1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Bits PC Audio 101

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Tim S, 12 Sep 2007.

  1. Jipa

    Jipa Avoiding the "I guess.." since 2004

    Joined:
    5 Feb 2004
    Posts:
    6,363
    Likes Received:
    125
    Yeah it makes me cry when I see people buing omgleet-gaming-fatal1ty-sound cards for 100 € and then using some el cheapo 10€ headsets with them. It should say in the package "This card wont make you frag moar if you're not using adequate speakers/headphones!" so those people would understand it.
     
  2. Bluephoenix

    Bluephoenix Spoon? What spoon?

    Joined:
    3 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    968
    Likes Received:
    1
    lolzorz :lol:
     
  3. audionut

    audionut New Member

    Joined:
    13 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Don't get me wrong -- I'm really happy to see people go through the effort to put these guides together and round up a great collection of software. But there are some big misconceptions in this guide that make one of the most common use cases, combining computer + existing audio system, a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

    I have a lousy integrated sound chip on my motherboard (ABIT AB9 QuadGT) , and I use iTunes, yet I get bit-exact replication of the source material all the way to my external power amplifier, which is at the edge of a high-end sound system. K-mixer is not as brain-dead as the article suggests. It only resamples if there is a mismatch with what the hardware is telling it that it supports. My MB came with a Realtek utility that allows you to set a specific sampling rate on the S/PDIF output. Just set it to 44.1kHz, and K-mixer does the right thing. There is no need for foobar2000, ASIO drivers, or kernel streaming. I think many people have problems with K-mixer because their drivers aren't correctly reporting the hardware capabilities. It is certainly worth checking what your hardware can do before you make things a lot more complicated with even more software and hardware.

    There's only one sentence buried in the article about using an external DAC. If you already have an audio system, this is the simplest and cheapest way to go... lots of cheap integrated sound chips have digital outputs -- there is no need to sink money into something that is just going to serve as a digital passthrough, so that the amplifier down the line can do the real work.

    Hope this helps...
     
  4. devdevil85

    devdevil85 New Member

    Joined:
    29 Nov 2006
    Posts:
    924
    Likes Received:
    0
    Which is better in terms of quality for a Sony 5.1 setup, optical or digital coax? Now which would be better for the 18-foot run from my SB Audigy 2 to my reciever?
     
  5. DougEdey

    DougEdey I pwn all your storage

    Joined:
    5 Jul 2005
    Posts:
    13,933
    Likes Received:
    33
    Coax will be cheaper but optical probably better.
     
  6. devdevil85

    devdevil85 New Member

    Joined:
    29 Nov 2006
    Posts:
    924
    Likes Received:
    0
    the reason why I thought coax over optical in the beginning was that I have to make a sharp corner since the end of my desk fits right next to the wall which is of course a 90 degree angle to then get to my sound card, so I thought I would lose signal, but I could always try to lessen the bend...either way I want to go optical because I think my receiver would handle the signal better than coax because coax seems fake. I am also unable to configure individual speakers. Both my center speaker and subwoffer aren't noticed in the speaker config setup screen, so I want to go optical since I think there would be more precise handling of the speaker configuration....but I have no clue....
     
  7. r0z|3o0n

    r0z|3o0n New Member

    Joined:
    28 Nov 2004
    Posts:
    104
    Likes Received:
    1
    I'm using ASIO4All with my Realtek HD, through the optical out, Headroom External DAC, Discrete Headphone amp... does this mean i'm bypassing all the crappy bits :D It sounds pretty damn sweet through my HD595's :)
     
  8. DougEdey

    DougEdey I pwn all your storage

    Joined:
    5 Jul 2005
    Posts:
    13,933
    Likes Received:
    33
    You can get T-bend for optical, but it'd be best it you need to go round a corner to take it under carpet at a gently bend.
     
