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Newbie To Group, with Questions


rkernell
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Recently, I have become interested in the 16 bit/44.1 kHz, 24 bit/96 kHz discussion that is ongoing on You Tube. Not one to readily accept others opinions about audio I decided to investigate the question myself, but I think that I took the wrong path, so here I am. I think that I am lucky in finding this group.

 

What I want to do is to be able to route the High Def music files to my Creek EVO 50 Cd DAC which in turn will feed the analog on to the rest of my system. I have downloaded an album in the FLAC format that I have copies of on CD and vinyl so that I can do a comparison showing any differences.

 

In my ignorance, I downloaded VLC onto a laptop and opened the files which were processed and fed to the headphones output jack. I was not able to find the way to feed the bit stream out through any of the pull down tabs, so I stopped and rethought what I had done and I realized that I had probably chosen the wrong process.

 

Is there a primer available that I can use to create a system to play the High Def files?

 

Rick Kernell

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Which OS you using, Windows or the 10% Osx? Reason being the sound cards, DACs need to be enumerated first, otherwise nothing happens. Windows and OSX have different setups.

 

Thanks for the reply. I have loaded the FLAC and VLC files onto my ASUS laptop for portability. The OS is Windows 7. I did this to preclude having a large workstation positioned with my stereo components.

 

Is there better hardware to use for this?

 

Rick

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Suggest downloading demo of JRiver onto your windows laptop and playing FLAC files with it. There are a million tweaks that will make a difference in sound quality (practically everything discussed on this site!):

including: minimizing processes running on laptop

which version of windows you run

choice of usb cable

addition of tweaks to minimize noise from the pc (e.g. Jitterbug, Regen etc.)

tweaks to upgrade laptop (e.g. power supply upgrade)

changing hardware to replace PC with either optimized PC, linux box, NAS & ethernet device

 

Regardless of how deep you dive, high rez files should usually sound better, but if you only have one of two examples of high rez you should research to make sure that those recordings are really good ones. Many notorious examples of CD masters just upsampled to look high rez. It's all about the provenance of the music, that is high quality original masters translated into higher resolution formats. You don't want the audio equivalent of a low res gif image saved as a high pixel image. It certainly wouldn't look like the original image taken in the higher pixel format.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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You need to make a digital connection between your PC and your DAC. This is typically done by connecting a USB cable between the two. You'll need a cable like this:

 

41SSFTGYDXL._SX355_.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Hi-Speed-USB-Cable-Feet/dp/B00004Z5M1

 

I have downloaded an album in the FLAC format that I have copies of on CD and vinyl so that I can do a comparison showing any differences

 

If what you want to know is whether "hi-res" in itself has an audio quality benefit then you need to compare sources that come from the same mastering. It's likely your vinyl and CD copies are different masterings and the files you downloaded are from a third mastering. Also, when listening for comparison's sake you need to be sure the two sources being compared are being played back at the same volume. All else equal, louder is always perceived as "better". It doesn't take much difference -- a fraction of a decibel -- to influence your results. Finally, you'll want to be aware of "expectation bias" and consider how it will influence your findings (or how it can be eliminated from your experiment design.) As you can see, these tests are not easily done. That's one reason this remains a controversial topic.

 

Alternatively, you could simply download some hi-res files, play them through your Creek DAC, and enjoy them for what they are. Get rid of VLC though; it was never designed for audio. JRiver, as recommended above, or foobar2000 (free) are much better options.

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Sorry I don't know enough to help out, Rick, but if you care to, I'd love to hear how you like that Creek CD player/DAC, if you don't mind a minor sidetrack from your question. It looks like a sweet unit, and I'm considering buying one. THANKS.

-Bob

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Okay, so you are on Windows. As already suggested get the free Foobar 2000 and let us help you set it up to feed the USB connection via WASAPI. Guarantees bit perfect playback of audio files. Connect the Creek via USB. You also can try the demo of Jriver as suggested.

 

Once you get that working there are a few places you can get free sample tracks of the same master of the same recording in the two bit rates (44.1 khz and 96 khz) which are level matched. All you need then is to switch between listening to each. So get your setup going first and then we'll link some places for music files to download. HINT:Mario here on CA can provide some nicely recorded samples though he isn't the only one.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Suggest downloading demo of JRiver onto your windows laptop and playing FLAC files with it. There are a million tweaks that will make a difference in sound quality (practically everything discussed on this site!):

including: minimizing processes running on laptop

which version of windows you run

choice of usb cable

addition of tweaks to minimize noise from the pc (e.g. Jitterbug, Regen etc.)

tweaks to upgrade laptop (e.g. power supply upgrade)

changing hardware to replace PC with either optimized PC, linux box, NAS & ethernet device

 

Regardless of how deep you dive, high rez files should usually sound better, but if you only have one of two examples of high rez you should research to make sure that those recordings are really good ones. Many notorious examples of CD masters just upsampled to look high rez. It's all about the provenance of the music, that is high quality original masters translated into higher resolution formats. You don't want the audio equivalent of a low res gif image saved as a high pixel image. It certainly wouldn't look like the original image taken in the higher pixel format.

 

Thanks for the reference. I am going to spend this evening going over their site. I am thinking that I will purchase and download the software since it is not expensive. Wish me luck, I think that the replies are getting me into the right direction.

 

Rick

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Please not that first you have to set up JRiver in the Audio Options menu, which can be quite daunting for a newbie. But the CA forum is here to help you :)

I use JRiver, too. But I have to tell you that I spent quite a long time to set it all up to play all high res file types the way I wanted.

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Good suggestion about the volume matching. For starters you can download free apps on your phone for sound level meter. They really are only sorta accurate for musical content in the midrange (because mics built into phones are made to emphasizing speaking voice), but good enough on simpler music. If you want to get really serious you can buy a decent sound level meter for ~$20. The standard used to be a Radio Shack analog meter, but not anymore I guess...

 

bluecoastmusic has free sample files comparing CD/24-96/DSD files of some of their tracks.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

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Level matching to within .1 db is important. Doing it by ear is insufficient. Things like sound level meters even the RS is iffy as well. The reason being in your room moving the mic even a fraction of an inch on the sound level meter will alter the sound pressure at that point. This is true with test tones. With music you really aren't going to get a good match that way.

 

A better way to level match for comparison purposes is using a multimeter set for AC voltage and setting a 1 k hz tone by measuring at the speaker binding posts. It needs to be within .1 db or within 1.2% on the voltage. If you had 10 volts for one source, then you need somewhere between 9.88 and 10.12 volts for the other source.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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