Music sounds *a lot* better from my internal hard drive than my external hard drive array!
Apr 11, 2016 at 10:41 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 27

Music Alchemist

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So...I recently transferred some of my favorite tracks from my external hard drive array to my internal hard drive...and the sound quality has dramatically transformed in nearly every category! (Instrument separation, clarity, transparency, detail, tonal information, dynamics, transient speed, etc.)
 
The magnitude of improvement is so great that it almost feels like another sound signature. It's a completely different experience that is joyous and captivating. I can hear far deeper into the recording, and it's gloriously apparent on every track. I'm astonished how much of the music was "left out" before. A few times I even jumped up in shock at how much more realistic it sounds. It literally sounds like a headphone upgrade. Subjectively, it sounds two or three times better to me. (Not sure how such a thing would be quantified, though.) As far as free upgrades go, this is the best I've encountered.
 
In short, it's just more accurate. Playing music from the array now sounds *awful* in comparison.
 
And remember, these are THE EXACT SAME FILES! The only difference is their location. Simply amazing.
 
For reference, my system at the time of writing is thus:
 
external hard drive array: Buffalo DriveStation Quad 12 TB
laptop computer: Alienware M11x R2 (Windows 10 Home 64-bit, Intel Core i7 1.2 GHz quad core, 8 GB RAM)
software: foobar2000
output mode: ASIO
USB cables: stock
amp/DAC: Creative Sound Blaster E1
headphones: Koss KTXPRO1
 
(I've owned much higher-end stuff, including STAX systems...so it's pretty awesome to get such great sound out of $15 headphones! Despite its ultra-budget price, this unassuming little semi-open on-ear Koss with titanium-coated dynamic drivers is easily better than at least half of the headphones I've heard in the three-figure range.)
 
What's even crazier is that when I load the entire track into memory (such as with JPLAYmini), all these differences remain, depending on whether the file is copied from the external or internal drives.
 
It's obvious that something associated with the external drives is interfering with the sound severely for one reason or another. I'm a Music Alchemist, not a Sound Scientist, so I couldn't tell ya what that is. Attempting to do so without an exhaustive measuring rig would be a futile exercise in speculation anyway. So don't worry about the cause; just enjoy the effect!
 
If you are streaming music from an external hard drive to a computer, feel free to try it out for yourself. Transfer some of your favorite tracks to the internal drive and see if it sounds better on your system. (This type of thing is very system-dependent, so it's impossible to predict what will happen on your end. It may sound the same on your system, of course.)
 
Apr 12, 2016 at 4:29 AM Post #2 of 27
Could it be a noisy USB port\hub?

Any difference when switching between USB2.0 and USB3.0 ports for the Drivestation and Creative Sound Blaster E1.

Any difference if you use WASAPI output. Maybe the low latency that ASIO is causing the issue.

I doubt that it would be an issue with the actual data.
 
Apr 12, 2016 at 10:49 AM Post #5 of 27
Oh dear.
 
I am going to implement a new policy from now on: Anyone who doubts my impressions will simply be ignored.
 
I am not a liar, I am not stupid, and my hearing is quite excellent.
 
You don't just imagine huge differences like this...it sounds totally different. Period.
 
As for the reasons, I have no clue.
 
Apr 12, 2016 at 11:07 AM Post #6 of 27
If you can capture the samples going out to the DAC from each setup, then you can do a comparison easily (surely the DAC doesn't know you are using the internal drive or not).
 
Apr 19, 2016 at 5:16 AM Post #9 of 27
This is the placebo effect or otherwise a noisy HDD/bad USB cable/low power flow. Most likely the placebo effect. You are definitely not going to hear such minute differences in audio (even if there was a diff) with your setup either. You'll also be surprised how powerful the placebo effect is at changing your perception of music
 
Apr 19, 2016 at 1:45 PM Post #10 of 27
  This is the placebo effect or otherwise a noisy HDD/bad USB cable/low power flow. Most likely the placebo effect. You are definitely not going to hear such minute differences in audio (even if there was a diff) with your setup either. You'll also be surprised how powerful the placebo effect is at changing your perception of music

 
The placebo effect only applies to subtle (or, as you said, "minute") differences, not when it sounds completely different.
 
