Hard drive brands and Audio difference of Music files
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Thread: Hard drive brands and Audio difference of Music files

  1. #1
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    Hard drive brands and Audio difference of Music files

    I'm not sure if this should go in the storage forum or audio pc forum....

    Has anyone ever notice that Mp3's/Audio files sound different according to the brand of Hard drive? A few years ago I bought a Seagate and I noticed that my music files sounded different when played on it compared to playing my music off of my Western Digital. I wasn't sure if it was just me so I did a test and asked my dad to come over and he could hear a difference to. In my opinion, my music files sounded better off of the Western Digital so I took the Seagate back. I then bought an IBM Deskstar(at the time it was owned by IBM) and there was also a diffinet difference between the WD and the Deskstar(got a second opion also), I took the Deskstar back because the WD sounded better with the music files again.

    Now it's a few years later and I wonder if anything has changed. I want to get a Seagate but not if my music files are not going to sound exactly the same as they would on my WD. Has anyone else noticed this?

  2. #2
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    No, lol. There is pretty much no technical reason why it should be the case. I can think of a couple of very far-fetched possibilities:

    The noise emitted by the hard drive is interfering constructively/destructively with the speaker output, altering the tone of the sound. Would have to be a very loud drive though.

    There are conflicts on the PCI bus between the HD and the soundcard which affect the output. Still - this would probably be in the form of clicking/blips and not a slight change in "quality", as such.

    I bounce mp3s between Maxtor, WD and Hitachi drives all the time and honestly, if there is a difference I can't hear it, even with pretty high-end audio gear.

    How does your RAM sound?

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    Well...I relate it to this.. remember back in the day of cassettes? There were many different types of ribbon inside diff. brand/models of cassettes that gave personality to the sound quality of that cassatte brand/model. Well, now think about harddrives....they all have magnetic platters which are parrallel to the ribbons. They may all be magnetic platters, just like they are all ribbons in cassattes, but they may still be made of slighty different materials or a variation of that material of the plater according to the hard drive brand. I know it wasn't just in my head because I got a second opinion for lestioning tests. But, the differences may not be negliable to an audio non-enthusis. I am very particular about audio quality and I can hear the slightest details.

  4. #4
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    Yes, but cassette-based audio (DAT etc aside) was based on an analog recording system. Hard drives contain information stored digitally and therefore the audio remains identical down to the individual bits, no matter which hard drive it exists on or however many times it is duplicated.

  5. #5
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    mufus right, harddrives and mp3's are digital. ones and zeros thats it. there is no possible way for the quality of an mp3 to be diminished between harrdrives. not even by how many times you copy or transfer them. again like said, if you have playback problems that a different story but as far as hearing a difference, its all in your head.

    hell, i cant even hear a difference between a quality encoded 256kbs mp3 or an origonal recording audio cd.

  6. #6
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    Hi,
    At first I'd say that most likely it can't be true.
    But if your whole system is malfunctioning ...
    Still there is a slight possibility that on your soundcard is a broken component which may be sensitive to electromagnetic forces or vibration. It's also possible that in your system is some weak or broken capacitive element, which therefore fails to filter higher frequency noise on power lines and which passes and modulates your soundcards output. Different harddisks may produce different "noise" on power lines. Theoretically, it's also possible that your system internal power lines have different potentials on different points due to some component failure. That's you soundcard may get slightly less or more power voltage with different harddisks. We have seen also "broken" light sensitive chips, when system works only case open ... :-)
    As a conclusion - most likely it may be a power lines problem. Then changing the new power supply and perhaps with higher output power may help.

  7. #7
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    There is nothing malfunctioning.... there's just a difference in the sound when lestioning to a song from two different HDs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dman777
    There is nothing malfunctioning.... there's just a difference in the sound when lestioning to a song from two different HDs.
    If you can hear a difference between "bit identical" pieces of music then by definition there is something wrong.

  9. #9
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    Hmmm.. you may well hear 'differences'

    components affect sound. thats why a hi-fi enthusiasts will spend thousands$$ on a CD player. there is so much to affect quality.

    Also, depending on how the squarewave is generated, this can ultimately effect sound quality further down the chain.

