TotalDAC D1 filtering USB cable review (6Moons)


For someone who said a year or so ago that he didn’t review cables I seem to have relaxed that conviction in recent months. What’s been catching my attention of late is creative thinking in dealing with the elecro-magnetic interference (EMI) that can add small amounts of distortion to the sound of hi-fi components: Louis Motek’s LessLoss DFPC power cords (reviewed here) tackle the problem by utilising the naturally occurring ‘skin effect’ to filter out high frequency nasties.

If you’re using a standard commercial PC or Mac, its USB ports are gonna be noisy. Furthermore, finding a suitable figure-8 power cable for a post-2009 MacMini might serve to eradicate only some of its electrical noise. And if you don’t have the coin to step up to something like an Aurender or Antipodes music server (reviewed here), you’ll likely be open to cheaper ways to keep said noise from reaching the internals of your DAC over its USB line.

You might have already looked at the iFi iUSBPower (reviewed here) and iFi iPurifier as well as the considerably cheaper Teradak slipstreaming option and the Schiit Wyrd USB ‘decrapifier’.


Now France’s TotalDAC step forward with another possibility. Their D1 USB cable deploys an inline filter intended to strip out the EMI emanating from your computer’s USB port. Both power and data lines are filtered.

Comparisons to Light Harmonic’s LightSpeed USB cable (meta-reviewed here) would be pivotal to any review. I didn’t think the D1 USB cable would get close to the LightSpeed – itself as dramatic an improvement as the entry-level USB converters – but it impresses just as much but with a different set of sonic traits. Starting at €360 (~US$500) it’s half the price of the Light Harmonic!  That’s two USB cables now that have emphatically trumped the $2 wire that ships with most DACs to get you up and running. Consider my eyes, ears and mind now firmly prised open.

You can read my full review of the TotalDAC D1 filtering USB cable over at 6Moons.

Further information: TotalDAC

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. John – I just read the review at 6 Moons; the TotalDAC D1 filtering USB cable sounds impressive. I’m always looking to simplify my setup, and was wondering if it could take the place sonically of a Kingrex Split USB cable/battery power combination for instance?

    • Battery power is a funny one as many listeners assume that if it’s a battery then it’s automatically a less noisy power feed. Not so! Of course, I’m not insinuating that you’ve done likewise but it bears repeating that batteries can be noisy too. And I say this depends on the quality of the battery you’re using to slipstream in the required 5V. I’ve not heard the KingRex Split but I think Srajan *might* have? If so, he’s the man to ask on how it compares to the LightSpeed. From there you might be able to get a good handle on how the D1 stacks up. The other option is to buy the D1 blind and then sell the inferior performer of your A vs. B.

      • I am hoping to avoid the try and sell approach, so contacting Srajan is a good suggestion. Thanks for that.

  2. Good stuff, John.

    No idea why they made the Dac-to-D1 end only 4cm long though. What were they smoking?

    Would be interesting if you brought a good USB/SPDIF reclocker into the comparison, but I realize that would have introduced a new variable since most modern DACs tend to gimp one interface for another (most seem to favour USB these days). Still good to hear that the Wyred-4-Sound and Audiophileo seem competitive enough against uber USB cables in a general sense.

    Slight off-topic tangent; Have you done any Firewire interface or cable tests lately? I recall you considering better Firewire cables in your Mytek Stereo review. Did you get the opportunity, or did the Mytek have to be returned before you got the chance. The reason why I’m curious about Firewire is because the bus isn’t typically sharing multiple duties (no one uses a Firewire mouse), unlike USB which usually has other peripherals attached to a typical desktop setup. There’s also the difference in data transfer voodoo – Firewire streams data, USB packets data – which seems to favour Firewire (on paper at least) from a stability standpoint.

    Again, a great read. With my penchant for tonal mass and tactility over outright resolution and imaging, the D1 will be one to keep an eye out for.

    Much thanks, John.

    • I suspect the filter box is so close to the business end of the cable to minimise noise creeping back in (via antennae effect)?

      Not done and FireWire listening. The Mytek isn’t here any longer either. As you’ve probably gathered, I only want to do the occasional piece on cables and next up will be something on Ethernet.

  3. John, did you ever try an ADuM4160 USB isolator on something compatible like the CM6631A in Schiit USB circuits? Up to 24 bit 96 kHz music by USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, the Teralink ADuM4160 has a superior power circuit for audiophile purposes. Cheap but needs a clean 12vdc wall wart. Not compatible with XMOS USB circuits.

    • I haven’t tried it no. Completely forgot about it if I’m honest. You can get these on eBay, right?

      • They currently aren’t available on eBay but you’ll find sources if you Google “Teralink ADuM4160” or look at the site and dig a bit through the products.