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Old 24th April 2005, 08:13 PM   #1
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Question CD player vs. computer soundcard

I'm a beginner in diy audio and I only built my own speakers till now.

As a source, i use my laptop's soundcard, which is the simplest intel integrated audio chipset.
The result on my fostex FX120 is already excellent, but I thought the same about my old speakers before hearing the Fostex

I would like to know what is the best audio player for winXP, because I felt a huge difference between wmp7 and wmp10 concerning the sound. I saw in the forum that some people like the quicktime player and I'm testing it right now;

Another thing I'd like to know is : what is the best choice between an external soundcard and a cd/dvd player such as the pioneer DV575AS in order to achieve the most audiophile result ?
I read an article in a computer magazine that shows great numbers about soundcards, like 97dB S/N ratio or 0,0001% THD but the sound quality and detail level cannot be compared with numbers.
I'd like not to spend more than 150 $ on such peripherals so please let me know about your experiences !
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Old 25th April 2005, 03:46 PM   #2
foo is offline foo  Tibet
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try 1212M soundcard and use foobar2000 as player
with ASIO output and maximum buffer.
you will tell the difference then .
By the way , give up compressed files . They suck .
Use Wav files instead .
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Old 25th April 2005, 08:18 PM   #3
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I downloaded foobar2000 and compared it with wmp10 on different files playback : wav doesn't give a significant improvement but mp3 does : better detail level, sharper high frequencies, faster bass.
I didn't test wma right now but I suppose there can be no improvement as it's Microsoft codec.

I use mp3 the most often to save my cds on the computer but I use the best quality : 320kbs joint stereo encoded with Lame3.97 beta. at this bitrate there is hardly no audible difference even when "searching" for the details missing in the music, so I only have one album encoded in lossless format on my HDD.

For the soundcard, this one is not good for me as I need it external, for my laptop.
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Old 25th April 2005, 08:33 PM   #4
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use one of the host of new compression formats. Perhaps the best is Apple's .aac (offered freely with iTunes, perhaps the most intuitive music library app available) (which is .mp4 btw), though both Apple (available on PC through iTunes) and WMP have a lossless filetype that will give you a far higher sample rate than you can hear.
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Old 25th April 2005, 08:44 PM   #5
homer09 is offline homer09  Canada
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i vote for .mpc or musepack. an older codec without too much development or popularity, but UNEQUALED sound quality at higher bit rates (200kbs+). this codec was designed for audiophile quality, not for compression stats. (unusable at higher compression)

for better sound at lower compression: ogg.
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Old 25th April 2005, 08:52 PM   #6
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The EMU 0404 PC card has some pretty spectacular specifications and cost $99,-. I actually bought one a few months a go but it is still in the box. Should get it out soon and let you know how it sounds though. There are a lot of raving reviews if you care to Google on 'EMU 0404 review'

and the homepage: www.emu.com
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Old 26th April 2005, 08:03 AM   #7
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I heard about musepack and all these alternative formats which sound very good. I have one album encoded in .mpc at 320kbs. The only problem is I cannot use these formats everywhere I go, for example in a mp3 player or at a friend, so I use mp3 very often with Lame encoder which is known for it's good quality at highest bitrates, though the sound is awful at low bitrates.


For the soundcard, I need an external one but unfortunately, the choice is reduced : I want at least 24/96, I want an audiophile product and if possible, digital input for a correct price : This description led me to the Creative Audigy 2 NX with 7.1 and digital in, at 85euros and the Creative soundblaster Live! 24 bits with 5.1 but no digital in, at 47 euros.

