Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › What software to use for playback? (Windows/PC)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What software to use for playback? (Windows/PC) - Page 4

post #46 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

Based on both subjective and quantitative testing, everything from processes requiring CPU and memory usage, to process prioritization, to the quality of the clock, can make an effect on sound which some people are capable of picking up on.


I've not seen these quantitative tests, could you share?

 

Bit-perfect plugins won't stop the computer from using CPU cycles and resources. What colorations does DirectSound specifically add, not including any optional signal processing that should be turned off anyway?

post #47 of 69

I wonder why I have not had any issues with the sound quality of iTunes on my PC running Windows 7 as others here have alluded to? It simply sounds awesome; and, being convenient too, I am quite satisfied that I have embraced it. With it, my limited time for music listening pleasure has been maximized.

post #48 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post

I wonder why I have not had any issues with the sound quality of iTunes on my PC running Windows 7 as others here have alluded to? It simply sounds awesome; and, being convenient too, I am quite satisfied that I have embraced it. With it, my limited time for music listening pleasure has been maximized.


Windows Media Player with DirectSound also sounds perfectly adequate. It's just that Foobar in WASAPI mode sounds better, and JPlay in hibernation/overdrive mode with kernel streaming should sound considerably better than that. That being said, if you're using something like optical digital from a sound card into an A/V receiver, perhaps the difference is not that great. If you're using something like an Empirical Overdrive or Berkeley Alpha USB/Alpha DAC combo on the other hand, using iTunes is beyond stupid.

 


Edited by DaveBSC - 11/11/11 at 6:14am
post #49 of 69

I don't have any of the weblinks to graphics and explanations available atm, but if you dig around on the forum communities that go into a lot of technical detail on high-end sources (not HF or AGon), as well as look at some of the manufacturer websites (particularly ones with engineers possessing strong hardware and software backgrounds), you'll find various measurements, graphs, and the occasional white paper.  Digital audio is a much more difficult problem than most people recognize, as it conceptually seems like such an easy thing to turn a media file into a waveform, but it's actually a very difficult and multidisciplinary field.

 

The easiest test is to just use your ears, such as seeing if you can pick up on differences while your computer doesn't have a lot of available resources and are running multiple active threads at once.  A lot of people obsess too much over not having the absolute best sound reproduction possible.  If you don't hear a difference, then it's not worth fussing about.

 

A lot of people have varying opinions on the sound signature of DS vs WASAPI (and many more don't hear any difference at all).  My own personal experience is that WASAPI sounds more neutral and transparent, which I pick up in vocals, bass, fast low frequency passages, and cymbals.  Consequently, WASAPI sounds a little more clear and resonant, depending upon the recording environment.  Ever since I got my WaveLink HS, it's gotten easier picking up on the nuances of the recording environment for certain recordings (like hearing a slight echo after voices hit the walls in a room), as well as little things like fingertips lightly pressing on violin or cello strings, or the vocalist breathing lightly in the middle of a song.  I didn't get this detail retrieval until I drastically improved my signal chain, and WASAPI vs. DS didn't really have an impact until my setup went through a lot of adjustments.  Some of it may be placebo on my side, but A/B testing Foobar vs JPlay is pretty surprising.  JPlay easily accentuates details which I sometimes only pick up on Foobar if I'm (a) listening very loudly or (b) doing critical listening.

 

Again, mileage varies drastically depending upon the quality of the recording.

 

I continue to use a properly configured Foobar as my control, as it's the most neutral of the nearly two dozen audio software (Mac and PC) I've used in the last year.  If I have music playing as background noise at work, WMP/iTunes is fine, but if I'm on my electrostat setup, WMP/iTunes has a bothersome haze and veil to the music.  It's not prominent, but enough of it is there to irritate, kind of like a paper cut once you realize it's there.

post #50 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


Windows Media Player with DirectSound also sounds perfectly adequate. It's just that Foobar in WASAPI mode sounds better, and JPlay in hibernation/overdrive mode with kernel streaming should sound considerably better than that. That being said, if you're using something like optical digital from a sound card into an A/V receiver, perhaps the difference is not that great. If you're using something like an Empirical Overdrive or Berkeley Alpha USB/Alpha DAC combo on the other hand, using iTunes is beyond stupid.

