Audio dropouts on optical connection

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by alanm, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. alanm

    alanm Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    7,158
    Likes Received:
    4
    Graphics Card::
    1070 AMP!
    Not at all, very informative stuff and big thanks to Mufflore. Although I admire his pursuit of audio perfection, not sure I could extend mine to that level. For one I believe there are degrees of diminishing returns the higher you go up the bit rates/sampling rates scale. Which then requires proper encoded material (ie, Dolby True-HD, DTS-HD) that contains it and far greater space/bandwidth the higher up you go. I'm perfectly content with 24-bit/48khz and even with SPDIF 5.1. Uncompressed music is fine over SPDIF if your OK with standard 2 channels.

    The other thing, not sure I would give up my SBZ sound processing for games for an external dac, as the latter would bypass it entirely. Same with HDMI connection thru GPU, the SBZs gaming capabilities I believe are far better than anything that may bypass it.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  2. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    10,251
    Likes Received:
    2
    Graphics Card::
    1080ti @2GHz+ air silent!
    For DSD format playback.

    I often keep the sound system switched to my PC to hear alerts and for convenience.
    There are times I am using the PC and want to hear music as well so play back DSD files from the PC.
    The DAC I have lets me play them back through PC USB in the original format but its a faff to set up (after playing none DSD) and often cant be asked.
    So I do a nearest sample rate conversion in Foobar 2000 which is 88KHz or 176KHz approx.
    There is a small detail loss but I dont care when I'm doing other things as well.

    This plays well over USB but not optical (SPDIF) or HDMI. To play over these it has to be converted to 96KHz or 192KHz which reduces detail and stereo imaging quite a bit.
    So I dont use optical very often and dont use HDMI for music playback.

    I prefer to play DSD directly on the DAC, either from SACD disc or via a PC network share. Sometimes via a USB drive.
    But then I cant hear the PC.
    Yep I could get another sound system in here but its not happening for a few reasons :)
    One being when I am listening to music in all its glory directly on the DAC I dont want to be dragged back to reality by my PC.

    Oh yeah, I forgot to add earlier that the DAC can use network shares or streaming as an input.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  3. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    10,251
    Likes Received:
    2
    Graphics Card::
    1080ti @2GHz+ air silent!
    It needs a system that can expose the difference enough to care.
    Even then you might not care, most people I know/come across dont and some are damned resistant to the point of not even wanting to find out lol.
    You could say its my thing.
    A few friends have similar setups to me as its also their thing.
    You never know if you can enjoy it until you try, its a wonderful addition to my life.
    Although it has changed how I listen to music. I often seek out music that has more detail or stereo effects now, as well as tunes that I like.

    This is an interesting point as I used to stand the same ground.
    I had an Auzentech Prelude from before Windows 7 came out and enjoyed games that made use of Creatives DSP features.
    Windows 7 almost killed this off by not allowing direct access to the audio hardware.
    The only method remaining was using OpenAL but use of this dwindled to nothing.
    I started using external DACs and found that everything was much clearer than with PC sound cards and havent looked back.

    Since then I have upgraded my PC and no longer have a PCI slot to put the card in so gave it away.
    That means I cant test if DSP features are used any more so havent kept my eye on it.
    Can I ask what it is your SBz does for your game audio?
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  4. alanm

    alanm Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    7,158
    Likes Received:
    4
    Graphics Card::
    1070 AMP!
    Oh, I do care about good audio, but may differ on what components/factors bring about the greatest differences/benefits to the sound (and value). There are extremes in the audio field as well. Some people swear by the differences of $3000 inter-connects vs $100 ones, or $20,000 tube amps vs $2000, etc, not to mention DACs.

    Same here, very much care about detail in music, as well as 'air', 'separation' and some effects. The quality of source/playback material is paramount to this. The recording engineer is often more responsible for good sound than we assume. A well balanced system can sound better than a more premium system purely due to the quality of recording.

