Sony Claims Pricey SD Cards Produce "Less Electrical Noise"


Disciple of Trevor Philips
Jan 15, 2015
I agree with the author and would also echo the sentiments of several readers who have posted comments to the effect that "yes, electrical noise is a thing, but it should not generally impact the integrity of data read from a digital storage medium". Digital data communication can be (and often is) very resilient to noise and other signal distortions that are introduced at the source or during transit. Especially when we're dealing with the more benign case of short range wired communications rather than long range or wireless communications where the signal can be attenuated and distorted heavily.

A minor technical quibble though. Digital modulation by itself isn't solely responsible for the "threshold behavior" we see in modern communications systems. The behavior I'm referring to is where the system (pretty much) either works 100% or not at all, like you might have experienced with newer broadcast TV. It's the inclusion of strong forward error correction (FEC) that transforms a gradual degradation in performance into a steep cliff. Generally it's a good thing because the system can operate at 100% reliability in conditions that would normally cause a noticeable degradation. Of course, FEC has been around for quite a long time - it's why audio CDs play flawlessly even with some minor scratches on them.

With that out of the way, if we give Sony the benefit of the doubt that they're touting a legitimate improvement instead of engaging in bullshit marketing (I lean towards the latter), it seems they must be referring to a reduction in noise picked up by the analog section of the sound system. This would be between the soundcard's digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and the speaker. Curiously enough, I once experienced poor audio quality on a computer where something innocuous (mouse scrolling or hard disk seeks) produced an audible sound in the headphones. This was a cheap machine with a bottom of the barrel motherboard and integrated sound, mind you. The problem, I think, was a failure to properly isolate the digital and analog grounds on the motherboard, something that printed circuit board designers know more about than me. Did you ever hear about or experience the problem of wired Xbox 360 controllers causing button presses if you the mic audio was too loud? This was the same problem but in reverse.

Anyway, if a company wants to make marketing claims like this, they should be obligated to provide some evidence. Shows us some audio quality tests on different mobo and soundcard combinations (or different phones). We're talking about something that can be verified by both signal analysis and listening tests. Until they're willing to do that, claims of an audio friendly SD card should be treated with a high degree of skepticism.


New member
Mar 4, 2011
medv4380 said:
Once we went to digital signalling, and had the entire range of sound the human ear can hear mapped out there was no more "clarity" to be had.
This hasn't always really been the case. Audio "went digital" in the late 70's and early 80's and the results were pretty terrible, often losing a great deal of sound. Tapes often added in static that increased dramatically with usage and the multiple low quality DACs that were often used were terrible. The introduction of CDs in the early nineties helped some but until the late 90's the digital receivers were still not very good. Of course, the first MP3s that came out had a terrible sampling rate. This has improved only marginally as music distribution tends to serve bland poppy music that doesn't cover a full range (when was the last pop song you heard a timpani in?). In fact, most music that people describe as "extream" tends not to have much of a range anyhow.

That said, modern streaming has pretty much taken care of sampling and signal-to-noise issues. I've found there is still a reason to buy quality parts rather than just buying whatever Sony is trying to push, but I've never heard the difference between the moderate setups and the big ten-to-twenty thousand dollar systems that don't use digital anywhere in between. Then again, I can't perceive a difference between thirty frames a second and sixty frames a second and plenty of gamers swear this is the most important thing in the world.