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DFX audio enhancer compatibility


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#1 PhilippeC

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 07:53 AM

I have noticed old problems with DFX 10 and superior when I was on Windows XP.

So I fixed my PC audio configuration to

- my 24bit-96kHz Creative X-Fi Platinum sound card

- DFX audio enhancer 9

- foobar2000 + the Kernel Streaming audio output plugin

No problem to listen to 24bit-96kHz Flac audio files, even using my JB980 deck (I supposed that the Creative sound card adapt itself to 24bit-48kHz)

Now my desktop got problem but even if it is so easy to find a computer shop in Saigon, I transfer my listening system to my son Acer Timeline 4820T Windows 7 64bit laptop.

 

This time, no way to listen directly with the optical out to my JB980 deck the 24bit-96kHz audio files. I started to use all the time my analog output (the sound is good enough, Realteck Hight Definition). As foobar2000 cannot be set up nor with Kernel Streaming nor Asio like Windows XP with my Creative sound card, I have tried with success the Wasapi audio output. There was still compatibility with DFX audio enhancer 9.

 

Then I upgraded to DFX audio enhancer 11 which has a larger compatibility with Windows multimedia applications (it is loaded separately). But no way to use Wasapi with foobar2000, I must "downgrade" to DS.

 

So I decided to test the Mediamonkey multimedia player (not Winamp, I used it a long time and some people still say it is the best for audiophile purpose, maybe they are wrong). Bingo, DFX audio enhancer 11 accept Wasapi with Mediamonkey. I like the VSL video player very much, now I use it with DFX. The only problem is that I need to be use again with this Airbus plane board like interface (police size has been increase to 150%).

 

I already imagine the MDietrich long face :girl_devil: .

 

Attached File  2013-10-14_195139.png   476.89KB   6 downloads



#2 PhilippeC

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:16 AM

I have spent a day testing DFX 11 with foobar2000, Mediamonkey and VSL. Everything was working OK with DFX 11 (except multiple error windows bugs when using the Wasapi audio output for foobar2000 so I used Directsound) but, I don't know why

- Mediamonkey started not playing tracks (??????)

- and DFX 11 opened again multiple error windows (Wasapi again ???) 

I restored my computer, coming back to the old DFX 9 for foobar2000 (and Wasapi), resetup from the start.

I will make further tests tomorrow with DFX 11 and Mediamonkey.

 

Maybe DFX 11 look like as he need to be used with the Windows sound tunnel, Wasapi and Asio audio output plugins are "direct" sound controlers. Perhaps due to a standard audio sound card, the Directsound audio output don't sound different to my ears than Wasapi. I will need to think about that and also about those "DS DFX speakers" and "Wasapi DFX speakers" created by DFX 11 (forcing me to use them instead of DS / Wasapi Realteck High definition speakers).  



#3 SileEeles

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 02:02 PM

ASIO is something I came across before when experimenting with latency with my Mixer (which is a USBAudio Device). For various reasons I chose not to use it, but it seemed to work fine. 

 

Ultimatley I find myself wondering if this DFX11 is worth getting rid of all together? It says it dramatically improves sound quality, but that in itself is virtually redundant with computer hardware these days. And also, you can't make something better than it is, it doesn't work like that. You could apply various EQ and effects and maybe get away with a passable result, but ... If you're listening to "24bit-96kHz Flac audio files" do you really need this DFX program?

 

I can't speak for the programs you use (or have tested), since I stick strictly to Windows Media Play (I love it, and with a codec pack it plays damn near everything I chuck at it), but if its a particular setting you are after, many of these applications will allow you to set your own preference.



#4 PhilippeC

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 09:27 AM

As I choose to come back to a clean configuration (restore the computer + only basics sofwares, for the audio and the video foobar2000, VLC and the last Realteck High Definition driver). I confirm that DFX 11 has conflict with the Wasapi audio output foobar2000 plugin. No problem with Directsound.

 

If my ears don't like the sound of DFX, it just have a big button to click (the bigger the button, the better I like the skin). Or I get down from 8,0,0,3,3 to 5,0,0,2,2 (5 and under = free  version). From an album to another, my feelings a bit different.



#5 MDietrich

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 08:07 PM

Long face... well, you have no idea ;)

 

Actually, you have several steps which worsen your sound quality. What samplerate and bitdepth are the files having you´re playing? If they are 24/96 you should downsample them yourself with foobar2000 (there´s a component/plugin available with one of the best resamplers out there: SoX).

