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Cruddy sound quality with AEX, advice needed please


Laminarman

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I am very new here, this might be my first post. And super new to computer audio. I am outputting FLAC files to my Airport Express, which I have connected with a glass (Lifatec) mini-toslink to my Rotel RSP 1570. I am running a Dynakit 70 amp with Tannoy speakers. The sound has been just fantastic from disc. When I finally spent a full day and got the AEX working (I had to use Airfoil on my PC laptop) I was thrilled. Streaming from my iPad was less than great with those MP3's. Streaming my FLAC files off JRiver was an improvement, but a total lack of bass and a huge disappointment. I can't help but think I have something set wrong since I've heard systems streaming to an AEX that were indistinguishable from CD source. I'm not even sure I'm in the right forum here, so apologies up front, and thank you for any help I might get.

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Folks probably stopped reading at the point where you say "I was thrilled" :)

 

I take it what you meant was that you were thrilled to get it working at all, but then found the sound quality a let-down?

 

You're running a surround sound processor into a two channel amp, right? Is it possible that the processor is splitting the sound into two channels plus subwoofer (or something similar), hence the lack of bass? Since from your description everything works great direct from a cd player it might just be a case of duplicating the settings you have for the cd player input to the processor for the toslink input you're using for the AEX.

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Folks probably stopped reading at the point where you say "I was thrilled" :)

 

I take it what you meant was that you were thrilled to get it working at all, but then found the sound quality a let-down?

 

You're running a surround sound processor into a two channel amp, right? Is it possible that the processor is splitting the sound into two channels plus subwoofer (or something similar), hence the lack of bass? Since from your description everything works great direct from a cd player it might just be a case of duplicating the settings you have for the cd player input to the processor for the toslink input you're using for the AEX.

 

Silly me, I was thrilled just to get sound!!! It was a frustrating experience to say the least. I'm not sure the settings are to blame, I used the optical input with all identical settings with a CD player, bypassing the players DAC and it sounded great. Sounds almost like a real attenuated or thin file. I have to think maybe it's something on my PC or JRiver. I did some searching and saw talk about WASAPI and other types of things, no clue if those settings matter. Can't test it right now but will as soon as I get a chance. Thank you.

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I agree, sometimes the computer side of things can get so frustrating that getting any sound at all feels like a major achievement!

 

Since you are using the same dac (in the processor) and same settings as your CD player, they should in theory be giving you a very similar sound. Of course there will be differences, but not as big as those you describe.

 

Therefore I think you are right to be looking at the PC sound setup and/or JRiver. Possibly also at Airfoil as well (it may have some unwanted eq settings that are spoiling the party). Unfortunately I'm a mac user and have no experience to help me guess, but maybe some other kind PC using CA member will be able to advise.

 

One thing that I often recommend though: If you can, perhaps temporarily, move your PC within cable distance of the processor, and assuming you have a digital output on the PC, you could try that. It might eliminate some of the possible culprits. Good luck!

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