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It all sounds the same.


Mike19

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Hi Everybody.

 

It seems that no matter what playback format I use (WAV, Direct Sound, ASIO) they all sound the same. They sound good, but the same.

 

My sources: MP3 downloads (256 from Walmart and 320 kbps from B&W Music Club); flac downloads from HD Tracks and B&W Music Club (720 - 1014 kbps); CDs ripped in wma (858 and 1122 kbps); CDs ripped in wav (1411 kbps); HD (?) from HD Tracks downloaded in flac (2264 kbps).

 

As one might expect, the lossless sources sound better than the lossy, but changing the playback format on a particular format makes no difference that I can hear.

 

Also, my DAC is an upsampler - its not automatic - you get to select what playback is samples. I can't hear a difference between 16/44.1, 24/44.1, 16/48 or 24/48.

 

My system:

Viper custom desktop PC: Windows XP Home (SP3)

JRiver Media Jukebox

EAC - haven't used it yet

ASIO4ALL

USB out to Behringer UCA202 (used to convert USB to optical)>

optical to Musiland MD10 USB DAC>

Parasound 2100 preamp>

Aragon 4004 MKII 200w x 2 amp>

Dali Ikon6 towers

Sunfire True Subwoofer

 

Is the problem my hearing? I am 62 year old and have a 40% hearing loss in my right ear (caused by a Who concert in 1970 - truth). I have no complaints with how the system sounds. I'm just curious as to why I can't hear differences in playback modes.

 

Thank you. Mike

 

 

 

 

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and say that I don't hear much of any difference between those things either. I'm 40 years old, I can hear up to 16-17KHz, my system is state of the art, and my room is acoustically treated.

 

I can easily hear differences between speakers, recordings and rooms, but if I take a 96KHz HDtracks song and downsample it to 44.1 in iTunes, they both sound great, but the higher sample rate is not clearly better.

 

I would love to sit with someone that can hear differences between things like sample rates, and media players to see if it is just a matter of me not listening for the right thing, or if there is some other reason. I really doubt it is because my system is not resolving enough, but anything is possible.

 

Cheers,[br] - Tim

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Mike,

 

"It seems that no matter what playback format I use (WAV, Direct Sound, ASIO) they all sound the same. They sound good, but the same. "

 

I'm not quite sure what you mean, as WAV is an audio file format, whereas Directsound and ASIO are ways of accessing the audio card ...

 

WAV is an uncompressed audio format, like AIFF. I recommend you RIP your CD's in either of these formats.

 

ASIO is a way of bypassing the Windows K-Mixer which can affect audio quality depending on your audio card drivers and the software you're using and how you're using it. ASIO sends your audio bits directly to your audio card so the K-Mixer can't do anything to it.

 

ASIO may actually sound no different to the K-Mixer - as I say above, it depends on setup.

 

If you're comparing audio file formats then to some people an uncompressed file may sound little or no better than a compressed file. Why not try this: convert a complicated WAV file (something that goes from being very quiet to quite loud) into a 128kps MP3. Then see if you can hear a difference. If not, try 64kps MP3 ... the 64kps is a BIG difference, so it'll tell us whether it's your hearing or not.

 

Sorry to hear about the hearing damage caused by the concert.

 

Matt.

 

 

 

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

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Hey Matt

 

I think Mike means wave out, it's one of the playback options with JRiver Mediajukebox along with directsound and ASIO.

 

I've done this test as well comparing the three modes along with different sample rates and couldn't hear any differences, or so I thought. I ended up settling on direct sound in the end and was listening away to a CD one day (Forth by the Verve as it happens) and after listening to all but two of the tracks I felt something wasn't quite right - switched to ASIO4ALL and there was a drop in noise floor that I hadn't detected switching back and forth, but did after listening to nearly the full CD before making the switch. I stick with ASIO now as I know it's bit perfect (at 16/44.1, I've not been able to get a higher sample rate using ASIO4ALL despite some kind help from one or two nice souls here).

 

YMMV.

 

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]

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You're not going to hear much of a difference if everything is being downsampled though USB and using a Behringer converter and making another conversion.

 

Hi-rez audio is not about the highest frequency we can hear. It's about the nuances, like reverb tails, room ambience, transients and harmonics.