 

- MD can only work with 24/44.1, nothing else

- 24/96 is resampled by the X-Fi to 24/48 (in bad quality) and then by the MD recorder to 24/44.1 with equally bad quality (both resamplers are old and they are just bad, bad, bad)

- the windows vista/7/8 driver of the older X-Fi cards is known to have many flaws on many systems

- that DFX11 creates an artificial Wasapi output module looks fishy to me, it´s just a DSP that tries to sell itself as a soundcard - for what reason? where does it get its input? DS? Wasapi? ASIO?

- with Wasapi the Windows settings are important. You have to configure Windows, especially when you use DS

 

IMO you´d be better off if you don´t use any DSP at all.

 

As a player for the PC I can recommend JRiver Media Center. Its extreme wealth of function can be overwhelming but their forum is great and very helpful. Costs money though. But it´s worth it IMO.



#6 PhilippeC

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 10:35 PM

I am not using right now my Creative X-Fi Platinum. I am aware of that 24-96 to 24-44,1kHz downloading. Like you I love the MD format and can't be too pretentious about its audio quality compared to those new high quality rates. But why have you bought a Creative X-Fi USB HD rather than any USB audio card ?

 

DFX and 24-96 : all depend on the gender of the music. I test on/off during listening, my ears decide (3/4 tracks with DFX). I also use Replaygain to all my music library so I don't have that much distorsion. With the Creative X-Fi Platinum, I was connected to my JB980 with a coaxial cable and all my recent recordings have been done without DFX (Crystallizer and DFX, this is too much).

 

DS (DFX dislike Wasapi with foobar2000) : The only Windows 7 64bit setting I have done is to cut off Windows system sound. Something else ?

 

Does JRiver supported Flac files and fine settings with Wasapi or Asio4all ?



#7 MDietrich

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 10:04 AM

I am not using right now my Creative X-Fi Platinum. I am aware of that 24-96 to 24-44,1kHz downloading. Like you I love the MD format and can't be too pretentious about its audio quality compared to those new high quality rates. But why have you bought a Creative X-Fi USB HD rather than any USB audio card ?

 

Good question. I initially bought it for our laptop as the included audio solution of the laptop was OK but nothing spectacular. With headphones it sucked though. Headphone playback was the most important to me, the Creative seemed to offer a decent, built-in headphone amp where other cards simply didn´t or were much too expensive.

 

So there you have it:

1. headphone amp

2. price

3. former experiences with Creative and how to handle it

 

In hindsight the Creative isn´t a great card. At best it´s decent, at worst mediocre. It´s not neutral, its headphone amp isn´t as good as advertised. But it has a fantastically jitter free optical output (easily surpassing ANY other optical or RCA output I have - and I have many to choose from).

 

I didn´t install the software, any DSP the Creative offers is switched off. So far I didn´t have any problems with it, it has been very reliable.

 

 

DFX and 24-96 : all depend on the gender of the music. I test on/off during listening, my ears decide (3/4 tracks with DFX). I also use Replaygain to all my music library so I don't have that much distorsion. With the Creative X-Fi Platinum, I was connected to my JB980 with a coaxial cable and all my recent recordings have been done without DFX (Crystallizer and DFX, this is too much).

 

DS (DFX dislike Wasapi with foobar2000) : The only Windows 7 64bit setting I have done is to cut off Windows system sound. Something else ?

 

Does JRiver supported Flac files and fine settings with Wasapi or Asio4all ?

 

 

Yes, JRiver supports every file format you can think of. Really every single one, even exoctic ones (except ATRAC of course). Output settings range from Wasapi, ASIO, DS, Kernel Streaming, WaveOut, yadda, yadda, yadda. Most of them are more reliable then the ones from foobar2000 (don´t know why).

 

Windows settings are important:

http://www.benchmark...k_-_Setup_Guide

http://www.abyssmedi...ows7-tips.shtml

 

Follow the directions on the second link - but switch it to the samplerate you most of the time use. Go back to the 'Enhancements' panel and switch off any enhancement Windows offers (won´t be there on the Creative), those enhancements are hurtful to the sound.



#8 PhilippeC

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 09:20 PM

Ok, that is fine. I was not aware of this wiki-like benchmark site, and the other one too.

 

I am now ready to buy  an audiophile USB audio soundcard. Naturally as I has gotten some experience with my two previous Creative X-Fi sound cards (Platinum, Xmod), I am now very curious about that "HD" external sound card.

