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Posted on August 18th, 2010 by Sasha Muller

Can SATA cables make your music sound better?

sata cablesNo, 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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149 Responses to “ Can SATA cables make your music sound better? ”

  1. milliganp Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    The hi-fi industry talks more utter b*ll*cks and technobabble than Homeopathy (just dilute all the bits 1000 times…).
    You can also buy a “pureAV” HDMI cable for 70 quid in PC World if you’re foolish enough to believe that digital systems feel the cable they pass through!

     
  2. snowdog99 Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    “Unless it’s a magical one made of pixie shoes” – when can we expect to see those on the A list?

     
  3. Andy Hawken Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I *guess* it could, conceivably, if there was error correction going on with the old cables, affect jitter. The placebo effect is more likely though. Anyway, shouldn’t they be listening to vinyl anyway…

     
  4. Mike Baldwin Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I’m just off to the Overclockers web site to see if they do the pixie shoe Sata Cables.Think i’ll buy a couple.They’ll go well with my Wizard Sata drives.You know….the ones that magically lose my data :-)

     
  5. Jay Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    What a moron! These hifi people are like the people who buy stuff from informercials! Actually scratch that, the people who buy things from informercials DO actually get SOME increase in function…

     
  6. Dave Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Can’t this be scientifically proved to be false by comparing the actual data transfer from the same file using different cables?

    If they are identical then there is obviously no different. But if the transfer is identical like most people say then the myth is busted.

     
  7. Mat Bailie Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    @Andy Hawken

    Jitter? You’d have to have a SERIOUSLY slow transfer rate for that. An entire uncompressed track can be read into memory in a second…

     
  8. Andrew H Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Could better EM shielding on the ‘Super’ SATA cables reduce interference with the analogue parts in the sound reproduction chain?
    I can’t imagine he’d be sat close enough to his NAS device for any differences to matter though.

     
  9. Seb Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    The only issue I have with cables is getting ones which the plug is not quite up to spec, I have found this usually on the cheapest models, but not on those marginally more expensive. No idea why you would go to the top end models with digital cables, if they meet the spec then they will do. Cables that need to be expensive, infiniband for example, you can’t buy cheap ones because the spec is too high.

     
  10. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    The question is, what do SATA devices look like when they are on their knees and about to die, and could changing the cable improve system performance and hence audio processing? The guy isn’t a computer person, so we don’t know for sure – but one very easy explanation for this is if his PC is on or near his bonkers speaker stack, and the SATA lead he took *out* wasn’t a latch type – the old lead could easily be jiggling loose just on the edge of disconnection. Sticking a new lead in could *both* improve matters *and* make him misdiagnose the reason. Based on what I’ve seen of failing SATA drives I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear of people guessing wrong over all sorts of bizarre outcomes.

     
  11. Steve Pomeroy Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    A brief poke at this guy’s hifi setup and you’ll see that most of his equipment comes from exactly one company, Naim, which makes very silly products like this: http://www.naimaudio.com/hifi-product-range/641 (make sure to check out the review here: http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/naim2/powerline.html , which gives a list price). Yes, that’s a €560 power cable.

     
  12. John Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Ha! If he wants, he can try giving me 65,536 reasons for his ‘findings’, and I wouldn’t believe any of them 1 bit.

     
  13. cats_five Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 6:19 am

    From his blog:

    “I have disabled Comments on this post so that respectable visitors do not have to read the remarks made by a small number of extremely ignorant, rude, malicious and disingenuous individuals who cannot tolerate people expressing opinions that do not concur with their own.”

     
  14. Straight Talker Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Being one of the people who drove poor picked upon Malcolm to close his precious blog to comments I thought I should at least say something here. As a computer engineer and a long term Audiophile it gets right up my nose when people spout off total rubbish, act all hurt and bemused when you call them on it and then remove your right to reply while they go and sulk in the corner. Malcolm Steward is the kind of bad joke journalist that gives the rest of us who are serious about music reproduction a bad name. Don’t for a second think that most of us take any notice!

     
  15. milliganp Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Has posting on this blog been disabled?

     
  16. milliganp Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 8:41 am

    @Steve Cassidy. Nice try but I read other parts of his blog. He writes about a company comparing several brands of SATA cable for audio quality and “hearing” diffrences in each cable!

     
  17. milliganp Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Malcolm hasn’t just closed his blog to comments, he’s deleted them all -obviously free speech does not apply in his world. I’ve had a life-long interest in Audio technology and have built several amplifiers and speakers. I’ve worked professionally in acoustic measurements and spent 25 years in computers including 4 years of system design. I gave up reading about hi-fi when it became necessary to accept that you could hear a piece of wire.

     
  18. Clanger Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:09 am

    These Hi-Fi bods have long since used the audiophiles lack of knowledge of what digital means to sell increasingly expensive addons to their setup. The fundamental concept they fail to grasp is that binary, the basic building block of digital, is a simple yes or no.

     
  19. David Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:38 am

    @Andrew H
    If anything was going to cause interference, it would be power cables.

     
  20. MerseyMal Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I really must get one of these now to go with my Denon AK-DL1!

    http://www.usa.denon.com/productdetails/3429.asp

     
  21. metalmonkey Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:43 am

    @Dave (post 6)

    Yes but even though the through-put will be the same, each 1 and 0 will be better quality if a good sata cable is used. ;)

    You gotta love the music industry!

     
  22. David Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:47 am

    @MerseyMal
    Think that’s featured on here before! I particularly like the bit about ’signal directional markings’.

     
  23. John Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:51 am

    The signal directional markings show the 1s and 0s which way to go so they get there faster

     
  24. milliganp Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Not all HDMI cables are create equal, see :- http://www.avreview.co.uk/news/article/mps/uan/495
    The HDMI specs allow for 2 cable types (1/2) the latter being branded HDMI fast (words like PRO and Ultra are just marketing blather). It’s a digital signal, if it works it works if it doesn’t it doesn’t a £120 cable that works is no different to a £15 cable that does the same job!

     
  25. Tim_Wn Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I wonder if anyone has tried testing with Placebo’s single ‘Hang on to your IQ’

     
  26. Jon S Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    @John
    LMFAO :-D

     
  27. Chris1949 Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Gold plated mains plugs are my favourite. Perhaps others can come up with more unlikely candidates. Oxygen free copper cables perhaps?

     
  28. John Gray Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Better cables will obviously transmit 1s and 0s as 1.00000 and 0.00000. Must be better!

     
  29. GeoffQ Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    chris1949, I can better the Oxygen free copper cables, have a look at HiFiwigwam one of the nerdy hi fi geek forums, the clowns over there spend several thousand on ‘magic’ age annealed silver cables and even claim to be able to hear mains cables made with this stuff, hilarious!

     
  30. Sasha Muller Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    @GeoffQ

    HiFi Wigwam is actually a very friendly little forum. I’ve picked up some nice kit from their classifieds section!

    And back on topic, HiFiWigwam’s audience is very much split between cable atheists and believers, who regularly come to verbal blows.

    In fact, there was a thread with a link to this blog yesterday evening, but it was deleted by this morning. It must have descended into a slanging match….

     
  31. James Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    As the owner of HiFiwigwam I can confirm that the site is mostly a bunch of single geeky men, many of whom spend far too much time tinkering with bits of wire and far too little time listening to music on their expensive hifis . However, they do so with one intention: to get more from their systems.
    That their methods are misguided is not in-doubt. But it’s harsh to describe them as clowns. The Placebo effect coupled with expectation bias and a strong desire for such things to work can indeed create a very palpable “improvement” in the sound quality. People – all people- are easily foole in this way (see homeopathy for more details).
    This SATA cable however, is -like many things in hifi -a step too far and it does our industry a great dis-service. We end up being labelled as clowns and people are put off even trying a high definition audio system and are denied one of life’s great pleasures – hearing your music, crystal clear and perfectly reproduced.

    Amusing that the CAPTCHA code to post here is Con Us and Opportunities. HAHahaha!