  9. Renoir

    Renoir New Member

    Joined:
    19 Jul 2006
    Posts:
    190
    Likes Received:
    0
    It was my understanding from previous readings on hydrogenaudio that the kmixer will always resample the audio regardless of what sample rate you have your sound card set to. It even as I mentioned earlier resamples from 44.1 to 44.1. I believe people on HA forums use/d DTS-CDs to test whether their set up was avoiding the kmixer because if the DTS was not bit for bit identical and had been altered in any way by resampling then it simply wouldn't play. I would be interested if you could confirm whether this is no longer the case. Vista's audio architecture is different from xp's so just for reference what os are you using for this bit-exact replication from itunes?

    Incorrect. The audio ripper from illustrate DMC also supports "secure ripping".
     
  10. chode messiah

    chode messiah New Member

    Joined:
    14 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
  11. evanbraakensiek

    evanbraakensiek New Member

    Joined:
    24 Feb 2005
    Posts:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm inclined to agree with OmegaRed59 somewhat. I would consider myself somewhat enlightened on this subject due to the fact I'm in the process of doing something similar myself on SK although I'm specifying more into gaming audio and also providing a group review of headsets and earphones as well.

    Some of your suggestions were quite conflicting to be fair. Why introduce ASIO when typically everyone who reads this won't be affecting the number of input or outputs in their 'system'? You could argue reduced latency but that is negligible in this day and age. I thought you were quite shameful not to mention that neither Apple OSX or Linux have such 'issues' (regarded asio and latency) but instead choose to plug your chosen programmes.

    Another thing, was the entire page on speakers and cabling. Firstly I felt you completely neglected the importance of cabling. I'm of the opinion either keep it to a bare minimum in your 'system' or invest properly, because bad cable negates the point of even attempting to improve your sound. I would stick clear of all speakers when your talking about gaming to be honest. A decent pair of speakers that could do justice to even just stereophonic sound would be beyond the price range of most gamers.

    Regardless of latency, bandwidth issues, how many channels or what format you encode in. The 'last step' of the journey pretty much gulfs the rest of the system by importance. You invest in a good pair of headphones or earphones (or speakers if you wish to ask for trouble) and everything will naturally benefit.
     
  12. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    27 Dec 2002
    Posts:
    12,178
    Likes Received:
    687
    The thing about audio, everyone has a different opinion and you're never going to get everyone in agreement.

    I chose to "plug" the specific programs because in my experience they're the best at doing what they do. I didn't include a guide for every audio program and OS under the sun becase its simply not possible to cover all bases, and largely unnecessary. This is a beginners guide and not the final word.

    To address some of your other points... I devoted as much space to cables as I felt necessary relative to their importance in a system, if you wan't to argue about cables, you're best off doing it on a hi-fi forum tbh, and you're not going to get anywhere there either. I believe it was made clear that this guide was not aimed at gaming, but at music. ASIO in my experience adds quite a bit to the sound quality over windows K-Mixer, regardless of the way you use the PC. etc

    I think what I'm trying to say is, if you don't agree with it, then pay no attention to it ;)


    I was half-expecting to see a thread full of fanboy flames tbh, and part of me was dreading logging on after a while off the internet to have a look :blush:
     
  13. dom_

    dom_ --->

    Joined:
    4 Jan 2004
    Posts:
    3,942
    Likes Received:
    8
    Wont my music sound better with the new nordost odin £9000 interconnect using my £15 speakers?
    :D

    I only use my pc for the rare cd i play and dvd's. So an e-mu 0404 with foobar is fine for me. Except i can not get ASIO to work with vista.

    The benefit of ASIO is large though. When using XP the difference always amazed me. But you will not hear the difference on a cheap system. The same to the person saying you can not hear the difference between lossless and compressed mp3's. He obviously has not got a good enough system to hear the difference or is just cloth eared.
     
  14. OleJ

    OleJ Me!

