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Newbie Needs A Little Guidance


RobbieR
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Last night my brother & I tested the waters of using a PC as a transport in his system for the first time.

 

The PC was a Dell Desktop P4 2.8 with 1 Gig of RAM, Windows XP Pro Freshly installed, Media Monkey Software (Thanks to the Cash List) All of the Audio Settings in XP Pro were set to full. Under the Type of Speaker we selected "2 Channel Stereo Monitor".

 

System:

Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 300 Integrated

Elac 210 Speakers

Elac 4PI Plus2 Super Tweeters

Chord QBD76 64 Bit USB DAC (Sadly Not His, On Loan from a Friend)

 

Transport to compare was a Toshiba HD DVD player

 

Music was Eric Clapton Unplugged & Stevie Ray Vaughan Double Trouble, Redbook CD's, Ripped to Hard Drive Using Media Monkey, WAV File.

 

The PC was plugged into the DAC using a plain old USB Cable from the bottom of my desk.

 

Now for the results..... The PC sounded OK,, yes just OK. It was not offensive in any way, the highs were very nice and not bright, the sound was very detailed, (Maybe more then the HD DVD Player) Midrange Seemed Fine, But the Bass Response from the PC was greatly lacking. The Bass Response was the only real problem with the sound. It left the sound from the PC seem very empty.

If we could get some bass out of the PC we would be jumping into PC audio head first!!!

 

So what can we do differently to improve the sound???

 

Should we RIP the CD's with different software?

Was WAV. The right file format to RIP the CD's?

Should we use a better USB Cable?

Should we add a sound card to the PC and send Coax, or Optical to the DAC?

Would a newer PC running Vista help?

Do we need a MAC?

(Please don't tell me I need a MAC!!! I have been making fun of my wifes MAC's for 10 years, and I would have to eat a lot of CROW if I wanted to use her old MAC)

 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

Rob

 

 

 

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There's nothing wrong with eating a lot of CROW for your wife and you may get some benefits that are far superior to the problems you're complaining about.

 

Seriously though, is it that you're satisfied with the sound of the Toshiba HD DVD player connected to the Chord QBD76 USB DAC, but you find the PC computer and DAC combination to be lacking? I suggest that connect PC computer the same way that you connect the DVD player for an apples to apples comparison before guessing in the dark.

 

If you need to buy an audio interface card, I highly recommend either the [email protected] or Lynx AES16.

 

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Check the USB audio, it might be set for surround speakers instead of full range

 

>>>Should we RIP the CD's with different software?

You might try a ripper like EAC or dbPoweramp but this won't cure youre problem

>>Was WAV. The right file format to RIP the CD's?

As long as it it lossless youre fine

>>Should we use a better USB Cable?

Unlikely

>>Should we add a sound card to the PC and send Coax, or Optical to the DAC?

Not to start with

>>Would a newer PC running Vista help?

Vista audio is technically better but you can tweak XP to bit perfect.

Google a little on Kernel Streaming / ASIO

Better wait for Win7

>>Do we need a MAC?

No, there are no indications that core audio is better than Vista audio

 

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Just noticed that Roseval had already mentioned this ...

 

"Vista audio is technically better but you can tweak XP to bit perfect.

Google a little on Kernel Streaming / ASIO"

 

Think you'll find the ASIO plug in on the Mediamonkey website.

 

I think it'll improve your sound immediately.

 

matt.

 

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

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RobbieR - welcome to CA! - From reading your description of what you did to get this experiment up and going, I think that you missed something: On Windows XP, you should bypass the 'kmixer' which is built in to the operating system for audio handling by using an ASIO application as well. While I suppose it is OK for listening to non-critical background music on 'inexpensive' desktop speakers while zipping through spreadsheets or surfing the web, Kmixer absolutely mangles the sound when trying to output quality audio.

 

The Media Monkey's help files or their website should be able to help you figure out how to implement ASIO. It really is necessary on WinXP. It don't know if that is why you're not getting enough bass into your audio though.

