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Topic: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI (Read 2201 times) previous topic - next topic

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Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
If I am using an external DAC and amp (which I completely understand is unnecessary), and I am using WASAPI output to the DAC, will different music players produce different sounding results out of my headphones or speakers?

Logic tells me that the music player should decode the digital data and send it as a raw digital PCM stream to the DAC.  Unless I am using an EQ or DSP plugin of some kind, should not all software sound the same to my ears?

  • DVDdoug
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Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #1
Quote
Logic tells me that the music player should decode the digital data and send it as a raw digital PCM stream to the DAC.  Unless I am using an EQ or DSP plugin of some kind, should not all software sound the same to my ears?
Correct!

Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #2
I was about to argue this point and decided it just isn't worth my trouble.  People believe what they want to believe.   When spending thousands on audio equipment, there's no way some freeware like foobar2000 could possibly be as good as a $100 program.

  • saratoga
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Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #3
If in doubt, you can easily record whatever a WASAPI application hands off to the DAC and check that output are as expected. Most programs will handle audio correctly, but no harm in double checking.

Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #4
If in doubt, you can easily record whatever a WASAPI application hands off to the DAC and check that output are as expected. Most programs will handle audio correctly, but no harm in double checking.

You know, I was going to respond with "I don't need to do that.  I already know what the answer will be." and then I realized that is exactly what a placebophile would say.

The people having this discussion claim that foobar2000 sounds the worst out of the programs they tested.

  • 2Bdecided
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  • Developer
Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #5
They won't believe you even if you prove it's bit perfect, but at least you'll know they are wrong :-)

You do "need" to do it because you don't know the playback is bit perfect unless you check. Forgotten plug-ins, volume controls etc.

That's said, the most common cause for reported audible differences between things that look different is that they look different, and humans use all their senses to judge things :-)

Cheers,
David.

Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #6
They won't believe you even if you prove it's bit perfect, but at least you'll know they are wrong :-)

You do "need" to do it because you don't know the playback is bit perfect unless you check. Forgotten plug-ins, volume controls etc.

That's said, the most common cause for reported audible differences between things that look different is that they look different, and humans use all their senses to judge things :-)

Cheers,
David.

From my research on here and on the internet in general, I know that foobar2000 does bit prefect output.  If some other app is creating a supposed improvement in sound quality over foobar2000, I tend to think that it is not bit perfect.

You are correct, that even if I did capture the output from different apps and did a binary compare, they would still not believe me.

So really:

  • I'm quite happy with foobar2000.  I see no reason to pursue another solution based on someone else's delusion
  • Even if I am able to prove bit-perfect is bit perfect, a placebophile golden ears will never believe me anyway
  • I have better things to do with my time

The only thing that annoys me that these kinds of posts get people to  needlessly waste money in pursuit of better sound quality.

  • Apesbrain
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Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #7
The only thing that annoys me that these kinds of posts get people to  needlessly waste money in pursuit of better sound quality.
It's annoying, but there is little you can do if someone really wants to believe.  Have you heard the saying, "a fool and his money are soon parted"?  Anyway, I understand your frustration.
  • Last Edit: 16 March, 2017, 02:06:02 PM by Apesbrain

  • Porcus
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Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #8
Logic tells me that the music player should decode the digital data and send it as a raw digital PCM stream to the DAC.  Unless I am using an EQ or DSP plugin of some kind, should not all software sound the same to my ears?

Just remember that a volume control - including ReplayGain awareness and clipping protection (for e.g. mp3 files exceeding 1) - would count as a "DSP" in this sense.  So will the Windows mixer ... Also, I am not sure if you could in absolutely every case rule out processing done by the media player. (How does WMP treat HDCD signals? Does it decode it without telling you? Is that a bug or a feature?)  And are there software players that can pass a pre-emphasis flag on through the SPDIF to the DAC?

I spent quite some time back in the day to ensure bitperfect playback, only to find out that I do not want bitperfection when I can have ReplayGain. At least I avoided some sound cards that resample.

  • Roseval
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Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #9
I wonder if this has anything to do with logic.
The bits are a conceptual thing.
The sound will be the same if the same electrical signal is send to the DAC
This is a nice example of fully identical bits but they measure different.



RMAA test using the PSU



Same test signaal (same bits) but this time running on battery power

TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Re: Sound quality of various audio players on Windows over WASAPI
Reply #10
I wonder if this has anything to do with logic.
The bits are a conceptual thing.
The sound will be the same if the same electrical signal is send to the DAC
This is a nice example of fully identical bits but they measure different.



RMAA test using the PSU



Same test signaal (same bits) but this time running on battery power



Not exactly. There is an obvious but no doubt inaudible different (based on the limited technical testing results).  The equipment oviously runs a little better on batteries. I suspect that in reality the batteries are putting out a different voltage than the power supply. My first guess is more voltage because they are fresh and the battery supply is engineered for balanced performance as the batteries run down.

I'm surprised that the circuit is that  dependent on power supply voltage. Good engineering has more inherent resistance to trivial changes in power supply voltage.

It is possible that we are running the test too close to clipping, and at a more relevant few dB down, the difference is much less.

Nevertheless -60 dB distortion is still generally inaudible.  I know how to fabricate unnatural test signals that make it audible, but with real world recordings, not so much.
  • Last Edit: 17 March, 2017, 10:41:52 AM by Arnold B. Krueger