 

Regards,

 

 

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Mike, the info on the Behringer UCA202 says it converts the signal to 48khz. As DSD Mastering said your audio data is resampled whether it be up or down before the D/A conversion. This is not a good thing because it's being processed before it gets to your converter which makes two conversions before output. Also the sample rate conversion is probably of very low quality considering the Behringer's hardware. Have you tried using straight USB to your Musiland DAC without the Behringer and done the same comparison, or is your DAC's USB input limited to say 16/48 (very good possiblity)? A much better USB converter option would be a device such as the Off Ramp 3, but I'm not sure that would be in your price range or be helpful in your situation because as I said your USB input sample rate options may be limited which could make things sound very similar even without the Behringer piece. Throwing the Behringer into the mix seems to complicate matters even more. You might want to consider purchasing an internal sound card that would output the SPDIF connection you need without tampering with the signal before it gets to your DAC.

 

david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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Thank you all for your replies.

 

david - I'm using the Behringer becuase my Musiland DAC sounds a tiny bit better with a glass optical cable input than with a USB 2.0(Belkin Pro Gold). My computer is over 6 years old and has USB 1.1 outs - so that's a limitation.

 

I am actually trying to save up for an Off-Ramp TurboIII w/ Superclock 4 and the mega battery ($1,200 should do it.). But, most of my income is from IRAs and we all know what happend to them. If it weren't for my pension and Social Security, I would be living under a bridge.

Mike

 

 

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Hi Mike,

 

Let me derive from your first post that the first thing you can (or should :-) do is orient a bit to what you actually compare. Yes, this takes time, and it takes understanding, but if you take that time, you will manage on it. Small example : a FLAC of 720-1014 Kbs says nothing, because you are looking at the bit rate in compressed form. In uncompressed form it will just be the normal 1411, and that is what you will be listening to. That then too a difference may be perceived between uncompressed native WAV and the uncompressed WAV as derived from a native FLAC is another matter (and some miles away).

 

In the end, of course, this is not all that important, but as soon as you indeed start to perceive the differences it will be, for understanding, expectations, and ... just doing it the best way (you can think of).

It *is* about perceiving differences in general of course, and this is what your post in the end is about.

 

I'm confident this is not about your ear damage. Of course you will be perceiving the sound not as one without damage, but as long as you have both ears to some extend, and you are able to hear a fair amount of high frequencies through one ear at least, the only thing IMO which will happen - and which might be disturbing - is that you will always think the left channel is louder. But even that may not be that much occurring and your brain will adapt (to a certain extend).

 

The most important thing you will be in lack of, and this counts for almost everybody (though more or less of course) is ... what to listen for ?

 

I always say : you have to have the reference. And "the reference" counts for many phenomena.

A most easy example, known to everybody indeed, will be harshness. However, you must be able to squeeze it out. How ? well, generally, play loud. Of course I'm not saying that you must play loud, but harshness becomes a pain when played too loud, and a measure is your volume knob. Thus, you might notice from situation A that the volume can go to 12 o'clock, while in another situation B 5-to already annoys you. The 12 must be better for harshness then ...

 

It is true of course, that differences are flattened all over when a resampling thing is in the middle. You could also say that any not-so-good device will flatten. For example, if your speakers really need a tweeter because without it it goes to 5000Hz only, there's hardly a chance things get harsh, and so there won't be a difference regarding that aspect.

 

Keep in mind, harshness is just one stupid example which makes clear the idea, and there are many many more "elements" which each attribute to the overall objective : foottapping music.

 

The latter is an important phenomenon by itself, and when no other (recognized) elements help you, this will be a certain one left. Here too however, you must have a reference.

"Foottapping" by itself can be split into a few others, and one of them is getting involved, and another is getting emotional. The latter goes from shivers up to sheer crying, at worst outloud. Never mind the age, haha.

 

Don't try to use the latter explicitly before the other elements have been explored, because it is very difficult to use emotion as an explicit matter. It merely just happens, and compared to "a yesterday's setting", you will know.

 

There is much much to it, if I only tell you that emotion can emerge just the same from a noisy reel to reel tape. So, this is not always about the best quality for each of the elements, but certain elements attribute to emotion. One of them is recognizing the instruments (all of them !) when a large orchestra is playing. Tape hiss allows that just the same, and other elements cause it not to happen. One of them is oversampling (or not the best oversampling anyway), and it all comes down to destroying harmonics. And as you may know, harmonics make the instruments, and if not present, all will sound like a flute (or IOW sines).