 

HQ Audio is much simpler to implement, from a software standpoint, on a Mac - so by all means give your wife's Mac a try while you have the DAC to experiment with. But if you do not want to go that way (Mac), more power to you! Fine audio can be had on Windows installations as well, as you have 'almost' already experienced. Just be prepared to do a bit more work to get there (ASIO).

 

markr

 

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.. from me too! Roseval obviously did some edits to "rev 1" of his post whilst I was composing mine and while Matt was doing the same.

 

Anyway, we all agree: ASIO on WinXP is needed.

 

markr

 

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Thanks For All the suggestions..

 

NO, I did not turn the KMixer off of, or by-pass it.

I will try that tonight. Seems like this might be the source of my problem.

 

I will also check to see if my Speakers as set to small under the USB Audio Setting. Will I find this in the "Audio & Sounds" Section of the controll panel somewhere??

 

Thanks Again & I will keep everyone updated with the results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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... tried it Roseval. I got tired of fiddling with Windows and audio a year and half ago and went to a Mac - now more than one Mac.... Life is much simpler now and I value that. I still use WinXP for some audio, but that is because I have a few (expensive) programs there that I don't have on the Mac: Cubase, Sound Forge 8 (think "Wavelab") and Acid, which are programs designed for the manipulation of audio for professional purposes and not really for playback. I then use the audio processed by those programs back on one of the Macs to further my evil intents for it.... ;^)

 

The ASIO implemented (and invented) by Cubase (Steinberg) is extremely good (as witnessed by the folks on this site that like Wavelab for playback - not what Wavelab is intended for BTW..), so I don't really have a use for kernel streaming as I use the Macs for playing my library. Ironically, a LOT of my digitized audio is stored on my XP hard drives and I have to pull them over to the Mac to 'enjoy' them when I want some of the music that doesn't reside on my Macs HD's. Also my iPod is set to "Windows compatible" and not Mac compatible because of this. All weird but all true.

 

 

I supposed I could have just said "no". Couldn't I. Sorry, I'm feeling a bit wordy right now.

 

- markr

 

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As per suggetions above, I recommend that you download the FREE ASIO4ALL software. Your Media Monkey should pick it right up.

 

Don't know if this wll help the bass problem, but you really need to bypass the XP's KMixer.

 

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I just reread this part of your post: "NO, I did not turn the KMixer off of, or by-pass it."

 

You will only be able to bypass kmixer, you will NOT be able to turn it off. It cannot be turned off. It isn't the software equalizer that you can use for some audio programs, It is part of the XP kernal. See here (scroll down to "kmixer"): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Compression_Manager - You will see in the article there that a new "kernal streaming" API was introduced to combat/bypass the horrid performance of the kmixer - I never experimented with that because the programs I used on Windows XP required ASIO for proper performance.... Then the windows VISTA introduction dumped the kmixer completely. ASIO is a soundcard driver protocol (programming speak there) that allows kmixer to be bypassed as well, but the audio player program you use HAS to support it for it to be properly used. For instance, some ASIO drivers vary widely in what resolutions of audio that they support - some only work for redbook CD (16/44.1), and others go much higher. But I wouldn't worry about that aspect yet. Just get "a" version of ASIO installed and working. Then look at ways of getting kernal streaming working, etc.

 

- markr

 

 

 

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(welcome to Computer Audiophile!)... I'm thinking you need that service. Audio won't work without it, so you'll be needing that.

 

If you are in the process of stripping down your XP installation for better audio, a good place to look is here: http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm - and for this question in particular: http://www.blackviper.com/WinXP/Services/Windows_Audio.htm . Please check all information that the kind "Black Viper" has put up on his site before diving in to removing services. It is very well thought out. By the way, if you don't have any "issues", don't change ANYthing. As I heard somewhere: 'If it ain't broke, don't 'fix' it!" That IS a tall order for audiophiles sometimes though......

 

Also: I'm not, and do not want to be, a windows expert. I may end up HAVING to be one though (what a nightmare) due to the current economic climate.

