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Hosted Forums => foobar2000 => General - (fb2k) => Topic started by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-28 14:59:49

Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-28 14:59:49
Hi, I hope this is the right section.
I've got a notebook with a creative soundblaster audigy 2 NX (usb) and 2.0 Edifier R1600plus.
I'm trying to reach the best audio quality with foobar. Can you help me?
I've installed asio4all and then also foobar bassexciter to add windows media player trubass and wow effects on foobar but I don't know how to configurate them.
I want to take out the max from my speaker.
Thank you!
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: kraut on 2012-01-28 15:10:10
Quote
I'm trying to reach the best audio quality I can with foobar.


What do you mean?
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-28 15:53:03
Quote
I'm trying to reach the best audio quality I can with foobar.


What do you mean?


Sorry if it's not clear. I'm looking for the best configuration for audio quality in foobar.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2012-01-28 16:02:45
I'm trying to reach the best audio quality with foobar. Can you help me?
foobar2000 provides the "best" audio quality out-of-the-box.

I've installed asio4all
Please don't use ASIO output for no reason (http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_out_asio). That's just asking for trouble.

and then also foobar bassexciter to add windows media player trubass and wow effects on foobar
Whether post-processing improves the perceived audio quality is completely subjective (and also depends on your speakers and listening environment among other factors), so what kind of post-processing you apply is completely up to you.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-28 16:27:26
Why not use ASIO?
Well.. I hear a deeper bass effect with trubass and wow effect
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: larryfine on 2012-01-28 16:35:54
According to my humble opinion I think that DSP's won't improve sound quality but mask it.
What makes the difference, however: lossless audio files or above 320 kbps, a decent sound card, headphones, speakers etc etc

I don't use anything related to DSP. But, this is a personal criteria.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2012-01-28 16:40:14
Why not use ASIO?
Previously there have been lots of problems with ASIO output in foobar2000. While many of those got fixed recently by a series of updates to the component itself, ASIO drivers tend to lead to more problems than their DirectSound counterparts. So unless you absolutely need ASIO for audio playback there is no reason to use it, as stated in the link I gave you. Any claims of "improved audio quality" using ASIO are most certainly bogus and subject to TOS #8 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=3974).
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: derty2 on 2012-01-28 17:34:55
I think what I posted a few hours ago at another thread is applicable at this thread. -> Read my posting <- (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=93124&view=findpost&p=783941)

There is no way of knowing if solution X is better than solution Y or solution Z without knowledge gained from long term intimate physical exposure.
Unfortunately, the world of the audiophile is an expensive one and most people never get to play with enough systems to discover the truth for themselves.
Thanks to the 'expensive' nature of this hobby, the audiophile world is full of distorted facts and fanboyism and posts which include "What is the best.." in their title.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-28 18:18:26
Thank you for your replies.
I'm absolutely new to the "audio" world, so I'm a beginner and I trying to learn everyday.
I had a small budget and I tried to buy a good audiocard and a decent 2.0 system and I'd like to have them playing good according to their possibility and, of course, to my ears.
I would just get a deeper and sorround sound.
Sorry if my questions are stupid.
Thank you!
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2012-01-28 19:47:11
JackBlack9 welcome to our nice, little community 

If you got the impression that I treated you badly, I'm sorry for that. On the web you will find many sources of misinformation about ASIO and WASAPI and other alternative output methods, so I tend to debunk those myths very strongly. Also my concise style of writing might lend itself to the impression of being in a bad mood, but I just try to keep needless banter to a minimum.

A general point to keep in mind is that PC based digital audio reproduction is very, very good nowadays. Most audio solutions you find on motherboards today are good enough to reproduce Audio CD-grade digital audio perfectly. Software players themselves (should?) only use the facilities provided by the audio drivers, so you should get "perfect" audio right out of the box. What's left to you is how to alter the audio to pronounce certain parts. For example if you have speakers with a non-flat frequency response you might want to add an equalizer to your DSP chain. There are nearly endless possibilities how to alter the sound you get, but whether it "improves" is completely up to your perception.