For the last freaking time...these are not subtle differences! It's literally comparing between awful and amazing.
 
I have dedicated my life to music. Telling me I am imagining a difference (especially when I clearly stated it's like night and day) is the most insulting thing someone can say to me.
 
And wow. Insulting my intelligence, my hearing, and my headphones? Classic. Maybe you missed the part where I implied that I like these $15 headphones more than most high-end ones, and even more than STAX systems I've owned in some respects. For your information, these Koss KTXPRO1 headphones pick up more detail and sound better and more realistic than the vast majority of headphones out there.
 
That's it. I'm done. Every time I post to a thread from now on, I will check beforehand to see if it is in the Sound Science or Computer Audio section, and if it is, I'm not posting there. This section of the site has clearly become Sound Science #2, ie a bizarre "objectivist" cult where adherents claim to seek the truth but in reality care nothing about the truth and resort to (what amounts to) trolling everyone else.
 
Apr 20, 2016 at 4:45 AM Post #12 of 27
  So...I recently transferred some of my favorite tracks from my external hard drive array to my internal hard drive...and the sound quality has dramatically transformed in nearly every category! (Instrument separation, clarity, transparency, detail, tonal information, dynamics, transient speed, etc.)
 
The magnitude of improvement is so great that it almost feels like another sound signature. It's a completely different experience that is joyous and captivating. I can hear far deeper into the recording, and it's gloriously apparent on every track. I'm astonished how much of the music was "left out" before. A few times I even jumped up in shock at how much more realistic it sounds. It literally sounds like a headphone upgrade. Subjectively, it sounds two or three times better to me. (Not sure how such a thing would be quantified, though.) As far as free upgrades go, this is the best I've encountered.
 
In short, it's just more accurate. Playing music from the array now sounds *awful* in comparison.
 
And remember, these are THE EXACT SAME FILES! The only difference is their location. Simply amazing.
 
For reference, my system at the time of writing is thus:
 
external hard drive array: Buffalo DriveStation Quad 12 TB
laptop computer: Alienware M11x R2 (Windows 10 Home 64-bit, Intel Core i7 1.2 GHz quad core, 8 GB RAM)
software: foobar2000
output mode: ASIO
USB cables: stock
amp/DAC: Creative Sound Blaster E1
headphones: Koss KTXPRO1
 
(I've owned much higher-end stuff, including STAX systems...so it's pretty awesome to get such great sound out of $15 headphones! Despite its ultra-budget price, this unassuming little semi-open on-ear Koss with titanium-coated dynamic drivers is easily better than at least half of the headphones I've heard in the three-figure range.)
 
What's even crazier is that when I load the entire track into memory (such as with JPLAYmini), all these differences remain, depending on whether the file is copied from the external or internal drives.
 
It's obvious that something associated with the external drives is interfering with the sound severely for one reason or another. I'm a Music Alchemist, not a Sound Scientist, so I couldn't tell ya what that is. Attempting to do so without an exhaustive measuring rig would be a futile exercise in speculation anyway. So don't worry about the cause; just enjoy the effect!
 
If you are streaming music from an external hard drive to a computer, feel free to try it out for yourself. Transfer some of your favorite tracks to the internal drive and see if it sounds better on your system. (This type of thing is very system-dependent, so it's impossible to predict what will happen on your end. It may sound the same on your system, of course.)

 
 
  Oh dear.
 
I am going to implement a new policy from now on: Anyone who doubts my impressions will simply be ignored.
 
I am not a liar, I am not stupid, and my hearing is quite excellent.
 
You don't just imagine huge differences like this...it sounds totally different. Period.
 
As for the reasons, I have no clue.

 
 
   
The placebo effect only applies to subtle (or, as you said, "minute") differences, not when it sounds completely different.
 
For the last freaking time...these are not subtle differences! It's literally comparing between awful and amazing.
 
I have dedicated my life to music. Telling me I am imagining a difference (especially when I clearly stated it's like night and day) is the most insulting thing someone can say to me.
 
And wow. Insulting my intelligence, my hearing, and my headphones? Classic. Maybe you missed the part where I implied that I like these $15 headphones more than most high-end ones, and even more than STAX systems I've owned in some respects. For your information, these Koss KTXPRO1 headphones pick up more detail and sound better and more realistic than the vast majority of headphones out there.
 
