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Bits PC Audio 101

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

  1. Mysterae

    Mysterae New Member

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    A good article for beginners, but I feel there's something missing. Not everyone uses a computer to playback digitally stored music. An increasing trend is the use of streaming, using devices like the Squeezebox 3 or Roku to receive the music data wirelessly and play it back on your hi-fi gear.

    The music can be stored on a NAS (Network Attached Storage) or on a pc if you really want to leave your killer gaming behemoth running just to play music.

    This is a huge subject and could be addressed in another article (hint)! There's so many options in this emerging market at the moment that not many know of.

    (I'm about to buy a QNAP NAS and a SB3 for my digital music).
     
  2. |V| 4 L k i 3 R

    |V| 4 L k i 3 R Member

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    For those of you who like to use iTunes but want the audio quality of the Foobar/ASIO setup try here...
    http://www.aqua-soft.org/board/showthread.php?t=41373
    Just realize that it uses iTunes 7.0.2 and if you have an iPhone, it's not really going to be an option.
     
  3. juandolia

    juandolia New Member

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    does ubuntu suffer the same problems?
     
  4. MaximumShow

    MaximumShow Member

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    That is only because you replaced a thin gauge wire with a heftier gauge wire (and different conducting metals). That is like apples and oranges. The difference you are hearing is real, but it is because there is far less resistance in 12awg cable vs 22awg. Actually 22awg wire would be considered sub-par for a majority of speaker systems, especially on a run of more than several feet.

    Silver is a better conductor than copper, but there is very little difference in comparing 12awg silver to 12awg copper, which is the way the comparison should be viewed.

    I'd like people to realise, as someone stated, that a speaker cable or an interconnect CANNOT make your system sound better. Your only choice is to choose a cable that doesn't affect the signal as much or badly as another. There is a boundary called physics that limits how "good" a cable can be. Fortunately, regular 99-point-whatever% pure copper is so close to perfect (by our hearing standards) that anything beyond that is not usually needed. The diminishing returns show themselves very quickly.

    Proper construction does play a large factor (ie shielding, solid connections, non oxidizing connectors), but cables meeting these criteria are easily found, and can be quite inexpensive.

    EDIT: BTW there are hundreds of feet of "standard" wire in each voice coil of each speaker, not to mention dozens of feet for the inductors in each crossover. 5-10 feet of super-magic-turbo wire does nothing but pay for somebody else's Ferrari.
     
    Last edited: 17 Sep 2007
  5. ComputerKing

    ComputerKing <img src="http://forums.bit-tech.net/images/smilie

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    WOW! I didn't know that I can run 2 sound cards! This will be awesome! I don't know what to do with them, but It's nice to have SLI sound cards ;)

    This is very useful information Sound, Can't wait for the Graphics one :) I know what Bit-Tech doing.

    Thanks very much. Tech me more.
     
  6. richms

    richms New Member

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    AC97 chips only support 48kHz output, lots of the suckeyness of their sound quality can be solved by using software to convert up to 48kHz rather then the kmixer or the audio drivers to do it- I find the high end much cleaner with a sample rate conversion done in foobar to 48k and then played via kmixer. If I use kernel streaming then I lose the ability to play other things at the same time, and foobar cant open the soundcard heaps because one of my chat programs is using it.
     
  7. Da Dego

    Da Dego Brett Thomas

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    I love having poor hearing, in some respects. ;) I'm far from deaf, mind you, but everyone in the office is amazed that I frankly can't tell most compressions from one another and certainly don't understand the whole idea of lossless. Fidelity is wonderful, but frankly my ears just can't discern that much difference. :D
     
  8. cpemma

    cpemma Ecky thump

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    I've read your words again, after reading some posts I thought you must have been preaching like a tele-evangelist but it's a fair view. I do think you over-estimate the quality possible from PC speakers, the enclosure size and power supply just can't cut it. You've been spoilt.

