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software "sound quality"

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What does it mean that some software delivers good sound quality?

Assuming a contemporary laptop computer with SSD disks and powered from

its battery, what other technology aspects can deteriorate the sound?

And how can a player software deal with it? 

For simplicity sake let's assume no up/resampling , volume or other operations

on the original bits are taking place. The "bitperfect" original data stream 

is passed to the DAC.

Thank you for any enlightenment on the issue.

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If it is merely reading lossless files from disk, uncompressing them, and sending the resulting PCM stream to the sound device, any correctly functioning software will "sound" the same. That said, getting a bit perfect transport to the DAC may require bypassing OS level mixing, resampling, and volume adjustment. Any serious audio player can be expected to handle this while things like web browsers probably do not, at least not with their default settings. A poorly written player may also be more prone to suffer from stuttering or drop-outs.


Playing lossy formats like mp3 is a different matter. The mp3 standard leaves some details unspecified, so different decoders can produce different outputs from the same input file. A low-resource decoder using 16-bit maths may well sound different from a better one using 32-bit precision. This isn't as much of an issue with more recent formats like AAC since they are better specified with less room for decoders to take shortcuts.


The bottom line is, sending the same data to the DAC should produce the same sound no matter what the software doing it is called.

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 OS and software execution design matters as much as hardware. My Windows server/ microRendu setup was thrashed by using

 Audiolinux on same PC server and a Pentium NUC endpoint.  So you can't trust that all OS  solutions are equal.  Player applications on the other

hand seem to be a personal choice




Audio system

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So my understanding is as long as the OS and the application do not perform lossy

operations on the file bits there isn’t really any issue of sound quality.

The SQ is encoded in the original bits carried down to the DAC, right?

PS. Is Replay Gain always a lossy operation?


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I wouldn't talk about "lossy operation". Since the operations are usually not lossy. But any operation in general, instead of just dumping data from a file to the audio device.


And yes, replay gain goes into that category as an example.


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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