     
  32. James Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    That was meant to be a ;-) after my line about us all being single and geeky by the way.

     
  33. Tony Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    It did … but it’s back, suitably sanitised. A lot of HiFi geeks despair at this nonsense. PC Geeks think we’re nuts … but only half of us are.

     
  34. ChayD Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Perhaps a special Audiophile brand of memory should also be marketed to these mugs. Like special memory that will result in smooth vinyl-like sound and reduced audio artifacts.

     
  35. Niall Leonard Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Endlessly fiddling with hi-fi setups is actually a form of obsessive compulsive behaviour, akin to collecting stickers or aeroplane spotting… and PC geeks obsessed with overclocking, watercooling etc, should be wary of pointing and laughing. I’m always reminded of my mate who proudly boasted Xboxes in every room networked to a hacked TiVo… and who never watched TV.

     
  36. Keith Blakemore-Noble Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    What a load of unscientific and inaccurate codswallop! The cables make no difference to the sound quality whatsoever.

    Although I think perhaps the most amusing bit is the note at the end of the original article -
    “I have disabled Comments on this post so that respectable visitors do not have to read the remarks made by a small number of extremely ignorant, rude, malicious and disingenuous individuals who cannot tolerate people expressing opinions that do not concur with their own. ”
    So in other words, he doesn’t want to read opinions which do not concur with his own, so he disables comments – what a surprise :-)

     
  37. John Main Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I once saw an ad for a £200 gold mains cable which they claimed vastly improved the quality of your hi-fi as it transmitted a cleaner mains signal. Never mind the miles upon miles of antique copper getting the electricity from the power station, that last metre makes all the difference!

     
  38. Ben C Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Funny, I left the 9th and (to my knowledge) final comment on Steward’s original article, and none of those 9 comments match the description he gives as his justification for disabling the comments, leading me to the conclusion that it is *he* who cannot tolerate robust debate.

     
  39. Joe Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Wow, and all these years I thought that bandwidth was sacrificed to maintain data integrity… amazing

     
  40. milliganp Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I wonder if a company selling an expensive cable that doesn’t actually do anything extra could be guilty of miss-representation? A few years back in PC World they sold Belkin “Gold” Ethernet cables that claimed to improve data transfer speed for people with high-speed internet connections. We all know that cat5=cat5 and HDMI=HDMI but these more expensive cables exist and make implicit claims to improved performance.
    If it can be scientifically proven that the claims are baseless is there a possibility of legal action?

     
  41. Joe Dee Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    His stupidity has killed me. Now my fucking cat is homeless.

     
  42. drummerjohn Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    From HifiWigWam forum:
    “Have removed it (forum thread) to check it out after an Email from one Malcolm Steward accused us of defamation.”

    Now it get’s dirty!

     
  43. Deltic_Engine Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    My thoughts are that these SATA cables may have better EMI shielding than conventional cables causing a reduction in interference in the equipment chain resulting in a perceived sonic improvement.

     
  44. More Insertions Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    For more commonly used connectors like the micro-usb used to charge your phone, shelling out for a more durable wearing part that won’t wear out after 500 insertions might be worth it.

     
  45. Jason Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    “Perhaps a special Audiophile brand of memory should also be marketed to these mugs. Like special memory that will result in smooth vinyl-like sound and reduced audio artifacts.”

    I literally laughed till I blacked out on that one. :D

     
  46. Jan Kalin Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Hehe, a few years ago James Randi offered 1 million dollars to anyone that could prove that the “Pear Anjou” speaker cables, selling for $7250 (not a typo!) actually offered an improved sound over a pair of decent and normally priced cables. The manufacturer declined to participate…

    Google for “james randi cable speakers”

     
  47. Jace Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I completely agree with all those who state that these sorts of cables are completely ridiculous.

    However, in the interest of playing devil’s advocate, I’ll point out that there is one thing that might barely affect sound quality: EM noise. At some point in the sound production chain — if only just before the speakers — there must be an analog signal. EM noise due to poorly shielded wires or (possibly) fluctuations in the mains power could conceivably add noise to that analog signal and hence to the final sound.

    So in theory, building a filter into your mains cord could reduce one potential source of noise. And properly shielding and grounding digital cables could remove another potential source of noise.

    But before going to all that trouble, one should probably just do some simple experiments and back-of-the envelope calculations to see what kind of effect EM noise could actually have on the final sound. My opinion? There wouldn’t be any effect.

    So my advice: if you’re going to sell crackpot hi-fi wires, at least make them sound plausible by talking about grounding, shielding, and frequency filters. Talk about anything else, and you’re just insulting our intelligence.

     
  48. JB Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    sATA cables are tightly regulated, as are the connectores which go into them, but in the event that an external NAS is poorly isolated and shielded, it is possible for ground noise to be communicated through a cable to interfere with the analog aspects of a board. While fundamentally computers operate as digital devices, they are at their core analog devices, with voltages, thresholds, currents, and interferences which can complicate things greatly. The sATA portion of the cable would not solve anything, but the ground isolation and the impedance between poorly designed components *might* be alleviated by different cabling. A cable with more shielding and therefore more capacitance might actually help eliminate any noise transmitted through the cable from device to device.

    Of course, simply grounding the two devices together via some form of $.50 copper wire would be far more economical, it is not impossible. We have seen situations like this with cell phones where the cell phone power at the battery was far noisier on some poorly designed devices, and a better cable might alleviate the bad behavior to some degree, perhaps enough to cause failure to become passing.

    With all that said though, it does seem highly unlikely that the only place that this would be noticed would be in audio, and not in some form of functional failure (even data transfer failures resulting in CRC failures on the sATA link).

    People who assert flat out that something is impossible generally haven’t spent enough time in the lab to realize that all encompassing statements have a habit of proving you wrong eventually. Probability is a more reliably way (although less exciting) of describing the likelihood of something. In this, it would seem exceedingly unlikely, but impossible? Probably not. Just very unlikely, and even if true in one case, less likely for a vast majority of installations

     
  49. Rhett Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I have some $300 HDMI cables for you too.

     
  50. Scott H Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    And of course now that his comments are closed, there’s no way to elucidate to his audience on the merits of a double-blind placebo-controlled trial with a collection of audiophile type personalities to see if there really is any evidence to support the claims.

     
  51. Lloyd S Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    There is an easy way to prove this one way or the other. Obviously, we all already know that the sata cable can make no difference to the perceived sound quality, but the way to prove it is this:

    1. Store a sound file on a hard drive, SSD, CD, DVD or whatever, something that is accessed through SATA.

    2. Load that file into RAM, entirely, through the standard SATA cable.

    3. Swap the SATA cable to the expensive one, and load the same file into RAM.

    4. Compare the data (look at the hex, the binary, whatever), and see if there is any difference in the data that has been read. What we’ll see is that the actual 1s and 0s that have been read in are identical.

    There’s nothing more to it than that! Yes, EMI can play a part when you get down to the analog part, so maybe spend a little bit more on those cables, but the digital ones, seriously, what does anyone think they’re going to achieve by using a more expensive cable? If SATA made any difference, the computer simply would not work, as the data for the OS and all the applications wouldn’t load properly from the cheaper cables.

    Also, the guy was doing this ON HIS NAS!!! Which presumably meant that after reading the digital audio data through his “super SATA cable”, he then passed that data to his NIC, which proceeded to send it out through some Cat5 (each packet encapsulated in a lovely Ethernet header, aswell), to the NIC in his player device, which stripped the network headers from the data, passed the stream to his sound card, and THEN out to his audio equipment. Did this guy use a “super” NIC and Cat5 cable, too? Are his motherboards gold-plated? WTF?

    Also, consider this situation if anyone is actually still considering believing in this crap. If I download a WAV audio file from a server on the internet, then download the exact same file from another server which uses super sata cables, will the two downloaded files differ? Will the one from a server using super sata cables sound better somehow, even though it has passed through god only knows what kind of cables whilst traversing the public internet to reach my router, NIC, etc?

