Seagate 5 TB Internal Hard Drive For Bryston BDP-3 Digital Player - Review

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DarqueKnight

Introduction

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.

Setup



Figure 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, $5
Total 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


zoom25

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Now to find out where the LPS brings things. I'm surprised you haven't yet checked out a WD My Passport portable hard drive. These are 2.5 inch, 5400 RPM, available in 4TB size and very cheap here at Costco in Canada ($110ish CAD). Must be even cheaper in US. These don't consume much power and I've even managed to power it from the front port of the BDP-1 which is the weakest one power wise, so the BDP-2 and BDP-3 will easily power them. They automatically spin down after a few minutes. I've been using a 2TB one with the BDP-1 for 3+ years 24/7 plugged in and turned on. It gives you the benefit of being able to plug stuff out for quick transfer to computer unlike internal. I have the 4TB as a backup for the 2TB library, but haven't actually tried it for playback with the BDP-1. I'm not sure if there will be any differences between the old 2TB and the newer 4TB sound wise. Just letting you know that the option exists and should fit all your needs.

This is the 4TB I have for reference. Prices are different in store: https://www.costco.ca/WD-4-TB-Black-My-Passport-Portable-Hard-Drive.product.100369213.html

DarqueKnight

I'm surprised you haven't yet checked out a WD My Passport portable hard drive.

I have.

On the same day in September 2014 that I ordered a BDP-1, I also ordered a WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB drive and a WD Blue 1 TB WD10EZEX drive, along with a Vantec enclosure for the WD Blue.

The Passport won.

The Passport  was replaced with a Samsung 840 EVO 500 GB solid state drive in October 2014, but not because the Samsung SSD was better. I preferred the Samsung because it had no moving parts. I said this of my Passport and Samsung SSD comparison:

"I compared a Samsung 840 EVO SATA III 500 GB solid state drive to a Western Digital My Passport 1 TB disk drive. There was no difference in test signal measurements, no perceived difference in sound quality, and no difference in file access timing and performance."


I agree that it would be a good idea to look at the Passport drives again.

DarqueKnight

Deleted. Duplicate post.

zoom25

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So three things remain now:

1) Passport portable
2) Upcoming Teradak LPS
3) Pulling music from a NAS

I'd like to see your opinion on NAS configurations. :popcorn:

DarqueKnight

The Seagate 5 TB drive is now in the BDP-2 in my system at work...for long term evaluation. I hope @unincognito will be able to add disk drive power management in a future firmware update.

In my two channel stereo system, I tried a second Seagate 5 TB drive in the Rosewill enclosure. With the enclosure's stock power supply and stock
USB 3.0 cable, the internal Seagate 5 TB drive sounded better. When the enclosure's stock power supply and USB 3.0 cable were replaced with the
iPower power supply and Mercury3.0 USB 3.0 cable, I did not hear a difference between the internal 5 TB drive and the external 5 TB drive.




JohnR

If it's of interest to anyone, it seems the cheapest and quickest way to get the Seagate drives is to remove one from a portable backup drive.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAn73Hw2Vz0
(I just did it to get another 4tb drive, ~ 60% price of a bare drive and just walked into a local B&M. No warranty of course though.)

zoom25

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Does anyone know which drives are inside the WD 4TB portable drives I linked above? WD doesn’t sell 4TB 2.5” drives separately.

It’d also be good to get clarity from Bryston on which drives are suitable for internal use and can spin down after a few minutes.

JohnR

Acording to this video, those ones don't have a SATA interface on them - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc6VdpaT_2g

DarqueKnight

I have taken the 5 TB Seagate drive out of the BDP-2 at work and put it in an external Rosewill enclosure that spins it down after 20 minutes.
The Rosewill enclosure's stock switch mode power suppy was replaced with an iFi Audio iPower switch mode power supply. The iPower power
supply will soon be replaced with a TeraDak DC-30 linear power supply.

I now have a TeraDak DC-30 LPS powering the external hard drive enclosure used with the BDP-3 in my home two channel stereo system. I auditioned
that DC-30 in my work system and the results were similarly spectacular as what I achieved at home.

zoom25

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Acording to this video, those ones don't have a SATA interface on them - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc6VdpaT_2g

Thanks. Does anyone know why WD doesn't offer 2.5" 4TB drives to buy separately? The one in that video is a Blue 4TB. I see them limited to 2TB.

zoom25

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I have taken the 5 TB Seagate drive out of the BDP-2 at work and put it in an external Rosewill enclosure that spins it down after 20 minutes.
The Rosewill enclosure's stock switch mode power suppy was replaced with an iFi Audio iPower switch mode power supply. The iPower power
supply will soon be replaced with a TeraDak DC-30 linear power supply.

I now have a TeraDak DC-30 LPS powering the external hard drive enclosure used with the BDP-3 in my home two channel stereo system. I auditioned
that DC-30 in my work system and the results were similarly spectacular as what I achieved at home.

So you prefer the external 2.5 with LPS or the internal, or are they the same?

DarqueKnight

So you prefer the external 2.5 with LPS or the internal, or are they the same?

