Sony's latest snake oil: Pricey 'Premium Sound' Micro SDXC cards


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Need the perfect expandable storage solution for your $1,200 Walkman? Sony might have a bridge to sell you.

The company is now selling a 64 GB Micro SDXC card “for Premium Sound” in Japan. At $160, it's four or five times more expensive than a typical 64 GB card, but as the Wall Street Journal reports, it's supposed to produce “less electrical noise.”

Now, the idea of audiophiles obsessing over barely-perceptible details is nothing new. The speaker market is filled with products whose frequency response exceeds the 20 Hz to 20 kHz range of the human ear, and you can spend thousands of dollars on audio cables in pursuit of eliminating noise.

But while those expenses at least have some technical justifications behind them, the case for audiophile storage is flimsy at best.

If Sony's talking about reducing the amount of current noise passing from the micro SD card to an analog audio output, well, SD cards already contribute next to no electric noise. Any potential gains would be miniscule and useless outside of very controlled professional recording situations, as these two Reddit contributors explain in detail.

And as writers at The Register and PC Perspective have pointed out in the past, a storage device couldn't affect digital sound quality without actually changing the actual data being transferred. If that happened, it be a much bigger problem for all kinds of applications—not just music. 

Still, that hasn't stopped some people from believing the storage device makes a difference, perceiving “more organic” tones in some products and “edgy grain” in others. So when Sony tells the Journal that “we thought some among people who are committed to great sound quality would want it,” it might be onto something.

Why this matters: If spending an extra $100 or more on a “Premium Sound” SDXC card makes you happy, go for it. It's your hobby, after all. But the whole thing seems reminiscent of that Penn and Teller show that lampooned water connoisseurs by secretly serving them from the tap.

This article has been updated to include talk about current noise.

This story, "Sony's latest snake oil: Pricey 'Premium Sound' Micro SDXC cards" was originally published by PCWorld.

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