An Unexpected Champion : Intona Ultimate USB Cable

BobbinHobbin

Well-Known Member
Jul 15, 2016
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Let me get this straight.... 1.5 meters for nearly $1,000 USD of a polyurethane & copper outer sleeves, double shielded OFC wired (sourced from an unnamed German supplier), 24K gold plated connectors, all of which is standard in any half-way decent cable maker.
They added a needless expensive machined connectors, which is probably the most expensive thing about the cable.

They are advertising & I quote
"Stronger power lines"
Which I assume a slightly thicker wire gauge for just the power supply wire.

They are also selling them in 3 grades: PREMIUM, REFERENCE and ULTIMATE.
From what I gathered through their wording, this grading is determined by measurements. So if one cable measures better it gets a better grade, like with vacuum tubes & CPU processors? BUT FOR CABLE WIRES?!?!

What am I missing that they're to justifying the price again?
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
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What's missing is an audition.

The title of this thread is "An Unexpected Champion".
This describes my feeling when I first listened to it. Very very unexpected.
 
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howiebrou

Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2012
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Let me get this straight.... 1.5 meters for nearly $1,000 USD of a polyurethane & copper outer sleeves, double shielded OFC wired (sourced from an unnamed German supplier), 24K gold plated connectors, all of which is standard in any half-way decent cable maker.
They added a needless expensive machined connectors, which is probably the most expensive thing about the cable.

They are advertising & I quote
"Stronger power lines"
Which I assume a slightly thicker wire gauge for just the power supply wire.

They are also selling them in 3 grades: PREMIUM, REFERENCE and ULTIMATE.
From what I gathered through their wording, this grading is determined by measurements. So if one cable measures better it gets a better grade, like with vacuum tubes & CPU processors? BUT FOR CABLE WIRES?!?!

What am I missing that they're to justifying the price again?
Trying to justify the price of cables on the basis of component costs is pointless imho. Surely we all agree on this one?
 
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romaz

Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2015
125
802
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What was your cable before the Intona Ultima?

My reference for the past couple of years has been the Clarity Cables Natural USB (about $1,200 USD for 1m). They are handmade by a former NASA engineer/audiophile who reportedly measures the differential impedance of each of his cables to be exactly 90 ohms (but to what tolerance is unknown). The cable utilizes high purity single crystal silver in a cotton dielectric and is EXTENSIVELY shielded. It is purely the heavy shielding that separates it from the Clarity Cables Organic which is half the price of the Natural.

Having pitted it against many other USB cables (AQ Diamond, WW Platinum Starlight 7, TotalDac Gigafilter, Kubala Sosna Realization, JCAT Reference, Danacables Truestream, Lush, Curious, Uptone USPCB, and others) in various shootouts over the years, the Natural USB always came out on top for my tastes.

Cables are often used to tune to a particular signature and this is valid, however, in my case, I already have the balance that I want and so the last thing I want a cable to do is to mess up this delicate balance and so what I seek is resolution, transparency, and neutrality where no aspect of the frequency curve is accentuated. Some cables can be energetic sounding at the expense of sounding too forward and at the compromise of depth and atmosphere. Some cables can sound too relaxed and uninvolving. Some cables can sound unnaturally hyper-detailed at the expense of coherence and musicality. Some cables can sound lush and euphonic at the expense of transients that can sound too soft or slow. It is amazing how a single cable like a USB cable can throw off the balance of a whole system or how a USB cable can do so much harm to the extent that there are many who run away from USB believing that all USB is inherently bad.

The Intona Ultimate USB cable is a helpful data point for me. Aside from a good shield (which is extremely important for any digital cable), its only claim that sets it apart is a 90-ohm differential impedance that measures to an EXTREMELY tight tolerance. To so significantly better my previous USB cable that was already making such a claim (and to so significantly better Intona's own Reference USB cable) suggests to me that this 90-ohm impedance is the most critical aspect of an "accurate" USB cable. And indeed, this is what Intona told me they found also. More important than the conductor or the quality of the conductor (Intona uses only OFC and not any exotic ultra pure OCC copper or silver or silver/gold) and more important than the dielectric.