The external 2.5 with LPS is significantly better in every stereophonic performance aspect. My mind was made up
to order a second LPS for my work system after the first 10 seconds of listening.

zoom25

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Thanks. Lastly, can you please try some files from your NAS? I’d love to know where that fits in.

DarqueKnight

I loaded 7 DSD music files into my video server NAS (a Synology DS918+) and compared them to the same 7 songs from the external HDD connected to the BDP-3.
I heard no difference at all between the NAS songs and their HDD counterparts.



There were a couple of operational hiccups:

1. The sound would infrequently drop out for a couple of seconds.
2. Sometimes, when the music would restart after a dropout, it would stutter for a second or two..
3. Sometimes, when pressing play after the music had been stopped for a few minutes, the sound would stutter for a few seconds.

When streaming 2K and 4K movies from the NAS to any of my home's TVs over the wireless AC network, I never get dropouts.

The data transmission chain is as follows:

Synology NAS ==>Ethernet Cable==>Wireless AC Range Extender #2 ==>Wireless Air Interface==>Wireless AC Range Extender #1==>Ethernet Cable==>BDP-3.

In summary:

1. Internal 5 TB Seagate HDD sounds better than stock external 6 TB WD Black HDD.
2. 6 TB WD Black HDD with iPower SMPS and Mercury3.0 USB 3 cable sounds the same as internal 5 TB Seagate HDD.
3. 6 TB WD Black HDD with TeraDak LPS and Mercury3.0 USB 3 cable sounds better than internal 5 TB Seagate HDD.
4. Synology NAS sounds the same as 6 TB WD Black HDD with TeraDak LPS and Mercury3.0 USB 3 cable, which means that both external
options sound better than the internal Seagate 5 TB drive option.

***Edit***

Using a wired connection between the NAS and BDP-3 solved the issues with dropouts and stuttering.
I ran a 50 foot Ethernet cable from the NAS's 2nd Ethernet jack to the Wireless AC range extender that the BDP-3 is plugged into.
The new data transmission chain is:

Synology NAS ==>50' Ethernet Cable==>Wireless AC Range Extender #1==>Ethernet Cable==>BDP-3.

I don't know why I am getting dropouts with the wireless connection. A quick Internet search showed that other Synology NAS owners have had the same issues with audio over wireless,
but I haven't found a solution yet. It's not a pressing issue though, since I would run a wired connection if I decided to set up a NAS for my stereo system.
« Last Edit: 25 Feb 2019, 02:39 am by DarqueKnight »

zoom25

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Thanks for the all the work! Just to clarify, have you tried both the 2.5" and 3.5" drives in the external enclosure when used with the LPS, or only the the 3.5? If you've used both, any differences? BTW have you tried Roon? I'd have liked to see you compare NAS/MPD combo against Roon. Thanks for all the posts!

The cheapest NAS option for the BDP would be something like a Synology DS119j.

JohnR

DS119j is bottom of the barrel, the one I had failed after a month.

DarqueKnight

Just to clarify, have you tried both the 2.5" and 3.5" drives in the external enclosure when used with the LPS, or only the the 3.5? If you've used both, any differences?

Yes. I have tried the 2.5"  5 TB Seagate drive in a Rosewill enclosure with the LPS and I have tried a 3.5" WD Black 6 TB drive in a Rosewill enclosure with the LPS. There was no audible difference.

BTW have you tried Roon? I'd have liked to see you compare NAS/MPD combo against Roon.

I have not tried Roon. I really don't have a need for Roon's enhanced music management features.

The cheapest NAS option for the BDP would be something like a Synology DS119j.

I would opt for one of the Plus series units like the DS218+ or DS718+.

ricmon

Introduction

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.


that's funny  :duh: :roll: :o

DarqueKnight

that's funny  :duh: :roll: :o

When you get through face-palming, eye-rolling, and looking surprised, the Samsung white paper at the link below may provide some useful information:

https://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/global.semi.static/2bit_V-NAND_technology_White_Paper-1.pdf

Quoting from the above referenced white paper:

"Cell-to-cell interference
Technical challenges from continued shrinking arise when an
electrical charge in a cell flows into an adjacent cell creating cell-to-
cell interference, which leads to data corruption. When a cell
size goes below 20 nm, the chance for interference drastically
increases thereby making it unreliable."
(page 2)

and

"Samsung's V-NAND flash memory boasts a cell-to-cell
interference-free structure using Charge Trap Flash (CTF)
technology. The basis for CTF is a non-conductive layer of
silicon nitride (SiN) that temporarily traps electrical charges to
maintain cell integrity. This layer has been modified into a threedimensional
form that wraps around the control gate of the cell,
acting as an insulator that holds charges, thereby preventing
data corruption caused by cell-to-cell interference."
(page 2)

Therefore, Samsung claims to have mitigated the data corruption effects of
adjacent cell noise, but they have not gotten rid of the noise itself, which, of course, will increas
as the number of cells increases. Another source of electrical noise in SSDs and HDDs is the drive
controller circuitry, which does more work, and thereby generates more electrical noise, in larger capacity drives.

For a standard size 2.5" solid state drive designed to fit in laptops, the external/internal dimensions cannot change.
That means the memory cells themselves have to get proportionately smaller as cell capacity is doubled and quadrupled.
As cell density increases, so does the noise density of the drive.