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The Soundophiliac
February 18th, 2006, 09:30 PM
I recently switched to ubuntu and one thing positively stuns me. Music from foobar2000 (xp, 96kHz, 24-bit) appears to sound completely different from music using amarok+alsa.

I'm probably not going to be very popular because of this thread because a lot of people on various forums say that the program or output scheme don't affect sound quality and I acknowledge that theory. There is no scientific or computanional basis to my claim. There has been quite a lot of debate on the subject of software affecting output nevertheless.

The difference to my ears is very noticeable. In linux the soundstage is bigger and more exact, frequency response is a bit smoother and everything actually sounds more honeyish. These are common experiences when comparing higher-end DACs to lower-end ones.

I realize that the effect is probably of the placebo kind but the difference seems so awfully apparent. I might not have the most golden ears of the world but I still think that my ears are more than good.

Primarily I listen to music with Sennheiser HD600 headphones and a Musical Fidelity X-CanV3 amp through a M-Audio Delta 2496 card. I listen to pretty much everything.

So please, geeks and fellow ubuntu people, could somebody give me some answers? Am I enjoying an illusion or could it be true?

Also I would like to know by which method would foobar2000+wine output as I plan to do some listening tests.

Thank you

nalmeth
February 18th, 2006, 09:39 PM
hmm, can't comment on any technical note, but I'm glad the sound is much better for you! Maybe its just your settings or something.

On a somewhat-related note, can you/anyone comment on software changing the pitch/speed of music? I've heard a lot of chatter about windows speeding up the songs by a barely detectable amount, and was wondering a. if its true, and b. if the same goes for linux

xequence
February 18th, 2006, 09:50 PM
(xp, 96kHz, 24-bit)

Isnt that between an audio CD and an audio DVD? I thought audio CDs were 44.1khz while audio dvds were like 196khz. Or is it that audio DVD are 96khz, like you have there?

The Soundophiliac
February 18th, 2006, 10:19 PM
Isnt that between an audio CD and an audio DVD? I thought audio CDs were 44.1khz while audio dvds were like 196khz. Or is it that audio DVD are 96khz, like you have there?

I think CDs have 44.1kHz and SACDs and DVD-As have 96kHz. Either of them might have 192, though. The best da-converters can do 192kHz and mine can do 96.

What I meant was that I resample all audio to 96kHz. This definitely affects the sound quality positively, although some say it doesn't. There was even a scientific research report somewhere but I can't find it anymore.

xequence
February 18th, 2006, 10:23 PM
What I meant was that I resample all audio to 96kHz. This definitely affects the sound quality positively, although some say it doesn't. There was even a scientific research report somewhere but I can't find it anymore.

So, if I took a 44.1khz FLAC and converted it to a 96khz flac, it would sound better in your opinion?

The Soundophiliac
February 18th, 2006, 10:33 PM
So, if I took a 44.1khz FLAC and converted it to a 96khz flac, it would sound better in your opinion?

No. That's not what I'm saying. The decoding is done after the decoding process and, however stupid it sounds, changes what comes out of the DAC. Unfortunately I don't know the full explanation to this phenomenon.

ember
February 18th, 2006, 10:53 PM
Hmm ... all studies I know identify the reason for this as only one ... placebo effect

From my personal experience I can say that I noted no difference from a couple of CDs and LPs either played back through a standard Soundblaster 44.1kHz soundcard and my usual Denon amplifier and the same trough a RME Hammerfall Soundcard 96kHz, transferred via ADAP link and converted D/A by RME ADI 2 Pro (96 kHz, too).

The Soundophiliac
February 18th, 2006, 11:11 PM
Hmm ... all studies I know identify the reason for this as only one ... placebo effect

Might very well be. It's nice, though, to suddenly have a better music system, regardless of the real changes.


From my personal experience I can say that I noted no difference from a couple of CDs and LPs either played back through a standard Soundblaster 44.1kHz soundcard and my usual Denon amplifier and the same trough a RME Hammerfall Soundcard 96kHz, transferred via ADAP link and converted D/A by RME ADI 2 Pro (96 kHz, too).

Perhaps, but not completely true. At least at the mathematical level. All signal pathways are different and sound different.

I've done some blind listening tests with a few friends and they showed a difference between using the aforementioned sound system with software resampling from foobar and without it. Me and my friends were able to tell which one of two samples was 96kHz and which one was 44.1kHz on average about 80% of the time. Of course, you have no reason to believe me, which is fine.

