Curious Cables is a new Australian audiophile cable company. However, founder Rob Woodland was previously manufacturer of the well known bullet plug, under licence from Keith Eichmann.
The USB cable under review took 12 months of development time and involved extensive experimentation and listening tests.
The Curious USB Cable is a flexible cable with a large sleeved conductor carrying the USB data lines, while a thin orange cable running externally handles the 5V power line. Construction is strudy and should stand up to trouble free ownership over the long term.
Rob has put up a short video that talks about "dimension"
This cable needs a fair amount of run-in to sound it's best. I put in approximately 250 hours on this cable, with at least 50 hours of playback time before the cable settled down.
To evaluate how the Curious Cable performed over a variety of equipment, I tried it in my main setup connecting my Auralic Aries streamer to a Calyx Femto DAC. It also did short stints in two other computer based setups, a PC / Foobar setup connected to a Resonessence Herus DAC / headamp, and a Mac / Puremusic setup connected to a Audio-Gd NFB 10 DAC / headamp.
Rob definitely hit the nail on the head - this cable has "dimension" in spades. In fact, it does not sound quite like any other USB cable that I've heard.
In my view, it brings many of the key strengths of vinyl to the table - bass impact, fluidity, a lack of grain, and the ability for vocals and instruments to fill out acoustic space like the real thing. Wait a minute ? Isn't that exactly what Rob said in his video ?
The Curious Cable cast a very wide and deep soundstage, easily more so than any other USB cable in my arsenal. This made my system sound "bigger" than usual, with orchestral works sounding particular grand in scale.
Low frequencies were also delivered with slam, heft and the right amount of bloom. I felt that there was a slight mid-bass emphasis, which gave music a richer tonality.
Midrange was smooth and relaxing, with a grain-free and liquid presentation. Interestingly, despite the easy going midrange balance, it had a subtle degree of projection and presence, making the vocalist appear a few rows closer compared to the rest of the instruments.
The high frequencies were clearly reproduced, with good detail and a very good reproduction of air and acoustic space. I found the presentation here to be gentle, natural and very easy to listen to in the long-run.
Interestingly, the bass impact was quite pronounced on my PC / Resonessence Herus setup. I usually listen at my desktop with Beyer DT-880 headphones which are a bit lean and bass light. The Curious Cable was a perfect match there, filling out the Beyer nicely, and putting some much needed low-end grunt where it was needed most.
We now come to the trump card of the Curious Cable, it's dimensionality. Most cables render instruments and singers in a relatively flat plane. The better ones are able to maintain good separation and placement. However, the Curious Cable is able to add a level of dimensionality such that instruments and vocalists expand and fill out space - very much like the real thing. For example, in the case of a guitar, you not only get a clear picture of the plucking of the strings and finger action on the fretboard, but also the reverb and resonance from the body of the guitar.
Would anyone not like this cable ? Yes, some audiophiles prefer a drier and more analytical approach. Some like to dissect a recording, and to hear exactly what was mastered at the mixing desk. The Curious Cable is unlikely to appeal to that crowd.
This is a great cable ! Love your turntable rig but hate your computer audio setup because it sounds dry, flat and uninvolving ? Curious Cables will have you sorted out in no time.
It is also worth noting that Rob is currently offering the Curious USB Cable with a 30 day money back guarantee, and will even cover return shipping. Pricing is in my view, highly competitive.
Verdict - Highly Recommended.
0.8 m cable - USD 340
1.0 m cable - USD 380
(Prices include free international shipping)