That's it. I'm done. Every time I post to a thread from now on, I will check beforehand to see if it is in the Sound Science or Computer Audio section, and if it is, I'm not posting there. This section of the site has clearly become Sound Science #2, ie a bizarre "objectivist" cult where adherents claim to seek the truth but in reality care nothing about the truth and resort to (what amounts to) trolling everyone else.

 
What a mess.
 
Quote:
  I am going to lurk on this one:)

 
This thread should be send to recycle bin.
 
Apr 20, 2016 at 5:32 AM Post #13 of 27
   
The placebo effect only applies to subtle (or, as you said, "minute") differences, not when it sounds completely different.
 
For the last freaking time...these are not subtle differences! It's literally comparing between awful and amazing.
 
I have dedicated my life to music. Telling me I am imagining a difference (especially when I clearly stated it's like night and day) is the most insulting thing someone can say to me.
 
And wow. Insulting my intelligence, my hearing, and my headphones? Classic. Maybe you missed the part where I implied that I like these $15 headphones more than most high-end ones, and even more than STAX systems I've owned in some respects. For your information, these Koss KTXPRO1 headphones pick up more detail and sound better and more realistic than the vast majority of headphones out there.
 
That's it. I'm done. Every time I post to a thread from now on, I will check beforehand to see if it is in the Sound Science or Computer Audio section, and if it is, I'm not posting there. This section of the site has clearly become Sound Science #2, ie a bizarre "objectivist" cult where adherents claim to seek the truth but in reality care nothing about the truth and resort to (what amounts to) trolling everyone else.

 
Didn't mean to offend, but how much of a difference can a different HDD make? We are talking about digital copies of a file, literally 1s and 0s - there's no conversion from digital to analog signals it's just a matter of transposing the bits in the right order.
 
Also if it was a dramatically improved sound you'd think you'd be able to measure peaks/dips in frequency response? Even slight improvements in CSD waterfall graphs should be noticeable, since you mentioned every facet of sound was improved upon. Out of the 1000's and 1000's of published graphs there's yet to be concrete measured proof of HDD's effect on SQ (unless defective/noisy)
 
Not bashing on your hearing ability on anything, but think about it logically. Also you'd be surprised at how powerful the placebo effect is - people with cases of severe illnesses and untreatable depression can show improvement when given a sugar pill, the brain is a powerful entity. It can create seemingly something out of nothing
 
Apr 20, 2016 at 6:22 AM Post #14 of 27
To be honest I've tried the same thing though.
I once had my music in a 6TB server and stream it with my PC/laptop. I made sure I used 1Gbps cable connection to ensure no slow data transfer or sudden stop in stream.
But since I had to move out temporarily, I moved all my music into internal HDD in my PC.
Back then I used Stax SRS-2020 system and you will be surprised by the result I was hearing
Nothing changed
 
Currently, I haven't rebuilt my server so my laptop can only stream music when PC is on. I've tried listening this music this way too, this time using 300Mbps Wi-Fi connection and HD800 plus flat CAT6a cable from switch to PC and the result was:
 
Nothing changed
 
Now other than that, I've also tried using my 4TB external HDD because my backup music is there. Again, you can guess the result.
 
Apr 20, 2016 at 7:01 AM Post #15 of 27
Ok I totally believe your listening impressions.

What next?

You want to know why the results are different right?

Here.
Put these files
https://www.dropbox.com/s/18flgpevts2cfzs/Calibration%20signal.wav?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/990frml3yu7b5db/Test%20signal%20%2844%20kHz%2016-bit%29.wav?dl=0

In your external and internal hard drives respectively.

Play using your foobar and record the output using the same line-in device.

Post the recorded files here for analysis using RMAA.

If you're hearing such night and day differences, you better hope we can at least measure a difference right? (Contrary to popular belief, instruments are able to measure differences smaller than can be detected by any human ear. It is in interpreting the measurement results and deciding what differences can be heard and how they may be perceived, that we may falter.)

RMAA results would show the criteria under which the external hard drive playback is performing poorer than the internal hard drive and hopefully help troubleshoot the source of the difference.
 
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