Sunday, December 19th 2021

An "Audiophile Grade" SSD—Yes, You Heard That Right

A company dealing with niche audiophile-grade electronics on Audiophile Style, a popular site and marketplace for the community, conjured up an SSD that it feels offers the best possible audio. Put simply, this is an M.2-2280 NVMe SSD with a fully-independent power delivery mechanism (one that's isolated from the motherboard's power delivery), and an over-the-top discrete clock-source for its controller. The drive has its own 5 V 2-pin DC input and switching hardware onboard, including [get this] a pair of Audionote Kaisei audio-grade electrolytic capacitors in place of what should have been simple solid-state SMD capacitors that are hard to even notice on any other drive. It doesn't end there.

Most NVMe SSDs have a tiny 2 mm x 2 mm SMD oscillator that's used by the controller for clock-generation. This drive features a Crystek CCHD-957 high-grade Femto oscillator. These oscillators are found in some very high-grade production or scientific equipment, such as data-loggers. For the drive itself, you get a Realtek DRAM-less controller, and a single 1 TB TLC NAND flash chip that's forced to operate in SLC mode (333 GB). On a scale of absurdity, this drive is right up there with $10,000 HDMI cables. Digital audio is stored in ones and zeroes, and nothing is accomplished through an isolated power delivery or clock generation on the storage media. It's nice of the designers to include jumpers that let you switch between the discrete power source and motherboard power; so listeners can see the snake-oil for themselves.
Sources: Audiophile Style, HotHardware
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69 Comments on An "Audiophile Grade" SSD—Yes, You Heard That Right

#26
bogami
Oh yeah! the numbers will definitely sound better.:laugh::laugh: .
Posted on Reply
#27
TheUn4seen
TartarosI don't understand, why?
That's how you separate fools from their money. Technology is great for this purpose because “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Even so-called tech enthusiasts have a very limited understanding of the technology they're so fond of, so it's surprisingly easy to fool them with meaningless but smart-sounding words.
Posted on Reply
#28
Fry178
some seem to forget that just because there isn't an improvement on paper, doesnt mean it wont make a diff in real world (even if its just the user imagining things).
e.g. the "perfect" signal response (from an engineering point) is a flat line for all frequencies, yet its not what we use for listening to music.

if someone has the funds, why would i care if they waste it on this, definitely not gonna sour it for them.
if "cheap", i know i would get it, just for the pseudo slc stuff.
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#29
iO
Burn-in time of the OS SSD improves the sound? Raid0 for lowest latency and "sub-byte security"?! High end CPUs for maximum sound clarity, like a 5950x with just 1 core enabled to not disturb the data on the SSD??!

Wow, that source link is a goldmine of some grade A+ audiophoolery.
Posted on Reply
#30
mechtech
All I have to say is

Bahahahaha
Posted on Reply
#31
fluxc0d3r
Post Nut Clairvoyancethat is alot of marketing nonsense in the H81 Amp-up page. Gold plating a USB socket does absolutely NOTHING, since one of the 4 USB 2.0 pins IS the ground, the socket/cover is not used for anything electrical.
I am guessing that they (the motherboard) takes 5V from the power supply ad pass it through additional filtering circuits before outputting to that one USB port.
Other than that, if you are using your own USB DAC/Amp, there is no gains to be had because a motherboard can only offer so much for audio, there are only two changes(compare to any other mobo) on the Amp-up, the additional 5V filtering for that one specific USB port, and possibly more filtering for the onboard DAC/Amp. If you want this ""isolated USB"" just buy a USB power/data splitter cable and use any good usb power adapter like a apple 5w that almost everyone have, or even an analog supply, or batteries...
Buying a ""audiophile"" motherboard has always been misleading, since any self-respecting audiophile will have their own DAC/Amp, the products are more just for people who wants to/thinks they are buy a board knowing it will not have problem with their basic music needs. The newest sabre/USB realtek boards from a bunch of flagship motherboards have audio problems with implementation anyways, so buying separate good DACAMP that will last you lifespan of multiple PC upgrades is a much better idea.
Nowadays all but the cheapest most cut-down boards have decent, functional audio section, and if anything the high ends have problem with messing up the implementation.
I can hear differences in USB cables, that's why I use a Chord USB cable rather than a generic one. Yes, everyone will tell you a digital cable does not make difference- it either works or it doesn't. I am firm believer that better cables do make a difference. Even isolation feet, things you would usually ignore, actually bring out a difference in sound as well. Every little thing brings out a difference in sound, that's why hi-fi is frustrating to those who have can hear a difference and that's why you see many changing out their equipment often- much more often than someone who upgrades their PC components often.