    Joined:
    1 Jul 2007
    Posts:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    10
    Hey Joshua
    Just wanted to tell you that it's a great article.
    I've been into HIFI for a very long time (~10+ years) and I think your article is a really great and straight forward guide for those seeking to achieve so much more with their current audio setup.
    Now, some audiophiles have aired their opinions here, but as usual they totally neglect the fact that by following the first couple of pages in your guide almost anyone will gain greatly concerning music on their PC.
    I think you're spot on with almost the entire article and the recommandations. Kudoz!

    Using ASIO to bring audio to your sound cards' DAC REALLY improves sound quality over the windows default. Period!

    By the way I consider myself more of a Computerophile than Audiophile and I think this covers 99.99% of bit-tech readers so I concur that pedantic audiophiles take their ignorant criticism to an audiophile phorum ;)

    Again. great article. Clear, easy to follow and spot on.
    Thank You
     
  15. David_Fitzy

    David_Fitzy I modded a keyboard once....

    Joined:
    8 Jan 2004
    Posts:
    206
    Likes Received:
    2
    So if you ASIO the music to an on-board via SPDIF to a good hifi you can save the moneys from a plugin audio card? I only ask as I'll be fairly soon making a htpc system
     
  16. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    27 Dec 2002
    Posts:
    12,178
    Likes Received:
    687
    You jest, but I toyed with using the speaker cable from my proper hifi on some creative "premium" PC speakers. The improvement was massive.



    OK, you got me, there was no difference. Maybe ample use of shakti stones would make the difference audible :lol:
     
  17. Breach

    Breach Modding in Exile

    Joined:
    20 Jun 2005
    Posts:
    396
    Likes Received:
    1
    In my quest to set up foobar correctly I found there is no such thing for my onboard sound, but I did find this - http://www.tippach.net/asio4all. It seems to work well with foobar :)
     
  18. mrb_no1

    mrb_no1 Pie Eater

    Joined:
    15 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    394
    Likes Received:
    1
    I am a bit of an hifi enthusiast, adiophile, whatever you wanna label me as....and down stairs i have ~4-5k of hifi equipment that allows for immersive, crisp and detailed sound that is enough to wash ones troubles away with the right choice of music. But i dont think people give enough credit to the abilities of "pc speakers". Ok, a sub is used to over compensate the satellites lack of mid-low range of frequencies, but what do you expect, satellites are tiny and if the base if too overpowering turn the sub down already, tis not rocket science.

    In my second year at uni i had a place big enough to have my 5.0 B&W setup in my room, hooked up to my terratec soundcard and it sounded great...as the year progressed i got into gaming more and more and the terratec just didnt cut it in surround games like bf2 etc, so i reluctantly invested in a creative Fatal1ty card (i say reluctantly as creative have been portrayed a company who makes gear on the cheap, maximising margins for the sake of build quality, esp. in speakers.) As it turns out, the card was actually really good after a few teething problems were sorted out, and if you turn off the crystalizer and their CMSS 3-D features things start to work properly and impress me both in games and in dedicated audio listening. I was surprised moving from a terratec card which were recognised as performing well in a more professional situation to what a creative gaming card could do. As it is i've never looked back and am still impressed with the card today. It's currently hooked up to some logitech z-5500's and sounds great, ok so its not as good as my hifi setup, but the cost of actual hifi components for the pc setup is ~£350 and the hifi is 4~5K, do you think there would be a difference?

    The article was ok, it touched on alot of topics that people will find useful, but what i've written about are the things that bugged me when i was reading it as i feel it was rushed and alot more research could have done, not trying to be rude but walking into a hifi shop and spending a day listening to the different speakers etc would have opened up Tim's eyes to alot i feel, for example, having undermined the surround system for music listening, if you're going to compare satelites to monitor speakers, atleast go and ask to listen to say a bose system, around £1500 and then compare to a monitor and floorstanding speaker system and the gap is reduced but you cant get that quality of speaker for a pc config, in my opinion. I cant remember what else bugged me in the article, but the key is to remember that its all IMO, in saying that hifi choice is completely subjective Tim did hit the nail on the head, i have friends who just dont hear the things i might in music, subtle changes etc but that might just be what differentiates an enthusiast from a normal person, that or i'm going mad and my mind is tricking me.