 

Once knowing this, you could focus on violins. Violins are difficult, and they may sound tinny, not real, or even flute-like. It doesn't take much to let another source influence a violin. But a violin has a far more important feature : the effort and emotion the musician puts into it. This too (again) needs a reference, but once you have heard a random violin player on a good system (or what about live), you'd immediately perceive the efforts, mood, and emotion put into the instrument. Have a less good system, and nothing of that remains.

 

Last thing for now (because you seem oriented towards it) :

At judging 16/44.1 against e.g. 24/96, try to focus on "layering". Not so easy to explain, but at the higher sample rates, to my finding there are more "layers" in the depth and width at rather micro level. It means that when a group of people is singing, now you can start counting the singers. You could say it is better separation, but it is not that. It is more at a micro level. A natural sibilance - interaction between voices.

 

But take out the resampling first. :-)

Peter

 

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XXHighEnd (developer)

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This may very well be paranoid, but given the recent history of this board, a discussion opening with "It all sounds the same," and continuing with "I am actually trying to save up for an Off-Ramp TurboIII w/ Superclock 4 and the mega battery ($1,200 should do it.). But, most of my income is from IRAs and we all know what happend to them. If it weren't for my pension and Social Security, I would be living under a bridge," is a bit suspect. It could very easily be a troll strategically pushing buttons to stir up a stink here on CA.

 

I'll assume you're sincere, but answer carefully. I doubt your hearing is the problem, if you can hear a difference between lossless and lossy files. I test to 14.5khz and can't hear the difference between lossless and 320kbps. Personally, I doubt there IS a problem. There is no analog signal, nothing that can be recognized as "music" by your audio system, until the digital data has been converted to analog in your DAC. Therefore, as long as the data stream is bit-perfect to the DAC, the zeros and ones are identical, regardless of the playback format or software you use. The only possible variable is jitter, and if you don't hear jitter, you have a lot of company.

 

I spent a bit of time last night comparing files from another board that had their signal voltage modified to emulate the effects of jitter at various levels in both a flat jitter spectrum and sloping jitter spectrum (don't ask me to explain that part). Evidently sloping puts the jitter where the music is and is much more detrimental. Regardless, after a few very careful listens, I can't tell you which ones are jittered. I can't identify the best or the worst. The sample used was the first 45 seconds of Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me," and all I could hear was two spare, beautiful guitar parts, wonderful piano, and Norah's lovely voice.

 

So I stopped listening for jitter, loaded up the whole file, and listened to the music instead. That's what I recommend you do. And I most enthusiastically DO NOT recommend that you spend $1200 of your Social Security on the reduction of digital artifacts you have already found that you do not hear. Other people may hear them, and be compelled to slay them with magic boxes. It sounds like you're good to go. Go buy that Norah Jones album instead. You'll get much more musical pleasure from it and it will cost $1185 less. :)

 

Tim

 

ON EDIT: Yes, by all means, turn off the upsampling. I don't know if it is killing the emotion in your music or not, but you can't hear it anyway, so turn it off; why take the risk? Personally, I think if you can't get the emotion from the music with a pair of earbuds and an iPod, it's your heart that is mid-fi, not your gear, but not everyone agrees with that point of view.

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Hi Tim - I'm guessing your comparing Ashley's files that his engineer friend made for him. I just can't take his little experiment seriously since he clearly has an agenda to sell more speakers and bash any true high end engineering.

 

I do have a question for you though. In your opinion how would you know if jitter was or wasn't a problem? What would you hear or not hear?

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Having seen and heard the AVI speakers, and allowing for scale (bigger speakers, more powerful amplifiers) what does high end offer that good engineering fails to provide? No, I'm not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely interested as my exposure to high end has been limited to shows.

 

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"Hi Tim - I'm guessing your

 

Hi Tim - I'm guessing your comparing Ashley's files that his engineer friend made for him. I just can't take his little experiment seriously since he clearly has an agenda to sell more speakers and bash any true high end engineering.

 

I do have a question for you though. In your opinion how would you know if jitter was or wasn't a problem? What would you hear or not hear?"

