This is the third addendum to my review of the Bryston BDP-3 digital player. This addendum will be more meaningful if the original review and the first two addendums are read first.
The original BDP-3 review is here:https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=161770.0
The first addendum, a review of the iFi Audio iPower power supply used with BDP-3's external hard drive enclosure is here:https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=161895.0
The second addendum, a review of the iFi Audio Mercury3.0 USB 3.0 cable, used between the external hard drive enclosure and the BDP-3, is here:https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=162115.0
My listening evaluation methodology and the musical selections used are discussed in detail in the original BDP-3 review, therefore they will not be rehashed here.
My music library spans over 3 TB and is contained in a Western Digital Black 6 TB hard disk drive, which is contained in a Rosewill Armer 304X-APU3-35B fanned aluminum enclosure with eSATA and USB 3 interfaces.
The external hard drive configuration, in stock form and with upgraded USB 3 cable and upgraded power supply, sonically outperformed the following internal drives:
1. Samsung 1 TB 850 EVO solid state drive.
2. Western Digital 750 GB WD7500BPKT hard disk drive.
3. HGST Travelstar 1 TB 0S03563 hard disk drive. HGST is a subsidiary of Western Digital.
Choices are limited for 2.5" drives with capacity larger than than 3 TB:
1. Seagate 4 TB HDD ($80 - $120).
2. Seagate 5 TB HDD ($130 - $150).
3. Samsung 4 TB SSD 860 EVO ($620 - $698).
4. Samsung 4 TB SSD 860 PRO ($910 - $998).
5. Samsung 4 TB SSD 850 EVO ($990).
The Samsung solid state drives are not attractive options because of their cost and because I have not had good experiences with the sound quality of SSDs over 1TB in music storage applications. Cramming more memory cells into the same space means the memory cells are proportionally smaller...and more affected by the electrical noise in adjacent cells.
I stopped using Seagate drives many years ago due to multiple incidents with drive failures. All of those drive failures occurred with the drives installed in personal computers, and never in an device for which they were not designed. However, based on the mostly positive reviews I read for the 5 TB Seagate 2.5" drive (ST5000LM000), I decided to try it.SetupFigure 1. All my music fits on a drive 3.95" x 2.75" x 0.59", about the size of a deck of cards. Figure 2. The Seagate 5 TB drive ran very quiet and cool inside the the BDP-3.
The Seagate drive was formatted in NTFS format. It took 27 hours and 40 minutes to transfer 3.1 TB of music files from the BDP-3's external hard drive to the Seagate drive with a desktop computer. The external drive's enclosure was connected to the computer with its stock USB 3 cable. The Seagate drive was not in an enclosure and was connected to the desktop computer with a SATA to USB 3 cable. After file copying was completed, the Seagate had reached a temperature of 104.9 degrees Fahrenheit. After installation in the BDP-3, the Seagate reached a maximum temperature of 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit after two hours of continuous playback.
The Seagate 5 TB drive supports five power management modes, including standby and sleep. However, those modes must be switched on by the host computer. To my knowledge, the BDP-3 does not have a power management interface for hard drives similar to Windows Power Options. That means the drive is going to be spinning as long as the BDP-3 is turned on. I prefer the sound quality benefits of leaving my two channel stereo on continuously. Therefore, turning the BDP-3 off just to give the internal drive a rest is not an option.
Seagate's technical support informed me that the drive should last two to three years in continuous spinning mode. Seagate's limited warranty is two years. Warranty replacement is with refurbished product.The Sound
There was no perceived difference in sound character or sound quality between identical DSD64 music files played from the external Western digital hard drive, in the upgraded enclosure, or the internal Seagate hard drive. The same music selections and evaluation methodology used in the BDP-3 review were used in this addendum evaluation. Image placement, tactile sensation, clarity, detail, speed, image weight...everything was identical.
As expected, the internal Seagate drive had the better sound when the external drive enclosure's stock USB cable and stock power supply were reinstalled. The differences were very easy to hear. Switching between the same song from either the internal Seagate drive or the external Western Digital drive, the Seagate source sounded apparently louder, there was more detail in background percussion instruments and the image weight at the sides of the sound stage was heavier.Diminishing Returns
There is significant difference in cost between the internal Seagate drive and the external Western Digital drive with its enclosure upgrades. Retail prices are listed.Seagate 5 TB ST5000LM000 hard drive, $220
Western Digital Black 6 TB WD6002DZWX hard drive, $250
iFi Audio Mercury3.0 USB 3 cable, $269
Sorbothane pad, $25
iFi Audio iPower DC power supply, $49
Rosewill Armer 304X-APU3-35B hard drive enclosure, $50
Dynamat Xtreme, $5Total for upgraded external drive option: $648
If the iPower power supply is replaced by a TeraDak DC-30W linear power supply ($150), then the external drive option increases to $749.
The external Western Digital external drive option costs nearly 3X more, or over 3X, depending on the enclosure power supply, yet offers no sonic advantage, in my system
, over the internal Seagate drive option.
The external drive provides faster updating via direct connection to a desktop computer compared to updating the internal drive over the network. Next, there is the very valuable benefit of the external enclosure spinning down the drive after 20 minutes of inactivity. Finally, there is the psychological benefit of not wondering when the Seagate is going to "do a Seagate" and fail, blow up, or just stop working. Further Study
I am waiting on the arrival of a TeraDak DC-30W 5V/2A linear power supply for the external hard drive enclosure. I also ordered a second Seagate 5 TB drive that will be used for two evaluations:
1. In the BDP-2 digital player in my two channel system at work.
2. Installed in the external hard drive enclosure in my two channel system at home and compared to the internal identical model 5 TB drive.Associated Equipment
Bryston BDP-3 digital player
PS Audio PowerBase isolation platforms for DAC, BDP-3, and U-Clock
22 pound granite slabs to couple source components to isolation platforms
Black Diamond Racing Isolation Mini Pits and Mk IV Cones
dCS Puccini U-Clock word clock
dCS Debussy DAC
Rosewill Armer RX304-APU3-35B hard drive enclosure with 6 TB WD Black hard drive
iFi Audio iPower power supply for hard drive enclosure
iFi Audio Mercury3.0 USB 3 cable
Pass Labs XP-30 line level preamplifier
Pass Labs X600.5 monoblock power amplifiers
AudioQuest Sky XLR interconnects
AudioQuest Everest speaker cables
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy CryoSilver digital coaxial cable - RCA connectors
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy CryoSilver digital coaxial cable - BNC connectors
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy CryoSilver USB 2.0 dual leg cable
PS Audio PerfectWave AC-12 power cords
PS Audio PerfectWave P-10 AC regenerator
Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL loudspeakers (heavily modified)
Salamander Synergy Triple 30 audio credenza