 

I much prefer UNIX to the underpinnings of windows, and that is what is at the heart of OSX. Macs are what I use now while I pretty much just dust-off my XP box from time to time......

 

- markr

 

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The Computer Audiophile wrote:

Since this is Windows XP the KMixer must be avoided at all costs. Currently the best sound is obtained by using the MediaMonkey output plugin called waveOut (out_wave.dll). This bypasses the KMixer and allows audio to be sent directly to the sound card. Under certain circumstances ASIO output v0.67 SSE2 [out_asio(dll).dll] must be used, but it does not sound as good as waveOut.

 

Now, I've followed the above advise with regards my M-Audio Transit and MediaMonkey setup. Am I definitely bypassing the KMixer by using waveOut? I'm confused?!? (It doesn't take much!)

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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I have been tweaking with Windows since the beginning, unfortunately, now am stuck with it! Thanks so much for the reply.

 

I am salivating over one of these new mac minis but have two daughters getting ready for college and wife promised they can go to their choice of schools and not the state one's we we subjected to. 401k and IRA are sinking fast in the sunset ...so is life!

 

The Black Viper site is very comprehensive to say the least, I would also recommend anyone to look at http://www.moozek.com/2008/08/21/definite-guide-to-windows-xp-tweaking-for-audio/

 

The tweaks I found here were very effective in over all windows performance which can only help audio. I wrestle everyday wanting to tweek more but am done!

 

Cheers

 

i truly enjoy following the plight of the computer audiophile on this site

 

Steve

 

XP Thinkpad (still comparing Foobar and JR Media - ASIO) - Keces DA-151 - Richard Lee Audio pre - Audioengine A5's

 

www.radioparadise.com

 

 

 

 

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I don't wish to trample on Chris's info there and I wish I could help DJP, but I cannot really seem to find anything (so far) on WaveOut (or out_wave.dll) of any real substance except for the link I'll add at the end here (from a WinAmp forum). It appears that WaveOut does not bypass the kmixer though, but just addresses it differently than DirectSound does. I just don't have enough info to know! Here is the link: http://forums.winamp.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=100492

 

-markr

 

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.. Steve,

 

re:"i truly enjoy following the plight of the computer audiophile on this site" - Yeah, it is sometimes a soap opera, complete with all the over-acting, isn't it? Fun. It certainly helps to divert the mind from things not-so-pleasant

 

-markr

 

Oh COOL! There is another new post over at "XX HighEnd"!!! gottaGO!

 

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Thanks markr. Hopefully somebody can confirm either way. It does seem from the link you gave that it may not be actually bypassing the KMixer. Maybe Chris will be along to throw some further light on this later. :)

 

--

djp

 

Intel iMac + Beresford TC-7510 + Little Dot MK III + beyerdynamics DT 231 = Computer audiophile quality on the cheap! --- Samsung Q1 + M-Audio Transit + Sennheiser PX 100 = Computer audiophile quality on the go!

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Yes, you are bypassing, but I'm not savy enough to to tell you how to prove it.

 

My system has ASIO4ALL > JRiver Jukebox> Musiland MD10 USB DAC (OS). I can tell on my sytem becuase my DAC has an LED display of incoming bit rate and sample frquency (like 16/44.1). The input on the Jukebox is set to ASIO4ALL. Whan I change the output on the Jukebox to 24/48 this is confirmed by the LED on the DAC. When I use WMP (Windows Media Player), I get no sound at all unless I change the input on the Jukebox from ASIO4All to DirectSound.

 

I never tried to uninstall WMP becuase I use it as a storage backup for my music downloads. I have a desktop PC with tons of storage space becuase I have no games or movies stored and only a few pictures. But like the previous post said, I think I would get no sound at all if I uninstalled WMP.

 

Another thing you should to is shut off all internal sounds through your Control Panel> Sounds & Audio Devices> Sounds> set to "No Sounds".

Mike

 

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