I won't and can't (because my knowledge is very limited) go into more detail about DSP, please take a look around the forum to find answers to your questions.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-28 20:24:14
Thank you very much. I think asio4all will be useful maybe when I'll plug my guitar into audiocard to reduce latency.
I'd like to know more about audio in general, bass mids treble, THD and so on. Can you link me any sites that explain these and other things about audio?
I can't improve the sound of my speakers if I can't understand what I perceive with my ears and in what it lacks (or it seems to me to lack for).
Can foobar help me in this case? For example testing which frequencies are emphatized and which not?
Sorry for my english, I'm italian
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: pawelq on 2012-01-28 20:46:27
Most audio solutions you find on motherboards today are good enough to reproduce Audio CD-grade digital audio perfectly.

I recommend a lot of caution here. Maybe audio solutions (actual audio chips) are great, but computer/mobo designers/manufacturers still screw up analog output shielding. I have a pretty new desktop computer at work, and the amount of electronic noise in the front line-out/headphone jack in unacceptable, the rear one is tad better, but still not what I would expect from a 2011 machine from a major manufacturer.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: RavenGT on 2012-01-28 23:14:12
I recommend a lot of caution here. Maybe audio solutions (actual audio chips) are great, but computer/mobo designers/manufacturers still screw up analog output shielding. I have a pretty new desktop computer at work, and the amount of electronic noise in the front line-out/headphone jack in unacceptable, the rear one is tad better, but still not what I would expect from a 2011 machine from a major manufacturer.


This is very true. Generally people think dedicated sound cards are a waste of money, but in reality the motherboard's audio come with static noise and it just drives me nuts. Even though good audio quality is subjective, it's still a good idea to ensure a raw, unhindered audio quality. To me, this means getting a dedicated sound card and setting Foobar's output to Kernel Stream/WASAPI. ASIO, as others have mentioned, is not particularly stable.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: mudlord on 2012-01-28 23:21:17
Got ABX tests to back up your claims?
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-29 00:06:44
Does WASAPI works on XP?
I can't understand how ABX works..
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: kraut on 2012-01-29 02:09:10
Quote
Previously there have been lots of problems with ASIO output in foobar2000.


Don't know what kind of hang up you have with asio. I run foobar in W& and XP previously through an M audio soundcard with no problem at all.
Asio permit more flexible channel config. in the set up panel, to use in my m-audio mixing control panel.

Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: RavenGT on 2012-01-29 04:02:07
Does WASAPI works on XP?
I can't understand how ABX works..

For XP you need to use Kernel Stream. The equivalent for Windows 7 is WASAPI, except this one mutes other sources when Foobar is playing. Oddly enough I am using Kernel Stream with my X-Fi Xtreme Audio on Windows 7, it seems to work perfectly.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: TangoTiburones on 2012-01-29 05:04:31
Quote
Previously there have been lots of problems with ASIO output in foobar2000.


Don't know what kind of hang up you have with asio. I run foobar in W& and XP previously through an M audio soundcard with no problem at all.
Asio permit more flexible channel config. in the set up panel, to use in my m-audio mixing control panel.


I'd go the way that works for you.  I use ASIO in my DAW when I'm recording but not with foobar.  I think ASIO limits you to one device at a time also so if you need outputs on more than one interface at a time (which you probably won't) you might get stuck.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: mobyduck on 2012-01-29 09:05:38
I can't understand how ABX works..
http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=ABX (http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=ABX)

HTH.

Alessandro
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-29 11:34:54
thank you. what is kernel stream?
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: RonaldDumsfeld on 2012-01-29 11:48:23
Quote
what is kernel stream?


Simply put - it's a method of bypassing the windows mixer so that audio data goes direct from your application to your output device. It's debatable whether it makes any audible difference.

Quote
I think ASIO limits you to one device at a time


Not always. It must be application specific because I can utilise different drivers to output to different output pairs an the same multi channel device. (MoTU)
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-29 12:29:14
Simply put - it's a method of bypassing the windows mixer so that audio data goes direct from your application to your output device. It's debatable whether it makes any audible difference.


Where should I look for it?