 

A) If Ashley's agenda were to sell more speakers and bash any true high end engineering, he would have been mentioning his speakers by name and making competitive claims for them. And I'm hard-pressed to understand why his agenda would be to bash high-end engineering when his own products are so full of quality engineering themselves. What he bashes is over-engineering that he believes is inaudible. What he bashes is what he believes is not sound engineering, but audiophile salesmanship. You do not have to agree, but there is no need to mis-characterize his agenda.

 

B) IF I heard a difference, in this case I would know the simulated jitter is the difference because it was the only thing that was different. The essence of objective measurement. Change one variable and one variable only. In a proper test, if there is an audible difference, it can be attributed to that variable. If there is none, that variable is not audible to the listener. But this was not a proper ABX, so the only thing that was really determined was that I didn't hear a difference in a few listens, lost patience, and quickly moved on to listening to music. I thought I made that clear.

 

Regardless, I still would recommend that the OP, who said he could not hear differences, but that it all sounded good, should relax and enjoy the music, and NOT spend $1200 of his fixed income on products of questionable value to reduce artifacts of questionable audibility. And I would expect you, and anyone with a modicum of perspective and responsibility would do the same instead of fencing with the ghost of Ashley.

 

If you don't trust others' engineers or the results of their testing there is a simple path open to you. Engage your own engineers. Do your own testing. If you believe these artifacts are audible in equipment that lacks what you consider to be true "high-end engineering," whatever that means, test it. Find a re-clocker or a DAC or a piece of software that you believe audibly reduces jitter and ABX exactly the same file through the same equipment changing just that one variable.

 

It is easy and cheap to sit back and question someone else's expertise, methodology and sincerity when your own is not on the line. Step up.

 

Tim

 

 

 

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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"If Ashley's agenda were to sell more speakers and bash any true high end engineering, he would have been mentioning his speakers by name and making competitive claims for them."

 

I disagree 100% with your statement. A sure fire way to get people to discount what you're saying is the make your salesmanship obvious on a forum. Ashley's guerrilla marketing campaign comes in like a whisper and leaves like a tornado when he is eventually asked to leave every site he and his team have ever frequented. As you know he cannot get banned from the site he and his marketing team have started, in which you participate and write for. Bashing everything but your product is an attempt to promote your product using the back door. We've been round and round on this one and we clearly don't see eye to eye.

 

I also recommend the original poster should sit back and enjoy the music. If he is looking for something different then he should test some components first and make a decision based on his personal experience.

 

"If you don't trust others' engineers or the results of their testing there is a simple path open to you. Engage your own engineers. Do your own testing."

 

Done and done. This has lead me to where we are at right now. I've talked to numerous engineers about all of this. I sent Ashley's statements with all identifying information stripped out to several engineers. In know what did I attempt to sway their feedback. Every single engineer disagreed with Ashley. The engineers I talked to have been honored by the AES and are some of the most respected people in the world. In fact when I told Ashley I was involved in an ongoing discussion with Malcom Hawksford Ashley discounted his expertise in no uncertain terms. Please check out Malcom's credentials and let me know what you think http://www.essex.ac.uk/dces/research/audio_lab/malcolms_publications.html#Journal

 

I've said this before and I'll mention it again. Since Ashley is one of the only people in his position who actually believes what he does, I asked him to present his opinion to a panel or group of peers such as the Audio Engineering Society (AES). However the results came out I would be 100% willing to agree with the AES. Ashley's response was to discount the validity of the AES. Thus, I don't think we will ever see an independent body of experts complete a peer review of his opinions. You always say high-end manufacturers should prove their claims with solid and verifiable measurements or facts. I would love Ashley to do the same and have them verified by people other than us unqualified armchair engineers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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It is easy and cheap to sit back and question someone else's expertise, methodology and sincerity when your own is not on the line.

 

Ok, that shouldn't be addressed to me. At least I don't want it to. So Tim, could you hand me a link to that file please ?

 

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"Ok, that shouldn't be addressed to me. At least I don't want it to. So Tim, could you hand me a link to that file please ?"

 

I was not addressing you, Peter, I was talking to Chris.