 

Perhaps today's iTunes is not yesterday's iTunes. Running Windows 7, I upsample to 24/96 and convert USB to optical S/PDIF which is input to Sony TA-E9000ES Control Amp. In A/B comparisons of any music, from 256k to 3100k, the described computer audio chain from iTunes or foobar,  cannot be distinguished from the same tunes I have on SACD. 
 

 

post #51 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post

Perhaps today's iTunes is not yesterday's iTunes. Running Windows 7, I upsample to 24/96 and convert USB to optical S/PDIF which is input to Sony TA-E9000ES Control Amp. In A/B comparisons of any music, from 256k to 3100k, the described computer audio chain from iTunes or foobar,  cannot be distinguished from the same tunes I have on SACD. 
 

 



Yeah thats what I do, and through all of the different programs I use foobar, mediamonkey, WMP they all sound the same... to me anyway. I think that if you are using usb converter such as this then it doesn't really matter where the data is coming from because its all going to be converted to spdif anyhow. I'm no expert just know what pleases my ears. Some peeps don't agree with upsampling but for me it adds an extra smoothness and detail, a certain prescence? that isn't there when going straight from usb to dac.

 

Also, some have said that when using a spdif converter that you are adding another un-needed link in the chain... but if this is the only way to use coaxial (the audiophiles 1st choice for digital input) then it is needed. Anyhow as I said I'm no expert but using coaxial and optical inputs for me has been a major upgrade in SQ over usb direct to dac.   

 

post #52 of 69

Most DACs don't have a good USB implementation (async or not).  What a lot of people don't realize is that the quality of each input on their DAC is not equal.  One DAC might have a fantastic S/PDIF implementation and so-so AES, while another one can be the opposite.  This inconsistency is present even in $10k+ devices.

 

Strangely enough, some people have reported getting a better sound using a high-quality converter to S/PDIF on their DAC, even if it the DAC has native async USB capabilities.  I would have dismissed these claims in the past, but after hearing the difference a low jitter signal did for my DAC, I think there might be something worth investigating there.

 

Coax connections generally seem to perform the best, but it really depends on the device.

post #53 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

Strangely enough, some people have reported getting a better sound using a high-quality converter to S/PDIF on their DAC, even if it the DAC has native async USB capabilities.  I would have dismissed these claims in the past, but after hearing the difference a low jitter signal did for my DAC, I think there might be something worth investigating there.

 

Coax connections generally seem to perform the best, but it really depends on the device.


All asynch USB DACs are not created equal, just like the converters are not. Galvanic isolation is a big one, some asynchronous DACs don't isolated their USB input from the computer ground, so all that noise is just dumped straight into the DAC. The system that W4S uses on the DAC2 seems not to be that amazing. I'm not sure how large the differences are between DACs that use Streamlength, or if there's any difference between those DACs and the Wavelink. Until its most recent update, Steve at Empirical said that the Overdrive still sounded a bit better with an Off-Ramp 4, rather than its own USB input.

 

Generally I think the performance rank for digital connection methods would be this: I2S > 75 Ohm S/Pdif via BNC > AES ~ S/Pdif via RCA ~ possibly ST > Toslink. Despite the inherent flaws of S/Pdif which was always meant for convenience over quality, Steve says that when done properly it gets very close to I2S which is the best, at least in terms of consumer options.

post #54 of 69

My computer audio to HT connection was originally analog to analog.  Now, the chain, as earlier mentioned, is USB to Toslink . The Toslink connection has some benefits, one being galvanic isolation. My USB to S/PDIF conversion is made by an X-FI HD; but, I've been told, by folks who have tried it, a V-LINK would sync better. At any rate, as mentioned before, I perceive my computer audio to HT sound from all media players to be the same, except for volume. However....