    Their is also the possiblity that the electro magnetic footprint of the 1 hard drive is adversely affecting the audio signal, in its proximity. dont scoff.. this is fact.

    like for instance, did you know that circuit boards on the space shuttle are secured by 3 pins, not 4, but 3. 'anamolous' interferences happen with 4. (& thats just the securing pins i'm talking about)

    ^^ Rooly ( member posting above) has a good grasp of issues. You have ears & your using them. i like that they said the earth was flat once.. and as for people underneath???
    Last edited by Nice but DIMM; May 11th, 2006 at 08:27 PM.

  10. #10
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    mp3's come from the harddrive as ones and zeros. there is absolutely no difference between any brand of drive you get when it comes to the data thats actually outputed. one or zero, thats it and thats why a harddrive cannot effect audio quality so long as its functioning properly.

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    Well...here is my theory...the Hd platter is parrellel to the ribbon in a casatte. Variations of the ribbon will have put a personality on the sound quality and that goes with same with the variations of the HD platters.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nice but DIMM
    Hmmm.. you may well hear 'differences'

    components affect sound. thats why a hi-fi enthusiasts will spend thousands$$ on a CD player. there is so much to affect quality.

    Also, depending on how the squarewave is generated, this can ultimately effect sound quality further down the chain.

    Their is also the possiblity that the electro magnetic footprint of the 1 hard drive is adversely affecting the audio signal, in its proximity. dont scoff.. this is fact.

    like for instance, did you know that circuit boards on the space shuttle are secured by 3 pins, not 4, but 3. 'anamolous' interferences happen with 4. (& thats just the securing pins i'm talking about)

    ^^ Rooly ( member posting above) has a good grasp of issues. You have ears & your using them. i like that they said the earth was flat once.. and as for people underneath???
    Understand that you're talking completely out of your backside there dimmmmmmmmmmmm.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dman777
    Well...here is my theory...the Hd platter is parrellel to the ribbon in a casatte. Variations of the ribbon will have put a personality on the sound quality and that goes with same with the variations of the HD platters.
    Look there seems to be a total lack of understanding about how digital audio works here. I dont have the time or patience to explain it in detail so go read up on it (& kurrupted has tried to explain it already).

    In any case mp3's are NOT really played from the hard-drive, they are played from memory. That is, data from the mp3's is loaded from hardrive into memory (ram) where it is decoded and then sent to the sound card to be output. If the HDD is transferrring data correctly to memory then there can be no difference (and if it's not transferring data correctly to the memory then your system is broken and the point moot).
    Last edited by uart; May 12th, 2006 at 01:09 AM.

  14. #14
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    Heh

    Guess some humans are funny beings. The Emperor's New Clothes story comes to mind, except that story got it wrong. It's not that humans can pretend to see clothes (or hear sound differences) were there are none. It's that if you get it in someone's head that seeing the new clothes makes them some kind superior being, they'll convince themselves they actually see them. I suspect that if that story happened IRL, when the child shouted "the emperor is naked", the grown-ups would have looked at each other and scratched their heads and wondered WTH is the kid talking about. Because they could swear they actually see the clothes.

    So to come back to the topic, let me get this straight: you don't really want to hear that a 1 is a 1, and a 0 is a 0, and it doesn't matter if it's written on a HDD, floppy, CD, on a fence with chalk, or on a whiteboard with a marker pen. What you want to hear is that your superior audiophile ear can hear the difference between a 1 on a Maxtor and a 1 on a Western Digital. Well, wth, sure, if that makes you happy, far from me to ruin your illusion.

    Then tell you what, get the new Seagates with perpendicular recording. The perpendicular part gives, umm, personality to the magnetic signal. Yeah, personality, that's the ticket. The wave has more room there, instead of being squeezed longitudinally along the track. Plus it's more like it was recorded on vinyl, and everyone knows that vinyl sounds better, right?

    You'll also want some kind of heavy heatsink for the hard drive, so it doesn't vibrate so much and distort your music. Or at least a steel chasis where the hard drive is tightened with screw against the chasis. Stay away from these newfangled rubber mounts and plastic rails: sure, they prevent the vibrations from being transmitted to the outside, but let the drive itself vibrate more. That introduces extra harmonics in your 1s and 0s, you know.

    You'll also want a Pentium 4 EE in your computer. It's your CPU that processes those 1s and 0s after all, so you'll want an audiophile CPU which doesn't distort your 1s and 0s. The EEs don't just have more cache and speed, but also preserve signal clarity better. That's why they can work at higher frequencies too.

