Jump to content

Computer-playback vs streaming client: audio-stream in best quality?


Recommended Posts

"The RME has a very good USB input and so will offer excellent quality."

Now you're talking! That solves one half of the equation (I expect).

"The defining factor here is not the computer you use, but the DAC."

I disagree: dvdr has correctly classed this problem as one consisting of aligning a chain of components. The availability of a USB input on the RME appears to solve the Mac Mini to ... eventually DAC ... link. Yet I'd like to know how the Qobuz Web Player sends its audiostream to USB. If the BBC had to have a special trial to check it out, with only the Firefox browser allowed, then I'd like more information on that technology to feel comfortable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking again at ...

How do I experience Hi-Res on Mac? – Qobuz Help Center

... would you not be using the app rather than the web browser to pump data into the RME?

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderator
1 hour ago, JackoUK said:

"The result is that while Class 2 operation can actually bottleneck performance ...". Please expand.

Unless patched for a Mac/Linux kernel it is limited to DSD128, and is delivered DOP rather than native regardless of wether the DAC can do more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I am pretty sure now that you need the Apple app, not the browser, ... similar to:

Want the best Tidal sound quality? Use the desktop app | What Hi-Fi? (whathifi.com)

I've asked Qobuz for some technical Windows/MAC and app/browser info. Online chat says 'no extra drivers'.

Gonna clean build a Surface Pro 3 tablet tomorrow as a streamer just to check that one can do:

Foobar2000

WASAPI component direct to ...

... $MSFT USB Audio Class 2 driver

without installing my AUDIOLAB DAC special driver.

What I think Qobuz have done is essentially:

Qobuz2020

Web audio data import subsystem

WASAPI interface, bypassing $MSFT Mixer

$MSFT USB Audio Class 2 driver.

And whatever the equivalent is on a MAC.

Edited by JackoUK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did download the Qobuz app and chose the RME as the default soundcard in my Mac‘s system setting. I set the app‘s quality settings to 192/24. The RME‘s internal clock properly synced to different sampling frequencies of various albums.

The only thing I could not do, was to disable the app‘s volume control - so imho there is still some processing/routing going on, involving the computer/processor. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, dvdr said:

I did download the Qobuz app and chose the RME as the default soundcard in my Mac‘s system setting. I set the app‘s quality settings to 192/24. The RME‘s internal clock properly synced to different sampling frequencies of various albums.

The only thing I could not do, was to disable the app‘s volume control - so imho there is still some processing/routing going on, involving the computer/processor. 

Setting it's volume control to 100% fully on will probably be just as good as disabling it. it certainly worked for the Tidal app,  MQA worked with volume on full as it was bit perfect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing from the people at Qobuz … but my best guess is that they (and similar companies) have a method of encapsulating and then streaming flac (say in MP4, like the BBC), unpacking, decompressing flac and sending a PCM audiostream direct to the USB Audio Class 2 driver – bypassing the PC and MAC operating systems. Simpler in their own app. rather than in a browser.   

Self correction: when I said ‘Windows Mixer converts to 64 bits’ … I meant ‘converts to 32-bit float’ … but up to 32-bit float and down to 16-bit integer will do the business for low-rate CD’s.

Bencat “Seriously neither a Windows PC or a MAC are anything like ideal for being a music source.” I’m planning to attend the show in October. I’ll be bringing second-hand LINX1010E and Surface Pro3 tablets (£70-150) and my dodgy cables to check your assertion: wall-to-wall Windows 10 Pro here. Expecting to come away singing the praises of Pi4, Moode and expensive cables 😉

CableMonkey: “Unless patched for a Mac/Linux kernel it is limited to DSD128, and is delivered DOP rather than native regardless of whether the DAC can do more.” The maturing DSDTranscoder for FOOBAR2000 can help out with high DSD rates now on Windows (see attached graphic).

Sorry if I am hijacking your thread dvdr – all good now with you?

