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Intermediate Step - USB sounds bad


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Ok, I now have an XP Pro Dell 530 that I ultimately plan to install an AES16 PCI card in to run via AES to some future DAC. I installed Media Monkey and ripped a few CD's in .wav to test sound into my PS Audio DACIII via USB. Compared to my Ipod/Wadia iTransport running via RCA to same DACIII, the computer sounds much less relaxed and natural. I can sense my ears "shutting down" after a minute or two via computer, yet on the same song on IPOD they do not. IPOD files are lossless. Have I done something wrong?

 

Other possibly irrelevant info: As Dell ships the 530, it has both Vista and XP installed, but only XP boots. I have selected out.wave.dll for the output plugin, but MS Soundmapper was the device. Should this be USB Audio Codec?

 

I planned to completely reformat the hard drive on this computer and re-install only Windows XP Pro.

 

Any help in getting me on the way to better sound via USB (for the moment until I can swing a PCI card) would be VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!!

 

Thanks,

 

Jordan

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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Hi Jordan - Select the USB Audio Codec within the wave_out config. Also, disable t he MediaMonkey volume control which I believe is in that same spot.

 

It's very possible you like the sound via the iTransport more and that's totally cool. Maybe the PS Audio DLIII USB implementation is not your "Style."

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Chris, thanks for the quick reply...through some playing around I've arrived at the USB Codec, volume control and volume control off in Media Monkey. I'm not sure it made a great deal of difference, but I only listened to one track so far.

 

Now, regarding this "intermediate step":

 

1.) Although a single word describing my initial reactions to the computer server via USB into the DACIII is limiting, do you think this "hardness" is attributable to the USB implementation PS Audio uses or the fact the data is coming from the computer rather than a transport, IPOD, whatever?

 

2.) Does the sound via the Lynx AES16 PCI card have a "hardness", "less relaxed", "less natural" quality compared with a good high-end CD Player. I've owned several very good players over the years (Esoteric X03, Resolution Audio Opus 21, ARC CD2, ARC CDT1+Theta GenV Dac) and none of them elicited the above adjectives in an absolute sense. I guess I'm worried that if these are qualities of computer audio, it may not be for me.

 

3.) Do you recommend that I format the HD and do a clean install of XP Pro (I'm assuming I can use the disk from Dell to reload XP Pro?

 

4.) Do you recommend I rip to .wav or some other format if my intent is to run Media Monkey via USB for now and via AES16 PCI card later?

 

Thanks again, Chris! The computer part of this hobby is taking some time for me to understand. I just need to "taste" some hi-end sound to keep me pursuing the goal I guess.

 

Jordan

 

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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Jordan I just noticed you posted while I was typing this so I just edited my post. You haven't done anything wrong from what I understand. I believe in an earlier thread we came to the conclusion that the USB input on the DACIII is limited to 16-bit / 48khz which they don't bother telling you; kind of important ya know? I don't remember which thread it was specifically. The signal from the Wadia transport might be up-sampled whereas the USB connection is limited. Up-sampling in my experience tends to "smooth" things out providing much less ear fatigue which is what you are describing with the Wadia transport. The USB input may not be implemented as well as the other inputs on the PS Audio unit. On their website PS audio recommends the SPDIF input for up to 24-bit/192khz playback or up-sampling from 16/44 to 24/96 or 24/192 and from what I can see says nothing about the USB connection other than it's just there as an option. You would get a more "fair" comparison and much improved sound with a Lynx card outputting SPDIF into your DACIII; or you could purchase a reclocker for a little bit more money that would convert USB to SPDIF and turn your PC into a much improved source. I wouldn't worry about re-formatting and installing XP only unless you just want to for the heck of it. Ripping in .WAV is fine and dandy. Please don't be put off of computers completely only by the digital edginess you are experiencing, it is certainly not an aspect of computer audio in general, you just have to use the right implementation of connections and components to achieve great results. Unfortunately I think you are stuck with that sound (USB) unless you purchased a cheap soundcard as a temporary option that would output SPDIF. On the PS Audio unit, USB is simply not the best way to go. Absolutely stellar sound can be achieved with computers, so stick with us and we can help.

 

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

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Thanks David...good to hear that "digital edginess is not an aspect of computer audio in general". It looks like I'll be getting a sound card sooner than later. Based on Chris's suggestion I planned to get a Lynx AES16 PCI card and a DAC that will accept AES/EBU input eventually. In another thread, Chris suggested an XLR-to-RCA converter (I have these, but I don't think they are impedance matched?) to use in the meantime with the PS Audio Dac.

