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Newbie needs clarification on bitperfect setups


markeyd
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I am a newbie (running a WinXP Pro SP3 PC) on a budget. Over time I may invest in a DAC, a better receiver, amp, etc., but all in due time as finances permit. Anyway, I am pretty happy with my system but want to hook up the PC to serve music files. As I am on a budget I have a M-Audio Revolution 7.1 on it's way and am wondering the best configuration on how to set everything up. I don't mean to be redundant with other threads, but want to make sure I understand the bits and pieces of knowledge I have accumulated, and ensure I've strung them together correctly.

 

In order to play "bit perfect" from my PC I need BOTH the hardware AND the software to do it, right? It sounds as if the hardware needs to bypass windows' tinkering (Kmixer) and that would be done via the drivers. If the sound card's drivers do that then great. If not I would need ASIO4all or something similar. Is that right so far? The Revolution 7.1 card supports ASIO on it's analog outs, but not it's SPDIF out. Does that mean that if I use the analog outs, and possibly check a setting in the hardware manager dialog somewhere then I am good to go? If I use the SPDIF out instead then I need to also install ASIO4all?

 

Now, on the software end I am using foobar. Would I also need an ASIO plugin for foobar if I use the analog outs as described above? What if I use the SPDIF out?

 

Lastly, I will have to choose which output to use on my soundcard: the analog or SPDIF. The advantage to using the card's DAC as opposed to my receiver's is that the card supports 24-bit, 192 kHz and the receiver's is not that high. (It's a yamaha rx-v995). I've decided to see how each sounds when playing a file from a ripped redbook cd and go with the better sounding output. If the analog sounds better than great, I'll use that. If the SPDIF sounds better I'll use it, and if I start playing DVD-A files I'll have to upgrade to a separate DAC.

 

Thanks for any insight you might be able to provide.

 

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You might go the ASIO way but if the hardware won’t allow ASIO over SPDIF, it won’t.

ASIO is a direct communication between the player software and the sound card.

Your player must therefore support ASIO.

 

The problem with Kmixer are mixing and sample rate conversion (needed if you mix streams like audio and system sound or VOIP).

When configured correctly, XP is able to deliver bit perfect output.

As long as you don't mix and don't apply SRC you're fine.

You might have a look at the Benchmark Wiki: http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/wiki/index.php/Windows_XP_Audio_Playback_-_Setup_Guide

More on ASIO: http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/KB/ASIO.htm

 

 

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Outstanding. Thanks.

 

Aside from an A/B comparison as to which I think sounds better on my equipment can you think of any reason why I might use the SPDIF as opposed to analog outs for playing 2-Channel files. I can not foresee playing surround sound files at this time.

 

The only reason I can think of is that the DAC on the card puts out a higher resolution than the DAC in my receiver can decode which would come in handy if I have DVD-A files. An argument for using the analog outs on the card. Maybe I am missing something here?

 

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The Benchmark link above states:

 

"Keep all digital volume controls at 'unity gain' (100% or 0.0 dB)

This applies to digital volume controls in media players, XP's Master Volume Control, or any others".

 

The Wavelength Audio Windows setup page on the usbdacs.com site states:

"Note that the Volume on a PC is at 50%, this is where it is suppose [sic] to be. More and gain will be multiplied to the sample, less and it will be subtracted."

 

Which is correct?

 

 

 

hFX Classic fanless i7 SSD > Locus Nucleus / SW Diverter HR > RWA Isabella LFP-V Pro / New Sensor Genalex Gold Lion E88CC > ALO Sennheiser HD 800 balanced[br]

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PC / Pro-Ject USB dac (modded)/ Musical Fidelity X10-D (modded)/ Musical Fidelity X-A1 (modded)/ B&W CDM1 SE/ Supra Power Cables/ Nordost Flatline Speaker Cables

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The downside to this? If there are errors on the CD, you will hear them as there is not any correction being made to overcome the error.

