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Have I gone and bought the wrong sound card?

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by Crocodile JD, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    I recently bought an M Audio Audiophile 2496 with the intention of maximising sound quality with CD play back on my PC. My intention was to use the RCA analogue line level outs on the card to headphone amp (Headsave Classic arrives next week) and sennheiser HD580 headphones.

    However, I've realised that, unlike the soundblaster cards for example, which connects directly to the digital audio out on the CD drive, the M Audio has no on board connection for CD drive. Therefore, I assume the signal must go via the PCI connection, via the mother board and eventually to the sound card?

    Questions:
    1 - is that indeed what happens and if so I presume it has to be digital?
    2 - if this is indeed what happens I would imagine that sound quality is compromised ?
    3 - for best sound quality on CD play back should I be using the digital audio out from the CD drive into a decent DAC (which is where I thought the M Audio came in until I realised that the signal went round the houses to get there)

    If anyone could explain music playback on PCs to me I would be very greatful :confused:

    Thanks

    Croc
     
  2. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    To be honest I've never used the digital output from a CD drive. To answer your questions:

    1) yes, it's stays digital the whole time
    2) why would it be 'compromised'?
    3) why would a digital transfer from the CD drive itself be different from that transferred via the IDE bus, through the motherboard and into the PCI card?

    To the media player you're using the 'music' on the CD is just a data file having a particular format, it is read just like data from a hard disk or anywhere else and passed to the sound-card drivers.

    Thus it's inconceivable that it will in any way be 'compromised' in its' transfer. This is purely transferring bits of data, there is now S/PDIF-type clocking-out/clocking-in to introduce jitter.

    From there it's either shunted out via an S/PDIF connection of decoded on-board and output via whatever DACs it has.

    I'm not sure what problem areas you're concerned about. :)
     
  3. drummerjohn

    drummerjohn
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    If you want to go to extremes then yes it has been compromised by going through the PCI bus. Serious audio buffs take the digital out of a CDROM and pass it straight to a quality DAC.

    My Terratec EWX 24\96 can use the digital out of a CDROM but to be honest the difference in quality between that and a PCI bus isn't going to be significant.
     
  4. drummerjohn

    drummerjohn
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  5. SimonInd

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    I'm not sure why you'd want to connect the CD-Rom drive directly to the soundcard as most people (even purist audiophiles with RME or Lynx soundcards and multi-thousand £ systems) that use PCs to play audio do so from the hard drive. I have found the Audiophile 2496 excellent in my Denon/TAG/Epos system, I'd certainly recommend using WinAmp with it's ASIO plugin for actually playing the files, whether from CD or HD.

    Cheers

    Simon
     
  6. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I'm not sure how passing it through the PCI bus would degrade it but I'll accept that it does .. but the issue I think is whether anyone could ever tell by listening .. and the fact audio buffs do it doesn't necessarily mean "the king's new clothes" syndrome doesn't apply. ;)
     
  7. HMHB

    HMHB
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    I disconnected the digital connections from my DVD drive to the Audigy sound card as I was getting interference from it. Every time I used the scroll wheel on the mouse you could hear it through the speakers. It would go if you turned down the CD Audio volume on the Soundblaster volume control, but this kept setting itself back to maximum every time I rebooted :mad:
     
  8. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    Thanks for all the replies.
    Originally I was naively thinking of the PC as no more than a CD player with the card doing DAC duties, I didn't want the pain of ripping all my CDs to HD. It seems like the card is OK but not ultimate via the PCI bus, but better to rip the music to HD and playback via Winamp?

    On the subject of DACs, I was under the impression that the M Audio did a decent job in this capacity? I definately can't justify an external DAC, one because, as it is my work PC space is at a premium (poxy small desk) and two because I've about blown my budget now anyway.

    Croc
     
  9. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    I've been looking at WinAmp and there are 2 versions: a free and a Pro that costs a small amount: which do I need? Or should I consider Foobar2000 which is another player that has been recomended. Which is best?

    Cheers

    Croc
     
  10. SimonInd

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    The free version of WinAmp is all you'll need, you also want the ASIO output plugin to get the best out of the Audiophile 2496.

    I used to use Foobar but couldn't get it to work satisfactorarily with the 2496 using the ASIO plugin. I play music using myHTPC and the integration with WinAmp is better anyway so I wasn't that bothered.

    Cheers

    Simon
     
  11. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    Thanks for the info Simon. Excuse me for asking a dumb question but what exactly is a plug in? Also, how do you rip your CDs to HD as for WinAmp, I believe this is the extra function that the Pro version does over the free? I must admit, I'd virtually decided on Foobar until I read your post :confused:

    Cheers

    Keith
     
  12. broona

    broona
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    I use EAC to rip to the hard drive, links on how to get the most out of it are on the site.
    A plugin is an additional piece of software that integrates into Winamp to enable it to do things the standard program can't do, loads here. ASIO plugin for Winamp is here, hope you can read Chinese! ;)
     
  13. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    I've just downloaded EAC 095pb5 I think that is the latest version? broona what version is the one to go for? i just off to get WinAmp now, but I'm afraid I'm lost with that like for the ASIO plug in :confused: which one is it??
     
