Author Topic: bit-perfect playback in Windows  (Read 8876 times)

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Offline bluewater

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bit-perfect playback in Windows
« on: February 10, 2008, 11:10:21 »
The problem is: how to get bit-perfect audio playback working when watching dvd's and videos in Windows.
I didn't any good answer on the internet so can write about it here as well. This started when I switched
to better listening equipment and noticed that the sound quality in windows is somewhat messed up without some tweaking.
I read about this and found out this happens to all windows users, no matter what "platinum / extreme" edition soundcard one has.
The problem is that the k-mixer built into windows touches the sound quality by first re-sampling all 44.1khz material up to 48khz, then
it mixes it and then downsamples it back to 44.1khz.
There's a thing called ASIO/kernel streaming driver that fixes this problem by feeding directly
to the soundcard. Unfortunately not all programs support the ASIO driver. Here's what i did to solve
a part of this problem, i have x-fi xtreme gamer soundcard:

-Switched to "audio creation mode" in the creative drivers. Then activated the "asio" mode,
all the crystallizer, dynamic compression and other crap is also gone then.
-I use Foobar 2k for audio playback, it supports Asio driver for the soundcard output.

When i change for example the volume now in Foobar 2k it has a lot more smoother
effect, before activating Asio it sounded like turning the volume knob on a really old and dusty amplifier, far from hi-fi
equipment.
 
But I think windows touches
the sound also when playing dvd's. It seems that media player classic or Vlc that are otherwise
great media players don't support bit-perfect. If you know a solution to this (perhaps you are musician or hifist
and familiar with this) let me know. I know some people will say "swich to mac" is the solution
but there must be some workaround for Windows too.


edit: I found this:
"under the conditions that the Wave Volume is maxed out and that no other stream is playing,
bitperfect output is possible under XP and 2k using WaveOut/DSound."

Perhaps i'm just paranoid about the 48khz audio playback, could be bitperfect via Directsound also. At least
bitperfect enough. And feeding DTS through digital out to a receiver probably confirms this - it wouldn't decode if touched, windows can't "decode DTS, mix it, and encode
it to DTS again". But I have 2.0 speakers so i don't use DTS, only Ac3/pcm/mpeg.

Life's too short to listen to lossy music


Offline Steve

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Re: bit-perfect playback in Windows
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2008, 12:14:04 »
 :shock: :shock:
Not really sure, but Caley might know. He's a technical wizard.

Personally, I would avoid listening to music on a computer in the first place.
Cheers
Steve
I know tomorrow's going to taste like cake
http://www.balatonfured.hu/en_index.php

Offline bluewater

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Re: bit-perfect playback in Windows
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2008, 12:41:41 »
And keeping the wav-volume always at 100% is not really the solution for me because i don't have a pre-amp and
i use powered speakers, so a secure volume changing option in Windows is necessary.

I use analogue-output from the soundcard but
that is not the source of problem because windows interferes the same way before the sound gets to the
digital output also.
Life's too short to listen to lossy music

Offline lostflower4

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Re: bit-perfect playback in Windows
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2008, 16:43:07 »
no matter what "platinum / extreme" edition soundcard one has.
The problem is that the k-mixer built into windows touches the sound quality by first re-sampling all 44.1khz material up to 48khz, then
it mixes it and then downsamples it back to 44.1khz.
There's a thing called ASIO/kernel streaming driver that fixes this problem by feeding directly
to the soundcard. Unfortunately not all programs support the ASIO driver. Here's what i did to solve
a part of this problem, i have x-fi xtreme gamer soundcard:

-Switched to "audio creation mode" in the creative drivers.

But aren't these Creative-brand cards the source of the problem, and not Windows? I know that virtually every SoundBlaster out there does that 44 > 48 > 44K crap, but the newer and more expensive ones have the option of disabling it.

If I go into Audition 3.0 to record, I have a choice of using either "Windows sound" or "ASIO 2.0" as my recording driver. Well, using Windows sound doesn't even work. It just creates a bunch of garbled 16-bit sound, even if I'm recording in 24-bit.

Other programs I've seen don't mention anything about drivers, but I think they still work correctly, defaulting to the appropriate ASIO configuration. Otherwise, it would be pretty obvious (see above).


Personally, I would avoid listening to music on a computer in the first place.

Well, music needs to be created/produced somewhere. I guess you've got a professional reel-to-reel studio out there in Hungary?  ;)

Offline bluewater

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Re: bit-perfect playback in Windows
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2008, 18:43:57 »

The kmixer is a windows-default. If programs don't specifically call Asio or kernel streaming
it's on. It's not soundblaster based problem. The debate is over whether it's a problem at all and
whether it's possible to hear the  difference between k-mixer off and on.
I can't prove I hear the difference so I'm a bit shy bringing the subject up. I have more major
problems like the card's crappy D-a converter and crappy drivers ahead so it's not necessarily k-mixer  what i hear.
Creative- manifactured X-fi's have a lot of problems like crackle and pop and sometimes you hear only noise from the speakers.
I'll upgrade to Auzentech prelude x-fi 7.1 when it comes available, it uses superior
quality components and is the best value at the moment for gaming and audio.
But this kmixer thing is worth considering in lossless and hifi department. It is discussed a lot
but no-one really knows anything. Lots of fears only that it affects the sound but no proof really.
Life's too short to listen to lossy music


Offline Steve

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Re: bit-perfect playback in Windows
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2008, 19:31:50 »
Still on wax cylinders over here :-D

But, I guess you're right. Has to go through the machine first before I can get a shiny round thing to chuck in the player.
Cheers
Steve
I know tomorrow's going to taste like cake
http://www.balatonfured.hu/en_index.php

Offline lostflower4

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Re: bit-perfect playback in Windows
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2008, 19:36:00 »
Well, I do know that Windows and Creative are really tied in with each other. After all, the only cards that work directly with the original Windows sound controller are Creative cards. If you have a different brand of card, the functionality of the Windows mixer is either limited or completely disabled.

And I was thinking that if Windows somehow "forced" this sort of sample rate conversion, wouldn't it also force a bit depth conversion, like 24 > 16 > 24 bits? Well, I can prove that this is not happening on my system.

If this is really a great concern to you, I might suggest avoiding Creative products in general. I lost all respect for them a long time ago because of the 44 > 48 > 44K issue. Heck, it even resamples 48K audio to 48K.  :oops:

Not to mention that one time I got a computer that came with an "premium" Audigy card, but it sounded like crap compared to a $5 SoundBlaster Live!  What were they thinking when they made that?  :?

Offline bluewater

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Re: bit-perfect playback in Windows
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2008, 12:54:48 »
Yeah, problem solved or there was no problem related to bit-perfect output. Well, no one knows what the soundcards do internally and very few know what the drivers do. It's always
possible your equipment is handling mangled data. But there are other problems with this
card, have to replace it soon.

edit: in addition to the auzen prelude card i'll get a Beresford TC-7510 DAC

http://www.homehifi.co.uk/main/main.html

those will ensure i never have to worry about
computer audio again.
Life's too short to listen to lossy music

 

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