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The Audio Board's Frequently Asked Questions, Pre-answered!

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Was i stupid when i bought Xonar DGX for my 32Ohm stereo headphones just for the virtual surround? Should i just get this headset http://www.amazon.com/Rosewill-Connector-Channel-Vibration-RHTS-8206/dp/B007ZS9T1Q ? Its 5.1 and comes with virtual 7.1 with vibration :D . But on the other hand, I was thinking about buying good high impedance headphones anyway in the future. But all that matters now is that Music must sound good and gaming experience must be as good as possible. I dont kind of like the idea of having a gaming headphones and music headphones separately.

So Sound card vs Cheap-o surround headset

I need quick answer, if i have to return the Xonar.

If you like what you have, keep it. My purpose is to explain what is important, not to tell you what to buy. Unless you ask for a recommendation, that is...


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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If you like what you have, keep it. My purpose is to explain what is important, not to tell you what to buy. Unless you ask for a recommendation, that is...

Let me ask this a little differently. For better better surround gaming experience, which one of those two would you recommend for me? Just tell me if there is better products for my need, like better surround headsets under $100, soundcards etc. I think on-board audio is fine with my current headphones. 

 

Ive heard that having multiple drivers on headset is not a good thing.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Let me ask this a little differently. For better better surround gaming experience, which one of those two would you recommend for me? Just tell me if there is better products for my need, like better surround headsets under $100, soundcards etc. I think on-board audio is fine with my current headphones.

Ive heard that having multiple drivers on headset is not a good thing.

Virtual surround from a basic soundcard for 2 channel headphones is a much better option if your game doesn't mix it for you already.

I'll add this topic to the FAQ since I apparently did not explain it properly


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

keep this out of the sticky please. and mods please delete my post here

Actually this is exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping for. If anyone was screwing around earlier in this thread, it was Lyons and me.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

EDITS: Two more Qs and As added.  Thanks Ebinlaw!


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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I didn't know anything about audio before reading this and now i feal like a pro  :ph34r:  thanks to the awesome community that linustechtips.com is.  :)


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Posted · Original PosterOP

EDIT:

 

added Q and A:

What is a DAC?  How is it different from a soundcard?  Which is better?

 

 

thanks Blade of Grass for the inspiration to remember to answer such a basic question!  Sorry I edited it a lot.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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EDIT:

 

added Q and A:

What is a DAC?  How is it different from a soundcard?  Which is better?

 

 

thanks Blade of Grass for the inspiration to remember to answer such a basic question!  Sorry I edited it a lot.

No problem, I like that you did with it :)


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h264, please add some info regarding true surround sound (ie not just about headphones). I recently did some info gathering for another thread and figured it could prove useful to others out there as well. :)

 

 

Surround sound via optical

  • Surround sound can only be passed over optical when encoded in DDL or DTS due to optical's bandwidth limitations
  • Most motherboards can only passthrough DDL/DTS (they cannot encode an audio stream in real time to DDL/DTS)
    • movie audio usually comes pre-encoded because it's a static file
    • game audio does not come pre-encoded because it is mixed/rendered in real time
  • Soundcards that support DDL or DTS Connect will encode the audio stream in real time and pass it through their optical port.
  • ASUS Xonar DS supports DTS Connect, and ASUS Xonar DX supports DDL for cheap options. ASUS Xonar DG only supports Dolby Headphone, which is virtual surround and not for multi-speaker setups.

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

 

h264, please add some info regarding true surround sound (ie not just about headphones). I recently did some info gathering for another thread and figured it could prove useful to others out there as well. :)

 

 

 

 

added. thanks.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

EDIT:  Added an addition to HDMI connector information.  Thanks again, ShearMe!


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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What is a DAC?  How is it different from a soundcard?  Which is better?

 

A DAC is a Digital to Analog Converter. It takes the digital data stored in your music files and processes it into a linear function of electrical pulses that can drive headphones and speakers.  However, it's usually used in chain with an amplifier mainly because the output of a DAC is rarely a good driver of either speakers or headphones.  A sound card usually combines a DAC with an amplifier.

 

AMP/DACs (an external amplifer and a DAC either together or stacked) are usually outside the computer case and contained in their own case(s).  Normally they interface with your computer over USB and are recognized by your computer like any other soundcard on your computer.  Some need drivers, and some use Window's standard USB class 1 audio device driver.  Most are compatible with Window, Mac, and Linux.

 

In Theory, neither is better than the other since soundcards ARE the same thing as a Amplifier and Digital to Analog Convertor combined.  However, in practice, noise can become an issue for soundcards inside of computer cases.  (Thanks to Blade of Grass for this answer!)

