Jump to content
IGNORED

XXHighEnd


BEEMB
 Share

Recommended Posts

 

I'm hoping Chris doesn't mind me starting a new thread which is based on the subject of a forum members own piece of software. Since it's completely related to computer audio I felt I had to start a thread and see if there is some interest from other forumers in this player.

 

I tried XXHighEnd many months back and, without any support for AIFF I was not really interested. The thought of converting all my music to WAV filled me with dread so I gave up and left the software alone.

 

I recently decided to give it another try having bumped into a discussion on another webiste. Actually, the discussion was rather heated with some of the users were having a real moan about it and poor old Peter too. So I thought I'ld try it again for myself and spend a few hours listening - form my own opinion.

 

The front end often comes in for some criticism but it has been improved and is now pretty easy to use once you're used to it. I found setup to be relatively easy with various options aimed at improving the sound; heck, you can even make the player itself disappear or assign multiple cores to music playback.

 

In terms of sound quality I really can't quite put my finger on what it is that is making the player so listenable. I'm still in demo mode whilst I make up my mind whether it has enough over Media Monkey to warrant a purchase but - well - it's just sooo so easy to listen to. The instruments sound like they're set back behind my speakers, I can hear the odd sound that I'm sure I wasn't hearing before. I'm sure, so sure, I'm not imagining it. I can hear a great soundstage with Mediamonkey too- but, this is just so listenable. Maybe it's just something new !?

 

I'd like to better understand some of the settings within the player such as the Q1 sliders etc. Engine 3 appears to be the best one for use wiht Vista and utilises WASAPI for bit perfect playback. But, I'm not sure how that Q1 slider does not then interfere with bit perfect playback. How can the software play with jitter, within software?

 

Obviously I have one ask which is of Chris who I'd love to try out the software, give it some time, and report back with his thoughts. Chris - if you do find a spare few hours then Vista and engine 3 seems the way to go.

 

I'd be interested in other people's thoughts if they've given it a go too. Anybody who likes to play around a little will no doubt enjoy a listening test anyway.

 

Regards to all,

 

 

Matt.

 

 

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How are you connecting your AMD Athlon computer to the ADM9.1? Are you using a toslink connection from the computer into the ADM9.1 or are you using a DAC in-between? I seem to recall Chris using the Lynx AES16 and Berkeley Audio DAC as one of the configurations when he reviewed the AMD9.1.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Audiozorro,

 

I'm using a Tosklink connection. However, it's not connected directly from my motherboard.

I've put my faith in some guy by the name of Dogbert who has created drivers for one of the C-Media chipsets. According to him, the driver guarantee's a bit perfect output from this chipset, however, it is limited to 16bits up to 96khz.

 

Whether his bit perfect claim is true or not I don't know and at some point, I intend purchasing a firewire interface or RME soundcard. But comparing my current card with these drivers using ASIO or waveout with MediaMonkey to iTunes with the Airport Express showed MM+ the card + drviers to be a clear winner. A link to his drivers is here: http://code.google.com/p/cmediadrivers/

I also tried the chipset with the drivers made by the manufacturer. Yuck!.

 

I'm sure the info above will raise a few eyebrows. However, I really am enjoing a truley great sound, particularly with XXHighEnd, right now, as I write.

 

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi y'all- I'm usually content to lurk and take it all in, but tonight I feel like throwing my two cents in.

 

My computer desk "system" consists of a pair of AudioEngine A2's, a Cayin iDAC(I think one of maybe four out there:-) ), some cheap Tara Labs interconnects, and two 4" by 4" by 17" pieces of lumber acting as speaker stands.

I've had this setup for about 10 months now, listened to it A LOT, and I have definitely made some observations:

 

1-Vista sounds better than XP. No matter which software I tried, it sounds better in Vista.

 

2-in Vista, the second best software I've heard is Foobar with the WASAPI plugin-and the Secret Rabbit

Code resampling to 48k.

 

3-in Vista, the Best sounding software is XXHighend...period. More natural, better soundstage, better

dynamics, the works.

 

4-the Cayin Dac sounds really good-after a long break in it really opens up

 

5-the AudioEngine speakers sound way better than a pair of two hundred dollar speakers should.

