Curious for the curious: a knockout USB cable from Australia


The bits-are-just-bits committee would like you to believe that digital audio transmission is just ones and zeroes and that all data traversing a cable will sound the same because it always arrives in tact. The corollary to such thinking is that all digital audio cables sound the same. This chimes with the average audiophile’s sense of fiscal responsibility. A truth that lies more in convenience than reality?

The signal that moves along a USB cable isn’t digital – it most definitely is NOT ones and zeroes – but an electrical-pulse representation of those ones and zeroes. This analogue signal is therefore prone to disturbance from EMI emanating from the host computer and electrical noise arrive over the air, otherwise known as RFI. Greater vulnerability to noise can degrade a cable’s ability to do its job: transfer data from computer to DAC.

Digital audio transfer from computer host to DAC uses the isochronous transfer method that doesn’t specify the error-correcting data packet resends of the bulk transfer method used for moving files i.e. when data packet arrival timing is inconsequential to the outcome.

In the digital audio world, meeting the USB cable specification is only part of the ‘better sound’ equation. The cable geometry, materials used – the conductor, the dielectric and termination plugs – and shielding all influence the cable’s immunity to electrical noise pollution, the rise times of the electrical pulses being carried and the arrival timing of those pulses.


Rob Woodland, former manufacturer of the Eichmann RCA bullet plug, knows this all too well. He reportedly spent twelve months honing the design of his Curious USB cable.

From the Curious website: “From a previous career as an audiophile cable and connector manufacturer, I had plenty of wire on hand to start the experimental process. I left no stone unturned. I tested different diameters of wire, different metallurgy, shielding, dielectrics, ground techniques, how to deal with the 5V power leg and so on. All the time listening.”

Seeing Woodland’s Curious USB cable promo video below you’ll note his watchword is ‘dimension’, a quality he finds lacking in many modern USB cables, even this reviewer’s current reference: the Light Harmonic LightSpeed.

Some you will need to turn a deaf ear to Woodland’s comment about “Delivery of music rather than just data”; a phrase rooted in emotional / promotional appeal. Obviously, without data there is no music.

Like the LightSpeed and iFi’s Gemini, the Curious USB cable’s geometry is based on a physical separation of data and power. The thinner copper-coloured line on the Curious carries the voltage and beneath the white-striped black sheath sits data+ and data-; yes, USB data transmission is a balanced affair.

Digging deeper: the power leg is made from fully shielded mini-coax whilst the data line is pure silver. Very close attention was reportedly paid to grounding.

When Woodland first contacted me about a review my instinct was to take a pass. The review queue for the next few months already stretched beyond November and I don’t much enjoy reviewing cables, least of all digital cables where reader comment backlash often proves the existence of Godwin’s Law.

Readers are politely reminded that neither measurements nor blind testing are part of this site’s modus operandi – so please refrain from asking. If you cannot live without either then there’s probably very little of value to you beyond this sentence.

To confirm proof of life and to know first hand that it didn’t sound awful, I had Woodland send me a standard length of the Curious USB cable: 0.8m sells for US$340. Extending his fellow countrymen the gesture of price-parity, that same length sells for AU$340 (+ 10% GST) in Australia. Woodland manufacturers the Curious at his home in Queensland.


The DAR coverage plan was set: a quick substitution for the LightSpeed interceding between MacMini and Schiit Gungnir and/or Aqua La Voce D/A converters before shooting photos, penning a quick news piece and returning to the review schedule proper. On loudspeaker duty a pair of KEF LS50. Headphones? HiFiMAN’s HE-1000. Amplificartion for each came via the Vinnie Rossi LIO.

Alas, it didn’t play out that way.

Pulling out the LightSpeed and dropping in the Curious saw no loss of vitality. None of the ground marked detail delivery was surrendered by the Aussie newcomer. If anything, there was even more being served up. More for less? Gadzooks!

