Black Magic ULTRA USB Cable


Black Magic ULTRA USB Cable is a true high-end cable, development of original Black Magic USB. Hand built from the wire up, using the best Teflon insulated copper Ohno Continuous Case wire and stage 2 screening.


USB vs Coax (SPDIF)
Before USB there was Coaxial (SPDIF) digital. This suffers from the technical problem that the clock is recovered from the data-stream, a technique that produces more jitter than is desirable. Then came asynchronous USB, where the DAC controls the data rate, so a high quality, low jitter clock can be used in the DAC. This should sound really good.

But it didn’t.

In fact it sounded worse than using a Coaxial cable connection. Some blamed noise on the 5V line. Others blamed noise on the ground line. Various techniques were used, in the form of add-on boxes and dongles; Galvanic Isolation, regeneration, noise filtering. These often gave some improvement but at a high cost; they also often left their own footprints on the music.

So in 2018 Mad Scientist designed the original Black Magic USB cable.

Mad Scientist found the real problem is not noise on the ground or 5V lines – it’s noise that piggy-backs on the data itself. Black Magic uses innovative techniques to reduce and absorb this noise, as well as special measures to prevent it’s radiation from the cable.

In 2022 Mad Scientist revised the whole cable, producing the USB ULTRA cable. This performs at a whole new level from the original.

And in 2023 Mad Scientist pulled out all the stops and produced the USB GOLD version. This uses selected silver/gold wire and a different kind of mechanical damping.

How is Black Magic Different?
USB cables are normally used between a music source like a computer or streamer, and a DAC. The two devices are in two-way communication – this is the nature of USB. What’s more, each end takes turns to use the same connection channel, so the same wires are used in both directions.

Normal USB cables are symmetrical – the path from source to DAC is the same as the path from DAC to source. But Mad Scientist realized that for audio, the communication from the source to the DAC was far more important. So Black Magic uses an asymmetrical data path with the aim of providing the most noise-free data signal to the DAC.

Many “audiophile” USB cables use the exact same approach that was used for analog cables – high quality wire, maybe OCC or silver, perhaps even made in house.

Mad Scientist found we get the best results with cable that is designed for much higher data rates than used in USB Audio. This allows Black Magic to “burn” some of the design margin manipulating the data signal to reduce noise, giving your DAC a much easier time making music.

Unlike the Heretical USB, Black Magic is available in a range of lengths from 0.8 meters upwards. Each length is ‘tuned’ so the sound quality is the same regardless of length.

Another thing that turns out to be critical is the screening. Most USB cables use a simple screening technique; Black Magic uses four different screens connected in a novel way; this prevents the cable being turned into an aerial, and also avoids pickup from other sources.

How is Black Magic ULTRA and GOLD Different?
The Ultra and Gold versions of the cable are hand-build from the wire up. They build on information learned from the original Black Magic USB cable, but add some innovative screening techniques we developed for the loudspeaker cables. Actually the stage 2 screening on these two cables is twice as effective as the speaker cable version, but that is needed as USB cables are real noise generators!

The Ultra version uses PCOCC copper wire – the Gold version uses silver/gold wire. Additionally the gold version has a more extreme (stage 2) mechanical damping system.