 

 

This paragraph is imho HUGELY misleading and wrong.

1) Most (pure) DACs are in fact capable enough to drive low impedance headphones on their own.

2) Most of the speakers people use with their computers are active themselves (meaning they have integrated amplifiers)

3) No Soundcard (that I know of) will be able to drive passive speakers.

4) Their are a lot of DAC/headphone amp combos (same case), where no extra amp is needed.

5) A lot of sound cards are NOT cabaple of driving high impedance Headphones either, because they don't have a dedicated headphone amp

6) If they would, many people with low impedance heaphones probably would not be that happy.

7) A lot of DACs don't have an USB input.

8) There is practicaly NO difference between a USB DAC and most (!) sound cards.

 

9) Again, because it is important: A soundcard is NOT a combination of an amplifier and a DAC. A soundcard CAN have an (headphone) amplifier built-in and also a DAC CAN have an amplifier built-in.


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Also advising people, who are not willing to spend more then 100-200 USD on audio equipment, to get lossless Flacs as the number one advise is just purely idiotic and a waste of space. You WILL NOT hear a difference between a lossless Flac and a good quality 256kbit/s AAC/MP3.


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Hi , i would like to improve your FAQ

1. Improve your source - Get lossless music files in formats like FLAC, Monkey's Audio, and True Audio by re-ripping your CDs or buying them from sites like HDTracks.com or Bandcamp.com.

Number 1: Ripping from CD should remain at 16bits 44.1khz(unless stated on CD's)...Because CD spec's is 16bits and 44.1khz. You should not Upsampling it. And for PC wise, if you have spaces, stick with .WAV format, uncompressed is always better. Unless your intention is to ripping for iPhone and other lower graded playback devices.

....Why is it so? Most Audio production for music are mainly done at ending stage from Mastering house is at 44.1khz and 48khz(from DVDs unless stated in their production). So UpSampling only will waste your space. and may cause digital errors. So basically, stick with what the spec says.

[further knowledge: in most production at early recording stage, music are done at different Sampling rates depend on the engineer. Some may work at44.1khz some will work at 48,88.2 ,96,192khz. depends on what hardware they have and size of their projects. Movie soundtrack/works are done at 48 or 96khz ,as its a standards.]

Number2: Buying From HDtracks is a great idea since they are requesting their music to be at higher sample rate without being dumb down to CD's quality.

....However, on bandcamp, it is little unknown, if artist sumbit their file in MP3 or other compressed format, u wont benefits from FLAC file no matter what unless 16bits or higher and higher samplerate is submitted. However, it is still a best choice to get FLAC no matter what since we wouldnt know what we are given.

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This paragraph is imho HUGELY misleading and wrong.

 

Nope.

 

1) Most (pure) DACs are in fact capable enough to drive low impedance headphones on their own.

It says rarely, do you want to name some example instead of condemnation?

 

2) Most of the speakers people use with their computers are active themselves (meaning they have integrated amplifiers)

lol, nope.

 

3) No Soundcard (that I know of) will be able to drive passive speakers.

I don't understand why you said this. Why would anyone do or try that?

 

4) Their are a lot of DAC/headphone amp combos (same case), where no extra amp is needed.

Yes, it says that.

 

5) A lot of sound cards are NOT cabaple of driving high impedance Headphones either, because they don't have a dedicated headphone amp

What is this responding to? It's just a fact.

 

6) If they would, many people with low impedance heaphones probably would not be that happy.

Huh?

 

7) A lot of DACs don't have an USB input.

absolutely wrong.

 

8) There is practicaly NO difference between a USB DAC and most (!) sound cards.

And?

 

Not very misleading if you ask me.


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hi , i would like to improve your FAQ

Number 1: Ripping from CD should remain at 16bits 44.1khz(unless stated on CD's)...Because CD spec's is 16bits and 44.1khz. You should not Upsampling it. And for PC wise, if you have spaces, stick with .WAV format, uncompressed is always better. Unless your intention is to ripping for iPhone and other lower graded playback devices.

....Why is it so? Most Audio production for music are mainly done at ending stage from Mastering house is at 44.1khz and 48khz(from DVDs unless stated in their production). So UpSampling only will waste your space. and may cause digital errors. So basically, stick with what the spec says.

[further knowledge: in most production at early recording stage, music are done at different Sampling rates depend on the engineer. Some may work at44.1khz some will work at 48,88.2 ,96,192khz. depends on what hardware they have and size of their projects. Movie soundtrack/works are done at 48 or 96khz ,as its a standards.]

