Wireworld Cable Technology Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0
Availability: Wireworld Cable Technology Dealers
The Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0 cable represents Wireworld’s application of their most advanced technology and materials to build their finest USB cable. I had the pleasure to review the older Platinum Starlight USB cable in my USB cable shootout of 2013 (see Shootout). At that time, I found the Platinum Starlight USB cable excelled in the way it handled transients with outstanding definition and resolution, but lacked warmth or richness to the sound.
Wireworld has preserved the flat appearance of the previous cable with physical separation of the signal conductors from the power conductor allowing Wireworld cables to support longer distances than the typical USB cable. Wireworld’s use of their patented DNA Helix 6 signal conductor design has also been preserved with expanded geometry. Wireworld claims that the DNA Helix design maximizes transmission speed while minimizing noise, thus reducing digital jitter to provide substantial overall improvements in sound quality. The 7 series has introduced a number of improvements that Wireworld feels results in significant improvements to the sound of their USB cable. The redesigned expanded geometry results in transmission speeds that exceed 10.2 Gbps. Also new for the Platinum Starlight 7 is the use of a different insulation called Composilex 2. The Composilex 2 insulation absorbs three times as much noise as the previous model by minimizing triboelectric noise better than any conventional insulation material including DuPont Teflon.
Six 23AWG solid silver conductors are used in the Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0 cable including the use of carbon fiber plugs with 24K gold-plated plug contacts.
I asked David Salz, Designer and President of Wireworld Cable Technology, to discuss the development process that created the Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable:
"The ultimate goal of my cable design career is to create cables that let you hear and feel all of the music. To achieve that goal, I created objective listening tests that I’ve recently named ‘Audio Cable Polygraphs’. In these tests, listeners compare the sonic effects of cables to the reference standard for fidelity, a direct connection between components. These tests are dramatically more effective than comparing one cable to another, because they let you hear the musical information that the cables are losing.Products Used In the Evaluation
"Adapting this testing technique to USB presented a new challenge that went beyond the usual requirement of making adapters for the direct connections. That challenge was isolating the computer noise that enters the DAC through the 5 volt power lead in the cable. To meet that challenge, I designed a very effective noise-absorbing coaxial power lead that would end up inside the cable. By adding a length of that power lead to my reference adapters, I created a reference standard that would properly represent a perfectly lossless and quiet USB cable. These reference adapters sound dramatically more detailed, dynamic and lifelike than most USB cables.
"With my laboratory reference for comparison, I began testing prototypes built with the patented DNA Helix conductor geometry that I developed for our high end HDMI cables. This design utilizes twice as many conductors as others in an arrangement that measurably improves waveform fidelity. With substantially cleaner square waves than the conventional USB design used by others, the DNA Helix prototypes excelled at preserving the quiet details lost by other cables. As I refined the engineering details that increased transmission speed and reduced noise, the sound continued to get closer to the natural tonality and amazing resolution of the reference. I delayed production of Platinum Starlight 7 until the design sounded relatively close to perfect."
I used my Asus G501 JW laptop running Windows 10 Pro 64 bit for the evaluation of the Platinum Starlight 7. The Asus G501 JW possesses an Intel Core i7 4720HQ 2.6 GHz processor with 16 GB RAM and a very fast PCE Express X4 SSD. This laptop has 3 USB 3.0 ports as well as a Thunderbolt port. The Asus laptop was plugged into a Shunyata Research Hydra DPC-6 v2 distribution center to firewall the noise generated by this computer from contaminating my AC line.
The Asus was placed on a Synergistic Research Tranquility Base UEF grounded with the Synergistic Research High Definition Ground Cable / Grounding Block as was the computer. Two 8 TB GRAID Thunderbolt drives were connected; one for PCM and the other for DSD files. The GRAID Thunderbolt drives were powered by HDPlex 100w linear power supplies plugged into the Shunyata Hydra DPC-6 ver 2.