By the way, could you reveal this revolutionary method by which you listen to LPs through a Creative soundcard? :-D

P.S.
I told you I was going to be unpopular

ember
February 18th, 2006, 11:36 PM
Hehe - it's not as revolutionary as it sounds ;) ... I recorded it and played it back afterwards ;) ...

ubunturulz11
February 19th, 2006, 01:48 AM
Yeah I've noticed the effect too. In Ubuntu everything sounds soooooo much more rich. I'm in Windows XP right now and I can definelty tell the difference. In XP the music sounds more sharp and less real. P.S I have the M-Audio Revolution 7.1

WildTangent
February 19th, 2006, 04:16 AM
I've noticed a difference in sound on my system with my SB Audigy 2 ZS between Ubuntu and Windows, and I agree, it sounds better on Ubuntu. So I guess it's not an isolated phenomenon :)

-Wild

jadugarr
February 19th, 2006, 06:28 AM
P.S.
I told you I was going to be unpopular

Nonsense. I think it's nice to see people that are concerned about hifi audio using ubuntu. I just purchased some alessandro ms-1 headphones myself and am looking improve my soundcard source (currently an sb-audigy), but of course it has to work w/ ubuntu. How has your experience been using the Delta 2496 in linux?

The Soundophiliac
February 19th, 2006, 09:52 AM
I've had no problems whatsoever with the Delta 2496. It was recognized at first startup right away. There is a minor glitch, though. When I change the so-called volume setting from the top panel (gnome), it seems to pan the sound, not change the volume. Don't know if this is a hardware-related problem. It really doesn't matter because changing the volume setting within apps works fine.

cowlip
February 19th, 2006, 09:27 PM
I think the only way to get the same sound on windows is to active the srs wow and trubass in WMP.

The Soundophiliac
February 19th, 2006, 10:56 PM
I think the only way to get the same sound on windows is to active the srs wow and trubass in WMP.

I doubt that would even be good for the overall sound quality. These processors alter the signal and that is always bad. At least in hifi.

I don't like the idea, nor the sound of these kinds of processors, which typically emphasize the mid-low frequencies. This does give the sound a warm and spacious quality but you lose something of the original recording.

I use a tube amp which does do some of the same things but it is so delicate and more natural than with the processors.

The Soundophiliac
February 19th, 2006, 11:04 PM
The experiences everyone has had are very much the same as mine. Thank you for those.

One thing that baffles me is that if these experiences people have had are true, what could it possibly be that affects the sound quality. It could be
A. something that degrades the sound quality in windows. Don't know much about the DSP systems in windoze.
or
B. something that improves the sound quality in linux, although I doubt it. I don't think any programmer would add an equalizer/processor/etc to a signal pathway. This is because of the reasons I shallowly explained in my previous post.

jadugarr
February 20th, 2006, 12:08 AM
I've had no problems whatsoever with the Delta 2496. It was recognized at first startup right away. There is a minor glitch, though. When I change the so-called volume setting from the top panel (gnome), it seems to pan the sound, not change the volume. Don't know if this is a hardware-related problem. It really doesn't matter because changing the volume setting within apps works fine.

Do you ever play games w/ the 2496? I game ocassionaly and keep hearing they don't game very well. I this just regarding EAX?, because I have never cared for it as it never sounds quite right on the games i play imo. Or is the directional quality/soundstage significantly worse as well in games?

If this is the case then i guess I could try using both cards, and swap the default output when i want to game, since the xfi doesn't have linux support yet.

The Soundophiliac
February 21st, 2006, 10:05 PM
Do you ever play games w/ the 2496?

Nope. No experience of gaming.

GreyFox503
February 21st, 2006, 10:44 PM
Hey, if it sounds good enough to fool you into thinking it's better, then it might as well be. As far as you're concerned, it is better, regardless of reality.

Ignorance is bliss. :)

Brunellus
February 21st, 2006, 10:49 PM
I recently switched to ubuntu and one thing positively stuns me. Music from foobar2000 (xp, 96kHz, 24-bit) appears to sound completely different from music using amarok+alsa.

I'm probably not going to be very popular because of this thread because a lot of people on various forums say that the program or output scheme don't affect sound quality and I acknowledge that theory. There is no scientific or computanional basis to my claim. There has been quite a lot of debate on the subject of software affecting output nevertheless.

The difference to my ears is very noticeable. In linux the soundstage is bigger and more exact, frequency response is a bit smoother and everything actually sounds more honeyish. These are common experiences when comparing higher-end DACs to lower-end ones.