    In short, this is really retarded.

     
  52. Chris Muncy Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    I guess these wil lbe a great companion to my Denon AK-DL1 Cat5 cables at $499.00 for a 6′ cable…

    http://www.usa.denon.com/productdetails/3429.asp

     
  53. LaBrant Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    The whole discussion of $500 cables is moot the moment it takes place in the real world.

    Why?

    In the real world, $500 will get you tickets to a live performance, or depending on your city, season tickets to the symphony. Just like when computer geeks brag about full motion video and 78″ monitors with infinite color depth for $10,000, it’s still outdone by even the most basic free example of… getting laid.

    And for the record, at the symphony the entire impedance from instrument to ear is… 0, with no EM interference at all.

    The faux-hifi jerk probably gets better sound from $500 cables by using the proceeds to hire musicians.

     
  54. Anonymous Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Is this anything like a gold plated, shielded optical audio cable?

     
  55. Dave Woo Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    From a lay mans point of view. He probably is telling the truth, but has no real clue as to why this is the case. From what it sounds like his cheaply made cables were giving him some sort of interference to the amplifier of his computer(Creating notable distortion in sound quality )

    So buying a higher quality cable probably provided him with more shielding from magnetic interference which then reduced any effects to the amplifier.

    Even though computers run on 1 and 0 there is still a lot of analog stuff to deal with.

     
  56. Karl Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    I really cant see what all the fuss is about,the cables Malcolm refers to are the cables we use in our Multi Media Servers,they have not been offered for sale as an item in their own right.They were chosen on the basis that they are of a much better quality than that currently available,they are double shielde and have a substantial lock,period. However,as an aside,we did test loads of cables before biting the bullet on these and in my opinion they did indeed improve the replay of hidef material,bluray,hd master audio etc,Ican offer no reason why this is so,it just is.Perhaps the comments made by JB above is correct.At the end of the day all things are subjective and people shouldnt be vilified for having an opinion.had you all seen first hand the foul mouthed abuse aimed at Malcolm on the hifiwigwam site perhaps you may have looked upon his comments more objectively

     
  57. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    A *very* long time ago when I worked on another similar PC sector title, we concocted an April Fool nice and far in advance: Digital speakers. Before we could get the print one done, someone went and invented them, for real…

    Notwithstanding Milligan’s comment, I think it would be interesting to take a perfect setup we all think is digitally beyond reproach, and then try to screw it up in various ways that might account for the reported effects.

     
  58. Jon H Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    My favorite was the company who, in the late 90s, started selling interconnects and speaker cables with special “light beam” insulation. ie, they had little LED boxes you hooked up to the cable, which allegedly would shine light that would bounce around the conductors and cancel out ‘interference’.

    They were very expensive.

     
  59. Abe M Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Cable Elevators are among my favorite audiophile snakeoil.

    http://www.musicdirect.com/product/86973

     
  60. Pixy Misa Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    The cables are, of course, no better than any standard SATA cable; any perceived effect is psychological rather than acoustic. A simple blinded test would show this, which is why audiophiles avoid simple blinded tests.

    If a SATA cable were so flawed as to cause problems with audio playback, it’s extremely unlikely that it would work at all.

     
  61. Andy0x2a Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 12:21 am

    heres an easy test of his super sata cable:

    #cp /mnt/NAS/file.mp3 ~/goodFile.mp3
    #umount /mnt/NAS

    //replace super sata cable with regular sata cable

    #mount /mnt/NAS
    #cp /mnt/NAS/file.mp3 ~/badFile.mp3

    #md5sum ~/goodFile.mp3
    #md5sum ~/badFile.mp3

    if the two md5sums are the same, then transfering data using one cable vs the other makes no difference.

     
  62. Mike Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Audiophiles are easily the *most* gullible people on the planet (and not by just a little bit). They want to believe so badly that it affects their perceptions, opinions, and (apparently) the laws of physics.

     
  63. Mike Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Deltic_Engine said:

    “My thoughts are that these SATA cables may have better EMI shielding than conventional cables causing a reduction in interference in the equipment chain resulting in a perceived sonic improvement.”

    LOL! Made me laugh! Good one, I alm- wait, what? You were being serious?

    Err..okay. Hey, wanna buy some cables? They’re made with hyper-sonic copper taken from secret mines hidden directly below Area 51. They have silk-jacketed covers which were hand-rolled by little old Italian widows listening to Verdi. They’re AWESOME, and only $895 a foot (minimum order 500ft).

    So, whaddya say?

     
  64. RobertMfromLI Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 1:20 am

    #6 Dave:

    It already happens. You do it all the time. Copy a file from one drive to another. The file will be bit for bit exact. Whether it’s audio, video, a word doc, picture, whatever. Computers canNOT work any other way. Programs wouldnt run. Every time you opened your word doc or image using a “regular” SATA cable, it would be different, and have gibberish in it, and so on.

     
  65. Gweihir Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 2:35 am

    A long time ago two good friends of mine bought a HiFi video recorder and a $100 80cm cable with it. After laughing long and hard, I got them 3m elCheapo stereo cable, 4 plastic Cinch connectors, soldered the cable and dared them to hear a difference. They could not. Fortunately the shop too the cable back, as we were Students at that time and really did not have that much money.

     
  66. nashith Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 2:48 am

    I don’t believe the HiFi expert. BUT can someone please explain to me why I hear noise from my speakers when I scroll using my ps/2 mouse? The funny thing is the noise actually reflect the speed of the scroll and stops as soon as I stop scrolling.

     
  67. Spins Meats Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 3:20 am

    This is obviously bogus. Every transfer between a given LBA and the host (or the host and a given LBA) is checksummed with a CRC.

    If this CRC doesn’t match, then either the disk (for writes) or the host (for reads) will complain loudly and abort the transfer (to prevent bad data getting to the disk or to the OS, respectively.)

    The usual behavior under these conditions is for the host to reset the SATA bus and retry the CDB that failed. This bus reset takes (at best) in the order of several seconds, and will generally block the host OS (or at least the host OS’s disk subsystem; this depends on the OS itself) until it completes.

    Accordingly, there are a grand total of two situations you can have with a SATA cable: “it works”, which is the status quo, and “it doesn’t work”, which is more than noticable.

    It was inevitable, though, that somebody would try this; there are “audiophile-grade” HDMI cables (worthless), and “audiophile-grade” Cat6 cables (worthless), so it’s hardly surprising that some enterprising shysters are producing these.

    As Mr Hifi guy shows, there’s one born every minute (amusing that his blog post now 404s, too).

     
  68. David Boroditsky Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Maybe he’s the guy who wrote a review in Audiophile magazine about a decade ago comparing and contrasting the differences in playback of identically transcribed digital audio files onto various brands of digital minidiscs.

    It takes a truly special kind of ear to hear things that aren’t there.

     
  69. Scott Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 5:17 am

    I doubt that interference from the SATA cable is an issue, since anyone half-serious about PC that’s using a PCI SoundBlaster should be slapped. It’s not expensive to get a decent, high-bitrate sound interface that operates via USB, FireWire, or a PCI interface that lets you put the analog guts halfway across the room from your noisy computer. Yes, PCs put out a bunch of EMI, but the CPU and video card are much worse culprits than an SATA cable ever could hope to be. I don’t claim to be an “audiophile” (for obvious reasons)… but I do produce music and own a 10000 watt concert system, and have been paying attention for many years to what REALLY makes a difference in sound.

     
  70. Scott Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 5:32 am

    @nashith: Let me guess, you’re using digital DVI for your monitor interface, right? I’d bet money that if you keep everything else the same and switch to VGA cables, the noise stops. I’ve had the same issue. It /appears/ to be interference from the video card/DVI cable to some analog audio component in your system. Most likely, you’d get similar noise if you ran a game or some program that changes the display and resolution without mouse input… my experience with that type of noise is that it relates to video signal.

