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Article: Sources - The Ultimate Guide To High End Immersive Audio


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As a computer luddite, even I was able to figure out the Shield and the Kodi app, with some CC help.

I store the Atmos MKV files on a separate hard drive in their own file apart from my 2 channel files. I then copy them on a smaller drive to connect via usb to the shield which is connected to the Anthem via hdmi. Works very well and backs up the files on three separate drives.

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4 minutes ago, HawkPatooey said:

I have the current Nvidia Shield, but for streaming music my appliance of choice for streaming is a series of networked Bluesound nodes. It seems an oversight that Bluesound was not mentioned above, although vanilla Sonos and Shield was.

Bluesound can’t be a source for immersive audio. 

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Chris, I can appreciate your position on things here but you make it all so complicated as to scare

away 90% of even the most dedicated audiophile.

 

"Offloading the decoding to another device by using a streamer, or computer with HDMI output for that matter, is an easier route with its own pros/cons."

Exactly and your/any claims of deteriorated sound quality using these methods are greatly exaggerated if they exist at all. It really needn't be any more complicated than playing back a 2ch flac.

 

"I’m anti-video, pro-audio, and will not use a screen in my listening room."

Your loss, having a screen in your room won't hurt sound quality one bit.

You could even use a projector and with a roll up/down screen if the sight of one triggers a negative listening bias for you.  ;)

Your missing soo much viewing & listening pleasure of the many live concerts available in Multich, Atmos, and Auro soundtracks even if you hate the movies.  I can't wait for Rhino to release the 2023 remaster of  Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense in Atmos sound to BluRay, what a great, fun concert it is to hear and see.

 

I run PCLinuxOS here (you didn't mention the name of your preferred Linux distro). It plays TrueHD Atmos mkv files using the Kodi player and sends them bit-perfectly over HDMI to my Denon X4700H (oh the horrors) used in preamp only configuration along with 5 classic Adcom power amps.

For all other non-Atmos multich files (5.1 & 7.1 flacs, etc) I use the Strawberry media player mainly because I prefer it's UI over Kodi, but it will work also, to deliver again bit-perfectly via HDMI to my AVP..

I also use the Cantata media player for multich DSD files, it just seems happier with them.

All mentioned applications are available directly from the PCLinuxOS repositories for FREE, simply requiring a click or two to install. I imagine the same is true for most of the better Linux distro's.

I can also do mostly the same as above in Windoz using the VLC media player for Atmos, and Foobar2000 for everything else.

 

For streaming I use a Apple 4K TV box directly into the AVP.  But due to the fact that currently the Atmos files are streamed in a lossy manner, I use it strictly to preview any new Atmos music before purchasing a lossless file from the distributor. Same as we did for many years before the streamers finally went lossless for 2ch music.

My System

 

I was very happy to see your support for multich music come to AS.  Just please don't make it all sound so much like brain surgery to everyone. Top shelf immersive sound quality is mostly easy peasy and more than worth every minute and penny spent in listening pleasure.

 

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

nomqa.webp.aa713f2bb9e304522011cdb2d2ca907d.webp  R.I.P. MQA 2014-2023: Hyped product thanks to uneducated, uncritical advocates & captured press.

 

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1 hour ago, Sal1950 said:

Exactly and your/any claims of deteriorated sound quality using these methods are greatly exaggerated if they exist at all.

Hi Sal, with all due respect I don’t know what else to tell you other than it’s both objectively and subjectively much more accurate to use time domain and frequency domain FIR filters with 65,000 taps. It’s plain old science. 
 

I can and do switch between my 65,000 tap filters and the built-in SoundID Reference filters, to A/B them. The difference is very clear. 
 

More taps give you more options and greater resolution. 65,536 taps at 48 kHz has a resolution of 0.732 Hz. That’s equivalent to 32,768 EQ sliders (1,000 times the resolution of a 1/3 octave equalizer). 
 

Plus, to control bass you need more taps. Multiplying the resolution by 3 roughly gives you the lower limit of the bass control. 3 x 0.732 Hz = 2.2 Hz. 

 

 

I want to educate people on how to do this at the highest level. This is how. 

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Chris, I didn't really focus on your manner of Digital Room Correction, I believe your using Mitch's Hand Loose Convolver and no doubt it is a good one, one of the best.  Whether used for 2ch or 20, a good, properly configured DRC system will take any music system to the next level. But DRC systems in the main stream like Dirac, Audyssey's upper tiers, Anthem's ARC, etc can also provide excellent results with the final delivered sound quality being much more dependent on the owners configuration than anything else.

 

But my main point is you set the complication bar far too high and are scaring away far more people than you can ever hope to welcome into the folds of immersive audio listener. Any differences between your 65,000 taps and a well configured Dirac will be extremely subtle, while the upgrade from 2ch to a modern multich 5.1 or Atmos system is profound.

Just my $.02

 

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

nomqa.webp.aa713f2bb9e304522011cdb2d2ca907d.webp  R.I.P. MQA 2014-2023: Hyped product thanks to uneducated, uncritical advocates & captured press.