I phoned a friend who then dropped by to play the subject in a blind A/B comparison. He preferred the Curious wire. “Better animated percussion” on the Belle and Sebastian cut (“The State That I Am In”) was one positive observation among many.

Now I was properly curious.

A week of better extended A/B-ing took hold: a day with the LightSpeed followed by a day gone Curious. Results were verified on the desktop with a 2014 Macbook Air feeding a Resonessence Labs INVICTA driving HiFiMAN HE-400S.

The difference mainly a matter of tone, guitar strums on Air’s “How Does It Make You Feel?” sound more like a synthesized sample via the Light Harmonic wire but more like the real thing via the Curious.

The Curious plays a keener game with layer separation too, especially top to bottom in the vertical plane.


On depth, Woodland’s wire is also more generous with inner spaciousness. A good visual analogy might be lower glassy ocular distortion when pushing one’s nose up against the wall of a fish tank. Again, these differences are small but to some listeners they will matter hugely. Such deltas can grow ever wider on more resolving systems.

On cymbal shimmer and micro-dynamic vigor the Curious takes it. Hooking in a Black Cat Silverstar USB cable as a control doubly reinforced the Curious’ talents in making music sound less condensed, less murky; essential qualities for more reserved- or polite-sounding systems. Against the comparative backdrop of Light Harmonic and Curious, the Black Cat’s presentation lack that last ounce of conviction (but I can see why some folk might dig its audible heft).

During a second listening session with old mate playing confirm/deny, it was concluded that the Curious had an almost spooky ability to remove mixdown congestion – especially during more complex passages – and extend decay (even on bass notes). With the finer details that paint in that last soupcon of ambience and texture the LightSpeed came up a few degrees short. As such, it sounded a little flat next to the Curious.

Flipping these findings on their head, the Curious opens up the spaces in and around the drum kit that rollicks through New Order’s “Everything’s Gone Green”. Nice work if you can get it.


And if all this talk of qualitative hair splitting has your thought process bent ouf of shape from a mental game of Twister then allow me to simplify: to these ears and this brain, music sounds more enjoyable through the Curious than the Light Harmonic LightSpeed or the Black Cat Silverstar. And if more enjoyment equates to better then yes, the Curious bests its two rivals.

Those complaining that their digital audio setup sounds a little lacklustre will likely enjoy what Rob Woodland’s design brings to the table: more jump factor and holography.

Adding AudioQuest’s JitterBug to the Curious brought differences too small to call. On the other hand, the Schiit Wyrd improved piano tone density still further. In this scenario, the Lightspeed introduced the Wyrd whilst the Curious took it home to the La Voce.

When you learn that for the price of a single Light Harmonic LightSpeed USB cable (US$999/0.8m) you can attain a better sounding result from buying a pair Curious cables (US$680) AND a Schiit Wyrd (US$99), you’ll see exactly why this cable – a USB cable no less – earns a DAR-KO award. ‘Strayaaa!


Further information: Curious Cables

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
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


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  1. In preparation for another sh*t storm similar to Ethernet cables from the ‘it can’t be true therefore I won’t listen for myself’ brigade are you John.? For me it’s obvious, products like this sound ‘different’ therefore worth consideration. Investment cost v sound improvement is in the ear of the beholder. Money back options would be nice for those will less money to burn.

    • Mike

      From the Curious Cables website:

      “With this advice ringing in my ears, I continued to question why I was getting a flat, lifeless, edgy and uninvolving sound from my system – despite using the best processor, usb card, power supply and so on.

      And yes, I did try a number of high-end, highly regarded usb cables – with similar disappointing results.

      So, if you can’t get genuine audiophile quality from many commercially available usb cables, what’s a man to do? ”

      That echoes my experience with USB cables (I have four, yes four audio, USB cables and can’t hear a difference). Curiously, :-), I did try the Audioquest Cinnamon Ethernet cable and could tell it from a Belkin most of the time.

