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Forget storage comparison. Even the same storage can sound different with different file copying methods


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Warning: This article isn’t suitable for people who believe in ‘bits are bits’. It could cause you a motion sickness and upset your stomach so it’s best to turn off this window before it gets you.

 

I know this sounds a bit hard to believe but it’s true since it was done without pretense to get better sound. Well, some people who use Rewrite Data may not find this so surprising though.

 

We did some ripping experiments and my friend who owned AK380 tested the song from micro sd to compare between players.

 

On later days, he told me copying music from AK’s file manager system in device sounds worse than copying from his ripping machine. He made a dedicated ripping machine with linear PSU and even built a new aluminum chassis to improve it.

 

 

 

2086280-1024x768.jpg

 

 

 

So, we did another test. I tried copying music from laptop using default file copy from Windows 10 and ones from another file copier software call Copy Handler with different buffer size.

 

Guess what? It all sounded different. I was stunned. I’m aware that different micro sd cards can affect and different machines used to copy songs can sound different. But THIS! The same machine, same device, with only different changes of buffer size also affected it. That’s nuts!

 

OK. Let’s take this to next level. I use my desktop to copy 4 files named A, B, X, and Y to micro SD card, plug it into user’s portable DAPs and let them listen. They all can notice the changes effortlessly and all said the same thing. B and Y sounds very different. Here’s why.

 

A: Default USB connection using Windows 10 file copy

B: JCAT USB Card connection (with built-in PSU and filter) using Windows 10 file copy

X: JCAT USB Card connection (with built-in PSU and filter) using Ultracopier file copy

Y: JCAT USB Card connection (with built-in PSU and filter) using Ultracopier file copy with sequential write and 4kb buffer

 

I did some research and found app similar to Rewrite Data written over 3 years ago here.

 

DiskFresh | Product Information | windows defrag utilities | Fact-Reviews.com

 

He gave an interesting explanation about music files storage improvement on both magnetic and flash memory in SSD too.

 

I have yet to find anyone not noticing the different. Is it placebo effect? You can try this experiment yourself and test it with your friends. Happy listening.:)

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

Link to comment
Warning: This article isn’t suitable for people who believe in ‘bits are bits’. It could cause you a motion sickness and upset your stomach so it’s best to turn off this window before it gets you.

 

I know this sounds a bit hard to believe but it’s true since it was done without pretense to get better sound. Well, some people who use Rewrite Data may not find this so surprising though.

 

We did some ripping experiments and my friend who owned AK380 tested the song from micro sd to compare between players.

 

On later days, he told me copying music from AK’s file manager system in device sounds worse than copying from his ripping machine. He made a dedicated ripping machine with linear PSU and even built a new aluminum chassis to improve it.

 

 

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]28573[/ATTACH]

 

 

 

So, we did another test. I tried copying music from laptop using default file copy from Windows 10 and ones from another file copier software call Copy Handler with different buffer size.

 

Guess what? It all sounded different. I was stunned. I’m aware that different micro sd cards can affect and different machines used to copy songs can sound different. But THIS! The same machine, same device, with only different changes of buffer size also affected it. That’s nuts!

 

OK. Let’s take this to next level. I use my desktop to copy 4 files named A, B, X, and Y to micro SD card, plug it into user’s portable DAPs and let them listen. They all can notice the changes effortlessly and all said the same thing. B and Y sounds very different. Here’s why.

 

A: Default USB connection using Windows 10 file copy

B: JCAT USB Card connection (with built-in PSU and filter) using Windows 10 file copy

X: JCAT USB Card connection (with built-in PSU and filter) using Ultracopier file copy

Y: JCAT USB Card connection (with built-in PSU and filter) using Ultracopier file copy with sequential write and 4kb buffer

 

I did some research and found app similar to Rewrite Data written over 3 years ago here.

 

DiskFresh | Product Information | windows defrag utilities | Fact-Reviews.com

 

He gave an interesting explanation about music files storage improvement on both magnetic and flash memory in SSD too.

