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Calling Shenanigans On Super SATA's Claimed Audio Qualities

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the 0s-are-rounder-1s-more-linear dept.

Music 827

nk497 writes "Veteran Hi-Fi journalist Malcolm Steward has pushed newfangled Super SATA cables via his blog as a way to improve the sound quality of music, saying: '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.' If that doesn't sound right to you, you're not alone. As PC Pro blogger Sasha Muller argues: '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.' So maybe don't invest in Super SATA cables unless you have proof they're magical first."

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827 comments

A fool and his money... (4, Insightful)

koreaman (835838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306008)

This reminds me of the Slashdot story on several-thousand-dollar ethernet cables from Monster a few years back. *sigh*

Re:A fool and his money... (5, Funny)

onionman (975962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306060)

It seems like a pretty good buy to me. Those Monster cables have prevented any Monsters from infesting my home audio equipment. My anti-shark rock is working well in the living room, too.

Re:A fool and his money... (4, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306368)

my Pink Elephant cables have turned out to be a mixed bag, they're only an effective repellent during the work week, when I'm sober.

Re:A fool and his money... (5, Funny)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306066)

If there is a more gullible group of people than audiophiles, I haven't met them.

Re:A fool and his money... (4, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306140)

And high-end digital cables are continued proof of this! I'm perfectly happy to pay $5 extra for a better cable so it won't actually break on me, or has a handy elbow bend in the connector, or whatnot (OK, maybe a bit more for a really long cable). Beyond that it's pure fraud.

Re:A fool and his money... (5, Interesting)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306150)

Wine snobs are pretty darn close. Especially French wine snobs..

The California wine industry would be a shell of what it is now, if some enterprising brit didn't convince them to try a tasting without looking at the labels

Even after they tried to force him to supremeness the results...

Re:A fool and his money... (5, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306324)

Wine snobs usually have their opinions backed up by double-blind tests. The taste buds of good sommelier really can tell the type, vintage, and what kind of wood was used in the barrel that aged the wine. It was a blind test that proved that France wasn't the best in the world after all [wikipedia.org].

They might be snobs, but they do have some Scientific backing behind them. Audiophiles, not so much.

Re:A fool and his money... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306160)

Really? You don't know any Scientologists? Or Mormons? Or Christians? Or Muslims? Or Jews?

Re:A fool and his money... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306322)

Mormons are Christians.

Re:A fool and his money... (-1, Offtopic)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306560)

Christians with magic underwear. Something even Superman didn't have!

Re:A fool and his money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306410)

If there is a more gullible group of people than audiophiles, I haven't met them.

How about Muslim suicide bombers?

Re:A fool and his money... (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306464)

The problem is as they get older and (hopefully) more wealthy, their hearing is at the same time inevitably getting worse and worse. Before too long, their wealth easily eclipses their ability to hear and their ability to resist snakeoil like this. Salesmen score a slam-dunk appeal to ego as soon as they plug in a set of "unbelieveable, not just digital, SUPERDIGITAL" cables and laud the *obvious* improvement in sound. Not being able to hear a damn thing anyway, the audiophile quickly opens his wallet lest he be discovered for having gone deaf long ago.

Improving 10101010$$$ (1)

diodeus (96408) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306184)

This reminds me of the blue marker on the rim of a CD trick from the 90s. Of course that was bogus too.

Re:Improving 10101010$$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306320)

Ofcourse it was bogus, everyone know the marker has to be green!

Re:A fool and his money... (5, Funny)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306194)

Re:A fool and his money... (5, Funny)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306338)

Those Denon cables look great, but there's some severe problems with them, mainly because they're so good, the transmission rate exceeds lightspeed. Check out this review from Amazon.com:

Transmission of music data at rates faster than the speed of light seemed convenient, until I realized I was hearing the music before I actually wanted to play it. Apparently Denon forgot how accustomed most of us are to unidirectional time and the general laws of physics. I tried to get used to this effect but hearing songs play before I even realized I was in the mood for them just really screwed up my preconceptions of choice and free will. I'm still having a major existential hangover.

Would not purchase again.

Even worse, you might experience much worse effects with these cables. This review is very ominous:

This connection isn't sound. If my calculations are correct, it should be sometime around 2007 for whomever is reading this. DO NOT USE THESE CABLES. Something... happens with them. Something came through, something from somewhere else. We were overrun in days, not many of us are left. WE LIVE UNDERGROUND! ONLY YOU CAN STOP IT NOW. SAVE US. DO NOT USE THESE CABLES.

