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Have a real problem with my music. Please help!
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HonoredShadow
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Question Have a real problem with my music. Please help! - 12-08-2012, 09:32 | posts: 3,670 | Location: UK

My music collection is BIG. I have been collecting since I can remember. I have all my music now ripped to .mp3.

My problem is this. I have all my music on a PC hidden behind my HDTV. The PC is plugged directly into a Sony HIFI. Thing is it does not sound to great. It sounds ok but not great. The sound card in that PC is the same as the one in my sig.

I have tinkered with the sound options in the sound cards menu. For example, size of room, graphic EQ but not much better. I just think their are too many variables for me to get things right when it comes to a PC.

So what I am asking is what other alternatives do I have?

I have seen HIFI's that have hard drives but are never big enough. I have seen HIFI's that support USB hard drives but only support FAT32 and no matter how many directories etc it's just not gonna cut it.

What I need is a solution to my ever growing collection and fast!

Please, please can someone come up with a solution? Maybe if someone knows of a NTFS USB HIFI or something.

Thanks in advance.
   
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killer_939
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Default 12-08-2012, 10:10 | posts: 2,598 | Location: Australia

Leaving all settings on defaults (hitting hifi button) will give you the most raw sound and generally that will sound the best. If the sound isn't that good then maybe you should look into better speakers? PC sound cards can sound very good for their price, so i wouldn't consider anything else.

I presume you are using analog output from the sound card? Digital would probably be worse.
   
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Default 12-08-2012, 10:16 | posts: 9,769 | Location: UK

Set everything to default on the soundcard and dont mess with all its gadgets.
Make sure you are connected to the hifi with a good quality analogue lead.
Play music.

If there isnt enough bass, turn it up.
Job done.
This assumes your speakers are well positioned and that your hifi isnt rubbish.

If you need more space, one of these is good value
http://www.ebuyer.com/339426-hitachi...-drive-0s03400

ps one problem is you are using MP3s.
Get uncompressed music.

Last edited by Mufflore; 12-08-2012 at 10:19.
   
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RagDoll_Effect
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Default 12-08-2012, 10:30 | posts: 4,297 | Location: Australia

Quote:
Originally Posted by HonoredShadow View Post
My music collection is BIG. I have been collecting since I can remember. I have all my music now ripped to .mp3.

My problem is this. I have all my music on a PC hidden behind my HDTV. The PC is plugged directly into a Sony HIFI. Thing is it does not sound to great. It sounds ok but not great. The sound card in that PC is the same as the one in my sig.

I have tinkered with the sound options in the sound cards menu. For example, size of room, graphic EQ but not much better. I just think their are too many variables for me to get things right when it comes to a PC.

So what I am asking is what other alternatives do I have?

I have seen HIFI's that have hard drives but are never big enough. I have seen HIFI's that support USB hard drives but only support FAT32 and no matter how many directories etc it's just not gonna cut it.

What I need is a solution to my ever growing collection and fast!

Please, please can someone come up with a solution? Maybe if someone knows of a NTFS USB HIFI or something.

Thanks in advance.
Which Sony hifi? It will depend mainly on that. NTFS USB HIFI? If you mean a mini hifi system or sound dock? Also, your budget...

regards,
RagDoll.
   
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Default 12-08-2012, 13:13 | posts: 718 | Location: My chair

And what speakers are you using?
   
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HonoredShadow
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Default 12-08-2012, 13:51 | posts: 3,670 | Location: UK

The Sony HIFI is ancient. It's over 20 years old. I don't think its great sounding but was good enough when I played CD's through it. I just seem to be loosing something via the PC.

All settings for soundcard are on default.

Would love an NTFS USB HIFI. My budget would be around 200-300 I guess.
   
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flimbo
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Default 12-08-2012, 13:58 | posts: 718 | Location: My chair

Keep the same arrangement you've got. Upgrade or add another hard drive in the PC if you need more space. Ditch the sony hifi and get a decent amp and proper speakers. Have a look in Richer Sounds stores and their website, AVBristol and Hughes Direct also do decent hifi/audio stuff.

Last edited by flimbo; 12-08-2012 at 14:01.
   
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HonoredShadow
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Default 12-08-2012, 13:59 | posts: 3,670 | Location: UK

Any suggestions? Thanks again.

EDIT: Something like this?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Denon-RCD-M3...4971681&sr=1-5

Last edited by HonoredShadow; 12-08-2012 at 14:01.
   
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flimbo
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Default 12-08-2012, 14:08 | posts: 718 | Location: My chair

Yep, something just like that. Or for example something beefier from Richer Sounds.
Marantz PM5003 amp + Q Acoustics 2020i speakers (What Hifi magazine best speakers under 200 winner 2012). That would be total around 300

http://www.richersounds.com/product/...ara-pm5004-blk
http://www.richersounds.com/product/...qaco-2020i-gra

Last edited by flimbo; 12-08-2012 at 14:12.
   