 

I have yet to find anyone not noticing the different. Is it placebo effect? You can try this experiment yourself and test it with your friends. Happy listening.:)

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

 

Did you compare the data blocks on the SD card occupied by the files in each case? You can never know for sure due to the translation layer in the card, but accessing a badly fragmented file will be result in a different command sequence regardless. Ideally, you'd use multiple brand new cards and copy the test file to each using the different methods.

 

What brand/size/model of card were you testing with?

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I have yet to find anyone not noticing the different. Is it placebo effect? You can try this experiment yourself and test it with your friends. Happy listening.:)

You need to test on multiple different/better DAC/amp combos. It's totally possible that a combination of buggy realtime software, underpowered processor, quirky DAC chips, and analog side sensitivity to varying electrical activity on the digital side (both power supply effects and high-frequency noise from d2a conversion) causes different SSD data layouts to affect sound quality. Think of how much is going on in software and hardware in a DAP, all in a confined space with extreme power and signal path constraints, with highly variable processing workload due to the complexity of managing SSD, unpacking compressed formats, etc. It's surprising that the better DAPs are as good as they are, frankly.

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Did you compare the data blocks on the SD card occupied by the files in each case? You can never know for sure due to the translation layer in the card, but accessing a badly fragmented file will be result in a different command sequence regardless. Ideally, you'd use multiple brand new cards and copy the test file to each using the different methods.

 

What brand/size/model of card were you testing with?

 

I did copy files back and compared it. All showed the same MD5 hash. I made sure to safely eject the micro sd card before starting the listening test. micro sd card is Sandisk Extreme newly bought recently.

 

btw, I'm so busy right now so I don't really have time to finish redoing the previous bit-perfect tests. I recorded all the files now though.

 

You need to test on multiple different/better DAC/amp combos. It's totally possible that a combination of buggy realtime software, underpowered processor, quirky DAC chips, and analog side sensitivity to varying electrical activity on the digital side (both power supply effects and high-frequency noise from d2a conversion) causes different SSD data layouts to affect sound quality. Think of how much is going on in software and hardware in a DAP, all in a confined space with extreme power and signal path constraints, with highly variable processing workload due to the complexity of managing SSD, unpacking compressed formats, etc. It's surprising that the better DAPs are as good as they are, frankly.

 

I tested by putting my micro sd card into listener's device so it's already on multiple combinations. You can try it yourself. I already showed your test methods. :)

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

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I did copy files back and compared it. All showed the same MD5 hash. I made sure to safely eject the micro sd card before starting the listening test.

 

Of course the files have the same md5. They can still be arranged differently (fragmentation etc.) on the card. Different files on the same card must use different blocks. There are various programs that will list the block numbers used by a particular file.

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Of course the files have the same md5. They can still be arranged differently (fragmentation etc.) on the card. Different files on the same card must use different blocks. There are various programs that will list the block numbers used by a particular file.

 

Are you referring to that as disk's fragmentation maybe the cause of different sound? The card is 64GB formatted to exFAT and files I copied barely exceeded 1GB. I didn't check the fragmentation before copying but I doubt there's fragmentation. I'll check again soon as the tested card is not with me right now.

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

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Of course the files have the same md5. They can still be arranged differently (fragmentation etc.) on the card. Different files on the same card must use different blocks. There are various programs that will list the block numbers used by a particular file.

 

You should focus on the buffer size.

 


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I did copy files back and compared it. All showed the same MD5 hash. I made sure to safely eject the micro sd card before starting the listening test. micro sd card is Sandisk Extreme newly bought recently.

 

btw, I'm so busy right now so I don't really have time to finish redoing the previous bit-perfect tests. I recorded all the files now though.

