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Topic: Windows Settings: Sample rate, bit depth and shared mode? (Read 7409 times) previous topic - next topic
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Windows Settings: Sample rate, bit depth and shared mode?

Today, I came across the advanced tab for my soundcard settings in Vista and I notice an option about output. It's set to 16-bit, 48 KHz.

The option panel mentions something called 'Shared mode'.

It makes me wonder if I should change these settings to get a better result. I listen to my music primarily in Media Monkey, but also sometimes in Winamp.

I have a Sound Blaster Audigy SE which permits 24-bit output.

Here are my questions - I hope someone might have a clear answer:

1) What is 'Shared mode' and when does it matter?
2) All of my music is 44,1 KHz because it is ripped from CD's. Is my Audigy resampling it to 48 KHz because of this setting? Does it produce a quality loss?
3) Most of my music is ripped from my own CD's which is, as you know, made of 16-bit 44,1 KHz Stereo PCM data. The setting in Windows allows 24-bit output as well, same with Winamp. Does 24-bit output create any improvement considering the fact that the file were originally ripped from a 16-bit source?
4) What about files bought from the iTunes Store?

Windows Settings: Sample rate, bit depth and shared mode?

Reply #1
1. dunno
2. resampling to another samplerate will always cause quality loss. However with a good resampler the quality loss won't be noticable. But i don't think the Audigy's resampler is very good. So a software resampler would be a good solution in your case. There is a SSRC resampler plugin for winamp for example.
3. 24bit won't give you any quality increase for 16bit music. If you have 24 bit music, you have to make sure your souncard and DAC support 24bit as well. I think there is some doubt whether the Audigy is actually 24bit.
4. dunno

btw I have always wondered how to check my soundcard and speakerset for 24bit support. I have a realtek ALC889A and a Altec Lansing ADA 890 pc speakerset connected digitally. 24bit mode gives sound, but how do i check if more than 16bits are actually used?

Windows Settings: Sample rate, bit depth and shared mode?

Reply #2
Shared mode (as opposed to "exclusive" mode) is when all your apps "share" the audio device and thus the mixer in Vista is used. Since you might have different sampling rates for different audio streams, everything will be resampled to what you set in the Vista "playback devices" advanced properties. In this stage, I'm pretty sure Vista will do the resampling, not your audio driver. Somebody can correct this if it's inaccurate.

After this is done, your card may or may not apply more processing to the audio. For instance, with the Asus Xonar HDAV (HDMI card), after the audio gets processed by Vista's mixer, it will also be processed by the card's driver, so if you have Vista's mixer at 48 kHz and your Xonar control panel set at 96 kHz, you will get 96 in your receiver. If your source was 44.1 kHz, it was resampled twice.

WASAPI exclusive mode is what you use to bypass Vista's mixer. Your app and your audio device need to be compatible. Foobar2000 has a plugin for this, and last I heard Winamp was gonna have one, I don't know if it ever got it. When using exclusive mode with the Xonar HDAV though, you will still bypass Vista's mixer, but you're at the mercy of the Xonar CP's settings. You still need to set the Xonar CP to the same sampling rate of your source if you want no resampling. Asus supposedly is working on auto switching, but I have not much hope that they will actually fix it.

 

Windows Settings: Sample rate, bit depth and shared mode?

Reply #3
3) Most of my music is ripped from my own CD's which is, as you know, made of 16-bit 44,1 KHz Stereo PCM data. The setting in Windows allows 24-bit output as well, same with Winamp. Does 24-bit output create any improvement considering the fact that the file were originally ripped from a 16-bit source?

Changing 16 bits to 24 is adding 8 zero bytes, this of course won't alter the sound.
However, if you use digital volume control there might be a benefit as you can chop off 8 bits (approx. 48 dB attenuation) without loosing resolution.
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Windows Settings: Sample rate, bit depth and shared mode?

Reply #4
3) Most of my music is ripped from my own CD's which is, as you know, made of 16-bit 44,1 KHz Stereo PCM data. The setting in Windows allows 24-bit output as well, same with Winamp. Does 24-bit output create any improvement considering the fact that the file were originally ripped from a 16-bit source?

Changing 16 bits to 24 is adding 8 zero bytes, this of course won't alter the sound.
However, if you use digital volume control there might be a benefit as you can chop off 8 bits (approx. 48 dB attenuation) without loosing resolution.


A 24 bit sound card doesn't actually give you 48 dB more SNR then when in 16 bit mode (110-120 vs. ~95dB is more common), so at best you'd get another 15dB-25dB but perhaps less. 

But yes having a few extra dB for replaygain or if you're going to apply EQ is nice.  Unless you're applying extreme EQ, even 10dB likely means you could equalize with essentially no loss of dynamic range.  Not that it'd be audible, but might as well take what you can get.

Windows Settings: Sample rate, bit depth and shared mode?

Reply #5
Thank you for your answers.

 
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