I realize that the effect is probably of the placebo kind but the difference seems so awfully apparent. I might not have the most golden ears of the world but I still think that my ears are more than good.

Primarily I listen to music with Sennheiser HD600 headphones and a Musical Fidelity X-CanV3 amp through a M-Audio Delta 2496 card. I listen to pretty much everything.

So please, geeks and fellow ubuntu people, could somebody give me some answers? Am I enjoying an illusion or could it be true?

Also I would like to know by which method would foobar2000+wine output as I plan to do some listening tests.

Thank you
if you're gurgling about the difference between foobar and amarok in terms of "soundstage".... why on EARTH are you listening to anything that isn't vinyl?

simon_is_learning
February 21st, 2006, 11:20 PM
if you're gurgling about the difference between foobar and amarok in terms of "soundstage".... why on EARTH are you listening to anything that isn't vinyl?

Amen brother - as a hifi person, viniyl is always the chioce if you want the finest quality. But this made me interested.

Could it be, that the drivers for the sound card and the kernel konfiguration works better agains the soundcards DAC's and ADC's.
so the signal gets a better or maybe faster processing.

Now if it would be like that, that is a good argument.

My friend said that linux is better on using RAM and so on.
could it be a simular case in sound.

Just speculating, but I hope that someone with the right ears could do a serious investigation.

Let us now the result.

Paulus
February 22nd, 2006, 12:14 AM
YES! I have noticed exactly the same occurrence, (I do alot of work in a studio producing and writing, so apparently i know something about sound) except for me it sounds worse as it reveals all the imperfections in mp3 compression, here (at uni) I use a NAD amp with acoustic energy hi-fi speakers and the differance is very noticable.

Winamp defaults to direct sound, which sounds different to the waveout plugin (which media player uses), so thats a bit suspect, there shouldn't be a differance between plugins (using audigy2 ZS), but there is. It's more clear to me listening to frank zappa CD at home using old KEF 105's, direct sound add's something to the sound, it actually sounds better - but thats because these speakers are totally neutral; alot of music can sound bland and individual, but we are interested in neutral sound- no eq or anything artificial (without us knowing).

I can confirm in windows that media player/any player, except ASIO drivers, do process sound when everything is flat and the result is music sounds differant, I checked this listening to frank in my dad's studio using Mackie HR824's and delta10/10. But I wasn't able to do any linux tests i'm afraid.

I'm sure there will be a differance in alsa and oss, gstreamer and xine, unfortunatly ther's no data or research into sound quality as people seem to write off any differences to placebo (though sound is a funny buisiness,- very subjective) hopefully someone can clarify myself and everyone over sound quality in linux!

ember
February 22nd, 2006, 12:36 AM
Amen brother - as a hifi person, viniyl is always the chioce if you want the finest quality. But this made me interested.

Though I like vinyl very much and I have a couple of recordings with sound I like better on vinyl than on CD, but actually in terms of dynamic range or background noise vinyl just sucks. So I cannot really get why so many people are thinking about vinyl as the one and only non-plus-ultra audio medium.

Paulus
February 22nd, 2006, 12:49 AM
I did some vinyl to mini disk recordings recently, it's considered the best medium in quality that way. But i recorded it onto P.C using meridian pre-amp with a moving coil + a high quality stylus onto my dads studio p.c running logic audio, strip silenced it to remove the crackle and removed the frequency of the classic vinyl rumble, finally recorded to minidisk, and it sounds awesome! Vinyl lovers should try

The Soundophiliac
February 28th, 2006, 08:14 PM
Indeed, vinyl is the most pleasing recording media there is. I don't have a turntable mainly because I don't own a single LP. I'm a child of the digital era and I've got a large, 40GB collection of legal albums on my HD. I would listen to vinyl if that were humanely possible.

Brunellus
February 28th, 2006, 08:17 PM
Indeed, vinyl is the most pleasing recording media there is. I don't have a turntable mainly because I don't own a single LP. I'm a child of the digital era and I've got a large, 40GB collection of legal albums on my HD. I would listen to vinyl if that were humanely possible.
turntables are getting expensive. I'd like vinyl not so much for the quality, but for the weirdness factor: jumble sales and old record shops always turn up neat records in horrible shape.

I'm still kicking myself, for instance, that I didn't get that old "Switched-On Bach" LP at the record store ages ago. Bach keyboard works played on early Moog synths. Great!