 

1) Why for you this card is just decent : would you do another choice today ? I don't have a lot of choice in Vietnam (computer shops have basic audio sound cards, "high-end" audio shops have 400$ or more DACs). This address is for example to only one I have discover from now with a rather wide choice, including pro cards (sometime with no proper Windows 7 drivers) :  http://www.sam-pc.com/home (1.000.000 VND = 46,7US$)

2) "It has a fantastically jitter free optical output" : how do you know that (audio rightmark test?) and what does it change for your ears ? Is it better to take this Creative HD USB soundcard rather than a M2Tech Hiface 2 for example ?

3) Even if you did not install the software and his DSPs, are you still connected with his USB or are you using a simple Toslink optical cable between your computer and the card (I am merely curious to know if there is or not a big difference in sound)



#9 MDietrich

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 10:06 PM

1) Why for you this card is just decent : would you do another choice today ? I don't have a lot of choice in Vietnam (computer shops have basic audio sound cards, "high-end" audio shops have 400$ or more DACs). This address is for example to only one I have discover from now with a rather wide choice, including pro cards (sometime with no proper Windows 7 drivers) :  http://www.sam-pc.com/home (1.000.000 VND = 46,7US$)

2) "It has a fantastically jitter free optical output" : how do you know that (audio rightmark test?) and what does it change for your ears ? Is it better to take this Creative HD USB soundcard rather than a M2Tech Hiface 2 for example ?

3) Even if you did not install the software and his DSPs, are you still connected with his USB or are you using a simple Toslink optical cable between your computer and the card (I am merely curious to know if there is or not a big difference in sound)

 

1) Yes, I would make a different choice today. I would either take this: http://www.terratec...._HD_167798.html

or this: http://www.asus.com/...nar_Essence_STU

or this: http://www.asus.com/...erters/Xonar_U7

 

2) Jitter sounds. Low frequency jitter 'warms' up the sound and makes it too mellow, high frequency jitter makes it more aggressive. The Creative doesn´t show these effects, I also made some tests to find out how precise the digital signal is. As an example, not a single one of my portable CD players that have an optical out has a signal as precise as the Creative.

 

3) The Creative needs to be connected with USB to the PC, otherwise it cannot work (it´s a USB card, it is powered by the USB port and receives its data from it). Which means: when I record something to MD I play it back with foobar2000 through the Creative (through the USB cable naturally) and then through a simple, optical cable that connecs both the Creative and the MD recorder.



#10 PhilippeC

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:21 PM

3) The Creative needs to be connected with USB to the PC, otherwise it cannot work (it´s a USB card, it is powered by the USB port and receives its data from it). Which means: when I record something to MD I play it back with foobar2000 through the Creative (through the USB cable naturally) and then through a simple, optical cable that connecs both the Creative and the MD recorder.

 

I try to imagine some configurations as it have an optical in :

1) I suppose (hope) this is possible to use it as a DAC between a CD player and a MD recorder once you have connected it to a USB wall charger or your PC

2) or PC ----> card ----> MD via tosllinks 



#11 sfbp

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 06:21 AM

 

1) Yes, I would make a different choice today. I would either take this: http://www.terratec...._HD_167798.html

<snip>

 

Actually this one: http://www.terratec....CIe_166633.html

 

(essentially the same card)

 

is quite nice, if you have a conventional PC. I have one. Terratec has never been available much outside of Europe, I had to make special arrangements to order both it and its predecessor (the Aureon 5.1).



#12 MDietrich

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 06:26 AM

 

I try to imagine some configurations as it have an optical in :

1) I suppose (hope) this is possible to use it as a DAC between a CD player and a MD recorder once you have connected it to a USB wall charger or your PC

2) or PC ----> card ----> MD via tosllinks 

 

Interesting that you ask for this. According to information from other forums it should be able to be used as a DAC. But the PC is vital for it to function, it won´t work with a wall charger. To convert any optical signal to analogue it needs to route this signal through its driver. I´ve never tried out that function so I can´t say anything about.



 

Actually this one: http://www.terratec....CIe_166633.html

 

(essentially the same card)

 

is quite nice, if you have a conventional PC. I have one. Terratec has never been available much outside of Europe, I had to make special arrangements to order both it and its predecessor (the Aureon 5.1).

 

I have exactly that card. Bought it so that I can record my SACDs digitally with an optical input. And do you know how hard it is to find optical inputs capable of 88.2 kHz samplerate? This card can do it. My Creative is unable to record or playback 88.2 (digital in-/outputs: 44.1, 48 & 96 only), my Xonar Essence STX only has an optical/RCA out.