    Try keeping your speaker cables routed as far away from the video cable as you can. Better shielded DVI cables /MAY/ help, but don’t quote me on that. I get this problem when I try to run sensitive, high quality amps/speakers (studio monitors) off of consumer-grade audio interfaces. The only real fix I’ve found is to use pro audio interfaces and balanced XLR cables (which do, by provable methods, cancel out RF interference… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balanced_audio).

    Best of luck.

     
  71. Scott Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Oops… take the trailing ) off that URL for wikipedia.

     
  72. Richard Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    The only think I could think is radio frequency interference – but you’ll get lots of that from all the other electronics on the PC. They’re pretty bad at it. Your audio equipment should be designed to have some resistance to it – even nowadays to stupidly strong signals like nearby mobile phones. PC sound cards can suffer though, but a hi-fi nut wouldn’t be using that.

    Digital cable can matter if you’re doing long runs, for example room to room especially for higher bandwidth signals like HDMI. Digital tends to have the cliff-edge effect though of just dropping out or in the case of TV going blocky when it fails. You’d hear pops and dropouts rather than hiss.

     
  73. kimputer Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    @nashith – August 20th, 2010 at 2:48 am:

    It could be interference from your CRT screen to your speakers (magnetic), or it could be a hardware/software combo (scrolling requires CPU, hence influencing your onboard audio codec sound device). For the first problem, moving your speakers away from the CRT screen will work, for the second problem, get a hardware based PCI/PCI-e soundcard (pref. Creative)

     
  74. Brian Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I think while most people don’t care about the subtleties of “hi-fidelity” audio, they shouldn’t speak out of ignorance. The concept of ‘1’s and 0’s) is extremely simplified when compared to what voltages are passing through a digital to analog converter. Anyone else who has done at least a little electrical engineering has seen a “digital” stream on an oscilloscope will know that those are far from purely on and off voltages. Also, inside the converter circuits, the output is not “blind” to the quality of the on and off voltages seen at the input, as would be expected. Noise and jitter on the digital side do reproducibly affect the fidelity on the analog side of the circuit. I personally won’t be investing, but I think there are some harsh words being said unnecessarily.

     
  75. Rickster Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Blue cables sound better for blues, Red cables for rock and turquoise for techno. Simple really.

     
  76. milliganp Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    @Brian, the point you make about D-A converters is true. However in this case the data is coming from a SATA drive, being stored in memory, transferred over Ethernet to a very high quality, blindingly expensive media player (where it is again buffered in memory before playback) and THEN the listener is saying he can “hear” the SATA cable in the storage device!
    It really does beggar belief and what makes it worse is the seriously erroneous pseudo-scientific babble that is used to justify the difference.

     
  77. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Um; look chaps. I have been seeing all sorts of odd behaviour from misbehaving SATA lately, as the first-gen SATA drives go over “a certain age”. The reporting of this misbehaviour by low-level bits of hardware (that should DEFINITELY bring it up – as Jon H likes to say, this is 2010 ferchrissakes) is shockingly bad. As many people have said here, computers ought to look digital, even though it is possible to look at them as if they very definitely are not. My experience with SATA is that it certainly does not fail in a “was working, now not” kind of a way – which, just by itself, makes me at the very least, impatient with those who claim that digital means perfect. Lads; you are right – but you are simply failing to address what happens out in the real world. To be fair to you, you’re not alone – manufacturers aren’t taking appropriate care either – but just gurning at the bloke online and dismissing him as a shill or deluded doesn’t address what he reports. Like I said (but didn’t expand on sufficiently) before, I can think of ways in which a bad SATA lead would make *any* other lead sound better, because the system it was in was “on the edge” in terms of utilisation and the Checksum fails made it stutter, until the source of the fails went away and the stuttering faded, too. A couple of weeks back, I upgraded a firewall install at someone’s house – they instantly reported (without promping) that their H323 VOIP connection “sounded better” – and it did to me too: this was because the old firewall had a CPU out of one of those musical birthday cards, while the new unit did all the 3DES stuff in a custom chip, so it dropped less packets. Bingo: better audio. So don’t mis-diagnose what the guy is hearing, otherwise you are in the same boat as he is.

     
  78. drummerjohn Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    @Steve. You have to stop comparing different technologies. VOIP is adaptavive. If there are enough errors to cause a drop in throughput the software will drop the bitrate.
    What Malcolm Steward is stating is there are audible differences in SATA cable. This does not match anyones understanding of SATA failure. Yes – SATA failure from HD controllers to memory issues can give quirks ie stutter, not playing, but these are immediately obvious. Just because they take a long time to diagnose doesn’t mean it supports Malcolms statement.

     
  79. Sara Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Hahahahahahahahaha! This is ineffable!!!! How on earth can a supposedly informed Hi-Fi jornalist, veteran or not, imagine that a digital medium can be inspected as it was analog??!?!??!??!???

     
  80. Karl Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    It might be a good idea if this thread was put to bed,It appears that not only is there a civil suit in the offing but becuase of recent events,as in an avalanche of malicious,offensive phone calls to Mr Steward and emails from some lowlifes wherein they “wished he was dead” the police have now become involved.

     
  81. Anonymouse Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Sata uses CRC to validate the data transmitted.

    Interference causing data errors in the data is possible but it would be detected and the data retransmitted.

    Errors in audio would be clearly detectable as stuttering, and horrific glitches in the music, not as a subtle degradation of audio quality.

    It is irrelevant though as a cable broken enough to cause interference at this level would probably prevent the drive being usable.

     
  82. Damon Hindermann Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I agree completely with Sara. The main issue is that these so called audiophiles are stuck thinking analog and haven’t come to grips with why the world has been moving to digital audio since the 80’s.

     
  83. Mike Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    He’s obviously embarrased by it… so much for “expert” talking about ruining his rep in a heartbeat!! hahahaha!

     
  84. Sasha Muller Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    @Karl

    I am most interested by your observations that employing these SATA cables improve audio and HD video playback in your PC builds.

    Would you be willing to submit two identical systems – one with normal SATA cables, one without – and allow us to set up a blind test?

    If there indeed is a difference, then I’d very much like to have to opportunity to witness it first hand.

    Please feel free to contact me directly to arrange the test.

    Kind regards,
    Sasha Muller
    PC Pro

     
  85. Karl Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    @Sasha
    I think perhaps you should read my last post again,the whole thing has got out of hand,when Malcolms wife and kids are abused its time to call it a day.However,I am more than happy to supply one of the cables to you,I have made no “claim” for these items ,only expressed an opinion.They are Sata rev3,6gbs,double shielded etc etc and have the required quality of construction,they feel “substantial.

     
  86. Karl Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    @Sasha,you will obviously need more than one,sorry,please let me know how many and I will send asap,one thing I didnt mention is that they are made to USA milspec,dont know if that makes a difference,
    Karl

     
  87. drummerjohn Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Karl – weren’t you banned from Hifiwigwam? I saw your self promoting as user Bitperfect.

    As someone who promotes these cables I would have hoped that you understood that SATA cables made in the USA will work anywhere. Sasha would only need one cable. From the HD to the Mobo.

    Anyway have fun.

     
  88. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    DrummerJohn: Sasha and I are looking at the same issue here. In order to make a claim, you need to be able to show how an effect arises, and/or back it up with observational data, and that goes for anything, from Dark Matter through to “a watched pot never boils”. I know that H323 makes provision for adaptive rates; I want the people who believe the guy is reporting dishonestly, to consider the possibility that he has Dunning-Krueger effect (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect) – which is no reason to snigger at him publically, and a very strong reason why there could be something going on which he’s mis-attributing. I expect to hear lots of wrong answers and hypotheses in the course of working it out: What I don’t expect, or enjoy, is a lot of smug parading about of closed minded assurance that “nothing can go wrong because it’s digital”. By all means, propose experiments that show how PCs playing audio streams *actually* degrade in reality; I used to have all sorts of fun back in the 386/486 era making people’s PCs go faster by swapping around expansion cards in different slots, and that included making their streaming media play more smoothly: at the time I was surrounded by online acquaintances who would stake their lives on this being nonsense, because “it’s just a card slot”. I cannot shake off the feeling that this is another similar episode, and the lynch mob are pursuing someone who has simply stumbled across something quite real, which he has mis-attributed. Or if you prefer to think of this in a constructive way: surely this is an opportunity for a streaming media PC build-off competition and double-blind test. Let’s invite him along!

