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ASIO superior?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

I'm just getting into computer audio using FooBar, and I'm wondering if using the ASIO interface gives superior sound. Any experience with that?

Dennis

post #2 of 33

I believe the WASAPI component is the preferred plug in for Foobar2000.

post #3 of 33

From what I've read (which is very limited research on the subject), is that ASIO is supposed to be better than WASAPI.  The difference, however, seems to be noted as minimal at best.  I am running WASAPI out of my laptop using fubar, and it works well enough that I haven't messed with trying to use ASIO on the laptop yet.

post #4 of 33

I don't know if the WASAPI drivers have been improved in recent years or not but Creative suggest that ASIO drivers are superior when used with my old Audigy 2ZS.With Jriver I have tried both ASIO and WASAPI and found no discernible difference in SQ, ASIO is a bit flaky and unstable though while WASAPI is just much better at dealing with higher resolution FLAC files with no hiccups, much more stable for my old card... and is what I continue to use.

 

Your soundcard/player combo may differ though and it might be worth trying ASIO.


Edited by Ari33 - 11/19/13 at 4:33am
post #5 of 33

Some practical considerations.

Both drivers have in common that they pass by the Win mixer so no fixed sample rate and no dither.

ASIO doesn’t work if your audio device doesn’t support it.

Most of the time the combination soundcard – WASAPI doesn’t allow for automatic sample rate switching.

WASAPI – USB DAC does.

I do think both drivers do improve the sound compared with DS (Direct Sound, Windows default)

But of course YMMV

post #6 of 33
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the information. I know very little about soundcard drivers. Is this WASAPI thing something the soundcard itself must support? Would it work with an old soundcard?

 

While I'm on this topic, has anyone found the USB cable to make a difference in SQ?

post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by raddle View Post
 

Thanks for the information. I know very little about soundcard drivers. Is this WASAPI thing something the soundcard itself must support? Would it work with an old soundcard?

 

While I'm on this topic, has anyone found the USB cable to make a difference in SQ?

 

In principle WASAPI should work with all audio devices while ASIO drivers can only be used with cards configured for them. There is a good page about WASAPI here- http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/KB/WASAPI.htm

 

A USB cable that improves audio quality? A few on here will swear that it can but from a technical standpoint, with it merely transporting digital data streams consisting of 1's and 0's prior to entering a DAC, I don't see how it possibly could. Discussed here- http://www.head-fi.org/t/673171/need-usb-cable-does-usb-cable-make-a-differences


Edited by Ari33 - 11/19/13 at 5:05pm
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ari33 View Post
 

 

In principle WASAPI should work with all audio devices while ASIO drivers can only be used with cards configured for them. There is a good page about WASAPI here- http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/KB/WASAPI.htm

 

A USB cable that improves audio quality? A few on here will swear that it can but from a technical standpoint, with it merely transporting digital data streams consisting of 1's and 0's prior to entering a DAC, I don't see how it possibly could. Discussed here- http://www.head-fi.org/t/673171/need-usb-cable-does-usb-cable-make-a-differences

Thanks for the links.

 

A USB cable also provides 5V power to the DAC (in some cases) and could have some design aspect that cleans up the power somewhat.

post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by raddle View Post
 

Thanks for the links.

 

A USB cable also provides 5V power to the DAC (in some cases) and could have some design aspect that cleans up the power somewhat.

 

Sorry, yes, USB Isolators and/or linear power supply powered USB cables can make a big difference when used with a noisy source. Very different to a mere expensive audiophile labelled USB cable though.. which is what I thought you meant.

post #10 of 33
Only when it's native ASIO. (supplied by the manufacturer)
WASAPI Exclusive is better than an ASIO wrapper like ASIO4All.
post #11 of 33

No, ASIO does not give superior audio quality and that is not its purpose either, it is for lower latency for recording purposes. WASAPI doesn't either but it bypasses the windows direct sound API, think of it like the 'flat' button like some older amps used to have.

post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schonen View Post
 

No, ASIO does not give superior audio quality and that is not its purpose either, it is for lower latency for recording purposes. WASAPI doesn't either but it bypasses the windows direct sound API, think of it like the 'flat' button like some older amps used to have.


You're right, I did not mean that it should sound better. It's a better interface to use for other reasons if your hardware has native ASIO support, but one bit-perfect output should be the same as any other.

post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 

Now I'm getting confused. It's good to bypass Windows direct sound, right? To get bit-perfect output? Is there some way to do that besides WASAPI and ASIO?

post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by raddle View Post
 

Now I'm getting confused. It's good to bypass Windows direct sound, right? To get bit-perfect output? Is there some way to do that besides WASAPI and ASIO?

 

DirectSound goes through the Windows Mixer, which means the audio gets converted to 32-bit floating point data before it is output, and it is resampled to a fixed sample rate. (whatever your device is set to) It allows audio to play in other applications while you are playing music.

 

WASAPI Shared also allows other applications to play sounds while you are listening to music, but it runs at a fixed sample rate. If you send it something other than what your device is currently set to, you will receive an error rather than Windows resampling it.

 

WASAPI Exclusive bypasses the Windows Mixer, blocks sound from other applications, and should be able to control the hardware's sample rate to match the track being played. Some hardware does not support this - e.g. ASUS Sound Cards - so WASAPI Exclusive is potentially not bit-perfect.


WASAPI Event Style is better than regular WASAPI Exclusive, because it lets the device pull the audio from the PC, rather than the PC just pushing audio to the device. If your hardware supports it, you should use this. In all other respects, it is the same as WASAPI Exclusive.

 

ASIO (as provided by the device manufacturer) provides a direct connection between the player and the hardware, and should give the player full control over the device. It often lets you adjust things like the size of the hardware buffer (to adjust latency) and should provide access to change the sample rate even when WASAPI does not. ASIO should be bit-perfect, but may not always be an exclusive output. If my ASIO bit-depth/sample rate match Windows' settings, I can still hear background audio for example. I send system audio to another device to prevent this. (speakers built into my monitor)

 

Kernel Streaming also bypasses the Windows mixer but it's a legacy option and should not really be used on anything newer than XP. Some people like this because it has lower-level access to the hardware than WASAPI, but that should not be necessary.

 

 

All bit-perfect outputs (WASAPI Exclusive/Event, ASIO, Kernel Streaming) should sound the same, though different output modes may require different buffer sizes/latency to avoid pops and clicks during playback if the computer is being used for other tasks at the same time. (lower latency is more susceptible to this)

post #15 of 33
Thread Starter 

Wow, StudioSound, what an informative post. I'm saving it.

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