WD Red SSD & Core

Hi all –

Has anyone used a WD Red SSD internally with the Core…? Interested how this would compare to the typically suggested Samsung EVO etc…I note and would expect slightly better endurance and MTBF ratings etc, but just wondered re any potential SQ aspects…?

With more affordable SSD options out there now, especially targeted at NAS and Server use, are there better options to choose from now over the EVO…?

Another one I’ve considered was OWC’s Mercury Extreme Pro, which I’ve used for many years in various Mac upgrades etc, have never failed me and are well regarded with their 7% Over-Provisioning etc….

I can understand the potential endurance gains in these SSD, just wondering out loud if there is any drawback re SQ…or indeed, if unlikely, potential improvements….?

Thanks for any thoughts…

At the time the UnitiCore was launched, the advice from Naim Technical Support (Phil Harris) was the drives intended for NAS operations like the WD Red (which was discussed specifically) were not recommended because they are optimised for serving large numbers of clients simultaneously and would potentially give up more quickly on handling an error that it came across. It would be on the old forum if you feel like trying to find it now. Anyway the point was that the WD Red might sound worse, not better, than the recommended Seagate.

Naim recommended a Seagate hard drive that was intended for video surveillance recording and so running 24/7 like the UnitiCore drive does, unless you put the Core into deep sleep of course.

I don’t think I have ever read here that anyone thinks there is any SQ difference between hard disc drives and SSD, although I might not have remember a post suggesting such a thing. And this is not a challenging environment for a SSD, so I think it’s doubtful that you would get any benefit from paying more for a SSD than the recommended one.

It popped up in the news recently that there are some class law action suits against WD and another brand it owns for unexpected data loss with their SSD. WD are not saying too much about it.
Personally i would go with a Samsung EVO 870 SSD.

In the current market, that would be a wd purple or sea gate skyhawk.

Cheers @davidhendon , I presumed you might chime in…!

Yes I remember Phil and the old forum which I was on, though I don’t know of the specific feedback you mention re WD Red…
To clarify, it’s the Red SSD I was referring to and not so much the typical Red HDD in NAS use……Must say I find it curious why a NAS specific drive would ‘give up’ errors more so than a typical OS use drive, but if that was the findings and Naim’s opinion re SQ aspects, then so be it and I’m happy to follow….

Re SSD vs HDD, it takes me back to US/HDX days and the oft debated aspect – I may be wrong, but I believe HiFi Critic preferred the HDD version of the US over the SSD/NAS re resulting SQ…I was just wondering out loud if anything similar may apply to the Core internal storage choices….

I won’t be choosing anything Seagate. It’s a shame WD don’t offer the Purple in either 2.5” or SSD….

For further input, I’ve just received reply from Naim support after I posed the same questions….Curiously, their current Samsung SSD recommendation is the QVO in 8Tb form and no mention of the EVO, which is interesting re the 3/5Yr warranty differences and also the inherent slower prolonged write speeds of the QVO (not that is so much an issue in this use)……
And to quote from support “Drives labelled with ‘NAS’ are designed for always-on devices and should outperform standard drives for longevity.” which I believe has been mentioned in posts previously……

@Gazza Many thanks, wasn’t aware of that reported WD issue…appreciate the input re the EVO recommendation.


The life of an SSD is dependent on the number of writes performed.

Drives used in Nas used to backup daily, servers used in a business, or CCTV storage will be performing a lot of writes and overwrites. That’s why a special drive is used in these applications.

Drives used to store music aren’t subjected to a large number of overwrites, hence the QVO recommendation.

Life is also dependant on the number of bits per cell that are stored. Less equals longer.

QVO is 4b/cell.
Evo is 3b/cell.
Pro is 1b/cell.

Maybe a Nas specific drive has a more sophisticated error correction system, which maybe produces more noise.

My recollection is that there was one parameter which was markedly different in a NAS drive where the mission is to do the best for all the clients being served at the same time, whereas if there is one or only a small number of clients, you can afford processor cycles to keep trying for an error free read. But the old forum seems to be invisible to Google, so I can’t check back on what he actually wrote.

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I have certainly found hdd & ssd can sound very different, even different ssd can sound different.
Melco for instance chose ones for best sound, lot’s off info on it all just a click away.
As for the core then not sure if you can just change them lije you can will melco, but can’t see why not

The other company owned by WD is Sandisk.

You can just change the HDD/SSD yourself in the Naim UnitiCore.

Not for a long time. Everything is multibit per cell now, and has been for several years.

Interesting, and I could understand there being something in that potentially…but then wouldn’t the same apply to NAS use for Music Storage in general…and considering the NAS rated drives such as WD Reds (HDD in particular) are often a popular choice for home and SMB use, that’s a sizeable proportion of storage/streaming setups that would allegedly be experiencing sub-par audio performance…Why/how could use in the internal storage be any different, effectively the Core is a mini NAS…Wouldn’t buffering counter this also (I don’t know if the Core buffers as it reads off the drive/source?)
I was also of the understanding that SSDs designed for NAS use not only featured durability for 24/7 use etc, but also focussed on Cached Read performance – wouldn’t this be a benefit in a music server…?
Yes, it’s a shame Phil isn’t still around to explain some more…

