Crucial MX300 2TB Solid State Drive - The Sound Of Noise

DarqueKnight Posts: 6,701
edited December 2016 in Going Digital

I am in the process of transferring the portion of my vinyl collection that does not have digital counterparts to DSD digital format. The discussion is here:

My entire CD and SACD collections were ripped to FLAC and DSF files respectively. They currently occupy 689 GB on the 1TB Samsung 850 EVO solid state drive in my Bryston BDP-2 digital player. The DSF format DSD files that my records will be ripped to will comprise approximately 500 GB of storage space. A 2TB solid state drive is large enough to accommodate the current FLAC and DSD files and the new vinyl ripped DSD files with room to spare.

There are currently only four options in commercially available 2TB solid state drives:

1. Samsung EVO 850 PRO $950 (~$832 current street price)
2. Samsung EVO 850 $670
3. OWC Mercury Electra Max 6G $800 (~$690 current street price)
4. Crucial MX300 $500 (~$460 current street price)

All of the four options have differences in read and write speed performance, and storage technology. Those differences, I assumed, were inconsequential to my use as a storage medium for digital music files. Therefore, I chose the cheapest alternative, the Crucial MX300. Prior to this evaluation, I had never heard a difference in a digital file whether it was read off a cheap USB memory stick, a spinning hard drive, or a solid state drive.

The Sound

The music files and folders on the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB solid state drive were copied to the Crucial MX300 solid state drive and the MX300 was then installed in the BDP-2 digital player. I pulled up one of my favorite jazz playlists and was shocked and bitterly disappointed by the blurred bass transients, veiled highs, reduced tactile sensation, reduced sense of depth, reduced image size, and overall diminished clarity and detail. What's more, the disparity in sound quality was more pronounced as the resolution increased from 44.1k CD rips, to 96k and 174.6d downloads, to DSD64 rips and downloads. After a couple of hours of listening to music played from the MX300, I was ready to stop due to listening fatigue.

I connected the Samsung 1TB SSD via USB cable and external enclosure and A/B'ed the same songs. The difference in sound quality was even more apparent with this direct comparison. I next connected one of the backup Western Digital Black 1TB hard drives and compared the sames songs from the Samsung 1TB SSD, the Crucial 2TB SSD, and the WD 1TB HDD. I perceived no sonic difference between the same music file played from the WD HDD and the Samsung SSD.

If I copied a file from the MX300 to either a USB memory stick, a hard disc drive, or the Samsung SSD, the file sounded fine. It was only when files were played directly from the MX300 that their sound quality was compromised.

Some Research

I wondered if there was some defect in the MX300 or if there was some difference in storage technology that accounted for the its lower sound quality. I searched the Samsung and Crucial websites and acquired some insight.

Basically, Samsung is fanatical about reducing the sources of electrical noise in their solid state drives:

1. The drive controller.
2. The size of the NAND cell that store the electrical charges that represent data.
3. The quality of onboard memory.
4. The type of gating used to allow access to a NAND cell.

Samsung's focus on reducing electrical noise is aimed at reducing data errors. Of course, a lower electrical noise environment can also have audible benefits. Crucial sources the components used in their SSDs (RAM, NAND cells, controllers) from other sources and assembles them in Crucial packaging. Samsung, on the other hand, uses a vertical integration manufacturing model where all the key components of their SSDs are manufactured in-house.

Crucial's MX SSDs are based on 25 nm cell size whereas Samsung's EVO SSDs are based on cell size greater than 30 nm. Cell-to-cell electrical interference does not become an issue until cell sizes under 20 nm are used. However, a smaller cell size can hold fewer electrons and reduced electron density affects electrical signal to noise ratio.

I have attached a few articles for the interested reader.

Bitter Irony

I will stick with Samsung SSDs for the time being. It will be a couple of months before I need the additional storage capacity for my vinyl rips, and by then, the prices of Samsung's 2TB SSDs might be more attractive. In the meantime, I will store my vinyl rips on a hard drive in an external enclosure connected to the BDP-2 by a USB cable. Therefore, my 2 channel system becoming totally discless will have to wait a while. Rather than playing my records via hundreds of spinning plastic discs, I will play (much better sounding) digital versions of my records from one spinning hard drive platter.

The price histories of the Samsung 840 EVO 500GB, 850 EVO 500GB, and 850 EVO 1TB SSDs I currently own, as well as the 850 EVO 2TB SSD I want, are shown in table 1.