 

A site not operated by Ashley or his "marketing team," but by a rather nice young man named Darren, who was a member and contributor here until he mentioned his new site, at which point his access to Computer Audiophile was suddenly cut off without explanation. Evidently Chris considered him a competitor. Fair enough. What's not fair is the idea that his site, his tests and his opinions are those of Ashley and that he is a part of Ashley's "marketing team."

 

Yes, Chris, I have contributed an article and a handful of posts to that site. It is a fraction of what I have contributed to this one. And what I had in the mind in the way of stepping up was not dueling engineers. I'm sure I could find engineers to support almost any point of view. What I had in mind was you running your own tests. Listening tests (trust OUR ears). If you think the files posted by Darren are Ashley's and are dishonest, you would be doing us all a great public service by demonstrating the audibility of that which Ashley has tried to deceive us into believing is inaudible. Find your own engineer, create own your files, run your own test. Darren described his methodology and posted his files for all to hear, sometime between his classes at the university. I don't know if they're bogus or not. Maybe it's a ruse. Maybe they are all exactly the same. Show us something different. Measure. Test. Report. This is a commercial audio site. I think that's kind of the point.

 

Tim

 

 

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Tim - Darren has always been a huge supporter of AVI and friends with Ashley. Daren has been banned from other forums for posting under multiple usernames and marketing for AVI. facts are facts. I find it very disingenuous for Darren to attempt to attract readers to his site by using Computer Audiophile. I spend thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars on this site every year. I hate to see my hard work pay off for someone else. I think that's very fair. Darren understood whay his access was cut off. In fact he gave me the reason before I even had a chance to tell him. He obviously thought something of it as well.

 

Now on to the "test" files. These files are not Darren's. Ashley had them created and gave them to his friend Darren. Ashley included me on a conversation about the files that were created by his engineer Chris from the UK. Here is a snippet of that conversation.

 

Ash,

 

I now have some audio files for you to try out.

 

I used a Norah Jones track for the test, as I thought that the combination of female vocals and all acoustic instruments ought to be quite revealing of any signal degradation. The first batch of files have the following jitter applied : 0ns (unjittered), 1ns, 4ns, 10ns and 40ns, all rms values, Gaussian statistics. Also, the jitter spectrum is flat versus frequency (denoted by 'F' in the filename), which will approximate the kind of jitter you will get from an SRC chip or a crystal controlled reclocker.

 

I intend to produce a second set of files where the jitter spectrum falls at 6dB/octave above 100Hz, which should be more like the spectrum you would get from an SPDIF receiver. I can actually make the spectrum shaping anything you like, so if Martin has any spectrum plots of the clock for your SPDIF/SRC/DAC, I can replicate them in my simulation.

 

The files are quite large (>19MB each) and in Apple lossless format, so I will send them one at a time, and hope that they don't bung up your mail server !

 

 

I don't think my opinion about audibility is going to lead us anywhere. I was seeking a more professional opinion about Ashley's statements.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Tfarney wrote, 'and that he is a part of Ashley's "marketing team', Darren I am afraid is exactly that, no more than part of Ashleys 'marketing' team.

Ashley JC Brum and Darren have bombarded UK Hi-Fi fora for the past year, the virulence of the campaign may have been tailored to the forum, but the message has always been the same.

It smacks of desperation and is all rather sad , especially as AVI made some decent products in the past.

 

 

 

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OK, I accept that the files are his. And perhaps he has more to do with Darren's site than I might think. I have no answer for Coops saying, once again, that Ashley has been banned from sites all over the net. I have been HERE. I have known him HERE. And I know exactly how he behaved here: Strong opinions, strongly and repeatedly stated. A deliberate avoidance of naming and overtly promoting his own products. An utter failure to stoop to name-calling. His behavior has been better than some who remain, yet I understand that today, a few days after he left on his own, he has been blocked from this site.

 

So Ashley is gone. We don't have him to blame for our friction anymore. But I continue to have a point of view that is probably an annoyance to you and your advertisers, a point of view I had long before I knew who Ashley James is. Let's see how we do. Let's see if the problem was Ashley or the disagreement. Let's see how long it takes before I get blocked.

 

By the way, if I put a relevant link to head-fi or AudioKarma or Steve Hoffman's music forum in a post, are you going to remove them from my post as well, or is it just hddaudio that I'm not allowed to mention? Just trying to get a grip on the rules....

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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