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Bit-perfect playback questions
post Jun 22 2011, 22:28
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I'd say I've gotten into serious music listening the moment I learned that MP3's were lossy and that there IS a difference in SQ based on how the audio was ripped from the CD and how it was encoded. Since then, I've collected my music collection in lossless quality, invested in a pair of high quality headphones, and researched into digital audio in general.

For the most part, I've been able to learn pretty much the basics. However, I've recently stumbled upon a topic that I have yet to understand and find a straightforward answer to: bit-perfect playback. I've learned so far that Windows has an internal mixer that resamples audio played before it goes through the speakers. This internal mixer (generally speaking) decreases or alters the sound quality of an audio file before it reaches the speakers. Plugins such as WASAPI and ASIO bypass this mixer in order for the bits played to reach the headphones unaltered. I know what I'm saying may be incorrect but bear with me since I am fairly new to this.

Further research shows that in Windows Vista and 7, does not require WASAPI or ASIO plugins for bit-perfect playback because the sound settings are automatically sampled above 16bit/44.1KHz (mine are at 24bit/48KHz) and so if the audio is <= that sampling rate, the audio is essentially unaltered. However, other sources state otherwise.

In short, I've yet to find a simple answer to the following questions:
1) Does one NEED WASAPI or ASIO in order to enjoy bit-perfect playback?
2) Is bit-perfect playback even something worth pursuing? (I know it's left up to the listeners ears but let us assume I can pickup the slightest change in quality)
3) If neither is needed, then what sampling rate should I set for "Sound Settings" in Windows 7 to achieve bit-perfect playback?
4) Generally, I'm a bit confused about the whole topic. I've checked out certain sites like thewelltemperedcomputer.com which has shed some light but still hasn't explained everything.

I've read these forums for quite some time and I must thank the entire community because without this site, I wouldn't have learned what I know now about digital audio. For this reason, I've decided to become a member.

OS: Windows 7 64-bit
Music Player: Winamp v5.61
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post Jun 23 2011, 01:27
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DVDdoug: Your response pretty much answered most (if not all of my questions). Thanks again for your response. And yes, I try not to buy into the whole audiophile nonsense, I try to find a middle-way between getting the best out of what I got and not pushing it too far.
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post Jun 23 2011, 02:11
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QUOTE (XeR0 @ Jun 22 2011, 17:27) *
I try not to buy into the whole audiophile nonsense

That's good. smile.gif

Can you explain mechanism you used to arrive at the conclusion that you need lossless because of sound quality differences?

Your eyes cannot hear.
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post Jun 23 2011, 04:26
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QUOTE (greynol @ Jun 22 2011, 21:11) *
Can you explain mechanism you used to arrive at the conclusion that you need lossless because of sound quality differences?

Well, I had this one album encoded in 192CBR MP3 (Transdimensional by Dimension 5). I obtained the lossless version of the album and IMMEDIATELY noticed the difference in SQ. The bass was much deeper and the sound was far more spacious. Overall, it just sounded a helluva lot better. However, I have a 2GB Sansa Fuze and there was no way I could put most of my music on it in lossless format. So, doing a bit more research I learned about the Ogg Vorbis codec. I've read articles and conducted my own listening tests as well as compared spectrographs (V0 MP3 vs. Q6.5 OGG vs. FLAC) and found that OGG sounds way better than MP3 and could barely notice the difference between the lossless version and the OGG version.

For the record, I understand that the type of music that one listens to does make a difference on how hard/easy it is to tell the difference between lossless and lossy. The genres I listen to are almost always electronica; specifically Goa Trance, Psytrance, Psychedelic, Progressive Trance, Tribal, etc. Of course, there is this one group that's essentially genre-less called "Shpongle". Those of you that know this group know that this group can only be described as psychedelic and that the vast array of sounds and effects they use in their music is unmatched. Any loss of quality is easily noticeable in most, if not all of their tracks.

To further prove my point, here's two sets of spectrographs comparing FLAC (top), Q6.5 OGG (middle), V0 MP3 (bottom).