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Default 12-08-2012, 14:14 | posts: 774 | Location: France

I do not know the Asus that well but on my X-fi soundcard, the default was not ok. It enables plenty of "enhancers" that I do not want to use (3d, EQ...).
I would recommend turning everything OFF.

Which player are you using? If it exists for your player, I would recommend using a WASAPI output plugin and configuring it to use exclusive mode. Depending on the plugin, you can have many other options like bit exact, sampling rate adjustment...
I would recommend setting that in a way that will insure that nothing get modify (no resampling, no depth modification...)

On my side, I'm using Winamp with Maiko plugin and I could clearly hear the difference.
Does the Xonar also have a "master sampling rate" option? If yes, I would recommend using 88.2kHz or 44.1kHz if the majority of your collection is CD rip (44.1)

Good Luck
   
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Default 12-08-2012, 14:17 | posts: 405

Quote:
Originally Posted by HonoredShadow View Post
I have all my music now ripped to .mp3

My problem is this. Thing is it does not sound to great.
o rly?
   
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Default 12-08-2012, 14:26 | posts: 9,769 | Location: UK

Agreed with the other posters suggesting you get a new hifi.
Problem is, then you may regret using mp3s.
It depends how bothered you are and how good the system you get is (+ how well you set it up).

Be sure to get OFC analogue cables, make sure they are genuine OFC, not some cables off ebay.
(OFC= Oxygen Free Copper)
You dont need to spend a lot, you can if you wish though.
But if getting a cheap cable, a true OFC cable gives you a minimum guarantee of at least some quality.
   
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HonoredShadow
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Default 12-08-2012, 23:47 | posts: 3,670 | Location: UK

I use Winamp. What is this plug in you speak of? http://maiko.elementfx.com/
Why exclusive mode?

Quick question about Winamp actually. It has options in 'playback' called dither and surround. Should these be on or off for 2 speaker HIFI?

My soundcard shows up in windows with up to 24bit DVD quality and above.

Will look for those cables on ebay. Could you show me an example?
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2m-PURE-OF...item2c68a13534
Any good?

Why will I regret mp3? mp3 is more compatible with all software players and mp3 players. Also less space. Quality seems ok to me without being silly size.

Thanks for the info guys!

Last edited by HonoredShadow; 12-09-2012 at 00:26.
   
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Nono06
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Default 12-09-2012, 01:20 | posts: 774 | Location: France

Yes, that's the plugin I was talking about.

Exclusive mode will insure first that no other sound could be played at the same time but also that the entire audio processing chain uses the correct values (sampling rate, depth...) defined by your audio source files.
In the plugin settings, in the exclusive tab you will find many options.
You can tick them all to force all parameters to match automatically your source file and discard any setting from windows audio mixer.
It is also good to spend few seconds and read the explanation of what each option is doing in case of problem

Once again, even if your soundcard support 24bit for example, I would not recommend forcing the output to use that if your MP3 are in 16bit.
I could be wrong but for me the less you are "modifying" your source the best it is.

If WASAPI plugin is correctly set, you should not see any signal in windows volume bar at the bottom right.

Last edited by Nono06; 12-09-2012 at 01:25.
   
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Mufflore
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Default 12-09-2012, 01:48 | posts: 9,769 | Location: UK

The windows sound mixer has to convert all sound to the same bits/sample and the same sampling frequency.
So when you play any audio through it, it is resampled, it may have other audio mixed in as well and doesnt sound as good as it should, due to the lowish bitrate mixer.
It seems to resample even things at the same bits/sample and the same sampling frequency that you are using in your soundcards Windows setup options.
I have verified this from how it sounds, its nowhere near as clear, lots of detail is lost.

I've tried using Winamp and no matter how I set it up, it somehow doesnt sound as clean as Foobar, even with Maiko WASAPI plugin setup to be exclusive, there seems to be a slight bass boost and there maybe other issues, I didnt research further because Foobar doesnt do this.
It confused me somewhat because it should be completely clean.
Maybe your experience will be different, I'm using some pretty good kit that may expose more issues?
Or it may somehow not be setup or configured correctly on my system?

So I use Foobar2000 with WASAPI plugin, it does sound completely clean.
The plugin name is foo_out_wasapi
http://www.foobar2000.org/components...foo_out_wasapi

This uses the exclusive mode of WASAPI to cut out all windows mixer functions.
A side effect of this is, the windows volume control wont work for audio played on the soundcard that is using WASAPI (while Foobar is in use).
So you need to use the volume control in Foobar2000, it uses a much higher quality mixer which is why only this is allowed.
There is a graphic EQ built into Foobar that is good and doesnt degrade the sound badly.