This is nonsense, CD error correction is part of the player properties. You need specialized software like EAC to bypass it.

 

Many times, due to poorly written drivers, sound cards that will interact with the KMixer wil cause this 44.1kHz data to be resampled to 48kHz.

Upsampling to 48 is not a matter of a poorly written driver but hardware supporting only 48 kHz.

 

I’m afraid RedGTiVR6 is not a good source.

 

 

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Another novice here with some questions that I just can’t seem to find adequate (read understandable) answers to. I have a Cambridge Audio Dacmagic on order and want to use my desk top PC running Windows XP as the server. I plan to use USB out of the PC, at least to begin with. I’m also thinking of using EAC and FOOBAR, although I could be convinced otherwise. I would like at some time in the near future to get into Hi Resolution.

1. Will the digital out using USB pass through the Kmixer? If so, is ASIO4ALL the only practicable way to bypass the Kmixer?

2. What are the best options for a sound card that will output bit perfect pcm in s/pdif (of at least 24/96, 192 would be better) for less than $200? I don’t anticipate needing any other function from the sound card.

 

 

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1. Will the digital out using USB pass through the Kmixer? If so, is ASIO4ALL the only practicable way to bypass the Kmixer?

Yes, for your PC USB audio is just another sound card

2. What are the best options for a sound card that will output bit perfect pcm in s/pdif (of at least 24/96, 192 would be better) for less than $200? I don’t anticipate needing any other function from the sound card.

Good implementations of USB audio do 24/96.

Try this first before you waste your money on a sound card.

As far as I could judge, there are only a very few labels offering recordings made with a resolution in excess of 24/96

Check if they have any music you like (except if you want to listen to hi rez for the sake of hi rez) before you buy a sound card.

 

PC running Windows XP as the server

A little nagging: you are running XP as the OS, you are using it to play your music directly.

A true music server is a box with a server process serving clients over the network.

Streaming audio requires a server, direct play not.

 

 

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"A little nagging: you are running XP as the OS, you are using it to play your music directly.

A true music server is a box with a server process serving clients over the network.

Streaming audio requires a server, direct play not."

 

OK, I should have known better, but I think what I trying to say was clear.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is max over USB is 16/48, or perhaps this is only what the Dacmagic will accept over USB. So what I really want to Know is how to get 24/96 out of computer to the dac. Which I can only assume is with a sound card. I don't have a sound card other than whats part of the mother board. 192 might be interesting at some point, anyway the CA Dacmagic does not accept that hi (192) on any inputs.

 

Thanks, Mark

 

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Quote,

"I’m afraid RedGTiVR6 is not a good source."

 

Of course you can take one or two phrases out of the contest and disagree on that, but there's not only a lot of good info in that site but also very good links to others interesting sites, like this one:

 

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=713073&page=1&pp=30

 

PC / Pro-Ject USB dac (modded)/ Musical Fidelity X10-D (modded)/ Musical Fidelity X-A1 (modded)/ B&W CDM1 SE/ Supra Power Cables/ Nordost Flatline Speaker Cables

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2. What are the best options for a sound card that will output bit perfect pcm in s/pdif (of at least 24/96, 192 would be better) for less than $200? I don’t anticipate needing any other function from the sound card.

 

Whatever you choose to purchase, check e-bay. I ordered my M-Audio revolution used for 35 bucks and that is 24/192 on all outputs. The card I bought is not made anymore (Rovolution 7.1). They make another card with an MSRP of $200 which has more features for recording and is 24/192:

 

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Audiophile192.html

 

I can not recommend anything based on experience, so take the above for what it's worth . . . For me, a Lynx card is just not an option right now, and am not sure I will ever be able to justify the expense. That is not a knock on anyone who has one, this is just a reflection on my finances, level of commitment to high end audio, etc.

 

The m-audio cards seem to get good reviews and positive feedback. I am sure there are a lot of others out there as well. Good luck, and thanks to everyone for their input.

 

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