Shpongle - Dorset Perception
dBV: http://i53.tinypic.com/4u86lu.png
dBV^2: http://i56.tinypic.com/35ib24i.png

Solar Fields - Circles of Motion
dBV: http://i56.tinypic.com/23ihr9l.png
dBV^2: http://i55.tinypic.com/2llzj2p.png

These spectrographs further cemented my choice in choosing lossless over lossy. Even more so, it was the last thing I needed to make the conversion from MP3's to OGG as my choice for lossy compression. Of course, I didn't rely on just the graphs, I did blind sound tests and there was an audible difference. Not much but they were still there. It's for these reasons that I do any quality tests with lossless audio. In any case, I hope this reply doesn't give the wrong impression that I'm not willing to learn anything new. Please, if there is something wrong with my logic, I'd love to know. I'd rather know I'm wrong than to not know at all. Thanks again!
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Posts in this topic
- XeR0   Bit-perfect playback questions   Jun 22 2011, 22:28
- - mixminus1   QUOTE (XeR0 @ Jun 22 2011, 14:28) I'v...   Jun 22 2011, 23:21
- - XeR0   Thanks man. You cleared up the confusion with Wind...   Jun 22 2011, 23:28
- - DVDdoug   I'm not an expert on how to get bit-perfect au...   Jun 23 2011, 00:54
- - XeR0   DVDdoug: Your response pretty much answered most (...   Jun 23 2011, 01:27
|- - greynol   QUOTE (XeR0 @ Jun 22 2011, 17:27) I try n...   Jun 23 2011, 02:11
|- - XeR0   QUOTE (greynol @ Jun 22 2011, 21:11) Can ...   Jun 23 2011, 04:26
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (XeR0 @ Jun 23 2011, 05:26) QUOTE (...   Jun 23 2011, 11:03
|- - Notat   QUOTE (XeR0 @ Jun 22 2011, 21:26) Please,...   Jun 24 2011, 01:41
- - Notat   There are two things that the PC sound system can ...   Jun 23 2011, 01:31
- - greynol   Properly controlled, level matched and time synchr...   Jun 23 2011, 04:47
|- - XeR0   QUOTE (greynol @ Jun 22 2011, 23:47) I ho...   Jun 23 2011, 05:02
- - andy o   If you use HDMI audio there are practical benefits...   Jun 23 2011, 13:39
- - XeR0   QUOTE (dhromed @ Jun 23 2011, 06:03) Have...   Jun 24 2011, 19:13
- - megaoptimus   I've been doing a lot of reading about this la...   Jul 30 2011, 21:49
|- - greynol   QUOTE (megaoptimus @ Jul 30 2011, 13:49) ...   Jul 30 2011, 22:34
- - Alikris   QUOTE So, if you think you can hear a difference a...   Dec 5 2011, 11:29
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (Alikris @ Dec 5 2011, 12:29) Even ...   Dec 5 2011, 16:34
- - Alikris   Yes, especially considering the present HDD shorta...   Dec 5 2011, 20:06
|- - FreaqyFrequency   QUOTE (Alikris @ Dec 5 2011, 14:06) Yes, ...   Dec 5 2011, 21:04
- - Roseval   QUOTE (XeR0 @ Jun 22 2011, 22:28) 1) Does...   Dec 6 2011, 00:31
- - googlebot   You can get bitperfect output with any plain old m...   Dec 16 2011, 00:06
|- - andy o   QUOTE (googlebot @ Dec 15 2011, 15:06) Yo...   Dec 16 2011, 06:52
- - monkey   I believe Jim is implying WASAPI exclusive when ta...   Dec 16 2011, 01:26
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE As far as I know, every media player applies...   Dec 16 2011, 21:44
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Dec 16 2011, 15:44) QUOT...   Dec 4 2012, 16:40
- - Roseval   But if you configure your media player not to appl...   Dec 16 2011, 21:56
- - Joe Bloggs   Is there a way to disable dithering in the windows...   Dec 4 2012, 16:29
- - nu774   QUOTE (Joe Bloggs @ Dec 5 2012, 00:29) Is...   Dec 4 2012, 17:43

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