ConclusionIf you use a USB connection between a nice audio PC, or perhaps between a streaming bridge and a dac, you may think: bits are bits. USB is package based, so what difference does it make? That's an understandable thought. But it's not correct. There is indeed a difference in cables. And the differences in construction, shielding and quality of the materials - and extra attention to shielding and influences such as grounding - cause differences in display.
Shunyata is a company built on science. And their approach is different from that of other companies. The models we've had in our hands sound good. The Venom will make the biggest move. But the Sigma. Damn... that left a deep impression. Nice cable. Expensive, though.
Let’s answer the pressing question straight away: does a USB cable make an audible difference? Well: yes. It certainly makes an audible difference. The biggest step is from ‘nothing’ to ‘something’. So from a standard cable to, say, the Venom. Though the Sigma has really surprised us with a wonderfully smooth and insightful character.
These differences are also technically explainable. Now you’ll think: I don’t care, because it’s audible, right? We do find it important. Because if something is audible, it also has to be explainable. And ultimately also measurable. We’re going to make that last step. We don’t have AudioPrecision yet, but it’s coming. (save a bit, but it is on the list!)
Finally, do you need it? That depends on your system. And which things should have priority. If your system is transparent enough and you have everything in order, then a nice cable is definitely worth it. However, always borrow a few to try. This way you know if the price jump brings what you are looking for.