      The message is that you really should try before you buy. Even the objectivists out there should give it a go; what is there to lose?



  2. Great review John.

    I have a Curious cable and I’ve been very happy with it. I’ve also joined the cult of USB Regen and both together have been great.

    I’m especially happy that the review was up against the Lightspeed as I’ve been close to ordering it a few times but baulked at the price. This way I don’t think I’m missing out on anything!

  3. Hi John. Great review thanks – it focuses on what I care about in audio, so I am now Curious too.

    I want to comment on the point you make about theory and reality. What seems to be forgotten sometimes is that all of our theories are never more than gross simplifications of a complex reality. Students of science and practitioners in science fields often equate theories with reality, because in their day to day work it is a practical necessity to do so, but a scientist seeking to improve understanding of the real world never would.

    I recall someone once berating me that all there could ever be to an audio cable is its inductance, resistance and capacitance (LRC), since that is all there is in the accepted scientific theory that is applied to audio cables. That may be all that there is in the theory, but it will never follow that there cannot be real influences beyond those contained in the theory.

    The problem, when designing audio gear, with starting off with an assumption that the prevailing theory is a fact, is that you then ignore all the potential influences on performance that are not contained in the theory. You then traverse all the same ground that a hundred designers have explored before you. New breakthroughs don’t come that way.

    Digital cables, such as the cable you are reviewing, are a very good case in point. Digital cable design is often thought to be dictated by transmission theory, and so one starts with an assumption that the most important thing you need to do is design a digital cable to conform to the characteristic impedance of the interface. Once you do that you begin to think that the problem is simple and you can get fixated on optimal implementation of the theory, and only the theory. Yet the reality with digital cables is that transmission theory is not terribly important for short digital cables, and factors not thought about within transmission theory can be shown experimentally (yes, in blind tests) to have a significant impact on musical enjoyment.

    The same applies to the point about measurement versus subjective listening. Using measurement, and relying on it, is dependent on first accepting the theory that justifies the relevance of the measurement, and so falls foul of the same point about treating a theory as if it is a fact. In my experience a ‘wild-assed guess’ at the answer to the right question (like “am I enjoying the music better or worse now?”) is usually better, for all its faults, than a precisely measured answer to the wrong, or at least very limited, question (like “does this USB cable conform to the USB 2.0 specification?”).

    Mark Jenkins
    Antipodes Audio

    • ‘our theories are never more than gross simplifications of a complex reality’ ……if ever there was a list of top quotes this would be one of them, I may get a T shirt printed can you give me permission? I’m coming round to the opinion that some people are oblivious to intricate audio detail which is blatantly obvious to an audiophile. They always will be and there is nothing we can do about it, another famous quote!

    • Thanks Mark for your thoughtful comments on theory vs. reality. Finally, someone articulates what I have been thinking for some time. It’s unfortunate that some take such a hardline approach being constrained to only the prevailing theories and therefore shut themselves off from the possibility of learning anything new. It doesn’t sound like a very fun approach to life! No new discoveries or breakthroughs are likely to occur by living within the constraints of established theories. I’m certainly glad that folks like Thomas Edison did not take that approach. We would have no recorded music to discuss in forums like this and we would have to be content to live in the “dark”, literally!

      On the subject of double blind tests, I believe they are very difficult to do in practice and not always very valuable. I for one have a very difficult time doing that sort of short A-B test because I simply am no longer just listening to music for the pleasure of it. My brain seems to go into a different mode of operation. Maybe some folks can do them well but I think it is rare. I have always had to make subjective comparisons over a period of time while simply listening to and enjoying music. The differences reveal themselves to me slowly over a longer period of time. Sometimes those differences may have gone unnoticed in a brief, blind A-B test but were significant as I listened over a long period of time. When I find myself wanting to listen to more and more music, sometimes until the wee hours, that is usually a good sign!

