Was the Denon picture a happy accident?
Or have you the AK-DL1 in mind? Perhaps your next server farm should be linked up with them ;)
Is it April already? I really cannot tell from this post, which poses the question: "Is it really possible that the sound quality of bit-identical audio ﬁles is influenced by their storage medium before being delivered to the hi-ﬁ system's DAC?"* Well, if this is the sort music experts are spreading around, then I am going to …
Damn, I wish I'd thought of AudioNAS!
Dear Sir, if you can hear a difference, you can measure a difference. The only way you will get/hear a difference from a storage system is if the OS or the storage can't deliver the data fast enough. I lose sleep, worrying if my discs can't deliver 10MB/minute...
But if you have a really crap set up the noise will turn some of the 1 bits into 0 bit, and viky verky. The answer, of course, is not to improve the quality but make it really, really crap so that all the 1 bits are turned into 0 bits, and viky verky. Then just move left speaker to the right and right speaker to the left.
7.1 systems are more complicated and I can't go into that here.
I am available for audio consultancy work, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.
Where's your KickStarter page? Bound to succeed...
...and there's even a fairly logical reason for it to 'work'.
Humans are not good measuring instruments. We 'feel' things, have intuitions, inspirations, etc.
Placebo effect is real, proven science. Hence double-blind screening.
Beer goggles are pretty well known, too...
So if the numpty (sorry, _customer_) is convinced that AudioNAS sounds better, it does.
To him anyway, even if nobody else agrees...
Little foil corners for your speakers, Feng shui, malt whisky, whatever. If it makes you feel better, it will probably make the sound better, subjectively.
Malt whisky works for me! ;)
Good grief. I've just read the manual for that. This is up there with those fake IED detectors that were sold to the Iraqi government. I'm surprised that Buffalo agree to rebadge their SSDs, host the manual, and have anything to do with this at all. I'm also surprised there are any electronics in there at all - you could just pass through the ethernet connectors directly and be done with it. Instead, they seem to have stuffed a router in there. I wonder if it'd run OpenWRT...
"I'm surprised that Buffalo agree to rebadge their SSDs, host the manual, and have anything to do with this at all."
Not surprising. Melco is a holding company that owns the Buffalo brand.
It's still a ludicrous product, up there with the Audioquest silliness.
The Amazon review for that USB cable is awesome!
When my wife and I got engaged I proposed with a standard USB cable. I didn't get a steady job until recently and couldn't afford a cable as nice as this one. After being hired to stand in front of dominos pizza while holding a sign and jumping around like a chimpanzee on cocaine for almost six days I finally saved up enough hard earned cash to get her something nice. She had previously expressed interest in the gold plated lion tooth enforced XLR cable made entirely from recycled turtle tears but I knew deep down she wanted something with diamonds that would also keep jitter and distortion to a minimum. After months of searching I finally found this. At first the $998.75 price tag seemed a little steep but then I saw it had free shipping! The decision was a no brainier. My wife loves it; she wears it almost everyday. The smooth and shiny black cable goes with almost anything and ever since she started wearing it her jitter has been kept to a minimum. The only distortion that can be heard is portrayed through the jumbled banshee like squealing of her girlfriends who are all so jealous. If I had any complaints it would be that for $998.75 the cable should be a little longer. 3M is more of a $783.67 cable quality. Because of this, i give it 4 stars. Other than that I've got no complaints. I mean cmon, Free shipping!!!
Even ignoring everything else, the fact that they list the following as positive features is worrying:
Simple front panel on-off switch - just like Hi-Fi.
15 seconds only to full power-on.
5 seconds to full shut-down
Simple on-off switch that takes *only* 15 seconds to boot?
Yes, *just like* Hi-Fi.
But you missed the most important features:
"LAN LED off function - ensures the highest possible data integrity."
I can't tell you how many times those tiny blue lights have caused data corruption on my network.
"sepearte supplies for external data interfaces means no pollution of sensitive internal data and clock supplies."
That's right, TWO power cords. Not because the unit uses redundant PSUs, just because you don't want any of that nasty AC noise from the first power cord affecting your data. So... you... um... plug it into the second power cord. Hey, look over there! It's an Audio Grade SSD with reduced vibration!
Hard disc configuration is only one of a myriad of issues you need to build in to make this an industry leading product.