 

 

 

 

 

Rich W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rich,

 

I'm glad you've thrown your two cents in. The more people here the better in my opinion.

 

I'm also pleased that you made that statement regarding XXHighEnd. I've enjoyed my listening this evening a great deal and it's nice to know I'm not going mad; you know sometimes I'm sure my brain makes me hear what I almost want to hear!

 

Since I can't resist tinkering I'm interested in trying out the secret rabbit code too. Is it relatively easy to setup and use ?

 

Matt.

 

 

 

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Roseval,

 

Thanks for the link.

 

I actually stumbled across this by mistake earlier - infact there was a link to it in one of the threads I mentioned above where one or two users were 'letting rip' at xx.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

in Vista, the second best software I've heard is Foobar with the WASAPI plugin-and the Secret Rabbit

Code resampling to 48k.

 

Note that this can also be because of the DAC having a (and one only) crystal that suits 48KHz. This has been proven before to sound better (and which is theoretically true for that ("clock-matching") part).

 

Peter

 

PS: Whilst knowing this, I must honestly say that I never thought of allowing for such a resampling in XXHE. Hmm ...

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Matt, thanks for trying. And you can always say you caused AIFF to be supported. :-)

 

The instruments sound like they're set back behind my speakers

 

If you like this, this is good. Note though that this might be a "virtue" of

a. the particular version

b. settings

 

On a. please note that with some experience one might not like this better compared to an earlier version, and over at phasure.com one is just allowed to make remarks about these kind of things *which I need* to improve again.

On b. for fun you might try Invert in combination with Q2=30 and Q3=30. The sound will be more forward because of this. That is, it looks like this is a common result for everybody (while Q2,Q3,Q4,Q4 are rather new and we need to get experienced on them).

 

The latter is just an example of one means to "create" a different sound because of jitter implications and DAC influences, and you won't be done with it in a few days.

 

Funny thing is that over the longer period of time people all have the same remarks, which is why the feedback is important and really helps on improving.

 

Regards,

Peter

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Peter,

 

I imagine I am going to be listening for days!

 

Could you explain exactly what those Q controls are doing ? I'm not sure I entirely understand them.

 

 

Matt.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt, I know this is subjective but is the improvement subtle from your point of view or really quite noticeable?

 

I actually have a copy of Vista Ultimate lying around here somewhere and have been thinking of trying out the XX player for some time. The cost of the software wouldn't be an issue -- not an enormous outlay in Audiofool World -- especially if it results in an experience that's subjectively better. What's held me back is simply the investment in time to test it out; it takes several hours to install vista, SP1, updates, disable unneeded services and UAE etc. etc. even before installing and trying out the software, then another couple of hours to restore back if I don't fancy it (I don't like dual booting). This type of thing used to be my definition of fun but these days I'm a lot lazier and would prefer to spend my time drinking beer. I guess most people who do not already have Vista running might feel the same way.

 

I originally gave up on Vista for performance reasons and lack of vendor support for my plethora of legacy hardware that runs happily on XP. Long term I think Vista is pretty much destined for obscurity -- most people I think will stick with XP for as long as possible, go straight to Windows 7 or move to Apple, although I can understand Peter's reasoning behind preferring Vista over XP for audio playback.

 

I would however be very interested in trying this on the basic Version of Windows 7 when this is released. Peter, will your software run on Windows 7 without too much additional work on your part or would it be a full development cycle?

 

Olive.

 

 

 

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]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Olive,

 

I've been really happy with Vista so far. My machine is far from a gaming powerhouse yet Vista runs fairly fast and smooth with any installed applications opening quickly. You could always drink beer whilst you install it ?

 

In terms of XX's sound quality improvement over my normal playback software, Media Monkey; I'm just finding XX so listenable. Infact, my brother came over earlier today and we compared the same tracks on both players. He agreed that XX seemed more laid back - it feels like you're given the chance to 'hear more'.

 

I know I'm not explaining myself very well here. But given that you can try it for free, I think it's worth having a play. I'd be very interested in your thoughts too.

 

I've not bought the full version yet. This allows you to dedicate all of your processor cores to music playback. I'm assuming that could give a further improvement in sound quality.