     
  89. Karl Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    @drummerjohnas amatter of fact is was my lad that was on there,responding to the foul mouthed filth that was being spouted at Malcolm,I havent been on that site since 2009,dont have the time,gotta life……You should really read what was really siad,at no time has anyone promoted the cable,they have never been offered for sale as a stand alone item,the origin of the cables is the USA,as stated they are made to USA milspec,as in not our (UK) mod spec,and as we already use them its pretty obvious that they will work anywhere…..Sasha will need 4 cables if 2 identical systems are to be used,1 for HDD and 1 for optical drive,per system,as in total of 4….how else would the optical drive function,thought you might have known at least that much,never mind eh..

     
  90. Karl Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    @drummerjohn, If Bitperfect has indeed been banned from,that site its just as well given this
    http://www.hifiwigwam.com/showthread.php?44219-Utter-Cunts-!!&s=ac6c8d5c80c379c7875ce303f29d9471 I dont believe ANY normal person would want to be associated with such a site.

     
  91. Scott Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    @Karl: Someone else’s criminal behavior has nothing to do with my technical discussion of the matter. I don’t subscribe to the idea of letting the actions one jackass curtail everyone else’s freedom.

     
  92. Karl Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Anyone offended by the constant use of foul language and the rantings of people who in my honest opinion have serious anger management problems should not click on the link in post 90

     
  93. Scott Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Jitter in the SATA cable will never have any effect on sound quality. The SATA interface has a buffer, the media player buffers media in RAM, and the sound interface has it’s own buffer. The only place jitter will make any difference is inside the sound interface, where there is no way to change out the traces on the circuit board with better cables.

     
  94. Karl Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    @Scott,couldnt agree more,but sadly it was the actions of many jackasses trying to forcibly curtail Malcolms freedom of expression that has brought about the current sad state of affairs,only thought it wise to point it out.

     
  95. SuperSparky Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Either the reviewer had no clue as to how computers and digital audio work, or the manufacturer of the “super” cables “greased his hands” to saw they improved things.

    This is the same sort of hogwash Monster Cable does all of the time.

    There’s no such thing as “better” 1’s and 0’s from one cable to the next. If the controller detects an error, the error is flagged as such and the data is reported as bad.

    Since I assume this idiot’s computer was working, I’d say the data was getting through just fine with either cable.

    He needs to be educated that data is data, no matter if it is a program or encoded sound. Computers tend to crash if data is corrupted.

    Granted, I do think the guy is stupid, but I also suspect his bank account grew a bit when he wrote that “review”.

     
  96. John Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 1:04 am

    a) “your operating system wouldn’t boot, and in the case of a NAS device, well, it just wouldn’t work”

    bzzt. wrong. You are assuming that the effect of latency (caused by error correction) is the same upon both the ear and the OS. This is a completely false assumption. Your OS will receive data segments more slowly, and happy wait for that data, giving you a session that merely seems slow, but 100% accurate.

    Your ear, however, will perceive those bits of latency as stutters, pops, and chops in the sound, not as a continuous and smooth slowing of the sound. So, even if the delivered data stream has 0 errors (due to error correction), that doesn’t mean the ear wont hear pops, chops, stutters, and other things that sound like “noise”.

    2) your “pixie shoes” comparison really just throws you into the category of people on the net who would rather behave like immature asshats than engage in constructive and educational discussion. You’re exactly the kind of person that lowers the quality of conversation on the internet.

     
  97. Scott Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 2:57 am

    @John Bzzt, wrong. Bits don’t go one at a time from the storage device over SATA directly to the sound card. They’re loaded in batches, stored in RAM, and the data is loaded ahead of time to avoid this exact problem. The OP didn’t state that it reduced lags and latency, he said that it lowered the noise floor and made for clearer sound.

     
  98. John Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Correct, it is loaded in batches. I never said it went directly. I said that the latency of the batches can affect the sound quality. Which is absolutely true. Try listening to the audio on a video streaming site, when you’re having network throughput issues.

    The OP stated two things: a) that changing the cables to something more expensive caused an improvement, and b) speculation about what caused it. (A) can be true regardless of whether or not (B) was accurate.

     
  99. Matt Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Has anybody mentioned monster cables yet?

     
  100. Karl Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    @John,way to go,last para in post96,couldnt agree more……….Just to set the record straight,for the umteenth time,when Malcolm refers to “super sata” he is using the term as in “super duper,great,”etc, not as in “super”.For the benefit of all I must also say that at no time has a price for these cables been mentioned,indeed its been made perfectly clear that they have never been offered for sale as a stand alone item,OK,
    The cost of these cables are,brace yourselves…….the same as you would pay for an akasa 6gbs cable with locking connectors,sorry to burst so many bubbles but there it is.
    Could anyone advise whether conductor material,dialectric,shielding etc could have anything to do with the percieved improvement in musicality ?????

     
  101. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    At last a straight question! Karl; I would have to say, start by assuming “no” to that question. In order of attributes, I would expect that 1) locking connectors 2) length 3) EM quality of surrounding parts and then only after that the other factors you mention, are what matters in SATA. If the outcome of all those variables boils down as the commenters here claim – that is, ignoring all their emotions, that any reduction in “quality” of SATA link produces stutters – then you should be able to see that *far* more simply, as reported re-trys by the SATA controller, *well* before you can detect it with the human ear. Bear in mind, too, that the drive you are connecting with can have it’s own separate reasons to stutter in delivering data. In abstract, as most people here say, I would like to imagine that the entire PC platform from mains lead to audio jack is well able to supoprt a stream of music, and that any drop in quality is a sign of massive issues throughout the specific machine you’re dealing with – but on the other hand I have worked with enough kit that manages to hide the cause of poor performance really quite amazingly well, to not be as confident as some of the ruder commenters have been, as to the chain of cause and effect here.

     
  102. Ian Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    “they are are irradiated, I am told, to vapourise any moisture that has found its way into the molecular structure of the conductors”

    What more do you need to know?

    @Karl: He says “They will, of course, be more expensive than ‘ordinary’ SATA cables” and that usually translates as “HOW MUCH?!?!”

     
  103. cyborg Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    An optical cable – transmitting digital data in a way that cannot have EM interference – coming out of the PC is a much better investment than any other cable, no matter how expensive, you could put in your PC. I cannot see how anyone could argue reasonably otherwise.

     
  104. Will Damien Says:
    August 22nd, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Has this possibly become the longest blog post thread ever… Look out for it on the pod if it is!

    P.S. Reviewer dude person should instead of wasting his time trying to listen for differences in SATA cables spend his time going to a LIVE gig.

     
  105. Jay Says:
    August 22nd, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    As others have said, the world of hi-fi is awash with stuff like this. You can spend thousands on stuff that most probably does nothing to the sound. All just listener bias/expectation/placebo. I bet very few vested interests would want to submit to a proper double blind test for hi-fi cables and accessories. Though this is famously what happened when one hi-fi maker took such a test many years ago http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/bas_speaker/abx_testing2.htm

     
  106. Karl Says:
    August 22nd, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    @ Ian,at last,ive been waiting for this one.dont you know that some food you eat is irradiated,car parts,domestic appliance parts etc. etc.all irradiated,check out AECL Ltd of Canada for more details,depending on materials,amounts of product to be treated the use of either Cobalt-60 (large quantities) or electron beam processes are used,
    in a nutshell treatment “crosslinks atoms creating longer molecular chains” thought everyone knew that.

