Audioquest’s Diamond USB

Audioquest formally released their current top-of-the-line reference USB cable at CES, the Diamond USB ($650/1.5m). The cable’s conductor is solid-core, perfect-surface silver (100% silver).

A key feature of the Diamond USB, which is held in the photo by Audioquest’s Andrew Kissinger, is the Audioquest DBS (dielectric bias system). Invented and patented by Richard Vandersteen, with the cable version co-patented by Vandersteen and Audioquest’s Bill Low, the DBS creates an electrostatic field that saturates and polarizes the molecules of the insulation to minimize energy storage in the dielectric. The result is claimed to be much greater dynamic range, lower background noise, and reduced phase distortion.

Steve Silberman, VP of Marketing, explained that all insulators have capacitance. Energy from the conductor enters the insulation and needs to discharge. The DBS’ electrostatic field lowers the discharge, which in turn lowers the amount of phase distortion and makes for a cleaner signal.

In a very short demo, Silberman compared music through a stock USB cable that came with his printer to music through the Diamond. Using the new Arcam R asynchronous USB DAC, Arcam AVR 600 receiver, AQ Niagra interconnects ($1600/1m pair), AQ Redwood speaker cables ($2300/3ft pair), and Vandersteen 2Ce 30th anniversary edition speakers, the difference in transparency and color was striking.

Lazzmatazz's picture

I think I know what causes that striking difference in transparency. The Diamond USB cable is lubricated with snake oil, which makes the electrons travel faster and more smoothly, with fewer bumps on the road.

Trevoire520's picture

Just one's and zero's?


As long as the cable isn't broken then it's not going to make a blind bit of difference in what comes out of the other end.

Also, something in audio being transparent is generally considered the opposite to being coloured. So how can a cable add transparency and colour at the same time?

All this audiophile nonsense is a scam, designed to do nothing more than empty the wallets of those who are daft enough to buy into whatever marketing spiel they read.

drblank's picture

Do you have tests that can prove that there is not change in digital signals from one end to the other end?  I've seen other cable mfg do comparative difference tests with digital files and there was a measureable difference in the different cables they sold and a standard USB cable.  There was a measurable difference in the data files they compared.  Noise in a digital signal can cause data losses on a small level, which creates jitter we can hear.  I'm not suggesting that the Audioquest does what they claim, but I wouldn't go around saying the limited knowledge that it's just one's and zero's.

There are things like Least Siginiican Bits, jitter, and noise from the power into the data section.  Why do people have to install CAT 7 cable instead of CAT 6 or CAT 5?  to handle higher speeds.  What's so different about CAT 5, 6, or 7 and that's just ethernet?  
I actually did some Benchmark tests using BlackMagic Design speed test software on different USB cables with the same USB HDD and saw an actually speed difference with different USB cables.  Go figure that one out.  It's all one's and zero's?  Yeah, right.

The problem is that we should be asking the cable mfg to provide measurable test results, which some have provided, to at least show measurement test differences.  I know of at least one company that does far more tests on their cables than most EE's even know about and they use VERY expensive test measurement equipment and are probably running tests most EE's don't know to run when it comes to audio equipment.  Just relying on our ears is something that we either have equipment/listening environment with trained ears to hear these differences or we don't.  Unfortunately, most people don't have the equipment, listening environment and trained ears.  But for those that do, if they want to spend the money on USB cables, power cables, etc. then they are entitled to do so.

I just think it would be easier to swallow if the mfg or reviewers have and provide measurement tests using high end test equipment to show measureable differences.

drblank's picture

I would suggest reading all of the listerature that MIT Cables has on their website and also read their patents.   They were the first company to activiley look at designing cables specifically for better audio and the head designer of their products had to go to HP and actually help them develop test measurement equipment that costs around $100K to perform specific tests to actually measure what happens in audio cables that most test equipment doesn't show.

They also applied what is called articulation measurements to their cable designs which actually is the best test to measure what changes in timbre that a cable will provide.  Obviously, these are done with analog cables.