 

Elysian's observation about iTunes being veiled is something that I would like to know more about. When I first tried out foobar I thought it was more revealing than iTunes; but; I dismissed this as a volume difference. And, since the folks at foobar make no claim about their player sounding better, I let my volume observation stand. Maybe, iTunes is instead veiled.


Edited by sterling1 - 11/14/11 at 3:40am
post #55 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

Most DACs don't have a good USB implementation (async or not).  What a lot of people don't realize is that the quality of each input on their DAC is not equal.  One DAC might have a fantastic S/PDIF implementation and so-so AES, while another one can be the opposite.  This inconsistency is present even in $10k+ devices.

 

Strangely enough, some people have reported getting a better sound using a high-quality converter to S/PDIF on their DAC, even if it the DAC has native async USB capabilities.  I would have dismissed these claims in the past, but after hearing the difference a low jitter signal did for my DAC, I think there might be something worth investigating there.

 

Coax connections generally seem to perform the best, but it really depends on the device.



I agree, apparently my old super pro 707 is optimised for toslink connection and performs best with optical. I've tried both and there does seem to be more air and soundstage with optical. But on my V dac the coaxial sounds better with more body, air and fullness. Both sound better with these inputs over usb direct.

 

I'd like to try the new Vdac mkII as they've incorporated the V link components so you can get 24/192 direct with the usb. They've also released a V link MkII aswell... ?

post #56 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post

Elysian's observation about iTunes being veiled is something that I would like to know more about. When I first tried out foobar I thought it was more revealing than iTunes; but; I dismissed this as a volume difference. And, since the folks at foobar make no claim about their player sounding better, I let my volume observation stand. Maybe, iTunes is instead veiled.


Foobar's creators may believe that all bit-perfect players running in WASAPI or KS or ASIO modes sound the same. I think they're wrong about that, but whatever. I would be surprised however if they said that Foobar or JRiver etc in bit-perfect mode sounds the same as WMP or iTunes or other players that are not bit-perfect running DirectSound. To my ears there is a definite step up going from DS to WASAPI, and that includes Foobar in DS vs Foobar in WASAPI. Bit-perfect counts. Foobar I think sounds roughly equal with JRiver in its memory playback mode. I haven't tried cPlay or Stealth player, but I think JPlay is a noticeable step up from Foobar/WASAPI, even without hibernation or overdrive modes active.

 

post #57 of 69

I'm using iTunes, Why? Because I had to rip all my CD's as apple lossless to put them on my iPod, and now that I finally have everything set up right, I really don't want to rip everything again, never mind fixing album art and genres and such. Maybe iTunes is several percentages worse than something like foobar, but the tiled view for artists/albums, the idea of not having to manually enter all of the id3 tags/art/info, and other similar features make it worth it to me. Besides, I'm playing from a laptop with a uDac, It's not exactly part of a 10k system.

 

Also: I did find an improvement by permanently changing iTunes' priority to "very high" in the system setting. Now I get very very few skips during playback.

post #58 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverickmonk View Post

I'm using iTunes, Why? Because I had to rip all my CD's as apple lossless to put them on my iPod, and now that I finally have everything set up right, I really don't want to rip everything again, never mind fixing album art and genres and such. Maybe iTunes is several percentages worse than something like foobar, but the tiled view for artists/albums, the idea of not having to manually enter all of the id3 tags/art/info, and other similar features make it worth it to me. Besides, I'm playing from a laptop with a uDac, It's not exactly part of a 10k system.


You don't have to re-rip anything. A program like Xrecode II can convert from ALAC to FLAC directly, and it should preserve tags and embedded cover art.

 

post #59 of 69


Won't that create new files?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


You don't have to re-rip anything. A program like Xrecode II can convert from ALAC to FLAC directly, and it should preserve tags and embedded cover art.

 



 

post #60 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Destroysall View Post


Won't that create new files?


Yes, although you can tell Xrecode to delete the source files after its finished converting if you don't want them.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › What software to use for playback? (Windows/PC)