Bit perfect sounds from MCE??

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Help and Support' started by AlliumPorrum, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. AlliumPorrum

    AlliumPorrum New Member

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    I just installed Windows 7 and it really seems to be quite a good OS, atleast compared to Vista! I'm going to use it as a music player on my netbook with MCE and Logitech remote control, but the problem is that it seems to mess the sound quality somehow. I read that the Windows' kmixer always does some remixing to the sound, but I also heard it could be bypassed somehow thru "kernel streaming" or ASIO- drivers. But, I just can't find instructions that how this could be done for Windows 7??

    So, can anyone give me more details; how can I get bit perfect sound out from Windows 7's MCE??
     
  2. reghakr

    reghakr Excellent Member

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    Hello and wlcome to the windoes7forums.

    I didn't mean to yell, cap lock was.

    wHAT IS THE EXACT MAKE AND MODEL OF YOUR SOUND CARD?
     
  3. AlliumPorrum

    AlliumPorrum New Member

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    Reghakr, good question.... I'm using a Xindak DAC-8, which is an external DAC with USB connection, so Windows sees it just as an external USB soundcard. Previously I used Win XP with WinAmp and ASIO4ALL, and it worked just OK with Xindak. But, now I really would like to use the new (great) MCE user interface.
     
  4. reghakr

    reghakr Excellent Member

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    That's a very high-end system. with vacuum tubes.

    It's almost like I'd have to see the actual setup to give you concrete answer.

    As far as I know, you need digital coax or optical in and out to get digital sound.

    Are you one of those purists who prefer the vacuum tube sound better than Digital?
     
  5. AlliumPorrum

    AlliumPorrum New Member

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    Yeah, it is quite a high end DAC. And yeah, I am one of those purists who prefer tube sound over a transistor one ;=)

    But, there are no any problems on getting the sound out from my PC to DAC and to amplifier, so my problem has nothing to do with digital outputs or cables. I can hear the music. The problem is that out-of-the-box Windows uses it's own kmixer when playing sounds, and it always does some remixing to the sound which naturally messes up the sound quality. If you play exactly the same track from PC and from CD- player, the one played from PC with Windows does not sound so good.

    What I need is a way to somehow bypass this kmixer, so that I could get bitperfect audio data out from the PC to the DAC. I have read something about Kernel Streaming, but I just can't find how to do it in Windows 7. Another option is using ASIO4ALL driver (which I did previously with Win XP & WinAmp), but once again, I can't find instructions for using them with MCE.

    Did this clear up my problem?
     
  6. reghakr

    reghakr Excellent Member

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    This is a very difficult question.

    What do you mean by the kmixer?

    Like I stated earlier, I would have to look at the setup to give you a possible solution. What inputs and outputs you are using, etc

    Are the drivers for the ASIO4ALL compatible with Windows 7.

    Does Xindak have a support forum that you could visit?

    It seems to me that Microsoft and PC makers are more worried about SPDIF and HDMI than they would be about fixing problems such as your.

    Sorry, I'm at a loss
     
  7. AlliumPorrum

    AlliumPorrum New Member

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    Doesn't anyone really know how could I get bitperfect sound out from Win 7's MCE??
     
  8. 24bitbob

    24bitbob New Member

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    Bit Perfect Bliss

    Hi,

    To get bit perfect sound under Vista or Windows 7 you should use WASAPI. This is a Microsoft developed API dealing with Audio in Windows. Bit perfect is achieved by setting WASAPI to 'Exclusive Mode' and then using a player which recognises WASAPI. Despite WASAPI being a Microsoft development designed to improve audio quality, would you believe that neither WMP nor MCE can use it - madness!

    I use two players to achieve bit perfect: JRiver MediaCenter v14, and XMPlay. I much prefer JRiver MediaCenter, because amongst other things it offers a theatre mode which is much like MCE. It is not as easy to set up as MCE, but if you are prepared to spend 15-20 minutes adjusting the settings it is very good. XMPLay is free, and it supports WASAPI. It is a barebones music player with limited functionality and good at what it does. XMPlay can be made 'pretty' by using it as an external player within MP3Toys. That is you use MP3Toys, and then set it to play music using XMPLay as an external player. This is fairly easy to do. I have tried it, it works, but I'm not that keen on the look of MP3Toys. Both JRiver MediaCenter and MP3Toys will cost you some $'s.

    I did come across a way of using MCE with WASAPI: it requires the use of some open source drivers designed to work with a couple of sound chips only. I haven't tried it out, but it looks promising, particularly if you have the right hardware. Check it out by Googling 'cmediadrivers' - it seems to work for 8738 & 8768 chips (???).

    Finally, I would add that I am using Windows 7, WASAPI and JRiver Media Center and can get sound which, to my ear, is much preferable to my $2000 CD player. FYI, I am using a Dell Laptop with 500GB HDD and outputting via USB to a Benchmark DAC. My music is encoded in WMA lossless.

    Don't give up, it's a hassle, but it will be worth it.

    Good luck and regards,

    Bob
     
  9. AlliumPorrum

    AlliumPorrum New Member

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    24bitbob, thank you very much for your help!! :=)

    JRiver mediaplayer seems to be quite nice app, atleast is is MUCH faster in my netbook that W7's MCE, which is basically useless. And it can be nicely setup just a plain music player, which I prefer.

    But, I could not get the WASAPI working, I just always get the attached error, any ideas for that??

    Butbut, the good news is that I managed to get ASIO working, so it shouldn't make any difference compared to the WASAPI from the sound quality point of view. Or what do you think, have you compared those two??
     