      When it comes to the quality of music reproduction I believe there are many things that affect it that we simply don’t understand yet so I remain open to those possibilities – even digital cables! Theories are great but they should not get in the way of getting out of our comfort zones (and away from our great propensity to be “right”). As Einstein once said, “In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice they are not.”

      One last point. I have always found it curious that people who truly believe that something is not possible have to go to such great lengths to attempt to “disprove” it. If I think something is truly hogwash, snake oil, or whatever else you want to call it, I simply ignore it. If there is no truth to it, it will eventually fade into the sunset without any help from me!

      Cheers and Happy Listening!

      P.S. – John, keep up the great work on this site!

      • Wholeheartedly agree – Joel. In this age of internet naming and shaming, such overt efforts to call out what one dislikes only draws more attention to it and the original intention backfires. The best way to rid the world of nonsense is to ignore it.

  4. Hi John well penned review mate and exactly what I discovered here ! you could spend 10 times this amount on a new hardware component and perhaps not get this type of improvement . The one truth that this new Curious cable exposes is that cables in general are probably the best sound verses cost investment in audio .
    I’m well aware of course that with cables the cost verses perceived material value is low because you seem to be paying a lot for a piece of wire that just sits at the back of your system.
    Now of course conversely with say a new $7000 major component the perceived value is higher because at least your getting something big shinny and heavy, but consider that this new device may only produce a similar improvement in Fidelity/Musicality.
    Best Regards Mike Lenehan

  5. With all due respect, John: if mr. Courious had just abused someone you love, would you give him a positive cable review? Is your mind as objective as a machine? Or is it time to start using unsighted tests?

    There is major research that concludes that unsighted tests are invalid, especially of the very subtle,differences of cables. I am sure you have seen it, but here is a link to a video supported by your colleague Tyll

    Do you have well crafted research that suggests sighted tests of cables are valid? Would you be so kind as to respect your redears intelligence and provide research as an answer as opposed to some philosophical reply?

    I love philosophy and i believe vinyl kicks the hell out digital. I am a subjectivist too. But i will take anti biotics instead of witchcraft when i have an infection. Sometimes science is just too overwhemling and one just has to accept it.

    • ‘Abused someone you love’? I’m sorry, I don’t follow.

      You read the bit in the article where I asked that readers refrain from asking for blind testing, right? And yet here you are suggesting exactly that! Besides, why discriminate: suggesting that a USB cable test should be unsighted and yet make no mention of it when DACs or loudspeakers come under scrutiny in these pages?

      Nope – I have no research to suggest that sighted tests of cables are valid (nor invalid).

      Per the link you posted, I note that Tyll believes (as I do) that 1) consumers don’t listen blindfolded at home and 2) no review publication has the financial resources to undertake tests that would pass proper scientific scrutiny. I’d probably quit this gig tomorrow if blind testing were enforced by law. But it isn’t. So I’m not. And at the risk of repeating myself, readers who cannot live without such testing methodology are advised to seek review commentary from another site.

      • 1) I can see how my original post may have been perceived as harsh. I apologize.
        2) When using sighted testing, you are telling readers you are a machine who can spot very subtle differences without any bias. Difference among cables is so subtle that the smallest possible bias would affect the outcome of a review. A consumer is fully entitled to toying around with his biases/placebo effects (we all do it all the time), but a reviewer should resemble a scholar (that is a scholar with nice communication skills).
        3)All tests should be unsighted. I did not mention speakers, dacs, and anything but cables, because I would love reviewers to take a small leap and start with at least with cables.
        4) When Tyll posted that video by Floyd Toole he titled the post “Important Words.” The video clearly states that there has been long and solid research that sighted reviews are invalid. Tyll was trying to do the same I am trying to do now: raise an issue. Tyll is part of the reviewing community and doesnt want his peers to hate him, so he toned down the video with some kind words by himself. He is a smart and good guy. I would not be surprised if his Pono review is his most popular review/post ever. He did this review unsighted and even Charles Hansen (the true maker of Pono) largely participated in the comments section of Tyll’s Pono review. I think we both can agree that Tyll’s Pono review owes its huge success within the headphone community to his use of blind testing. He really went for the gold with that review.
        5) I did notice that you stated: “refrain from asking.” But you are a reviewer, John. And you do reviews for an educated audience. You simply cannot state: “I do not want any questioning of my methodology.” That is just wrong and unethical from a academic perspective. Aren’t you trying to get as close to truth as possible?
        6) Taboo. Taboo. Taboo. Why are sighted reviews of cables such a taboo among the Hi-End reviewing community. I am not trying to be harsh, and yet I will be perceived as harsh…by you. That is because you have this taboo in your head.

