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smithy666 7th August 2008 04:20 AM

SSD vs Hard Drive
OK, now I think I've read it all. In the lastest issue of Stereophile, Manfred Diestertich from Audio Physic is quoted as saying that "two days listening to the SSD's stability, openness, and general feeling of relaxation had convinced him of its superiority to a hard drive"
Now that is very interesting. Exactly how does SSD storage sound different to HDD storage for a digital signal? Assuming everything else was identical (particularly in the D/A section), I fail to see how it could ever make a difference. Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

Calvin 7th August 2008 06:20 AM


I agree to this statement. My experiences are with the Hush HDR6, a HDR that is probabely the most elaborated piece of work in this segment (tested in Stereoplay 08/2008) at the moment.
The R&D-guy told me that -amongst many other details which have to be considered- the use of a RAM-Disk improved the sound (Stereoplay confirmed this too). Could be a matter of reduced Jitter and higher ´speed´of the RAM-Disk, but this isn´t confirmed yet. So I´m too still wondering about what the cause for the difference is, but then my expertise is rather on building speakers that are capable of showing these little differences than on building digital stuff. ;)
It´s hard to tell exactly what and how it sounds different anyway. The differences are very subtle and you really need a first class setup to realize that. Other measurements like upsampling, choice of DAC and especially the quality of the music source are more important (standard CD-format 16Bit/44.1kHz will be rather too restricted).
The impression of rightness, the feeling of ´beeing there´ seems stronger. You are more attracted to the music, lesser to the technical details of the recording. One might say it sounds more analogue. So -at least to me- its rather a emotional difference rather than a solid better-than-this-better-than-that-thing.
But since the first contact I wished I´d have one of these machines playing in my setup. Do I need to know more?


smithy666 7th August 2008 06:37 AM

I still don't understand how it could sound any different. The data that is read off the HDD is buffered (by RAM). The interface used by the HDD and SSD is the same and the data transfer from each would be far in excess of what the D/A could ever handle (hence the buffering). The data is exactly the same coming from the HDD or SSD. Sounds like hocus pocus to me.

danb1974 7th August 2008 06:44 AM

SSD does not make any mechanical noise and maybe it generated less electrical noise (I imagine moving hdd heads generate some spikes on the power lines, but I have no scope to have a look)

Other than that I see no other reason to explain differences in sound.

Calvin 7th August 2008 06:53 AM


maybe I´ll just phone Hush´s R&D guy and tell You what he believes could be the reason. I´m not familiar enough with this special area of expertise and I´haven´t heard of a solid technical explanation yet.
But than didn´t interest me much.....I just recognized some sonical difference and I preferred the RAM-Disk.


Irakli 7th August 2008 07:52 AM

Hi Guys,

I wanted to post this for a long time on this forum. I guess the "cables" thread would be more appropriate, but this issue is similar in spirit.

This is an excerpt from the form 1953 Irving Langmuir's article "Patological Science".

Characteristic Symptoms of Pathological Science

The characteristics of this Davis-Barnes experiment and the N-rays and the mitogenetic rays, they have things in common. These are cases where there is no dishonesty involved but where people are tricked into false results by a lack of understanding about what human beings can do to themselves in the way of being led astray by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions. These are examples of pathological science. These are things that attracted a great deal of attention. Usually hundreds of papers have been published upon them. Sometimes they have lasted for fifteen or twenty years and then they gradually die away.

Now, the characteristic rules are these (see Table I}

Symptoms of Pathological Science:

1. The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.

2. The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability; or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.

3. Claims of great accuracy.

4. Fantastic theories contrary to experience.

5. Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment.

6. Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near 50% and then falls gradually to oblivion.

Very much applicable to many claims in audio field, don't you think?

BTW, I strongly recommend to all engineers to read full article. It may be found here for example:

soundcheck 9th August 2008 10:29 AM

Hi folks.

This is not Hokus-Pokus!

Assume you're running an USB-DAC in isynchronous mode.
This means that the PC is slaving the DAC. All non-linearties such as RFI/EMI, PS non-lineariities, asf. will impact the USB data-stream, thus directly impacting sound quality.
A HDD generates heat, non-linear powerconsumption, distortions, vibrations...... A SSD has on this side much more advantages

Been there, done that.
Remember we're talking about a realtime-datastream starting at your processor.

I brought that RAM-disk hint up almost two years ago. Many people made quite some fun about it. At J.River they even erased my posts.

I can tell you that there is a lot more to gain. If you're into Linux perhaps you want to look at my thread over here at DIY-Audio or perhaps you have a look at Audio Asylum if you run Windows. Look for CICS. He prepared a very impressive player, documentation, and PC setup to eliminate the majority of PC and Windows based problems.
The XXhighend player tries to accomplish the same. Or just use the full-file buffer option with Foobar as a starting point.

The recovered signal on the DAC side, if you run isynchronous, can be as good as it is supplied by the PC, except you do a pretty good reclocking right before the DAC.

But if you run asynchronous, meaning the DAC or any other receiver would be slaving the PC, all the mess generated by the PC, except ground noise if not galvanically isolated, won't be of impact.

If you don't want to follow the PC tweaking path, you might want to look at solutions such as quite expensive stuff from Wavelength Audio or BD-Design for asynch USB or e.g. EMU USB 0404.
But also have a look at the ethernet/wlan clients such as Squezzebox, Airport Express. They also run asynchronous.

If you run internal PC sound. You won't get around PC tweaks.

You also might want to try firewire solutions. Afaik they are also running async mode.

So it really depends on where your realtime datastream starts. You for sure shouldn't hear any HDD impact if you use Squezzebox Duet or similar!


babya 9th August 2008 11:36 AM

SSD is more durable, and has no moving parts.

audiosteve 9th August 2008 03:06 PM

Totally hocus pocus. Irakli has it right. Whether from SSD or HHD, the audio data is buffered and clocked into the CODEC in EXACTLY the same way. Timing or jitter differences between the two are non-existent. Bits are Bits and they are all the same regardless of the source once they hit the buffer. If you really think an SSD makes a meaningful difference, don't forget to listen to it with your $2000.00 cables and please contact me by PM, I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn I need to sell.

soundcheck 9th August 2008 03:56 PM

You really seem to be an IT/Audio specialist, who's been there- and done it all. :worship:

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