And I want to ask you for a quick question: how can I enhance in-song guitar sound with the equalizer?
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: Wander on 2012-01-29 13:14:50
A lot of people, especially those who are not that much into audio- and music-stuff, seem to associate good sound quality often with a bass-heavy sound. Therefore they often use equalizers and subwoofers excessively. That's ok, but if you consider good sound quality - and that's the way I see it - with what's actually been recorded and to reproduce it in more or less exactly that way then, depending on your equipment, you won't need any adjustments to foobar2000.
Personally I only activate a crossfeed-dsp when I use my headphones, nothing else.
Since I'm not familiar with your equipment it's impossible to give suggestions how to get the best sound quality out of that. But a lot of hi-fi systems in lower price areas tend to emphasise the lower and higher frequencies, the cheaper they get, the more this applies. So perhaps you could start with that and configure an equalizer to adjust the lows and highs.
Anyway, when it comes to sound quality there's no right or wrong, good or bad, it's pretty much a matter of taste. The best you can do is experiment and maybe catch up some information about audio. Here are some good articles about that, unfortunately they are in german:

http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=1918 (http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=1918)
http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=2281 (http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=2281)
http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=1699 (http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=1699)
http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=1899 (http://www.audiohq.de/index.php?showtopic=1899)
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2012-01-29 13:34:26
Where should I look for it?

Not at all. Before you buy into more "audiophile" tuning tips, and to keep to the original topic (audio quality): Hydrogenaudio is a community where scientific/measurable proof is preferred over anecdotal comments. Also, one thing that is very important, is the approach to arrive at that proof. So, the basic assumption, or null hypothesis, is:

Everything sounds the same.

While there may be technical differences between output methods, which might even show up in measurements, the important thing is to determine whether these differences are perceptible at all. Unless someone provides proof some method sounds different to the other, the only possible and meaningful assumption is that they sound the same. The preferred way over here is to provide double blind listening tests (ABX) to back up any claims of a perceptual difference to reject the null hypothesis. So, in the end it is up to the person claiming to hear differences to provide proof for that, and not up to all the other people to provide proof that two things sound the same.

To be fair, alternative output methods have some merits, regarding for example configuring multichannel setups (I myself used ASIO for that purpose some years back, before discovering channel mixer/matrix mixer), but any claims of "increased audio quality" need to be backed up by proof.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: Wander on 2012-01-29 13:46:06
To be fair, alternative output methods have some merits, regarding for example configuring multichannel setups (I myself used ASIO for that purpose some years back, before discovering channel mixer/matrix mixer), but any claims of "increased audio quality" need to be backed up by proof.


There's another benefit of ASIO or WASAPI, you're bypassing "sound-enhancers", activateted in the software of your soundcard/chip manufacture, such as THX-, Dolby Pro Logic-stuff, Triple Bass Boost Extreme  etc. But of course you can deactivate them in most cases.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-29 14:18:21
It's ok, sound is relative as almost everything.
But I'd like to try this kernel stream. Can you help me?
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: Wander on 2012-01-29 14:28:34
To use WASAPI you need to download this component (http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_out_wasapi) and install it (foobar2000 -> preferences -> components -> install). Next go to preferences -> playback -> output -> device and select "WASAPI: %your_soundcard%".

To use ASIO you first need to install an ASIO-driver, such as ASIO4ALL (http://www.asio4all.com/) and then proceed like mentioned above. (foobar's ASIO compoentent: http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_out_asio) (http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_out_asio))

Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: pawelq on 2012-01-29 14:40:06
Got ABX tests to back up your claims?


Well, what I heard from that onboard was so clear, that I did not bother setting up ABX, which in this case would be somewhat cumbersome. I mean, it wasn't a difference in any quality of music, I heard additional sounds.

I can try do do it, I am curious myself. Once (long time ago) I was sure I heard audible difference between two level-matched headphone amps, which, when I tried them blindly, disappeared altogether. But again, these were (illusory) subtle changes of timbre, not additional clicks and whines.

So I guess I would have to add another, non-onboard soundcard to the computer, play music via the onboard and via the other card, each time re-recording the output into another good soundcard, and then ABX the results in foobar after intensity-matching, right? Really cumbersome, especially that this is a work computer, but doable.

