Can SATA cables make your music sound better?

18 Aug 2010

No, really. I’m serious. Those red SATA cables you got free with your motherboard, or those black ones that came pre-installed in your PC, they’re not up to the job. They might be capable of transferring hundreds upon hundreds of megabytes in a flash, but when it comes to transporting uncompressed high-fidelity audio files, they’re just not good enough. If you want to hear your music as the artist intended then you need new, improved Super SATA cables.

Or at least that’s what you’d understand from reading the recently published blog of a veteran Hi-Fi journalist [note: original blog has now been taken down]. To be absolutely fair, it wasn’t the SATA cables in his PC that he replaced, but rather the cables connecting the hard drives to the motherboard of his NAS device. He claims that after changing those standard SATA cables for the Super variety that he, “clearly identified easily perceptible improvements.”

He continues, and surmises why there could be such an improvement:

“My only guess is that the Super SATAs reject interference significantly better than the standard cables and in so doing lower the noise floor revealing greater low-level musical detail and presentational improvements in the soundstage and the ‘air’ around instruments.”

The alarm bells immediately start ringing. How on earth can a SATA cable delivering 0s and 1s to their respective destination have any effect on those 0s and 1s? The answer is, it can’t. Unless it’s a magical one made of pixie shoes. After all, if a SATA cable was so poor as to cause errors in the transmission of data, you wouldn’t be able to listen to the music in the first place: your operating system wouldn’t boot, and in the case of a NAS device, well, it just wouldn’t work.

And as for poor SATA cables adding noise to the music? It’s simply impossible. The SATA cable would need to physically alter the sequence of 0s and 1s, and would be as likely to add noise to a JPEG image file as it would be an audio file. And regardless, error correction does not allow for such an eventuality. If it did, well, I wouldn’t be checking Facebook, listening to a low-bitrate MP3 and intermittently typing this blog post. I’d be staring at a blank computer screen, or, if I was really lucky, maybe one that was a lovely shade of blue.

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