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is "windows media player" good enough for 44.1 k > USB DAC


hcsunshine

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hi y'all, I'm new to computer audio. I plan on using my dell laptop (windows 7) to send 44.1k WAV files to a USB DAC and then onto the rest of my stereo system. my question is, since I'm not going to be playing hi-rez files (for now), is windows media player good enough? someone on another forum said something about jriver. though, if jriver doesn't sound any better than windows media player for 44.1 k files then I see no need to switch. thanks for any helpful responses, john

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Hi hcsunshine,

 

And welcome to Computer Audiophile :)

 

I don't think there is any problem using WMP for listening to music, but when you will feel like it, JRiver may be of interest depending on what you are interested to do (it is much more complete, but it will need some reading to play with).

 

There is also Foobar2k (Foobar). It is a freeware and it also is very interesting.

 

But take your time ! As in everything, there are many details that will bring questions... There are much to discover here.

 

I learned a lot of things, but I started step by step - this is the best way not to get frustrated. After all, it all is for convenience and about music :)

Alain

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thanks alaingr for the warm welcome. so, I'm gathering that the playback software itself does not matter so much at least as far as 44.1 k files are concerned...I also was wondering if the amount of RAM one's computer has will have any affect on the sound...thanks again.

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thanks alaingr for the warm welcome. so, I'm gathering that the playback software itself does not matter so much at least as far as 44.1 k files are concerned...I also was wondering if the amount of RAM one's computer has will have any affect on the sound...thanks again.

 

It's like climbing a mountain... If you look up, you may ask yourself if you will have the courage to climb it all the way... If instead you look in front of you, it will not seem as hard to realize :)

 

The amount of memory can have its importance and the software player will too. There are a lot of software players that you will have the chance to play with and you may be surprised by some differences.

 

I use a software player called XXHighEnd. There is a learning curve, but the interest to play with it and follow the tutorial demands some patience. My first player was Winamp (about 7 years ago) and I also used WMP. Reading around here helped me to grab some notions. But I had to experiment on my own too.

 

WMP is not the best player, but it is a start and this is all that counts for the moment being. When you will have made some reading around, a lot of questions will rise, but like they say "You need to walk before you run" :)

 

And there will be a lot of people to help you. And if someone suggests something that seems odd, don't hesitate to ask questions :). There will also be contradictory opinions, but I am sure you know that this is predictable :)

Alain

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welcome to the world of computer audio, a few questions

 

 

- which USB DAC do you have or plan on getting ?

 

 

- amp, speakers or head phones

 

 

- music genres

 

 

- what's your budget for this exploration

 

 

On my dedicated i7 audio PC, I only have 2Gb memory ;-)

 

 

looking at the sigs of the various posters on this forum, I don't think you will find any one using WMP

 

 

It is quite amazing what software players like XXHighEnd, HQ Player, Foobar + SACD plugin can do to transform and improve the sound quality of 16/44 files.

 

To do this software justice, one needs to have computer generated electrical noise under control, there are many options and strategies available to reduce the noise that eventually finds it way to the DAC.

 

the other factor is timing, the bits need to arrive at the DAC at the right time, and attention needs to be paid to this aspect as well. (Jitter control)

 

JRiver is the Swiss Army Knife of computer audio software, it can do almost everything you can wish for. It's a convenient platform for converting internet radio streams to DSD256 ( the highest quality format in use at present) but it's native audio converters are not the best sounding, but can be replaced with better sounding plugins

Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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I plan on getting the Schiit Gungnir USB DAC in the coming days. I like the fact that it has a separate DAC chip for each channel, is fully balanced, and is made in America. anyway, from there the signal will be going to my emotiva XSP-1 G2 pre-amp, then my emotiva UPA-1 amps and onto my selah audio verita monitors (w/ RAAL 70-20xr ribbon tweeter and a scan speak paper coned illuminator series woofer) thanks for your comments. maybe I will try foobar since it is free. what is a plug in and will I need one with foobar to make it sound better? also,what are the best cheapest ways to help keep computer generated electrical noise under control? is RAM that important for sound quality? I'm not even sure what kind of budget I have for this. I would also be interested in learning how to keep jitter at a minimum. now, I'm not sure if this is true, but one person told me jitter is not as important as people think. the information may come in a lil off, but it will still ultimately be read as a one or a zero.