 

Yes, I knew the USB input only handled up to 16bit/48kHz, but nothing I've tried is greater than 16/44.1. The Wadia iTransport does not resample, it just pulls the digital signal from the IPOD and converts it to a SPDIF signal for output through coax. I've tried the Wadia/IPOD as an input to my friend's GNSC modded Resolution Audio Opus21 CD Player and it was REALLY BAD in comparison to the player itself. Yet, through the PS Audio DACIII it holds fairly well, I suspect due to a superior jitter rejection circuit in the PS Audio DAC. The Opus is a great CD Player, but I don't think Jeff Kalt spent much time on the one digital input that player has?

 

I have another question: are there any special settings in Media Monkey to use for ripping CD's? It takes an ungodly long time to rip on the settings I settled for my few CD test.

 

Also, is it possible to rip HDAD discs to .wav and if so, what software to use?

 

Thanks,

 

Jordan

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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1. You refer to your iPod sending a digital signal to your Wadia device, but iPods do not have a digital output: both the dock and headphone outputs are analogue. Has your iPod been modified to bypass the internal DAC? If so, it's essentially a computer audio device, just like your PC.

 

2. How long have you let your PS Audio DL III break in? It needs 200-300 hours before any serious listening.

 

3. The DL III accepts only Redbook CD (16/44.1) through the USB connection, but it does upsample that to either 96 or 192. This was noted in Chris's review on this site.

 

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Thanks for your reply...

 

1.) The Wadia specifically bypasses the IPOD DACS...that is the whole point of the "iTransport". Jitter specs are not very good, however, and this is why it is thought that a music server with soundcard could improve the performance.

 

2.) I've had the PS Audio DLIII for a few months and have played it quite a bit (at least 200 hours of play time and it's always on).

 

3.) Yes, I know this...my concern is that as I move toward a computer server, this intermediate step (computer server to DAC via USB) is not nearly as good as simply running the IPOD through the Wadia iTransport to the DAC. My next step is to purchase a dedicated sound card (Lynx AES16 PCI card), however, my concern is that perhaps computer audio has a more "forced detail" kind of sound. David, suggested that this is NOT a definable attribute of computer audio...I feel a little less concerned having that fear put to rest.

 

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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"my concern is that perhaps computer audio has a more "forced detail" kind of sound"

 

Definitely not. The sounds that you are hearing are a result of particular implementations and levels of jitter, not attributable to "computer audio". You can have the same result by listening to different CD players IME.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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The whole thing looked nutty to me last night, but this makes sense (maybe because I got some sleep).

 

I have the PS Audio DL III with the Cullen Stage III modifications. I typically use it with USB output from my MacBook, with upsampling at 192 kHz. I also have a Red Wine Audio modified iPod (in that case the internal Wolfson DAC is used, but the output path is significantly cleaned up, bypassing the volume and adding a high-quality capacitor).

 

The Cullen mod. DL III sounds smooth and musical and detailed. I don't get any digital harshness. I understand that the Cullen mods. do smooth out the high end, but I haven't done a direct comparison. Cullen also improves the internal clocking (won't fix high incoming jitter, however, if I understand it correctly).

 

Compared to the modified iPod, the DL III gives me much better timbre. This is a really wonderful change, and until I heard it I didn't realize what I was missing. The subtle tonal differences between voices and instruments are now very apparent, contributing to a very musical presentation. The modded DL III also presents more detail (although I always found the iMod to be excellent in this regard).

 

The only other point of interest here is that I'm feeding the DL III with a PS Audio Duet (one outlet pair dedicated only to the DL III for isolation from everything else) and I have upgraded the power cord. I don't know if those make a difference since I bought those at the same time as the DL III.

 

So, aside from a Windows system re-installation or new sound card, you may want to consider the Cullen mods. or maybe the power coming into the DL III.

 

Good luck.

 

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Hi Jordan

Can I suggest you try Foobar 2000 as you player and install the Asio4all plugin. I have the feeling the XP K-mixer is screwing up your sound. Also try ripping your cd's with dbPoweramp or EAC.

If you get Vista working use Foobars Wasapi plugin to get an umolested output.

Cheers

Andy

 

MBP>Chevron Audio Sabre UV player/Dac/Meridian Explorer dac>Chevron Audio Paradox Pre>Leema Hydra 2>Leema Xavier speakers.

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Hi Steve...thanks for your input!

 

There is so much that is subjective in this hobby (warm, dry, detailed preferences etc) and these adjectives seem to mean different things to different people that my initial experience brought some concern. Am I pursuing a path that has qualities that just don't work for me was specifically the concern. After having listened some more my first description of the sound remains. That said, thanks to Chris, David, Xeno, and yourself I'm somewhat relieved that this isn't an attribute of computer audio per se and that natural, unforced detail is possible.

