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

#51
Dredi
LabRat 891If the audiophile marketing label were removed, and replaced with 'Minimal EMI Design' would y'all calm down?
Well, since the design makes the device not capable of utilizing spread spectrum on the pcie communication due to the custom clock, it arguably introduces more EMI, not less.
LabRat 891Every 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'.
In this case it didn’t work, correct? It barely worked in ideal conditions and when something happened it failed. The same is with other digital interconnects, it either works, or doesn’t in a very obvious way. The way people discuss them on the ”high end” forums makes it seem like the colours get punchier if you have the proper hdmi cable, which is utter nonsense.
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#52
Steevo
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.
So one cable didn't work, but another one did? The cable could have been bad. If it just didn't work you are proving what I said, digital will either work or not work. There could have been a break in a conductor, a bad crimp on a pin, a thousand things that a sample size of one doesn't prove.
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#53
Operandi
OldAndSlowDevActually 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:
Yeah, its really all marginal gains. With anything operating at the high-end of the market the gains are going to be small and likely to most people not worth it or detectable at all. And sometimes the gains aren't there at all and its all BS marketing like this thing.

With cables from a objective perspecitive (and of course this had to come up...) its about rejecting EMI and keeping signal integrity. Naysayers will say that the EMI operates at frequencies beyond human hearing and therefor can't have an impact. That EMI impacts everything in the process though. A cheap poorly shielded interconnect will be more susceptible to interference than a quality shielded one. You could use coat hangers or whatever ridiculous example you want to come up with but anything ferromagnetic is going to interfere with the signal, thats not really debatable. Super fancy braided multi-conductor cables cut down on that even more and people say they can hear a difference but whatever the gains are they are marginal and really the last thing you should be looking at.
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#54
Steevo
OperandiYeah, its really all marginal gains. With anything operating at the high-end of the market the gains are going to be small and likely to most people not worth it or detectable at all. And sometimes the gains aren't there at all and its all BS marketing like this thing.

With cables from a objective perspecitive (and of course this had to come up...) its about rejecting EMI and keeping signal integrity. Naysayers will say that the EMI operates at frequencies beyond human hearing and therefor can't have an impact. That EMI impacts everything in the process though. A cheap poorly shielded interconnect will be more susceptible to interference than a quality shielded one. You could use coat hangers or whatever ridiculous example you want to come up with but anything ferromagnetic is going to interfere with the signal, thats not really debatable. Super fancy braided multi-conductor cables cut down on that even more and people say they can hear a difference but whatever the gains are they are marginal and really the last thing you should be looking at.
www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/kimber-kable-do-high-end-usb-cables-make-a-difference.11272/

Read comprehend then post. EMI doesn't change the audio signal, its digital and thus can be corrupted, but too much corruption will result in CRC errors and... things not working.

If you or anyone wants to buy a better USB cable cause it has better looking ends, its shiny, it matches your color scheme, you want it for some subconscious primal reason.... feel free to do so. But don't try and sugar coat your personal preference as scientific truth without expecting pushback.
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#55
Operandi
Steevowww.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/kimber-kable-do-high-end-usb-cables-make-a-difference.11272/

Read comprehend then post. EMI doesn't change the audio signal, its digital and thus can be corrupted, but too much corruption will result in CRC errors and... things not working.

If you or anyone wants to buy a better USB cable cause it has better looking ends, its shiny, it matches your color scheme, you want it for some subconscious primal reason.... feel free to do so. But don't try and sugar coat your personal preference as scientific truth without expecting pushback.
In terms of cables I was speaking of cables in general. I've heard bad analog interconnects but not USB. Not that I've really tried but I'm skeptical there is a difference to be heard so its not really on my list of things to spend money on. I have two nice'ish DACs in different rooms, I think one is an Amazon Basic and other is a Belkin.

As to USB, a DAC operates in the digital and analog domain its not just 1s and 0s, any noise introduced in the system an manipulate the system in terms of noise and jitter. There are design techniques to largely mitigate those issues but no system is perfect so the best solution is to not introduce those issues into the system in the first place. That would be the theory behind a high-end audio USB cable.

