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sound card and speakers for FLAC audio
rajnishdahiya
post Jan 13 2012, 23:50
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Hi guys,

Few days back I came to know that using FLAC audio I can enjoy CD/DVD quality on my PC and also most of newly released music is available as FLAC compressed, so I am thinking of upgrading my system, hardware wise, to actually enjoy the richness of FLAC. So I have a motherboard integrated Realtek High Def. audio sound card and a decent 5.1 speaker system. Am i good to go for FLAC? Actually I tried playing a FLAC file on my system but it didn't quite sound different than a 5 times smaller mp3. I am not sure what am I missing (except good sound biggrin.gif ) . Any help is highly appreciated.

Thanks
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saratoga
post Jan 14 2012, 00:05
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QUOTE (rajnishdahiya @ Jan 13 2012, 17:50) *
Actually I tried playing a FLAC file on my system but it didn't quite sound different than a 5 times smaller mp3.


Thats normal.

QUOTE (rajnishdahiya @ Jan 13 2012, 17:50) *
I am not sure what am I missing (except good sound biggrin.gif ) . Any help is highly appreciated.


Is there something wrong with your current system? Hiss or something? If not, I would save money for headphones or speakers.
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slks
post Jan 14 2012, 04:00
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For most people, on most music, MP3s of approximately 160 kb/s and higher will be indistinguishable from the original uncompressed audio, so not being able to hear a difference between such an MP3 and a FLAC is normal. You will not need to upgrade your equipment specifically for FLAC.

I have a "Realtek HD Audio" (not sure the exact model) in my computer myself. I've been totally satisfied with it, never noticed any problems. Generally, computer sound cards are of enough quality these days that you don't need to buy a separate one unless you have special considerations (like, if you need ultra low latency or multiple inputs for recording music).

The #1 piece of hardware that affects how your system sounds is, of course, the speakers themselves. If you're really itching for an upgrade, I'd suggest looking at new speakers.


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rajnishdahiya
post Jan 14 2012, 19:40
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Speakers are okay, they do sound hissy when go to high volume but at usual volume they are quite nice. So bottom line is FLAC is not worth the extra disk space if only purpose is listen to clearer and richer music (I know there are other benefits but they are not relevant to me).


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nesf
post Jan 14 2012, 21:28
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The best argument I've seen for FLAC on here has been for archive purposes. Keeping your archive uncompressed avoids problems if in 10 years AAC or mp3 aren't used on portable players. That said, I imagine legacy mp3/aac support will be around for a very long time given the lack of audible problems with either codec at reasonable bitrates and that disc space is becoming less rather than more of a problem so a more efficient (read: smaller for the same sound quality) codec might not replace either. So having your music ripped to FLAC on a hard drive somewhere isn't necessarily a bad idea. You just convert it to mp3 or AAC for your portable player, laptop or wherever else space might be a problem for you.

For listening pleasure, well ABX it yourself using Foobar or whatever. I have trouble telling 128kbs mp3 from FLAC for the kind of music I listen to (mostly classical), so everything is ripped to V2 mp3 in case my ears magically get a lot better some day in the future.
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julf
post Jan 14 2012, 21:36
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QUOTE (nesf @ Jan 14 2012, 21:28) *
I have trouble telling 128kbs mp3 from FLAC for the kind of music I listen to (mostly classical), so everything is ripped to V2 mp3 in case my ears magically get a lot better some day in the future.


Or perhaps you get a better hifi system that allows you to tell the difference. Perhaps. In any case, with price of disk space continuing to drop, why not go for a lossless format so you aren't throwing away data?
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nesf
post Jan 14 2012, 22:05
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I'd blame my ears long before I blamed my audio equipment to be honest with you.

Edit: Let me be clear, I can very, very easily tell 160kps CBR mp3s from V2 VBR or FLAC simply by choosing tracks with applause on them (but I can't tell V2 from FLAC). But the sound of an acoustic guitar sounds the same in all three for me. All this is coming from someone who was convinced he could hear a difference between FLAC and 320kps mp3 before he did ABX tests.

This post has been edited by nesf: Jan 14 2012, 23:01
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pawelq
post Jan 15 2012, 17:10
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QUOTE (slks @ Jan 13 2012, 22:00) *
Generally, computer sound cards are of enough quality these days that you don't need to buy a separate one unless you have special considerations (like, if you need ultra low latency or multiple inputs for recording music).


I disagree. I mean, the chips (DACs) are probably very good, but mobo or computer manufacturers still screw up shielding (or whatever) of analog sections. I have a ~6 months old Dell desktop at work, with Realtek HD Audio, and I can easily hear weird electronic noise in the soundcard output. The front connector is terrible, bu the one on the back is not much better.

Another annoying thing is that when nothing is connected to an input/output, it tells the system that this input/output does not exist at all. This leads to annoying messages in certain sound editing or other programs.


QUOTE (rajnishdahiya @ Jan 14 2012, 13:40) *
Speakers are okay, they do sound hissy when go to high volume


Technically speaking, this is an amplifier problem, not speaker problem. Speakers themselves cannot produce hiss. The confusion probably comes from the fact that amplifiers and speakers are usually combined in one enclosure of a computer "speaker".


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slks
post Jan 17 2012, 03:35
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Ah, I should have been a little more detailed. The DACs themselves are good, but they can pick up noise from other components of the computer, if not properly designed. Noise problems like that tend to be obvious though. On my computer, the 3.5mm jacks on the back are fine (no discernible noise ever), however the front jacks produce lots of funny buzzy noises under certain workloads (usually when I have lots of activity over the PCI-Express bus, such as when playing video games).

Basically, if you aren't getting any noise over the line, your sound hardware should be alright.

Back to the original topic, I would agree with whoever said FLAC is good for archival purposes. I like to have a computerized archive of all my music that is perfectly identical to the CD. However, for day-to-day playback, well-made MP3s are mostly fine, and can be indistinguishable from the CD to your ears.


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Fedot L
post Jan 17 2012, 15:21
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Tell me, please, what parameters of equipment must be different for listening to FLAC and NOT FLAC sound programs.
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hlloyge
post Jan 18 2012, 10:58
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QUOTE (Fedot L @ Jan 17 2012, 16:21) *
Tell me, please, what parameters of equipment must be different for listening to FLAC and NOT FLAC sound programs.


What?
Care to explain what you mean?
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Fedot L
post Jan 18 2012, 14:41
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QUOTE (hlloyge @ Jan 18 2012, 10:58) *
QUOTE (Fedot L @ Jan 17 2012, 16:21) *
Tell me, please, what parameters of equipment must be different for listening to FLAC and NOT FLAC sound programs.


What?
Care to explain what you mean?

Well, you don’t ask the topic starter what he means by “sound card and speakers for FLAC audio”.
And if I ask “what sound card, amplifier and speakers for audio OTHER than FLAC”?
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