Most obviously make sure the network connection only accepts CAT 7 cable as that is known to sound better than CAT 5 - http://mobile.extremetech.com/latest/80702-increasing-the-sound-quality-of-your-music-by-switching-from-cat-5-networking-to-cat-7
You should also build in the ability to ambiently condition fields - sadly the go-to after-market product in this genre is discontinued - http://www.lessloss.com/blackbody-p-200.html - but if you could build in these facilities that would certainly be something no competing vendor could match quickly, giving you a clear market lead.
Next, you should probably ship the audioNAS with many specially selected pebbles, and magic tape, so that they can be attached to audio connectors. This substantially increases the soundstage and depth of the audio image. http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina31.htm
Finally, be sure to ship your product with super fuses. It's well known how the standard fuse can cause many issues with sonic reproduction and seriously limit bass response. After all: not all 13A fuses let the same amount of current pass. http://www.russandrews.com/product-Russ-Andrews-13A-SuperFuse-1016.htm
If you address all these issues, the reception to your product in the audiophile community will be out of this world.
Russ Andrews is always good for a laugh. Re "SuperFuses", the description says
"We’ve tested our SuperFuses™ against several other competitors’ fuses and in our systems here and at home and we’ve yet to find a competitors’ fuse that outperformed our new fuses. They are a straight swap for existing 13A fuses in our mains cables – or indeed any mains cable that needs a 13A fuse.
The level of improvement that can be gained by simply changing the fuse in your mains cable makes this one of the best value upgrades you can make. Price is for a SINGLE fuse"
Nowhere does that say it will actually make things better. Still, I'm sure that's just an oversight on the part of the copywriter. Having passed the mains power through tens of metres of the cheapest 30A twin and earth the sparkie contracted by the house builder could get away with, the addition of a small fuse into the circuit will make all the difference.
Of course, that they wouldn't knowing sell snake-oil cables at massively inflated prices to gullible idiots. That's why they publish independently verified, statistically valid double-blind ABX tests on their products, proving their value.
They must do, surely? I'll just go and try to find details of these tests on their web site.
Probably best not to wait for me - I may be some time...
So much of this depends upon the network between the NAS and the DAC, and by how the buffering is treated. That the authors of the linked post talked about HDDs instead of network protocols suggests that they are being very silly. (As far as I can make out, their Naim system uses TCP, whereas Apple's AirPlay uses UDP)
At the simplest level, they should have removed the networking from their 'test', and used a local player with a generous buffer. If they really wanted to continue down their path of madness, they could examine different File Systems, such as ZFS... y'know, for on-the-fly comparison of volumes to correct for bit-rot. Strewth.
The choice of storgae can make a difference if their is a weak link in the rest of the system - example: some little audio players (Sansa Clip+) work fine with Class 4 SD cards, but Class 10 cards confuse their buffers or firmware. Aw, bless!
I recently 'upgraded' my music (and video and picture) collection storage from a small group of 10 year old PATA drives to a pair of shiny new 1TB SATA drives. My 192Kb/s .mp3 collection now sounds more harsh and has less warmth than before. I've tested this over a variety of music styles and it's very disappointing. The videos and picture files also look a big 'edgy' with brighter but glaring colours.
Dear frank ly
I have good news and bad news for you.
The good news is I can fix it. The bad news is that it will be expensive.
But don't worry, as part of the upgrades you'll get this lovely new coat that only intelligent people can see....
I look forward to doing business with you
Unfortunately this kind of audiophile digital bollockery has been around for years. I remember reading a What HiFi article comparing blank discs, and they were spouting about how some sounded better than others, despite also admitting that all errors were within the tolerance for sucessful error correction.
I can't find the original article, but it's been reproduced in part here - http://www.minidisc.org/md_whathifi3-99_comments.html
The one that puzzles me (and I'm prepared to be enlightened) is "bit-perfect copying" for music CDs. Evidently you need a specialised (and expensive, of course) piece of equipment to achieve "bit perfect copying".
Er, Shirley if an El Cheapo CD drive failed to copy bits then programs etc., wouldn't run. I know that sometimes they fail if the lens is dirty, etc., but isn't that what verification is for?
Actually, there is extra redundancy in CD-ROM compared to CDDA (which is why 74 minutes of uncompressed WAV files won't fit onto the 650 MB, by some margin).
So technically, it's possible that there are CD writers out there which are able to successfully rip a CD-ROM, but which can't clone an Audio CD bit-for-bit*.
*Of course, the error correction in the CDDA stream would kick in and you'd never hear the error - CDs are supposed to be able to cope with a 1mm hole, so a single bit error would be fine.
The problem isn't that the drive has trouble reading the audio data it's that it has trouble locating where the audio tracks begin & end exactly.
