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Thread: Software media players tricks and tips

  1. #21
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: Napier, New Zealand

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    I'm Andrei.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazjam View Post
    Yup, I know Flac is lossless and theres checksums and all that good stuff to ensure the original signal is outputted, but its the extra CPU load when uncompressing Flac back to PCM than can have an impact.
    I've found that even with a powerful PC where you'd think this kind of thing would not matter it does.
    My experience is the opposite. The 'extra load' is fairly trivial. Try using Task Manager in Windows and go the processes tab. Foobar shows 0% process being used when playing Flac. Of course it is not 0% because it is rounded to the nearest percent. So it will use less than half a percent of the CPUs resources. So if Flac is < 1% it is not taxing the system at all. I've just done this on my office PC that has an AMD Phenom II X4 945 processor running at 3.0GHz and 8Gb of ram running at 1600MHz. (My Flac server has an Intel i7-3770S 3.1GHz processor with 16 Gb of ram running at 1866Mhz.) With a modern multi-core processor I would not expect a difference to be heard because the extra 'load' is likely done simultaneously.

    I think of it like a car that cruises at 100 km per hour. Throw some bricks in the back and you will still travel at 100 km per hour. You will use a small amount of extra petrol for the trip but you wont notice anything different.
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  2. #22
    Join Date: Feb 2008

    Location: Down South

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    I'm Neal.

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    The Flac file is decoded first and buffered thats probably why you see 0% CPU usage but I agree the load is minimal to nothing on a PC with the spec you quote and the time to decode a Flac is only a few seconds...I've never noticed a difference between Flac and WAV sound wise.
    Listening in a Foo free Zone...

    Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

  3. #23
    Join Date: Sep 2012

    Location: East Anglia UK

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    I'm Marc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrei View Post
    I've just done this on my office PC that has an AMD Phenom II X4 945 processor running at 3.0GHz and 8Gb of ram running at 1600MHz. (My Flac server has an Intel i7-3770S 3.1GHz processor with 16 Gb of ram running at 1866Mhz.) With a modern multi-core processor I would not expect a difference to be heard because the extra 'load' is likely done simultaneously.
    I'm currently listening to files encoded to flac and being live transcoded to mp3 and streamed over the internet (on a domestic ADSL line - upload is slower than down) on a £25 Raspberry Pi (700mHz ARM 512meg Ram) No glitches, no drop outs, yeah it runs the cpu up a bit on the pi but not enough to cause it to break sweat. Andrei has his bricks in the back of an artic lorry, mine are on a motorbike! They'll all get there at the same time and be the same bricks!

  4. #24
    Join Date: Oct 2008

    Location: Glasgowshire

    Posts: 6,142
    I'm availableforweddingsAndBarmitzvas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrei View Post
    My experience is the opposite. The 'extra load' is fairly trivial. Try using Task Manager in Windows and go the processes tab. Foobar shows 0% process being used when playing Flac. Of course it is not 0% because it is rounded to the nearest percent. So it will use less than half a percent of the CPUs resources. So if Flac is < 1% it is not taxing the system at all. I've just done this on my office PC that has an AMD Phenom II X4 945 processor running at 3.0GHz and 8Gb of ram running at 1600MHz. (My Flac server has an Intel i7-3770S 3.1GHz processor with 16 Gb of ram running at 1866Mhz.) With a modern multi-core processor I would not expect a difference to be heard because the extra 'load' is likely done simultaneously.

    I think of it like a car that cruises at 100 km per hour. Throw some bricks in the back and you will still travel at 100 km per hour. You will use a small amount of extra petrol for the trip but you wont notice anything different.
    In recent experience I found that extra load makes a difference even on a high spec computer.
    Cant explain it other than what my ears are telling me.
    That said, I never did perscribe to the "its just 1s and 0's" camp though

    Got curious, so I bought my work PC through to the lounge (Dual Xeon CPU, 32GB ram yada yada) and installed JRiver on it and set it up the same way I have my music server.
    Heard the difference between switching Memory Play on and off, changing the buffering settings, anti virus&firewall on compared to off...

    Task manager showed barely a blip, but ears said different.