If you want to get adventurous, there is an amazing EQ plugin which is extremely good quality and very featured called Electri-Q posihfopit edition.
It comes as part of a free VST plugin (there is no VST in Foobar without a plugin).
http://www.aixcoustic.com/index.php/...sihfopit/30/0/
It will take you quite a while to get used to it.

You may need to do a frequency sweep with Room EQ Wizard to know how to setup your EQ properly.
This is when you realise that most EQs stop short of what you need to do.
Then you will find the above EQ very handy

Last edited by Mufflore; 12-09-2012 at 01:53.
   
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HeavyHemi
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Default 12-09-2012, 02:01 | posts: 3,591 | Location: Wooing whilst wearing only socks.

What bit rate did you encode your MP3's at? If it was 128 kbps, yeah, on even an average audio system, it's not going to sound good.
   
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HonoredShadow
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Default 12-09-2012, 08:59 | posts: 3,670 | Location: UK

My mp3's are all 320kbps.

I found this site. Is this info true about disabling some thing's in Winamp might help too?

http://www.hifi-advice.com/optimising-winamp5-info.html

I am gonna try Foobar later.
   
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Mufflore
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Default 12-09-2012, 09:33 | posts: 9,769 | Location: UK

320K mp3 is the least bad, it can still vary wildly depending on the compressor and settings used though!
If done well, depending on your hifi and your hearing, you may notice the difference compared to a raw CD.
I certainly can and only buy CDs or high def music now.
All my CD rips are in FLAC set to use max bitrate (if needed).

From that link:

1) use WASAPI exclusive mode, it guarantees that the windows soundmapper cannot be used.
(at least it does in Foobar, not convinced about the winamp MAIKO plugin yet)

2) there should be no need for interpolation unless resampling.
If you stick to the original bits/sample and sample frequency, there is nothing to interpolate.
It is possible that the DAC you are using isnt as accurate at smoothing the digital waveform as a good interpolator, but I havent tried for so long and wouldnt employ a method like this with my DAC, its a really good one.
I'd tend to err towards not using any processing on a decent DAC, like on modern good soundcards.

3) It depends how it works.
If 16 bit audio isnt just padded with another 8 bits and is instead converted to 24 bits, then I would disable this.
(extra 8 bit padding keeps the original bits/sample, sample conversion doesnt)
But if you set to 16bit max, then if you do play some 24bit audio, not only do you lose the extra quality of the 24bits/sample, but you lose even more quality by resampling it to 16bits.
Err towards leaving 24bits enabled if you cant tell the difference.

4) Dither is only useful when resampling, it should be disabled.
You shouldnt have any resampling going on.
If it sounds better with dither, something else is wrong.

5) Limiters are useful depending on the type, but will always interfere with how it sounds.
For purest audio, you shouldnt use any limiters.
If its too loud, turn it down
You may want to use a normalising limiter for very quiet background listening when some music is too loud and some is too quiet.
It will let you turn the volume up to the max you want and most music will be around the same loudness.
But you will lose a lot of the dynamics (changes between loud and quiet).
I never use a limiter.

Basically, turn off all processing and use WASAPI.
Use only a high quality volume controller and EQ.

In theory, if using WASAPI exclusive mode, Winamps processing options should have no effect.
If they do have an effect, exclusive mode may not be in operation.
But I didnt program Winamp, so there can be exclusions to this.

Last edited by Mufflore; 12-09-2012 at 09:40.
   
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Mufflore
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Default 12-09-2012, 09:53 | posts: 9,769 | Location: UK

Something worth knowing.

If your hifi amplifier has digital processing options, they may be being used on the analogue inputs.
You do NOT want this.
If you can use a "Direct" mode on the amplifier, it should resolve the problem.

If not, your audio may be being digitally processed by the amplifiers DSP as well, which will make a mockery of the clean signal you have been trying to achieve.
Any analogue processing done by the amplifier will convert your analogue audio back to digital with an undoubtedly lower quality ADC (Analogue to Digital Converter) than was used by the recording studio, reducing quality a fair bit.
Even if it is the very best quality ADC, it cannot improve the sound quality, only make it worse.
Then it will be processed by the amp, reducing quality even further.
Then it will go through the amplifiers DAC which is unlikely to be better than the DAC in your soundcard, unless you spent a LOT of money on the amp, really killing the audio quality!

Basically, any DSP by your amp will negate having a decent quality soundcard.

Last edited by Mufflore; 12-09-2012 at 10:02.
   
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HonoredShadow
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Default 12-09-2012, 13:29 | posts: 3,670 | Location: UK

I understand most of what you wrote but not that last bit. Will have another read tonight. Thank you so much for your help.