Would a USB cable with higher grade metallurgy that measures as well as the Intona Ultimate sound even better? I am certainly curious about this but thus far, this is the most accurate USB cable I have heard. If it is indeed possible to "overdose" on Gobel which suggests it imparts a very strong signature of its own, then I know that cable will not be for me.
 

christoph

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2015
3,753
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Principality of Liechtenstein
My reference for the past couple of years has been the Clarity Cables Natural USB (about $1,200 USD for 1m). They are handmade by a former NASA engineer/audiophile who reportedly measures the differential impedance of each of his cables to be exactly 90 ohms (but to what tolerance is unknown). The cable utilizes high purity single crystal silver in a cotton dielectric and is EXTENSIVELY shielded. It is purely the heavy shielding that separates it from the Clarity Cables Organic which is half the price of the Natural.

Having pitted it against many other USB cables (AQ Diamond, WW Platinum Starlight 7, TotalDac Gigafilter, Kubala Sosna Realization, JCAT Reference, Danacables Truestream, Lush, Curious, Uptone USPCB, and others) in various shootouts over the years, the Natural USB always came out on top for my tastes.

Cables are often used to tune to a particular signature and this is valid, however, in my case, I already have the balance that I want and so the last thing I want a cable to do is to mess up this delicate balance and so what I seek is resolution, transparency, and neutrality where no aspect of the frequency curve is accentuated. Some cables can be energetic sounding at the expense of sounding too forward and at the compromise of depth and atmosphere. Some cables can sound too relaxed and uninvolving. Some cables can sound unnaturally hyper-detailed at the expense of coherence and musicality. Some cables can sound lush and euphonic at the expense of transients that can sound too soft or slow. It is amazing how a single cable like a USB cable can throw off the balance of a whole system or how a USB cable can do so much harm to the extent that there are many who run away from USB believing that all USB is inherently bad.

The Intona Ultimate USB cable is a helpful data point for me. Aside from a good shield (which is extremely important for any digital cable), its only claim that sets it apart is a 90-ohm differential impedance that measures to an EXTREMELY tight tolerance. To so significantly better my previous USB cable that was already making such a claim (and to so significantly better Intona's own Reference USB cable) suggests to me that this 90-ohm impedance is the most critical aspect of an "accurate" USB cable. And indeed, this is what Intona told me they found also. More important than the conductor or the quality of the conductor (Intona uses only OFC and not any exotic ultra pure OCC copper or silver or silver/gold) and more important than the dielectric.

Would a USB cable with higher grade metallurgy that measures as well as the Intona Ultimate sound even better? I am certainly curious about this but thus far, this is the most accurate USB cable I have heard. If it is indeed possible to "overdose" on Gobel which suggests it imparts a very strong signature of its own, then I know that cable will not be for me.
Thank you for your very extensive, elaborate and informative answer.
What is the asking price for around 1 meter? For the Intona Ultimate?
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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QuadDiffusor

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QuadDiffusor

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MSRP for the Intona USB Ultimate cable lengths are:
1.0m is 2,050 EUR
0.5m is 1,640 EUR
0.2m is 1,310 EUR

I’ve been auditioning the 1.0m and 0.5m lengths, and I’m delighted with their performance, used in the following configuration:

Aurender W20 > 1.0m USB Ultimate > SOtM USBultra (powered by the Farad Super 3 12V 2A) > 0.5m USB Ultimate > MSB Technology Pro ISL > Dual optical fiber link > MSB Technology input module > MSB Select II DAC (Femto 33 clock, dual mono PS)

Currently waiting for the 0.5m replacement for the 1.0m (which turned out to be longer than what I needed), expected to arrive before New Year’s Day.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying listening to the quieter and meatier sound of my system while burning in my new Ghent Audio DC cables (for my double-stacked PLiXiR Elite BDC 12V 2A LPSs), the Canare (16awg x 4) Star-quad, with JSSG 360 shielding.

