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Xonar Setup Help
jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 01:05
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This stuff can make your head hurt, so I would greatly appreciate some setup help/opinions.

I've got a Windows 7 box with a Xonar STX routing via spdif cable to a Marantz receiver exiting to a set of KEF XQ20's.

All I play is .wav files that I've ripped onto a set of USB hard drives. Most are 1,411, but some are 2,216 hd files.

Here's what I need help with:

1. How do I setup Foobar?

a. Should I use wasapi? The beta or 2009 one?

b. What should device output in foobar be set to? Should it be set to wasapi, spdif, xonar?

c. What should the output format be set to? 24 bit or 16 bit?

2. In the Xonar control panel what should I set the sample rate to? 24 bit, 192?

3. In the Windows audio properties for the Xonar, spdif out, what should the sample rate be set to? 24 bit, 192?

4. On the receiver should I run it in pure direct or let it do it's thing?

Last, the only other thing I do with the box is record the news with Windows Media Center each day. Will any of these settings mess with that or vice versa?

Thanks to all that respond in advance.

This post has been edited by jayess: Aug 18 2012, 01:08
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Nordfinn
post Aug 18 2012, 14:43
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For what it's worth, because my setup is not exactly the same.

1a. I have the Xonar Essence STX card. (This what you have?) I run analog out to my receiver (Linn Classik) direct from the card, since the DAC on the card is quite good. I don't believe the card supports wasapi, but it does support ASIO (what I use, mostly) if you download the ASIO driver from Asus.
1.b. Set to Xonar (or ASIO, if you are using).
1.c Set to 24-bit
2. Set to 24-bit; sample rate can either match your source material, or some multiple, if you want to "oversample." If you are using ASIO, output matches source automatically, as I understand.
3. I believe these settings should change as you change the settings in the Xonar interface, once Xonar is set as your default audio device (at least in XP)

This post has been edited by Frank Bicking: Aug 18 2012, 15:30
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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 15:21
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Yes, I have the STX (audiophile, pcie) card. As I understand it if you run the wasapi it kills off all other applications and exclusively gives foobar use of the card. I don't have audio anywhere else in this scenario, so I'm guessing that means it supports wasapi.

Yes?

I'm really talking over my head about this stuff, but as I understand it analog means old stuff like tape. I'm playing digital .wav files, so I don't think I should convert digital music to analog by routing it out of the analog jacks. Am I wrong about this?

This post has been edited by Frank Bicking: Aug 18 2012, 15:30
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Nordfinn
post Aug 18 2012, 16:27
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QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 10:21) *
Yes, I have the STX (audiophile, pcie) card. As I understand it if you run the wasapi it kills off all other applications and exclusively gives foobar use of the card. I don't have audio anywhere else in this scenario, so I'm guessing that means it supports wasapi.

Yes?

I'm really talking over my head about this stuff, but as I understand it analog means old stuff like tape. I'm playing digital .wav files, so I don't think I should convert digital music to analog by routing it out of the analog jacks. Am I wrong about this?


Asus sells several different cards with "Xonar" in the name. Mine is "Xonar Essence."

Your digital files have to be converted to analog at some point. If your receiver has a digital-to-analog converter circuit, you can run a digital signal to your receiver. If not, you have to run analog out of the sound card.

Are you two-channel (i.e., stereo), or is this a home theater setup?

You have several options as to drivers (I think that I was wrong, and that you can use wasapi; i.e., that it is not device-dependent, but I am not sure, never having used it). All should work fine. If you use the Xonar driver, I'm sure that you can turn off system sounds in Windows if you don't want to hear them (I'm running XP; not sure how this is done in Win 7). ASIO driver works best for me when running Foobar. Other applications I use the Xonar driver.

N.
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dhromed
post Aug 18 2012, 17:50
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I'm not sure what a "1,411 wav file" is.

Is there any particular reason you're not just converting the wavs to FLAC or mp3, and simply playing those instead of messing about with wasapi and s/pdif?
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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 18:14
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QUOTE (Nordfinn @ Aug 18 2012, 07:43) *
For what it's worth, because my setup is not exactly the same.

1a. I have the Xonar Essence STX card. (This what you have?) I run analog out to my receiver (Linn Classik) direct from the card, since the DAC on the card is quite good. I don't believe the card supports wasapi, but it does support ASIO (what I use, mostly) if you download the ASIO driver from Asus.
1.b. Set to Xonar (or ASIO, if you are using).
1.c Set to 24-bit
2. Set to 24-bit; sample rate can either match your source material, or some multiple, if you want to "oversample." If you are using ASIO, output matches source automatically, as I understand.
3. I believe these settings should change as you change the settings in the Xonar interface, once Xonar is set as your default audio device (at least in XP)


According to my reading this morning wasapi is for Vista or Windows 7 and ASIO is for XP only.