    One point you rightly point out,
    Which ties in nicely with
    It's made me revisit my set-up, always a good thing. I've had a good listen via foobar, Winamp, Media Player Classic and WMP, along with some more obscure ones; I've tried different Lame settings and compared against lossless; at the end of the day I'm another Da Dego and features won out over any perceived audio differences. Enjoy the music! :rock:
     
  9. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    All of the posts starting with "I an audiophile because ive got a XXX thousand pound hi-fi" make me chuckle. Perhaps the article would have more credibility if I mentioned what I do most of my listening on :lol:

    You're probably right that I'm over-estimating PC-speakers as a whole, but the T20s genuinely impressed me with their sound given the very low price and small size. It be a challenge to spec something better out for 50 quid new.

    Win some lose some, but tbh I expected more moaning here ;)
     
  10. cpemma

    cpemma Ecky thump

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    I don't think Bindi's posted. :whistles:
     
  11. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I can't tell, I've got him on ignore xD
     
  12. dom_

    dom_ --->

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    Send them over to zerogain ;) they like cable talk as you know. Then let the nutters at the naim forum show them what silly money can do.
     
  13. mrb_no1

    mrb_no1 Pie Eater

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    Ah ha, finally a reply, ok, my experience is based upon 1 of 2 hifi's i own, the first is for pure music listening and consists of Arcam diVA a70 amplifier (replaced old Arcam 8r amp), with an Arcam CD-73 cd player(replaced the Arcam 7se player) which are accompanied by some Castle Harlech S2 Loudspeakers using Cable talk "hosepipe" as cabling. I cant be bother to walk downstairs now but the components sit on a 4 tier rack spaced with 120mm sheets of 'engineered' glass. The home cinema setup is whatever console you want, makes little difference(pc's included), the amp is a Yamaha DSP-AX640SE (replaced the flagship DSP-A1000) with B&W S2 603 loudspeakers, S2 601 bookshelf speakers at the rear and a random centre that i stole from ebay to replace my original(tough life at university), speakers again are linked with cabletalk 'hosepipe' but at £26 a metre, the rears are a more affordable cable talk 5.1 i think, around £10 a metre. Those are the XXX thousand pound hifi's that 'make' me an audiophile :p i dont think one can say they are an audiophile, like one can't say he's an aristocrat, but as an enthusiaist i might be considered an audiophile, but i couldnt care less what the label was because it doesnt matter, i was just using the terminology associated with the topic and i love what i think are great sounding hifi's.

    I wasnt contesting pc speakers, for the money they are awesome in my opinion, i'm certainly not disappointed with my logitech z5500's, but then if you expect to get out of pc speakers what you can from a hifi, you will probably be disappointed. I tend to expect certain levels of performance from the level of capital invested into a product, as it is the £240 quid(gotta love student loans) i spend on the logi's, they are great in games and movies too. My dig for credibility was only really at creative speakers, not your personal choice par se or ability to make sound decisions.

    peace

    fatman
     
  14. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I've considered myself a hi-fi enthusiast, audiophile if you will, for a good long time, but only in the last 2 years have I put together a "real" hi-fi. I currently do most of my listening in a dedicated listening room, Pathos ClassicOne mk2, Proac Response 1SC and a heavily modified Marantz CD63 KI Sig, DH Labs Q10 and BL1 connecting the bits - a reasonable mid/high-end hifi imo - does this make me any more of an "audiophile" than I was 5 years ago when I listened to music on a Creative Labs Gigaworks surround set? no.

    My point was, it seems like people use "I have an expensive hi-fi" as if it will make a statement more credible, when in actual fact it means little.
     
  15. crazybob

    crazybob Voice of Reason

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    If your speaker interconnects have a name more detailed than "copper speaker wire" then you're probably reaching a bit far. I don't doubt the usefulness of heavy-gauge speaker wire, and I'll certainly not question the usefulness of soldered spade connectors and proper heatshrinking on the joints, but that's the limit and I'm just as capable of doing those things as any company out there, for quite a bit less money.
     
