What is SS USB? – A Quick Guide for Amateur Producers & Engineers

SuperSpeed USB was introduced in 2008. But despite being a relatively “old” technology, many amateur producers and engineers still aren’t familiar with SS USB and how to differentiate it from its predecessors. Let’s break it all down.

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the industry standard that establishes specifications for cables, connectors and protocols for connection, communication, and power supply (interfacing) between computers, peripherals and other computers.

A USB port is a USB port, right?

Wrong. There are many different USB port types and generations relating to speed and performance. The latest generation on the market can be categorized under SS USB or USB 3.1.

Let’s get into what SS USB is and what makes it different.

What is SS USB?

SS USB stand for SuperSpeed USB. The first iteration of SS USB was introduced in November 2008 as USB 3.0, and it ushered in a new era of speed and power from its predecessor, USB 2.0, or High Speed USB.

More recently, USB 3.1, or Gen 2, has come out, bringing further increases in both power and data transfer speeds.

How Can You Tell If You’re Using an SS USB?

There are very little visual differences between USB 2.0 and 3.0. They both use the same standard connector type A, but the USB 3.0 type A receptacles and plugs are typically colored blue.

USB 3.1 also supports other types of USB connectors such as Type B, Micro-B, and the more universally adopted Type C.

What Makes SS USB Different?

SS USB provides dramatic performance improvement over its 2.0 predecessors.

USB High Speed (USB 2.0) supports a bandwidth of up to 480 Mbps, while 3.0 supports up to 5.0 Gbps, and 3.1 (Gen 2) up to 10 Gbps. Likewise, SuperSpeed can support more power. A USB 2.0 port can deliver 500 mA of power while USB 3.1 is able to output 900 mA, an increase in total power delivery from 2.5 W to 4.5 W (at 5 V).

In layman’s terms, all those figures mean USB 3.1 can support devices requiring more power and charge them faster. These data transfer speeds are critical to making sure recording equipment, including interfaces and workstations, is connected and performing optimally.

What Happens if I Use USB 3.1 Cables with 2.0 Ports?

USB 3.1 cables are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports, except for Type B connectors. Type C connectors require an adapter. And USB 2.0 cables cannot be used with a 3.0 port.

One thing to note – if you’re using 2.0 ports with 3.1 cables, the cables will only transfer at 2.0 rates. That means you won’t get the power and data transfer speed benefits.

Conclusion – USBs Aren’t All Alike

So, now you know. Not all USBs are alike. In fact, USB is always evolving.

Currently USB4 is in the works, and it will boast 40Gbit/s data transfer speed. Keep in mind that USB4 will only use the newer, more universally accepted Type C connector to minimize confusion. USB4 will also include Thunderbolt 3 compatibility.

Either way, you can count on Hosa to have the USB cables you need to connect your studio setup. Use our Cable Finder to explore our USB products and find the cables you need.

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