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so I've been using foobar2000 for just an hour or so now and the music seems to glitch every so often. I'm not sure if I remember windows media player glitching like this. though I did notice the sound to be a lil bit better with foobar. is the foobar glitching maybe because foobar requires more RAM to run than windows media player or something? any help appreciated.

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A major decision to be taken is whether you want to go down the DSD road or not

 

the pros

- more sound quality for the budget be it at the mid price, high price or exotic price level

 

the cons

- more complexity,

- less choice of software / less ease of use / less choice of nice GUI

 

 

there are DSD's DAC's in the price range you are looking at, the TEAC UD 501, the Korg DAC 100 and the ifi micro DSD which all do a good job. These 3 DAC's will allow you to explore upsampling to either 24 bit 384 KHz PCM or 5.6 MHz DSD

 

Foobar and JR are both configured to allow the integration and use of third part software aka "Plugins" which usually do some kind of Digital Signal Processing

 

A powerful PC has more than 5 times the computational processing power of a typical DAC, so the strategy is to allow as much of the DSP to occur in the PC and not do it in the DAC.

 

Higher sample rates work better than lower sample rates as the necessary filters are at a higher frequency, have shallower slopes and are less detrimental to the sound.

 

384 Khz PCM can sound very good, but typically DSD 128 (5.6 Mhz) sounds a bit better. With today's electronics you can have better DSD sound without a lot of extra cost, but it is more hassle

 

Keeping electrical noise from the PC under control has been quite complex with

- separate power supply for the SSD

- using 2 pc's one for heavy computation, and one for simple playback

- USB cards which reclock the USB transmissions

- USB isolation devices

- Linear power supply for the PC

- heavily optimized / minimalized PC operating sytems

 

but there is starting to accumulate good results using a optical USB cable which will make keeping PC electrical noise under control relatively easier and less costly

 

Keeping jitter under control is a job of the DAC when asynchronous USB is the data transfer operating mode. When other digital transfer modes are used, timing is the job for the PC

Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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so I've been using foobar2000 for just an hour or so now and the music seems to glitch every so often. I'm not sure if I remember windows media player glitching like this. though I did notice the sound to be a lil bit better with foobar. is the foobar glitching maybe because foobar requires more RAM to run than windows media player or something? any help appreciated.

 

Play around with the buffer sizes in Foobar and you might be able to reduce or eliminate the glitching. If you have 2Gb or more RAM, it is usually enough as long as you have shut down all of your other applications.

 

What kind of CPU is in your laptop and what percentage load is it seeing under Task Monitor / Performance monitor ? You can also see the RAM usage in Task monitor / Performance monitor

Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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I don't feel like I want to go down the DSD road. I may however start with implementing a linear power supply for the PC. do you have any linear power supplies that you would like to suggest. also, it is 1.90 Ghz with 4 gb of RAM and I just noticed the WMP glitched a lil too so maybe it's not the foobar per say...if I'm going to be using foobar do I need to download some WASAPI thing on the foobar website to get a better sound?

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I don't feel like I want to go down the DSD road. I may however start with implementing a linear power supply for the PC. do you have any linear power supplies that you would like to suggest. also, it is 1.90 Ghz with 4 gb of RAM and I just noticed the WMP glitched a lil too so maybe it's not the foobar per say...

 

Clean power does wonders ! Unfortunately laptops with their built in screen and graphics are noisy because of this.

 

Suggest you wait a couple of weeks and see what success people are getting with optical USB cables in different configurations.

 

Here is the thread tracking reports on the Corning optical USB cable

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/corning-optical-universal-serial-bus-industry-standard-cables-connectors-and-communications-protocols-between-computers-and-electronic-devices-cable-experiences-23437/

Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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