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Topic: What exactly are the factual benefits of WASAPI Exclusive Mode? (Read 522 times) previous topic - next topic
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What exactly are the factual benefits of WASAPI Exclusive Mode?

I've tried to look up information on this subject but I haven't found much of anything aside from subjective anecdotes about "superior sound quality in Tidal/Amazon Music/Foobar2000 etc." There is very little factual information online about Exclusive Mode aside from what Microsoft has written about it.

From what little I've heard, WASAPI Exclusive mode:
  • Prevents resampling artifacts (whether or not the resampling artifacts are even audible in the first place is unknown)
  • Bypasses distortion caused by the Windows volume limiter (which I've heard can also be bypassed by setting digital control to a max of 99%)
  • Disables all outside sounds from playing, such as system sounds
  • Disables any system-wide equalization and pre-amp settings
But I'm not sure how any of this would translate to "superior sound quality".

Re: What exactly are the factual benefits of WASAPI Exclusive Mode?

Reply #1
WASAPI in exclusive mode bypasses the win audio stack and talk straight to the audio device.

The win mixer always convert the audio to float, dither and back to integer even if 1 stream is playing.
One might wonder if this has any impact using a 24 bit data path but using a 16 bit DAC is might be audible.

The Windows re-sampler produces measurable artifacts: http://archimago.blogspot.com/2015/11/measurements-windows-10-audio-stack.html
This happens when you have signals close to 0 dBFS forcing the audiolimiter to kick in.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/ending-the-windows-audio-quality-debate.19438/

 If you want to mix, all audio streams must run at the same sample rate. If you have a exclusive lock on the audio device, you don't have this problem so you do automatic sample rate switching.

"superior sound quality"
The usual subjective stuff but Exclusive mode has an slight advantage IMHO if only because of the lock I don't have email notifications at full blast over the stereo.
Bit longer: https://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/SW/Windows/SRC.htm
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Re: What exactly are the factual benefits of WASAPI Exclusive Mode?

Reply #2
I don't have email notifications at full blast over the stereo.
I forced ASIO onto Windows 7 even, in order not to be woken up by system sounds. I would have them over the monitor, the monitor would go into standby, Windows would switch sound device to whatever was next on the list, that could be the USB-->SPDIF interface, ...

Not with exclusive control.

Sound quality? Nah.
And "superior" sound quality from a service that promises lossless but delivers MQA-infested lossiness (looking at you, Tidal)? Eff off, from a Meridian customer.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

 

Re: What exactly are the factual benefits of WASAPI Exclusive Mode?

Reply #3
Quote
But I'm not sure how any of this would translate to "superior sound quality".
The theoretical goal of high fidelity is accurate or "faithful" reproduction of the recording.  If the digital data is not altered we can be sure that the audio is not being altered or degraded in the digital domain.

Some things like resampling (within reason) can often be done without an audible effect, but if the data isn't changed we can be sure.

Some effects like EQ can be an improvement if they correct for frequency response variations in your speakers or headphones or they can be considered an improvement if you just like more bass, etc., even if it's technically less accurate.