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Old 17th August 2008, 08:38 PM   #31
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Mastering requires very low delays as you want to hear instantly what is under the cursor on the screen.

My hobby is developing linux alsa drivers for soundcards, I enjoy learning how PC audio hardware works.
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Old 17th August 2008, 09:57 PM   #32
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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I just finished skimming the Art of Building...

For a windows audio newbie it certainly offers a lot of useful tips. There are some unsupported or wrong claims, such as:

A ~2ms latency delivers performance of an equivalent $10,000 traditional CD transport. However, much lower latencies can be attained and thereby achieve far superior results. Lowest latency offers best results (~0.25ms playback latency is possible using KS)!

How does a latency relate to price of a CD player? As a matter of fact, the most expensive CD players read the disc several times using higher speed, cache the data and make corrections. They use long digital filters for upsampling which introduce very long latencies.

Another incorrect statement:

Use soundcards with non-metallic digital output interface.
Toslink is available whilst ST Glass is not easily found. For 24/96 output, Toslink excels when used with quality glass fibre cables such as Audioquest’s Optilink 5 or Van Den Hul’s Optocoupler. Galvanic isolation is achieved which is impossible with BNC, Coax or AES/EBU.

Decent PCI soundcards have their coax SPDIF output equipped with an isolation transformer and the coax is galvanically isolated from the PC circuits.

Still I have no idea how buffers damage sound and low latency is imperative to quality of the sound.

Actually, I am surprised the article does not deal with types of sound cards nor individual models which has a major impact on the resulting sound. Instead, it spends a great deal of time on tuning RAM modules timing
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Old 17th August 2008, 10:07 PM   #33
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I also skimmed it. It recommends things like disabling the processor's L3 cache, reducing the RAM clock speed and timings. And at the end of that section, it says, "Test playback via external DAC. There should be significant improvements!" These changes affect timings by tens of nanoseconds. Their having an effect on audio playback is questionable. If there's evidence to the contrary, I'd like to see it.

On the software side, the document suggests removing as much as possible of Windows, which does make sense, I suppose, in a (no offense) obsessive-compulsive way.

If you change one tiny variable in a complex system and hear a change, color me skeptical. The underlying issue is: as long as it's got bits in it, a FIFO doesn't care where or when its bits came from.
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Old 17th August 2008, 10:18 PM   #34
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Exactly. And the timing changes influence the input side of the FIFO (DMA plus the feedback-controlled FIFO "reclocking" from the PCI clock domain to the sound card clock domain). This kind of FIFO is there for a reason

The changes of memory timing could maybe influence noise of the power supply (which affects to some extent the sound card clock). And we are back at the power supply.
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Old 19th August 2008, 06:30 PM   #35
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I love how people spew conjecture without ever actually having tested anything. If you want to know for sure what is possible in PC Audio I suggest you start trying these things. There are scores of people now who havedone so and can validate that the methods that CICS writes about do indeed greatly improve sonics.

I suggest looking at the PC Asylum for more.
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Old 22nd August 2008, 10:41 AM   #36
Phobos is offline Phobos  Italy
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Wait a second, we are talking how to improve the sonics of a flawed system imho.
A PC's PSu is not made to provide power to HIFI equipment, whatever you do you can not get around that.
Instead of tweaking your system, and buying expensive SSDs, people should buy a external sound card with its own regulated PSU.
On the topic of latency, it does not affect sound quality under any aspect, it is just that when you are recording, editing, mixing or mastering you need to listen to what is under the cursor, otherwise you couldn't do a proper cut or crossfade, in instance.
When you are listening to music to enjoy it, there is no difference at all between a <10 ms and a 10 seconds system.
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Old 22nd August 2008, 06:28 PM   #37
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I use an external USB dac and I wish that latency did not have any effect on replay bit it sure as hell does especially with ASIO.
The best replay I have heard is from Wavelab and it has latency adjustments that are clearly audible.
Now I have to say that I have heard systems that were not effected by any of these settings but then again they were absolute crap in comparison to an optimized system. So yes if your system has so many other things masking the performance potential you wont benefit from any of this.
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