        • Bernard – I’ll entertain you one more time.

          It was clear was it not that from reading Tyll’s post that whilst he supported the ideas in the video he said that they aren’t practicable. You’ll also note his blind testing of the Pono player was very much the exception on Inner Fidelity, not the rule.

          Perhaps you can point me (us!) to ONE reviewer elsewhere on the web who conducts unsighted tests of digital cables? Or headphones? Or DACs?

          Let’s flip the viewfinder around: what causes this sense of entitlement to unsighted tests from *some* readers? And why (in my experience) do these readers only show up when digital cables come under scrutiny yet remain docile during amplifier and loudspeaker reviews? I’d suggest it’s because *some* readers believe that a difference with digital cables is not possible. But rather than just say that, the disbeliever questions/attacks the methodology.

          In other words – and this is important – the insistence on double-blind testing (or whatever) implicitly accuses the reviewer of lying about their findings.

          I have stated politely (but repeatedly) on these pages that if you don’t like the way I review, find another reviewer. Alas, a small minority of readers bizarrely refuse to follow this advice. They doggedly insist that blind testing is their right and it’s their right on DAR.

          Based upon what though? Without wanting to sound stroppy, this is my website and I’ll conduct reviews any way I please such that the process remains enjoyable for me.

          Why do *some* readers insist that reviewers should uphold academic-grade testing standards? Why do *some* readers think it their right to (double) blind testing? Perhaps the confusion lies in the language? I’m not “testing” gear, I’m writing about what I hear when I hook it up and hit play, just as anyone borrowing a piece of gear for a home demo would.

          Or perhaps it’s because no matter what, some people are never happy? “You did blind? Shoulda done double blind.” “How did you calibrate your measuring device?” “Did you assess the mood of each member of the group?” “Did you repeat the test X times? No? Shoulda done X+1 times!”

          Why can’t *some* readers simply take what they want from a website for which, I might add, they are not paying to access, and then triangulate the results with other reviewers? Why do they instead see it as their duty to right the wrongs of the author?

          These kinds of readers are not happy and probably never will be. Alas, that is a matter for them and not me.

          • Ok, this is your party and you dance if you want to. Agreed.

            About the video posted by Tyll: The whole point of the video, and I believe there was only one point, is that sighted tests are invalid. I am not even saying I agree with everything said in the video, but that was the point: sighted reviews are a no go. Tyll said blind tests are highly unpractical, but he never said they are valid. If he thinks sighted tests are valid, then, he believes that the main thesis of the video he posted is BS.

            As a parenthesis: the high-end reviewers must have been really pissed at Tyll for posting that video! I could bet two fingers that Michael Lavorgna was!

            For the sake of discussion, let’s say there is a group of audiophiles (me included) that tend to pop up when cable reviews are posted and we always claim that they are invalid unless blind tests were used. Fair enough. But you have one thing wrong: we are not your enemies. Perhaps we feel awful because our beloved high-end community is aging and we want you reviewers to stop thinking blind tests are taboo. Give us some credit: we want blind tests for cables because we want our high-end community to blossom (and I think you know I could quote Gordon Holt on his opinion of blind tests and how they could help the high-end reviewers).

            So who practices blind tests? How about Magnepan? How about the maker of Hugo Rob Watts (I know you have followed his posts on Head-Fi).

