Consider this USB cable if: you find upper midrange and treble sounds through USB interfaces tend to sound overly bright, edgy, and two-dimensional, and would like a cable that can help address these problems without having a negative impact on low-level sonic details.
Look elsewhere if: you seek a “silver bullet” solution that will magically turn USB into the highest quality digital audio interface there is. Furutech’s GT2 cable improves sound quality in USB applications, but it is not a panacea. Other digital audio interfaces such as S/PDIF may still offer greater performance potential. Nevertheless, the GT2 cable helps USB “be all it can be.”
Furutech’s GT2-series cables provide:
Note that Furutech has also developed a sister-line of GT3 cables designed for use in upcoming USB 3.0 applications. The higher specification GT3 cables are designed along similar lines to the GT2 cables, but provide a more elaborate five-layer shielding system.
I personally have found that PC-based, USB-driven digital audio systems tend to offer solid, well-resolved bass, clear mids with stable imaging positions, and a good measure of rhythmic drive. The Furutech cable builds upon these core sonic strengths of USB, while contributing clear-cut improvements in two important areas.
First, the GT2 cable attacks the most fundamental problems of USB sound: thin, edgy, and occasionally strident-sounding upper mids and highs. With the GT2 cable in play, these “sins of omission” are mitigated or tempered to a point where the overall sound becomes noticeably smoother and more enjoyable to hear. Even with the GT2 cable in use, one could argue that S/PDIF interfaces still sound better, but the key point is that GT2 cable helps narrow the perceived gap between USB and S/PDIF performance. Forward progress is a good thing.
Interestingly, the GT2 cable does not appear to function as any sort of “filter”—at least not in the sense that it removes unpleasant sonic artifacts, but at the expense of lost musical information. On the contrary, musical information is left intact, while subtle, low-level details seem to be transmitted more effectively than before, which brings me to the second point I want to mention.
With the GT2 cable in play, low-level details, such as subtle ambience or reverberation cues within the music, become easier to hear and more smoothly integrated with the musical whole. Since we are, after all, talking about digital and not analog signals, I cannot explain how or why this happens on a technical level, but it is nevertheless a sonic outcome I have observed. The result is that the system sounds noticeably more nuanced and also more three-dimensional, with more effective rendering of soundstaging cues in the music and a more refined ability to capture the sense of air surrounding instruments and voices.
As I write these comments, I have been doing back and forth listening comparisons between the GT2 cable and a high quality “data grade” USB cable. Perhaps the most obvious difference I’ve observed has nothing to do with tonal balance or frequency response, but everything to do with nuance and subtlety. The data-grade cable gives music a flat, two-dimensional, “color by numbers” quality, while the GT2 cable allows continuous shadings of textures and tonalities to come through more clearly. How it pulls this off remains an unexplained mystery, but I’m glad for the sonic improvements nonetheless.
In the “Stepping (Isise)” track from Babatunde Olatunji’s Circle of Drums [Chesky], you’ll hear a wide variety of drums and percussion instruments enfold you, with the ensemble of drums playing complex rolls—panning from stage left to stage right—as one instrument takes up the rhythmic pattern where another leaves off. Occasionally a high cymbal will punctuate a phrase, while the sounds of a high-hat opening and closing will periodically press forward within the ensemble to supply an insistent, rhythmic pulse.