But from my reading, there are various things like propegation tests, which can be done by network analyzers, and also noise from the power can leach into the data cables, which are running right next to each other and noise CAN affect those one's and zero's where it can cause small amounts of changes in the data, which we eventually hear.

Some of these companies have patents, which are not cheap to get, and many, not all, are using VERY expensive test equipment, have cables that are specifically designed to meet were specific specs that are made in very small quantity and obviously these companies aren't selling 100,000's of cables like the $5 USB cable mfg are doing.

Yeah, like MOST industries, when you get away from the mass merchandise products, the costs go up like a log scale when it comes to higher end products, and the knee jerk reaction for those that don't know or understand things, usually put them down for charging a lot of money for something.  Most times, they can't afford it, so it's a jealousy thing or just plain ignorance.

Even though I think it's crazy to spend $2 Million on a car, I'm not going to say tell someone that a Bugatti Veyron is overpriced waste of money.  It is what it is, even if I could afford it, I wouldn't buy one, but that's because I just think it's a little excessive.

The thing about high end audio is that it, by nature, is only meant for people that have or are willing to spend the money to get what they consider good audio.

But, just to be fair, there are some super high end USB DAC mfg that have actually tested various USB DAC cables and some of them simply didn't work because they couldn't transfer the speed fast enough even though the cable physically was a working cable.

People that think that Audiophile world is just a scam is only partially correct.  Yeah, there are some awfully expensive products that may or may not sound any better than a cheaper product.  But, if someone does hear an improvement and they want to spend the money, then it's THEIR decision to do that. 

I just wish there were more measurement tests that showed objective measurements on different products rather than just subjective.


I wish there was a standard way to measure jitter in cables, and other equipment, and that more companies would do articulation measurement tests on analog cables/equipment.  Those are ways to show differences in products.

drblank's picture

Go to Wireworld's website.  They did some measurement tests on digital files being transferred through different cables comparing them to generic digital cables and they showed a measureable difference in a digital data file that was transferred.  

Here's the link.

drblank's picture

to make.  Continuity tests are basic tests and they won't tell you how well a cable is performing. It will just tell you that it physically makes a connection. Many of these higher end cable mfg are doing tests far more involved than just continuity.

Most people don't understand cable design.

The quality of the materials, cable geometrity, insulation, mfg processes, how the cable is wound, etc. etc. are all factors in a cable.  Every time they change one little apsect of a cable, they have to then measure the differences using very expensive test equipment and go through listening tests.  This takes time, and money and it's a very costly endeavor.  Then there is being in business and making enough profit to stay in business.  

These cable mfg are making small production runs and their costs associated with it is FAR more costly than the generic cable mfg in China which just spit out questionable quality product.

If your system can't reproduce the subtle differences, or your room isn't that great, or you don't spend much time listening to the differences in equipment, then it's probably a waste of your time and money.  But others do have the equipment, room, etc. and they don't mind spending the money, then let them spend whatever makes them happy if that's what they want to spend their money on.

But a lot of these cables mfg do provide a product that is superior to a generic cable and it's kind of silly to argue the point.

Unless you have in depth knowledge of cable design, have the exact same test equipment as these high end cable mfg, and are running the same tests and can disprove that there is no difference, even from a measureable standpoint, then it might be best to keep quiet.

I'm sure some (not all) of these companies have a certain degree of BS because of how they are marketed, but in some cases, they do have a product that does what they claim.

If you don't have the money or don't wish to spend the money, then don't, but on the other hand don't just make everything into a basic level fo understanding of cable.

Why are there so many different cable specs for just Ethernet? You have Cat 5, Cat 6, and now Cat 7.  Is it because Cat 5 won't work on a 10G network because it can't transfer the data fast enough.  Why not?  it's just one's and zero's going through copper wire.  It shouldn't matter as long as the cable's not broken.