            So who believes expensive cables are bullshit? How about the guys from Schiit, Sanders, and BAT? Add Magnepan and Rob Watts to the list.

            This renowned manufacturer from MAcintosh believes expensive cables are snake oil

            Any reviewers conducting blind tests? I haven’t find such pariah yet. It seems that he would be immediately ostracized by his peers. The one who comes the closest is Tyll, who publicly claims cables do not make a significant difference to him. If the Jitterbug @ USD$50 makes a larger difference than a USD2,000 Audioquest Diamond USB cable, then why review the cable, that is what Tyll would say.

            Now, can you quote highly regarded manufacturers who do not sell cables who agree that cables over USD100 a meter can make a difference? Quote them and I will join you. I will change my mind. But if you cant quote them, then, you must believe your hearing is above the manufactures you yourself give great praise to.

            And, finally, I do not believe you are a liar. I do not. You are as much a liar as a priest is. You keep your honesty intact by rigging the game and refusing to do blind tests for cables. You purposely seek to satisfy your advertisers by not engaging in blind tests. There it is. I said it: you don’t lie, you just allow your natural biases to reveal truths that suit your financial purposes.

            And now you think I am being too harsh. But I am not. I will take your journalism over 99% of what’s out there. That seems to be the nature of the market economy: we rig the game to pretend we are honest and make a buck or two. The vast majority of journalists are far worse than the high-end ones. It is just the world we live in.

            But I take my time to share my insights with you because I believe you are far most honest than what’s out there.


          • Bernard. Not for one moment do I consider someone demanding blind testing as an ‘enemy’. Self-entitled perhaps (depends on the delivery) but enemy? Certainly not.

            Alan Shaw of Harbeth takes a rather dim view of deluxe speaker stands and claims that his P3ESR speaker will sound just as good on a bookshelf. Does this mean that speaker stands are bunkum? Of course not.

            To wit, have you considered the possibility that it might actually help those cable-denying manufacturers shift more units if they remove the importance of cables from a potential buyer’s mind? I’m not saying this is WHY some manufacturers do this, just that it’s a possibility.

            I’m glad you concede that there are next to no zero reviewers who carry out blind testing. You know why? Two reasons: 1) A listener tends to tense up when put under the pressure of a (double) blind test; 2) it requires funding of a hired hand; 3) IT’S NOT ENJOYABLE. I reach my conclusions over a number of weeks of listening. I had Rob’s Curious Cable for at least 3 weeks before results began to solidify. I know cables are contentious – that’s why I phoned a friend – but just because a few manufacturers dismiss them out of sight doesn’t mean differences don’t exist.

            And I think you’re wrong about the possible ostracisation of any reviewer doing blind tests. I’d certainly welcome him/her with open arms.

            I stand by my assertion that demands for blind testing only tend to surface with digital cables because their differences have yet to be accepted by the greater audiophile consciousness. Your position on (D)BT for USB cables is somewhat reminiscent of those first learning of differences between speakers cables in the late 70s and early 80s; and yet those differences have since become accepted knowledge.

            And I ask again: why on earth do you not insist on blind tests with other audio hardware? Why do the double-blinders only tend to hit their comment section stride when it comes to cables?

            “You purposely seek to satisfy your advertisers by not engaging in blind tests. There it is. I said it: you don’t lie, you just allow your natural biases to reveal truths that suit your financial purposes.” <--- Nope, nope and nopety-nope. That's a pot shot in the dark with nothing substantive to back it up. Tell me Bernard, which advertiser am I satisfying with this Curious cables review? If you find yourself stuck for an answer allow me to help you out: Light Harmonic are an advertiser. Do you think they are 'satisfied' that I've called out Rob's cable as 'as good, if not better' than their LightSpeed? Nevertheless, your accusation is as aimless as it is lazy. Au revoir, Bernard.

