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Using two soundcards at the same time?
Using two soundcards at the same time?
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Old 25th June 2018, 02:49 PM   #21
wwenze is offline wwenze  Singapore
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That explains why some VIA soundcard support MClock from SPDIF-in

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Old 25th June 2018, 04:54 PM   #22
Soldy is online now Soldy  Germany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phofman View Post
IME drivers are a problem in windows. But YMMV.

What sound card(s) would you recommend?
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Old 25th June 2018, 05:50 PM   #23
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldy View Post
Is an offset clock such a big (audible) problem?


@Markw4: Do you really think, that for example this soundcard (Creative Sound Blaster Z PCIe - Bulk) sounds bad in way you can hear it?
Yes, I'm sure. I have done a lot of work with DACs and actually have a number of different ones here. They all sound different, mostly in terms of distortion. Some people would say listening fatigue, but it's distortion. There are various kinds of distortion too, some linear, some easily quantifiable non-linear, and some more difficult to pin down in that they depend on certain particulars, such as clock jitter distortion. Some of the better DACs may let the user select from a choice of reconstruction filters. Why? Because they are all audible. Some pre-ring, some allow aliasing. Take your pick. There are ways to fix that but they get complex and expensive. The best DAC here is a Benchmark DAC-3 which is audibly superior to the others.

Regarding clock synchronization, if using different clocks you probably wouldn't notice a problem for awhile. Maybe a few minutes, hours, a day, whatever. Eventually they will be out of time with each other with one playing sound before the other because one clock finally got audibly ahead of the other. With cheap sound card clock years ago it could be a problem by the end of one song. Presumably they are better now and it would take longer.

It's not a problem with ESS Sabre based DACs or if there is an ASRC before the DAC and you drive it with, say, SPDIF or TOSLINK. In that case the ASRC will adjust the clock rate to match the DAC clock and the sound will play at the rate you send it to the DAC. That is probably a better solution than a central clock in that clock signals tend to pick up timing noise which results in jitter at the receiving end. It can be done, such as using Word Clock, with clock recovery using PLLs, but PLLs are difficult or impossible to get to to perform at a level good enough to compete with the best low-jitter crystal clocks.

If you think about jitter, sampling theory assumes samples are equally spaced along the time axis. So, we mostly study what happens with the amplitude axis. But errors in either axis put the sample points in the wrong place in the time-amplitude plane and cause distortion. What happens with most clocks is the frequency averages out to be the very stable over a few minutes or an hour, but from cycle to cycle there can be a lot of phase noise and that is where the problems arise.

Last edited by Markw4; 25th June 2018 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 25th June 2018, 06:48 PM   #24
jiiteepee is offline jiiteepee  Finland
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Did you accidentally reply to a wrong thread or what? Wasn't it just for crossover use instead of laboratory measures?
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Old 25th June 2018, 07:12 PM   #25
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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Har! No. For lab use one might want an instrumentation DAC. Depends.
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Old 26th June 2018, 05:07 AM   #26
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldy View Post
What sound card(s) would you recommend?
For linux multichannel DSP solution you may want to ask Charlie Laub who focuses exactly on such projects

LADSPA plugin programming for Linux audio crossovers
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Old 26th June 2018, 05:23 AM   #27
Soldy is online now Soldy  Germany
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@Mark: But the earlier mentioned prices are out of my reach, so I have to go with smth cheaper. What I have a hard time believing: Are the DACs in soundcards so much worse than the ones in mid level AVRs?


@phofman: Thx for the tip, I wrote him a PM
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Old 26th June 2018, 05:51 AM   #28
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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Originally Posted by Soldy View Post
Are the DACs in soundcards so much worse than the ones in mid level AVRs?
Couldn't say, don't follow that stuff.

I do know that doing an ES9038Q2M mobile dac the way ESS says is best can produce pretty good sound but it isn't cheap to do. It takes ultra-clean power supplies with pre-regulation before final regulation, ultra-low jitter clocking, proper power pin bypassing for opamps and other ICs, C0G caps and quality thin film resistors in signal path, and very careful PCB layout.

That's for a simple no-frills reasonably clean dac. It helps to upsample a bit higher than the highest playback sample rate and use a Sharc chip for interpolation filtering, but even if those things are skipped it adds up cost.

ESS would have the builder use a lot of AD797 opamps at $10 each. Turns out LME49720 are good enough, but nothing less than that. Most implementations cut too many corners. The reality is products are built to a price point and most buyers will go for more bells and whistles type features over improved sound quality. Seems there is very little market for low-cost, high-sound quality, otherwise no-frills DACs. As a result to only top of the line equipment gets decent data converters. Don't know what to do about that. I have been helping people mod some cheap stereo Chinese DACs into pretty high performing units, but it is a lot of work to do just one.
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Old 26th June 2018, 06:14 AM   #29
KaffiMann is online now KaffiMann  Norway
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Another vote for Voicemeeter Banana. I've been using it for some time now.
It's 8 channels per soundcard. You can also route audio to an external controller in addition to this. There is also a system to route audio via network protocol for multi-room solutions.

One of the cheapest solutions for good quality sound is the Sound BlasterX AE-5. I know there is a lot of prejudice towards Creative, but this soundcard utilizes the ESS ES9016K2M and it's probably one of the very few soundcards they have made that are actually good.
Sound BlasterX AE-5 Review: An Uncompromising Gaming Sound Card For Audiophiles | HotHardware

Last edited by KaffiMann; 26th June 2018 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 26th June 2018, 06:59 AM   #30
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
Eventually they will be out of time with each other with one playing sound before the other because one clock finally got audibly ahead of the other.
Actually, the problem is not about one soundcard getting audibly ahead of the other. It is about the player which outputs all channels samples at the same time, while soundcards consume their corresponding streams at different rates. After some time the buffer in between for each card overflows/underflows and that card or the whole chain will get stuck. Unless properly accounted for.

Quote:
It's not a problem with ESS Sabre based DACs or if there is an ASRC before the DAC and you drive it with, say, SPDIF or TOSLINK. In that case the ASRC will adjust the clock rate to match the DAC clock and the sound will play at the rate you send it to the DAC.
Still you need to create that multichannel SPDIF signal from the PC through some audio interface.
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