Have you ever been in a data Center with bad wiring where the cable physically works, but because it's got data cable and power cables running along side one another, they have increased data loss, data collision, etc.  Digital cable doesn't like noise, otherwise it can affect the transfer of data and data loss or integrity. That all equates into how it sounds if it's related to audio.  In video, it's a matter of how it looks.  But you are just talking about the most fundemental aspect which is continuity, which is coming from the most basic of understanding of a piece of wire.

These companies and people are discussing QUALITY of sound, which has nothing to do with continuity tests.

Johnny2Bad's picture

The cable may or may not be snake oil, but regardless, it's not because it's "literally a bunch of ones and zero's". There are no 1's and 0's when we store, manipulate, or transmit digital data.

What there is, is some form of signal that represents 1's and 0's.

If we assume the signal is some kind of voltage, there won't be 0 voltage representing the binary zero and there won't be some other maximum voltage representing the binary 1.

A crude analogy ... if the acceptable maximum voltage on a digital transmission protocol is 800 mV, then the 1's may be represented by 600 mV and the 0's may be represented by 300 mV. A zero voltage will never be used ... everything electronic is too non-linear at the minimum and maximum (that's why we bias transistors).

A signal of 450 mV in that case would have to be accepted as one or the other binary number. Errors arrive when the signals stray too close to the threshold where one state becomes another.

If we used a true zero voltage as representing the binary 0, then certain types of noise would be interpreted as 1's. So we don't.

In practical terms, although the above is used, what is more common is the use of states. A signal is transmitted when the state changes. So a signal of some kind indicates "change from whatever state you were on (could have been a 1 state, could have been the 0 state) to the other one, and stay there until I tell you to change again." Whether its within the CPU or via a cable transmitting digital data, all this happens in a stubbornly analog world.

nrostov's picture

Dear Johnny2Bad,

Thank you for your very well though out, erudite, response to yet another one of the "it's just one's and zero's" comments.

I don't know what your background is, but I build computers as a hobby, was a science major in college, and groan everytime I hear that same rebuttal over and over again about cables.  

As you said, digital data, on a fundamental level, deals with voltages, and on an even more fundamental level electrons or charged particles.

I sometimes wonder if people picture actual 1's and 0's flying down their cables.

Anyway, great answer!

simontam's picture

I used to think that all the hype around cables was snake oil. however i was wrong the switch to the audioquest diamond made a very audible improvement in my system. i switched usb cable back and forth many times over a two month period and there is no doubt that the diamond made a very audible improvement over the wireworld starlight usb cable and the starlight was a big step up from a generic usb cable.

drblank's picture

It all depends on the equipment (everything in the system) one's listening environment, one's ability to actually HEAR the differences.

I always go back to people like Bob Ludwig, who is one fhe leading mastering engineers for audio recordings and it's his job to make recordings sound as good as they can from HIS perspective since he's the last chain in producing a recording.

He using VERY expensive speakers, power amps, converters for the studio, and VERY expensive cables where he CAN hear the subtle differences in what a piece of equipment will do from a playback and conversion perspective, since that's his job.

I know he can't spend all of his time in comparing every cable put on the market and since he's in studio that uses quite a bit of cable (about 5,000 feet worth throughout every piece of equipment he has), it's VERY expensive proposition to change from one cable to another, but he uses mostly high end Transparent Cables in his system (which he PAYS for and is not given free product to promote the brand).  I'm not sure what he uses for digital cables, but he will atest to the fact that cables DO and CAN make a difference.

Unfortunately, we usually have to have rather nice, and typically expensive equipment, good listening environments, etc. to hear these differences.  Some are VERY apparant, some not.

It's unfortunate, that more people don't have everything necessary to do their own listening tests and just simple cast everything off as "snake oil", but I used to think that it was BS until I actually started spending time listening to different cables in the system.

Being into nice Audio equipment is such a expensive hobby or business to be in, some people just don't have or want to spend the money and some do.   I know it's very difficult for some to understand and acknowledge differences in cables. But maybe one day they will hear the differences and acknowledge that it can and does make a difference.