Normally, the second one would be enough for me because it's cheaper, but the website doesn't give SNR and THD so I suppose they are not so good.Does anyone know something about this soundcard ?
The Audigy has nice specifications but I saw on a website it was more designed for gaming than for audiophile performance. Has anyone heard something about this product ?
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Old 26th April 2005, 09:49 AM   #8
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here is a laptop sound card that would be of interest

http://www2.newegg.com/Product/Produ...82E16829102184

i know this is an american web retailer... but the info is good.


now about codecs, just use the lame codec with a bit rate around 196 - 256kbps. mp3 lossy is exillent for keeping files small and retaining sound quality, unless you make a audio cd from them, then the sound would be hollow and tingy. .mp3 is used every were. but if you want a lossless codec try flac, the sound is good, the compression is great, and you should be able to use any software player with it. oh and its open source too. for a player i recommend xmms or winamp 2.91 or earlier, one could usually find a plugin for winamp to play anything. ive been using 2.91 for years and never had a problem. you do need quicktime for the apple codecs though, cant get around that... but i use quicktime for web content mostly anyway. i hate getting stuck with using proprietary software. windows media audio and video has good quality, and there streaming technology is great, but i would never use there wma codec for my music playback... ever... there souce is locked, and the files are limited to there player and anyone elses hard/software that is licenses, so you pay in the long term.
mp3 is everywere, in dvd/cd players, car audio, solidstate portable devices, ect. wmv is there in SOME as well, but look at the price of two car stereos that have all the same features, but one has just mp3 and the other has mp3 and wma. in most cases the one with wma is more. licensing sucks, dont it...

for the lossless codec, flac is a good choice, it is open source, free, and i know a few ppl who sware by it. flac is also great for streaming across a network or the 'net, i personaly dont use flac very often myself, but in some cases when i rip a cd and want to make a disc later ill ether use flac or just rip to wav. besides wav file can be huge... a cd is about 650 - 700 MB. ouch...

here are a few links

flac: http://flac.sourceforge.net/

winamp: http://www.oldversion.com/program.php?n=winamp
or
http://www.download.com/3000-2139-10009814.html

an open source ripper encoder: http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/

you could use the current ver. of winamp, but i would be carefull, aol got there hands on it and it turned bloated and crappy, but thats my opinion.

if your just listening to music than i would use mp3, if your criticaly listening to an audio system or a pair of speakers than i would use flac or a high quality copy (or original) cd to listen. so... just remember mp3 is everywere, others are not. besides its just computer audio, the weakest link is giong to always be your computers layout or design, be it pci cards, motherboard design, or in this case the way a laptop is made. unless some anal audiophiles( no offence) starts working for a computer/components manufacturer. you will never get the results you would from a well made cd player, turntabe, system setup, ect.
take this as you like, ive been in to audio since i was 12, and been in to computer since i was 17. audio will always be a hobby, but computer is going to be my carrer (working on a msca, ccna, and possibly cna), everyday somewere i learn something new, this place is one of them.

well thats my 2 cents.
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Old 26th April 2005, 10:45 AM   #9
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If you are concern with quality and quantity, may I recommend the portable module TVIX that can host a very large harddrive with spif out. I use EAC to rip my cd into the TVIX (with 160G) and the digital out is very very good, better than the Philips 963sa I had used before.
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Old 26th April 2005, 01:31 PM   #10
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the PCMCIA soundcard seems to be the best choice for me, it has THX certification and D/A 192khz conversion, but the price is a little bit high for me and moreover, the PCMCIA connection only allows its use on a laptop, though it's less ressource demanding than USB2.

I'm a little aware that the best soundcard cannot equal the best SACD player, but I suppose you can get a more audiophile result with the same budget with a soundcard than with a whole player, as the player needs its power supply, CD drive...

Concerning FLAC I didn't know this encoder which seems great. I try it the next time I rip a CD ! EAC is also an excellent grabber, which makes a 1:1 copy and I use it every time I grab my CDs though it's unable to bypass copy control protection, so you need to mask with a whiteborad marker the second session on the disc to rip the CD

I think I'll buy the Creative audigy 2NX when I have more money because I first need to build good cables for my install and eventually change my amp
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