Yeah, that’s what I was kind of referring to re the days of the US/HDX etc and the choices between HDD or SSD varieties (admittedly the SSD models were just for OS etc and main storage was external)…
Re Melco – unless things have changed recently and I’m wrong, I didn’t think you could change the drives in their models as end user? I appreciate their hardware and focus on all aspects re audio performance in their HDD/SSD selection which they make a highlight of (does anyone actually know what the SSDs actually are? Apparently they remove features such as Wear Levelling as it’s not really applicable to use as well as using slower Read/Write performance, all with the aim of reducing electrical noise…Indeed, on Melco’s FAQ they still primarily recommend their HDD variants…) but I have never been keen that the internal storage is essentially not user accessible – in fact it was one of the main reasons I haven’t explored Melco further, even though they are well regarded and one of my dealers is a big proponent of the range…Thats something I feel Naim have done well with the design of the Core and it’s caddy – it’s just a shame they don’t seem to offer a wider and more detailed recommendation of drive options other than the 2/3 models they have listed, really, ever since 2016…

Two of the three current recommendations from Naim Support are Seagate, which I’m not keen to go with, leaving the Samsung QVO. I do understand the inherent differences between QVO and EVO, though I am curious as to why Naim are stating the QVO now and not the EVO – value/performance/Tb or for SQ reasons…?

Perhaps, which I guess goes back to the aspect @davidhendon made and reference to Phil Harris’s older posts…But then, the curious issue is that TWO of the drive options listed by Naim Support, one HDD and one SSD, are both NAS specific drives from Seagate…! Indeed the Ironwolf 125 is a NAS specific use SSD and basically, Seagate’s equivalent to the mentioned WD Red SA500 that I was wondering about using myself…!? :man_shrugging:

Is the Pro still offered by Samsung? I may be wrong, but seems to have stopped with the 860 series…?

If there were sound reasons (no pun!) to go with a Samsung over the WD Red SSD for internal use in the Core, I was probably leaning towards the EVO, due to the oft recommendations here along with Naim’s long listing of since the 850 etc…though, I’m now confused between the choice of EVO vs QVO…!

Thanks all for the thoughts, much appreciated…

Yes but the Core never has to deal with 10 or 50 or 100 concurrent users, so it doesn’t matter if it takes a bit longer to try to resolve a read error, especially as there is buffering in the streamers, as you say.

Anyway I suspect all of this is irrelevant to most users most of the time. And you can put any drive you like in the Core. Naim has always said that they don’t so much recommend drives as tell you which ones they have themselves tested and found ok.

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You can find quite a bit about changing the drives over yourself, as lot’s have done it.
I did a search on it and it came up with lot’s off information.
It depends on which model you have to start with, but lot’s have tried different SSD drives along with HDD. They do sound different, and you will find which one’s sounded best on there.

Could someone please explain in engineering terms how different drives can ‘sound’ different?

I haven’t a clue really but this is how i see it.
I can see how a HDD can sound different to SSD, and the SSD being superior as it has no moving parts. This then doesn’t inject any noise from the moving part’s into the single feed.
The same as what cd players do, and the much better transports like the TEAC Esoteric VRDS sound much better than the others.
Also some hard drives are made for speed more than others, so i guess that with different specifications comes a different sonic sound.
As said i know melco try lot’s off different drives to find out what sounds best

Yes, true…

Re Naim’s recommendations, yes that’s pretty much what Support came back with…I just wish they would expand a little on the subject. I appreciate they can’t realistically keep up with an ever changing market and generations of drives, but I feel a little more detail, whys and why nots, performance and particularly potential SQ aspects etc would go a long way…I work in Network Install, so have a relatively decent grasp on aspects of HDD/SSD etc, but I would confess to being somewhat clueless when it comes to Audio performance aspects of said storage considerations…I believe Naim must do a something of deeper dive in aspects of this area, as do all all the manufacturers offering audio servers/storage, be they Melco, Roon, et al, and it seems somewhat well established that the very choice of HDD/SSD does have a SQ impact…It may ‘just’ be a £2k device and not as exotic(£) as say a N1 S38 or a Zenith etc, but Naim take the Core on the road and demo the Statement with it after-all, so they must have looked a little more detailed into resulting SQ aspects…

As you say, anyway…
I guess it will be a EVO for me. I can get a WD SA500 from the US for not much more than the 870 4Tb which is practically a 50% saving on RRP, but it will take another week and the Core is sitting here staring at me with a frown on its face…! I was just hoping someone here may have had direct experience in use and whether it would have been worth it…

Do you still have the 870 2Tb in yours…? Just wondered if you had outgrown its capacity and had swapped in anything else yet, or even tried the QVO…?

Cheers, SC

But this is where it also gets a little contradictory – isn’t the resulting electrical noise generated from SSD some of the very reasons why SSD were initially considered as marginally inferior for audio use, which then developed into ‘need to be chosen with care’ and the likes of Melco disabling typical SSD Controller features like Wear Levelling so as to reduce this ‘noise’ …?
Geez, it’s like a slippery snake all this…and I sometimes wonder, if anyone really knows…!

Exactly. Hence my point a little earlier…
Though I did read on the Minim forum that somebody opened their Melco and it had WD Blue in there, which does surprise me…!

Ah, I understand now. I presumed initially you meant ‘officially’ swapping the drives as a user, but now I see…That’s fine, and I’d likely crack open the case and do the same if I had a Melco of a few years age, as I’ve often done with countless Macs and devices etc…but I’d likely feel different if I had just purchased one, especially at the costs, voiding the warranty and so on…
I did end up on the Minim forum for a bit of a read…Saw that simoncn, who I value the opinion and experience of, has swapped his…Very interesting how the two versions of the Crucial SSD seem to result in reported differences in SQ…WD reds were mentioned as being good also.
Thanks for the pointer though on the subject…


This is SSD that melco now use in there models the 3.84 mb version.
The main label has been removed but the other label is still present, and comes up with some results when searched.

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