Not for objectivist or those who believe bits are bits

Some of these tweaks on a Windows-based RAAT endpoint could possibly be relevant. Any of this applied to the core, if it is not also the endpoint, cannot.

It’s a good job that Tidal, Qobuz and all of the intermediate carriers are also applying these tweaks or heaven knows what might arrive down that bit of copper that was installed by an apprentice at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon.


As one example only… point #8… if you chat with the designer of your DAC about audiophile ethernet cables, especially the shielded ones with metal connectors, I’m sure they will confirm these cables can potentially be a nice pathway for ground currents / leakage currents… and help pickup and radiate RF which may affect analogue electronics… so in this case, an audiophile ethernet cable certainly can sound different to a cheap Charlie UTP cable…

But as per my earlier post, here is one example where ‘different’ may not be necessarily technically better… different here may actually give the (false) perception of hearing more ‘detail’ but you may actually be hearing and enjoying the effects of more RF…

This kind of example has nothing to do with what happens at the Tidal server end but explainable potential mechanisms near sensitive analogue electronics… Thorsten (the designer of your DAC) is a good source for this kind of info if you’re interested, for learning purposes…

Can someone explain to me what an “audio grade SATA cable” is?


Its a long weekend, here you go:

Actually, I respect the perspective of the OP. He got flamed a bit for asking the question, but looking at how he’s approached putting together his listening environment, I’m quite impressed.

Bringing up cables, any cables, will inevitably cause flaming. There is always a handful of anti-cable entities that jump in, the cable Gestapo. Avoid talking about cables at all costs. Do what you want at home, discuss among like-minded folks you already know, don’t share in public. For the sake of your mental well-being

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Some cable in some scenarios cables can definitely make a difference and any within the analog audio signal domain… There isn’t a blanket answer. However, I still think there are some cables that are not going to technically change anything about digital audio or resulting analog audio signal at all in a properly functioning system.

This isn’t to say a user wont perceive a change for reasons internal to the way the human auditory system and brain works.

And that is a key thing - I think happy relaxed listeners hear better, however they got to that state of mind.

It doesn’t change my general view that there are many marketed audio system embellishments that have no technical merit according to current science.

In science, contrary evidence causes one to question a theory. In religion, contrary evidence causes one to question the evidence.”

I think this is attributed to Floyd Tool.

Indeed, he basically asked a question and unlike many people who only seem to stick to blind faith in such matters, he read the responses thought about them and used his revised knowledge to choose what to do.

The SATA cable page on the Pachanko website describes what they’re selling, yet it doesn’t make any claims about fitness for audio or even fitness for SATA. That’s a clever approach.

What informations does it need to provide? Is it SATA? Yes. Does it work? Yes. Beyond that I am not sure what you might think they are not telling you!

You just weren’t looking in the right place!
As expected for a “Reference” SATA Cable:
“You will instantly notice a significantly bigger soundstage, wider bandwidth, with better separation of the instruments. The ability to easily delineate multiple voices, due to better imaging, also more resolving of textural and tactile information. The equipment disappears leaving pure music enjoyment.”
EXACTLY what I would expect from happier bits flying off my drive! When they start out this happy, you know better music will follow through the music stream.


The only thing that description is missing is:

“…and wait, there’s more! Before shipping to you it is personally blessed for you by a guru and his llama to ensure that no evil spirits can disrupt your audio enjoyment…”

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First, they make no claims about enhancing audio. Which is a good thing, otherwise they might get sued for making unsubstantiated claims. I’m happy for those audiophiles who discovered this product works for an “off label” use (audio) not mentioned by the manufacturer and that it improves sound quality. Here’s a link to the Pachanko Sata Mk2 cable:

Second, it doesn’t claim to be a SATA cable, nor do they say which version of the SATA spec the cables conform to. SATA cables normally have the words “Serial ATA” on the molded connectors. These cables have heat shrink over the body of the connectors so we can’t tell from the photo if the connectors meet the SATA connector specs. And because of the next point, we don’t know if the cable meets any of the SATA revision-dependent data transfer speeds.

