I auditioned the Oyaide d+ Class A USB cable briefly each day for a week, tracking the sonic changes as it warmed up. Some days it sounded shrill, other days dull. By the fourth day, it sounded quite coherent, and encouragingly similar in many respects to the reference, but still a little sweet and euphonic in the upper octaves. I was unable to conduct any serious listening on the fifth day, but returned on the sixth day to find the residual euphonic sweetness gone. Thankfully, by the seventh day the warm-up process appeared to reach a plateau, as the sound was recognizably similar to that of the preceding day.
And what a sound it is! Or, as is often the case with true progress in this domain, what a sound it isn’t. Music played through the sufficiently warmed-up Oyaide d+ Class A USB cable flows gracefully, with a self-effacing, delicate, open, airy quality. Resolution is extraordinary, but with nary a hint of frequency-specific spotlighting. Tonal balance is coherent from top to bottom, without the added grunge and glare of most USB cables, nor the broad presence range dip and lispy, sparkly top end that euphonically color the sound of pure-silver USB cables.
I’ve never heard superior focus from any digital cable, regardless of format. Every note is reproduced with exceptional timing precision, yielding an unexpected sonic benefit: naturally rich timbres of disarmingly realistic substance, body, and density. This “emergent phenomenon” seems to be the serendipitous byproduct of unprecedentedly accurate temporal alignment of an instrument’s harmonics, which allows the listener’s auditory system to recognize and identify sounds with considerably less mental effort.
Spatially, individual images may initially seem small, until one realizes that this compactness signifies an absence of smearing, vagueness, and bloat. Another telltale indicator that something very right is going on here is the stability of the reproduced soundfield during complex passages and dynamic peaks; instruments don’t splash forward, change size or location, or suffer from timbral shifts. Everything stays put with remarkable solidity and tonal consistency. As a result, one can play music at more realistic volume levels than would otherwise be tolerable.
Preliminary listening suggests that the Oyaide d+ Class A USB cable’s exceptionally linear handling of dynamics across the frequency spectrum may elevate its performance above that of the accidental reference USB cable, which may be just a little too mellow and laid-back. In contrast, energetic music played through the Oyaide cable thrills the listener with unfettered transient peaks. Hearing saxophones, trumpets, and trombones in their full-throated glory is an exhilarating experience, but one which is often marred by either edgy glare or life-robbing compression. The Oyaide cable suffers from neither constraint.
I have a lingering suspicion that the Oyaide cable still hasn’t fully stabilized, having only recently been installed between my Bryston BDP-1 Digital Player and the BDA-2 DAC. But already, the combination is playing with music with such effortlessly engaging vitality and unflustered ease, that I’m sure going to enjoy hearing what it may yet have to offer.
Caveat: The performance of the Oyaide d+ Class A USB cable described above was achieved within a specific context of a dedicated, optimized digital-file player driving a digital-to-analog converter with an exceptionally well-designed USB input. All three components of a USB audio playback chain—source output, cable, and DAC input—must be capable of operating at a level commensurate with the others to achieve maximal performance.
SPECS & PRICING
Conductors: 102SSC, power AWG 21, signal AWG 25
Structure: Flat (inverted concentric structure)
Shield: Double shielding with individually shielded pairs
Sheath: Thermoplastic elastomers
Connectors: USB Type A, USB Type B
Terminals: Gold-plated bronze alloy
Body: PBT + Glass Fiber 30% with aluminum cover
Solder: Oyaide SS-47 for audio
Price: $49.99 (1m), $69.99 (2m), $89.99 (3m)