It sounds like snake oil, but even I can see and hear differences between different HDMI cables on my brand new Samsung QLED TV. I went with AOC (optical) HDMI cables in the end as it delivered a punchier, more vibrant, and smoother picture. You can say all these are waste of money, some even say it is money well spent even if the gains are small.
Posted on Reply
#32
Octopuss
fluxc0d3rI can hear differences in USB cables, that's why I use a Chord USB cable rather than a generic one. Yes, everyone will tell you a digital cable does not make difference- it either works or it doesn't. I am firm believer that better cables do make a difference. Even isolation feet, things you would usually ignore, actually bring out a difference in sound as well. Every little thing brings out a difference in sound, that's why hi-fi is frustrating to those who have can hear a difference and that's why you see many changing out their equipment often- much more often than someone who upgrades their PC components often.

It sounds like snake oil, but even I can see and hear differences between different HDMI cables on my brand new Samsung QLED TV. I went with AOC (optical) HDMI cables in the end as it delivered a punchier, more vibrant, and smoother picture. You can say all these are waste of money, some even say it is money well spent even if the gains are small.
You can't see or hear shit, my friend. It's in your head.
You obviously drank too much snake oil and there's no way to reverse the damage that has been done.
Posted on Reply
#33
Steevo
fluxc0d3rI can hear differences in USB cables, that's why I use a Chord USB cable rather than a generic one. Yes, everyone will tell you a digital cable does not make difference- it either works or it doesn't. I am firm believer that better cables do make a difference. Even isolation feet, things you would usually ignore, actually bring out a difference in sound as well. Every little thing brings out a difference in sound, that's why hi-fi is frustrating to those who have can hear a difference and that's why you see many changing out their equipment often- much more often than someone who upgrades their PC components often.

It sounds like snake oil, but even I can see and hear differences between different HDMI cables on my brand new Samsung QLED TV. I went with AOC (optical) HDMI cables in the end as it delivered a punchier, more vibrant, and smoother picture. You can say all these are waste of money, some even say it is money well spent even if the gains are small.
Digital truly does work or it doesn’t, USB can carry so much more data than a audio stream that with error correction you could use wire coat hanger to make the connection and it would sound as good as a $1000 cable
Posted on Reply
#34
mechtech
I prefer true analog myself so installed these in my PC

Posted on Reply
#35
Post Nut Clairvoyance
fluxc0d3rI can hear differences in USB cables, that's why I use a Chord USB cable rather than a generic one. Yes, everyone will tell you a digital cable does not make difference- it either works or it doesn't. I am firm believer that better cables do make a difference. Even isolation feet, things you would usually ignore, actually bring out a difference in sound as well. Every little thing brings out a difference in sound, that's why hi-fi is frustrating to those who have can hear a difference and that's why you see many changing out their equipment often- much more often than someone who upgrades their PC components often.

