Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby volumiouser9 » Fri Nov 29 2019 04:36

Hi all, yep, it is unbelievable, but I tried different cards on different RPI's.

Some SD cards sound incredible flat with Samsung, worst is scandisk. For me toshiba is the best for me atm.

I found out when checking out the new RPI4, sound was nasty, very flat with a new install of volumio on a scandisk 32GB. I plugged my favorite toshiba from my RPI3 in and the sound was much better. As a sidenote the RPI4 still did not live up to my RPI3B+.

Anybody can share this impression and perhaps even has an explanation.

Thanks
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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby guinn » Fri Nov 29 2019 12:24

Yep, it's strange but it's a thing. I'd love to hear the actual story behind it, actually. Anyone knows? I was very surprised when I lost my almost 10 years old SD card in Montenegro when we've been there in order to find a real estate in Budva and finally had to buy a new brand new Toshiba SD card. The sound was amazing with the new SD card!
Last edited by guinn on Sat Nov 30 2019 13:27, edited 1 time in total.
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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby Josh2000 » Fri Nov 29 2019 13:25

Sorry friends, for me this is sounding quite "esotheric".

I'm testing with over 30 Raspberry PI's and different soundcards (98% of them I2S). I do setups nearly every day on around 5 diifferent brands of SD cards and absolutely cannot confirm any SD card related difference in sound quality.

btw. i never heard of this "scandisk" brand....

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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby volumiouser9 » Sat Nov 30 2019 01:14

Josh2000 wrote:Sorry friends, for me this is sounding quite "esotheric".

btw. i never heard of this "scandisk" brand....

Best Regards
Josef


Sorry, SanDisk, was a typo.

Well, what can I say, I know I had the same approach when starting with hardware for sound transport. For me it was always 1 and 0, is this information not there, then it will re-read etc etc...

I started with an old netbook and Daphile, the netbook broke and I used an old laptop I had, again with Daphile. Man, this was a difference already. i was baffled.
I used that laptop and put Volumio on it, and yet again, could get a better sound.
Then i changed to RPI with Volumio, again, better sound quality.

In this process I came across the SD Card <-> sound issue. Playing around with different Volumo versions I used different SD-Cards for my convenience, and they sounded different in the same RPI.
Yesterday I was playing around with the sound difference between a RPI3 and a RPI4. The RPI4 had a new install on a Samsung EVO Plus class10 with the latest Volumio, the RPI3 the same Volumio with my old Toshiba SD Card.

The RPI4 sounded sharp compared to the RPI3, so I just put my Toshiba in the RPI4, suprised it was booting flawless the RPI4 and the RPI4 sounded so much better.

The RPI4 and RPI3 is feeding a very nice sound system via a high quality USB DAC, so everything in the sound chain is the same, it is just the SD-Card that has been changed...

That's what I can report...
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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby judydudi » Sat Nov 30 2019 13:29

strange. :?
everything from volumio should be in RAM.
maybe an issue related to the USB port - not to I2S...
What mSD Card did you use? expecially the toshiba? Toshiba EXCERIA M302-EA 32GB?
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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby volumiouser9 » Sat Nov 30 2019 23:48

judydudi wrote:strange. :?
everything from volumio should be in RAM.
maybe an issue related to the USB port - not to I2S...
What mSD Card did you use? expecially the toshiba? Toshiba EXCERIA M302-EA 32GB?


I am using a audiophile external DAC with usb cable connection, not an I2S hat on the RPI.

The best sounding SD-Card I am using currently is the Toshiba Exceria 16GB micro SD HC I U1.

I used really fast SD-Cards for testing and it does not seem to be related to the R/W speed. It would be interesting whether the way Volumio has configured the eg swapping that makes the difference.

I remember back when I was using Daphile. Daphile had the option to load the whole track into the RAM and was playing it from there and this made a difference to the sound quality.

What I am saying with this is: The way the RPI or the hardware generally is used in sound streaming can make a difference to the sound quality. It does perhaps not necessarily be the SD-Card, but how Volumio is organizing the data during processing which causes the difference.
I will have a look into the underlying Linux version Volumio is using whether there is a benefit to increase the space it uses on the card. At the moment, even a 16GB card is only used by half, the rest is unused which in return could give LInux more space when swapping data. Then again, mostly swapping is disabled for running the OS from the SD-Card because of the wear and tear of those cards.

Another option would be to let the RPI boot from a hard drive and let the OS run from there. This is perhaps an interesting option....

Perhaps one of the Volumio programmer could share a though about this...

But again: Yes, as outlined in the first post above, the hardware makes a difference and I think the SD-Card is no exception obviously. You will probably need a good sound system and FLAC files to hear the difference. And you also probably need a good piece of music you are familiar for years.
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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby Josh2000 » Sun Dec 01 2019 08:23

Hi volumiouser9,

I just ordered a "Toshiba Exceria 16GB micro SD HC I U1" and will test it against a Sandisk card as soon as it arrives.

Are you especially speaking of listening to FLACs that are stored on the SD Card or do you feel all sources are affected ?

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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby volumiouser9 » Wed Dec 04 2019 22:14

Josh2000 wrote:Hi volumiouser9,

Are you especially speaking of listening to FLACs that are stored on the SD Card or do you feel all sources are affected ?
Josef

My FLAC files are stored on an external spinning USB hard disk. The whole setup HHD->RPI->external DAC->Amplifier->loudspeaker is the same, I just exchange the cloned SD Cards, boot the Pi and the sound is different.
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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby DBMandrake » Yesterday 12:24

There is nothing about an SD card that could possibly affect sound playback quality in Volumio. :)

I'd say this is a strong case of confirmation bias at work here... :lol:

Concentrate on the things which do actually make a difference to sound quality and don't waste time or money on things which don't.

At most a better SD card will give you a snappier more responsive user interface (one reason I have a reasonably fast SD card in my Pi 4) and will also last longer before eventual failure, as all SD cards used to boot Linux based operating systems with writeable filesystems eventually fail due to write fatigue.

But it won't make anything sound better.
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Brand of SD Card used makes a difference in music quality

Postby Solveit » Yesterday 13:11

DBMandrake wrote:There is nothing about an SD card that could possibly affect sound playback quality in Volumio. :)

I'd say this is a strong case of confirmation bias at work here... :lol:

Concentrate on the things which do actually make a difference to sound quality and don't waste time or money on things which don't.

At most a better SD card will give you a snappier more responsive user interface (one reason I have a reasonably fast SD card in my Pi 4) and will also last longer before eventual failure, as all SD cards used to boot Linux based operating systems with writeable filesystems eventually fail due to write fatigue.

But it won't make anything sound better.


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