C03F0AD9-9C5F-4B4E-928F-01A3540C2108.jpeg
 
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Audioking87

Member
Dec 14, 2019
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Looks like an interesting cable, I wonder how it would compare to my current reference - Hemingway Audio USB.
 

QuadDiffusor

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Looks like an interesting cable, I wonder how it would compare to my current reference - Hemingway Audio USB.
The only way is to conduct a home audition. Contact Intona (or their dealer), and they may be amenable to a 30-day audition, as the Ultimates are addressed to the high-end market where such service perks are very highly appreciated.
 

Kris

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2019
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The only way is to conduct a home audition. Contact Intona (or their dealer), and they may be amenable to a 30-day audition, as the Ultimates are addressed to the high-end market where such service perks are very highly appreciated.

and make sure to have it running 24/7 for first 2 weeks.
after that you can try to compare it With other options.
 

SR-1

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Sep 3, 2016
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London, United Kingdom
Currently waiting for the 0.5m replacement for the 1.0m (which turned out to be longer than what I needed), expected to arrive before New Year’s Day.
Are the Reference and Ultimate cables fairly flexible? I found the need to buy slightly longer USB cables of other makes (e.g. Lush and Curious) than I at first thought I needed because they had limited flexibility.
 

QuadDiffusor

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It’s all down to how much axial twist is needed.

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...olators-2019versions.28439/page-4#post-613357

Holding the cable straight, there is virtually no flexibility for any “twist”, axially - but this is very common for any cable which has an external shielding mesh. For the 0.5m length (I’ve settled on two of them), it’s very easy to connect two components side-by-side, provided that its natural arc, and the orientation of the end connectors, are accommodated, as the cable itself is only a bit stiffer than the Curious in 0.8m, which I also have.

However, if you are connecting components which are stacked, and if you’re unlucky enough to have a 180-degree twist in the phase of the connectors, then you’ll definitely need the extra length to corkscrew, or Mobius Loop the two ends of the cable across some distance to complete the connection. The best way to find out is to experiment with other axial-stiff USB cables in your setup, and note what works. Remember - sonically, the shorter the better!
 
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naim

Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2019
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Question: a simpler PREMIUM grade (here in Italy it costs € 379.00 per 1 meter), is it equally recommended, or with smaller of the three models do you miss all the great requirements of the top of the range? In other words: in its price class an Intona Premium remains an excellent purchase, or it is better to spend something more and choose a Curious Evolved? I read gladly advice on other USB cables between € 300/600. Thanks, Roberto.
 

audio.bill

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May 27, 2013
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Question: a simpler PREMIUM grade (here in Italy it costs € 379.00 per 1 meter), is it equally recommended, or with smaller of the three models do you miss all the great requirements of the top of the range? In other words: in its price class an Intona Premium remains an excellent purchase, or it is better to spend something more and choose a Curious Evolved? I read gladly advice on other USB cables between € 300/600. Thanks, Roberto.
The recently released 2020 Sablon USB Cable seems like it might be the current cream of the crop, reading reports of it beating out the Intona Ultimate for a fraction of the price. The Sablon website hasn't yet been updated with this new model, but pricing can be provided if you PM Mark from Sablon directly.
 
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naim

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Mar 6, 2019
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I had read something here in the forum, and I also entered to Sablon site, but, due to the fact that my English is not excellent, I did not quite understand what I had to consult; in fact I saw a Panatela model, but I did not find any 2020 model (among other things, I did not see any photo of cables, I thought: ''it's not that I will get a box of excellent cigars at home... '' :)). I also read that there is an unpowered version, honestly I would not know for sure what I need (I suppose the standard version: currently I have a Bricasti M1 SE dac).
 

spiritofmusic

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Jun 13, 2013
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Naim, just contact Mark direct. You'll find him to be very plain speaking and helpful.
 
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Kris

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2019
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if anyone would like to sell used 0,2 m Intona Ultimate I might need one .

if not I will need to buy new one but intona has no eshop as far as I know.
 

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