Also, in the Xonar control center you can select the "HI FI" button to disable the environmental effects, which I've always hated.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/475872/asus-xonar...s-a-basic-guide
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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 18:17
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Aug 18 2012, 10:50) *
I'm not sure what a "1,411 wav file" is.

Is there any particular reason you're not just converting the wavs to FLAC or mp3, and simply playing those instead of messing about with wasapi and s/pdif?


1,411, 16 bit, that's the bit rate of an uncompressed .wav file. On the other hand if you rip an HDCD and have the plugin installed in dbpoweramp or other software you end up with a bit rate of a 2,216 and a 20 bit file.

MP3 is lossy and only has a bit rate of 320. I refuse to play them at home on good equipment.

With dual 3 terabyte drives (one for backup) I don't feel a need to use flac.

Does that answer that?

This post has been edited by jayess: Aug 18 2012, 18:20
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Kohlrabi
post Aug 18 2012, 18:56
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QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 16:21) *
I'm really talking over my head about this stuff, but as I understand it analog means old stuff like tape. I'm playing digital .wav files, so I don't think I should convert digital music to analog by routing it out of the analog jacks. Am I wrong about this?
The output jacks on your soundcard output an analog signal, the quality of the signal depends on the DAC (digital-analog-converter) used to create that signal. To my knowledge the outputs of the Xonar cards measure very good, so it is unlikely you will notice any degradation in fidelity when using the analog jacks of your card.

QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 19:14) *
According to my reading this morning wasapi is for Vista or Windows 7 and ASIO is for XP only.
FWIW, ASIO also works in Vista and 7.

QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 19:17) *
1,411, 16 bit, that's the bit rate of an uncompressed .wav file. On the other hand if you rip an HDCD and have the plugin installed in dbpoweramp or other software you end up with a bit rate of a 2,216 and a 20 bit file.

MP3 is lossy and only has a bit rate of 320. I refuse to play them at home on good equipment.
Bit rate is a file size metric. It doesn't say anything about the quality of an MP3 file vs. the source WAV, it can only be correlated with audio quality when comparing files produced by the same encoder. Your 320kbps MP3s are likely transparent and thereby fine.

QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 19:17) *
With dual 3 terabyte drives (one for backup) I don't feel a need to use flac.
WAV has no real means to store metadata. foobar2000 has facilities to read and write tags from/to WAV, but that is likely not compatible with most other software. In contrast to you, I see no point in using WAV, since it is worse than FLAC in all regards.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Aug 18 2012, 19:01


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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 19:53
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Kohlrabi thanks for the info. Tell me if I am understanding this properly: basically all sound is analog in its origin, so if I use the analog outputs of the Xonar STX then I am using it's DAC to feed the receiver. And I run the receiver in pure direct, then I am not altering that sound. But if I don't run the receiver in pure direct I would then be running the sound through it's DAC as well, is that correct? So does it come to using whichever one has the best DAC for the best sound?

In regards to FLAC, if I decide to convert my my .wav music collection to .flac would I be better off re-ripping the CD's or just converting the .wav files?

Can something like CueTools verify that the reformated files are still Accuraterip valid?

Also, is there any difference in the accuracy or ability of Cuetools to repair .wav files versus .flac?

Thanks for your patience.
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db1989
post Aug 18 2012, 19:56
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QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 19:53) *
In regards to FLAC, if I decide to convert my my .wav music collection to .flac would I be better off re-ripping the CD's or just converting the .wav files?
Lossless is lossless, so why would there be any need to re-rip? I assume you are confident in the accuracy of your existing rips, but FLAC won’t affect it either way in any case.

QUOTE
Can something like CueTools verify that the reformated files are still Accuraterip valid?
Yes.

QUOTE
Also, is there any difference in the accuracy or ability of Cuetools to repair .wav files versus .flac?
It’d be working on the decompressed stream, so see above.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 18 2012, 19:57
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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 21:42
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QUOTE (Nordfinn @ Aug 18 2012, 14:18) *
QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 14:53) *
Kohlrabi thanks for the info. Tell me if I am understanding this properly: basically all sound is analog in its origin, so if I use the analog outputs of the Xonar STX then I am using it's DAC to feed the receiver. And I run the receiver in pure direct, then I am not altering that sound. But if I don't run the receiver in pure direct I would then be running the sound through it's DAC as well, is that correct? So does it come to using whichever one has the best DAC for the best sound?