        • Bernard, when I design products I don’t use blind testing during the first stages of experimenting widely, because it is not practical. But after that phase, when I have a proposition of (the new candidate) A is better than (the previous best) B, I test it with blind testing of subjects that do not have experience of either A or B, except in the last blind test that may have been several weeks ago.

          The trouble with blind testing of audio gear is that the inexperienced listener often feels under pressure to perform, and tends to focus the cognitive brain on the task. The trouble with this is that the ear/brain process is an active one, not a passive one, and so the cognitive brain is receiving information from the rest of the brain that has already been affected by interpretation. If you tell me the sound is the same my brain will work to make it appear the same. If you tell me it is different the brain will work to make it sound different. This effect has served the ‘nay-sayers’ well, because they can easily conduct a blind test with inexperienced listeners to disprove that there is a meaningful difference between different products. Hence why ‘blind testing’ has such a bad name with audiophiles.

          To do our blind testing, I use experienced audiophiles, that have learnt not to listen for cognitive observations like ‘higher highs’ or ‘tighter bass’, but to listen with the part of the brain that generates enjoyment from music – the limbic brain. My subjects will typically react with “I am getting bored with this”, or “I am feeling like sitting here to listen for a few hours to this one”. What is remarkable is how accurately the two main subjects I use are at picking the differences – in terms of almost always picking A as A and B as B and not confusing them, and in terms of not imagining a difference when there isn’t one. When I tell ‘nay-sayers’ that these guys get it right 90+% of the time, they simply will not accept it. The way they tend to falter is when they say “can you play me those again?” – and after repeating it for them they will get it right.

          The skill of these listeners is rare, but I believe that the results from using them gives a much better indication of how the differences in the two different components may affect customers’ enjoyment of the product over the long term. Over more than a decade of designing products this way, I am convinced it keeps me on the right track to do blind listening tests – this way. But equally, with years of experience doing this, I have become more able to get it right before the blind tests (which are truly blind by the way). The sceptic may see that last comment as evidence of creeping bias. But experienced audiophiles like John will also tell you that they have learnt to trust their ability to distinguish the character and quality of a product without needing to conduct blind tests. I don’t get to listen to as much stuff as John does, so I continue to do the blind-testing just in case I am fooling myself, and the cost to me of going down a blind alley (pardon the pun) is high.

          Bernard, when you see an audiophile state, I tried A and B and preferred A, this is an observation from an uncontrolled experiment, pure and simple. It is only as valid as you choose to regard it. The rest of us do not need you to tell us how we should regard it. Nor does the person stating that A is better than B need to be told “you can’t say that without blind-testing”. It is not presented as a statement of the outcome of a scientifically sound experiment, so why criticise it for not being one?

          This is a hobby where we share our experiences. When an experienced audiophile like John says something, although it is just an observation, I take note not only because of his experience and because he has a reputation to keep, but also because I have seen enough of his reviews and experienced the products he has reviewed to make a assessment of whether his views are relevant, and consistently relevant, to me. But the reality is that John also needs to write in a way that engages his readers, and even entertains them. This is a hobby.

  6. I think a lot of the problem is dirty electricity coming into the home from your energy provider.
    They’re always cutting corners and doing things on the cheap.

  7. Hi John – I was fortunate to hear a few iterations of Robs Curious cable as he developed it – I have the LH lightspeed and your observations absolutely mirror mine – I just think of it as allowing more detailed information through which allows a more accurate presentation of the recording – presume it lowers masking or noise in some way that is better than other cables I have tried.

    Interestingly I did some single blind tests on unsuspecting visitors and family and in every case they identified the curious as superior in an instant.

    Good to have corroboration of your observations in an area I can hardly believe makes a difference.

    Thanks ,


  8. A question: Are digital cables such as USB and Ethernet essentially the same from a construction/requirements perspective other than the different termination?

    Or to put it another way, do Curious have any plans to make an Ethernet version of their cable?

