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Just got my new PC with Win 7 running. Help me get set up with killer 2ch audio...

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, Im a PC media noob mostly...  My backround is in Home Theater.  I have a very nice HT system in the living room however I never do critical listening of music there as im either watching a movie, tv, or it's too noisy in the living room.  I have my alone and quiet time at the PC and I finally have the means to turn my PC into a music playing machine.

 

I do have a set of good cans (Sennheiser HD580's) Ive had for years.  I do not currently have proper amplification for them though.

 

My PC is nice enough with a dual core overclocked and I have an Xfi xtreme-gamer sound card in it.

 

Im thinking I want to go the DAC/HP amp/preamp route as I would like to pick up some nice compact studio monitors for the desk as well.  So balanced outputs might be nice.

 

Im currently using Mediamonkey (syncs nicely with my android phone) as a player however from what I gather here I should be using Foobar2000?  Do software players really make that big a difference?

 

I guess Im asking for a beginners guide to PC audio to maximize my sound quality and entire music experience.

 

Any suggestions on what I can do and where I can start would be appreciated.  Thanks!

post #2 of 3

If they go loud enough you have proper amplification and don't need an amp.

 

Software players shouldn't make a difference sq wise, but foobar generally has the best functionality without useless bloat.

post #3 of 3

Yea, the other players are actually more uselessly complicated and others overly simplistic with no real gain or benefit(cPlay for instance).

 

Foobar has a balance between function and simplicity which I like.

 

Basically heres how it goes

Win-->Search Sound---->Click sound

Set Default format for shared mode to 24-bit/48khz  as most movies output 48khz and will be using direct sound from the player unless you want to go through reclock hastles for no good reason ;)

 

Next up, download foobar

Download the WASAPI component

Disable Replaygain, and set output format to 24-bit.  Mess with the buffer a bit, I have mines set to 300 for instance and it works fine.

 

WASAPI skips Win7's audio pathway all together so a 44.1khz file should theortically output at 44.1khz(we will get to that in greater detail after this).

 

Now you have the best clean pathways for music, lets give you a toy.

One toy I suggest is googling "Noise Sharpener" for foobar and finding the latest plugin(there are two, one works and the other doesn't.  Don't have a link ATM).  This will significantly make poor recordings sound better and livelier.  Good recordings don't really benefit from it, instead some sounds will be slightly awkward if used.  It is way better then the

 

 

So everything is set up from a software stand point, not out of the woods yet.  The X-Fi xtreme Gamer doesn't give much in the way of giving you the cleanest analog signal or digital for that matter.  I doubt your card has some of the features my prelude has but generally Audio Creation mode is the best for purity.  While entertainment mode has some fun effects you can tweak.  Really depends on you but that sound card is the weakest link in your chain.

 

I couldn't really comment on the Xonar line of cards and their drivers but I know the Auzentech X-Fi's give you what you need.  I have a prelude but I think the home theater model is the same just for PCI-Express.  Prelude gives you better analog output for music, and a bit-matched/perfect digital output if you ever bought an external DAC.  While still offering Game modes for different effects.

 

Though in terms of game audio, or rather surround sound for headphones

Dolby Headphone > CMSS imo

 

Regardless another option would be to just make it even simpler, buy a USB dac/amp combo that has a controller chip that supports up to at the very least 24/96khz(really won't be going that high but the standard windows driver for other dacso nly supports 16/48)

 

What are the benefits of that? Simple plug in your DAC via USB and install the driver to get the best music.  Connect your X-Fi via the analog inputs(which will skip the dac entirely, and you needa make sure it has analog inputs) for your gaming.  Most dacs have a source selector so you can just turn the dial depending on what you want to do.  You would basically set your default sound output in windows to your X-Fi Gamer, and in foobar or any other media player you would set it to output strait to your USB DAC. 


Edited by ninjikiran - 7/27/10 at 7:23am
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