Originally Posted by GyanGage
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.