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New computer, otherwise same setup; different sound. Explanation?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hey all,


I just thought I'd post my situation here that isn't exactly a problem or anything, but something that's been bugging me in trying to understand what's going on.


So for the past two years or so I've been using my trust Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook as my music server, through foobar/KS ->m2tech hiface (XP drivers) -> Stello DA100 (in normal mode) -> WA6SE. About 3 weeks ago, I decided to upgrade to a new laptop, which is a Macbook Air 11.6inch ultimate version. I initially started just with the stock mac osx and its compatible players, such as decibel, Fidelia, and pure music. But since I dearly missed Foobar's simple interface/customization options and needed Windows 7 on it anyway for other reasons, I soon put Win7 in via Bootcamp and promptly went back to Foobar.


So essentially, I've went back to the same system I had in my old Asus netbook. Mac Air -> Foobar -> hiface (WASAPI or KS) -> DA100 -> WA6SE. Pretty much exactly the same setup (except I think I have the updated Foobar in my Mac Air, and Win 7 drivers for the Hiface instead of XP). Same cables and everything. And here is what I don't quite understand. They DO NOT sound the same for some reason! The Macbook Air clearly gives a more analytical sound with much more microdetail, increased the soundstage significantly, and gave much, much less sibilance than before (something very easily noticeable on my HD800 mind you). In addition, the mids seem to sit back slightly more than how it was playing on the Asus Netbook and to my ears, a little less bass.  So in summary, out of my old computer the sound is much more warmer and forward, and the new computer sounds much more analytical, detailed, and natural. For most part I do prefer the sound of my new setup, but there are instances where I miss the old setup's sound... but this may be the result of getting used to my old rig for the past two years or so...


Anyways, so here's what I don't understand. Since both setups are essentially unchanged and both are supposed to be giving bitperfect output (which should in theory sound exactly the same), what is causing them to sound so noticeably different from each other? Here are only possible differences/reasons that I can think of.


- hiface's XP and Win 7 drivers somehow sound different?

- there are sound differences with different versions of foobar (I doubt this, but it's one of the only differences between two setups)

- the hardware differences between the Asus and the Mac Air makes it sound different (for example, Asus has a hard drive, while Mac Air has a SSD. possible noise/distortion issue?)


Those are the only three things, really. For those of you with good knowledge on Computer Audio... what seems to be the reason here?


Thanks in advance for any input.

Edited by K_19 - 3/17/11 at 8:25pm
post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 

Bump. Any input?

post #3 of 5

All I can think of is jitter, but there's a lot of controversy over how much jitter is actually audible.

One might also talk about USB power noise, but I guess it shouldn't make a difference in a simple USB/SPDIF interface.


Are you positive both give bit-perfect output?

post #4 of 5

If there is a difference there must be a cause. The three points raised by Vitor are the obvious candidates: Jitter; Power; and is it bit-perfect?


It is well worth checking that the output on both is actually bit-perfect. It is not unheard of - in fact it is  quite common - for software developers not to check all the functionality of their drivers across all operating systems. I know that for some of their products M2Tech use proprietary drivers which could give different performance on different operating systems.


Jitter should be the same out of the M2Tech on both systems unless they are not treating it equally, so I would put this at the bottom of my list and stick with power and drivers/sound output settings as the most likely cause of the differences.

post #5 of 5
uber-noisy USB power on the eee?

also, W7 bases its timings on HPET...OTOH, XP uses a jittery timer by default(I personally use the ACPI timer, which is very tight): http://www.microsoft.com/taiwan/whdc/system/sysinternals/mm-timer.mspx
Edited by leeperry - 3/23/11 at 3:54pm
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