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Old 27th December 2006, 04:12 AM   #21
Daveis is offline Daveis  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nixie

I'm not familiar with KS, but the purpose of ASIO is to provide low latency and input-output synchronization -- how would either contribute to sound quality?

Doing your D/A conversion inside the interference-full PC case is not conductive to good sound. I've been using an outboard DAC for years.

ASIO provides low latency and control of i/o synch. It's benefit isn't so much what it does, but what it doesn't do -- pass the sound through a bad software mixer designed for games rather than DAW use. ASIO is a way to bypass Microsoft kmixer, etc.

On RME cards, I suspect that the WDM emulated sound driver is bypassing any/all Windows mixing.

Cards from RME (HDSP9632?) or Lynx are probably every bit as good as cheap external DAC's. Is anyone using a sound card direct into their amp and not having problems with ground loop type issues?
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Old 27th December 2006, 04:42 AM   #22
DcibeL is offline DcibeL  Canada
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Quote:
Originally posted by Daveis
Is anyone using a sound card direct into their amp and not having problems with ground loop type issues?
I never had problems with my M-Audio Audiophile 2496. Though I did cut the ground connection between the card and the chassis, which may have lowered the noise floor, but I wouldn't know as the noise floor was already unheard at all listening volumes. This card was plugged into my Kookaburra preamp, then from the preamp into my Mauro LM3886 amplifier. I now use an external DAC to improve sound quality, nothing to do with noise.
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Old 27th December 2006, 04:58 AM   #23
Nixie is offline Nixie  Canada
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My computer ground is so noisy that my outboard DAC would sometimes lose lock on the signal... I put a scope to the S/PDIF and scared the **** out of me.
Ended up putting a pulse transformer on the sound card's S/PDIF output.
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Old 27th December 2006, 05:03 AM   #24
Nixie is offline Nixie  Canada
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I'm using kx project drivers on my Creative card, since Creative drivers don't work with Gigastudio (that has got to be the only sound card company that doesn't have GSIF support). It's great as you can mess with the firmware code on the card is running.
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Old 27th December 2006, 06:32 AM   #25
DcibeL is offline DcibeL  Canada
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The M-Audio card has a transformer at the digital I/O dongle, but I can't tell visually if it is for the digital input or the output. Maybe I should get out my multimeter and check.

Just to contribute something to the topic, in Windows I strictly use Foobar, it's great in so many ways. In Linux (my primary OS), I haven't heard any audible differences between players so I just use XMMS, and mplayer for quiet tracks. Mplayer has a volume normalizer plugin that works great for quiet tracks, while XMMS's volume normalizer is horrible; I could never get it to work right without blaring real loud music in my ears every once in a while. I would like to try out Aqualung on Linux, as it is geared towards audio fidelity.
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Old 27th December 2006, 12:01 PM   #26
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I'm also using kxdrivers; mainly for tri-amping xover functions. I use optical outs to avoid all the nasties from the PC. I had jumped on the optical band wagon before even thinking about digital coax and transformers; though I doubt it would even make a difference to me.

This is all on a HTPC running Media Center, so of course WMP is used as my player. I have tried a few other players before and could not convince myself I heard anything different, let alone "better".
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Old 27th December 2006, 12:07 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by Daveis
Is anyone using a sound card direct into their amp and not having problems with ground loop type issues?
I am running direct and have no noise issues at all.

However I am using balanced outputs and balanced inputs as I believe RCAs are the spawn of the devil.
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Old 27th December 2006, 12:35 PM   #28
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Default aqualung

DecibeL

I tried the windows version of aqualung and it seems that you always have to have a sample rate converter loaded in the dsp part of the chain. The best quality converter is rated at 97db snr which is lower than a number of soundcards. There may be a way of turning off src, but I havnt been able to identify any way of doing so.

The linux version may of course be different, and it has the advantage of being able to load ladspa plugins into the dsp (might be a nice crossover plugin somewhere). Please report back if you try this player.
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Old 27th December 2006, 03:06 PM   #29
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Daveis: " ... Is anyone using a sound card direct into their amp and not having problems with ground loop type issues? ... "

DcibeL: " ... I never had problems with my M-Audio Audiophile 2496. Though I did cut the ground connection between the card and the chassis, which may have lowered the noise floor, but I wouldn't know as the noise floor was already unheard at all listening volumes. This card was plugged into my Kookaburra preamp, then from the preamp into my Mauro LM3886 amplifier. ..."

The M-Audio 24bit/96k card was designed specifically to reduce or eliminate ground loops ... and its 24bit DAC has a very good noise floor to begin with.

There are several serious issues with PC plug in cards from other makes that do have difficult noise issues and more than a few do have ground loop potential. The modern M-Audio plug in cards and modern Apple Mac LossLess optical output being noteworthy exceptions, as a general rule one should avoid the PCI / PCMCIA and other plug-in sound cards ... external USB and FireWire devices almost always have provisions like linear voltage regulators to isolate the dirty, noisy PC power supplies from the audio stream.

As far as the playback software goes, they all work equally as well (as per Nixie, et al), exceptions being failure to interface with the better drivers (ASIO, etc.) and lack of plug-ins.

PC based audio quality or lack thereof is all primarily hardware related, software not really being an issue. 24bit DACs rule, dudes ... live with it.

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Old 27th December 2006, 04:49 PM   #30
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Default PCI

This thread seems to have morphed into something very similar to the other pc source thread.

Would a well implemented pci card not generally best a usb or firewire dac? Specifically, since current solutions for both of these introduce just as much jitter as spdif (albeit different jitter) Also, in a lot (even all?) of cases usb/firwire ports on a pc use the pci bus internally - use of a pci card which buffers audio directly into the onboard dac cuts out the added stage of further buses and protocols which should make for a simplified audio path. Improved shielding, EMI reduction and improved supplies for soundcards may be a useful approach to DIY in this area. Blackcatsound put this well in the other thread.

Of course if the dac chip preferred is not available as a soundcard you must build something externally and use spdif, i2S, usb or firewire and deal with the implied problems as best you can (or live with them).

Apart from buffer sizes and audio interfaces (asio, ALSA etc.) I also can't see why one player would differ from another which has the same features. I guess code wise no player is likely to implement the same feature in exactly the same way as another. But if there is an effect upon sound, this must surely be close to inaudible unless the code is put together very badly or algorithims are chosen to reduce cpu overhead rather than perform optimally?

I can imagine that if carrying out upsampling etc. then there would be significant benefits in doing this offline using a dedicated studio grade algorithm rather than in realtime.
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