Table 1. Samsung SSD Price History

840 EVO 500GB is used with my BDP-1 digital player.
850 EVO 500GB is used in my work office BDP-2 digital player.
850 EVO 1TB number 1 is used in my two channel system BDP-2 digital player.
850 EVO 1TB number 2 is used in my Dell XPS M1330 laptop computer.

Further Study

In the future, when I am more dedicated to computer audio than I am now, I would like to do a noise study comparing the noise spectrums and sound quality of various solid state drives, hard disc drives, and USB sticks.

Associated Equipment

Bryston BDP-2 digital player
dCS Debussy DAC
dCS Puccini master clock
Pass Labs XP-30 line level preamplifier
Pass Labs X600.5 monoblock power amplifiers
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver Split Configuration USB cable
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver AES/EBU Digital Cable
Revelation Audio Labs Passage Cryo-Silver DB-25 power umbilicals for XP30 preamp
AudioQuest Sky XLR interconnects
AudioQuest Everest speaker cables
PS Audio PerfectWave AC-12 power cords
PS Audio PerfectWave P-10 AC Regenerator
Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL loudspeakers (heavily modified)
PS Audio PowerBase isolation platforms for BDP-2, Debussy DAC and Puccini U-Clock
Black Diamond Racing isolation Pits and Mk IV Cones
Salamander Synergy Triple 30 audio credenza


  • mrbiron
    mrbiron Posts: 5,707
    Every HDD upgrade has always led to Samsung SSD's as they are the leaders in the market. Once you find something that works, you tend to stick with it. Same holds true for mechanical HDD's as i stick with Western Digital.

    Interesting find on SSD's.

    Now you need to find a way to try an M.2.
    Where’s the KABOOM?!?! There’s supposed to be an Earth shattering KABOOM!!!
  • machone
    machone Posts: 1,368
    Interesting discovery.

    I recently installed the pro version of Fidelizer in my Windows 10 music server. One of the settings recommended by Fidelizer when using JRiver was to enable "play files from memory instead of disk".

    I wonder if this JRiver setting is to help mitigate drive noise?
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  • polkfarmboy
    polkfarmboy Posts: 5,703
    I made a similar comment about noise in ssd's and everyone said yeah right. Now you said it DK, it will be taken seriously lol.
  • heiney9
    heiney9 Posts: 24,591
    Sometimes it's not the message but how you format the message. DK is always very articulate about his methodology and gives an in depth response to support his findings.

    Plus he has a history of using a rigorous methodology and approach to his subject matter. Even if one doesn't completely agree it's hard to find fault since his methods are so thorough and comprehensive.

    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass Pass Aleph 30 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Plus DAC | MIT Shotgun S3 | Pangea AC14SE MKII | Legend L600 | BlueSound Node 3 - Tubes add soul!
  • machone wrote: »
    One of the settings recommended by Fidelizer when using JRiver was to enable "play files from memory instead of disk".

    I wonder if this JRiver setting is to help mitigate drive noise?

    The Aurender W20 uses a 240 GB SSD as a buffer drive to play files rather than playing files directly from one of its hard drives. They do this to mitigate drive noise.
    I made a similar comment about noise in ssd's and everyone said yeah right. Now you said it DK, it will be taken seriously lol.

    Can you provide a link to the thread where you discussed noise in SSDs?
  • polkfarmboy
    polkfarmboy Posts: 5,703
    It was not a thread and who knows where? But H9 is correct.
  • The Aurender W20 uses a 240 GB SSD as a buffer drive to play files rather than playing files directly from one of its hard drives. They do this to mitigate drive noise.

    ...and also to reduce wear and tear on the hard drives.

  • Toolfan66
    Toolfan66 Posts: 15,501
    I put a nice computer in my system not long ago, and I have the Samsung 850 2TB, I haven't had any issues in sound quality, I haven't ripped my SACD's yet like you have, but you have me looking into it with the Oppo news... I honestly don't miss having my CD's around, and having the JRiver remote on my iPad is icing on the cake..

    I'm not sure I want to look at ripping my vinyl, I still like handing, and playing with my turntable...

    I do need to get off my **** and copy my files though.. :-)
  • erniejade
    erniejade Posts: 6,102
    Nice write-up.. Funny you mention Aurender. The 100n and the Arilic Aries are on my short list to try out next.

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