Answered PS4 sounds better than PC. Why is that, and how can I improve the sound from my PC?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Srg Kasto, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. Srg Kasto

    Srg Kasto
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    Hi,

    First off, my equipment:

    AMP: TEAC ai-501da (an unfair review, imho)
    Speakers: Guru Junior
    PC running Windows 10 with on-board soundcard connected via Toslink
    PS4 connect via Toslink
    Source is Spotify


    So a few months back I discovered that the audio from my PS4 is noticeably better than my PC. The audio from PC is not bad, and I haven't even given it a thought, but haven't it been from the random fact that I just opened Spotify on my PS4 and tried it, I wouldn't have noticed it.

    To describe the difference I would say that the audio from the PS4 is wider, more spacious and clearer. It's also a bit louder, which gets very noticeable when I turn the volume knob down, and the bass is dryer and a bit more punchy. I don't know if this description helps, it's not very scientific. :)

    Since the discovery I've done a lot of tests, I've checked settings and played around with volume settings (which I now just leave on max), and there is still this leap in audio quality when I move to PS4. I've googled without any luck.

    So now I play all my music through Spotify on my PS4, controlling it via my smartphone or tablet. It's quite nice, I like it tbh, but I still want to address the fact that the audio quality is not matched on my PC. I would like some help understanding why this happens, since both are digital sources, and what I can do to improve the audio quality from my PC (without divorcing my wife)?

    I might have missed mentioning any crucial details or information, please let me know if that's the case. Thanks for reading!

    //Srg.
     
  2. Best Answer:
    Post #6 by andy1249, Mar 23, 2016 (1 points)
  3. Ferg

    Ferg
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    I think you need to get the volume levels to match before you make a comparison, as, within reason, the brain tends to think the louder version is best !
     
  4. Srg Kasto

    Srg Kasto
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    Yes, I've thought of this and have made volume corrections when comparing. To me, it doesn't really make sense how two digital sources could have such a notable difference in quality.

    But are all digital signals equally good? After the tests I've done, I fins it hard that I'm merely m imagining the difference. Is it proven that a digital signal is identically good no matter the hardware?

    Also, how can the digital signal have different volume levels? If volume can differ, isn't possible for bit depth, or overall quality, to differ as well?

    Maybe I'm just shooting in the dark, but I've thought if this for months and this thread is kind of my last resort.
     
  5. Ferg

    Ferg
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    I think the argument about 'quality' of digital data is still raging on, here and elsewhere. But, at some point your digital information is being turned into analogue so that you can hear it and that may well be the link in the chain wherein the difference lies.

    Over to those more knowledgeable to provide further help for the op.
     
  6. Srg Kasto

    Srg Kasto
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    You still deserve a thanks for your input. I had no idea that there was a controversy (or maybe not a controversy, but a discussion) about whether a digital signal can range in quality. This insight definitely makes the whole matter more interesting. :)

    I have no technical education in this, so I just simply thought that maybe hardware (the audio chips, for instance) and software (MS Windows etc) may affect the quality.

    EDIT: And oh, about the signal conversion. I have a dac-amp equipped with two optical inputs (among others). I haven't actually tried swapping the inputs, so this will be my next test. Thanks again!
     
  7. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Best Answer
    Have a look at this, particularly with regards to windows setup around page 37.

    http://www.linkwitzlab.com/dCS_Guide_to_Computer_Audio(2).pdf

    In a nutshell, all PC / computer operating systems mess around with sound by default.
    To get a clean, un- tampered with, digital signal out of a PC you need to set it up so that its output is bitperfect.

    First you need to get the OS bitperfect.
    Then you need to get your playback software bitperfect.

    Note that some playback software cannot be made bitperfect and will always alter the signal, so this will be the cause of any differences.

    Its not always the case that digital is digital, you must allow for what the playback software is doing.
    Two pieces of bitperfect software playing into the same dac will be identical and the most faithful to the source material.
    However nothing is bitperfect by default.

    I doubt very much that spotify on different platforms can be made any kind of bitperfect for side to side comparison due to the lossy nature of the material, but I,ll leave that investigation to you as I have no experience or interest in the service.
     
  8. lokyc

    lokyc
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    PCs tend to have a noisier internal environment. It is possible that the TOSLINK signal from the PC has more jitter.

    Best output from PC is probably asynchronous USB using ASIO drivers.
     

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