I don't own any high-end cables or advocate that anyone should buy them, I don't think my system is good enough or setup well enough nor do I think they worth the money spent on the potential benefit. I'm trying to draw a line but what is clearly a scam (this SSD) and what can make a difference, though through very high diminishing returns.
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#56
Dredi
OperandiAs to USB, a DAC operates in the digital and analog domain its not just 1s and 0s, any noise introduced in the system an manipulate the system in terms of noise and jitter. There are design techniques to largely mitigate those issues but no system is perfect so the best solution is to not introduce those issues into the system in the first place. That would be the theory behind a high-end audio USB cable.
But a better shielded usb cable is simply more resistant to EMI for that cable run, i.e. less shit gets induced to the USB signals and ground. It however does nothing, absolutely nothing, to the noise that comes from the USB source.

Unless you are living inside a microwave oven, the 1m usb cable you use to connect your PC to the DAC is not long enough to introduce problems even if it was completely unshielded, regardless of the DAC.
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#57
Fry178
@Dredi/Steevo
nope, just because its digital, doesnt mean it "works or doesnt".

im talking about switching the TYPE of hdmi cable (not brand/quality), one being 1.4, one being certified for 2.0.
customer had upgraded media room, and the new UHD/media player (running 4k/2k from disc or usb),
had issues with picture/sound, as well as not properly responding to remote input.
updated the customer tv and the bd player, no change.
Tried 2 different remotes (even one from 2k player), nothing, while the customers remote would work on my (demo) display.
then decided to run a "certified" 4k cable (2.0), and all problems were gone.

tested the same (1.4) cable with three different tvs (2k/4k) using 1080p BD player without single issue,
so i know it wasnt broken, and i actually kept it for demo use (swapped with customer).
Posted on Reply
#58
Dredi
Fry178@Dredi/Steevo
nope, just because its digital, doesnt mean it "works or doesnt".

im talking about switching the TYPE of hdmi cable (not brand/quality), one being 1.4, one being certified for 2.0.
customer had upgraded media room, and the new UHD/media player (running 4k/2k from disc or usb),
had issues with picture/sound, as well as not properly responding to remote input.
updated the customer tv and the bd player, no change.
Tried 2 different remotes (even one from 2k player), nothing, while the customers remote would work on my (demo) display.
then decided to run a "certified" 4k cable (2.0), and all problems were gone.

tested the same (1.4) cable with three different tvs (2k/4k) using 1080p BD player without single issue,
so i know it wasnt broken, and i actually kept it for demo use (swapped with customer).
So it clearly didn’t work, and then did work.
The customer location might have had tighter bends in the cable, more EMI or other stuff that made the difference to the other location.

what the ”high end” folk say, is that changing the cable changes how things sound or look, which is utter nonsense.
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#59
Fry178
nope, as im doing this kinda stuff for 15y, and made sure it was not a broken cable,
by using another 1.4 later on (with a different player of same model with same outcome),
and even if it was, how do I have the same trouble/interference, 15 mls away from his home?

(if you read my post again) it DID work, as image/sound was coming up now and then,
so the "digital works or doesnt", is incorrect.
Posted on Reply
#60
Operandi
DrediBut a better shielded usb cable is simply more resistant to EMI for that cable run, i.e. less shit gets induced to the USB signals and ground. It however does nothing, absolutely nothing, to the noise that comes from the USB source.
Any interference / noise picked by the cable is going to go back into the DAC and that has to be dealt with so its going to affect it on some level the question is to what extent. High-end DACs go through a lot of trouble and expense to build very high-quality power supplies and source very accurate clocks for their DACs to ensure that the DAC chip is operating as cleanly as possible. A DAC is both digital and analog so yeah, the 1s and 0s get there from the source and converted into analog sound so it works in the sense you get audio with pops or clicks but internally there is more than just it working or not going on. A poor quality USB cable could certainly introduce enough noise to affect the operation of the circuit. The cable has to have some affect on the circuit, physics dictates it, to the extent that you can hear it? Idk, I'm not really convinced I would but on principle the idea that it could is sound (ahhaaha... punny). Otherwise there is a lot of engineers out there that have all fooled each into building crazy expensive DACs for no reason, nor would there be a reason for optical interfaces and cables exist.

Your view point that it isn't audible is totally valid view point but for those that claim they can hear a difference and purported reasons why are equally valid view points. Its not the same as this audiophile SSD or a audiophile network switch, that stuff is nonsense.

