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Computer Design effects your sound quality?

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Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby uselessoldman » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:14 pm

Going to ask this question on here as it has caused a stir on another audiophile forum.

Does the design and of your computer system the hard drive type power supply etc cause a change in your audio signal and hence effect the audio files and ultimately end sound?

I ask this as a genuine question cos to me a file is a file, and what matters are the converters pre and power amp, speakers and interconnecting cables. I do however accept cabling can cause interference in recording/playback ground loop issues. But seriously a well built computer is just that and a file is a file, whether its stored on a HDD/SSD/M2 or what ever storage device you choose.

Sort of reminds me of a song going way back, Don't be a Dummy
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Re: Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby James Perrett » Sat Apr 17, 2021 1:27 am

The inside of a computer is an electrically noisy place so if you are using an internal audio interface then it is possible that the audio output could be affected by the components you have in your computer. However, quality manufacturers like M-Audio and Turtle Beach (at least the Turtle Beach of the 1990's) overcame most of these issues many years ago so it is mainly the cheaper sound cards that had issues.

It is also conceivable that poorly designed USB interfaces could be susceptible to any noise on the USB cable.

However, any well designed audio interface shouldn't be susceptible to what is going on inside your computer.

One other issue that may affect perceived sound quality is the acoustic noise generated by the computer and its peripherals. A little bit of fan noise or the noise of a hard drive spinning may be enough to alter someone's perception of sound if the rest of the room is quiet.
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Re: Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby Watchmaker » Sat Apr 17, 2021 2:03 am

I'm liable to incorrectness but if I understand your question, can a computer's electronic noise alter digital data? No, I don't think so. Interesting to ponder. I know that digital data can be captured in transit using analog gear decoupled from hardware and then deciphered, but I've not heard that data can be manipulated/corrupted in transit by normal system noise, even if that noise is comparatively high.

Once the digits take on waveform again, then yes, degradation can occur like any other analog signal
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Re: Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby uselessoldman » Sat Apr 17, 2021 5:01 am

For a computer nerd like me it all sounds like a silly audiophile geek delusional argument. Their argument is you need a dedicated media storage device without fans using specific SSDs cos they think some produce a better sound than others, even the PSU they recon can effect the sound quality as much as the variation in voltage to the systems components. Seriously, first time I have ever heard about it Gov, its a digital file not a sound wav how the heck can anything interfere with it? Coming from a commercial datacentre server background it made me laugh.

Thought Id better ask just in case all these lockdown have sent me completely mad. They spend a fortune on things we take for granted yet we make the music they listen to at higher sample rates better quality cos there using silly overprices systems, hearing things we can't like there listing to things we don't hear. We use all these tools toys to correct imperfections glitches and anomalies yet they still hear them, they love them like we leave them there just for them to hear?? crazy people. If we didnt take the time and make the effort to correct what artists try and play, the sound on some records would be so horrible it would be trashed straight away - yet they like it???

Going to have to go to some specialist audio shop and listen to a £2.5k system that cost half my gear cos I guess my own "HiFi" system is rubbish? Strange it was award winner 2 years running not so long ago
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Re: Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby The Elf » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:01 am

To many people computers are simply magic, and 'Wizard's First Rule' applies.
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Re: Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:06 am

uselessoldman wrote:... the hard drive type ...

I can't speak with authority on power supplies but when it comes to the hard drive, there will be no difference in audio quality regardless of the type of drive.

There may be a difference between drives which is the maximum number of tracks that can be played or recorded simultaneously but hard drives return the same bits as they had stored on them and as such the sound created from those bits will sound identical.
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Re: Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:10 am

even the PSU

The humble PSU is the most important part of the PC, but the problem with the really cheap ones is they use poor quality components to keep the price down. Also, they often omit relatively expensive filter components, so are likely to produce digital noise and RFI. What these manufacturers do is make their PSU for certification with the filter components in place, but once in production omit them from the circuit board.

As for onboard computer cards, PCI/PCIe, Lynx, etc, have made 'broadcast quality' cards for many years without issue and continue to do so, e.g. the E44.
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Re: Computer Design effects your sound quality?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Apr 17, 2021 10:43 am

uselessoldman wrote:Does the design and of your computer system the hard drive type power supply etc cause a change in your audio signal and hence effect the audio files and ultimately end sound?

If you're asking, 'Can different computer systems affect the audio replay sound quality?' I think it would be foolish to give a categorical no!

A well designed, well implemented system won't affect the replay sound quality at all... obviously... but not all systems are well-implemented or well-designed... And all bets are off if someone who thinks they known more than they do has been tinkering!

A well-known mastering engineer once astounded me by claiming they could tell the difference between a file being replayed from a USB thumbdrive or from an internal HDD... but they were absolutely right — I could hear it too.

The problem turned out to be the way the computer extracted data from the USB drive and fed it to the audio interface in real time... increasing the buffering cured the problem (nor entirely a surprise) and made it impossible to distinguish between them. But for those of us trained with the notion that a 'file is a file', it was quite a disturbing experience!

I ask this as a genuine question cos to me a file is a file...

Yes, it is, but there's a lot that has to be done right to get that file to an interface, and decode it into analogue audio... and then that much more fragile analogue audio has to be passed from the computer to the rest o the system without interference, ground loops and all the other common problems we know about. There is plenty of scope to cock it all up!
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