It sounds like snake oil, but even I can see and hear differences between different HDMI cables on my brand new Samsung QLED TV. I went with AOC (optical) HDMI cables in the end as it delivered a punchier, more vibrant, and smoother picture. You can say all these are waste of money, some even say it is money well spent even if the gains are small.
I don’t think everything is snake oil, but unless there is active image processor circuitry inside the cable that require external power (see: linus’s 150$ HDMI cable video), there will not be difference in image quality, you will notice obvious visual artifacts or complete image loss. And this is differentiated from ordinary active cable where the power is just used to carry signal over longer distance. Any lower quality cable would either work, or fails, without appreciable image differences.
An USB cable for audio is much simpler than HDMI, I still standby that gold plated connector is complete cosmetic- the connector has nothing to do with isolation or signal integrity. A good USB cable may use copper conductors for power, for high current(power) application, with sufficient EMI shielding, but audiophile USB cables is just snake oil pricing on a otherwise just “good USB cable”. I would check my own PSU for EMI shielding before suspecting a cabling, unless my setup is riddled with cables everywhere.
You can post reviews as a user so if you want to show that difference, you can very well use cameras to make image comparison, and ask manufacturers what they did(I.e) image processing, that makes a perceived difference, if there is any. I don’t think there is anything that they can explain, that anybody would be unable to understand.
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#36
OldAndSlowDev
If only hdmi cables were properly shielded. I can hear the heater pulses in my subwoofers because the hdmi cable is “following” the heater power cable and acts as an antenna. I never got a clean signal coming from my pc so maybe for some people this can be useful. I won’t call this snake oil if it can solve some noise. A PC can generate a lot of noise because of all the high frequency clocks.

I have to unplug my hdmi from the PC to remove subwoofer humming.
Posted on Reply
#37
R-T-B
The only notable thing about this drive is it runs the whole chip in SLC mode... wouldn't mind paying a premium for that but the audiophile stuff is retarded and only drives the price into the stratosphere.

The sad thing is, I would consider myself an audiophile (I do enjoy a good set of headphones) were it not for BS like this...
OldAndSlowDevIf only hdmi cables were properly shielded. I can hear the heater pulses in my subwoofers because the hdmi cable is “following” the heater power cable and acts as an antenna.
HDMI audio is digital, ie doesn't work like that. It's more likely something analog in your woofer picking it up.
Posted on Reply
#38
INSTG8R
Vanguard Beta Tester
I mean use a cheap DP cable on a high refresh monitor ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Posted on Reply
#39
Steevo
OldAndSlowDevIf only hdmi cables were properly shielded. I can hear the heater pulses in my subwoofers because the hdmi cable is “following” the heater power cable and acts as an antenna. I never got a clean signal coming from my pc so maybe for some people this can be useful. I won’t call this snake oil if it can solve some noise. A PC can generate a lot of noise because of all the high frequency clocks.

I have to unplug my hdmi from the PC to remove subwoofer humming.
Ground potential difference caused by different circuits and possibly faulty grounding. Your subwoofer/PC circuits offer a easier path to ground to balance the difference
Posted on Reply
#40
OldAndSlowDev
SteevoGround potential difference caused by different circuits and possibly faulty grounding. Your subwoofer/PC circuits offer a easier path to ground to balance the difference
Not a ground potential difference. AVR, subwoofer and pc are on the same isolated ground. It’s really an antenna effect. Even with the pc off, plugged or unplugged, on same or on a different ground, I have humming. Unplugging the hdmi -> no humming.
Posted on Reply
#41
MachineLearning
It's amazing that a manufacturer has found such a creative way to harm the long-term reliability of an SSD, by adding electrolytic capacitors to it. Those caps may live quite a while but I'd bet they do not outlast SLC NAND.

Also, this will require a specialized heatsink due to the caps, crystal and barrel plug. This is all without mentioning the exploitative and stupid idea behind the product, what a mess. I didn't know the world had enough snakes for all that oil
Posted on Reply
#43
claes
Have to admit, that heatsink is baller.
Posted on Reply
#44
Fry178
@Steevo
then how can wapping out HDMI (1.4) cable on device that acted up (BD player)/not respond to remote commands,
with a 2.0 cable make a difference?
cables i tried (1.4) were working on other things, so i know the only difference is certification.
Posted on Reply
#45
Octopuss
R-T-BThe only notable thing about this drive is it runs the whole chip in SLC mode...
What does this mean? I thought SLC was type of NAND. What's SLC mode?
Posted on Reply
#46
Athlonite
OctopussWhat does this mean? I thought SLC was type of NAND. What's SLC mode?
The nand used on this "Device" is actually TLC ( Triple Level Cell) ie: can hold 3 bits per cell, but in this case the manufacturer has decided to limit it to just 1 bit per cell via it's firmware
nand flash goes like this

SLC = 1 bit per cell and is the fastest for read and write and is also the most expensive
MLC = 2 bits per cell not quite as fat as SLC but close
TLC = 3 bits per cell and again much slower than SLC
QLC = 4 bits per cell and has a very fast read speed but quite slow write speed
Posted on Reply
#47
LabRat 891
I think I'm starting to get more irritated at the disinfo spread by derisive commentary more than any absurd marketing.
If the audiophile marketing label were removed, and replaced with 'Minimal EMI Design' would y'all calm down?