  16. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I disagree, I auditioned a whole range of cables and interconnects at a whole range of prices (from cheap and cheerful garden variety copper to massively expensive esoteric cables) and found the DH Labs combo to be the best on my kit. If its a cable argument you're after, try a hi-fi forum ;)
     
  17. wharrad

    wharrad New Member

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    It's hard to describe, but I'd definately agree that cables can make a difference (sorry, I know, wrong place for debate, but stick with me!)...

    It's all about weakest links and spending your money to improve each part. The difference between a 12p/meter cable and a £10/meter cable is huge, but beyond that it won't be a weak link anymore. And it's also true that the difference between a £250 hifi and a £500 hifi is vast, the difference between £500 and £750 is great, but then the difference between £750 and £1,000 is only good.

    It's all about finding a level (income aside) where the you personally cannot hear a gain... This changes for everyone and indeed, over time, it changes per individual.


    The magic of this article is that it improves your sound quality without spending money!! So why not?

    I also seem to remember that 75% of the population is to a certain extent tone deaf. I remember my uncle once having a VERY nice hifi, but it was setup sooo wrong and sounded tinny, he didn't have a clue! But fine, fair enough, he still enjoyed it. Also, there are too many people who put everything in bass... if you just wanted to be sick from a loud sound, go lie on a runway. Each to his own :)
     
  18. completemadness

    completemadness New Member

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    I don't agree, and IMO cables do make a difference

    the best way to tell is with AV interconnects, because you really can see the difference
    However, i have difficulty telling the difference between expensive, and very expensive cables
     
  19. dom_

    dom_ --->

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    Some say they do some say they don't. I sit in the middle.

    Better cables do not improve sound they just reduce the degradation of sound. Any wire is bad. So the better the wire the less bad it is.

    However the system you hear the difference on is important. All systems will react differently. Cheaper systems don't allow you to hear the differences easily. Unlike expensive ones. Same thing with low bit-rate mp3's and lossless.

    The cables i use are silver and gold, but i made them myself so they work out cheaper than most purchased high purity copper wires.
    DIY is the way to go with cables. Especially when you have a trade account with bullion dealers (people who sell gold and silver)

    This is again a personal thing, some people would not think twice about £15,000 on a power supply for the new top of the line cd player. Others £30,000 for a DAC etc.
    As you move up the scale it does diminish, but the more you get comfy with your current setup the better a more expensive one becomes. 3 years ago £300 on a amplifier was a silly amount for me. Now i reckon at £1000 a component and when you take, preamp, poweramp, tuner, phonostage, cartride, tonearm, deck, deck powersupply, speakers, headphone amp, headphones etc. it adds up. But i use it and enjoy it so much that it is worth every penny to me.
     
  20. crazybob

    crazybob Voice of Reason

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    Whoa, whoa. I didn't say that cables don't make a difference. In fact, I agree - they make a significant difference. I only said that I feel wires with model names are overkill. Brand names are fine, because obviously someone has to make the stuff and will want recognition. I just have a problem if they describe their products with a name as opposed to just using descriptors like wire gauge and connector types. I understand that dirt-cheap cable won't work as well as higher-quality stuff, and I respect the need for heavy wire and good end connections. However, as soon as your advertising goes beyond "our cable is really thick high-grade copper figure-8 with soldered spade connectors," then you've entered the realm of advertising lunacy where you find claims that sound like physics but actually aren't.

    For example, I'm going to pick on your DH Labs cables because they make it easy.
    Silver is a bit more conductive than copper, sure. Not a lot, but if you found that it actually made a difference, then you could just step your plain copper up from 20-ga to 18-ga and the copper would be cheaper and more conductive. The Teflon is ok, because it really is a very good insulator, though calling it a dielectric rather than insulator is just an attempt to confuse people into spending money. All that about the synergy with the copper is a complete load - they just plated some wire with a thin layer of silver. And then, oxygen-free copper. Oxygen-free copper is at the very best 1% more conductive than standard electrical copper. It's even less significant than the silver.

    I'd get banned quickly.
     
    Last edited: 19 Sep 2007
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