I don't have much time. This connection isn't sound. If my calculations are correct, it should be--

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306348)

I came here to post the Denon link as well.

This connection isn't sound. If my calculations are correct, it should be sometime around 2007 for whomever is reading this. DO NOT USE THESE CABLES. Something... happens with them. Something came through, something from somewhere else. We were overrun in days, not many of us are left. WE LIVE UNDERGROUND! ONLY YOU CAN STOP IT NOW. SAVE US. DO NOT USE THESE CABLES.

I don't have much time. This connection isn't sound. If my calculations are correct, it should be--

Re:A fool and his money... (2, Funny)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306352)

Wow. Just wow.

Get the purest digital audio you've ever experienced from multi-channel DVD and CD playback through your Denon home theater receiver with the AK-DL1 dedicated cable. Made of high-purity copper wire, it's designed to thoroughly eliminate adverse effects from vibration (it stays plugged in!) and helps stabilize the digital transmission from occurrences of jitter and ripple (I just made that up!). A tin-bearing copper alloy (brass, idiots!) is used for the cable's shield while the insulation is made of a fluoropolymer material (for those awkward moments when you just dropped your cable into a puddle of battery acid) with superior heat resistance, weather resistance, and anti-aging properties. The connector features a rounded plug lever to prevent bending or breaking and direction marks to indicate correct direction for connecting cable (sound goes in direction of arrow).

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

drewhk (1744562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306426)

One of the reviews:

By John L. (Border of Wasteland, Former USA)

This connection isn't sound. If my calculations are correct, it should be sometime around 2007 for whomever is reading this. DO NOT USE THESE CABLES. Something... happens with them. Something came through, something from somewhere else. We were overrun in days, not many of us are left. WE LIVE UNDERGROUND! ONLY YOU CAN STOP IT NOW. SAVE US. DO NOT USE THESE CABLES.

maybe... (1)

tach315 (223127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306388)

If he has a really poorly designed motherboard and his old cables were really crappy(I.E had NO SHIELDING). The old SATA cables may have been injecting noise into the analog back end of the sound card.

Re:A fool and his money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306576)

I always wonder...where did the fools get all these money to spend in the first place?

I can't even afford a $2,500 ethernet cable, [amazon.com] even when I'm supposedly spending my money wisely.

This will not stop best buy from have monster sata (4, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306040)

This will not stop best buy from have monster cable sata cables and a big time geek squad up sell when buy systems there.

Re:This will not stop best buy from have monster s (5, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306118)

You conjugation need work

Re:This will not stop best buy from have monster s (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306176)

In this economy? Good luck.

Re:This will not stop best buy from have monster s (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306126)

Actually phone conversation I've had (multiple times in face):

Me: Hello?
Him: Hey what HDMI cable should I buy?
Me: The cheapest ones you can find?
Him: Really? Because they have some for $30 and some for $90, aren't the $90 ones better?
Me: Where are you?
Him: Best Buy, they have the good stuff.
Me: Just turn around and leave, buy them off the internet for $5, or at least go to Target or Walmart.
Him: But they have some for $90 here, they wouldn't charge more if they weren't better.

etc. etc. etc.

Re:This will not stop best buy from have monster s (5, Funny)

trentblase (717954) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306236)

Me: You're absolutely right. But don't buy those crappy $90 cables. I've got a special stash of $150 cables I can let you have for $200.

Re:This will not stop best buy from have monster s (1)

TheSeventh (824276) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306422)

I personally love how you can buy a DVD player at Best Buy for under $100, and then when you need a HDMI cable to hook it up? Over $100. Why does the cable that just sits there cost more than the DVD player it connects, when the DVD player has moving parts, a laser, and a remote control?

Ha ha ha! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306050)

And all that low-level musical detail from an mp3!!!!!

Comments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306052)

Wonder why he disabled the comment on his article...

Digital? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306064)

Since when does a SATA cable deliver 1s and 0s? It delivers an analog voltage, that happens to be determined as a 1 or 0 by noise thresholds. They could be making a better cable, the problem is once you meet the noise margins for this digital interpretation all extra improvement are for nothing.

Re:Digital? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306148)

Unless there is some serious RF interference going on, your plain old regular SATA cable is going to deliver the bits to be detected cleanly and noiselessly on the other end. It’s designed to do that, after all...

