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Does external sound driver help the person who listens to music in .wav format?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have all my music tracks in .wav format (ripped from my CDs and stored together in 350Gig hard disk). My laptop with Foobar is my primary listening source. SigmaTel sound driver is the default that came with the laptop. So far, I'm happy with the sound I hear.

1) Would any other extrernal sound driver help to increase SQ of my .wav files?

2) If yes to the above question, please tell me which one would be good for me. I can spend $150 for the hardware.

3) I already own Philips Aurilium. Is it a good one when compared to other things in the market?

My questions may sound silly. But I have literally no knowledge about the components. Please help.
post #2 of 11
First, format doesn't really matter for the purposes of this question. Everything is uncompressed to the same format anyway. So no matter what type of file you start with, everything will go through the same signal path after the decompression.

Second, driver is perhaps not the appropriate term. Drivers are software which enable communication with hardware. In this case we are more asking the question of whether external hardware can help.

Well, if you are listening using your laptop then you will be using the DAC and amplifier (or integrated combination of the two) in your laptop. DAC is digital to analog converter. It converts a digital signal (i.e. music files) to analog signals. The input of headphones is in analog form. Amplifier amplifies the analog signal that comes out of the DAC. Most likely your laptop has a chip which combines the two into one integrated circuit.

So it's not the files which have their sound quality improved, but rather you are improving the quality of the DAC and amplifier by sending the digital data directly to external boxes instead of letting them go through the integrated stuff in the laptop. The digital data, which comes from your music files, should remain constant.

I'll leave it to others with more experience to recommend stuff or talk about differences.
post #3 of 11
I have not been able to hear any difference, but many of my customers swear that both FLAC and Apple Lossless change the sound of a .wav file.

There are a number of quality digital USB and WiFi converters on the market as well as USB DAC's that will be an improvement over any sound card. "Driver" is not the right term. Maybe you mean converter?

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Manufacturer
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Sorry for using wrong terminology to describe my problem. As I said before, I'm a novice to this audio hardware area. So please pardon me. I'll explain my problem again with some clear description.


I have all my music in .wav format because my friend told me that it is the format which retains the CD tracks in most full form. Considering his advice, I ripped my CDs to .wav files so that I don't lose any SQ. So, now I have good source files. I'm using my laptop's SigmaTel (should I call it 'mixer' or 'sound card'?) with Foobar2K to play the music.

Now the question.....

I'm sure that my music files are of good quality. To play them nice, Is there any way to make my hardware/software also better?
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murugesh
I have all my music in .wav format because my friend told me that it is the format which retains the CD tracks in most full form. Considering his advice, I ripped my CDs to .wav files so that I don't lose any SQ. So, now I have good source files. I'm using my laptop's SigmaTel (should I call it 'mixer' or 'sound card'?) with Foobar2K to play the music.

Now the question.....

I'm sure that my music files are of good quality. To play them nice, Is there any way to make my hardware/software also better?
WAV format retains full information of CD. There are also lossless codecs which will use mathematical means to compress the information. At playtime, the file will be decompressed back to original form. These are equivalent to WAV.

You might want to check on some threads, search for Foobar and ASIO. From memory, sound in Windows always goes through a Windows mixer called Kmixer for some reason unknown to me. You can bypass this, which can only bring benefits.

It is possible to improve the hardware, you would use an external sound card or DAC. There are for example external DAC/amp combos which receive data through USB like Total Bithead or HPDAC.
post #6 of 11
sigmatel is common among PC laptops. With foobar 2000 and a sigmatel soundcard, I had more success using asio4all than I did with kernel streaming.

If you want a big boost in quality, I suggest your replace the sigmatel with an external solution. There are many products out in the market that fit your budget.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murugesh
Sorry for using wrong terminology to describe my problem.

Now the question.....

I'm sure that my music files are of good quality. To play them nice, Is there any way to make my hardware/software also better?
Yes, external USB or WiFi converter/adapter. The Squeezebox and AirPort Express are both Wi-Fi types. Off-Ramps, Transit and HagUSB adapters are USB types.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by K2Grey
WAV format retains full information of CD. There are also lossless codecs which will use mathematical means to compress the information. At playtime, the file will be decompressed back to original form. These are equivalent to WAV.

You might want to check on some threads, search for Foobar and ASIO. From memory, sound in Windows always goes through a Windows mixer called Kmixer for some reason unknown to me. You can bypass this, which can only bring benefits.

It is possible to improve the hardware, you would use an external sound card or DAC. There are for example external DAC/amp combos which receive data through USB like Total Bithead or HPDAC.

Thanks a lot K2Grey !!! I should then convert all my .WAV files to some lossless format in order to save some disk space.

Does Philips Aurilium come under external sound card category? I already own it but haven't done much with that.
post #9 of 11
I believe the Aurilium is an external sound card.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murugesh
Thanks a lot K2Grey !!! I should then convert all my .WAV files to some lossless format in order to save some disk space.

Does Philips Aurilium come under external sound card category? I already own it but haven't done much with that.
In addition of saving space, your hard disk doesn't have to read all that data. This may help increase the life of your hard drive. The down side is that the cpu will have to work harder in decompressing the data, but CPUs do not have any moving mechanical parts that are prone to physical wear and tear.

edit - Compression technologies also help increase bandwidth. This may also alleviate some possible skipping and hiccups when the computer does a lot of hard disk intensive operations.
post #11 of 11

Well explained .

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