A SATA 3.0 cable, the likes of which we have never seen before, has been listed on eBay for the princely sum of $500. For your money, the listing claims (opens in new tab) you will receive the “best computer Hi-Fi cable ever built.” We have seen some highly dubious audiophile / computer hardware crossovers previously, so thought this Audiophile Rocks Superstar Crystal Formula SATA SSD cable was worthy of a closer look.
In the pursuit of the ultimate audio clarity audiophiles will pay big bucks. There are many real audiophile grade products on the market. We can't be certain that this is true audiophile product, so take the product with a pinch of salt and remember "caveat emptor" (buyer beware) applies here. But what can we see from the listing?
Looking at this basic component connectivity accessory - without its fancy metal, wood and quartz augmentations – it is a pretty standard 50cm (about 20-inch) SATA 3.0 cable. This would typically cost under $5, so the Superstar Crystal Formula modified cable, at $500, is easily 100x more expensive for its touted audio benefits. However, if there were real audible/audio benefits, the price premium may be acceptable to some…
How has the Audiophile Rocks brand augmented this SATA cable? The first thing you will probably notice is that the cable has been fed through what appears to be a steel braided flexible toilet connector (opens in new tab). A reasonable theory might be that this is ‘shielding’, but the obvious problem is that the SATA cable is 50cm (20-inch) and the metal hose is approximately 30cm (12-inch) long.
Inside the woven toilet connector cable there are some further ingredients which are described as “our classic Superstar Crystal Formula,” and are apparently optimized for computer components. Audiophile Rocks doesn’t stop its Hi-Fi optimizations there though, as the ends of the woven metal sheath for the SATA cable has added wooden stoppers with black quartz crystals sprinkles “for extra strength.” We aren’t sure if the maker is referring to the ‘strength’ of the audio signal optimization or the strength of the physical construction.
Enjoy “Double the Effect,” if You Plug the SATA Cable Into a Drive
Last but not least, the listing suggests that this special SATA cable works its audiophile optimization magic by simply being plugged into the motherboard. It doesn’t need to be plugged into a SATA SSD/HDD on the other end to optimize your system, however if you do so you will benefit from “double the effect.” We wouldn't feel comfortable with a flexible steel tube flapping around the inside of a live PC, so maybe connect it up and enjoy the enhanced effect?
Without a review sample, we can’t completely dismiss all of the product listing claims regarding this cable’s Hi-Fi qualities. However, the maker has missed some obvious optimizations, as the design omits any reference to using precious metals or oxygen-free conductors.
If you like this audiophile Superstar Crystal Formula SATA SSD cable, you might also find the audiophile SSD, and the similarly targeted Ethernet Switch UEF appealing. Please be warned that all these products include a substantial audiophile tax.
If you want to spend money on cosmetics, I can understand that. But I can objectively say this is ugly as... well.
I worked in a bakery, and the "wood stoppers" with crystal sprinkles rival the beauty of what our professional cake decorators could make on a full-size 12" Oreo cake.
This thing looks like something I would have built the first time I took Klonopin.
Shielded differential cables are practically the norm these days with all modern high-speed interfaces. There is nothing to be gained from adding extra crap on top... especially if you leave half the cable unshielded by your extra quartz, braided steel hose and whatever else.
No, homeopathy for the "audiophile."
Just like basically every other product aimed at the "audiophile."
A computer nerd knows that this is <Mod Edit>. An "audiophile" buys into every snake oil device they can so they can seem more hard-core and be more pretentious.
SATA has a CRC mechanism for detecting bad SATA connections. If your PC isn't logging SATA errors, then you don't need to worry about the cables. If it is, then try reconnecting, rerouting, and then replacing the cables (i.e. with mass market ones) until the errors no longer occur. Check that the connectors aren't dirty, as well. I always clean with compressed air, before connecting to any connector that might have a significant amount of dust on/in it. Worst case, the errors could be coming from the drive's electronics or on the motherboard.
There's never a reason to buy "audiophile" computer cables. Computers are designed to work without errors. As long as that's true, more expensive digital cables aren't adding any value. The only place component quality can normally affect your audio is in the analog domain.
The most important component is going to be where the DACs and amps are (i.e. sound cards or USB sound devices) and the transducers you're using (i.e. headphones or speakers). Bluetooth or USB headphones and speakers have the DAC, amp, and transducers integrated into one unit, which there are both benefits and drawbacks to doing.
For audio components, the best value is typically in the "Pro" market. More expensive than cheap consumer stuff, but typically well-built and lasts forever. Don't go down the rabbit hole of trying to find components that "color" the sound in one way or another. Well-engineered audio equipment is neutral, and then you can use EQ or other processors if you want. Where I could give a little ground, on this last point, is speakers. Building perfectly neutral speakers isn't easy, but it's gotten a lot easier than it used to be, especially if they're powered speakers and ideally have a digital input, as that lets you do digital-domain crossovers and EQ.
With this in mind I have a limited stock of audiophile high tech space grade aluminium foil shielding sheets for just $999.99.
Installation is easy, just wrap anything electrical or animal (including yourself, pc and monitor) in them completely and make sure there are no gaps or leads going in or out.
Sad thing is, I'm sure someone would buy one. Heck, I'll even sell Tom's Hardware one at half price for them to review, shipping included.
What do I call them you ask?
'Audiophile Space Blankets'