 

Matt.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can verify that Matt and I listened earlier and, in the small space of time I was there, it was apparent that XXHighend is easier to listen too, more subtle.

 

On returning home I decided to give WaveLab another go, having only briefly used it before. I found the same thing here - it is slightly easier to listen to than Media Monkey (though no where near as easy to manage your music library!!).

 

One thing that did puzzle me is that I am finding that WaveLab sounds better (more open, more refined) using MME-WDM instead of ASIO......?? Confused, as I thought this meant it would be going through all the Windows software!?

Martin

 

iTunes / Media Monkey, PC, Presonus Firebox --> Mackie HR624 mkII Active Monitors, M&K VX7 mkII

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks guys,

 

I might give it a try. I used Vista for about six months so have a pretty good idea of what's to come.

 

Olive.

 

"Think, before you drink, before you think." - Anonymous

 

 

 

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]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Tino,

 

But you've since changed your mind and agree that ASIO is better. Cool.

 

Begin a pro piece of software, you'd hope that there wouldn't be such a huge difference.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that did puzzle me is that I am finding that WaveLab sounds better (more open, more refined) using MME-WDM instead of ASIO......?? Confused, as I thought this meant it would be going through all the Windows software!?

 

Tino,

 

With some experience you will be able to recognize "ASIO sound". No matter which ASIO implementation, they have a similar character.

This is exactly why I never went that route, which would have been a 1000 times more easy for me than exploring half-baked WASAPI.

 

Btw, Wavelab is recognized by many as one of the best sounding applications. Wrong application though. Haha.

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter, will your software run on Windows 7 without too much additional work on your part or would it be a full development cycle?

 

Hi Olive,

 

Windows 7 support is in there since January 12.

And is used to satisfaction of what I hear (http://www.phasure.com/index.php?topic=682.msg4914#msg4914).

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter, I followed the 5 steps you provided for the Installation on Vista. The steps seemed simple enough but I am still having problems.

 

Vista provides several sample WAV music files in a Sample Music directory that I tried to play. When I tried to play any of these files XXHighEnd reports "Unrecognized WAV Header Data".

 

I then tried to play one of the Kent Poon tracks, which is an AIFF file.

XXHighEnd reports "ENDPOINT CREATE FAILED - The DAC does not accept this byte sequence".

 

To add insult to injury, the stupid Windows Media Player that I do not want to use, plays all this files fine. Though I have not had success in playing the audio files with your software to date, XXHighEnd does bring up the artwork with no problem.

 

What am I missing or doing wrong? I tried both the XXHighEnd-09-x3 and XXHighEnd-09-x1. This is a brand new computer, Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium 64-bit editions with 4GB ram and Intel Pentium Dual Core processor.

 

If you have any suggestions, I will try again next weekend.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Audiozorro,

 

What it is about the sample files I can't tell from where I am now. But might they be mono or less than 44.1K sample rate or less than 16 bits ... not supported. I doubt that it will give that wave format header meassage though.

 

The Endpoint message will be about the soundcard you're using just not allowing for the bitdepth/sample rate needed. Chances are near 100% that you have a so calkled "High Definition" audio device, which supports 48Khz, and not 44.1. (and remember, nothing within XX will resample). You can check this in the device's properties - Advanced, and the combobox in there showing the options (bit depth / samplerate) to choose from. NOTE that selecting one of those does not matter/change anything for Exclusive Use, but it shows what the device supports max (and it most often is even less).

 

In the Settings Area of the player, you can define the cababilities of your DAC (or soundcard);

Near the bottom is an option "DAC Test" (don't use the "Shared" one) which will tell you what your DAC supports when it comes down to WASAPI Exclusive Use.

 

What soundcard/DAC do you use ?

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Peter,

 

I know you're busy answering a number of questions here but I have a couple too ! .. (Audiozorro, keep at it, it's worth it).

 

What aspects of your software make it sound better than, for example, Mediamonkey ? What is it that you're doing within that software?

 

 

1 - It's loading into RAM so that there is no hard disk access. Does this make a sonic difference ?

