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#1 2013-02-12 11:47:32

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

audiophile playback setup

Hello archers,

I found _very_ hard how to obtain audiophile audio on arch - and, more widely, on linux.
I've been reading for weeks many, many tutorials, mailinglists, forums to find out how to configure my system for 24bit 96000 and samplerate audio playback.
Problem is that is difficult to find the real working solution that deals the perfect way with sound card, alsa, phonon, phonon backends, pulseaudio, gstreamer, jack, the whole lot of audioplayers, etc..
My current setup is a common one: intel HD audio, alsa, phonon-gstreamer, clementine player - which plugs directly to alsa through gstreamer.
I know about .asoundrc parameters defaults.pcm.rate_converter "samplerate_best"    defaults.pcm.dmix.!rate 96000 defaults.pcm.dmix.!format S24_LE, but music doesn't sound as expected..
Anyway it is TOO hard to understand and configure.

To sum up: we really need an extensive arch wiki page for "audiophile playback" written by experts.

cheers

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#2 2013-02-12 11:57:44

graysky
Member
From: /run/user/1000
Registered: 2008-12-01
Posts: 8,329
Website

Re: audiophile playback setup

Sounds like you have identified a gap.  The typical way the community works is you start a wiki page and populate it with what you know.  Maybe leave some section open.  Others who know and who can contribute may chose to do so.  If you just post to the bss, little if anything will happen.


CPU-optimized Linux-ck packages @ Repo-ck  • AUR packagesZsh and other configs

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#3 2013-02-12 12:15:27

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

graysky wrote:

Sounds like you have identified a gap.  The typical way the community works is you start a wiki page and populate it with what you know.  Maybe leave some section open.  Others who know and who can contribute may chose to do so.  If you just post to the bss, little if anything will happen.

yes, I didn't know how the community  works. I'll start an "audiophile playback" wiki page as soon as I can, even if I'm not much competent in it,  because I'd like to improve the situation for beginners like me.

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#4 2013-02-12 12:48:21

brebs
Member
Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,401

Re: audiophile playback setup

josephk wrote:

music doesn't sound as expected

So create a simple PCM and test it with speaker-test. See ~/.asoundrc in my sig, for examples.

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#5 2013-02-12 13:03:08

mukl
Member
From: Vienna, Austria
Registered: 2008-01-30
Posts: 37

Re: audiophile playback setup

@josephk: which soundcard are you using?

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#6 2013-02-12 13:17:53

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

@ brebs - hi, i've read many of your posts, I've already checked your asoundrc conf previeously.
I'll post speaker-test output tomorrow morning, I must leave home now.

@mukl - Codec: Realtek ALC269VB


i've created a stub on the wiki for future works https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Au … e_Playback let's see where it goes smile

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#7 2013-02-12 13:40:35

Ashren
Member
From: Denmark
Registered: 2007-06-13
Posts: 1,221
Website

Re: audiophile playback setup

The best solution for a "audiophile" setup IMO would be disable all resampling and output sound data stream directly to a DAC. Personally I have set up XBMC with a Cambridge DACmagic plus for this purpose.

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#8 2013-02-12 14:14:36

teekay
Member
Registered: 2011-10-26
Posts: 269

Re: audiophile playback setup

+1 for proper audio hardware. An external DAC is ideal, but might bust your budget. There are soundcards with quite good DACs on them like the relatively cheap MAudio Audiophile 24/96 with AK4528 DACs on it. Or others with Wolfson's (like the Cambridge has two of)

Intel HDA is well, a noise chip, but nothing audiophile.

Forcing 24bit 96KHz on software side just causes (crappy) upsampling for the most part (or are all your audio sources in 24/96 on disk so upsampling doesn't happen?)

Bypass any dmix setup, as dmix does resampling by default. Use jackd instead, and if you want to output multiple sources at once, put pulseaudio infront of it. But the audioplayer should be connected to jack directly.

Personally I find the software setup to be pretty simple that way. It's more difficult the choose the right hardware and set it up correctly, which includes good cables and power line noise filters for the amplifier and such..

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#9 2013-02-12 14:25:20

Earnestly
Member
Registered: 2011-08-18
Posts: 798

Re: audiophile playback setup

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#10 2013-02-12 15:10:46

jakobcreutzfeldt
Member
Registered: 2011-05-12
Posts: 1,031

Re: audiophile playback setup

Nice, thanks for that.