    Oh yeh, speaker cabling, in my experience, the better the system the more the need for a better cable(obviously), i was always told when hifi shopping (started at the age of 15 from paper-round earnings) that 10% of your budget should be on cabling, so cheap systems can get away with cheap cables, if you spend alot more obviously that 10% grows in £ but is warranted as the transfer of signal is important as there's no point having a £10k amp and cd player using a radio antenna wire to send the signal to the speakers as all the processing advantages gained in the amp and cd player will be lost by the time they reach the speaker.

    peace

    FATMAN

    p.s i find it hard to respect a man who credits a creative speaker system...but i will with hold my judgement until i've heard the speakers in a rig i know! :p
     
  19. crazybob

    crazybob Voice of Reason

    Joined:
    21 Oct 2004
    Posts:
    1,123
    Likes Received:
    6
    I've seen a few people mention 'aged speaker systems' in this thread so far, and I just want to complain about that for a moment. While it's true that an extremely old speaker may not sound quite as good as it did when it was newer, that's not to say it's a bad system.

    If, for example, you've got a nice old set of hifi speakers that your uncle gave you last time he moved, you're probably not going to beat their sound quality with any computer speaker system in the world. Sure, newer hifi speakers might do better, but in this case newer is only better if you're getting a new system from the same class of products. The speakers currently hooked up to my TV are ~30 years old, a set of Pioneer CS-99a's, and I've never heard anything nearly as good. With a bit of creative furniture shuffling, I could hook them up to my computer and have a sound system that no fancy plastic-boxed 87.9 super-awesome computer speaker set in the world could rival, despite the age of my speakers. People who buy expensive computer systems would do well to look around garage sales and eBay first - I've seen my Pioneers going for as little as $200 on eBay.

    Stepping aside from unusually large hifi speakers and expensive computer setups, you can get pretty decent sound even with the speakers from those relatively cheap 3- or 4-piece CD-player/tape-deck/radio mini stereos, like these. Please understand that I don't condone buying a system like that specifically for use on your computer; if you're buying new you can get much better things for your money. However, I'd imagine you've got at least one family member somewhere with a system like those that doesn't get used. Go ahead and wire it up to your computer. I promise it'll sound better than that Logitech surround-sound system you've been eyeing.

    EDIT: I should probably add that although my Pioneers themselves are decently cheap on eBay, the shipping on something that heavy is terrifying and will probably cost half again what the speakers cost.
     
    Last edited: 16 Sep 2007
  20. cpemma

    cpemma Ecky thump

    Joined:
    27 Nov 2001
    Posts:
    12,328
    Likes Received:
    55
    Not so much avoiding kmixer as being adversely affected. A quick and easy test is to play udial.
    It plays fine through my Soundstorm on-board audio using Winamp in Directsound, Kernel Streaming and nVidia ASIO modes, with XP SP2 - no re-sampling occurs. Your soundcard's drivers can be responsible for re-sampling, but blaming MS is more fun. :sigh:

    Correct, plus it's under active development and "more reliable" for Flac. The one snag, dBpoweramp isn't freeware. :(

    Nobody with intelligence will claim Flac isn't a very good way to store audio; it's lossless, it can be converted back to the original with zero change. By definition MP3 can never be better, more transparent, than Flac. But to dismiss MP3 as "crap" or every doubter "cloth-eared" loses the authors any credibility; a tiny percentage of humanity can tell the difference between 192kbps MP3 and an original CD quality reliably, and it's the optimum way to store audio when space is limited, as on a portable player. Choosing a setting better than the average download quality isn't hard. Just trade number of tracks storable for the degree of transparency needed to suit your player.
     
    Last edited: 16 Sep 2007
Tags: Add Tags

Share This Page