Again I'm not promoting the idea of high-end digital audio cables, my NuForce DAC on my desktop and my Pioneer A9 are both USB DACs and are connected via Amazon and Belkin cable respectively, they are shielded and seem well made so they seem good enough to me. At some point I'll see if I can get a deal on "high-end" USB cable on the used market because I'm intellectually curious about it but I need to build some better speakers first and do some room treatments. My expectations are low.
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#61
Athlonite
Fry178nope, as im doing this kinda stuff for 15y, and made sure it was not a broken cable,
by using another 1.4 later on (with a different player of same model with same outcome),
and even if it was, how do I have the same trouble/interference, 15 mls away from his home?

(if you read my post again) it DID work, as image/sound was coming up now and then,
so the "digital works or doesnt", is incorrect.
so basically the cable wasn't capable of the bandwidth needed to run 2/4K content is what your saying then
Posted on Reply
#62
Operandi
Athloniteso basically the cable wasn't capable of the bandwidth needed to run 2/4K content is what your saying then
In this case it actually is "works or it dosn't", and in this case it doesn't. There isn't enough bandwidth to push video, audio, and control signaling through the cable. It works sorta but stuff gets dropped intermittently, thats just how HDMI works and handles errors. It would be like forcing a CAT5 cable to do what only a CAT6, if that were possible, which it isn't because nobody wants useless corrupt data.

This is completely different than the implications of cable quality between a source and DAC.
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#63
Dredi
OperandiYour view point that it isn't audible is totally valid view point but for those that claim they can hear a difference and purported reasons why are equally valid view points.
Yup. Although I’ve yet to see any studies that show the usb cables influence to be audible. For whatever reason the premium cable manufacturers never show in practice (i.e. With an independent abx double blind study) that their products are better.
Posted on Reply
#64
cornemuse
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.
Like X-files
"I want to Believe"
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#65
Andy Shiekh
I would guess a large cache might help avoid stuttering.
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#66
claes
You really need to get an SSD my friend
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#67
skoolsella
Of course cables can make a difference, even in the digital domain, just one example off the top of my head is Nyquist rate and bandwidth. High frequency response can be reduced and even completely nullified by a cable with poor bandwidth.
An oscilloscope probe measuring a digital signal can only measure up to its rated frequency before its sensitivity is reduced, they have a -3dB rating where the probe is rated to have lost half its sensitivity by the stated frequency.

It works until it doesn't, not, it works or it doesn't.
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#68
Dredi
skoolsellaOf course cables can make a difference, even in the digital domain, just one example off the top of my head is Nyquist rate and bandwidth. High frequency response can be reduced and even completely nullified by a cable with poor bandwidth.
An oscilloscope probe measuring a digital signal can only measure up to its rated frequency before its sensitivity is reduced, they have a -3dB rating where the probe is rated to have lost half its sensitivity by the stated frequency.

It works until it doesn't, not, it works or it doesn't.
It either works for a given bandwidth (in a given environment), or doesn’t.

the important thing is that in reality it is extremely easy to know if it works or not, where as these ”high end” people think that changing a digital interconnect will affect the colours on your tv, or how the music sounds.
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#69
Operandi
Dredithe important thing is that in reality it is extremely easy to know if it works or not, where as these ”high end” people think that changing a digital interconnect will affect the colours on your tv, or how the music sounds.
Not trying to make this argument here but this statement is arguing the point on the wrong merit.

The signal is digital, if it gets from the source to the destination without errors then its all the same regardless of what cable you use, thats not in for debate. Drawing comparisons with a TV is not applicable because thats digital all the way through from your source to the processor driving the pixels in the panel. A audio DAC is operating in the analog domain and thats why the cable is a factor. The cable is just another component of the DAC really and any cable that is susceptible to picking up noise and interference is going to have some kind of impact. DAC chips can and will sound differently (better / worse than one or the other) based on how the chip is implemented. It all comes down to how well the circuit is designed, how good the power supply is, and how much noise you are or are not introducing into the system.

Is it going to make a huge difference?, no but it would be similar to the differences of one ESS Sabre power with cheap switching PSU and one that uses and analog toroidal PS. Diminishing returns, marginal gains for sure and probably the last thing anyone should look at but simply saying there can't be a difference because is all 1's and 0's is also wrong.
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