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Sound qualtity diff. ith different s/w players?
post Oct 28 2003, 03:18
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I am using Media Center 9.1 as my MP3 manager/player. I'm planning on running line level cables (quad shield RG6 coax) from my PC to my HT receiver, it's a long run, about 50'. I had some long audio cables (1/8" stereo mini plug to mini jack) lying around, so I plugged them together and ran from the PC to the receiver just to get an idea of what it would be like. To my suprise, the MP3s (EAC Lame APS) played back through my stereo system sounded very "boomy" (sort of like they were in a cavernous room.) I'm not sure if this is the software player on the PC, my PC sound card or the long line level run. Next weekend I'll do some comparisons like CD player (where the PC is so the long run comes into play) vs CD in PC and CD player vs. MP3. But it got me wondering. Are there audible differences between the different software MP3 players out there? Are any differences overshadowed by differences in the sound cards in the PC? (FWIW, I have a KTS 333 Ultra 2 mobo with sound on the board). Inquiring minds want to know (but are too lazy to find out for themselves).

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post Oct 28 2003, 09:40
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I would try to find out if the reason is 'the long line level run' by moving either PC or receiver temporarily and connect them via a short cable. BTW: What exactly did you connect it to at your receiver - aux in or something else, e.g. mic in?

Some information about your other questions:

Are there audible differences between the different software MP3 players out there?

Unless a player/decoder is broken there should be no audible differences. The way the least significant bits are hadled by decoders/players (truncation vs. dither) could lead to audible differences at very low sould levels.

An additional thing to consider: Many cheap soundcards resample 44.1kHz audio to 48kHz internally in a bad way before D/A conversion. Here's a test (Attention: dangerous for speakers!) that can help to find a good (PC) volume setting as well.

Another thing: Lossy encoded files like mp3 from loud sources can clip after decoding causing audible distortion. To avoid this you could either use mp3Gain or replaygain (and a player that supports it).

Are any differences overshadowed by differences in the sound cards in the PC?
You'll get decent soundcards (low noise level, no resampling) for prices comparable to what you'll probably pay for cables. There's a tool called Rightmark Audio Analyser (RMAA) that you can use to measure some aspects of a soundcard's quality if you're interested.

Last but not least: If you're concerened about getting best possible quality and you use your PC for playback anyway you might want to consider using other formats than mp3, maybe even lossless.

Let's suppose that rain washes out a picnic. Who is feeling negative? The rain? Or YOU? What's causing the negative feeling? The rain or your reaction? - Anthony De Mello
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post Oct 28 2003, 12:54
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Check if DSP or equalizer settings are enabled in both the software player, and the soundcard properties.
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post Oct 28 2003, 19:53
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You might want to post this question at http://www.avsforum.com/ in the HTPC section. However, 50' is a bit long for analog (unbalanced) interconnects so I'd go with a digital cable.
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