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Topic: Audio Quality (Read 2456 times) previous topic - next topic
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Audio Quality

Several people have mentioned to me that when they try out Foobar2000 (I'm always recommending it), the audio quality isn't as good as, say, Winamp.

I have just installed both the last (real, not the new 'Spotify-type' one) Winamp and also the fork, Wacup, to see. They are correct, I think. Both seem to have a sweeter sound with noticeably clearer bass.

Does anyone know what would be the reason for this? Is it something that can be altered, or a plug-in that can be changed?



Re: Audio Quality

Reply #3
Just read the "Bit Test" section here. This is all what a digital audio player and driver combination needs to accomplish. If you don't like the sound, just use a dsp or check if you simply had a higher playback volume when listening to winamp.


Re: Audio Quality

Reply #5
Both seem to have a sweeter sound

There is no setting for sweetness. Exclusively relevant for you is only this place. Except if you believe in moonshine influenced bits etc. But I don't think so, you wouldn't have come to HA then.

X



Re: Audio Quality

Reply #8
Yikes, TOS #8 alert!
I don't understand a word of that!!
TOS = Terms Of Service, https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,3974.html

TOS #8:
Quote
All members that put forth a statement concerning subjective sound quality, must - to the best of their ability - provide objective support for their claims.
Quote
Hydrogenaudio is supposed to be an objectively minded community that relies on double-blind testing and relevant methods of comparison in discussion about sound quality. The usual "audiophile" speak of non-audio related terms which are completely subjective and open to redefinition on a whim, are useless for any sort of progression in discussion.

This rule is the very core of Hydrogenaudio, so it is very important that you follow it.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #9
The word audiophile is being misused, and in an unkind way.

There's nothing subjective about this. The word means, "An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction."

I'm really tired of seeing the word 'audiophile' used as an insult around here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiophile
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)


Re: Audio Quality

Reply #11
Quote from: TOS8
The usual "audiophile" speak of non-audio related terms which are completely subjective and open to redefinition on a whim, are useless for any sort of progression in discussion.

Case in point from the OP...

Both seem to have a sweeter sound

So yeah, that's why the TOS exist and they were pointed out. Insulted by that? Whatever...  :D


 

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #12
Thanks for the various replies - especially the helpful ones. All I was asking is whether there might be a difference between the way FB2K handles audio and the way some other players do. I still think that's a reasonable question, but I seem to have used "the wrong" terminology. I'll know better than to be so stupid in future.
But there is a kind way of pointing out someone's errors, and a rude way. I'm disappointed that the rude way was favoured by several on here. I thought HA might be a more intelligent forum.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #13
Weird audio quality threads pop up every now and then. It's not unimaginable that people get tired of repeating the same explanations over and over.

As you may know, foobar2000 defaults to using ReplayGain. If your files have ReplayGain metadata the playback volume will almost certainly be lower. Lower volume is generally perceived as sounding worse.
ReplayGain is a wonderful invention, but if you don't use that in Winamp and want to compare playback, you'll need to disable it in foobar2000 too (Preferences -> Playback -> Replaygain -> Processing: none).

foobar2000 decodes everything to floating point without clipping. If you do not use ReplayGain and have the player volume control at maximum it's possible there are sample values exceeding digital fullscale and Windows mixer limiter kicks in adjusting volume. If the clipping would be bad the volume adjustment can cause noticeable loudness pumping and that isn't good.
This issue can affect lossy formats the most as they almost always decode with high peaks, but it can also happen with lossless formats and intersample peaks as foobar2000 will use internal resampler to match Windows mixer format requirements.
There are several options to circumvent this. Best would be to use ReplayGain to get common, reduced playback loudness level which would also take care of clipping for majority of files. Another option is to use an output that will bypass the mixer and its limiter and forces clipping to happen before playback. You could also manually add a resampler to resample to Windows mixer format and use advanced limiter to prevent clipping without quality issues.

Third potential difference is handling of mono files. The default output in foobar2000 will play mono as "front center" channel so it may be quieter than other potential behavior of mirroring the same track to both left and right front speakers. This is solvable by using "Convert mono to stereo" DSP.