 

 

 

I tested by putting my micro sd card into listener's device so it's already on multiple combinations. You can try it yourself. I already showed your test methods. :)

You described only what you heard on an AK 380. As I explained, DAPs are full of engineering compromises, even the pricey ones, because of their small size and limited power source. So, your experiments might be informative for AK 380 owners, but there's no general lesson to be drawn, except that if you really want high quality, you need full size gear with well-designed power supplies, careful separation between digital and analog stages, and interconnects that reduce leakage of electrical noise between stages. In those more ideal conditions, bits become closer to being just bits, because storage and digital transmission electrical and timing artifacts are more successfully segregated from signal reconstruction and analog amplification stages.

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Are you referring to that as disk's fragmentation maybe the cause of different sound? The card is 64GB formatted to exFAT and files I copied barely exceeded 1GB. I didn't check the fragmentation before copying but I doubt there's fragmentation. I'll check again soon as the tested card is not with me right now.

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Some more ideas for testing:

- Does the order of writing the files make a difference?

- Does copying multiple times with the same method give same-sounding copies? (That is, copying the source file to multiple files on the same card.)

- Does cloning the card to another one using some disk imaging program preserve the differences?

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You described only what you heard on an AK 380. As I explained, DAPs are full of engineering compromises, even the pricey ones, because of their small size and limited power source. So, your experiments might be informative for AK 380 owners, but there's no general lesson to be drawn, except that if you really want high quality, you need full size gear with well-designed power supplies, careful separation between digital and analog stages, and interconnects that reduce leakage of electrical noise between stages. In those more ideal conditions, bits become closer to being just bits, because storage and digital transmission electrical and timing artifacts are more successfully segregated from signal reconstruction and analog amplification stages.

 

Maybe I didn't write it clearly enough but I did say it started from ripping experiments and we listened to AK380 from micro sd card.

 

Later, he told me using AK's file manager to copy sounds worse than his machine which brings another subject to test, file copying.

 

So, we did another test and took it to the next level by copying 4 files named A, B, X, and Y to micro SD card, plug it into user’s portable DAPs and let them listen.

 

It's not just AK380. There's Cayin i5, iBasso DX80, Fiio X7, and mobile phone.

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

Link to comment
Some more ideas for testing:

- Does the order of writing the files make a difference?

- Does copying multiple times with the same method give same-sounding copies? (That is, copying the source file to multiple files on the same card.)

- Does cloning the card to another one using some disk imaging program preserve the differences?

 

- Does the order of writing the files make a difference?

: I tried copying the same files again and again before. I couldn't tell the difference. At least not significant enough for me to notice. As for order of different hardware/software, it's hard too tell. Too many factors.

 

- Does copying multiple times with the same method give same-sounding copies? (That is, copying the source file to multiple files on the same card.)

: Using default Windows file copying, it all sounded the same to me. I haven't tested with ultracopier at 4K buffer with sequential write from JCAT USB Card tough. Will consider trying it again sometimes soon after I get device and my card back.

 

- Does cloning the card to another one using some disk imaging program preserve the differences?

: I'm not really sure since I haven't tried this one. Technically speaking, the difference is from file writing mechanism. I mean, even conventional file writing from different PSU can affect it. So I believe cloning with different machine will also affect it too.

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

Link to comment
It's not just AK380. There's Cayin i5, iBasso DX80, Fiio X7, and mobile phone.

So why is this surprising? SD cards, SD card drivers, consumer OS implementations, mobile CPUs, and consumer DAC parts are not optimized for isolating d2a behavior from the processing needed to get the bits from the SD card. Even an SD card interrupt priority issue would be enough to introduce unwanted jitter into the bit stream flowing into the DAC chip. Really, you are demanding something from DAPs and mobile phones that they were never designed to deliver.

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So why is this surprising? SD cards, SD card drivers, consumer OS implementations, mobile CPUs, and consumer DAC parts are not optimized for isolating d2a behavior from the processing needed to get the bits from the SD card. Even an SD card interrupt priority issue would be enough to introduce unwanted jitter into the bit stream flowing into the DAC chip. Really, you are demanding something from DAPs and mobile phones that they were never designed to deliver.

 

Did you mean DAPs in market are incapable of handling difference between files in the same micro sd card properly? Please correct me if I understand it incorrectly. I did test a few DAPs from various brands and platforms to very highend AK380.