Furthermore... if there is some gigantic RF source that’s screwing up the data crossing your SATA cable, you have worse things to worry about than something a fancy SATA cable will fix.

Re:Digital? (4, Informative)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306154)

If the delivered analog voltage always delivers the exact 100% same 1s and 0s, then it delivers 1s and 0s.

SATA cables can be grouped according to their transmission quality - class A SATA cables (the usual ones) deliver 100% quality; class B SATA cables deliver less than 100% quality, so they don't work and you throw them back at the shop for a replacement.

Re:Digital? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306254)

All current signal transmission standards have a certain randomness to them. There is no simple "voltage threshold" anymore. Error correction codes are a requirement for the basic operation, not just icing on the cake for perfectionists. If you increase the signal quality, the likelihood of a bit error decreases. That said, the specifications are such that normal cables have bit error rates such that considering the error corrected data to be perfect is a good working assumption.

If you will buy this.... (1)

Firstoni (1078997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306086)

I have some 700$ RCA cables you would love. A 1200$ toilet seat that I swear will make thinks "move" easier. Just swipe your credit card here....

Re:If you will buy this.... (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306514)

I have some 700$ RCA cables you would love. A 1200$ toilet seat that I swear will make thinks "move" easier.

Just swipe your credit card here....

Dude, that's not a credit card reader. Stand up and pull your pants back up.

Ah.. he has not reached audio nirvana yet! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306088)

Wait until he installs the pure ivory motherboard standoffs!

Re:Ah.. he has not reached audio nirvana yet! (5, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306532)

Until you use whale semen as thermal paste you're just wasting your money on ivory standoffs.

Re:Ah.. he has not reached audio nirvana yet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306558)

Wait until he installs the pure ivory motherboard standoffs!

I've found the ebony ones sound much better. And besides, you shouldn't have such a black and white worldview.

Digital signals (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306096)

The transmission through the SATA cable is certainly unaffected, but close-by analog systems may receive interference from the SATA signal. On the other hand, if you have analog signals anywhere near SATA cables, you don't know what you're doing anyway, so the quality of the cable is really not the parameter to optimize.

Same for coax vs. optical ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306102)

People used to think that hooking your DVD player and amp up with an optical connect versus a coaxial connect would make for better sound.

Of course, it was the same thing. Since both are carrying digital data, how is one stream of digital data any better? The reality was, it wasn't in any way shape or form.

Same applies here -- it's still digital. Now, the SATA cables might be faster, which could lead to some improvement in music. Generally, though, this smacks of snake oil.

Re:Same for coax vs. optical ... (2, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306208)

Since both are carrying digital data, how is one stream of digital data any better?

Electrical hookup vs optical hookup isn't just digital vs digital. You have to consider grounding effects too. If the base signal is identical but you remove a source of mains hum by breaking a ground loop you can have a very audible improvement.

Re:Same for coax vs. optical ... (2, Insightful)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306376)

If the base signal is identical but you remove a source of mains hum by breaking a ground loop you can have a very audible improvement.

But that mains hum would have to enter *after* the digital->analog conversion, no? So the cable still wouldn't matter, unless you're saying that the cable itself is transferring hum from the dvd player to the analog amp.

Re:Same for coax vs. optical ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306554)

Optical cable doesn't have shielding and isn't subject to earth loops, coax does. You also get into capacitance with coax and then there's interference. It's a shame they didn't use optical with new the protocols instead of more bloody copper tables for HDMI, it would have made long runs better.

Re:Same for coax vs. optical ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306218)

optical has the advantage of isolation. IE both devices need not share a common ground. This is good as devices will have varying ground potential caused by transients such a digital switching which will ultimately cause noise in the signal when it's converted into analog. By using an optical interconnect you remove the noise source of the DVD player. So optical interconnects do have a point, although in practicality with good power supply and grounding scheme shouldn't be needed.

Don't insult snake oil. (1)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306264)

At least that got you drunk on days actual stores wouldn't sell booze.

Buying these just gets you laughed at.

distance? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306268)

As far as I've ever been able to figure out, the only claim someone might legitimately make about 'higher quality' digital cables is that you can run longer cable lengths before the signal degradation gets so bad that the 1's and 0's get truly corrupted so the signal can no longer be read reliably. So, optical cable you could probably run very long lengths (like across an auditorium, gym, large classroom, etc) without a problem, but perhaps with a long bit of copper wire, the signal loss would be too great.