    I dont use headphones (even though I believe quality ones may be more revealing vs speakers) because I dont think surround sound can be as authentically produced on cans as vs 5 properly positioned speakers. Even though I listen a lot to good 2 channel stuff, cant give up multi-channel. Also speakers are *for me* a more important component than say a good DAC vs a better DAC. You can get a good DAC for $200 and a premium one for $5000. But I doubt most listeners will be able to discern as much difference as they can with speakers (or possibly headphones) in comparable price ranges.

    Had auditioned some very revealing studio monitors (JBL LSR305) with select tracks but had to decline due to hiss from onboard amps (seems more common with powered monitors). They are reputed to be amongst the most revealing speakers for the money. Settled for a pair of Polk S15 for my mains and quite happy at the level of detail they are able to produce as well as imaging and soundstage. Far more revealing than the Wharfedale 220s I had (too warm for my taste). Speakers are probably my main interest, esp the big bangs for the buck variety.

    I did not like my game audio when it went through my receiver, on the SBz it was distinctly superior. Due to this, I had thought the SBz with its 'sound core processor' handles some of the directional cues better in games, but apparently it only provides 'offloading' from the CPU to its processor. So not sure why the big difference, esp in directional cues vs the receiver. But hey, eager to learn more. So can a good USB or external DAC send 5.1 ch stuff to speakers? I had thought DACs were a 2ch affair, unless they are more than DACs.
     

  5. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    10,251
    Likes Received:
    2
    Graphics Card::
    1080ti @2GHz+ air silent!
    I didnt mean to imply that you arent into decent hifi, I was trying to cover the bases for general understanding.
    I also dislike spending stupid money on things that barely make a difference.
    I try to achieve the same for a fraction of the cost but some things peak my interest.

    A little story about what could have been a rash purchase... (soz for writing a book :))
    My brother has a few different interconnects that cost around £100 to £150 each and I was never too impressed with the difference they made compared to basic OFC interconnects.
    I had read a lot about silver interconnects and wanted to try some but hadnt found any to demo so decided to build my own and make a set for my brother for xmas.
    A lot of research later I chose pure silver unicrystal wire with a cotton dielectric (figured if I'm going to do it, get the best), configured as loose wires with no shield (to prevent loss of detail through capacitance) and silver bullet plugs on the ends.
    One of the large costs was shipping from the US to UK recorded @ $106.
    Total cost for 50ft of wire delivered was $349.

    My brother has monoblock amps next to his speakers and the speakers are about 3m apart so a pretty long interconnect was needed.
    The first test was at my brothers at Christmas, the wire had arrived only the day before.
    We soldered the bullet plugs on with 10% silver solder, connected them and wow! We were blown away at the massive increase in detail.
    He had already tuned his speaker crossovers for high detail with ribbon tweeters (same as the ones I use) and had to stick larger resistors in to bring the level down a bit.
    We went back and forth comparing the old and new cables and the difference was nothing short of stunning, he was sold on them and so was I. And he is a fussy sod!
    There was a lot of new detail, micro detail, huge air, stereo effects, improved imaging... It really placed us in the recording!
    We had wondered if there would be any noise picked up by the unshielded wires but had to put our ears on the tweeters to hear only an extremely faint hiss.
    Needless to say, they were a complete success.
    I am using 2 shorter versions for both my DACs (1 is balanced the other RCA) and have soldered one end directly into my front stereo amp for a potentially better connection and use less RCA connectors.
    These interconnects are something else!
    I also tuned my tweeters for high detail and had to insert a extra resistance to tame them a little.

    Anyway, moral of that story is, some exotic cables are worth considering.
    Our silver interconnects really do work (the way we built them at least) with an Oppo 105 DAC (we both have one) and our home brew speakers with the same Ribbon tweeters.
    I also use a Minimax Tube DAC plus (tube disabled cos that improves detail) which is even more detailed than the Oppo. Its NUTS how good it sounds!
    The killer...
    A friend with almost identical equipment as me but an older Emotiva DAC tried the interconnects and the effect was much less.
    They only really made a difference with high definition music and not as much, whereas all audio was tons better on my DAC.
    It was pretty good still but not enough for him to pay for a set himself.
    All our testing was done with ribbon tweeter speakers so I dont know the value on anything else.