 

Again, owing to the subjective nature of this hobby and personal preferences, it could be said that what I'm hearing is greater detail or more "vividness", yet for me, this comes across as forced. I find my ears starting to shut down after a few minutes rather than being drawn into the music, stage, timbre, artist expression, etc. I wasn't expecting world-beating sound as this is an intermediate step, but it did make me take pause to ask if this is a qaulity of computer sound.

 

I agree that you can have the same result by listening to different CD players

 

but I don't hear this quality when using my

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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I will give it a try Andy...thanks for the suggestion! As Dell ships Vista installed even on its XP Pro machines (that I had to pay $150 more for...arrgghhh), I could activate Vista, but that seems to be at odds with Chris's suggestion for a reference quality server (XP Pro, not Vista)?

 

For ripping CD's, do I run the risk of losing tag information on .wav files ripped from EAC or dbPoweramp if I use Media Monkey or Foobar 2000 to play them?

 

Thanks,

 

Jordan

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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I use a Dell Vista laptop myself and I find the sound output excellent using my usb dac , I use Foobar/wasapi and play Flac files ripped with dbPoweramp. I have tried other media players but always felt Foobar gave the best quality even though it does look a bit crappy, Asio can be a bit of a pain to get up and running but once sorted it should give you bit perfect output and bypass the k-mixer.

Not sure about the tag info with .wav but if you rip to Flac you will be ok.

 

MBP>Chevron Audio Sabre UV player/Dac/Meridian Explorer dac>Chevron Audio Paradox Pre>Leema Hydra 2>Leema Xavier speakers.

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Jordan - without being there to do experiments with your system, I can only speculate what might be the problem.

 

If you are hearing more detail and yet it is more fatigueing, then you may be getting the benefit of a newer DAC chip or even lower jitter. Both of these will have this effect.

 

Here are some possible causes of the fatigueing sound:

1) Ocassionally, a system wil have sibilance from other components that is masked by high jitter or rolled-off frequency response. Once these limiters are removed, this sibilance is no longer masked and can come to the forefront. These components can include preamps, amps and even cables.

 

2) the USB interface and associated clock may have a spectrum of jitter (frequency content) that is particularly objectionable. Even if the jitter is lower, this can happen. Chips that only support up to 48hKz sample rate are notorious for this.

 

3) The software that you are using to drive the USB interface. If you are using a PC and not bypassing kmixer, this will do it. If you are using a Mac and have not downloaded the latest iTunes version and ripping with correction turned-on, this may do it. If you are using Apple Lossless, this may do it. If you are playing tunes with WMP, this may do it. I recommend Jriver, mediamonkey or Foobar for PC. There are a lot of possible pitfalls with computer audio. This is why I have specific instructions with my gear and provide the software.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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GermanBoxers,

 

Might be an idea to scan these pages, those of Hydrogen Audio, The Well Tempered Computer and Dogbers C-Media Code page to learn a little bit about Window's wonderful K-Mixer and the VIsta audio engine.

 

With certain audio cards, certain drivers and certain conditions, the K-Mixer can behave itself. But for the most part it's safer to bypass it. This could be affecting your audio output.

 

Matt.

 

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

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I hardly know what I've done, but what I'm hearing now is every bit the equal of the IPOD/Wadia sound and likely better! David, after reading Gordon's article on USB dacs and windows I tried the Asio4All driver, however, I couldn't get it to show up in Media Monkey until I deleted the parenthesis in the file name asio4all(dll).dll. After doing that and messing with some other settings - even though I have no idea what I was doing - I can now declare success in this "intermediate step" of using the USB input on the PS Audio DACIII. The sound is not forced at all...detail is natural, voices and midrange instruments rich in harmonic content, and bass is pretty decent, though could be tighter (my 300B amps are the big culprit here).

 

I can now return to my very painful attempts to figure out how to use Remote Desktop to access my server from my laptop (BTW, I use Remote Desktop all the time to access my work computer via a terminal server, but it seems impossible to get this to work for my home computers...any of them). Any help would be greatly appreciated. I can also return to what seems to be a reasonably painfree, but REALLY time-consuming process of ripping my CD's to .wav via Media Monkey (even though I have them all on itunes on another computer).

 

So, to recap some of what I tried that didn't seem to make a difference or get rid of the "forced detail" (not siblance) that I initially heard playing Media Monkey ripped .wav files through a USB port to the PS Audio DACIII:

1.) I tried Foobar2000 playing MM ripped .wav files.

