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Topic: Schiit Stack Modi 2, Magni 3 Windows Settings/Setup (Read 436 times) previous topic - next topic
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Schiit Stack Modi 2, Magni 3 Windows Settings/Setup

Hello. I was wondering what would be the ideal settings for my setup and use case.

Setup
Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
DAC: Schiit Modi 2
Amp: Schiit Magni 3
OS: Windows 10 Home x64 (1803, 17134.1)

Use: Basically everything. Listening to music, watching movies, playing games, general computer usage, etc. Ideally, I would setup Windows once and never have to deal with it again.

Current problems: The zone for usable volume with the Magni 3 volume nob is really small. I'd like to have more gradations of volume from low to high.

First things first, the physical switches on the Modi 2 and Magni 3. I have the Modi 2 DAC set on "Expert mode" and Windows detected and automatically installed drivers for it, so I assume that's fine. For the Magni 3 Amp, I've flipped between HI and LO gain, but I'm not really sure what I should be using. I currently have it set to LO gain.

For Windows settings, the two settings I am mainly interested in are the "Default Format" sample rate and bit depth, and the sound levels. I'm basically trying to avoid any distortions or whatever, whether it be from resampling/conversion or something else, and I've read conflicting things when searching around. I also want to avoid any random software conflicts as much as possible.

Default Format: I currently have the Default Format set to 16 bit, 48000 Hz. I've read that anything above "CD quality" 16/44 is basically meaningless, so I'm content with having it set lower. I've also read that certain sound cards can have distortions or whatever when setting the Default Format in Windows to 16 bit, 44100 Hz, instead of 16/48. 99% of my music library is in 16/44. Most of the movies I watch I'd guess are 16/48. I assume most game audio is in 16/44, but I don't know. I'm considering setting the default format 24/48. I want to ensure as best I can that there are no distortions. What would be the proper default format to do that?

Sound levels: I currently have it set to 100. When I searched about sound levels, it seems it's entirely up to the sound card whether a particular setting causes distortions or problems. Some require to be set no higher than 80, others require 100, and some seem to work at any level in Windows. Ideally, I would set this to something like 20 so I could have many more gradations when manipulating the volume via the Magni 3. But I don't know what's appropriate for my setup.

Thanks.

Re: Schiit Stack Modi 2, Magni 3 Windows Settings/Setup

Reply #1
First things first, the physical switches on the Modi 2 and Magni 3. I have the Modi 2 DAC set on "Expert mode" and Windows detected and automatically installed drivers for it, so I assume that's fine. For the Magni 3 Amp, I've flipped between HI and LO gain, but I'm not really sure what I should be using. I currently have it set to LO gain.
Those headphones look like they are easy to drive so LO gain should be fine. I think if you have the volume constantly set at 75-90% it would be best to switch to HI gain.

Quote
Default Format: I currently have the Default Format set to 16 bit, 48000 Hz. I've read that anything above "CD quality" 16/44 is basically meaningless, so I'm content with having it set lower. I've also read that certain sound cards can have distortions or whatever when setting the Default Format in Windows to 16 bit, 44100 Hz, instead of 16/48. 99% of my music library is in 16/44. Most of the movies I watch I'd guess are 16/48. I assume most game audio is in 16/44, but I don't know. I'm considering setting the default format 24/48. I want to ensure as best I can that there are no distortions. What would be the proper default format to do that?
I would set it to 24/48 for movies and games and use an audio player which supports WASAPI output which will allow the player to dynamically change the output bit depth and sample rate based on the music. If you playback a bit depth or sample rate not supported by your DAC then it should throw a playback error (may need to use a resampler with playback so it will work with your DAC).

Quote
Sound levels: I currently have it set to 100. When I searched about sound levels, it seems it's entirely up to the sound card whether a particular setting causes distortions or problems. Some require to be set no higher than 80, others require 100, and some seem to work at any level in Windows. Ideally, I would set this to something like 20 so I could have many more gradations when manipulating the volume via the Magni 3. But I don't know what's appropriate for my setup.
I normally just set the PC volume to 100% and use the volume knob on my integrated DAC\AMP to control the volume. I've never heard distortions when the PC volume on max but broken drivers can do some weird things.
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Re: Schiit Stack Modi 2, Magni 3 Windows Settings/Setup

Reply #2
Those headphones look like they are easy to drive so LO gain should be fine. I think if you have the volume constantly set at 75-90% it would be best to switch to HI gain.
That's what I figured, thanks. As for the volume, with Windows set to 100, I have the nob at maybe 10-15% until it starts getting too loud.

Quote
I would set it to 24/48 for movies and games and use an audio player which supports WASAPI output which will allow the player to dynamically change the output bit depth and sample rate based on the music. If you playback a bit depth or sample rate not supported by your DAC then it should throw a playback error (may need to use a resampler with playback so it will work with your DAC).
Alright, I'll set it to 24/48, thanks. I think I want to avoid using WASAPI for music because a lot of the time I want to still hear sounds from other sources than the music player, and my understanding is that, at least with foobar2000, WASAPI is exclusive and prevents that.

Quote
I normally just set the PC volume to 100% and use the volume knob on my integrated DAC\AMP to control the volume. I've never heard distortions when the PC volume on max but broken drivers can do some weird things.

Yeah, the ASUS Xonar DG I had previously, was supposed to be set no higher than 80% I believe (or 76, I can't remember), otherwise I think it would mess with the dynamic range of multiple sounds from different sources playing at the same time or something weird like that. When searching about Windows volume level I read a bunch of weird shit with relation to various sound cards (don't know how much of it was true), so that's why I was wondering if it would be okay for me to use a lower Windows volume level with my setup. It sounds great at 100%, but I wanted to use lower so I can manipulate the physical volume nob more.

Thanks for the help.

Re: Schiit Stack Modi 2, Magni 3 Windows Settings/Setup

Reply #3
Yeah, the ASUS Xonar DG I had previously, was supposed to be set no higher than 80% I believe (or 76, I can't remember), otherwise I think it would mess with the dynamic range of multiple sounds from different sources playing at the same time or something weird like that.
You are mixing different audio sources from different programs, assume you are using two programs and they both have 100% output, then the mixed audio stream may exceed 100% and this will trigger Windows' limiter to push it down to avoid severe distortion (clipping), the limiter will cause some less aggressive distortion but still distorted so the correct way to deal with it is to find if individual programs have their own volume control or not, if yes then use that volume control instead of Windows' master volume control, since the master volume control only deals with things after mixing.

Windows audio subsystem (and many playback software and even game engines) works in 32-bit, mathematically you should set Windows output to 24-bit to retain more data after downmixing.

FYI:
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/matthew_van_eerde/2011/05/11/linearity-of-windows-volume-apis-iaudiometerinformation-and-full-scale-signals/

About sample rates, read the threads below:
https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,86676.0.html
https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,114138.msg940211.html#msg940211

So the real problem is whether Windows is capable of transparent sample rate conversion or not since it is inconsistent among different version of Windows, and can be fixed by applying patches. With high quality conversion, you can set it to 44.1k, 48k or higher without worrying about anything.

 
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