Author Topic: Question about sound quality  (Read 2538 times)

loaddu

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I have been using VLC as my music player for quite a long time, but I really hate the way it handles album art (files with long album name will fail to create folder in AppData thus nothing to display)

Then I tried to find an "audiophile" alternative with good UI with great handling for displaying album art.
In terms of UI, Musicbee is literally the best one, and the only one showing the tags correctly, displaying large and clear album art without badly compressing it.

However, while I found that some people claimed that Musicbee is also one of the "best sound quality" music player, I found that it is not the case when having experiences with many different players, and honestly speaking I think most of the others are doing a better job including VLC (of coz changing all setting to best audio quality)...

The music is clear, but that's it, feeling it too "thin", losing a lots of dynamic, details etc.
Using the latest version, all settings that might alter sound quality such as fading/EQ/DSP are disable, and WASAPI shared/exclusive for output module.

One of the best audio quality I've tried is audirvana,
and for strawberry music player, it also provides a exceptional "clear" music but retaining a good quality
for dopamine player, even though it is only using WASAPI in shared mode, I do think it is still quite better than MB in exclusive mode...

I really love MB's UI, and it's the only one fulfilling my requirement, so would like to ask if there will be any change in the future.
I am not so sure why this is happening since WASAPI(exclusive) is bit-perfect and no processing should be done and sent directly to the DAC.
But I guess one possibility might be due to software volume adjusting, and I find that enabling logarithmic volumes scaling seems to improve a little bit (not so much though)
Another larger possibility might be due to the resampling method, since resampling is unavoidable for sending the sampling rate that my DAC is accepting.

Hope that this will be investigated and improved :-X

ma_t14

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If the volume is matched and EQ adjustements and effects are off the perceived sound quality should be identical.

Not really sure what could be happening on your setup.

frankz

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If the volume is matched and EQ adjustements and effects are off the perceived sound quality should be identical.

Not really sure what could be happening on your setup.
The music is clear, but that's it, feeling it too "thin", losing a lots of dynamic, details etc.

[...[

for dopamine player, even though it is only using WASAPI in shared mode, I do think it is still quite better than MB in exclusive mode...

I really love MB's UI, and it's the only one fulfilling my requirement, so would like to ask if there will be any change in the future.
I am not so sure why this is happening since WASAPI(exclusive) is bit-perfect and no processing should be done and sent directly to the DAC.
That's your answer. OP likes the sound of whatever processing windows was doing to the songs and doesn't like the direct sound of the DAC, confuses processing with "Sound Quality."
A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose.

hiccup

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But I guess one possibility might be due to software volume adjusting, and I find that enabling logarithmic volumes scaling seems to improve a little bit (not so much though)
If you have the volume at 100% the signal is not affected in any way. So if it was bitperfect, it will stay bitperfect.

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…since resampling is unavoidable for sending the sampling rate that my DAC is accepting.
You should probably clarify that remark.

Quote
Hope that this will be investigated and improved :-X
Both will very likely need to be done on your part :-X


loaddu

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If the volume is matched and EQ adjustements and effects are off the perceived sound quality should be identical.

Not really sure what could be happening on your setup.
The music is clear, but that's it, feeling it too "thin", losing a lots of dynamic, details etc.

[...[

for dopamine player, even though it is only using WASAPI in shared mode, I do think it is still quite better than MB in exclusive mode...

I really love MB's UI, and it's the only one fulfilling my requirement, so would like to ask if there will be any change in the future.
I am not so sure why this is happening since WASAPI(exclusive) is bit-perfect and no processing should be done and sent directly to the DAC.
That's your answer. OP likes the sound of whatever processing windows was doing to the songs and doesn't like the direct sound of the DAC, confuses processing with "Sound Quality."
maybe I should clarify it
I am saying that even though I'm using WASAPI in exclusive mode in other player such as Audirvana,
the difference in music playback with Musicbee is still audible

And for the example I mentioned (MB and Dopamine), and if both are using shared mode, the latter is outperforming the former,
and it's the same for MB in exclusive mode

while like ma_t14 said, it "should be" identical.
so I guess it might be related to the software volume adjustment.
Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 12:57:53 AM by loaddu

loaddu

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Quote
If you have the volume at 100% the signal is not affected in any way. So if it was bitperfect, it will stay bitperfect.
It might be true, but adjusting volume inside the player is way more convenient, and "lowering volume within software" without sacrificing so much quality is what I'm longing for

Quote
You should probably clarify that remark.
For example, my dac is accepting 16/44.1 and 48khz signal
for 24bit/96 will be resampled to 16/48
but I am not sure whether which part handle that, so I said it "might" be one of the causes
while I still hear the "quality difference" with a 16/44.1 FLAC file, it might also not be the case
Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 01:01:16 AM by loaddu

loaddu

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If the volume is matched and EQ adjustements and effects are off the perceived sound quality should be identical.