One needs to know more about your receiver. If it is a stereo receiver, chances are it doesn't have its own DAC (unless it has digital inputs), so you have to feed it an analog signal. If it's a home theater receiver, in may. Not sure what "pure direct" is. It may be an input that bypasses the preamp circuits. If you are giving your receiver an analog signal, I'd first try just using the AUX input, or another line-level input.



According to the Marantz manual when you use "Pure Direct" mode it plays back tracks closest to the original sound quality and turns off receiver features such as the main display and analog video input/output circuits which it claims can affect sound quality. So back to the DAC comment, by running it pure direct there shouldn't be any signal processing applied by the receiver that I'm aware of and all things should be done by the Xonar card.

This post has been edited by jayess: Aug 18 2012, 21:47
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Nordfinn
post Aug 18 2012, 21:55
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But does your receiver have digital inputs?
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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 22:16
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QUOTE (Nordfinn @ Aug 18 2012, 14:55) *
But does your receiver have digital inputs?


Yes, it has analog rca, spdif, and hdmi inputs.
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Nordfinn
post Aug 18 2012, 22:52
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Oh, well then I couldn't really say (especially still don't know which Xonar card you have), as to which DAC will give you better sound, listening to music through Foobar. Easy enough to try both, no? Some of the Marantz internal DACs don't handle streaming flac; that may be a consideration.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 18 2012, 23:32
Reason for edit: removing unnecessary full quote and huge number of trailing newlines
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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 22:59
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I previously mentioned that it's the STX (essence audiophile card). It's supposed to be their best card.

If you look at the windows sound properties and from what I've been able to piece together by readings if you use the spdif feature it bypasses the DAC on the Xonar card. Windows even describes it as a "SPDIF Pass-Through Device."

So if you're going to bypass the DAC of the Xonar card, and if that's what's going on when you choose SP/DIF output, then there is really no reason to have it; you may as well have just use the onboard sound and let your receiver do the work.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 18 2012, 23:32
Reason for edit: as above
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Nordfinn
post Aug 18 2012, 23:43
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QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 17:59) *
I previously mentioned that it's the STX (essence audiophile card). It's supposed to be their best card.

If you look at the windows sound properties and from what I've been able to piece together by readings if you use the spdif feature it bypasses the DAC on the Xonar card. Windows even describes it as a "SPDIF Pass-Through Device."

So if you're going to bypass the DAC of the Xonar card, and if that's what's going on when you choose SP/DIF output, then there is really no reason to have it; you may as well have just use the onboard sound and let your receiver do the work.

Right. All I can say, before bowing out (I know little about home-theater setups), is that for two-channel listening the analog output of the Xonar Essence card is very good indeed. And the card works well with Foobar, in my experience. But Marantz makes lots of different equipment, some of it very high-end, so you may have a very good DAC in your receiver, as well. A lot may depend, practically, on whether you intend on using your computer also as a home-theater source, or just for music. If the latter, I'd recommend at least trying analog out of the sound card to your RCA inputs, and comparing.
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jayess
post Aug 18 2012, 23:59
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QUOTE (Nordfinn @ Aug 18 2012, 16:43) *
QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 17:59) *
I previously mentioned that it's the STX (essence audiophile card). It's supposed to be their best card.

If you look at the windows sound properties and from what I've been able to piece together by readings if you use the spdif feature it bypasses the DAC on the Xonar card. Windows even describes it as a "SPDIF Pass-Through Device."

So if you're going to bypass the DAC of the Xonar card, and if that's what's going on when you choose SP/DIF output, then there is really no reason to have it; you may as well have just use the onboard sound and let your receiver do the work.

Right. All I can say, before bowing out (I know little about home-theater setups), is that for two-channel listening the analog output of the Xonar Essence card is very good indeed. And the card works well with Foobar, in my experience. But Marantz makes lots of different equipment, some of it very high-end, so you may have a very good DAC in your receiver, as well. A lot may depend, practically, on whether you intend on using your computer also as a home-theater source, or just for music. If the latter, I'd recommend at least trying analog out of the sound card to your RCA inputs, and comparing.


I hooked it up using the analog earlier. Sound is good both ways, but I noticed the volume control in windows media center now works, versus with the spdif connection it did not, and I had to use the receiver remote to adjust it.
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db1989
post Aug 19 2012, 00:16
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QUOTE (jayess @ Aug 18 2012, 23:59) *
the volume control in windows media center now works, versus with the spdif connection it did not
Yes, because S/PDIF is designed to provide bit-perfect pass-through of a digital audio signal, which by definition is not compatible with any alteration to said signal.

Edit: moved out of fb2k as only tangentially related.

This post has been edited by db1989: Aug 19 2012, 00:24
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