 

I also did listening to desktop PC that I copied those files too and they sound all different to me as well.

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

Link to comment
but there's no general lesson to be drawn, except that if you really want high quality, you need full size gear with well-designed power supplies, careful separation between digital and analog stages, and interconnects that reduce leakage of electrical noise between stages. In those more ideal conditions, bits become closer to being just bits, because storage and digital transmission electrical and timing artifacts are more successfully segregated from signal reconstruction and analog amplification stages.

 

If it was only that simple !

Yes, there is a general lesson to be learned.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Did you mean DAPs in market are incapable of handling difference between files in the same micro sd card properly? Please correct me if I understand it incorrectly. I did test a few DAPs from various brands and platforms to very highend AK380.

 

I also did listening to desktop PC that I copied those files too and they sound all different to me as well.

Let me try for one last time. The exact differences between different SD card file layouts affect processor and main memory load (and thus power supply current and voltage), I/O timing, etc. These can have subtle effects on the d2a and analog parts of the DAP, because the different DAP circuits are not isolated from each other. A top DAP may have good sound in many situations, but just a minor software bug in interrupt handling that causes no problems in most conditions may engender small but audible timing glitches in other conditions. Same with PCs (in fact, especially with PCs, which are just about the worst possible hardware/software design for highly accurate audio reproduction). No need to invoke some far-out "bits are not bits" hypothesis when we are so totally surrounded by subtly (or not so subtly) buggy hardware and software in every aspect of our digital lives. Whether a particular DAP is good enough for us is a matter of degree, and almost surely there will be conditions in which it disappoints. That's digital life.

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Let me try for one last time. The exact differences between different SD card file layouts affect processor and main memory load (and thus power supply current and voltage), I/O timing, etc. These can have subtle effects on the d2a and analog parts of the DAP, because the different DAP circuits are not isolated from each other. A top DAP may have good sound in many situations, but just a minor software bug in interrupt handling that causes no problems in most conditions may engender small but audible timing glitches in other conditions. Same with PCs (in fact, especially with PCs, which are just about the worst possible hardware/software design for highly accurate audio reproduction). No need to invoke some far-out "bits are not bits" hypothesis when we are so totally surrounded by subtly (or not so subtly) buggy hardware and software in every aspect of our digital lives. Whether a particular DAP is good enough for us is a matter of degree, and almost surely there will be conditions in which it disappoints. That's digital life.

 

Ah, I see. Thank you for sharing your insights. :)

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

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Bits are bits.

But feel free to degrade your data stream in any way you chose. ;)

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

no-mqa-sm.jpg

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A quote from :

DiskFresh | Product Information | windows defrag utilities | Fact-Reviews.com

'In order to keep the data signal from fading, you need to re-write the data. This is often known as “hard disk maintenance”, and should be done 3 or 4 times a year.

 

While it does not prevent data from being corrupted or deleted, it can go a long way towards ensuring that the magnetic signal does not fade away completely. The way it works is to read every sector of the drive, and then re-write the data found there, provided the drive reported no errors. If this is done on a regular basis, the magnetic signal of every part of the drive will be refreshed long before the signal fades or becomes ambiguous.'

 

 

Is it really so? Does re-writing help to keep the data intact? Could someone comment on it please?

Sometimes measurable things can't be measured. In such situation one must use a chicken to measure them.

 

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Bits are bits.

But feel free to degrade your data stream in any way you chose. ;)

 

Yep. Truthfully speaking. I'm not really concerned about sonic impact from file copying. But since it looks fun, I'm here to share the result just for the surprise. :)

 

A quote from :

DiskFresh | Product Information | windows defrag utilities | Fact-Reviews.com

'In order to keep the data signal from fading, you need to re-write the data. This is often known as “hard disk maintenance”, and should be done 3 or 4 times a year.

