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JCAT Signature USB Cable

08-05-2020 | By Dave Clark | Issue 110

Alright, so the JCAT Signature USB cable is one of the better USB cables I have heard, and fits right into my group of favorites in terms of being across the board excellent. And while I have a lot of cables here, I have not heard all that is out there—nor do I have any interest. What piqued my interest in the JCAT cable is that I had read Paul McGowen of PS Audio stating that for him, "It made such an improvement that I thought it was a gift from Heaven." I like Paul, he makes great gear, a lot that I own because I like what it does, and so he must be onto something with this cable.

JCAT Signature USB Cable

And for sure he is. While I am not going to say it is a gift from Heaven, or Heaven sent, I will say that is really does shine in allowing our music to have all the qualities we want to hear. In many ways it is similar to what we hear with our other reference USB cables; WyWires Diamond (extremely fast and revealing), Skogrand Beethoven USB Cable (reviewed HERE), Black Cat Matrix (reviewed HERE), and the Purist Audio Diamond Revision 30th Anniversary USB Cable (reviewed HERE).

But, in other ways it is different. While the other cables tend to have qualities that stand out giving it a character in a way, the JCAT comes across as more of a complete sound. Nothing takes precedence over anything else. This is a very coherent and linear sounding cable. Balanced. The USB cable from Black Cat comes really close, but tends to lack a degree of richness or warmth that the JCAT brings to the table. Which is not to suggest that the Black Cat is lean or cold, just not as rich and warm as the JCAT.

Is this an added coloration with the JCAT? Could be since the cable does use gold, and gold, at least in my experience, does impart a color to the sound. Then again, what metal doesn’t? Silver tends to be more of this and less of that found in copper, and gold tends to be more of that and less of this found in silver… or copper. Since the JCAT is using all three, I am thinking that Marcin Ostapowicz, the principal behind JPLAY that makes the JCAT line of products, did this to balance things out; give me the best of each to offer a balanced sound.

So, when going from the recently reviewed Purist Audio Diamond Revision 30th Anniversary USB Cable that brought out such separation and localization with stunningly deep bass and articulation across the board, uh… the JCAT had all that plus that touch of richness and a smidgen of smoothness (cryo-treatment perhaps?) that made many of our files that lean towards stridency, to be that much more listenable. Actually, scratch that, not just listenable, but engagingly so. Differences were less so when going from the Black Cat to the JCAT… very similar and stunningly musical for what one could consider in today’s audio dollars, reasonable. Both are extremely open and dynamic. Resolution and tactitality times ten.

You will be asking though, is this smoothness something we should consider to be of a forgiving nature? Something that is more subtractive than additive? Perhaps. Not sure it matters really. For me at this point in my audio pursuits, I am less about the journey and more about the destination. Less about revealing all that is in the music and more about the music. We like listening to music and not trying to sort out the bits and pieces. And I will admit that sitting there swapping cables in and out, and playing the same tracks over and over has grown rather tiresome. Just not wanting to anymore. If I swap in something, in this case the USB cable from JCAT, and I don’t have an immediate reaction in some way… sorry, just not interested in sitting there for hours in an effort to find what is what. Has to do something from the get go… and do something I like and want to continue listening to our music.

But, I will say that the bass is what we expect to hear from the Vandersteens with our music; tight, deep, full, articulate, and texture. Same with the rest of the frequency range, though I am not one to nit-pick or sit there and find fault in terms of that. For us it is more the total experience. We are listening to music and the bits and pieces. With the JCAT we find the music engaging and enjoyable on a level that makes us play more music.

Is it better than the others? Yes, sort of, but more of a difference than anything else. Not majorly different, but different as noted above. Swapping in any of my "preferred" USB cables reveals their sonic / musical qualities—each of which I find quite captivating and engaging. Meaning I like them all. No real preference, as whatever is in the system is doing what I love, and swapping in one of the others just changes things a bit. These differences are more subtle than earth-shaking revelations.

Kind of like, "What is your favorite wine to drink?" "Well, the one in my glass is pretty fine." "Why is that?" "Because I don’t buy or drink just any wine… I buy and drink the ones I like." "Each has their place and each is quite wonderful in its own way."

Caveats? Well, yeah. At three feet (only length offered) it is just a wee bit short. Other than that the Signature USB Cable is a top performer offering a nice fit and finish and some of the best digital music I have heard via USB.

And so yeah, Paul was spot on. Thanks Paul! Highly recommended.

Oh, and if you are in the camp that USB cables can not make a difference, that it is only 1s and 0s, that I am fooling myself... please move along. No need to comment.

Signature USB Cable

  • Pure Silver/7% GOLD alloy conductor & silver copper wire
  • Deep cryogenic treatment
  • 900 euro (includes shipping)