 

2 - You are able to dedicate a processor core purely to XXHighEnd so that no other application can interfere with music playback. Given that a processor should be able to cope with music playback with ease, does this make a difference ? - or are other applications able to disrupt the playback? (for example, anyone ever playing games will notice that background tasks can cause jolts and judder)

 

3 - Using the digital output on a motherboard is not preferable to using a decent soundcard or external device. Now, am I right in saying that this is more to do with the fact that a decent sound device will have drivers allowing a direct bit perfect passthrough and that onboard chip tend to resample to 48khz or adjust the sound.? Chris can hear a difference even on his Mac between the standard digital output and his Lynx card - the Lynx being better.

 

4 - Continuing on from 3; is an external device preferable to an internal. I know there is all sorts of interference within a computer, BUT, this interference surely can not affect a stream of 1's and 0's. So, how is external better? (maybe you've never said that). For example, I type letter on my keyboard, and no interference can alter that. I understand how analogue signals can be affected of course, but we're talking purely digital.

 

 

Lots of questions. For discussions elsewhere I'm really interested in your answers.

 

Actually - Chris - I'd like your thoughts too if you have time.

 

 

Regards,

 

 

Matt.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh I am sorry Matt, I did not realize these remained unanswered.

 

1 - It's loading into RAM so that there is no hard disk access. Does this make a sonic difference ?

 

Very generally the answer could be : *everything* matters, so this matters too.

For deep insiders this would be suffecient nowadays (while being shot a few years ago), but for not-insiders or those who just try to understand, it may be too difficult to explain.

 

Part of the answer is allowed to be that each influence on the PSU, no matter how tiny, influences sound.

Strangely enough my thinking is (quite controversially) *not* that harddisk access by itself influences sound. Not that I found anyway.

 

A sure (and understandable) half of the answer is that -when we'd indeed adopt that everything matters - the things which indeed matter can be shifted out of the playback process my this means (playing from memory);

All that often you'll hear things like "what a non-sense, because in Foobar and most players you can denote a very large buffer size, and it will come doen to the exact same". Not true !

 

First of all this is related to the number of layers involved, where layers are parts of memory (buffers) which have to be copied to eachother before the data is where it should be, awaitening further processing, and back into the SPDIF etc. cable passing those layers again. So this is already different.

The major difference, however, emerges at the real time processing which just is not there. Nothing, nowhere, nada. This, while all the normal functional processing just can be applied.

 

So, when people might perceive a sonic difference at playing back FLAC/ALAC, this is because again everything matters, and the processing power (and PSU implications, no matter how tiny) needed for the decoding, just matters the same. Not when it is not needed at playback anymore ... (which is how XX obviously operates).

 

2 - You are able to dedicate a processor core purely to XXHighEnd so that no other application can interfere with music playback. Given that a processor should be able to cope with music playback with ease, does this make a difference ? - or are other applications able to disrupt the playback? (for example, anyone ever playing games will notice that background tasks can cause jolts and judder)

 

This goes much further than the first half of your question, and indeed comes down -roughly- to the second half;

 

There are many things which can be approached "intelligently", once you observe things here too matter (for SQ). This is sure not about dedicating the "playback thread" to one core, although this is one of the 4 settings doing just that.

It is also not about preserving the capacity, because indeed the capacity is far over sufficient (XX uses virtually no CPU at even 24/352.8). It is merely about interrupts (now think of the hdd access again) and how the CPU deals with its cache and copying of 2L cache, and more.

 

Besides the above, XX needs stuff for itself during playback, and the dedication of processor cores behaves regarding this, where always music should keep on playing, no matter what.

 

Lastly there are the more obvious processes which can explicitly make use of the processing power of several cores, like loading (playing) a FLAC album which needs to be decoded. The decoding happens in parallel for as many tracks as you have processor cores. But this is simple stuff. (btw, compare decoding of APE (Monkey), which does this too via the GUI that allows for explicitly decoding files).

 

3 - Using the digital output on a motherboard is not preferable to using a decent soundcard or external device. Now, am I right in saying that this is more to do with the fact that a decent sound device will have drivers allowing a direct bit perfect passthrough and that onboard chip tend to resample to 48khz or adjust the sound.? Chris can hear a difference even on his Mac between the standard digital output and his Lynx card - the Lynx being better.