Software included the use of Roon 1.1 with no operating system optimizations. I also used Signalyst’s HQPlayer alone and with Roon as the interface. I did some listening with Roon feeding the HQPlayer that converted PCM and DSD to DSD 256. Along with this software, I combined Project Lasso, Park Control, and Fidelizer Pro 6.13.
I decided to use the MSB Technology Analog DAC with Analog Power Base with the new Premium Quad USB2 Module for most of the evaluations. The Premium Quad Module represents MSB Technology’s most advanced implementation of USB for their DAC with superior isolation compared to their previous efforts. The Analog DAC was plugged into a Shunyata Research Triton v2 / Typhon using Shunyata’s Sigma Digital AC cable. I also listened to the Platinum Starlight 7 with the superb sounding Wavelength Audio Crimson Silver with the new Quotient DAC module. The power supply of the Crimson was also plugged into the Shunyata Triton v2 with a Shunyata Sigma Digital AC cable.
I have listened to many USB cables, but I will state at the outset of this review that the Platinum Starlight 7 is an impressive sounding USB cable. The cable is extremely revealing with an upfront sound that is vivid and exceptionally focused. It is as fast sounding as was its predecessor, the Platinum Starlight, but unlike the older cable, has more weight to the sound. The Platinum Starlight 7 adds a subtle richness to the sound that was lacking in the Platinum Starlight. Resolution of detail as well as micro dynamic qualities of voices and the music emerge with a clarity that I have rarely heard in high end USB cables. The overall dynamic qualities of this USB cable were also exemplary with power and slam exhibited at the low end. The soundstage rendition of well recorded acoustic music was wide and deep with wonderful reproduction of the acoustic space of the recording venue. Spatial cues and imaging were first class when listening to music with the Platinum Starlight 7.
One of the most outstanding abilities of the Platinum Starlight 7 is its ability to unravel complex musical passages. While other cables become somewhat congested, the Platinum Starlight never seemed strained when called upon to do the heavy lifting.
The Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0 cable is one of the quietest, if not the most quiet USB cable I have heard in my system. One gets the sense of a deep ultra-black background that results in one’s experiencing the fine details of the performance. I didn’t need to use additional add-on filters to experience the exceptional noise reduction qualities of this cable.
Another very obvious characteristic of the Platinum Starlight 7 was the absence of grain and digital hardness found in some lessor USB cables. I never heard an unpleasant edge to the sound that limited my ability to listen for extended periods of time. I felt that this cable reproduced an honest representation of the recording without imparting warmth or other coloration on the performances I listened to.
A Fine Musical Experience
As I listened to Reference Recording’s Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 7 performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony with Manfred Honeck conducting, I realized just how impressive sounding the Platinum Starlight 7 was. This DSD 256 recording was sourced from a DXD master. Interesting enough, Reference Recordings felt that the higher bit DSD conversions sounded “more natural, spacious, and life-like than their DXD parent from which they were made.” The Platinum Starlight 7 was simply stellar in its ability to reproduce the air and bloom around the instruments. There was a purity and liquidity through this cable that reproduced the rich tonal colors of the orchestra. The jet-black background allowed low level information to emerge with great clarity. The dynamic qualities of this orchestral recording were found to be excellent and never seemed to sound hard or blurred with the Platinum Starlight 7.
Lizz Wright’s new Concord Records recording Freedom and Surrender (24/96) sounded terrific with the Platinum Starlight 7. The rhythmic drive of the recording came across with a visceral grip of the bass. Liz’s voice was clear and well-focused with no image smearing. The Platinum Starlight 7 allowed the music to flow effortlessly.
The subtle dynamic qualities of the piano were well demonstrated in the recording The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern performed by Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap (24/96). The dynamically expressive sound of Bill Charlap’s piano emerged with wonderful timbral fidelity and immediacy. No doubt, the Platinum Starlight 7’s well designed noise reduction design contributed to these findings. Bennett’s voice was dynamically expressive and pure sounding without the hint of digital glare.