     
  107. Thomas Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 9:23 am

    The name of the journalist (removed by request), is Malcolm Steward.

     
  108. milliganp Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Perhaps we should accept as evidence of Malcolm Stewart’s dubious credentials that he has to repress free speech to prevent knowledge of his identity becoming more widespread, or criticism of his unscientific technical theories being aired. Over the weekend I read several technical articles on high end audio technology and a number of high end player manufacturers specifically claim that by buffering data in memory they can remove any distortion or artefacts due to the signal source (whether CD, NAS or Internet). Either these claims are false or Malcolm has to look to an alternate set of theories to explain his perceptions.

     
  109. Sasha Muller Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Well, he’s responded on his blog:

    http://www.malcolmsteward.co.uk/?p=2495

    I’d give my right arm to be party to those listening tests, carried out at the premises of a “highly successful British (audio) manufacturer.” As it turns out, they evaluate the audio quality of SATA cables in their HDD-based devices, too.

     
  110. Jay Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Even highly respected and successful hi-fi companies will sell you various cables and stands for hundreds, even thousands, of pounds. I am not aware of any evidence of anyone ever being able to pass a properly conducted blind test to prove that a fancy, expensive cable sounds any different to an ‘ordinary’ cheap cable (that measures the same). Many people may feel or think they sound better but it is pointless to not accept that you might be deluding yourself (as we are all capable of doing) unless you submit to a blind test and prove your claim. Utterly pointless.

     
  111. Sasha Muller Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Let me be perfectly clear, Malcolm did not ask for his name to be removed from this article.

    But, given the horrid, personal nature of much of the correspondance sent his way, we decided to anonymise the blog.

    It’s one thing to disagree with someone, it’s another to roundly abuse them for their beliefs.

    Constructive comment is welcomed, abusive material will be deleted.

    Kind regards,
    Sasha

     
  112. Valesina Says:
    August 23rd, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    There’s a pearl of great wisdom on this page that I’d like to highlight in case it gets passed over: “People who assert flat out that something is impossible generally haven’t spent enough time in the lab to realize that all encompassing statements have a habit of proving you wrong eventually.”

    So, hands up everyone who claimed that SATA cables can’t POSSIBLY make a difference because they deliver the right zeros and ones to their destination… you’ve all missed the point. You are not omniscient. And ignorance masquerading as ’science’ is the most pernicious kind of stupidity.

    In this field, there are far too many people casually acquainted with information technology claiming to know it all.

    The truth is that a tiny cadre of people in the world really understand jitter at the physical level, and they all disagree with each other. And they’re usually too busy doing something useful (or lethal) to debate with idiots.

    Please: if you don’t understand something fully enough to make a useful contribution, humbly shut up and listen to those who do. Or, at the very least, try for yourself the wonder-gadget in question and take the first step into a much more complicated and interesting world.

    So much nonsense is written by the kind of people who used to believe in phlogiston and preach the heresy of men travelling faster than than 30 miles per hour, lest he explode. A very deep understanding of a subject is needed to declare the impossible.

     
  113. Andrew Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Actually there is a lot of misconception on this article and the following posts. Digital 1s and 0s does not mean perfect signal transmission and your statement “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.” is wrong. Now I will explain why.
    Firstly, the shielding of the wire makes a very significant difference to the chance of data errors occurring. Often cheaper cables suffer badly from interference driven data decay because of poor shielding. Interference is from anything like TV/radio signals or nearby electrical fields.
    Secondly, the quality of the copper is paramount. There is a reason copper wires are made at 99.999…% pure. Even the slightest impurity can very significantly alter the probability of successful transmission.
    Now let’s see how this relates to error correction.
    One fundamental principle of computer design is the ability to correct for errors in data packets -error correction. Error correction does not stop errors from happening, it corrects for them, adding some slight delay to the process of receiving the full set of error free data.
    In one of the simplest cases, the same bit (the 0 or 1) may be transmitted three times so binary string 0 1 0 would be sent as 000 111 000. If a bit flip error occurred (i.e. a 0 changes to a 1 or vice versa) due to interference from radio waves or scattering off an impurity in the wire and say 010 111 000 was received, then error correction could detect this and still retrieve the original data packet. Now let us say it encounters very bad interference and the binary string is sent as 111 111 000. No amount of error correction will fix this and YES the wire could absolutely cause this to happen. In this case a checksum value for these 3 bits would indicate that the package had been damaged and the packet must be sent again.
    Now booting from a NAS drive will not be affected significantly by this. Without error correction, we never would have constructed working computers at all. If an error is detected, the computer can either correct for it or ask for the data packet to be sent again.
    However in audio playback which is *real-time*, if a number of data packets are dropped then to an audio aficionado, there may well be some detectable drop in audio quality. You can’t simply pause the song until all the correct data is received.
    Indeed error correction schemes themselves slow down data transfer rates since in this example, maximum throughput is reduced by at least a factor or 3 (industrial error correction is much better than this but is still prone to the same issue).
    Finally: 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, YES it can although the effect is usually small (your computer works fine) but can be noticeable in real-time applications such as hi fidelity audio.
    quod erat demonstrandum
    As an aside I feel quite annoyed that the author of this article appears to have very little advanced scientific understanding of the physics processes involved in data transmission and yet publically blasts someone for making a valid point.

     
  114. jamesld Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 12:10 am

    @Valesina Well if only experts are allowed to discus things on the internet it would be a very boring place indeed.
    Ok we could do without the name calling, death threats and people showing themselves to be idiots, but as long as the discussions stay civilised i’m all for it.

     
  115. Nick on the Beach Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 1:36 am

    To settle this once and for all, take a sharp Swiss Army Knife and, with the aid of a magnifying glass and a steady hand, slice each sata cable longitudinaly to expose the inner core. If shielding is found, carefully unbraid this at several places along the length.
    I did this to one of my Hi-Q sata cables with astonishing results.
    Now, my sound card only plays Radio Moscow and every time I watch an AVI file all I see are men in tights performing The Nutcracker on ice!

     
  116. drummerjohn Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 9:24 am

    @Andrew. Thanks for that explanation but it’s completely wasted. If the errors you explain were happening on the computer then it would not boot or it would take a stupidly long time to do anything and you would have many errors indicating you had an issue when extracting data.
    Audio would be the last thing you would notice an issue with. And this is from someone who has serious dealings with Hifi for 25 years and works in IT. I see it from both sides.

     
  117. Steve Cassidy Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    DrummerJohn: in my experience, you’re half-right. Yes, machines with duff drives “take a stupidly long time to do anything” but my experience says that you *don’t* get error messages from failing SATA. This single observation could account for the whole show here…

     
  118. milliganp Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    @valesina (#112) and @andrew (#113) You are both, sadly, competely in error on this.
    The original post from Malcolm Stewart related to replacing the SATA cable in his NAS and then observing sound differences when played back through a separate, very high quality network media player -indeed one made by the same company that says, in a white paper, that as long as you buffer the data you can eliminate all digital source effects due to delay, jitter etc. Strangely I believe it’s the same company that’s planning to do the test.
    Obviously if the hard drive is in the same drive as the player and they are so tightly coupled that either interference takes place or data buffering fails, then the effect may be audible.
    The SATA interface operates in a highly sophisticated manner and has been designed by people probably far more expert than anyone posting in the humble forum and all the components are designed to extremely tight tolerances, so the sorts of arguments one might have about brands of audio cable are largely irrelevant.
    I have read little on the various sites relating to high end hi-fi to make me think they have “advanced scientific knowledge of data transmission”.