At least some of the 'advertised improvements' are worthwhile in specific applications. (beyond the 'audiophile').
Home/DIY Lab work and device development come to mind. HAMs have had to go to extreme lengths to silence interference as well*.

*You remember Linksys getting in trouble with the FCC for the WRT54 series? It was the HAM operator community that brought the complaints. You'd think the Wi-Fi radio was the issue, right? While it was exceeding power limits, largely the circuits for the wired leads were broadcasting the interference.

You buy stuff like this either as an example of having more $ than mind, *or* you have an identifiable need, which otherwise might point you towards even less available and more expensive components.
fluxc0d3rI can hear differences in USB cables, that's why I use a Chord USB cable rather than a generic one. Yes, everyone will tell you a digital cable does not make difference- it either works or it doesn't. I am firm believer that better cables do make a difference. Even isolation feet, things you would usually ignore, actually bring out a difference in sound as well. Every little thing brings out a difference in sound, that's why hi-fi is frustrating to those who have can hear a difference and that's why you see many changing out their equipment often- much more often than someone who upgrades their PC components often.

It sounds like snake oil, but even I can see and hear differences between different HDMI cables on my brand new Samsung QLED TV. I went with AOC (optical) HDMI cables in the end as it delivered a punchier, more vibrant, and smoother picture. You can say all these are waste of money, some even say it is money well spent even if the gains are small.
Every thing you mentioned (except MAYBE the HDMI perceived change*) can be tested and reproduced. (You'd need test equipment and sensors across several 'disciplines') Even the capacitance of a shielding layer, or static-buildup can have a definable effect in seemingly unrelated or disconnected systems.

"Digital" is almost always communicated using high frequency analog waveforms and differential signalling.
That said, expensive audiophile and professional studio media production cabling has less to do with signal integrity and more rejection of EMI/RFI, reducing ground loops, and dampening electromechanical-source 'noise'.
Every time I hear/read the phrase "Digital works, or it doesn't", I think about my experience with HDMI cables that would crash displays and occasionally a PC when you walked by them.
I've also experienced digital links 'malfunctioning' rather than 'work, or doesn't'.
*An HDMI link that is the source of inducting EMI into the TV or a lossy link with error correction theoretically might cause such changes in perception. The amount of postprocessing done inside 'the black box' of The Scaler/Image Processor could make errors appear as changes in the image. I used to have an HDTV that would store a frame and slowly start to 'overwrite' the live input, altering color, etc. By all means, it shouldn't have been possible, but it happened every day I used it as a PC display.
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#48
Chrispy_
The fact that Audiophile snake-oil products are so prevalent just proves that there are plenty of uneducated idiots with too much money.

If snake-oil makes a profit, then good for them I say. How idiots throw their money away is none of my business.
Posted on Reply
#49
OldAndSlowDev
Chrispy_The fact that Audiophile snake-oil products are so prevalent just proves that there are plenty of uneducated idiots with too much money.

If snake-oil makes a profit, then good for them I say. How idiots throw their money away is none of my business.
Actually the fact there are very expensive snake oil product is because there are a lot of very rich people who want "the best" and don't understand the physics laws but think a 8000$ speaker cable will bring a better sound fidelity to their 2m$ system. But there are also stuff that are expensive because they aren't produced to mass market but still relevant for very specific usage. I am not saying that this product is or isn't something that helps, to do so we need someone who REVIEW it using a bench and some measurement tools. Sadly appart a few serious reviews like audio science review, Audioholics who use a procedure and measurement tools, most of the time reviewers are hearing to something and saying "yes it's a very good product" :banghead:
Posted on Reply
#50
TheoneandonlyMrK
I do actually like the Look of it though, less chewing gum, more steampunky.

Not going to buy it mind ,ever.
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