I just had to mention David Bowie’s recently released recording Blackstar (24/96) that was released just before he died. While not possessing an audiophile spectacular sound, I still found this recording to be quite good sounding and entertaining. The studio effects were easily heard and did not blur Bowie’s singing. I found that listening to this recording through a large system was musically engaging. As with the other recordings, the Platinum Starlight 7 resolved very fine details of the recording without spotlighting, blurring, or hardness.
Bring Out the Comparisons
The AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable
This USB cable has always been a favorite of mine at $695 for a 1.5 meter length. The AudioQuest has a slightly more laid-back sound compared to the Platinum Starlight 7. It is not as detailed sounding, and in comparison to the Wireworld, sounds a bit soft at the high end. The Wireworld has a larger and deeper soundstage with superior focus of instruments and vocals within that soundstage. The Wireworld has a livelier, dynamic sound that handles complex musical passages better than the AudioQuest.
The Shunyata Research Venom USB Cable
I have found the Venom USB cable to be a “best buy” among USB cables at its very reasonable price of $125 for a .75 meter length. The Wireworld out-performs the Shunyata in terms of detail, focus, and dynamics. The Shunyata has a warmer sound that is less defined at the low end. The Shunyata is a very musical sounding cable, but just not as revealing as the Platinum Starlight 7.
The Light Harmonic LightSpeed 10G USB Cable
The $999 for a .8 meter length LightSpeed 10G USB cable is considered by many audiophiles to be a crème de la crème USB cable. The LightSpeed is fast and detailed sounding with excellent definition and focus. Compared to the Wireworld, it lacks the weight and slam at the low end that the Platinum Starlight 7 delivers. Both cables are very quiet, but the Wireworld handles low level information in a superior fashion. I also found that the Wireworld was superior in rendering the depth of the soundstage compared to the Light Harmonic.
The JCAT Reference USB Cable
This dual USB cable at $523 for a 1 meter run delivers a large neutral sound that is a pleasure to listen to especially for extended periods of time. The Wireworld out-performs the JCAT with its superior speed, dynamics, and focus. The Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 seems to have more “life” than the relaxed sounding JCAT when playing music.
The Synergistic Research Galileo LE USB Cable
I have found the Galileo LE to be another outstanding USB cable priced at $2000 for 1 meter. The Galileo LE shares the more forward presentation of the Platinum Starlight 7. The Galileo LE with its UEF technology is a bit warmer and richer sounding than the Wireworld. The bass is also more prominent when listening to the Galileo LE. The Galileo LE has a fine tuning feature with the UEF Active Tuning Circuits that will probably be very useful to many listeners. I felt that the Platinum Starlight 7 is a little more refined at the high end with superior detail retrieval. Both cables are very quiet and reproduce micro dynamic qualities in the music very well. The Wireworld is superior to the Galileo LE in the size of the soundstage reproduced and in its ability to deal with complex musical passages.
The Kubala-Sosna Research LLC Realization USB Cable
At $3500 for a 1 meter run, this is certainly the most expensive USB cable I have reviewed and among the best sounding. The funny thing is that the Platinum Starlight 7 and the Realization could not be more different sounding; and because of their different overall sonic characteristics, the most difficult cables to compare. While both cables excel at their ability to unravel complex musical passages, the Kubala-Sosna is more laid-back in its sonic presentation and sounds very different from the up-front sound of the Platinum Starlight 7. The Realization does have the most gorgeous analog-like midrange of any cable that I have heard. The Wireworld with its forward projection at first seems more detailed, but one soon realizes that the Realization is allowing one to hear the same overall detail. I do think that the Platinum Starlight 7 is a little quieter and renders micro dynamic aspects of the music in a clearer fashion than the Realization. Both USB cables are able to deliver a wide and deep soundstage that few USB cables can match.
Wireworld Has Accomplished Their Goal
David Salz and his associates have developed a superior USB cable that not only competes with the best USB cables I have heard, but can do some things better than all of the rest. The Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0 cable excels at just about every characteristic that audiophiles listen to when sonically judging a USB cable. This is one cable that I strongly recommend computer audiophiles audition when seeking the ultimate USB cable.