Number2: Buying From HDtracks is a great idea since they are requesting their music to be at higher sample rate without being dumb down to CD's quality.

....However, on bandcamp, it is little unknown, if artist sumbit their file in MP3 or other compressed format, u wont benefits from FLAC file no matter what unless 16bits or higher and higher samplerate is submitted. However, it is still a best choice to get FLAC no matter what since we wouldnt know what we are given.

 

 

Thanks for your response!

 

A few things.

 

1.

 

Hi , i would like to improve your FAQ

Number 1: Ripping from CD should remain at 16bits 44.1khz(unless stated on CD's)...Because CD spec's is 16bits and 44.1khz. You should not Upsampling it. And for PC wise, if you have spaces, stick with .WAV format, uncompressed is always better. Unless your intention is to ripping for iPhone and other lower graded playback devices.

....Why is it so? Most Audio production for music are mainly done at ending stage from Mastering house is at 44.1khz and 48khz(from DVDs unless stated in their production). So UpSampling only will waste your space. and may cause digital errors. So basically, stick with what the spec says.

 

FLAC is a FILE FORMAT CONTAINER and a CODEC which you can use to encode music which is waveform exact to the inputted track, just like all other lossless codecs.  If you rip from a CD to a format like FLAC, you will therefore get the FULL 16/44.1 waveform as an exact copy (as long as it's an 100%).  There is no upsampling.  There was never any upsampling.  Upsampling is something you do to either convert a file's output to a format playable by your DAC or to "add" lost data back into the track, which, just like with "enhancement algorithms", never works.

 

 

2.

 

[further knowledge: in most production at early recording stage, music are done at different Sampling rates depend on the engineer. Some may work at44.1khz some will work at 48,88.2 ,96,192khz. depends on what hardware they have and size of their projects. Movie soundtrack/works are done at 48 or 96khz ,as its a standards.]

 

exactly, and the purpose of this is NOT for higher quality, it's to give them headroom to deal with some of the messier aspects of mastering digital audio from analog recording equipment.  Specifically, to make sure when the final piece is recorded, the noise floor is cut from the track.  The final cut is what the ARTIST AND SOUND ENGINEERS WANT YOU TO HEAR.  Louder always sounds subjectively better, of course, but that's another issue entirely.

 

3.

 

Number2: Buying From HDtracks is a great idea since they are requesting their music to be at higher sample rate without being dumb down to CD's quality.

 

It's not great, it's actually worse.  The noise floor is now sometimes audible.

 

read this:

 

http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

 

I recommend it since it's the only place that's offering consistently lossless studio recordings that's not iTunes and not bittorrent.  Obviously not going to recommend that...


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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Thanks for your response!

 

A few things.

 

1.

 

 

FLAC is a FILE FORMAT CONTAINER and a CODEC which you can use to encode music which is waveform exact to the inputted track, just like all other lossless codecs.  If you rip from a CD to a format like FLAC, you will therefore get the FULL 16/44.1 waveform as an exact copy (as long as it's an 100%).  There is no upsampling.  There was never any upsampling.  Upsampling is something you do to either convert a file's output to a format playable by your DAC or to "add" lost data back into the track, which, just like with "enhancement algorithms", never works.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk

 

2.

 

 

exactly, and the purpose of this is NOT for higher quality, it's to give them headroom to deal with some of the messier aspects of mastering digital audio from analog recording equipment.  Specifically, to make sure when the final piece is recorded, the noise floor is cut from the track.  The final cut is what the ARTIST AND SOUND ENGINEERS WANT YOU TO HEAR.  Louder always sounds subjectively better, of course, but that's another issue entirely.

 

3.

 

 

It's not great, it's actually worse.  The noise floor is now sometimes audible.

 

read this:

 

http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

 

I recommend it since it's the only place that's offering consistently lossless studio recordings that's not iTunes and not bittorrent.  Obviously not going to recommend that...

thanks for replying!

1. yes flac is better, however i was talking about Wave file. but good job on clearing up for FLAC. yes enchance alg doesnt work, but what i was saying is , other should not do it when dealing with sample rates and bits.

2.no, you are talking about Bits, 24bits has more headroom, than 16bits recordings.

 

The higher the sample rate (khz) should, in technically, lower error specially in between samples when Analogs signal is converted into digitals formats. There are alot of debates about sample rate in sound engineering worlds. some say they do hear, some don't. Having higher sample rate doesn't get the noise floor away. what reduced the noise floor is usually Equipment used in process of recordings and its process of treatment(mixing n mastering) before it reach the listeners.