 

While it does not prevent data from being corrupted or deleted, it can go a long way towards ensuring that the magnetic signal does not fade away completely. The way it works is to read every sector of the drive, and then re-write the data found there, provided the drive reported no errors. If this is done on a regular basis, the magnetic signal of every part of the drive will be refreshed long before the signal fades or becomes ambiguous.'

 

 

Is it really so? Does re-writing help to keep the data intact? Could someone comment on it please?

 

It's possible that magnetic drive can lose its efficiency over times. But rewriting 3-4 times a year is too much. Just once per year is enough for very old hard drive.

 

Nowadays magnetic hard drive can keep data intact for 5 years without trouble. I recommend to change HDD drive to protect your important data every 3 years though. Above explanation doesn't apply to SSD or other flash memory drives btw.

 

What I find interesting about audiophile is this.

 

In the case of music, this can be heard by an increase in hiss, a loss of fidelity, and a loss in volume. The main problem with digital data is the loss of volume. This is the main method the drive uses to separate 1’s from 0’s.

 

And the explanation why flash memory can still have benefit like this.

 

Not every drive in a modern PC is a hard drive. Solid State Drives (SSDs) and small portable “thumb” drives don’t use a magnetic medium to store data. They use “flash memory” instead. This kind of memory can be rewritten only a finite number of times, so rewriting the data on a regular basis is not a good idea. But a regular “read-only” refresh is advisable, because the drive controller is programmed to look for bad signals and take action to fix the problem in much the same way as hard drive controllers do. Reading the data on a flash drive does not shorten the lifespan of the drive, and can certainly help to detect and avoid total drive failure.

 

DiskFresh has a “read-only” mode that should always be used when dealing with flash drives and SSDs. Also, you should not try to defragment an SSD or flash drive. Defrag hard disk drives only.

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

Link to comment
A quote from :

DiskFresh | Product Information | windows defrag utilities | Fact-Reviews.com

'In order to keep the data signal from fading, you need to re-write the data. This is often known as “hard disk maintenance”, and should be done 3 or 4 times a year.

 

While it does not prevent data from being corrupted or deleted, it can go a long way towards ensuring that the magnetic signal does not fade away completely. The way it works is to read every sector of the drive, and then re-write the data found there, provided the drive reported no errors. If this is done on a regular basis, the magnetic signal of every part of the drive will be refreshed long before the signal fades or becomes ambiguous.'

 

 

Is it really so? Does re-writing help to keep the data intact? Could someone comment on it please?

 

This is nonsense. I have hard drives with data that was written in the '90s, and they're still perfectly fine. Magnetic hard drives do not simply fade. High temperatures or strong external magnetic fields might of course cause data corruption, but that doesn't appear to be what this is about.

 

Flash based storage is a different matter. Regular NAND flash such as found in SD cards and phones typically specifies a data retention of at least 10 years although abnormally high temperatures can reduce this. High-performance SSDs might use flash memory with shorter retention. If this is the case, the built-in controller will move data around regularly to avoid losing any with no need for manual maintenance. There have been reports of SSDs suffering corruption after being left unpowered for several months, though some questioned their veracity.

 

No common storage devices require any kind of maintenance to retain data when used normally.

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What I find interesting about audiophile is this.

 

In the case of music, this can be heard by an increase in hiss, a loss of fidelity, and a loss in volume. The main problem with digital data is the loss of volume. This is the main method the drive uses to separate 1’s from 0’s.

 

That's utterly ridiculous. The "volume" of the stored magnetic signal has nothing to do with the audio playback volume.

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That's utterly ridiculous. The "volume" of the stored magnetic signal has nothing to do with the audio playback volume.

 

I just find it interesting. I'm not convinced to think it's true or not. But yeah, magnetic signal shouldn't affect playback volume, at least from SPL measurement. Not sure about SNR though.

 

Have you tried Ultracopier software with my suggested configuration yet? I'd love to hear your test result.

 

Regards,

Keetakawee

Happy Emm Labs/Viola/Karan/Rockport audiophile

 

Fidelizer - Feel the real sound http://www.fidelizer-audio.com

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