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hello to everyone and question on ASIO/windows volume


franepici
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Dear All,

 

First of all hello to everyone; I found this forum while I was doing a massive research on the net on how to set at the best my hardware/software for great audio playback, and I found it; congratulations, it's really a pleasure for the ambience and the overall tone of the discussions :)

 

Before going ahead with my question I want to stress out that I really looked everywhere in order to find an answer, but I often found contradictory and incomplete information on other forums touching these subjects.

 

I make it quick and easy. My system is:

Win Vista, Foobar with ASIO4ALL drivers, Trends UD-10 amplified by a Trends TA-10.

I keep Foobar volume always at 100%

 

I read that once ASIO is installed, the Win volume control does not affect anymore the audio quality and the signal keeps being bit-transparent. Is this true?

I also read that with ASIO drivers installed, the WIN volum control should also be un-usable (grey), but this is not my case...

 

I'm a bit confused. Can you help me to better understand?

 

Thank you very much,

 

Francesco Roselli

 

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I believe that ASIO drivers are not necessary with Vista, and the correct system volume for Windows is 50% (100% for mac).

 

Olive

 

 

 

hFX Classic fanless i7 SSD > Locus Nucleus / SW Diverter HR > RWA Isabella LFP-V Pro / New Sensor Genalex Gold Lion E88CC > ALO Sennheiser HD 800 balanced[br]

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Hi Olive,

 

thank you. That's what I also read somewhere else: ASIO not necessary with VISTA, but then I also read that ASIO could allow the audio signal to bypass a lot of WIN Vista un-necessary paths...

 

As regards 50% of the WIN volume, could you please explain the reason?

 

I think it would be useful for all to really make the point on these subjects, as a lot of confusion reigns (at least for me) :)

 

Thank you!

Francesco

 

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I believe you should keep the volume at 100% and disable the volume control within your software. Any adjustment will cause Vista to perform some form of processing.

 

Your best best is to output to your DAC and 100% volume via ASIO or WASAPI and make all volumne adjustment using your pre-amp or amp.

 

Your question re the greyed out volume control; nope, using either ASIO or WASAPI does not disable the Windows volume control on my PC either. But you should see a 'disable volume control' option within the media software that you're using.

 

 

Regards,

 

 

Matt.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Hi Matt,

 

Yes, I always keep player's volume at max, and tend to do the same with WIN volume as well.

Thank you for your feedback on WIN volume not being greyed out as well...

 

As regards disabling the voume control, Winamps allows you to do so, but unfortunately not Foobar.

 

And what about ASIO on VISTA? Do you know something more, if it's really useful or not? I tried Wasapi, but in-track search gets rough with the cursor, and voume control imprecise; this is why I decided to stick to ASIO.

 

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The best place to go for info on all of this asio/wasapi stuff is http://msdn.microsoft.com Here you will find all manner if unintellible gibberish about how all of this audio stuff is implemented in XP/Vista. The point being that it will be the official version of the gibberish and not the Myth & Legend version!

 

In Vista, volume control is ONLY handed over to an endpoint device, ie a dac, if said device has a hardware volume control that makes itself known to the system on boot-up, and the driver is operating in exclusive mode. If neither,or only one of, these conditions exist then vista will control the volume. End of. So, beemb is right when he says that the audio system volume should be controlled at the pre/amp. Software cannot control the volume of audio leaving the computer without invoking Vistas' control API's. Software cannot switch off Vistas' volume control, it can only disable your access to it - the two are different :)

 

As for ASIO, for audio replay this is nothing more than an answer looking for a problem! ASIO was designed to implement low latency monitoring of recording streams. You don't need to do this! Nor do you need to bypass XP's kmixer, you simply need to make sure that it won't be used to do anything other than deliver the audio stream to its destination. A job it was designed to do! Kmixer is conductor and gatekeeper for XP's audio hardware implementation, its job is to make sure that what's been asked for is what is delivered, and that it is delivered on time. It does this on a time basis (every 10ms for a volume check, for instance). The rest of the time it sleeps. So, if you don't feed it more than one audio task, don't feed it a sample rate the hardware/software can't cope with and don't ask it to change the volume - it won't. It's as simple as that.

 

There is a lot of nonsense talked on the internet about asio etc, and how much better it is. It isn't, in my not-so-humble opinion. Back in the day it was Steinberg's way of getting low latency monitoring onto a platform that didn't, and still doesn't, properly allow it. It never worked reliably then and it still doesn't! Modern soundcards worth their salt all come with hardware monitoring so asio is even more redundant. It is most certainly far more trouble than it's worth for the simple playback of audio sound files.