2.) I ripped to .wav using EAC and tried these .wav files with both MM and Foobar2000.

3.) I tried various things messing with windows sound and codecs and the stuff I'm completely confused on now.

 

None of the above removed the "forced" quality I was hearing. The asio4all plug-in I downloaded (linked to from Gordon's site) seems to have made all the difference in the world. I gotta say this though...why must this stuff be so difficult and/or confusing!!?? This took a lot more effort than I was expecting! Is Microsoft evil? LOL

 

Thank you all for your suggestions, your great information, and good cheer in helping me through this first step into computer audio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And any suggestions on Remote Desktop would be appreciated. ;-)

 

Jordan

 

 

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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Good to "hear" everything sounds better! That K-Mixer is a PITA for sure and will fudge up your sound quality. There is a lot that can go wrong with computers as far as software interaction with the hardware. There are many variables unfortunately. Things can get pretty sticky because of computers & technology in general constantly changing and yes I am pretty sure Microsoft is evil; ;) although I've used PC's forever and started using a Mac 2 years ago Windows is an "interesting" beast. On the Wavelength link at the bottom of the page they mention using VNC to remote control your PC and say to contact them for help. I haven't personally used Remote Desktop in that way so I can't help you there, sorry. Any other questions let us know. I did however read this on the remote desktop help section of windows.com:

 

"Notes

 

* You cannot use Remote Desktop Connection to connect to computers running Windows Vista Starter, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Basic N, or Windows Vista Home Premium. You can, however, connect from those editions of Windows Vista to computers running other versions of Windows.

* You cannot use Remote Desktop Connection to connect to computers running Windows XP Home Edition."

 

That kinda puts a damper on the whole deal doesn't it? Thanks Microsoft... hehe. Here's the link for further help: http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/help/02ddfbec-7a97-4788-9d54-86f174a95f841033.mspx

 

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

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I finally figured out how to remotely control my music server with a laptop! Two successes in two days...that has to be a record (for me) with computers. Yet, it was not without multiple dead-ends including these little unexpected gems:

1.) wirelessly connected on server, move over to laptop to try to log in using RDC...wireless connection on server dropped out unbeknownst to me.

2.) finally get to a login screen, won't log me...says something about login restrictions...turns out that you MUST login to a password protected user.

 

That's only two of the last hurdles/dead-ends I encountered...really frustrating since in principle this seems relatively easy.

 

However, I'm happy as a lark since I was able to listen and control the system from the listening seat. Thanks for all the help everyone!

 

I ordered a Lynx AES16 PCI card from sweetwater sound yesterday and talked to Chris at Redco and got them started on making me a single wired HD26-to-XLR cable using Canare D206 wire. Will use a AES/EBU to SPDIF impedance transformer to connect to the spdif input on my dac until I get a DAC with AES/EBU input.

 

Last decision to make before really going to town on ripping CD's: what settings should I use when ripping CD's in Media Monkey? Jitter-corrected? Not even sure what that means since its stored as data on HD (right?) and seems to take a LONG time to rip. I'd prefer not to use EAC...seems like a pain and I struggled getting at least basic CD and track info. Yet, if the sound quality can be noticebly better by taking almost 15 minutes to rip a CD to .wav, I would do it...just not convinced it's necessary???

 

Thanks all!

 

Jordan

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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Ok, I tried the wave_out output plugin again, instead of the asio4all plugin, in Media Monkey and can state that they are virtually identical. I suppose I could convince myself of some difference if I listened long enough, but I'm not interested in "that" level of scrutiny/madness. I'm also not interested in trying to duplicate the many things I tried along the way to figure out why the initial experiment with USB out to DAC was so "wrong", but it was bad.

 

I think one of the big frustrations with CA is that there are SO many little things that seem to be able to trip you. With conventional high-end, you may compare an amp, pre, CD player, speakers, even cables, but in the end the comparison is very discrete (i.e. A in, B in, etc). With CA, and its multitude of players, ripping, settings, etc before you ever reach the DAC, its so easy to change many items before listening. I guess if one wanted to understand the impact (or no impact) of each item, it would require greater discipline and/or OCD than I possess...and I'm pretty OCD!! LOL

 

I am enjoying this new venture entirely because it does appear the potential for great sound is very real and the convenience of having (eventually) my entire music collection available without getting out of the listening chair. The coup de grace is the opportunity to try the hi rez stuff starting to be offered on the web.

 

Thanks again, Chris, David, Steve, Matt, Andy and Xeno. Your help was very much appreciated!!!!

 

Jordan

 

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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