I read online a review of various network attached storage systems.

This, by itself, is just fine. Different ways of storing information, both hardware-wise and media-wise will giver different performance and price numbers. Lots of good sites out there do exactly that type of review.

Nope. Not this one.

They compared how well the music they stored on these storage systems sounded.

Here’s the article: Listening to Storage.

Keep in mind they were comparing digital files that are stored on all of these. Bits that are (assuming the storage devices are doing their job) identical between devices. If they weren’t identical most (not all) digital music would very rapidly degenerate to a pile of noise.

“Also, QNAP1 did not sound as clean as CD in the higher registers. Some edgy grain exaggerated the sampled horns that sets the scene in the opening of Primal Scream’s Loaded, adding to the color but nudging it off neutrality. Splash cymbals lived up to their name.”

Ummm… how can bits read off one system, transferred over ethernet, buffered, decompressed, and output be different in any way from that of another system?

I can maybe believe that a high-end CD player might have a better, lower error digital to analog converter (DAC) or perhaps it has a lower jitter clock to lower the harmonic distortion in some measurable (if inaudible) way. If you can measure it, you can at least quantify it. If you want to pay orders of magnitude more for it is a decision you need to make for yourself, but at least it’s not purely snake oil.

They then started comparing drives, upping the absurdity level to new highs.

“This Corsair drive (another SSD) conspicuously highlighted vocal sibilants, and had a hard, relentless quality that was impossible to miss. Strangely, it also robbed the music of pace; it was the least engaging on any emotional level thanks to an enveloping tunelessness that appeared to carve up a song like an MP3 rip.”

So, the way these bits are stored, one level before the previous chain of bullshit, affects the fucking sibilants? Seriously?

I’ll gladly beg, borrow, or steal an even higher end scope than what I have to disprove this set of bogus claims if that’s what it takes. I wonder if I can talk Agilent into lending me one of their 10-bit scopes… or perhaps LeCroy with their 12-bit scopes would settle the bet better?

Suffice to say, it’s amusing even thinking about this…