    So silver interconnects, worth trying if you can borrow a set.
    If your DAC and speakers are good enough they are awesome.

    Something worth a try because it will cost practically nothing.
    Make some interconnects with ye basic OFC wire and no shield, just loose wires. The shorter the better.
    See if you get better air or micro detail.
    I havent verified this because I have no need now and have more projects than there is time.

    Sweet, sounds like you have good kit.
    Yep, recording quality really jumps out, it has influenced what music I listen to.

    Same here, I prefer surround from speakers.
    Also because I like good bass and very deep, I would damage my ears trying to get a similar effect that my hifi gives.
    My brother already has using high end Sennheisers and now gets ringing in his ears if he turns his hifi too loud or uses headphones. He is most annoyed.

    I went for broke on the speakers and almost bought the Salk Songtower which are Transmission line bass and ribbon tweeters.
    But the cost of shipping them to the UK was mental so looked for a local alternative.
    I kept coming back to a company called IPL Acoustics in the UK that sell kits to build your own so did that.
    For less than the Songtowers I built 5 speakers, all Ribbon tweeters and the fronts are huge with transmission line bass.
    Awesome awesome speakers.
    I made a thread about it here somewhere but last time I looked the images had been removed.
    I've built a few more sets for friends and family and my brother bought the same tweeters I use and put them in his speakers.

    If you are on the lookout for speakers, consider getting a kit with decent ribbon tweeters.
    With enough space for tower speakers, get transmission line versions.
    You will be so happy!
    You dont need massive speakers, I wish I had gone for a smaller version.
    Mine are rated to 22Hz, the much smaller version to 25Hz.
    My subwoofer takes over duty down to 15Hz so I could have got away with the smaller speakers which look cuter.

    I used to have a higher end Onkyo receiver and my Auzentech Prelude sounded better so I used to feed analogue to the receiver.
    It costs a lot for a receiver with a decent DAC.
    Thats why I went the Oppo 105 + Emotiva power amps route.
    I am in no doubt that the DAC and analogue circuts on your soundcard trump those in your receiver.

    Yes, the Oppo 103, 203 and 105 Blu Ray players can be used as a high end 7.1 DAC. (The 205 is coming very soon, woooo!)
    They have 2 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs.
    Thats why I bought mine, for high def surround movies, music and gaming.
    Its an incredible piece of kit and while it costs a lot, it does a hell of a lot too and sounds amazing. It is worth the money.
    I already had the stereo Minimax DAC and found it so incredible I had to have a surround version so bought the Oppo 105.
    They both use the same DAC chip (Sabre32 9018 reference) and cost nearly the same.
    I use the Minimax for stereo music and the Oppo for everything else including surround PC gaming.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  6. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    10,251
    Likes Received:
    2
    Graphics Card::
    1080ti @2GHz+ air silent!
    ps in case you are bored:

    My speaker build thread.
    sadly all piccys have gone.
    http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=329128


    There is a thread about my silver interconnects that I forgot about
    Dont read too far down, theres a danger of brain haemorrhage.
    http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=372898

    Since that thread a change has been made (stating this for continuity).
    The Minimax DAC has been modded, its tube stage removed.
    This has reduced EM noise within the DAC and made the solid state output cleaner and more detailed.
    In this thread I stated the Oppo 105 sounded best. Now the Minimax sounds best.

    And I no longer EQ treble down, a little more resistance was added to the tweeters.
     
  7. Hyde

    Hyde Member

    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Graphics Card::
    8GB DDR3
    Wow, that was a lot to read. Totally enjoyable though. Yeah, superb sound quality is undoubtedly a unanimous goal here. But yeah, that cost vs added value game is always running amok as well sabotaging my impulse buys! lol

    I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff (certainly a technical downgrade over time) simply because of moving and space issues. Speaking of.. I actually owned a pair of LSR305 monitors. They were my last pair before I moved. I wasn't elated but they did satisfy the requirement at the time. Truth be told, I haven't heard a set of speakers that have truly impressed me since... wow... 10+ years ago? It's my own fault, really.