 

This is totally unrelated to the bit perfect phenomenon, although indeed soundcards exist which resample first. But counting those out, all is about jitter. In fact, all is about the sufficient control (think PSU like) to not let emerge jitter. Keep in mind that jitter is a (non linear)shift in the time domain, where all is about snapshots taken at a predefined (the clock) interval, the data streaming under those snapshots, and the 0 and 1 (just electrical) signals are caught on their slopes of sufficient electrical level to be caught as a 1, or just not with the result of a 1 being captured as a zero.

 

It is not difficult to see that the worse the signal (for various reasons including noise or reflection because of wrong termination (the termination residing at the transmitter side !), the electrical level of a 1 is too low, or the noise is too high and before a 0 is a 0 it will be captured as a 1 (note the activity in my "before a", which is related to the stream and the "snapshotter" looking at it).

 

An external card is less subjective to noise of the PC (including EMI from a 1.2GHz PCI bus from nowadays) and should be better because of this *theoretically*.

YMMV here, because the soundcard itself is subjective to quality, and the only thing I can say is that Lynx is known to do a good job inside the PC. Probably the best. This of course does not tell about the inherent Q of the DAC on there, which IMHHHO is not worth much compared to the audiophile DACs which again can be good or bad by themselves.

Many parameters in the equation here.

 

Lastly, once you are as far as choosing an outboard soundcard, might it be USB or Firewire, then next is the quality of the respective transmitter. My experience on Firewire tells me that those take part a great deal of the SQ, no matter the Firewire card is used to go to the soundcard only, and the soundcard just passes through SPDIF !!

 

4 - Continuing on from 3; is an external device preferable to an internal.

 

As just said. It is all about jitter.

 

Btw, do not get confused with a similar connection (stream of bits) which is error corrected. Note that a normal data connection is not subject to a persistent stream which is time related. To make that clear, think of that this is more "distance" related, and all the time is (and can be) taken to read out the bits. Stupid (just made up) example : when 8 bits (one byte) is read from a disk platter, the hardware/software doing that, could state that this byte occupies a distance of 2 micron at the outside of the platter, but when at the inside, only 1 (assuming the density is higher there). However, because the hdd spins at constant speed, the byte at the inner side is read twice as fast as the byte at the outer side.

Audio can't take such an approach. It must read (e.g.) 44100 samples (176400 bytes at bitdepth of 16) per second. And the most exact otherwise the data gets corrupted. ... and so it does. All the time.

 

Peter

 

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter - nice one! And thank you for taking the time and effort. :)

 

Matt.

 

I've also been trying to get my head around this stuff, if only to try and figure out what I can do to make a difference, and why I might want to do it! I've been following this thread for a while and have found this page - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms790062.aspx - useful when trying to visualise what is happening in the whole process. It is not relevant to Vista in its specifics, but the general idea will be the same - it still lines up the processes involved in a way that made it easier for me to begin to try and understand it!

 

Hope it helps....

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The computer that I intend to use for evaluating the XXHighEnd player is a Dell Inspiron with Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio. I don’t intend to use this computer as a longtime music server, but it is new and available for now.

 

I thought I could use my Benchmark USB DAC1 since all my other DACs require S/PDIF or firewire connections, which this Dell does not have. In addition to my posted difficulties, I noticed the following comments, excerpted from your website:

 

“Is anyone using Benchmark DAC1 USB? I am testing it right now, but under Vista it doesn't want to go into exclusive mode with XXHighEnd:-(

Has anyone tried this DAC before?”

 

“It seems that the 24-bit operation is what is preventing XXHighEnd from locking to the DAC1 USB through 'Exclusive Mode'.”

 

“BTW. I didn't have problems to run the Benchmark DAC1 under XP and Engine 1.”

 

If the Benchmark USB DAC1 cannot work, I am willing to invest a small amount just to be able to try some of my other DACs. I thought some of the following hardware would be suitable, but perhaps you can suggest something inexpensive that you know works:

 

Turtle Beach Audio Advanatage Micro USB – Toslink Audio Adapter for $27.

Zalman ZM-RSSC USB – S/PDIF sound card for $60.

HagUsb USB-to-S/PDIF converter for $129.

ESI [email protected] PCI audio interface for $140.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...