    Plus, they wouldn't be more expensive and advertised as good at media encoding and such, if they didn't produce better sound, right? It's only common sense. Ask any snob... err... audiophile, and they'll tell you that expensive stuff is automatically better.

    Better get water cooling too, btw. You don't want the fan's vibrations shaking your 1s and 0s around in the CPU and introducing extra harmonics. Not many people know that, but that's the main cause of quality loss with MP3s.

    And probably the most important: do yourself a favour and get one of those 500$+ audiophile power cables for your PC. The power quality is can make or break the output quality. Think of all those signals picked up by the power lines on the way to your home. A shielded cable on the last yard to your computer is all you need to keep the signal clean and pristine.

    And if that doesn't sound convincing enough, here's one final piece of advice. Don't ask for advice from us plebeians. Do yourself a favour and join one of the proper snob boards. If you had any doubts that shielding the last metre of power cable actually does anything, they'll be happy to write a tome of testimonies about how they can hear the difference. With enough circular back-patting, you too can see the Emperor's New Clothes... err... hear the difference.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moraelin v2.0
    Guess some humans are funny beings. The Emperor's New Clothes story comes to mind, except that story got it wrong. It's not that humans can pretend to see clothes (or hear sound differences) were there are none. It's that if you get it in someone's head that seeing the new clothes makes them some kind superior being, they'll convince themselves they actually see them. I suspect that if that story happened IRL, when the child shouted "the emperor is naked", the grown-ups would have looked at each other and scratched their heads and wondered WTH is the kid talking about. Because they could swear they actually see the clothes.

    So to come back to the topic, let me get this straight: you don't really want to hear that a 1 is a 1, and a 0 is a 0, and it doesn't matter if it's written on a HDD, floppy, CD, on a fence with chalk, or on a whiteboard with a marker pen. What you want to hear is that your superior audiophile ear can hear the difference between a 1 on a Maxtor and a 1 on a Western Digital. Well, wth, sure, if that makes you happy, far from me to ruin your illusion.

    Then tell you what, get the new Seagates with perpendicular recording. The perpendicular part gives, umm, personality to the magnetic signal. Yeah, personality, that's the ticket. The wave has more room there, instead of being squeezed longitudinally along the track. Plus it's more like it was recorded on vinyl, and everyone knows that vinyl sounds better, right?

    You'll also want some kind of heavy heatsink for the hard drive, so it doesn't vibrate so much and distort your music. Or at least a steel chasis where the hard drive is tightened with screw against the chasis. Stay away from these newfangled rubber mounts and plastic rails: sure, they prevent the vibrations from being transmitted to the outside, but let the drive itself vibrate more. That introduces extra harmonics in your 1s and 0s, you know.

    You'll also want a Pentium 4 EE in your computer. It's your CPU that processes those 1s and 0s after all, so you'll want an audiophile CPU which doesn't distort your 1s and 0s. The EEs don't just have more cache and speed, but also preserve signal clarity better. That's why they can work at higher frequencies too.

    Plus, they wouldn't be more expensive and advertised as good at media encoding and such, if they didn't produce better sound, right? It's only common sense. Ask any snob... err... audiophile, and they'll tell you that expensive stuff is automatically better.

    Better get water cooling too, btw. You don't want the fan's vibrations shaking your 1s and 0s around in the CPU and introducing extra harmonics. Not many people know that, but that's the main cause of quality loss with MP3s.

    And probably the most important: do yourself a favour and get one of those 500$+ audiophile power cables for your PC. The power quality is can make or break the output quality. Think of all those signals picked up by the power lines on the way to your home. A shielded cable on the last yard to your computer is all you need to keep the signal clean and pristine.

    And if that doesn't sound convincing enough, here's one final piece of advice. Don't ask for advice from us plebeians. Do yourself a favour and join one of the proper snob boards. If you had any doubts that shielding the last metre of power cable actually does anything, they'll be happy to write a tome of testimonies about how they can hear the difference. With enough circular back-patting, you too can see the Emperor's New Clothes... err... hear the difference.

    you in marketing?

    But yes, HDDs are merely vessels for the digitial data and can't really in any conceivable way affect the sound quality of audio, next it might be some avi files are granier or blockier from one hard drive to another?
    R.I.P Rangeral, To one of HWC's best moderators and a great guy

    By the way, what does BTW stand for?

    It is better to be tried by 12, than carried by 6.

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