    Using silver as your conductor. That's interesting. I have no doubt that that works really really well. What really piqued my interest were the details about shielding and the tweeter resistor. With no shield (and assuming no loops in the wire), you've potentially removed most/all capacitance. Coupled with the silver, I bet your impedance is much lower at the amp input. That's awesome. I may have to experiment with that.

    Being that there is no shield, the low noise is surprising. Does your amp have differential inputs?

    Though I'm a big fan of external interfaces as well, I do love that raw PCB look and the modular nature of add-in cards. Easily adds new life to a rig. Also, that sound the cards make, you know? When you slide a new card into a PCIe slot. *sssshhhick* and *click* (if applicable). Then you take a moment to look at the decorative LEDs on the motherboard that your friends said were dumb because no one would ever see them. You whisper, "I see them" before closing up your meticulously built machine, satisfied.

    ...So yeah, audio stuff.
     
  8. Hyde

    Hyde Member

    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Graphics Card::
    8GB DDR3
    Alanm, I forgot to say that I agree about most budget/midrange powered monitors these days. Many use class D amplification, touting their 40W+ output power as a selling point (305's included) and that's a shame. Those Polks were a good way to go. What's powering them?
     
  9. alanm

    alanm Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    7,158
    Likes Received:
    4
    Graphics Card::
    1070 AMP!
    Wow Mufflore, you're certainly far deeper into this than I am. The Oppo is an interesting design, probably misleadingly named Blu Ray player. Its pre-amp functions, multi-channel inputs are what interest me most, but not sure I would invest that sort of money into it. Not that it may not be worth it for those that require its features and level of performance. OTOH, it may be a better deal than separate good receiver + BR player though still need amps.

    My only experience with ribbon speakers was with Magnepans (full range ribbons) in a store listening room. Impressive, open sounding, although dont like their tall flat panel look. No chance those for desktop usage :D. Not yet listened to bookshelves with ribbon tweeters but will certainly keep them in mind for future.

    And good job with your speaker kit. DIY looks like an interesting way to go for speakers, as parts should always be cheaper than the finished product. Must be a wealth of info on the web with suggested kits/parts. Re interconnects, very controversial topic in audio circles. Some firmly sticking to the science while others swearing by the sound, I tend to lean to the former. My belief that any properly made shielded cables with good quality connectors should properly do the job, and need not cost an arm and a leg. Material, whether gold, silver or copper perhaps optional for corrosion or anti-oxidization properties.
    But that said, I have not listened to hi-end or exotic cables with silver, but suspect that even if I were to, my confirmation bias may get the better of me.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  10. alanm

    alanm Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    7,158
    Likes Received:
    4
    Graphics Card::
    1070 AMP!
    The LSR305s are internally bi-amped (40w + 40w) which gives them a lot of power, probably more than enough. Dont forget these are sensitive, horn loaded speakers which require very little power to begin with. Class D is ideal for powered monitors. What else can you use? Class A is hot and very expensive, even class AB more than needed. Class D is efficient, cool and gets the job done

    For my Polks I tend to use my receivers amp (80w/ch). Also have a couple class D mini-amps, one a TDA7498E which can do 160w into 4ohms, but its tiny sealed design makes it hot to run. The other is a TPA3116 (50w-4ohm, 30w-8ohm) that works well, runs cool which I use for my rear speakers.
     

  11. Hyde

    Hyde Member

    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Graphics Card::
    8GB DDR3
    I shouldn't have said that it's a shame. I definitely see the merits of class D topology and I absolutely love those little TPA chips. I have a TPA3122 module myself. For the amount of power that comes out of that tiny square... it's certainly impressive. Yeah, class A is not practical, I totally agree. I definitely think class AB is useful though. If anything at all, because of serviceability.
     

Share This Page