 

Phew - rant over!

 

Really though, folks, ask yourselves why the software doesn't come with its own asio driver by default. If it did, you may even tempt me to give it a go, but 3rd party drivers are the bain of Windows machines and are the quickest way I've ever found of frying a perfectly good install. And YES, I do speak from experience!!

 

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Thanks a lot Bob; yes, it's definitely Myths and Legends out there, and it's really difficult to sort out the good (and scientifically valid) information from Sci-Fi.

 

Do you have any further comments in relation to Wasapi and Kernel Streaming? Or what you said for Asio basically applies to all?

 

Specifically, I would be very much interested on a feedback on the Foobar add-ons and their description (http://www.foobar2000.org/?page=Download):

 

Kernel Streaming support

2006-08-04 Allows bit-exact playback bypassing Windows kernel mixer. Activated through playback / output preferences page (device list). Warning: this component is experimental and provided for testing only; it is known to cause stability issues on certain configurations. If you experience any problems while using it, please revert to regular output modes ("Primary Sound Driver" etc).

 

WASAPI output support

1.2

2008-06-27 Adds Windows Audio Session API exclusive mode output support, allowing bit-exact output and muting all other sounds on Windows Vista systems. Windows Vista SP1 or newer required.

 

The basic question that I have is:

if, just to make an example/comparison, we consider an analogic Line-Out better than an Headphone-out in order to connect a source to an Amp because simply Line-Out does not have that additional amplifying circuit, cannot we consider the same for digital output from the PC?

Wouldn't be better to just have the digital stream flow out of the USB without having to pass by Windows processes that may (or may not, as I understand from you) change the signal itself?

 

Really thank you everyone for all your replies and kind regards,

Francesco

 

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1. The warning under the Kernel Streaming Support description says it all really. And is why it was not implemented as a default component of Foobar. It is not guaranteed to work, which means it may trash your set-up. In my world that makes it a very firm non-starter. :)

 

2. This page - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms678715(VS.85).aspx - describes how the volume api is implemented under a WASAPI driver. In particular it describes the requirements an exclusive mode application/hardware device (endpoint device) must meet for it all to work. The hardware must also meet certain criteria before it will all work without tears.

 

This from the Foobar wiki about Wasapi :

 

Limitations of this component

 

Volume control is delayed.

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 or newer is strongly recommended; WASAPI exclusive mode is unusable on significant percentage of pre-SP1 machines because of bugs in Windows Vista.

If you toggle the Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device option in Windows Sound Control Panel while playing, foobar2000 may crash. This is a bug in Windows Vista still present as of SP1.

For currently unknown reasons, this component does not cooperate with certain soundcards such as Creative X-Mod.

With certain soundcards you might need to fiddle with output buffer length in output preferences before getting acceptable results - with certain buffer lengths, playback may fail to start entirely or get stuck after a few seconds.

 

In other words, this device driver was not implemented by default because it is unlikely to work properly. Personally, I think Wasapi holds great potential as an audio interface. But I think soundcards/dacs etc will need to be built to take advantage of it. As a bolt-on option you may get lucky, but there again.........

 

As with ASIO, success was always down to luck in as much as, if it didn't work it was nearly always impossible to figure out why! It just wouldn't work. My view is if a software writer and/or hardware manufacturer sees fit to provide a suitable driver then by all means use it because they should have done their homework and it should work. If they are confident enough to supply supported software then I'll use it. but when the software writer says 'Try it if you want, but........' then I'm outa there.

 

And I still can't think of a good technical reason why asio should be any better for what is a one-way stream. Wasapi has the potential to make it easier for the end-user to guarantee an unmolested output, but at the moment I think it is still only potential.

 

Like the man says, 'if it ain't broke....take it apart and find out why'! :-)

 

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To answer the other question I just missed!

 

Yes, it would be better, imho. But we would still be drawing a distinction between going through a volume control unmolested and not going through it at all. At the stage of the audio chain we are discussing it may well be a tad too fussy? At least until someone comes up with a reliable, stonewall guarantee.

 

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Thank you again Bob,

 

Yes we definitely need stonewalls in this crazy audiophile world :)

 

So VISTA DirectSound will be just fine if no other sounds are produced while listening to our music.

Well, if this is the only problem, maybe to use ASIO (or WASAPI) is useful just in in this direction, because when I use it it mutes all the rest, and by this point of view is very comfortable: you just click play on your player and be sure that no additional sounds will be generated :)

 

 

 

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