Apart from these things to note foobar2000 playback is flawless. If you don't use DSPs or ReplayGain it can play source signal bit-perfectly from the source to the DAC. There is no better quality than perfect.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #14
This audiophile topics are just a noise when not backed by blind tests.
Please remove my account from this forum.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #15
Weird audio quality threads pop up every now and then. It's not unimaginable that people get tired of repeating the same explanations over and over.

As you may know, foobar2000 defaults to using ReplayGain. If your files have ReplayGain metadata the playback volume will almost certainly be lower. Lower volume is generally perceived as sounding worse.
ReplayGain is a wonderful invention, but if you don't use that in Winamp and want to compare playback, you'll need to disable it in foobar2000 too (Preferences -> Playback -> Replaygain -> Processing: none).

foobar2000 decodes everything to floating point without clipping. If you do not use ReplayGain and have the player volume control at maximum it's possible there are sample values exceeding digital fullscale and Windows mixer limiter kicks in adjusting volume. If the clipping would be bad the volume adjustment can cause noticeable loudness pumping and that isn't good.
This issue can affect lossy formats the most as they almost always decode with high peaks, but it can also happen with lossless formats and intersample peaks as foobar2000 will use internal resampler to match Windows mixer format requirements.
There are several options to circumvent this. Best would be to use ReplayGain to get common, reduced playback loudness level which would also take care of clipping for majority of files. Another option is to use an output that will bypass the mixer and its limiter and forces clipping to happen before playback. You could also manually add a resampler to resample to Windows mixer format and use advanced limiter to prevent clipping without quality issues.

Third potential difference is handling of mono files. The default output in foobar2000 will play mono as "front center" channel so it may be quieter than other potential behavior of mirroring the same track to both left and right front speakers. This is solvable by using "Convert mono to stereo" DSP.

Apart from these things to note foobar2000 playback is flawless. If you don't use DSPs or ReplayGain it can play source signal bit-perfectly from the source to the DAC. There is no better quality than perfect.
Thank you very much. This was interesting and informative. Much appreciated.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #16
Both seem to have a sweeter sound with noticeably clearer bass.
But does this actually mean Winamp is artificially boosting the bass to compensate for small speakers?  FB2K goes for accurate reproduction rather than personalised reproduction, and if you want to boost the bass use equaliser setting in FB2K.
It's your privilege to disagree, but that doesn't make you right and me wrong.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #17
Both seem to have a sweeter sound with noticeably clearer bass.
But does this actually mean Winamp is artificially boosting the bass to compensate for small speakers?  FB2K goes for accurate reproduction rather than personalised reproduction, and if you want to boost the bass use equaliser setting in FB2K.
I don't think so. Both players are set 'flat', both use ReplayGain, and neither is 'over-modding'. It may just be perceptive (some here will hate that), for which I apologise, but there is a difference. I tried to describe is as "sweeter", but that got dissed. So, maybe "warmer"? What it definitely isn't, is "imagined". Using a classic Cyrus One amp and Mission 781 speakers, the bass was just more pleasing. Surely this is something it ought be possible to discuss here? Anyway, I'll bow out of HO now, as I find the sort of dismissive attitude demonstrated by others here to be too intolerant.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #18
Just ignore trolls not bothered to do double blind tests.
Please remove my account from this forum.


Re: Audio Quality

Reply #20
I don't think so. Both players are set 'flat', both use ReplayGain, and neither is 'over-modding'. It may just be perceptive (some here will hate that), for which I apologise, but there is a difference.
If the playback level is the same and you aren't using EQ or DSPs, there is no audible difference. It's in your head.
And you can verify that by recording the output from both players and comparing the recordings.

Re: Audio Quality

Reply #21
I AM NOT A MOD AND I HAVE NO AUTHORITY HERE
This post is just an explainer from my point of view as to why TOS #8 is so important and why people react the way they do to frequent violations.

Playback quality is taken very seriously on this forum. If playback is different from one program to the next when they are both set to be unmodified/transparent, that means something is going wrong and evidence is needed to find and fix the problem. Saying music sounds "sweeter" to you on one program over another is not the objective evidence required to make such a statement here, as you agreed to TOS #8 when you signed up to post on Hydrogen Audio.

People do tend to get overzealous about TOS #8 violations, but please understand that this is a science-focused board and 'feelings' can't be used as evidence to suggest there is a problem or that one piece of software is qualitatively better than another without objective evidence showing if there is, in fact, a difference.
Think millionaire, but with cannons.