    I don't profess to have all the answers, just know that in my experience increased overhead on the system_DOES_make a difference.
    Always a believer in experimenting and listening, and I found that it does makes a difference, even on a "high end" PC system.
    Last edited by Gazjam; 18-04-2013 at 23:13.

  5. #25
    Join Date: Dec 2010

    Location: Paisley

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    I'm Brian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazjam View Post
    In recent experience I found that extra load makes a difference even on a high spec computer.
    Cant explain it other than what my ears are telling me.
    That said, I never did perscribe to the "its just 1s and 0's" camp though

    Got curious, so I bought my work PC through to the lounge (Dual Xeon CPU, 32GB ram yada yada) and installed JRiver on it and set it up the same way I have my music server.
    Heard the difference between switching Memory Play on and off, changing the buffering settings, anti virus&firewall on compared to off...

    Task manager showed barely a blip, but ears said different.

    I don't profess to have all the answers, just know that in my experience increased overhead on the system_DOES_make a difference.
    Always a believer in experimenting and listening, and I found that it does makes a difference, even on a "high end" PC system.
    The most likely explanation for this is the PCs power supply feeding noise back into your mains and affecting your analogue components. More load means more work for the crappy, in electrical noise terms anyway, switch mode power supply so more noise fed into mains so more effect on the system. Big powerful computers are largely unsuitable as digital players for this reason, Also they are usually mechanically noisy anyway. I'm sure I've seen discussion of driving these small modern integrated systems with linear PSUs for this very reason. Can't remember if it was here or another forum.

    I'm pretty certain it is just 1s and 0s but you have to get those from the PC to the DAC without affecting the rest of the hifi. PCs are electrically very noisy due to aforementioned power supplies as well as the high frequency operation of the rest of the system. So just because it is "only" 1s and 0s doesn't mean all other problems are solved. And that's before we even consider jitter, aliasing etc...

  6. #26
    Join Date: Nov 2011

    Location: Melbourne, Australia

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    I'm Martin.

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    I think Gaz and I use the same PSU for our music servers, they reduce the noise a lot, it was one of the single biggest upgrades I've experienced.
    Speakers: Usher mini dancer II DMD
    Preamp: MFA Baby reference mk ii TVC
    Amp: Sanders Magtech
    DAC: Longdog VDT1 transformer coupled DAC
    Source: Self built PC (SOtM pcie usb output card with upgraded ultra low jitter clock card, Paul Pang RAM, pure SSD, passive cooling & Paul Hynes Audio SR7EHD psu providing power on separate rails to each SSD, the CPU and SOtM card)
    Power: Isotek Aquarius Evo3 (Schuko)
    Cables: Speaker cables - TQ Ultra Black, Interconnects - SLIC Innovations Eclipse C x2, Curious USB cable x3
    Ancilleries: USB regen, Acoustic Revive rgc24 under dac, Acoustic Revive QR - 8 (inside DAC) Stillpoints under amp, Shunyata darkfield v2 elevators under cables, Franc Audio isolation platforms under speakers, RDC combi-bases and spikes under oak platforms on everything, Hi fi Tuning Supreme throughout, Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks on speaker cables and inside DAC
    Software: JRiver MC21, Dirac room correction

  7. #27
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Cheshire, UK

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    I'm Clive.

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    I strongly suggest some of you try the MQn player. It's still in development, free and is simply the best I've heard. It's very hair shirt and a very light load. It needs the sse2 or sse4 instruction set with modern pcs. Be ready though for several new versions per day! The likes of jriver can learn a huge amount from MQn.
    TT 1 Trans-Fi Salvation with magnetic bearing + Trans-Fi Terminator T3Pro + London Reference / Transfiguration Spirit III
    TT 2 Garrard 301 with NWA main bearing + OL Encounter mkIII + Ortofon 2M Mono SE
    Digital Fanless i5 Skylake ASUS H110T transport with HDPLEX LPS / Fidelizer / Foobar & Bug Head + Metrum Musette with Regen
    Preamp John Chapman's Slagleformer-based AVC-1
    Power Amp Ladyday 300B SE with gorgeous WE 300Bs alternating with EL84 SE, Quad 306 (Dada upgrade) and Temple Audio Bantam One (integrated)
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    Speakers 2 MarkaudioSota Viotti One

  8. #28
    Join Date: Nov 2011

    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    Posts: 2,016
    I'm Martin.

