Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Are hi-def audio player apps a scam?...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Are hi-def audio player apps a scam?...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

 

I'm new to this world (and enjoying it) but I have question that is bugging me and if I'm missing something I would like to know what it is.

 

In short, I'm confused by the abundance, and cost, of hi-def audio player software available and the many reviews about how one player sounds better than another.  A digital file is a digital file, a 1 is a 1 and a 0 is a 0... I don't understand how one player can sound better than another if both are sending the same digital file to the DAC.

 
In particular, I'm talking about Amarra, Bit Perfect, Decibel and Audirvana Plus.  In order for a player to make the output sound better it must alter the file (e.g. Apply an EQ effect in real-time) which is not what you would want to do on a pristine, hi-def audio file.  Am I missing something here?  Seems to me the entire "sounds better" argument is a snake oil scam.  
 
How is it that one application can sound better than another when both are sending the same file to the same DAC?  
 
Or are these applications acting as a virtual DAC and converting the digital file to audio instead of the computer?  That would make sense to me but I don't believe that's what's happening.
 
Thanks for your time!
 
Gyan 
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by GyanGage View Post
 

Hello all,

 

 In order for a player to make the output sound better it must alter the file (e.g. Apply an EQ effect in real-time) which is not what you would want to do on a pristine, hi-def audio file. 

Practice is exactly the opposite.

An OS (be it Win, OSX, Linux, etc) assumes multiple streams.

You play your audio and you want to hear a notification when a mail arrives.

 

Hence they have to mix and you can only mix if both streams run at the same sample rate.

For mixing, the audio is converted to float even if 1 stream is playing, converted back to integer (otherwise your DAC can’t make sense out of it) and dithered because the quantization noise had to be removed.

 

As it assumes a fixed sample rate, you have to set this rate in the audio panel of the OS.

If you play a file with a different sample rate, the media player will resample it to the sample rate as set in the audio panel.

 

All this is what most ‘audiophile’ media players do avoid. The good ones bypass the mixer and allow for automatic sample rate switching.

In other words, they don’t meddle with the file.

 

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks Roseval,

 

Yes "In other words, they don’t meddle with the file" this is exactly what I would expect.  I was under the assumption that the raw file is "pure" and if it sounds different (even better) then the player must be doing something to the file.  Your explanation makes sense -- it's the computer corrupting the file initially and the player minimizing (can it eliminate it?) that corruption.

 

Make sense -- thank you!

post #4 of 9

“Corrupting” is a big word.

In general the impact is subtle.

Best thing you can do is simply try.

Get some loss-less files

Get a media player allowing you to switch between OS sound and bit perfect playback

Check what it does on your system with your music, room acoustics, gear, etc.

YMMV

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roseval View Post
 

In general the impact is subtle.

 

 

Well, the media players and touting a major difference in quality but, of course, they're trying to sell something.

 

Good advice.  Saw your website... Will be looking around there a bit too.  Thanks for providing the help.

post #6 of 9

Chances are you will hear no difference at all, and like most things in the audio world they're probably scams.

post #7 of 9
There are certain things a program can do to make playback more robust, but unless you are applying DSP processing to change the sound, all bit-perfect players should sound identical.
When it comes to features though, there are many reasons to go with a player other than something limited like iTunes. (note: iTunes is also not a bit-perfect player)
post #8 of 9

Easy answer - let your ears decide.

 

E.g. Play the same file/album in Itunes, then listen again on Audirvana (free trial). If you can't hear a difference stick with free. :-)

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Common sense... always a good answer. :)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Are hi-def audio player apps a scam?...