Also, "ARTIST AND SOUND ENGINEERS WANT YOU TO HEAR"

actually most artist never know what they are hearing specially in Mastering stage where most of 'em dont understand. usually that result in louder masters(loudness war). lots of artist never really get mixing either. so it is up in the air...( i know...)

 

3. see here, if HD tracks could get music at that original sample rate n bits session properly before Mastering does Dithering(adding random noise) to convert the session down to make audio for CD's 16bits to reduced distortion, then HDTracks is doing audiophile a Great favor.

here i read about link you sent me

 

In 554 trials, listeners chose correctly 49.8% of the time. In other words, they were guessing. Not one listener throughout the entire test was able to identify which was 16/44.1 and which was high rate [15], and the 16-bit signal wasn't even dithered!

first, when u don't diter 16bits audio. it cause distortion and our hearing is very adaptive of it, to see in technically here is in 8bits example to show what happen. 16bits will be the same but harder to hear. also when alot of things going on, its hard to point out.

 

but here is a thing, who are the subjects to these tests? in System3 i saw Students as a subjects? I can be sure that they do not have experiences in listening(also given that i'm also studying audio). and audio in high quality is very very subjective topics,very personals.

if you can hear noise in higher recording, it could be even Mastering's or noise that was generated since the recording begins its production. as we mostly likely not gonna know anything until you could reach the unmixed copy, mixed copyand mastered version to compare. there are mixing n mastering engineer who runs their signal into a piece of gear just to get that transformer sound without any alternation from what the gear was designed to do to begin with.

it is such a grey area to disccus :(

further discussion is welcome, please point out what i could be wrong. thanks!

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Posted · Original PosterOP

The higher the sample rate (khz) should, in technically, lower error specially in between samples when Analogs signal is converted into digitals formats.

 

http://www.xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml

 

It's in the FAQ, but I'll post it again for your benefit.  As someone who's studying audio, I think you'll like this.  Both of his videos are excellent in explaining the basics of signal theory.

 

 

3. see here, if HD tracks could get music at that original sample rate n bits session properly before Mastering does Dithering(adding random noise) to convert the session down to make audio for CD's 16bits to reduced distortion, then HDTracks is doing audiophile a Great favor.

 

That video, once again.

 

but here is a thing, who are the subjects to these tests? in System3 i saw Students as a subjects? I can be sure that they do not have experiences in listening(also given that i'm also studying audio). and audio in high quality is very very subjective topics,very personals.

if you can hear noise in higher recording, it could be even Mastering's or noise that was generated since the recording begins its production. as we mostly likely not gonna know anything until you could reach the unmixed copy, mixed copyand mastered version to compare. there are mixing n mastering engineer who runs their signal into a piece of gear just to get that transformer sound without any alternation from what the gear was designed to do to begin with.

it is such a grey area to disccus :(

further discussion is welcome, please point out what i could be wrong. thanks!

 

 

ALL of us are subject to the same bias in our hearing, and no amount of knowledge can remove that from the equation.  Our very memories, what we see, our moods, and even our own expectations can affect what we hear, see, smell, touch, and taste (don't get me started on Food Network!).  Just like a pilot should trust his instruments and not his eyes, we should trust our measurements and not our ears!

 

Thus the double blind ABX trial.  If you can really tell the difference between two signals then you should be able to do it with all bias removed.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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thanks man, i saw the video, but i did hear the same voice...so i dont know if something is wrong with me :P maybe its just the word didnt make different to me, but i get the idea.

i also watched the xiph video, thanks for clearing things up! lots to learn myself but isnt it suppose in theory having more Khz will represent more clearly just to begin with?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

EDIT:  Lossy vs Lossless audio.  Thanks to Dave Zember for pointing out I should actually talk about the differences.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

EDIT: we're going to list the reviews pertaining to headphones, speakers, and amps here so they can be FOUND, since they are in a totally different board.

 

If you have a review you'd like to add to the running list, PM me.


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

EDIT: OHHH MAN.... nearly lost the whole post there.  I got hit by the formatting bug.

 

btw, if you run into this, hit the switch in the top left to turn off rich formatting, cut your post out of the site onto a notepad, paste it back into the post box again, and hit the "use full editor" button at the bottom.  Sometimes, you'll get MOST of your formatting back.

 

but yeah, added some more details to the list of output impedances...


"Pardon my French but this is just about the most ignorant blanket statement I've ever read. And though this is the internet, I'm not even exaggerating."

 

 

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