

    Plus, I really dig red cables.

    lightspeed_USB_1

    Last week came a 6Moon-ing group email from Srajan Ebaen: Paul hits us with a SOTA USB cable he sez makes more of a diff than speaker or interconnect cables.

    I hit Srajan right back for a one-to-one: I have one of those LH USB cables and I agree with Paul – bigger diff than speaker or interconnect changes.

    Srajan: Fuck. You mean I now gotta get me one of those things? Geezus. Thanks a lot -:)

    Me: ‘Fraid so.

    Srajan: Okay then.

    Skeptics, run at me.

    Further information: Light Harmonic

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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