You'll get all the audio bits and it will be exactly the same but the amount of leading & trailing silence around the audio data will almost always be wrong.
This isn't commonly a problem for music cds but in extreme cases the ripped tracks are so far off that you get audio from one track slopping over into another, with the last bit of music in the last track cut off completely. I've seen it happen.
I don't know why this is and the knowledge is a bit esoteric. I've learnt it from reading a certain forum.
Making proper copies doesn't require specialized equipment if you can get your hands on an older Plextor drive and one of a few freeware programmes but it's probably not worth the effort.
This isn't commonly a problem for music cds but in extreme cases the ripped tracks are so far off that you get audio from one track slopping over into another, with the last bit of music in the last track cut off completely. I've seen it happen.
For a first post, you should probably have put a "Joke Alert" icon on your post - until we know your sense of humour, there's a possibility some people will think you're being serious...
"There are very many complaints and issues I have encountered when dealing with the creative types that are my user-base, but never have they complained that one storage system sounds better than another storage system."
I have been told - I never encountered it myself, possibly because I never worked with world-famous producers and engineers - but I have been told that one of the more important pieces of esoteric knowledge in the possession of such people was that, after booting the computer you needed to wait ten minutes because it sounded better after the RAM had a chance to warm up.
And I vaguely recall something about green magic markers on cds...
At times like this it's important to refer readers to the acknowledged leader in the sector, P W Belt.
Not only does the company have a range of market-leading products, their website includes a range of totally free t(r)ips for improving your listening experience:
If the wires are thinner than 28 AWG or have more than 23.2 ohms / 100m resistance, then it's not really a USB cable. (See "Universal Serial Bus Specification Revision 2.0", section 6.6.0 through 6.6.3, contra "The Rules of Acquisition", pp 19, 239 and 266)
I mean, really?
You're all so very smart. Digital equipment throws an awful lot of crap into the environment, and more so through the cabling, chassis', power supplies, etc. It interferes with the really quite delicate analogue signals in the DAC and the Amp, ie the stuff you're actually listening to. Different digital equipment, especially storage with all its electromagnetic interference, sends out different degrees and profiles of crap. A lot of work has been done to measure this. You can hear it if you bother listening. But you probably don't. You think your iPhone sounds OK.
Um, no. Some of us worked professionally with audio (and video) for more than thirty years, in broadcasting.
If you are measuring 'grain' and 'pace' and 'rhythm' in your music, you are fooling yourself.
Of course electronic equipment throws out interference; though it's required to do it at a minimum level. But it doesn't affect the *data* that you're throwing at the ADC, and if your ADC isn't properly insulated from the noise - mostly through bad grounds and/or power design - then you deserve all you get.
Oddly enough, there are those of us who are quite capable of telling compressed from uncompressed audio - and some who are equally aware that sometimes, probably most of the time, environmental considerations prevent those subtle differences being audible.
One can improve sound quality by shipping bits to a DAC at strictly regular time intervals. Slight variations in the time in which a DAC is given new data can indeed affect the output signal, even if no bits are changed. This is why certain external USB DACs, which have internal buffer storage, can improve sound quality over the sound card in a computer which simply takes the bits it is given when it is told to, which may vary while the computer is doing other things like running the operating system.
Maybe this is what they were talking about, in a garbled way.
Badly-behaving hardware drivers that take too long to service ISRs/DPCs can indeed cause starvation in the audio subsystem, leading to audible glitches.
However that has nothing to do with the type of drives installed in different NAS devices, since you're receiving the data from them over the same ethernet device on the same PC with the same hardware and drivers.
Not nonsense; basic sampling theory. Jitter in the clock signal - either at recording or replay stage - is directly visible (though not necessarily audible) as noise in the output audio. Gaps in the bitstream show up as bloody great splats on the audio... but surely no-one designs an ADC without a large buffer and a synchronising local clock, do they?
"but surely no-one designs an ADC without a large buffer and a synchronising local clock, do they?"
No, at least not on purpose. I did work once with a chip designed for PCI with tiny buffers--if the PCI bus was not available, it would starve for samples, and audio would Slooooow Dooown. Which was funny. But not in any way related to clock-jitter induced noise.
Buffer underruns and starvation show as dropouts or repeated samples, not as jitter noise, except in badly designed circuits. No half decent midrange DAC with a properly designed power supply and clock is going to suffer from these problems.
(because I just like beer, OK?)
Bad delivery of the data can ABSOLUTELY affect the output - sometimes audibly. This is just a fact.
