I have been a big fan of the head-fi forums for a long time, inevitably arriving here after a multitude of google searches on many different audio questions. I never did create an account, until now, as I considered myself too much of a newbie to discuss matters with the fine educated folks that dwell in these awesome forums. I still consider myself a newbie, but I am also an audio enthusiast, determine to make the most of what modest means of listening I have. This post is the result of sheer frustration with trying to search and unravel my audio queries by myself. In short: I need help - someone knowledgeable who can put things in simple terms for me.
My music library is mainly composed of mp3s with a bitrate of 320kbps. For me, that is the best compromise in quality while still providing an enjoyable listening experience. Very quickly, my setup is:
- a Sound Blaster x-fi xtreme audio soundcard
- Audiotechnica ath m50's (widely used, I believe).
- OS is Windows 7 64bit Ultimate
- media player is itunes
- Windows Control Panel sound settings are 24 bit and 48kHz (should it be more?)
- soundcard sample rate is set to 96khz (it might just be placebo, but I swear I notice a subtle difference in harmonics and soundstage with some files, namely a Chris Jones record)
So with those elements in mind, I essentially have 3 brutal questions:
1- what should be the optimal playback settings for itunes? Specifically refering to the sample rate and bit depth settings of the player? Right now I have it set to 24 bit and 48kHz.
Since most of my music is, as I've said, 320kbps mp3s (which have 16 bit and 44.1 khz - am I assuming right?) I guess there must be some sort of upsampling going on. I tried setting itunes to 16 bit and 44.1 kHz and comparing. I am leaning toward the upsampling (sounds better to my ears, I think) but I can't be absolutely sure as everytime I switch these settings it requires a reboot of the software in order for it to take effect. When I listen to the same file again a good 20 seconds have passed.
2- Should I set iTunes to direct sound or WAS? What is the difference?
[EDIT: After doing a bit more reading shouldn't windows audio session send the audio stream directly from itunes to windows mixer without conversion? If that is the case then why can I still set the bit depth and sample rate in itunes when I choose WAS? This is all extremely confusing...]
3- Please help me understand this. After searching and reading for what seemed like hours I am still unsure. I see a lot of mention to wasapi. What in the ever living giraffe's balls is wasapi? what does it do? Do I need it? Will it improve my audio listening experience?
If you read this far: thank you. I tried to keep it short and hope sometime to contribute to this forum which is jam packed with useful information.
Looking forward to gaining some knowledge.
Edited by Compfy Listenin - 5/23/13 at 12:56am