DoP and DSD Stacks.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, JackoUK said:

Sorry if I am hijacking your thread dvdr – all good now with you?

No problem hi-JackUK-ing the thread 😉 interesting background info from your side!

still haven’t completely figured out, how the Qobuz app on my Mac treats audio - at least I could play back files in their native quality as mentioned above via the RME Fireface. To my ears, the Linn DS sounds better, but we‘re comparing a.) different gear b.) different D/A conversion chipsets c.) different analogue components and d.) still don‘t know, what the Mac Mini‘s hardware&software role is in the process. 

Since the app allows local download/cacheing of albums, I thought I might be at least able to analyze what kind of audio formats they use. I went into the cache-directory, where each file is split into small chunks. No way analyzing them (did not really expect that to be possible, since they for sure somehow „encrypt“ them.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My best guess is that the audio stack is as per the attached graphic. There may be an intermediate API (like WASAPI on WIndows) in Apple's Core Audio but it will be a passthrough component retaining bit-perfection.

If you are seeing the correct sampling rates of 44.1, 96 and 192 KHz then I think you are good to go.

qb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@JackoUK @Man in a van

thank you both for your contributions, very valuable!

There‘s only one thing missing, that I have not figured out where to put (literally put in your graphics, JackoUK - and the otherwise great Qobuz-link doesn‘t really shed light on this as well): the software player by Qobuz does have a volume control. So it‘s not an untouched „Unity Gain“ signal fed into the DAC  directly after bitperfect decoding - they do involve software controlled volume control by the Qobuz player - in other words: processing „inside“ the computer, which I would love to exclude.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gizza's recommendation to leave the volume at 100% is good here I think. That way the MINI, or rather the Qobuz app. running thereon, will not touch the PCM audiostream. (Of course we don't know precisely how it operates ... we simply expect the result to be unwelcome ... or bettered by leaving volume control to the DAC).

A 6db reduction in volume results in the loss of 1-bit resolution. I slipped up by buying two powerful monoblocks, so powerful that I only play back at -36 to -24db! Luckily my DAC is 32-bit, so at -36db I am down from 32-bit to 26-bit. Whether anyone can hear above 16 bits is of course one of the controversies in audio forums. Worth then looking up your DAC's bit rate and your typical listening levels.

That argument suggests downloading 24-bit files if available: downloading 16-bit and listening through powerful amplification one might just experience a noticeable loss of quality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There has been the occasional suggestion that my hearing and taste in music is only 8-bit :o

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A man in a van has filled in a few gaps too - thanks.

" ... systematically streams the FLAC files and it also decompresses them, the files thus becoming again the original files." Not giving anything away about the internet protocols. We would rather $MSFT and $APPL and the music hardware developers agree a free standard, or someone like Steinberg may step in and  then expect royalties (like ASIO). Maybe the recent focus by the IT giants on 'spatial audio' may get everyone back in line. Not holding my breath.

Still, we have flac's from t'internet :)

" ... even the streaming mode to his Hi-Fi system (DLNA, GoogleCast) ...". Nice, so we can deploy on servers and a network of many playback stations.

"Regarding DACs, several playback options are available, most of them being “bit perfect” (LPCM files preserved bit by bit), ASIO, WASAPI, Kernel Streaming (KS), aside from the Windows DirectSound mode." We only want ASIO and WASAPI, the others are either deprecated or sub-standard. On Windows there is no need to use anything other than WASAPI for flac's ... but this is a useful choice, for backwards compatibility if nothing else.

The email does not address $APPL devices. What output choices do you see in your installation? Is there is a choice? I'd like to know that, after which I can complete my second graphic.

If QoBuz have embraced ASIO then this opens up the possibility of a future DSD audiostream in either the 'ASIO DSD' flavour or DoP, as in my first graphic. That would be c7Mbs for DSD64.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Many of us would not be so far down the <audio component> rabbit hole if ..."

Looking forward to demonstrations October 1-3. Love Alice :x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...