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#11 2013-02-12 19:30:48

mukl
Member
From: Vienna, Austria
Registered: 2008-01-30
Posts: 37

Re: audiophile playback setup

@josephk: I'm no audio expert. I played a lot with alsa to get my setup the way i want it, but didnt have much success. maybe because i understand too little of digital audio. anyway the hardware was working as expected.

BUT... smile i dont think that it makes much sense to play with audio parameters when not having proper hardware.
i'm using a M-Audio M2496 with normal settings, and with pulseaudio it's working perfectly. on my notebook i had a USB hifi card with cinch connectors (will try to find it). both are very good solutions compared to onboard sounds.

good luck for your work. i'm tired of playing with sound. wink

EDIT: the USB-card was a edirol ua-1ex

Last edited by mukl (2013-02-12 19:35:40)

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#12 2013-02-12 20:39:10

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

hi everyone and thanks for the answers.

yes, I'm aware that I need a decent DAC and I'll buy it, when I can.
For the moment I have this integrated intel HDA chip, which is capable of 24/192000 but no hardware mixing, plugged to an amp.
I found my best quality setup with jackd / pulseaudio / audacious on ubuntu. My 24/96000 FLAC music sounded definitely good, and I LOVE music.
Biggest problem in my case is not much hardware (ok, it's absolutely THE problem here smile but how to get the best from it, because it is very difficult to understand. I'm not a developer, I didn't studied IT technologies, I'm just a linux devotee.
With this thread, which has a quite generic topic, I'd like to gather knowledge from people who have it, to finally write it in a good, exaustive, unique and central, archwiki page.

Just for example, it should be CLEAR and EASY how phonon works, how works gstreamer, how they interact together, how they interact with hardware, how to discover your hardware features and how you can enable or complement them with alsa, is jack needed, does it need special alsa configurations, etc etc..  these informations are still obscure material on the web. Or, being all this just having in mind a user-friendly audiophile archwiki page, I'd like to know the necessary essential of it all.

Also a list of audiophile soundcards with good linux support could be of support.
This could attract to arch a niche of users without home too.

Last edited by josephk (2013-02-12 20:44:30)

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#13 2013-02-12 22:07:13

KimTjik
Member
From: Sweden
Registered: 2007-08-22
Posts: 715

Re: audiophile playback setup

No doubt that many arguments are sound and logical, but in the end it's very hard to distinguish the difference between what a human believe to hear from what he actually is able to hear. There are other good studies as well indicating that maybe 20bit 48kHz would have been a better standard. 16bit 44.1kHz was anyway an industry compromise.

Personally I don't buy anything above original sample rate, usually documented for today's digital recordings. That way I assume the audio stream to be less altered with. In some cases I view CD quality as high enough, since for example solo piano music naturally has a quite limited acoustic. Whatever the case is I support sites and labels that provides good downloads of music in Flac (usually limited to composed music and free jazz).

...

On topic: for music I prefer MPD. In settings I lock it to hardware and choose no sampling, and hence leave the work to a DAC (connected by USB, or by USB-to-Coax). This seems to work pretty well for me at least.

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#14 2013-02-13 12:10:40

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

can someone explain me why the following is wrong, please?

$ speaker-test -c 2 -r96000 --format S24_LE  -D default:CARD=PCH -t wav -w /home/alex/1-Born_Under_Punches_The_Heat.wav
speaker-test 1.0.26
Format S24_LE is not supported...

and..

$ speaker-test -c 2 -r96000 --format S32_LE  -D default:CARD=PCH -t wav -w /home/alex/1-Born_Under_Punches_The_Heat.wav
speaker-test 1.0.26
Playback device is default:CARD=PCH
Stream parameters are 96000Hz, S16_LE, 2 channels
WAV file(s)
Rate set to 96000Hz (requested 96000Hz)
Buffer size range from 4096 to 32768
Period size range from 2047 to 2049
Using max buffer size 32768
Periods = 4
was set period_size = 2048
was set buffer_size = 32768
/home/alex/1-Born_Under_Punch es_The_Heat.wav is not a mono stream (2 channels)

.. i found everything so disappointing (including me, maybe)

.. about http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
well, maybe in phisics it is right. but in reality, where i live, 24bit 96khz delivers a noticeable improvement in sound depth and resolution to my hears even in older masters. this doesn't mean I want 64bit 384khz audio, but that sacd, dvd-a or hd-flacs they do offer an improvement.

a BIG question to me: is writing a proper .asoundrc conf file sufficient to play 24/96 music?