    Regards David

    • Not sure – that’s a question best direct at Rob Woodland. They do offer a USB 3.0 termination of their cable for external hard drives.

  9. I have bought a fostex hp-a8c and used chord optical opticord and chord silverlink usb cable to connect it to computer (preferring the spdif connection). What would be the better upgrade, the Curious cable over the silverlink or adding wyred4sound remedy? I am intrigued about the analog sound being described for the curious cable and am wondering if you get a similar sound with the remedy.

  10. Great review. Definitely going to pick one up. Do you have any listening experience with this cable on a REGEN unit? Does it take the sound quality up another notch?
    If I were to use a UpTone REGEN unit, should I be using two Curious USB cables? One for input and one for output.

    • Yup – the Uptone Regen brings extra intoxication to the party. As for doubling up on Curious, I find it too close to call at this stage.

  11. CURIOUS USB cable for Chord HUGO.
    Finding a quality USB cable to match the Chord HUGO had been a challenge as the Hugo has a Micro-USB termination at the device end. The Vertere DFi is good, but any other cable such as Lightspeed requires a USB-B:micro adaptor; ugly and most of poor quality ($1.99 on eBay hardly marches a $999.00 cable, creating a weakest link).
    Enter Mr Woodland and the CURIOUS, with a custom short 0.3m MicroUSB tipped made just right for a Mac-HUGO connection.
    The fit is perfect, and the sound is magnificently transparent, life-like and real. I also did the A-B between CURIOUS and the Vertere & the Lightspeed, and IMHO the Curious is the better cable, with the most “musical” sound overall. Full marks!
    This is the best cable for a Chord HUGO, which is a DAC that has sold an incredible number of units, but needs a USB cable to match. The “Curious” it is!

      • Thank you John! I am using the curious cable now and I am planning to get another short one from curious. Definitely enjoyed it! Impressed about the soundstage!

  12. Hi John,
    thank you very much for your efforts in making our listenings more musical, and our readings less boring 😉 I definitely appreciate an “enthusiast” point of view like yours these days in a field where we don’t yet have scientific tools to use to make comprehensive measurements.
    I think that usb cable design in the last years, science or not, managed to improve the data transmission bringing it up almost to the limit, but as I am about to modify my audio-pc setup I’m now wondering if a lps/usb-card/curious cable/regen is a better way to go than others in the pc realm (excluding the i2s solution that is only for few dacs).
    Also, how do you compare this cable to the totaldac d1 cable?

  13. Ooops… I’m sorry, someone already asked about totaldac cable. Weird, I thought I’ve read till the last post.

  14. this was my question as well. 🙂 so its just as musical but with even better spacial cues? that sounds very sweet indeed.

  15. Thanks John for putting this on my radar. Should be arriving any day now. It will be going up against a Purist USB. Also Rob was great with correspondence and very helpful.

  16. I just purchased one. I have the LaScala mk ii. Should be a good match based on how these components sounded in your system.

  17. Have compared the Curious against a Purist. Your review is spot on. More analog/natural sounding, longer decay, and for me a huge jump in the depth of sound. Best cost to sound improvement upgrade in my experience. Thanks for the great review.

  18. John I just want to truly thank you for introducing the Curious cable which I never heard of in the USA until now. I was particularly interested in the cable for the Chord Hugo due to the cable using the micro usb end. This eliminated using an adapter, so I placed an order for the cable. Upon hearing this cable in my system, results? END GAME! Holy mother of pearl! The Soundstage depth, width, left to right creates a Holy S*** moment, and I am truly done with my system, it is now materializing a 3D soundstage of my dreams with all the details floating before you. I Love the Chord Hugo and had it modified by my friend putting in larger caps and proprietary application of ERS which helped it further, but the one thing that still bothered me with the Hugo was the body of vocals and instruments. They just did not have the weight. This cable fixed that and was the finishing touch for me and fixed that issue and I am thankful for Rob’s creation.