I have downloaded Foobar and the addon you mentioned. Thing is I don't know how to set it up. Under output it comes up with a number of options/prefs/output. Which one do I pick?

Atm it says primary sound driver.



Your last message said something about converting to digital etc... How can I make sure with Foobar that this and other things does not happen. My HIFI is analogue. My connections are too.

I just want the music to sound better and it is getting better since I have followed these suggestions!

It's just a shame it's soooo much hard work and understanding just to get some damn music working right. Hence why I wanted a HIFI with NTFS USB!

Last edited by HonoredShadow; 12-09-2012 at 13:36.
   
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Default 12-09-2012, 13:41 | posts: 718 | Location: My chair

You want to set it at WASAPI (event) - Speakers (ASUS Xonar DX)

I think this topic is getting bogged down in the finer detail too much. We have to remember the op is playing mp3's using a DX soundcard plugged into a 20 year old Sony hifi that he admits isn't great sounding. The biggest difference he could make is simply a better amp and speakers, then he could go down the finer tweaking route.
   
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HonoredShadow
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Default 12-09-2012, 13:43 | posts: 3,670 | Location: UK

You could be right.

This is my stereo.

120watt RMS each speaker I believe.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-Vinta...item5d3671bbb1

But any help with setting up Foobar as mentioned previous, would be a great help still as I am concerned about two PC's any way.

EDIT: Thanks again Flimbo. Noticed you edited your post.

Last edited by HonoredShadow; 12-09-2012 at 13:47.
   
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Default 12-09-2012, 20:33 | posts: 699 | Location: Canada

Sony/Marantz is at BEST entry level. Try Carver, or NAD, maybe Classe or Krell Then it boils down to your speakers, interconnects, room size, speaker angles, source *anything in mp3 at any bitrate is crap, FLAC is the only way to go, unless you like your cymbals sounding like they are underwater* Thats a good starting point
   
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Default 12-09-2012, 20:54 | posts: 718 | Location: My chair

The op said his budget was 200-300 for a system...

Basically anything in that price range would be much better than a 20 year old Sony midi system.

I agree about using FLAC though. Mp3 pales in comparison.

Last edited by flimbo; 12-09-2012 at 21:01.
   
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Mufflore
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Default 12-09-2012, 21:47 | posts: 9,769 | Location: UK

Quote:
Originally Posted by HonoredShadow View Post
I understand most of what you wrote but not that last bit. Will have another read tonight. Thank you so much for your help.
np

The last bit is mostly for AV amp owners.
The digital input on the amp makes the amplifiers DAC and DSP your soundcard, lower quality.
Analogue input uses your PCs Audio player (and soundcard if you wish but we arent) as the DSP and the soundcard as the DAC, higher quality, especially when set up right.
But... the amps DSP can also be applied to the analogue input.
This setup option must be disabled on the amp so analogue does not get processed by the amps DSP.
Once the amps controls are disabled, you cant use the its EQ or bass/treble controls, all of that must be done on the PC.
(unless the amps controls are analogue, then they will work as normal, as well as the PCs controls, your older amp is probably like this)

Quote:
I have downloaded Foobar and the addon you mentioned. Thing is I don't know how to set it up. Under output it comes up with a number of options/prefs/output. Which one do I pick?
As flimbo said, set it up for your speakers WASAPI.
Best to leave the EQ addon for now, it is quite complex for a first time user.
Use Foobars built in EQ if you need bass/treble controls.

Quote:
Your last message said something about converting to digital etc... How can I make sure with Foobar that this and other things does not happen. My HIFI is analogue. My connections are too.

Its already digital when in the PC, Foobar only works digitally.
Audio is digital until it is fed through a DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) - unless coming from a tape deck or record player, guitar, microphone..., they are already analogue.
When the sound leaves your PCs DAC, it will be analogue and is fed to the amplifier.
what you dont want then is for the amplifier to convert it back to digital to process the sound, then convert back to analogue before it can be fed to the speakers amplifier.
Thats what needs disabling on the amp.

Quote:
I just want the music to sound better and it is getting better since I have followed these suggestions!

It's just a shame it's soooo much hard work and understanding just to get some damn music working right. Hence why I wanted a HIFI with NTFS USB!
A lot of this is new to you so its a bit of a steep learning curve at the start.
Dont worry, it wont take long to get up to speed.

Using an amplifier with a USB pen wont give you as good quality as your PC (unless its a very expensive amp).
This is because when using your PC, Foobar becomes your DSP and your soundcard becomes your DAC (the thing that determines the final quality).
The amplifiers DSP will be lower quality, as will its DAC, by using analogue, you can bypass these.

Last edited by Mufflore; 12-09-2012 at 21:59.
   
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