Not really sure what could be happening on your setup.
The music is clear, but that's it, feeling it too "thin", losing a lots of dynamic, details etc.

[...[

for dopamine player, even though it is only using WASAPI in shared mode, I do think it is still quite better than MB in exclusive mode...

I really love MB's UI, and it's the only one fulfilling my requirement, so would like to ask if there will be any change in the future.
I am not so sure why this is happening since WASAPI(exclusive) is bit-perfect and no processing should be done and sent directly to the DAC.
That's your answer. OP likes the sound of whatever processing windows was doing to the songs and doesn't like the direct sound of the DAC, confuses processing with "Sound Quality."
if that's the case
I will not say that the audirvana sounds best since shared mode is not being available ;)

frankz

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I will not say that the audirvana sounds best since shared mode is not being available ;)
MB uses the well-regarded Bass Audio Library for file decoding. That seems very unlikely to change.  If for whatever reason you think it sounds worse than another option that's available to you, and it's an important factor to you, then it seems you have a solution that fits your needs.  Why look further?

A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose.

frankz

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I was actually curious enough about this to do a little research.  It seems that Audirvana's version of bit-perfect tries to "improve" on the perfect, make it "extra special perfect" so to speak, at least according to a purported screenshot of a chat session with the developer. 

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/audible-difference-in-players-audirvana-jriver-roon-musicbee-etc.9247/post-736391

That's not bit-perfect, and while it may sound better to some, I'm glad that MB does not go the route of second guessing the decisions of recording, mixing and mastering professionals to goose the sound.  If end users want to juice the sound with DSP and EQ and all that, so be it.  It's not a music player's job, IMO, much less one that says it offers bit-perfect reproduction of audio.

Audirvana is readily available and I'd suggest going that route if you find that difference in sound to be preferable. 
A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose.

loaddu

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I will not say that the audirvana sounds best since shared mode is not being available ;)
MB uses the well-regarded Bass Audio Library for file decoding. That seems very unlikely to change.  If for whatever reason you think it sounds worse than another option that's available to you, and it's an important factor to you, then it seems you have a solution that fits your needs.  Why look further?


Like what I mention at the beginning, because MB is the only one that provides UI satisfying what I want, if its sound comparable to most of the others (I'm not saying the best),
I'd definitely choose this as my only player. If you really want a reason, I'm just looking for a better, or even best player to me.

I have just tried turning the volume to 100%, it definitely doesn't sound bad.
(to be more specific, the problem I mentioned such as dynamic, detail lost are not occurring)
So the difference might really be related to the way that MB handles the volume.
The reason why I need software volume adjustment not just because of convenience, but also the volume step of my speakers' control are too large.
Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 08:52:03 PM by loaddu

loaddu

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I was actually curious enough about this to do a little research.  It seems that Audirvana's version of bit-perfect tries to "improve" on the perfect, make it "extra special perfect" so to speak, at least according to a purported screenshot of a chat session with the developer. 

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/audible-difference-in-players-audirvana-jriver-roon-musicbee-etc.9247/post-736391

That's not bit-perfect, and while it may sound better to some, I'm glad that MB does not go the route of second guessing the decisions of recording, mixing and mastering professionals to goose the sound.  If end users want to juice the sound with DSP and EQ and all that, so be it.  It's not a music player's job, IMO, much less one that says it offers bit-perfect reproduction of audio.

Audirvana is readily available and I'd suggest going that route if you find that difference in sound to be preferable. 
I agree that it's personal preference to use DSP and EQ to alter the sound but I never turn on those ;)
Maybe at the time I rely on software volume adjustment, I gave up the "best" quality and bit-perfect.
So now what I'm looking for is sacrificing less SQ when I turn down the volume inside the player.
I tried many players and many of them is being more preferable to me in terms of sound,
but sound is not the only thing I care  :(

vincent kars

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This reminds of the time I was comparing JRiver and Muiscbee for sound quality.
I played a track in JRiver, then the same track in Musicbee.
Obvious JRiver sounds fuller/darker and Musicbee lighter and more transparent.
How could this possibly be the case?
I checked all the settings, both WASAPI/Exclusive, no DSP, volume 100%, etc.
Although I heard this myself, this of course cannot be true, if both send the same file unaltered to a DAC, it must sound the same.

We know that our judgement (perception) is a psychological process. All we know is used to e.g. establish if something is better. All our notions come in to play. This will contaminate our judgement.
The obvious answer is a experimental design eliminating our bias.
In other words, a unsighted test so you have to assess sound quality by ear and not by sight.
In my case, I asked my wife to play a short fragment on one player and then the same fragment on the other player. Now I couldn’t tell them apart.
Lesson learned: don’t listen with your eyes!