 

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21 minutes ago, Sal1950 said:

Chris, I didn't really focus on your manner of Digital Room Correction, I believe your using Mitch's Hand Loose Convolver and no doubt it is a good one, one of the best.  Whether used for 2ch or 20, a good, properly configured DRC system will take any music system to the next level. But DRC systems in the main stream like Dirac, Audyssey's upper tiers, Anthem's ARC, etc can also provide excellent results with the final delivered sound quality being much more dependent on the owners configuration than anything else.

 

But my main point is you set the complication bar far too high and are scaring away far more people than you can ever hope to welcome into the folds of immersive audio listener. Any differences between your 65,000 taps and a well configured Dirac will be extremely subtle, while the upgrade from 2ch to a modern multich 5.1 or Atmos system is profound.

Just my $.02

 


Points all taken and noted Sal. I value your feedback, even when I disagree. 
 

Writing about this in a comprehensive way is difficult because of the different ways it can be done. You should see the cutting room floor for these articles :~)

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8 hours ago, Sal1950 said:

Your loss, having a screen in your room won't hurt sound quality one bit.


I forgot to address this one. My hatred of screens has nothing to do with sound quality. I prefer theater of the mind. The book is always better than the movie. watching a movie version of a book is always disappointing because it can never be as vivid as the picture painted in your mind while reading. 
 

The image in my head, when listening to music, is much better than anything a screen could provide. Plus, I feel like I lose brain cells when watching video. My brain shuts down, in the worst way, not a good relaxing way. 
 

I like listening to the Stanley Cup or World Series on the radio more than watching on TV. I listen to San Francisco Giants games on the radio because I love the scene John Miller paints with his words. I hate the Giants though :~)

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Chris, I am enjoying the hell out of this new and burgeoning immersive music world, and I want to thank you for keeping the pedal to the metal on it.  I am, for example, spending lots of design time and effort into upgrading my wonderful 7.1.4 (with two addtl stereo subs) to a 7.1.6 world (adding top middles to a redesigned height architecture that now includes Aerial 5Ts as front and rear heights).  Yeah, thanks a lot.  :)

 

(Side note:  I am also excited about all the great immersive effects in movies/video, as well, so in MY WORLD, the pj/screen is a big deal too.)

 

Anyway.....my sources are the following:

*Apple TV 4K is my source for all things Apple Music Atmos streaming (and streaming Prime, Disney, Apple TV + and Netflix movies/video)

 

*Zidoo Z9X is my streamer for local immersive music files and UHD bluray videos.  The Z9X is an inexpensive Chinese appliance that does an incredible job of playing back 4K UHD and immersive file formats for Atmos and Auro-3D (MKV, BDMV [.m2ts], etc), and is great at Dolby Vision and the myriad of HDR playback.  It's OSD GUIs/poster wall are average at best, but mostly I can grab files easily via an iphone remote app.  I have four local 5TB 2.5" spinners on it currently (not a huge movie collector by any means).  I've also thrown on some of my favorite 5.1 DSD and PCM surround stuff, too, and have the Lyngdorf post process them in Auro-3D occasionally.  Guilty pleasure.

 

* Sony X800M2 bluray player for any physical disc playback.  Also, the one blind spot for the Z9X is playing back Auro-3D when presented via embedded FLAC.  The Sony plays them just fine.

 

Anyway, I want to reiterate how magical it is to hear music in a three dimensional bubble, even if all the edges of these dimensions are not lit at all times.  Even a Blue Note 1950's jazz masterpiece can find new air and life, and maybe new followers, with this kind of presentation.  And it doesn't invlove 40 ft wide pianos or oversized vocals.  When done right, immersive playback puts the right sized image in a new larger space to have as its own.  Whether that's a Bill Evans piano riff or an electronic sub bass growl that pans from back to front, or a trio of heavenly voices recorded painstakingly in a 15th century cathedral.

 

Please go hear this stuff on a great system.  Don't confuse Atmos ear buds (nice in their own way) with a full system Atmos or Auro-3D setup.  The journey is worth it.  :)

 

 

 

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Yes Ted, every time I listen to Blue Train in Atmos I get chills. Such realism and much better than any 2 channel version I have heard, on any system. As for video, I am currently watching Foundation on AppleTV. Crystal clear 4K video graded with Dolby Vision. Simply stunning videos. Even better, an excellent Atmos soundtrack, placing you right in the environment you see on screen. I may be losing brain cells but……I love it!

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8 hours ago, ted_b said:

Chris, I am enjoying the hell out of this new and burgeoning immersive music world, and I want to thank you for keeping the pedal to the metal on it.  I am, for example, spending lots of design time and effort into upgrading my wonderful 7.1.4 (with two addtl stereo subs) to a 7.1.6 world (adding top middles to a redesigned height architecture that now includes Aerial 5Ts as front and rear heights).  Yeah, thanks a lot.  :)

 

(Side note:  I am also excited about all the great immersive effects in movies/video, as well, so in MY WORLD, the pj/screen is a big deal too.)