Of course, that doesn't stop sales guys (who aren't usually technical people, which is how they ended up in sales to begin with, and often don't really care about the truth anyhow - they just care about the margin) from trying to sell people on the idea that 1 meter of optical or 'super' or 'monster' cable sounds better than 1 meter of regular cable.

Re:Same for coax vs. optical ... (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306328)

There's a rational (but wrong, as it turns out) perception that optical cables don't have partial failure modes - that a copper cable might be damaged in such a way as to intoduce noice, but and optical cable would either work or not. Most oprical cables are plastic, and if you bend them past their minimum radius or squish them hard enough, they can indroduce wierd data errors just as much as damaged copper can. I used to fight that all the time with Fibre Channel. Glass optical cables won't have that problem, but I doubt it's worth the extra cost - it's not digital cable problems are subtle.

There's also a rational (but wrong, as it turns out) perception that copper cables broacast more RF noise. In fact, the optical tranceivers generate more RF than a simple copper setup.

Finally, copper is faster than optical for carrying high-frequency signals (I found that surprising): 0.2 m/ns for typical optical, vs 0.25 m/ns for copper.

Actually it is sometimes worse (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306394)

The reason is that most optical cable you get is plastic, POF cable. It is great because it is flexible, durable, cheap, and can be made the size of the TOSlink opening. The problem is it is lossy as hell. Really poor transmission characteristics. Well this matters not at all when your DVD player sits on top of your receiver, as is so often the case. However if you have a setup where the devices are far apart, sometimes you discover that it doesn't work at all, or you get dropouts. You can, of course, replace it with real glass fiber but that is real expensive. Coax, on the other hand, works just great. A good 75ohm coax cable will go as far as you'd ever need in a home.

Also has the advantage that it uses the same kind of wire as video. Any 75ohm coax cable suitable for video is also suitable for S/PDIF.

Re:Same for coax vs. optical ... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306446)

I've seen HiFi magazines review optical cables to see which is best.

Conclusion: Some cables gave deeper, more solid bass.

If you want to know why this is rubbish just get a sound file in an editor like sound forge and move one of the samples up or down a little bit. See what happens to the sound.

If you can't do that just get a .wav file and a hex editor, find out exactly how audible a single bit error is.

Go ahead, really do it.

(Obviously something mellow will work better than thrash metal...)

Still reading...?

Re:Same for coax vs. optical ... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306506)

The one(probably irrelevant in this case) caveat is that every digital transmission scheme has a bitrate, and possibly one or more error correction mechanisms. Signal degradation so severe that it overwhelms the error correction mechanisms is always a severe issue, requiring either less crap channels or better error correction mechanisms.

In the case of things like audio and video, even situations that don't overwhelm the error correction can be a problem because they reduce the capacity of the channel below that required to transmit the signal in what the human listener/watcher percieves as "real time".

If you are dealing with, say, a torrent of a video, any channel that isn't so awful that you run into the (statistically enormously improbable) issue of having SHA-1 hash collisions introduce invalid chunks before the download is finished will get the file to you in perfect condition. Sooner or later. If you are watching that video, the channel between your computer and your monitor has to get the entire frame, intact, to the monitor however many times a second. If the cable is such crap that it can't do that, you'll notice.

They might work (4, Funny)

bgspence (155914) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306104)

Don't ignore the placebo effect in audio perception. Placebos have been proven to work, and it has also been shown that higher priced placebos are more effective.

Re:They might work (2, Interesting)

voidptr (609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306414)

What's even funnier is if what he implies (but doesn't quite spell out) is he's got this:
HDD -> (SATA cable) -> NAS box -> (meters of bog-standard ethernet cables) -> Ethernet Switch -> (ethernet cables) -> Computer -> ???

Even *if* there was a measurable difference in a 1 ft SATA cable, 4 Ethernet interfaces ports, a pile of ethernet cable, and two CPUs after it would swamp any benefit.

I especially love the comment on his blog (5, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306124)

Where the comments section would be, we get this instead: "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. "

Or in other words: "I have absolutely no fucking clue what I'm talking about and really don't like being corrected."

What an idiot. (2, Informative)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306130)

The author now has this up:

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.

