how to setup media portal for hi-fi music? (1 Viewer)

Cruzer

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February 16, 2008
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I too am not knowledgeable on this topic. I've ripped my music CDs to FLAC files. My HTPC is connected to my amp using a spdif connection. To me, it sounds great, the same as my CD player that is also connected to my amp via spdif. Have I been fooling myself? I'm happy with the results, just want to be educated. TIA.
 

MisterN

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October 14, 2006
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There are many factors that can affect the signal bring sent through from your PC to your amp.
The goal for most is to get the FLAC file data sent to the amp untouched. This is commonly called bitperfect playback. If you can't hear the difference between your CD player and your PC then your all set. Don't worry about messing around.

One of the key concerns is resampling.
Most DVDs and movies use a 48k sampling rate. However CDs use a 44k sampling rate. Most on-board and cheaper sound cards are limited to sending a 48k signal through their SPDIF and optical ports. As 44k and 48k are not easily divisible between each other, the PC needs to mathematically resample all 44k signals to 48k. This is what gets sent to your amp. This mathematical algorithm is not of an extremely high quality in Windows. It is more geared to keeping CPU load low. Thus the quality suffers. To me it is most notable in the high frequencies such as symbols.

Mixing issues
Even if your hardware supports sending 44k signal from your music player to your amp, if you play it through mediaportal or Windows media player it will get resampled to 48k. Why? Well Windows needs to support the playback of multiple sources at once. For example background music and a menu selection tick noise. This default mode in Windows is called shared mode. Windows will mathematically mix the sounds into one signal before sending it to your amp. Clearly if the sample rates of the sound sources are different it will need to first convert them to a standard rate. It actually always converts to a default rate of 48k. This is actually overridable deep within Windows settings. However changing this will affect the sound quality of movies since they are recorded at 48k. Windows also supports exclusive mode playback. It gives exclusive access to the sound card to the playback program. It will not be able to playback multiple sound sources at once. However it won't resample the signal due to the need for mixing.

Music player
The music player must use one of the various ways Windows supports provides to gets activate exclusive mode. For example ASIO or WASAPI. It must also set the output sample rate such that it matches the source files sample rate. Of course the number of channels and bitdepth also need to be matched. Unfortunately the options presently available in mediaportal don't do this. Refer to my previous post on how I currently work around this. I have quite a collection of 96k and 88k FLAC recordings ripped from DVD audio. It is especially noticeable on those sources when they are resampled to 48k.

Windows and player volume controls and equalisers
If the Windows or player volume controls are not set to 100% then the signal will require remixing. Use your amp volume control instead. The same applies for equalisers. Most software equalisers built into music players are implemented quite badly.

I've really only scratched the surface. As you can see there are many things that can get in the way of making PC's great music playback devices.
 
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Cruzer

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February 16, 2008
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Thank you MisterN for taking the time to educate me as to how digital audio works on the PC and in MP. I find the subject interesting and now that I have something to go on, I can do some research so that I understand the issues better. My goal is to have my amp receive the same bits from the PC as from the CD player. Apparently, that is not currently happening. Thanks again.
 

DoXer

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    Could you tell me how to setup the Winamp External player plugin solution. I enabled it in MP configuration (Plugins) but don't know how to implement the Winamp wasapi plugin and how to use it.

    Thanx
     

    Helios61

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    Could you tell me how to setup the Winamp External player plugin solution. I enabled it in MP configuration (Plugins) but don't know how to implement the Winamp wasapi plugin and how to use it.

    Thanx

    Just wait a few days! MP 1.4.0 will support WASAPI natively!
     

    DoXer

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    I have already 1.4 pre installed, but WASAPI doesn't help me in Gapless playing. There is always a "very" small FadeIn/Out, but I disapled FadeIn/Out.
     
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    kiwijunglist

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    Probably need something in the wiki about bitsreaming music / best setup practice for music for various situations.

    @MisterN - thanks for write up, care to write a setup guide? - It can be written in the forum then someone from the team can put it in the wiki, or you can add to the wiki using your forum account if you are brave enough.

    EDIT: There may be something already written, but just waiting for 1.4 to drop and then transfer over the wiki pages, I haven't checked. But either way a forum sticky bitstream music setup guide would be good.
     
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