However, as this is a fact, every engineer working in the field will be fully aware of this and thus design the equipment to deal with it.
What is required is one of two things: either superb delivery of the data or buffering and correction at the receiving end (the DAC). With anything, it's generally desirable to have as perfect an input as possible but the manufacturer of the component accepting the input will rarely be able to control that input so it is better to assume a less-than perfect source.
In any such system, you have to assess the path taken and the stage in that path where a clean signal is necessary. Once this is identified, it makes sense to have the filtering/correction applied just before that.
In this instance, that spot is the DAC and everyone knows that.
So, if your choice of storage is causing artifacts in the sound due to starvation, then, either the source/cable is faulty or far too stressed*. Or, you have a very poorly engineered (or faulty) DAC.
Now, considering that the DAC in use was a dual-box dCS DAC + upsampler going for around $7000 and $5000 USD respectively. That's $12,000 USD worth of filtering and buffering and pixie dust right there.
If it's possible that two different NAS boxes can really make any difference whatsoever in that context, then I think they really need to re-evaluate the value they are placing on all that expensive gear.
But no, the Arm-powered QNAP TS-439 Pro has better "drive" than a CD, particularly "in the sense of bass euphony and articulation". Pity that it had lost to CD in the "higher registers" with "some edgy grain" that "nudg[ed] it off neutrality".
And of course the Intel Atom-powered QNAP TS-419P+ "rendered the same song more tunefully". I can't even summarise the paragraph as every phrase is gold:
"It was more organic and made more sense, the lines of melody and rhythm cooperating better. As well as showing better individual instrument distinction, the whole piece sounded tidier, tonally less messy without the roughened HF, and perhaps better integrated in musical intent."
What the fuck does "better integrated in music intent" mean?
Either way, it became clear after another listen that the QNAP TS-419P+ was the superior choice, given that the difference was "akin to changing loudspeakers", delivering the improvement one might suspect from swapping a £500 DAC for a £2000 DAC. One has to ask what that implies about the $12000 worth of DAC already in the system.
I have to stop quoting that review because it's just so darned good. There seems to be no limit to what these people can convince themselves that they can hear. You can't make this stuff up. Or, I suppose, more accurately, you can:
"If the Kingston SSD stood apart from the disk drives for its mostly good yet quite alien character, drive four made itself known for entirely the wrong reasons. This Corsair drive (another SSD) conspicuously highlighted vocal sibilants, and had a hard, relentless quality that was impossible to miss. Strangely, it also robbed the music of pace; it was the least engaging on any emotional level thanks to an enveloping tunelessness that appeared to carve up a song like an MP3 rip."
The whole thing is just packed full of all the unquantifiable, unexplainable (and therefore completely useless) terms that audiophile reviews are so rightly ridiculed for. Air and space and energy and timing and transients and separation and blackness.
HOWEVER, the kicker is that these drives aren't just going straight into the DACs - the $4000 Naim media player is! The NAS boxes are just supplying the data. The Naim NDX is like a CD player and the HDDs can be considered the same way a CD can. What that means is that changing HDDs is in the same realm as re-recording your purchased CDs onto special CD-Rs.
Don't you know that "the black polycarbonate substrate has better translucency and creates improved dye absorption for a pit that's better defined?" No? But it's so obvious - "A better-defined pit means less jitter and more music!"
Of course, you still have to colour in the edges with your green marker and/or bevel the edges but everyone knows that.
Even then, you have to remember all this is competing with the amazing improvements in sound that the other devices add. The dCS Purcell 'upsampler' is an apparently astounding piece of kit. Just take this review from HiFi Advice:
"When switching from 44.1khz to 96khz immediately the soundfield became wider, airier and more nimble. But the typical square PCM sound remained evident. It's not as if everything is suddenly analog. But when you switch to 176.4khz (fourfold the original samplerate) something amazing happens: sound fills the room, so wide and deep that walls seem to have disappeared. It is so airy, fluid and amazingly finely detailed that you'd swear that the cd player was changed for a record player. Well, not quite, of course:-) But Voices really float as if attached to rubber strings in the room in front of you, not hammered to the floor as they are with regular cd, but at the same time they are amazingly sharply focused. Together with these amazing floating voices, comes a truly engulfing soundstage that wraps around you that makes you feel like taking a warm foamy bath. And everything just lingers in the air, long notes continuing seemingly forever instead of being cut off too soon. This is an effect I am familiar with only from playing lp's."