Which really means "I'm an ignorant, lying, idiot, and dont want people pointing that out on my blog, so I have closed commenting and deleted all comments, since they all pointed out my stupidity."

Ah well...

In response to his comment about comments (0, Redundant)

aitikin (909209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306134)

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 expressing opinions on a blog is only okay if it's your blog. Got it.

Re:In response to his comment about comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306274)

Yes. As dumb as the guy may be, he has no obligation to host the comments of others that he doesn't want.

These are _musical_ 0s and 1s (4, Funny)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306136)

How on earth can a SATA cable delivering 0s and 1s to their respective destination have any effect on those 0s and 1s?

It could succeed or fail to deliver the 0s and 1s with their souls intact.

You morons don't unstand how Super SATA works (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306144)

A normal SATA can only carry 0s and 1s, but Super SATA carries 0.0000s and 1.0000s. Thats 4 digits of precision beyond the bits that normal SATA can represent.

Audiophiles. (2, Insightful)

sarkeizen (106737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306174)

Audiophiles frequently find differences where none exist...and in other news water is wet.

It's a scam... or stupidity (4, Informative)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306200)

Any sufficiently advanced scam is indistinguishable from blind ignorance.

It's pretty obvious that these cables are a scam preying on people who care about their sound systems but who don't understand enough of the technical aspects to avoid buying overpriced crap. This Stewart fellow is probably getting paid to plug this cable on his blog, but it's possible that he's just an idiot.

Re:It's a scam... or stupidity (1)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306416)

But this scam isn't advanced. Not in the least.

It's the whole 'expensive == good'-mentality, you see it in wine tasters too, and gourmets and all kinds of other rich people stuff.

Re:It's a scam... or stupidity (2, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306542)

It's pretty obvious that these cables are a scam preying on people who care about their sound systems but who don't understand enough of the technical aspects to avoid buying overpriced crap.

But, it's worse than that.

Some of the people I've seen defending this stuff comes from audiophiles themselves. People who can recite the formulas related to the physics of speakers and audio-connections from memory. People who in theory could build a set of really good speakers and have likely built tube amps at some point.

People who claim to have "golden ears" which can identify the species of fly by the tone of their farts in a blind listening. Guys who swear up and down they can hear a slightly off-note from a 1954 recording on a direct-to-vinyl pressing and why that's important.

If it was only the guys at Best Buy or the people who fell for Monster Cable, I'd agree with you. But to hear someone who seemingly knows all about the technology -- well, that just baffles my brain.

It seems that some people truly believe this stuff. Though, as someone pointed out elsewhere in this thread, the placebo affect get stronger the more expensive the placebo. I'm not convinced that it's only people who don't understand the technology who fall for this -- at least they have an excuse of being duped and needing to defend their actions.

Debunking without facts and/or research?!?! (-1, Troll)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306202)

I refuse to acknowledge magical-thinking. I refuse to do so in both outlandish claims AND in rebuttals of those claims.

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.

Read more: Can SATA cables make your music sound better?

Oh, I see. It can't because you said it can't. That TOTALLY shows him. Well played.

The facts are right there (3, Informative)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306412)

If your SATA cables are working as they should, then the sequence of 0s and 1s your computer reads into memory is exactly the same as the sequence stored on the disk. You can't improve on that.

If you SATA cables aren't working as they should, then the sequence of 0s and 1s will be different -- but as your quote pointed out, this would affect everything. The cable doesn't know whether it's transmitting a WAV, an MP3, a JPG, or an EXE. If your cables are corrupting data, your computer probably won't even boot!

But, as the quote also pointed out, there are systems in place to detect and correct errors. Even if your cables are corrupting data, it's extremely unlikely that your computer will think it's getting the correct data and proceed to play it. Instead, it will retry, and the symptoms you'll see are slow or stalled transfers (just like a bad network connection).

Re:Debunking without facts and/or research?!?! (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306432)

He also explained why it can't. The SATA cables only transmit 1's and 0's. If any of those 1's and 0's were switching or degrading on the SATA cable, you would have serious computer problems and audio quality would be the least of your concerns.

Re:Debunking without facts and/or research?!?! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306572)

Which is a fine thought, and could stand some actual proof backing it up.