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#15 2013-02-13 12:20:44

brebs
Member
Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,401

Re: audiophile playback setup

josephk wrote:

a BIG question to me: is writing a proper .asoundrc conf file sufficient to play 24/96 music?

Yes, so DO THAT, rather than mucking with bizarre speaker-test options.

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#16 2013-02-13 12:29:00

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

already done. I have

defaults.pcm.rate_converter "samplerate_best"	
defaults.pcm.dmix.!rate 96000	
defaults.pcm.dmix.!format S24_LE

pcm.!default {
	type hw
	card 0
	format S24_LE
	rate 96000
}

ctl.!default {
	type hw           
	card 0
	format S24_LE
	rate 96000
}

24/96 audio filesd are played correctly, but I don't know if they are played natively or resampled to 48khz, since normal audio players don't offer useful debug output to my knowledge

dmix options are not bizarre, a simple man speaker-test explain them well. anyway they are mandatory if you want to pass non-default parameters.

Last edited by josephk (2013-02-13 22:28:38)

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#17 2013-02-13 13:24:27

brebs
Member
Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,401

Re: audiophile playback setup

This is right near the top of the ~/.asoundrc I publicize, please read it.

# Show opened settings:
# cat /proc/asound/card0/pcm0p/sub0/hw_params

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#18 2013-02-13 14:16:46

Earnestly
Member
Registered: 2011-08-18
Posts: 798

Re: audiophile playback setup

Can't you simply hear the difference with your golden ears? wink

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#19 2013-02-13 14:36:52

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

I knew well that command. I just don't know if hw parameters are still relevant when you tweak them in the sw side.

access: MMAP_INTERLEAVED
format: S32_LE
subformat: STD
channels: 2
rate: 48000 (48000/1)
period_size: 1024
buffer_size: 16384

after all I just want 24/96 and 16/44 files are played correctly at the respective resolution, without having cpu running at 100%, and there's no a simply, stupid, way to do it.

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#20 2013-02-13 14:45:26

brebs
Member
Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,401

Re: audiophile playback setup

Well, that rate (and format) isn't what you wanted, so experiment further. Surely a google search provides a ~/.asoundrc setup? Or just use mine.

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#21 2013-02-13 22:40:38

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

hm.. it looks like i've solved my problems.. now, when I play 24/96 flacs, querying hw parameters returns me 32/96, while when playing normal data it reverts to 16/44.
and let me say that first I've heard the difference in sound quality, and after I had it confirmed by in console.

how I did it? well..  I GUESS because of this: i've left only the first 3 lines in my .asoundrc and i defaulted phonon to _front speakers_.
front speakers should bypass dmix sw. but my hda chip shouldn't have hw mixing features.. so what?

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#22 2013-02-13 23:00:00

brebs
Member
Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,401

Re: audiophile playback setup

josephk wrote:

difference in sound quality

I suppose that's due to libsamplerate doing its smoothing.

josephk wrote:

front speakers should bypass dmix

Since you're getting 96khz, and have only told dmix to do 96, it's pretty obvious that dmix is being used wink

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#23 2013-02-13 23:18:03

josephk
Member
Registered: 2011-01-09
Posts: 82

Re: audiophile playback setup

looks like smile
the good thing is that it's taking just ~5% of my cpu. on ubuntu pulseaudio was taking 100% and sound was craking, while medium quality took 20%.. anyway I still feel that jackd and audacious delivered even better sound quality and cpu performance.

anyway thank you and everyone else who gave me support. now let's think about filling this wiki, could be very helpful to many people, since subject it's pretty tricky https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Au … e_Playback

cheers

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#24 2013-02-14 06:06:11

cybertorture
Member
Registered: 2010-05-05
Posts: 338

Re: audiophile playback setup

PA for audiophiles I am not tested it yet but, it sounds reasonable.

cheers


O' rly ? Ya rly Oo

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#25 2013-02-17 01:44:30

MikalD
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2011-06-12
Posts: 19

Re: audiophile playback setup

I have heard from other audiophiles and tested it myself that DeaDBeeF is one of the best Music players for no sampling direct playback. With correct setup ALSA it makes a good combo.

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