I am also a bit concerned about impedance, I can hear the noises when I plug in headphones directly into the output of the onboard card, could it diminish or disappear when the output is connected to line-in of another card, not to headphones? But this will only become a real concern if ABX as described above shows nothing.


But is there an established way ABXing two soundcards without re-recording? Would you accept results of test when I listen via headphones, and another person switches computer outputs, connects headphones to one or the other output, and starts and stops music?
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: shakey_snake on 2012-01-29 16:56:30
Quote
what is kernel stream?


Simply put - it's a method of bypassing the windows mixer so that audio data goes direct from your application to your output device. It's debatable whether it makes any audible difference.

It's not debatable, it's provable. So far, no one that doesn't use an old audigy2 card that has forced shoddy hardware resampling has any problems. Bypassing the mixer does allow exclusive output in many cases, which is why the component is provided.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: JackBlack9 on 2012-01-29 17:11:13
Quote
what is kernel stream?


Simply put - it's a method of bypassing the windows mixer so that audio data goes direct from your application to your output device. It's debatable whether it makes any audible difference.

It's not debatable, it's provable. So far, no one that doesn't use an old audigy2 card that has forced shoddy hardware resampling has any problems. Bypassing the mixer does allow exclusive output in many cases, which is why the component is provided.


Sorry I don't understand this!
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: db1989 on 2012-01-29 19:02:32
He is saying that using Kernel Streaming will not improve sound quality unless your hardware is faulty or shoddily made. As has been said, neither will any other output method. Different methods are used for properties such as reducing latency or ensuring exclusive access for one program, not for any effects upon quality.
Title: How to get best audio quality with foobar
Post by: AudioTree on 2012-02-06 19:37:00
I've got a notebook with a creative soundblaster audigy 2 NX (usb) and 2.0 Edifier R1600plus.
I'm trying to reach the best audio quality with foobar. Can you help me?
I've installed asio4all and then also foobar bassexciter to add windows media player trubass and wow effects on foobar but I don't know how to configurate them.
I want to take out the max from my speaker.


For playing a MP3 file, the chain of audio is as follows:

MP3 file ---> media player ---> driver --> soundcard --> cable --> speakers

On the digital side of this, audio can be treated as stream of numbers (samples), on the analog side audio is represented in voltages.
A media player like foobar opens the file and decodes it into samples. These samples are then simply fed into the buffer of the soundcard driver.
That's for the digital part of it. Now the soundcard transforms the samples into voltages which are send out on the output port, and via the cable to the speaker. The speaker than again transforms these voltages into vibrations of the air - which we can hear as sound.

The only serious way to measure audio quality is to compare of what is played back with what was recorded.

When recording audio, the most important factors are the microphone and the room.
Accordingly on the playback side the most important factors are the speakers and the room.

So if you'd really want to improve audio quality, the best thing to do is to invest into good speakers.

There's very little you can do on the digital side.

- The decoder has negligible influence. Every decoder should produce the same output from the same file within some rounding tolerance.

- The only transformation the media player makes is to scale the samples with the volume control. For best audio quality it should be clear to leave the volume control at the maximum, because if you scale it you will loose some (however minor) degree of numerical precision. Always scale on the far end of the chain if possible.

But wait... what about super-mega-bass-enhancers, equalizers, etc?
One word: DON'T
.. Unless you'd like to accurately measure the frequency response of your system. And even than you have to consider that using an equalizer will always distort your audio in some way (for example increasing the noise floor).

- The driver shouldn't do anything to the numbers except from handling them to the soundcard. So using ASIO instead of direct x drivers will change nothing - the numbers are the same.

- Concerning shielding of the motherboard: Yes, it's an issue on many laptops. There are some exceptions, the Mac Book/Mac Book Pros are shielded, as well is my Elitebook workstation and as far as I know Lenovo Thinkpads.
Will an external soundcard help? Depends...
Usually it doesn't! This is because the soundcard is connected via Firewire (or USB) to the motherboard - so the noise might propagate to the external soundcard.
The only thing that really helps is to get rid of the grounding by covering the ground pins with tape or prepare a 2-pole cable to fit into the 3-pole socket of your laptop's AC adapter.
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