Re:Debunking without facts and/or research?!?! (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306470)

Um, it can’t because the 1s and 0s in a .mp3 (or whatever it is that audiophiles listen to) are fundamentally no different from the 1s and 0s of your operating system’s core kernel, and it’s a hell of a lot more vitally important that the 1s and 0s in your operating system’s core kernel can be read correctly with no errors. So, they have built cables that can transmit 1s and 0s with virtually no errors and they furthermore built error correction systems to detect and correct any errors that should occur, however unlikely that is. If your OS can boot, there is absolutely no justification to believe that your SATA cable is getting anything less than 100% accuracy in its data transmission, and buying a better SATA cable can’t improve on 100% accuracy.

Standard audiophile stuff (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306210)

Heh. I guess Slashdot has a new, young editor who hasn't run into the audiophile community yet. All you young readers consider this article an introduction to a treasure trove of laughing stock :D

Can I get this guy to push gold HDMI too? (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306224)

It makes digital connections MORE digital with LESS digital interference!

Re:Can I get this guy to push gold HDMI too? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306494)

It makes digital connections MORE digital with LESS digital interference!

Perfectly straight ones! Unbelievably round zeros!

Old time (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306256)

Reminds me of an interview I saw with a musician a long time ago (I think it was David Bowie) who claimed that the CDR's made with green dye sounded better than the ones with blue dye.

It's as true now as it was then: one bit doesn't sound better than any other bit. The claims of audiophiles and their ridiculous expenditures have likely long been just as silly then as they are now, it's just that now we can provide a friggen mathematical proof that they're full of shit. Before we just had to rely on "subtle nuances" to get our point across.

Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable (4, Informative)

timholman (71886) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306278)

For a humorous spin a related snake oil product, check out the Amazon reviews for the Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable. Many of the reviews are absolute comedy gems.

Re:Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable (1)

emt377 (610337) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306564)

You need to realize Denon doesn't expect to sell that cable. It exists only because some custom integrators absolutely demanded a Denon-qualified interconnect between components. They needed something to a-b test their own configurations against to make sure they don't regress. That's why it exists. You're not expected to buy it. It's really just a plain ethernet cable and Denon themselves don't claim otherwise.

Maybe, just maybe (3, Interesting)

kg261 (990379) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306280)

While I would not expect that the drive cables should affect the audio in any way, I have been in hardware development long enough that when a software person makes some strange claim like"the circuit changed and I didn't do anything" that often there is something behind it. In short, these things are complex. Not that the cable should not make any difference. Maybe in his motherboard, the terminations are not good and the EMI in the board is affecting the audio. This cable may be a better match. I am not saying this is the case, but do not write off these things just because they do not make sense. That said, the writer should also try to replicate on several platforms etc etc

Not the first time... (2, Informative)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306282)

There was a ./ article a few years ago - similar - about a $500 Ethernet cable made in "low oxygen" environments...yadda...yadda...sold to people to get better sound quality out of the MP3's.

All the same points were made, and shenanigans called.

There was a lot of interesting stuff said in the old discussion - a lot of it had to do with the fact that when people review this HiFi/Audio stuff - the testing is all very subjective, and is never done as a blind trial. Thus, one can boast the virtues of the $500 Ethernet cable - as they know they are listening through one - but one would never do a blind-sound test between a $500 and a $5 cable.

the audiophile world (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306284)

It's amazing the type of shit [mapleshadestore.com] that can be sold [mapleshadestore.com] to "audiophiles".

Too bad they don't sell that "Isobase Cradle for Laptops" anymore. Thankfully, the manual is still available [mapleshadestore.com] for download. My favorite part from it:

Whenever you want to play music or watch video with improved quality, place the laptop on the three rounded footers. You will see an immediate improvement in color saturation and pastel shading, shadow detail and edge resolution. On the audio side, whether youre listening with headphones, computer speakers, or a full high end stereo system, you will her deeper and much cleaner bass, warmer and more detailed midrange and extended, cleaner treble.

IIRC, they were only charging a few hundred bucks for it!

Maths (4, Insightful)

Swarley (1795754) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306294)

(Confirmation Bias) + (Rich Idiots) - (A Double Blind Trial) + (Reality) = Hilarity! I find that this is almost always true.

renaissance man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306302)

Aww c'mon, can't a purported 'expert' attempt to sound relevant and learned without drawing the snide retorts of those with proper training anymore?