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    Hair shirt?
    Speakers: Usher mini dancer II DMD
    Preamp: MFA Baby reference mk ii TVC
    Amp: Sanders Magtech
    DAC: Longdog VDT1 transformer coupled DAC
    Source: Self built PC (SOtM pcie usb output card with upgraded ultra low jitter clock card, Paul Pang RAM, pure SSD, passive cooling & Paul Hynes Audio SR7EHD psu providing power on separate rails to each SSD, the CPU and SOtM card)
    Power: Isotek Aquarius Evo3 (Schuko)
    Cables: Speaker cables - TQ Ultra Black, Interconnects - SLIC Innovations Eclipse C x2, Curious USB cable x3
    Ancilleries: USB regen, Acoustic Revive rgc24 under dac, Acoustic Revive QR - 8 (inside DAC) Stillpoints under amp, Shunyata darkfield v2 elevators under cables, Franc Audio isolation platforms under speakers, RDC combi-bases and spikes under oak platforms on everything, Hi fi Tuning Supreme throughout, Akiko Audio Tuning Sticks on speaker cables and inside DAC
    Software: JRiver MC21, Dirac room correction

  9. #29
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Cheshire, UK

    Posts: 2,556
    I'm Clive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by realysm42 View Post
    Hair shirt?
    The UI or lack thereof couldn't be more different to jriver.
    TT 1 Trans-Fi Salvation with magnetic bearing + Trans-Fi Terminator T3Pro + London Reference / Transfiguration Spirit III
    TT 2 Garrard 301 with NWA main bearing + OL Encounter mkIII + Ortofon 2M Mono SE
    Digital Fanless i5 Skylake ASUS H110T transport with HDPLEX LPS / Fidelizer / Foobar & Bug Head + Metrum Musette with Regen
    Preamp John Chapman's Slagleformer-based AVC-1
    Power Amp Ladyday 300B SE with gorgeous WE 300Bs alternating with EL84 SE, Quad 306 (Dada upgrade) and Temple Audio Bantam One (integrated)
    Bass Amp & DSP Behringer iNuke NU3000DSP
    Speakers 1 Bastanis Sagarmatha Duo
    Speakers 2 MarkaudioSota Viotti One

  10. #30
    Join Date: Oct 2008

    Location: Glasgowshire

    Posts: 6,142
    I'm availableforweddingsAndBarmitzvas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bpcairns View Post
    The most likely explanation for this is the PCs power supply feeding noise back into your mains and affecting your analogue components. More load means more work for the crappy, in electrical noise terms anyway, switch mode power supply so more noise fed into mains so more effect on the system. Big powerful computers are largely unsuitable as digital players for this reason, Also they are usually mechanically noisy anyway. I'm sure I've seen discussion of driving these small modern integrated systems with linear PSUs for this very reason. Can't remember if it was here or another forum.

    I'm pretty certain it is just 1s and 0s but you have to get those from the PC to the DAC without affecting the rest of the hifi. PCs are electrically very noisy due to aforementioned power supplies as well as the high frequency operation of the rest of the system. So just because it is "only" 1s and 0s doesn't mean all other problems are solved. And that's before we even consider jitter, aliasing etc...
    Not so sure about that Brian,
    its a VERY high quality (as in measures extremely well in terms of ripple, noise etc) supply I use in my works PC.
    Also it was plugged into my balanced mains system, so should have been fed with a clean mains.
    Any jitter should be taken care of by the dac.

    Hear what your saying about "normal" PC's not being as good for digital playback and I agree, I never buy off the shelf though but build my own.

    The normal server in the listening room, is pretty highly specced too (4.5 Ghz i3750k, 16GB ram) and still I notice improvements reducing the load.
    there are no switching supplies in this system as well, completely linear harwired into the balanced mains.

    Just go with what my ears tell me...that's all that matters really.
    Last edited by Gazjam; 09-10-2013 at 10:40.

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