 

The Terratec is a good card. Nothing fancy but well built. Don´t know about its sound though as I haven´t yet reviewed it.



#13 SileEeles

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:30 PM


I have exactly that card. Bought it so that I can record my SACDs digitally with an optical input.

 

I'm quite curious about SACD. I only have one, a copy of War of the Worlds. But as far as my understanding goes, the SACD is on a seperate layer, with the density of a DVD (4.5GB or however much it is) and is thus inacccessable through a regular CD player, or even a computer. Regardless of all the formats modern disc drives can take, SACD is not one of them. It will just play the CD Audio layer of the disc. The format, it seems, is virtually un-rippable. I imagine that is by design. I have also come across HDCD, again, I only have one. Tubular Bells. My understanding is that HDCD is of most use when played on a windows machine, via Media Player, since Microsoft own/owned the format, but it can be played on pretty much any CD player. I imagine SACD is probably in 5.1 rather than stereo. But I've yet to come across an SACD player. I am curious about it.



#14 MDietrich

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 09:46 PM

 

I'm quite curious about SACD. I only have one, a copy of War of the Worlds. But as far as my understanding goes, the SACD is on a seperate layer, with the density of a DVD (4.5GB or however much it is) and is thus inacccessable through a regular CD player, or even a computer. Regardless of all the formats modern disc drives can take, SACD is not one of them. It will just play the CD Audio layer of the disc. The format, it seems, is virtually un-rippable. I imagine that is by design. I have also come across HDCD, again, I only have one. Tubular Bells. My understanding is that HDCD is of most use when played on a windows machine, via Media Player, since Microsoft own/owned the format, but it can be played on pretty much any CD player. I imagine SACD is probably in 5.1 rather than stereo. But I've yet to come across an SACD player. I am curious about it.

 

Technically, SACD is just a DVD. Sony used a different formatting and clustering when developing their own format (the other one was DVD-Audio; dead by now). The high-resolution layer cannot be decoded by a DVD drive, it needs drives specially designed for it (mostly achieved by software as the lasers are common DVD lasers). The format it contains is called DSD (DirectStreamDigital) which right now experiences a renaissance in audiophile circles. Stupid really... but reasons are difficult to explain without becoming too technical. For playback it´s fine.

 

But as you already said, for copyright reasons Sony used a strong protection that hasn´t been broken even after 14 years. Mostly because no one knows how. Every normal CD player will play the CD layer of the SACD, only SACD capable players will recognize the other layer. This other layer contains two parts: a HiRes 2-channel part and a HiRes multichannel part.

 

Many DVD players or BluRay players can recognize this layer and play it back. My Pioneer DVD player for example (cheap model) and my Pioneer BluRay player (equally cheap). The latter will give the DSD 2-channel signal out via the optical output converted to 24 bit / 88.2 kHz which I then can record digitally and process further.

 

SACD can be compared to HiRes downloads you can buy at for example HDTracks. But if you lack playback mechanisms, you won´t experience the better quality. Even then, the quality advantage is not very big. Many people won´t realize it because it´s so small. I believed for a long time in SACD and I have many. Collected them over many years, mostly classical music. Pop or Rock doesn´t make sense on SACD (except if you´re looking for lossless, HiRes multichannel) since most of them are not HiRes in the first place. I own many native DSD recordings by Telarc, most of them sound pretty well, some of them spectacular. But so does their CD layer (roughly 95% of the SACD sound). SACDs are really inconvenient and IMO Sony should now open up the format. SACDs aren´t sold very often nor are they produced for the the mainstream market anymore. They have been replaced by HiRes downloads - which is a good thing. No more hassle with stupid restrictions.

 

HDCD is just a normal CD. On these discs a signal code is hidden in the least significant bit which switches on some special filters inherent to the HDCD process. Those discs claim to be 20 bit but in reality this is only achieved by clever dithering and filter switching. Your Tubular Bells HDCD for example has the dithering enabled which makes it 17 Bits instead of 16 Bits. 'Peak Extension' (improves dynamics) is not used on that disc.

 

HDCD is unnecessary nowadays since dithering has developed so far that HDCD only is a thing of the past now.

 

Was developed in 1995 by Pacific Micronics and bought in 2000 by Microsoft. foobar2000 can decode it too.



#15 SileEeles

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 07:28 AM

Very interesting, thank you :)






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