* - Some NAS boxes can be setup to run all manner of services like bit-torrent clients and DLNA servers and media players and so forth so if you've got a low-powered box running a single slow drive and are streaming movies and playing music at the same time, it's quite possible that you'll have issues. That said, those issues will almost certainly manifest as gaps and stop-start playing as the media player (a $4000 Naim unit in this case) buffers the connection rather than any kind of audible difference to the sound.
"As it turned out, it was possibly the best sounding source yet. It could sustain pace and drive, and gave body and richness to music where the Kingston SSD, for example, had been heard as limpid and lightweight. Maybe higher frequencies still weren't as insightful as direct CD playback at its best, but the sound had a relaxed quality that this listener has found quite enticing enough to plan a migration of all music onto it — pending a test of other NAS combinations!"
I don't know what they were smoking, but I think I want some...
What we have hear is digital homoeopathy.
Excellent speakers, a room with good sound treatment, alright stands, very good DAC's, descent amp/amp's and nothing else being utterly crap and your done. Maybe an active crossover config if you really want to go to town.
Other than that it's snake oil.
(Maybe just maybe proper mains filtering if you've really got nothing better to spend money on!)
I think my favourite part of this is that the website is called "Enjoy the Music".
You are supposed to get a bit swept up in music - not bogged down in minute details of reproduction. If that's you're thing then fine, but it's not the music you are enjoying.
For more amusement, try their review of USB cables.
Reading this, you will find out that the $70/m DH Labs Silversonic USB cable:
". . . exhibited a little more heightened apparent texture detail especially in upper midrange and a bit higher in frequency, which resulted in upper end of female voice, top hats, and cymbals cutting through air a little more clearly with a tiny more sparkle and metallic verve."
Good to know.
And the Cardas offering ($134/m):
". . . exhibits a beautifully natural yet colorful sound with bubbling microdynamic life that is very addicting and attractive."
I won't repeat how glorious the $700/m cables are.
That said, I do agree with the reviewer who said that:
"Any cable review based only on in-system break-in is in my opinion not worth reading -- or writing . . ."
To which I would add that any cable treated with the reviewed 'cable cooker' (or any other such device) is equally unworthy of your time. Except, of course for amusement.
Hang on - I wonder how that reviewer feels about the aforementioned USB cable review? That reviewer didn't mention any break-in at all. Perhaps he did break them in but the latest version of the cable cooker still doesn't have USB so however he broke them in it wasn't with this amazing device!
Still, in that review (the USB cables) there was a very interesting passage:
"In comparing USB cables, what is puzzling is how similar materials and designs carry over the sound signatures from analogue cables to USB cables even though the frequency of signal and type of information carried seem to have nothing in common. For example, Cardas Clear's pure copper design does represent well the traditional analogue world's prediction of rich tonality and ample bass while DH Lab's silver-coated copper still has a hint of that "sheen," or extra detail, in upper-mids that is thought to be common in silver-plated designs."
That's not at all puzzling, mate. What it shows is that all the bullshit improvements in "clarity" and "imaging" and so forth are, at best, confirmation bias. This can be seen in the same review, where the $700/m cable:
". . . just sounds like it has a ridiculous amount of transmission speed in reserve and is using only a tiny fraction of it to feed the DAC."
How could he possibly have come up with such an amazing impression? Turns out that "Wireworld claims the Platinum Starlight 7.0 is the first USB cable to exceed 10.2 Gbps transmission speed.".
And there you are - manufacturer claims the cable can do some high transmission speed of the (which is twice what your USB 3.0 source can use) and so it is perceived as space "open[ing] up all round the room" - as though a cable operating at 20% capacity is somehow better than one operating at 90%, like some amplifier with more headroom.
Never mind the fact that Class 2 audio specifies USB 2.0 (though can use higher) which is 480Mb/s - enough for 100 channels of 24/192 audio (which is what his DAC can handle).
But this is the essential delusion (and that is the correct word) of these people who hear with their eyes - reading the manufacturer and price tag and seeing the specs showing silver or copper, mono-block or multi-channel, integrated or separate, stranded or solid, etc...
I feel that the naysayers here have overlooked an extremely important effect that may contribute in some way to the observed phenomena - quantum resonance technology.
To understand the deep effect this has on music for the truly enlightened one should read the reviews such as this one;
EMFS - electro magnetic field stabilisation - let the silence begin.
So, I say to you misguided technologists, scientists and anyone who would deny what is so self-evidently valuable, as you can't understand how a technology like QRT works it's magic how can you hope to cast aside the veil on audiophile hyper-storage?
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