If using a wall-wart powered hard drive with DAC/Streamer...

SU-1 Kitsune edition DDC, Lumin U1 Mini streamer, into DAC, to Preamp.

I was running a Western Digital 8tb hard drive, to feed FLAC files, direct via USB, to my streamer.. I saw the La Cie 5TB 'ruggedized' HD and picked one up, to have a back up, JIC one HD went sideways, from spilling beer on it, like the last one did.

When I transferred the files to the La Cie, I couldn't use it to feed my streamer, without a USB C, to A cable... so I picked up a Belkin unit (sub $20), just to try it and make sure it worked, etc. the Belkin cable wasn't as thick as the La Cie but that could just be the casing difference.

I plugged in the La Cie HD, started playing music and went off to do some household bits.. but was dragged back into the 'area' by what I heard. with all the changes in my system, room, gear, cabling, conditioner, recently- i was a little surprised that I thought I heard an SQ uptick.

So i sat down and started playing some reference tracks and still heard what I had imagined, in the form of more/ deeper detail, lower noise floor, more air up top.

@#%& i'm thinking, what the shirt bud? prob just some sort of cognitive bias, so I swapped the WD HD back in and boom, all the new magic gone.

3+ suspected reasons here for the uptick, outside of localized, ambient hallucination brought on from years of dabblation

1. the proprietary WD mega-micro USB connect stock cable is garbage and the Belkin is just that much better.

2. the La Cie is Seagate's TOTL line and has better components, build quality and with the ruggedized shell, better EM isolation

3. the WD, durty-durty $3.00 wall wart was injecting all the ugliness into my signal path. i would have thought the conditioner and DDC would filter that out but, it may be one of those garbage in, garbage out situations, where less is really 'more'. the La Cie unit is powered by USB cable from streamer.

Imo, if you're using a wall wart powered hard drive or similarly powered RPi, the audio quality you're striving for with repeated gear, cabling, room accoutrement changes, is being subverted by the injection of garbage power into your system.

I highly recommend, consideration of your 'similar situation' as a next step, before swapping out DAC, streamer... replace wall powered hard drives for USB powered and then look into linear power supplies for all compatible gear. example.. my streamer sounds better with the external LPS (fact).

The difference between the two HD options was stark and honestly, annoying that I didn't suss it out sooner. The SQ uptick was similar to what adding a DDC delivered, (more/ finer detail, blacker background) even with the DDC already in line.
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prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Thanks for sharing that. There are definitely places in this audio hobby where what we think we know and understand doesn’t always align with what we hear.
Anything and everything connected to the system influences the sound floor of our systems. This even goes so far as the router you use and the power supply it has. Any and all of those reasons you listed could be what you are hearing.

This is also true for what is on top and/or what you put your gear on different materials have different sounds and will shape your sound differently. Generally, knocking on something gives you the resonant frequency of it and will tell you the type of sound it will inject the system with. Wood is soft so it is a warmer sound, where granite is hard and sounds every bit of it. There are at times ways to work around that, but this is a general rule.
I have an ART USB Phono Plus which I use for ripping LPs to digital and listening to standalone turntables. Though it can be powered by a wall-wart, it can also be USB powered, so I can run it off a small power bank, completely disconnected from AC. Many DACs and phono amps unfortunately require something in the 12v range, and turntables with DC motors specify twice that voltage, so require a different solution.
Or your initial thought is still the correct one.
a strong possibility in any situation based on perception, although, with the perspectival nature of reality and the supposition that we all, may not connect to it equally, it seems likely it's not just bias but something deeper.
whatever the cause or condition, the difference was more profound than any cable swap I've done and to a similar level as when I first added a DDC into the system. the deeper detail seemed to emerge from the lower noise floor/ perceptibly blacker background..

in any event.. for me, it was an affordable and easily attained uptick.

i have a new streamer (Innuos Zen MK3) arriving later today, that is supposed to run rings around the Lumin and BOTW LPS, as far as 'performance' but IMO, this learned lesson was a game changer.

Next, after sorting out AmpQuest 2022-3, I'll refocus on swapping out the DDC for a 'better' one, with better power isolation and performance.. considering an Innuos Phoenix or similar.