  14. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    Aaaaaaaaaaa......which WinAmp Lite, Full or Bundle? (Foobar also has 3 options the first of which does not include CDDA playback. Is CDDA the same as CDA and is that a Compact Disc Audio file?) Also, I've just thought, why do files need ripping to the HD? Why not simply copy/paste like any other data file :confused: :clown: I'm probably really missing the point here but all I want to do is play unaltered music files in the best SQ I can get, either direct from CD or via the HD, I don't want to compress them, I probably don't want to up sample them as this seems to be another area of great debate although my sound card does have 24/96

    My CDs seem to be .cda files what are these?

    help :lease:
     
  15. SimonInd

    SimonInd
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    CDDA = Compact Disc Digital Audio I presume.
    .cda files are WAVs that are recognized by CD players.

    The free Winamp (full or lite?) will play CDs from the drive or files from your hard drive. Ripping to mp3 saves disk space on your PC and enables other 'clients' to use them if you have a network. It's also much more convenient to have all of your music available when you sit down to listen.

    ASIO will ensure your music is unadulterated by Windows kMixer so install WinAmp, install the ASIO plugin and everything should work....

    Cheers

    Simon
     
  16. CrispyXUK

    CrispyXUK
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    Foobar2000 Special installer comes with ASIO and Kernal Streaming plugins, also the added bonus of a great audio resampler which I use to upscale audio to 24bit / 96khz which a small extra improvement over using ASIO or Kernal Streaming
     
  17. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    I think I would prefer Foobar, the only thing holding me back is the compatibility issue between it and M-Audio 2496. Has anyone else seen problems?
     
  18. cwick

    cwick
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    Works fine with mine. What compatibility issue are you refering to ?
     
  19. SimonInd

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    I couldn't get it to work with it's ASIO plugin and my 2496, that's why I switched to WinAmp. I haven't tried for a few months as the integration with myHTPC seems better with WinAmp anyway.

    I've nothing against Foobar though and for experimenting with upsampling and digital room correction it's far superior to WinAmp. I'd be interested if someone could post their setup for Foobar->ASIO->2496

    Cheers

    Simon
     
  20. CrispyXUK

    CrispyXUK
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    well it works for me on my 2496
     
  21. JohnS

    JohnS
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    Almost the same, I use a couple of delta 410's in my xlobby server and use kernal streaming/foobar on each pair of channels.
     
  22. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    That's it I'm gunna try Foobar. Sods law, but I spent 2 hours last night downloading WinAmp and ASIO plug in :rolleyes: I'm still struggling to find out which plug in to use anyway i.e. SSE or SSE2 etc (I have a Pentium Zeon processor). I down loaded a utility thing from the Intel site as well which I thought was supposed to analize my processor and tell me which plug was suitable, but none the wiser.

    My Headsave classic Headphone amp arrived today from Canada :thumbsup: , one of the last to be made, so I'm chomping at the bit to get it sorted.

    Thanks for all the help (So Far ;) )

    Croc
     
  23. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    I've now down loaded Foobar and installed it in place of Winamp. Could anyone help me with regard to settings in order to enable Asio out or Streaming out if that is regarded as the better option and also the up sample fuction.

    thanks

    Croc
     
  24. cwick

    cwick
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    Start foobar.
    Foobar2000->Preferences
    Select Playback in the left-hand tree view, expand it.
    Select output in the left-hand tree view.
    In the right hand pane, select ASIO as the output method.
    "Save All" at the bottom of the pane.
    Job done (I hope .... otherwise it's not doing what I think ;).

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  25. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    I don't have ASIO, it gives me Directsound, Directsound V2.0 or kernel streaming???
     
  26. CrispyXUK

    CrispyXUK
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    is asio lugin installed?
     
  27. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    I assumed that as I'd installed the special version that it was already installed? Is there something else I need to do.

    Sorry to be a pain

    Croc
     
  28. cwick

    cwick
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    Take a look in program files/foobar2000/components for a file called foo_output_asio(dll).dll. If it's not there, you'll need to download the ASIO plugin and put the file in that folder. Try the SSE2 version - that's supported by your Xeon processor. Then restart foobar, and the option should be available.
     
  29. CrispyXUK

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    I dont think asio & resamler are activated br default, activate them in the component manager, if they arent there you can get them from the foobar site.

    Activate columns UI too to get foobar to work more like itunes
     
  30. Crocodile JD

    Crocodile JD
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    Hi guys

    Well I've down loaded the dll file and slotted it in and now I get an error message saying "unsupported output data format" :( I think I'll try the SSE2 as opposed to the SSE version, but could it be anything else? Should I have slotted any other files across as well?

    Error message:

    INFO (CORE) : startup time: 312 ms
    INFO (CORE) : opening file for playback :
    INFO (CORE) : location: "cdda://01464D45,01" (0)
    INFO (foo_output_asio(dll)) : open : 88200 Hz, LINEAR PCM, 16 bits, 2 channels
    INFO (foo_output_asio(dll)) : ASIO device type [channel 0] : Int32LSB
    INFO (foo_output_asio(dll)) : ASIO device type [channel 1] : Int32LSB
    ERROR (foo_output_asio(dll)) : unsupported output data format.

    Croc
     

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