Eh? (1)

Jim3535 (903233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306304)

The cables aren't going to be altering the data passing though them (else you would see CRC errors and the transfer would retry). The only plausible explanation is that the cables are better shielded and normal ones' EMI could cause problems with the soundcard or DAC. However, given the super high frequencies involved, I imagine it would be unlikely to cause any effects in the audible range. A more reasonable explanation is that high end audio people have been sold on expensive cables, and this is simply an extension of that (regardless of any real benefit).

Ya well, this shit has been happening forever (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306306)

Audiophiles are just dead convinced there are all sorts of magic ways to improve your sound quality. Sometimes it is just pure, 100% made up bullshit like the "brilliant pebbles" thing. Other times there is a kernel of truth from long in the past that they over apply to everything.

With digital cable, that's the case. So S/PDIF is the major transport for digital audio. It is slowly being superseded by newer things but it was the big one forever and is still used a lot. Turns out S/PDIF isn't all that well designed with regards to having a solid clock signal. So what happened was back in the day (and still occasionally) you'd have devices that didn't reclock an incoming signal, they use the clock off of the wire. This meant they were sensitive to clock skew, which would happen if your cable wasn't tightly controlled to 75 ohms, in particular with a long distance. The kind of distortion caused by this is quite audible. S/PDIF has no real error correction, and no retransmit so any errors get played. Thus, for long runs (as you find in studios) good cable was needed, even for digital.

Obviously there are a lot of ways around this, the most common these days being just reclocking the signal you receive with an internal clock. Also better standards came about (like AES/EUB which runs over balanced cable). Doesn't matter, once and for all time people were convinced that cable quality mattered. It still crops up too, because you get audiophile devices that are poorly designed. They go for a "minimal component" design. So you'll have a DAC that doesn't reclock and thus is sensitive to clock skew.

Of course snake oil salesmen seized on this and started selling "high grade" cables that offered nothing.

Now of course when you get to SATA, none of this shit matters because it isn't a synchronous, no-retransmit system. If an error happens, the data will be resent. This is easy to do since everything is operating so much faster than the audio signal, and is further buffered by the system. If there are any errors on the wire, you never know, the system handles it behind the scenes. Also none of it affects the analogue audio signal, as it isn't clocked and converted until it hits the soundcard. Internal to the CPU, it is all just data.

Should have used them as speaker wire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33306334)

Here I figured he used them as speaker wire and found they were better quality than what he was using. After reading FTA, it turned out, nope, he is just using them as a hard drive cable.

Nuts (1)

Peter H.S. (38077) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306342)

The Hi-Fi world is full of nut-cases, but I also strongly suspect that the wacko positive cable write up has some economic hidden agenda. The profit margins on cables are huge, especially in the Hi-Fi world.

That said, good Hi-Fi enhances the listening experience. A good, cheap stereo amp from NAD and some Dali, or B&W speakers can be had for a reasonable price and will sound very good. My own NAD 3155 amplifier is more than 20 years old and still sounds excellent.

--
Regards

A sucker is born every minute (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306354)

It's funny to hear audiophiles babble about the audio / picture quality being better when comparing one digital cable costing $200 vs another costing $5. With digital protocols with error correction, either the signal works or it doesn't. The picture is either recomposed exactly as transmitted or there is very obvious blocking or black outs. There is no subjectivity, no "richer" picture or sparklies or other nonsense.

As $5 cables do exactly what they're designed to do anyone who forks out significantly more for a "brand" is a sucker.

Pixie Shoes (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306356)

'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.'

Actually, even the pixie shoes just make the 0 and 1's more fancy lookin'.

not digital? (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306516)

Reading this description I was imagining that guy cutting the ends off a SATA cable, and using it to transfer analogue signals. That would make sense right?.. kinda.. wait nevermind.. -_-'

I admire these people actually. (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306518)

Having suffered through the consequences of idiots making decisions, I've come to the conclusion that I actually admire these people. They are living the dream of separating fools and their money in a legal manner.

If anything, I'm jealous.

Comments Disabled (0, Redundant)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306530)

He disabled the comments on his blog, too bad - I wanted to post!

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.

What's the story on "Music" CD-Rs? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33306540)

I've seen in retails stores (Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Microcenter, etc) spindles of CD-Rs labelled as "Music" CDs-R. WTH is a "Music" CD-R? I can't conceive of any way it would be different from a normal CD-R, unless perhaps it was manufactured to last longer before developing errors, and be more scratch resistant or something?

I've never actually bought them, since the packaging never gave me any good explanation of how it was different. I've always figured it was just a scam to charge people 20% more?

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