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Disabling the Kernal Mixer and bit perfect copies etc


yardbird4

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Hi Everyone:

 

I am beginning the process of creating a basic digital music server (upgrades to come later). I plan to use a windows based laptop running Windows xp (later upgrade to Vista Ultimate) from a Sony Vaio to the new Cambridge DacMagic , with a two terabyte Maxtor Turbo III as storage (right now I am not concerned with having a wireless application). I have already ripped most of my CD collection to various Western Digital HD's and plan to copy all content to the Maxtor. I used a Soundblaster Audigy2 ZS to do the original ripping. I have since joined this site and read some comments that suggest that this soundcard may not deliver the goods in terms of "bit perfect" copies of CD's. My question is how do you determine if you have a bit perfect copy or if your copy has some how been upsampled to 48KHZ? When I go to properties and look at a file it shows 1411 bits which I thought corresponds to the 44KHZ normal CD standard.

 

Next, I see a lot of references to the much dreaded "kernel mixer." My question with respect to this is does the kernel mixer have a deleterious effect with regard to the initial ripping or is the damage done during the playback, or both? How do you disable the kernel mixer? If It would be best to re-rip these files to get the highest quality sound possible given my initial set up, what ripper do you recommend? Although, I dont relish re-ripping the hugh number of files I would need to do over, I am dedicated enough to the best sound quality to do so if necessary. Certainly I would compare the current version of my files to files ripped pursuant to various recommendations prior to making a decision to actually take that arduous path.

 

I would also like recommendations on what kind of graphical interface to use in terms of storing and manipulating my music files.

 

I know I have probably not covered some topics because I don't (at this point) know enough about the subject, so all pointers, helpful hints, and suggestions are welcome.

 

Thanks for your time and help,

 

Larry

 

 

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"I used a Soundblaster Audigy2 ZS to do the original ripping."

 

No you didn't: in wasn't "in circuit" at the time. It is part of the replay chain. The quality of your rip is probably fine. Some say that some softwares provide a more reliable rip than others. You did not say what software you used to rip, nor what format you used.

 

"Next, I see a lot of references to the much dreaded "kernel mixer." "

 

You mean "k-mixer", the software mixer that is part of Windows XP. K-mixer can re-sample your ripped CDs and is best avoided. You can switch to kernel streaming if your replay software and hardware allow it; or you can use ASIO drivers, if your replay software and hardware allow it. Both methods take k-mixer out of the replay chain.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KMixer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernel_streaming

http://www.asio4all.com/

 

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=949758

 

The first answer on the above thread is corrected further down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian

Squeezebox Classic - Beresford Caiman-Gator DAC - Quad 520f with Dada refresh - Quart 980s German Tower Loudspeakers.

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I'm afraid chances do exist that Larry "ripped" his albums to disk by means of capturing the analogue data (out of the CD player) by means of a soundcard and digitize it again ...

If so Larry, be prepared to start all over.

 

My question is how do you determine if you have a bit perfect copy

 

You can't. Of course you can see whether a 44K1 file has remained so, but with the normal ripping (like via EAC) this certainly won't change.

But determining whether a copy is the same for every single bit is an impossibility. The only thing you could do is take e.g. three CDRom drives, rip the file with each of them, and compare the results. When all are the same you can be confident you have a good copy. However :

 

The problem with this method is that the three copies again won't be the same because of different "offsets" from the different CDRom drives. So, it takes some skill and time to find those offsets in the data, and cut those out to the common denominator and compare that only.

 

Yeah, this goes way beyond your question, but in the end it works like this.

Peter

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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I'm afraid chances do exist that Larry "ripped" his albums to disk by means of capturing the analogue data (out of the CD player) by means of a soundcard and digitize it again ...

If so Larry, be prepared to start all over.

 

I hope not. Larry, did you put the CD to be copied in the CD player having attached the analogue output of the CD player to the analogue input of the soundcard? That is not ripping.

 

To rip a CD it must be placed in the CD drive of the PC - the bitstream of the CD is then copied to the hard drive in raw wave (WAW) format or coded to something like MP3 (lossy encoding) or to something FLAC (lossless encoding) - since your aim is the highest quility you should be ripping to a lossless format.

 

You don't tell us which; and Larry is right, the English you used could bear the interpretation that you did not rip at all, but used your soundcard to digitise an analogue input.

 

Tell us more.

 

Brian

Squeezebox Classic - Beresford Caiman-Gator DAC - Quad 520f with Dada refresh - Quart 980s German Tower Loudspeakers.

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My question with respect to this is does the kernel mixer have a deleterious effect with regard to the initial ripping

 

... when Larry indeed "ripped" like capturing the analogue sound, and even when capturing the digital data (!), Kernel Mixer then too is in the way. That's at least what logic tells me (I never tried it though).