     
  119. Karl Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    @drummerjohn,well suppose it would be wasted on you and on milliganp,correct me if I am wrong but are you not both members of the hiwigwam forum,you know the one with the eloquent comments mentioned in post 90,and also part of the original witchhunt against Mr Steward,to dismiss out of hand what is a rational explanation to the issue at hand by merely boasting opinions is not helpful.
    @milliganp, not clear what you mean by “if the hard drive is in the same drive as the player” expound……………

     
  120. milliganp Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    @Karl, I have nothing to do with hifiwigwam, someone who posts has a sig containing a quote from spike milligan, so the name appears frequently on the site. Nor have I been involved in any “witch-hunt” statements. It seems you have run out of technical arguments and thus descend to character assassination.

     
  121. karl Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    @milliganp,if I am wrong I will apologise,simple enough to find out however,I have made no assertions on this site,merely asked questions,which by the way you havent answered.

     
  122. karl Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    @milliganp,I dont suppose youre the same milliganp that made that most erudite Post #1 ,most confusing when two people post with identical names on different forums,

     
  123. milliganp Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    @Karl, re your question and my typo, when I said “if the hard drive is in the same drive as the player”, I meant to say “if the hard drive is in the same unit”. Obviously if the drive and either DAC or S/PDIF are in a common unit, there is a possibility of one affecting the other.
    I don’t agree with any position that says it’s impossible for SATA to ever get data wrong. However the mechanism described in the original (now deleted) post lacked technical credibility.
    Just for info, I have a stereo sound system with “proper” amp and speakers that cost about £1500, so I like high quality audio. However I made up my (bi-wired) speaker wires on the basis of ohms law, rather than on some of the more speculative science which some favour.

     
  124. Karl Says:
    August 25th, 2010 at 2:32 am

    OK,now another question,I have spent the evening,and some of the morning if you notice the time of this post trying to fathom yet another mystery…friend of mine popped round to extol the virtues of JRiver Media Jukebox, ” the last time I used this it was cack” he said but the one ive just downloaded is “ace”.Given that i am a complete sucker when it comes to music replay software (current choice…Media Monkey,great sound ease of use for kids etc.) I thought give it a go.In the audio settings menu I discovered ” play files from memory instead of disk”,this prompted me to search my other music replay software choices and lo and behold coudnt find anything about this setting…..could this addition/omission have anything to do with what Malcolm heard…really wish my friend hadnt bloody mentioned anything, just more confused than ever now………….

     
  125. Spanna2000 Says:
    August 25th, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I was told a rubber “bumper” could fix the sound quality of an iPhone!

     
  126. Stevie boy Says:
    August 25th, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I could be old fashioned but it does seem a load of flim-flam mumbo-jumbo. Just another bottle of snake oil.
    Dixons will probably be selling them soon, gold plated and with all the molecules pointing the “right” way. It’s all about product shifting. It’s only the consumer who buys this stuff, xlr cables in the studio are soldered, amps are built and dipped in solder, the process of recording involves thousands of soldered connections why no complaints about or “solutions” ? Because you can’t package the solution and hang it from a sales rack.
    Things only matter when someone can convince the gullible that they need to BUY the solution to their imagined problems.
    It’ll be organic cables next. Grown on a south facing hillside, the light is SO much purer there…
    The End.

     
  127. Marcelo Rodrigues Says:
    August 25th, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Let me try to placate both sides of the question.

    First things first: I don’t believe that the SATA cable could have the supposed effect on the audio quality. Not because digital is perfect (it isn’t, hence the error correction), but because of the way it fails when things go wrong.

    I have dealt with poor quality SATA cables. The effects are:

    1) Massive corruption of files
    2) Unstable system
    3) The SATA controller (wrongly) gave me a SMART warning, saying: “disk failing. backup and replace.”

    He said the cable was inside a NAS. NAS is short for “Network Attached Storage”. It is a computer/box/device, which is connected to the network and stores files. Typically it stays out of the way, and he beeing an audiophile it probably was tucked away – in order to keep the fans and hard disks from getting in the way of the sound.

    So, we have a purely digital system: from the hard disk trough the A/D converter on his system. The NAS is far away, and isolated by the network (wich is digital). This keeps the argument of electrical noise interfering on the A/D converter at bay. At least the SATA cable electrical noise.

    Now, let’s get into the throughput question.

    First things first. A CD has 16 bits of resolution, 44KHz of sampling rate and two audio channels. How much data (per second) is that?

    16 x 44000 x 2 = 1.408.000 bits/s . Which equals to 1.408.000 / 8 = 176.000 bytes/s. Or 171,875 KBytes/s.

    Now, for the hardware facts.

    1) A 7200 rpm 1TB hard disk can, easily, pumps over 80 Megabytes/s (that’s 81.920 KBytes/s).

    2) Hard Disks have internal cache. A standard 1TB disk has 32 MBytes of cache.

    3) The Hard Disk uses “read ahead”. It reads not only what was asked, but the rest of the cylinder. That’s because it’s cheap, and speeds up the access.

    4) The OS of the NAS (yes, they have OSes) will have some cache. It’s hard to find one with less than 64MB of RAM. But let’s keep it cheap: I’ll say it has only 8MB of cache.

    5) Network. Let’s say he is running a 10 Mbit/s Ethernet. I’m being conservative, as 100 Mbits/s is the base, and gigabit (1000 Mbits/s) quite common. A 10 Mbits/s Ethernet can deliver, roughly, 1,19 MegaBytes/s. Let’s say the effective throughput it’s 1/3 of this. That’s 406 KBytes/s. And the issue was with the SATA cable – not the ethernet one.

    Do You see where this is going? The demand audio puts on the system (in terms of data throughput and processing power) is so low that it doesn’t even counts.

    In order to get buffer underruns (that’s what happens when the system can’t keep up with the data rate) a SATA cable would be causing SO many errors that the NAS would have flagged (erroneously) the hard disk as defective long before the review.

    So, yes. It is possible to get errors on a SATA cable. Yes, a SATA cable must be good enough to fill the specifications. BUT a defective SATA cable would never, EVER, lead to a subtle degradation in quality. What the user would hear is the equivalent of a Youtube video without enough bandwidth: something jerky, wich jumps and starts and pauses. He would hear pops, cracks and periods of silence.

    I hope this make easier to understand what happens with data on a computer, and helps explain to the audiophiles – who don’t have the obligation to understand the world of IT – why the behavior described isn’t a possible one.

     
  128. digi882 Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    ha ha very funny, the scary bit is there are a whole heap of people who would believe this and pay the bucks for it as well.

     
  129. hefty Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 12:28 am

    yes yes yes, but if you over-generalize that digital either “works or it doesnt” youre no better than the chumps buying these cables.

     
  130. Andrew Ballard Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 10:55 am

    an original picture of the cable he was testing can be seen here:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Oi06md947_oJ:www.malcolmsteward.co.uk/%3Fp%3D2479+malcolm+steward+sata&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

    these are the cables connecting my raid0 drives in a new PC i built for a friend, i bought the cables about one year ago and had them as spares.

    http://img831.imageshack.us/i/dscf1009.jpg/

    Is it just me or do they look very similar/identical? they are akasa iirc, and cost me a few pounds each from overclockers.co.uk. Much stiffer cable than the normal types and nice solid plugs.

    The second picture shows two Western Digital Secure Connect cables on my own Raid0 setup.

    http://img842.imageshack.us/i/dscf1010.jpg/

    they feel exactly like the akasa ones but in blue and with the lovely secure connect plugs on the end.

    The only reason i have these cables is simply robustness, normal SATA cables are, i’m sure we can all agree, are kinda flimsy.

    make of this what you will.

     
  131. Andrew Ballard Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 11:05 am

    correction to my previous post regarding where i got the akasa cables, pasted from my microdirect.co.uk receipt (yay googlemail search!). also i bought them in 04/10/2008.

    2 x Akasa SATA 2 Silver HDD cable with Secure Latch @ £4.01(0.70) each.

