Through a conventional USB cable the soundstage for these left-to-right drum rolls was relatively flat, spreading out in a plane positioned just slightly behind my system’s speakers. With the GT2 cable in play, however, the rolls swept through a much wider and deeper arc behind the speakers, giving the presentation a more realistic sound and feel. The sound of the cymbals and high hats, in turn, seemed somewhat two-dimensional and wiry through the conventional USB cable—more like bursts of white noise than real cymbals. Through the GT2 cable, however, I could hear more of the initial “ping” as the cymbals were struck and more of the shimmering, metallic decay as their sound faded away. Similarly, the GT2 cable passed digital audio data that allowed me to hear the delicate “shusshh” of the high-hat mechanism opening and closing. Granted, these are perhaps small sonic details, but they are important ones, too—details that mark the difference between “pretty good” sound and sound that has serious elements of realism.
One of the most realistic and beautiful recording I’ve run across of late is Christopher Roberts’ Last Cicada Singing [Cold Blue], which presents Roberts performing a selection of four of his own compositions written for a fretless Chinese stringed instrument called a Qin. The instrument, which is typically plucked, has a distinctive and almost chime-like voice, with a terrifically evocative quality that becomes apparent whenever the performer slides (or bends) a note upward or downward in pitch, evoking a rainbow-like swirl of harmonics and overtones.
Frankly, Last Cicada Singing sounds quite good through the conventional USB cable—good, that is, until you hear the same track with the GT2 cable in the system. The conventional cable captures much of the harmonic information as well as plectrum noises as the Qin is played, but it does so in way that makes the plucking noises sound overly sharp-edged and prominent, while presenting the harmonics in a disembodied way—almost as if they were somehow disconnected from the instrument that produced them. But play the same album through GT2 cable and you’ll hear the sound become more integrated, organic, and whole. The plucking sounds, while still crisp and distinct, lose their artificially glassy-sounding edges, while the harmonics of the Qin sound—both in pitch and texture—like natural extensions of the fundamental sound of the instrument. Perhaps for this reason, the presentation takes on a heightened quality of “reach-out-and-touch-the-performer” palpability, which is well worth experiencing.
While not a panacea, Furutech’s GT2 USB cable addresses and helps to mitigate some sonic problems commonly associated with USB digital audio interfaces. For those who may have questioned whether USB can be an enjoyable interface for use by demanding audiophiles, the GT2 cable goes a good way toward answering the question in the affirmative.
Furutech GT2 USB Cable
Price: .6 meter cable, $100; 5 meter cable, $240; other intermediate sizes are available.