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Hi Larry - I have a feeling there are some terminology differences here that are leading us down the wrong path.

 

What application did you use to rip your CDs? (forget the hardware for the moment)

 

I recommend MediaMonkey for playback on a PC. It supports everything and allows you to bypass the Kernel Audio Mixer.

 

Let's make this as easy as possible for you and concentrate on these things to start. Let me know what your next questions are and I'll be happy to help.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Hi Guys: Thanks for jumping in. I did rip the CD's using the computer drive (the Soundblaster packages does come with a module that has RCA inputs that would accomodate a CD player or turntable, I assume, but I did not use it). The rips are uncompressed wave files. The ripping software is called Media Source Organizer and is supplied with the Soundblaster package. Since it is supplied with the soundcard, I assumed the soundcard would be in the chain. From your responses I am hearing that the rips are probably ok? I will definitely try Media Monkey when I set the system up ... probably in the coming week. Any other suggestions on improving the setup as I referred to in in my initial post? As I stated earlier this is my initial dip in the Music Server waters, and I envision upgrading at a later date but if there are inexpensive ways to improve what I am now impementing, I would love to hear about it.

 

Thanks all

 

Larry

 

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Glad to hear that you didn't all the hard work for nothing Larry.

 

The next thing you have to investigate is if indeed your Soundblaster is delivering the "bit perfect" playback.

I didn't look (Google) this time, but the Soundblasters are indeed known to upsample to 48K by standard. And you would not want that.

 

 

... Although, when your DAC chip (which could be the Soundblaster itself) is running on a clock with equal division of 48K, the sound may just be better for net result. Thus, if the (MHz) clock divided by 48000 gives no rest, YMMV.

 

 

Good luck,

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Foobar is another free player worth considering. The interface is not as pretty as some, but it worth a look. You can set it to use kernel streaming or ASIO - again with the free ASIO4ALL.

 

http://www.foobar2000.org/

 

http://www.asio4all.com/

 

One or both (kernal streaming or ASIO) may work with your PC.

 

Do note that if you upgrade to Vista you have to achieve bit perfect delivery by other means.

 

Consider also converting your rips to a lossless compressed format like FLAC - it's a bit like ZIPing a data file - the file going down to half size and is "unzipped" back to its original before being played. You could save on disk space, if that is an issue.

 

Another approach: You can bypass the re sampling issue by using a Squeezebox. This means you can have the PC in a room apart from the HiFi. Your files are ripped to the hard drive on the PC and streamed bit perfectly using using a server software you install on that PC. The squeezbox receives the stream and passes an analogue signal to your amplifier, or a digital signal to your preferred external DAC. The Squeezebox can be had for £135 from Amazon, but they are out of stock at the moment. The Sueezeboxes internal DAC is probably as good or better than your soundcard.

 

Look at what these folk offer

 

https://www.ripcaster.co.uk/

 

---

 

You could add an cheap but highly regarded DAC to the setup -it would take the digital out from your PC or from the Squeezebox.

 

http://www.beresford.me/main/main.html

 

£100 at the moment because an enhanced model is about to come out. The £25 upgrade adds some of the improvements the new model promises (New model around £200 and due before Christmas)

 

I have Beresford - very fine sound.

 

The Beresford fan club seem to reside here

 

http://www.theartofsound.net/forum/

 

and it's worth reading the threads that refer.

 

---

 

Or you could forget the Squeezebox and add the Beresford DAC, provided you could confidently get a bit perfect digital output from your PC.

 

 

 

 

Brian

Squeezebox Classic - Beresford Caiman-Gator DAC - Quad 520f with Dada refresh - Quart 980s German Tower Loudspeakers.

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At this point my plan is to simply connect the external hardrive to the PC (2 terrabytes so space is not a problem at the point), feed the output of my PC directly to the Cambridge Audio DAC, which will then be connected to my pre-amp via rca connectors. Does using a squeezebox in this configuration add something beneficial to the mix?

 

Thanks for the tip on Vista. I plan to wait for Chris' report on Vista before I decide if a move in that direction is the right way to go.

 

I will give the foobar a look as a possible playback interface.

 

Thanks guys, I can see I will get all the help I need (considerable)

on this site. Hope I can return the favor at some point.

 

Larry

 

 

 

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Does using a squeezebox in this configuration add something beneficial to the mix?

 

It allows you keep the noisy PC away from the listening room.

 

It sidesteps the bitperfect issues.

 

It is a HiFi Internet radio tuner.

 

But if you have an external DAC, don't bother yet, unless the remote working is a big advantage.

 

 

 

Brian

Squeezebox Classic - Beresford Caiman-Gator DAC - Quad 520f with Dada refresh - Quart 980s German Tower Loudspeakers.

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