Third, according to wikipedia, SATA cables use shielded and grounded twin-ax cabling internally for each of the two pairs of data lines. I quote it here, as the issue of digital noise seems to be of interest to those using non-standard digital hardware such as these audio “SATA” cables:

One of the problems associated with the transmission of data at high speed over electrical connections is described as noise , which is due to electrical coupling between data circuits and other circuits. As a result, the data circuits can both affect other circuits and be affected by them. Designers use a number of techniques to reduce the undesirable effects of such unintentional coupling. One such technique used in SATA links is differential signaling. … The use of fully shielded twin-ax conductors, with multiple ground connections, for each differential pair improves isolation between the channels and reduces the chances of lost data in difficult electrical environments.

I don’t know if it’s possible to make noise-rejecting twin-ax cables from the “multi-stranded flat wire” that is used in this cable. So in all likelihood, this cable both transmits more noise into the other components inside the computer than a one dollar SATA 3 cable and is more susceptible to noise from other components than said cable, likely forcing the drive and host bus adapter (HBA) to do a lot of retries and error correction when the data doesn’t make it from one end to the other due to noise. It’s unlikely that it will be able to meet the 1.5, 3, or 6 Gbit/s transfer rates of the various SATA revisions.

It’s a good thing that the data transfer rates for the audio data contained in music files on the drive are so many orders of magnitude less that the capabilities of a properly functioning SATA connection. Uncompressed stereo redbook data requires about 1.4Mbit/s of bandwidth, while SATA 3 can transfer 3Gbit/s, or about 2000x more. (Uncompressed hirez 24/192 music requires about 10Mbit/s.) Maybe forcing the HBA to do so much extra work increases power draw to the point where it’s constant, high, and very steady, eliminating the problems that someone quoted from a 10 year old Naim (?) whitepaper.


Ah cables. The audio equivalent of Does God Exist, discuss…


Some people can see the fleas in a flea circus.

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The purpose of these and many other hacks like these is to quite specifically degrade performance. Not meet or exceed minimum requirements. Data integrity is pretty robust so you can ignore that. Instead you explore ways of reducing noise, and in computers slowing them down is often the option people go with. So they won’t be labelled as being compliant because they aren’t and were never supposed to be.

That’s an interesting notion, Henry, and maybe it produces audible results, but nothing I described “slows down” the computer. It works harder.

If the cables we’re talking about have increased susceptibility to noise and cause disk transfers to fail and then get retried multiple times (perhaps hundreds or thousands of times), more work is done, not less. Each time a failure happens, the error condition has to be cleared, the I/O request retried, the disk read again (whether mechanical or solid state), the data processed from the in-flight format (which is not bits) to it’s original format (bits in memory). This is more work than would have been done had the request succeeded in the first place. In other words, the machine is working harder to counter the degraded performance of the disk subsystem.

All this work will happen in the HBA on the PCIe bus or other disk interface in the chipset (northbridge or southbridge, the former possibly integrated with the CPU) depending on the age and architecture of the motherboard and CPU. Or it might mean extra work a separate adapter board such as a SAS controller on the PCIe bus, or in the case of a SOC-type system like the RPi, this will all happen in the CPU. Regardless of where the extra work happens, doing it more than once will generate more noise, use more power, produce more heat, etc. I don’t see how any of this can be a benefit.

It should be easy to see if these cables are causing transfer errors. I’m sure there’s some S.M.A.R.T. attribute that can be checked. Maybe 199 (if it applies to more than just ultraDMA errors) or
the ECC-related attributes.


DATA transfer is easy. Trivially so. We can reduce lost bits and retransmission to trivially small numbers sending bits right across the world in hops of hundreds of miles. A faulty SATA cable might create the problems you describe. But these cables are not faulty. It is possible they are simply designed to make a SATA III interface run at SATA I speeds. Still way more than is needed for file playback!

I don’t see how a SATA cable can gracefully downgrade the SATA speed unless they stick electronics in the way to change interface signalling?