 

Anyway.....my sources are the following:

*Apple TV 4K is my source for all things Apple Music Atmos streaming (and streaming Prime, Disney, Apple TV + and Netflix movies/video)

 

*Zidoo Z9X is my streamer for local immersive music files and UHD bluray videos.  The Z9X is an inexpensive Chinese appliance that does an incredible job of playing back 4K UHD and immersive file formats for Atmos and Auro-3D (MKV, BDMV [.m2ts], etc), and is great at Dolby Vision and the myriad of HDR playback.  It's OSD GUIs/poster wall are average at best, but mostly I can grab files easily via an iphone remote app.  I have four local 5TB 2.5" spinners on it currently (not a huge movie collector by any means).  I've also thrown on some of my favorite 5.1 DSD and PCM surround stuff, too, and have the Lyngdorf post process them in Auro-3D occasionally.  Guilty pleasure.

 

* Sony X800M2 bluray player for any physical disc playback.  Also, the one blind spot for the Z9X is playing back Auro-3D when presented via embedded FLAC.  The Sony plays them just fine.

 

Anyway, I want to reiterate how magical it is to hear music in a three dimensional bubble, even if all the edges of these dimensions are not lit at all times.  Even a Blue Note 1950's jazz masterpiece can find new air and life, and maybe new followers, with this kind of presentation.  And it doesn't invlove 40 ft wide pianos or oversized vocals.  When done right, immersive playback puts the right sized image in a new larger space to have as its own.  Whether that's a Bill Evans piano riff or an electronic sub bass growl that pans from back to front, or a trio of heavenly voices recorded painstakingly in a 15th century cathedral.

 

Please go hear this stuff on a great system.  Don't confuse Atmos ear buds (nice in their own way) with a full system Atmos or Auro-3D setup.  The journey is worth it.  :)

 

 

 

Hi Ted, thanks so much for all the info and being another audiophile sharing his experience with immersive audio. Just telling it like it is, is the best thing we can do for everyone. It isn’t an over-sell to say there’s nothing like it and it’s amazing. As John Winger said in Stripes, “That’s a fact, Jack.” 
 

Im going to update this article to include the Zidoo you use. I couldn’t find it in my notes by the time I needed to publish. Thanks!

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27 minutes ago, Kurvenal said:

For such rooms DRC is not mandatory, as evidenced by the fact that my speaker manufacturer relied instead on the feature rich calibration functionality offered by my Trinnov processor to dial in the sound

Your Trinnov is doing the DRC :~)

 

27 minutes ago, Kurvenal said:

would therefore like to make a plug for professionally designed, built and calibrated home theaters as a compelling option for those who are interested in experiencing great sound quality when listening to immersive music.  If you get the room right from the beginning, the rest is much easier


Starting with the room is always best. I use acoustic panels for absorption and diffusion. Then DRC. 
 

Trinnov is great. Plus, it’s really easy and has great support. It’s a route I highly recommend. 

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@ted_b — I’ve wanted a good UHD / 3D movie file player anyway, so I went to go check out ordering one of these things. But, the Zidoo Z9X is not currently available either through the Zidoo shop nor through AliExpress. I wonder if they’ve discontinued it already?  JCR 

 

Update — I found a Z9Xpro version here on Amazon. zidoo Z9X PRO 4K HDR Media Player, 4K Android TV Box, Android 11 OS, RTD1619BPD Quad-core 64bit Processor 4G+32G, VS10 Image Quality Engine, HDR10+MKV, for Video & Audio Playback https://a.co/d/ddZvYee
 

Is this the same thing?  The Android TV function is irrelevant, yes?  

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Yes, the Z9X Pro will likely do the job just fine.  And you can run custom EDIDs that make a more compatible handshake with various display devices.  The forums at AVS Forum and its own Zidoo forum have plenty of info. 

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On 10/19/2023 at 12:05 PM, Kurvenal said:

 

Just to clarify, I should have said that I did not use the Trinnov Optimizer for my calibration…

 

On 10/19/2023 at 1:11 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

Oh interesting. What did you use for calibration and how do you implement time and frequency correction?

Yes Kurvenal, I'm curious on this question also? In most cases it reasonably easy to control the mid and top end with relatively simple room treatments. But getting a good handle on the bottom end can be a much more difficult situation.

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

nomqa.webp.aa713f2bb9e304522011cdb2d2ca907d.webp  R.I.P. MQA 2014-2023: Hyped product thanks to uneducated, uncritical advocates & captured press.

 

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6 hours ago, Sal1950 said:

 

Yes Kurvenal, I'm curious on this question also? In most cases it reasonably easy to control the mid and top end with relatively simple room treatments. But getting a good handle on the bottom end can be a much more difficult situation.

Plus, time alignment is nearly impossible because all speakers aren’t equidistant from the listening position. 

Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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