  10. 24bitbob

    24bitbob New Member

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    Wasapi & asio

    Hi,

    I couldn't get ASIO working (I tried for months using XP) I switched to Vista and straight away got WASAPI to work with very satisfactory results, so I have given up pursuing ASIO.

    My advice would be that if ASIO is working, and if the sounds it produces agrees with you, then go with it. The forums are full of claims and counter claims about which is best, and if you were to chase each of the discussions it would drive you nuts. One of the claims I have seen is that the quality of ASIO drivers can vary, and therefore the sound can too. I'm not sure about that, but what this claim does do is increase uncertainty and encourage more time spent searching around for the 'ideal' solution. That may suit you, or may just add to your frustration. I am very lucky in that I am getting the sounds I want, and believe it or not am now able to sit back and enjoy music sourced from my laptop (Laptop is W7, Desktop is Vista), so for me WASAPI is the bees knees. My (prejudiced) view is that if you have W7 or Vista, WASAPI is the way to go. 1 hour spent trying to configure it could be an hour well spent. If you get it to work, then great, if not then go with ASIO.

    I haven't looked into your error message (busy at work and only dabbling on the interweb for now), but if I uncover anything I'll get back to you. If you want to dabble and try and get WASAPI working, there are good discussions on sites like Head-Fi, computeraudiophile and others, but enter at your peril - they get quite heated sometimes.

    Apologies, I haven't been able to offer direct help, only views based on my own conclusions. The best advice I can offer is to let your ears tell you what's good, and if they're happy, stop fiddling, listen and enjoy.

    Regards,

    Bob
     
  11. Bill-99

    Bill-99 New Member

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    Something to try

    AlliumPorrum,

    Have you selected your sound output sampling settings? By default, Windows 7 outputs 48k, not 44.1. As I understand it, that will cause Windows to resample source material to 48k, thus compromising the sound quality.

    In my case, going out 44.1, it sounds good enough that I can't tell the difference between my PC digital out and the digital out on my Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi. It's not clear if kmixer is still in the path, but if it is, it appears to now have no adverse impact.

    Bill
     
  12. reghakr

    reghakr Excellent Member

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    Have you tried the contact page?

    Contact
     
  13. 24bitbob

    24bitbob New Member

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    Hi Bill,

    First off, I am no expert, I have simply trawled enough forums to get to where I am now.

    WASAPI is able to deliver bit perfect playback at whatever frequency your sounds may be recorded in, right the way up to 192kHz, however, there are a few caveats in this: 1) you should use WASAPI in 'Exclusive Mode' - get to this through Control Panel > Sound > 'Device' > Properties; 2) the ability of WASAPI to play sounds unfettered depends on the drivers for your hardware, 3) I believe that different software can influence the behaviour of playback too, and 4) leave volume at 100% and don't have any other settings on e.g. bass boost, equalization, etc.

    If you are having problems I suspect that it is either with 2) or 3) above, or both. I use a Beresford DAC (7520) and a Benchmark DAC Pre 1, and both of these work well, in fact very well. For software I have used JRiver MediaCenter (I'm listening to it right now with my Beresford/Sennheiser 650's - Actor by St Vincent is a great album) and XMplay, and they work fine with my hardware - remember you must have appropriate hardware and software. Other software I understand works well includes Foobar, and now I think Winamp and Media Monkey may be moving that way.

    WASAPI is not yet a mature technology; we're now at the stage where it works reliably, but it's use is not yet widespread. As the world forgets about XP and we move to a Vista/7 world this will change, but it will take time. Try updating your drivers, or search the web for discussions on your particular hardware!

    I don't know if I've helped you, but maybe I've clarified a thing or two.

    Regards,

    Bob
     
  14. Bill-99

    Bill-99 New Member

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    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the follow up. Actually, I failed to explain this very well. Let me try again. (Caveat: I'm no expert here, either.)

    My home theater system has a Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi DVD player with a coax digital out feeding a B&K AVR 507 coax digital in. I've been toying with building a HTPC but it's a non-starter if it compromises sound or video quality.

    For initial HTPC experimentation, I started with my desktop PC: a Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard, Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo CPU, 4G memory, running Vista Ultimate 32-bit. The results were disappointing. Using the digital out on the motherboard, audio quality was unacceptable. I thought perhaps an expensive audio card upgrade would be required so I set this aside for a couple of months.

    About a month ago, I began running Windows 7 x64 and I upgraded my desktop memory to 8G. Nice OS. Would the audio quality issues still be present in Windows 7? Some online posts implied that there were changes in this area. It seemed worth investigating, so I decided to repeat the previous experiment on my upgraded PC. Some of the online forums also noted that the target output stream should be 44.1k Hz, and that going out 48k Hz would force Windows to resample the audio, compromising sound quality.

    I configured Windows 7 (Control Panel -> Sound -> Digital Audio (S/PDIF -> Properties -> Supported formats) to use only 44.1k Hz. The PC was again connected using the motherboard digital out. For testing purpose, I played a variety of WMA lossless files, comparing them to the CD source. The result was pretty surprising: I was unable to discern whether the source was the DVD player or the PC. This was achieved with no additional hardware or software. Is Windows 7 now passing an unadulterated bitstream to the digital out? I can't hear any difference.

    On a related note, MCE under W7 seems to be improved as well, though my testing in that domain is in the early stages. At the moment, the benefit of going to Windows 7 for HTPC users looks promising.

    Bill
     

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