     
  132. willliamm Says:
    August 28th, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Nice post but the way to prove it is this:
    1. Store a sound file on a hard drive, SSD, CD, DVD or whatever, something that is accessed through SATA.Read more: Can SATA cables make your music sound better?

    http://www.cabletiesandmore.com/cableties.php

     
  133. Jay Says:
    August 28th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    And the original blog review is now back at http://www.malcolmsteward.co.uk/?p=2534

     
  134. Sid Says:
    August 28th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    £200 mains cables. A bargain at twice the price. HiFi+ magazine carried a three page review of IEC mains cables (kettle leads to you and me) which cost £10,500 for a 2.5m length. Oh, and they don’t have a UK mains plug either. In case you’re wondering about the many metres of mains cable in your house and between your house and the power station, the True Believers have an answer for that. They buy main regenerators to provide clean mains to their systems.

    I’m not a total cynic: I can easily hear the difference between a good or great hi-fi and a ‘music system’. However, there are limits. Pwersonally I’ve found that the best ways to improve the sound of your hi-fi are:
    1. Make sure you are in a good mood before starting to listen
    2. Have a glass of good wine.

     
  135. Steve Says:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    IMHO the significance in this controversy is not about the reviewer and the cable he discusses, but rather it’s about what’s going on in our society or with people that produces the mindset which results in such vile attacks.

     
  136. thanweer Says:
    September 4th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Yes you can guarantee your selves that with this software you can guarantee your selves that your business system is secured

     
  137. tahrey Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    If it’s a NAS, shouldn’t he be more bothered about the quality of his ethernet cable (and/or wifi transceivers) and NICs? Stuff the local data connection, that’s only a few inches at most. The big change to audio quality will be when all those bits fly down the cat5 cable or through the air on 2.4ghz waves. All those 1s being gradually chipped into a rounded shape and 0s getting squared off until you can’t hardly tell which is which any more… crivens! Your 24bit 192khz not-even-losslessly-compressed PCM files will sound SO terrible by the time that’s happened.

    Wow, spin me another. I’ll concentrate on getting an amp and speakers with a good noise floor, powerhandling, flat frequency response and nice fat contact patches for my bogstandard cabling (brand new, mind – breaks and intermittent connections aren’t nice and it’s worth that 50c/yard replacement cost to know it’s not going to be useless after a month).

     
  138. tahrey Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Sid: I could actually see some benefit in having a DC supply to your equipment rather than AC (even “clean” AC vs “dirty” – though why not just a UPS/surge protector to prevent lightning damage, as it’ll “regenerate” the line voltage/frequency anyway?). More practically, just make sure your equipment isn’t so rotten that it has earth leaks or insufficient shielding on its PSU (got a 35 yr old receiver that passes that test!), and keep the mains cables away from the signal and speaker wires — or for gods sake at least make sure they cross at right angles.

    There are some bits of kit where I work, where this just isn’t possible on both counts (the expensive thing feeding the (selfpowered) speakers has an incurable buzz on standby, and their own mains cable has been trunked in with the signal leads), being able to pump DC into them to lessen the problem would be nice.

     
  139. tahrey Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Oh, and I wonder just how much damage I may be doing to my ears when I listen to my as-yet-not-mp3-encoded CD rips from my laptop hard disk (ATA-100… all those micro-diameter parallel cables! Nooo) or external HDD (ATA or cheap SATA, then USB)?! Nooooo

     
  140. drummerjohn Says:
    September 20th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    So…Steve Cassidy & Sasha Muller. You got “the” SATA cables yet so you can do your comparisons?

     
  141. Sasha Muller Says:
    September 21st, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Nope. Karl called a few times and mentioned that he’d send some over. Then it all went quiet.

    It was confirmed that the cables in question were just SATA-600 cables. Military-spec ones, but SATA-600 cables nonetheless.

    If Karl still wants to send me some of his milspec cables, I’ll happily do some ABX testing with Foobar2000 in my spare time.

     
  142. Das Says:
    October 15th, 2010 at 2:09 am

    The normal human ear can detect the difference between 440 Hz and 441 Hz.
    It is capable of detecting pressure variations from less than one billionth of atmospheric pressure to 10 trillion times greater.
    Multiply the sensitivity to pressure levels by the sensitivity to frequency- this is before the information even enters the electrical/ filtering/ decoding/ amplifier of the brain and its +- 180 thousand kilometers of its 100 billion neurons….. let us not forget emotion and the electro chemical reactions that occur in the brain when listening to music.

    Perhaps some ears/brains are sensitive enough to notice the difference of 2 metres of cable x joined to hundreds of kilometres of cable y or the difference between sata cable a or b.
    I would not be surprised.

     
  143. Marcelo Rodrigues Says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Das,

    Please report to post number 127. Read it carefully. After this, get some copy of the book by Andrew Taenenbaum, and study these relevant parts:

    1) CRC
    2) Ethernet trnasmission

    Then, find some material about SATA controllers, and read it.

    No, I’m not beeing sarcastic – nor mocking You. I aks You to read this in order to understand WHY a subtle degradation, due to poor cable quality, would be impossible.

    We could get a degradation, sure. But it wouldn’t be subtle – trust me.

    Better yet, don’t trust me. Read the book/articles I pointed out. They explain the “how” and “why”.

    Or, if You would be so kind as to trust me, post number 127 will do.

     
  144. Darren Says:
    July 7th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    ROFLMAO at this one, good one, this super quality digital cable fiasco get’s even better every day.

    When will people wake up and realise, audio and video that is being sent as 1’s and 0’s isn’t affected at all like AV that was sent as an analogue waveform.

    The only thing that does affect sound quality in a digital environment is the cut off point at which the music was originally captured at. Sound that was captured at 32-bit vs sound that was captured at 24-bit will sound better, but it wont matter which cable it’s sent down, it’s all 1’s and 0’s until it reaches the DAC (Digital/Analogue Convertor – normally something like an AV receiver, hi-fi or soundcard) wherever that might be in the chain, and then from then on cable quality matters, but before that it’s passed as either a high or low current, and as long as the DAC can understand the difference between a High value and a Low value the quality is just as good as from when it first went in because there can only be two states, unlike analogue sound which can have infinite states (which is where interference comes from as data in analogue form cannot be sorted out as clearly as data in digital form due to it’s diversity).

    I still remember seeing the first super quality digital con that manufacturers tried years ago with CD-R’s, when they used to sell “Audio CD’s” in HMV for a fiver, which apparently produced better audio than the one pound CD’s from computer fair, and yet all they were doing was changing the dye from light to dark, to make either 1 or 0 and they all worked exactly the same way, many even with the same dye on the disc.

     
  145. Mark Says:
    August 12th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    @Darren,

    Oddly, there WAS a genuine reason for the “Audio CDs”, or at least for SOME of them. Certain brands of CD player in the early days couldn’t correctly read the dark blue dyes used on most early computer CDs. The ones (correctly) marketed at “Audio CD” used a paler dye which was more easily readable than the dark blue, and meant that the Audio player would not reject the CD out of hand. That is NOT to say that all “Audio CDs” were, in fact, “correctly” marketed…

     
  146. Young Brightwell Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 7:24 am

    I real happy to find this site on bing, just what I was looking for : D likewise saved to favorites .

     
  147. sells cables Says:
    March 10th, 2013 at 1:02 am

    yep theres lots of money
    in convincing fools they need noobs an whistles an all that jazz on there cables a £5 hdmi cable might be a bit softer than a £90 but it make the picture any better
    a £1 usb cable might be weaker than a £5 or £10 but as long as its not a duff one an you look after it it will perform the same as the others,

     
  148. sells cables Says:
    March 10th, 2013 at 1:10 am

    an yeah my akai 160w cd recorder would reject computer cdrs but worked fine with audio cdrs like you say £5 a pop ha but it would read pc cdrs an copy them to so called audio cds. does this mean modern cdrs use darker die i aint used my akia cd recorder for years
    its a vintage bit of kit, with 2 really good sounding cd drives :)

     
  149. steve Says:
    June 14th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    The stupid…. it burns.

     

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