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Discussion Thread, Linux Audio Issues and Ideas


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#1 Rocky Bennett

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 04:42 AM

Hello Everybody,
I have been away from the Linux forum for awhile because I did not want to post anything here while not running Linux on my system. I know, I was very active here and I really loved Linux, I tried all kinds of different distros and multi-booted with a lot of different flavors and I generally had a real good time with Linux and the community here. Unfortunately as a music lover the whole Linux thing never really 100% worked for me. I never could get any Linux distribution or application to give me the "PURE" sound quality that I was used to with Windows. A little bit of a back story.
 
I am a music lover and I started collecting albums in 1965 when I was 8 years old. Of course I started with the Beatles but I soon discovered all kinds of great music including old blues and jazz. Right now I have over 6,000 albums and a very nice home hi fi system in which to enjoy my music. In 2008 I began a journey of computer audio and I began ripping all of my albums to high resolution music files. I am just about done with this project but I am continuously obtaining new albums, so I will probably never really finish. 
 
Since most of my music is on my computer, I never really know when I want to listen to an album or even just play a song. Linux audio sucks. http://tuxradar.com/content/how-it-works-linux-audio-explained I never could get any application on any distribution to provide me with a pure, clean high fidelity sound. So if I was using Linux and wanted to enjoy an album, I had to switch over to Windows to enjoy the album. With Windows and WASAPI https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/dd371455(v=vs.85).aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396 I get bit perfect audio output, no distortion or anything, just my music.
 
As you might be aware, there are a multitude of products and an entire community built up around computer audiophile  http://www.computeraudiophile.com/ I have been lucky enough to enjoy this wonderful hobby for a few years, but unfortunately Linux added a layer of distortion that just impeded my enjoyment.
 
Again guys, I love you all and I still read the threads over here in the Linux section, but I can't honestly participate much anymore because I have to obey the music.
 
Thanks for all of the help and all of the fun.
 
Rocky Bennett

Edited by Al1000, 12 May 2017 - 06:19 AM.
Title changed at OP's suggestion

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#2 Condobloke

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 04:54 AM

any help here...?

 

http://www.ap-linux.com/


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#3 Gary R

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 05:28 AM

Personally I don't believe in "bit perfect" reproductions of audio. Audio is an analogue entity, and as such any digital representation of it has errors (quantisation errors) which cannot be removed.

 

Can you find a reproduction that is pleasant to your ear, most certainly yes, however, that does not mean that you have found a "pure" reproduction, since all reproductions introduce errors from the original sound, either through the signalling methodology, the equipment used to render the audio signal, or the ability of the listener to differentiate between differences in tone (and that ability deteriorates markedly as you get older).

 

As an ex-BBC engineer, I know that in most cases, a bad listening experience is much more influenced by the latter two reasons than by the signal encoding process.



#4 Platypus

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 07:01 AM

https://www.xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml

Top 5 things that never get done:

1.


#5 mremski

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 07:02 AM

If it doesn't work for your needs, it doesn't work for you.  Perhaps if enough folks with similar interests as the OP got together to help fund a project that would solve their problem, the situation would change.  Hardware vendors don't want to give their secrets away for free, so any device drivers they write or pay to have written are targeted towards the dominant OS.  Part of this is the Linux/Open Source community has very few folks that actually get paid for anything vs the number of users, so people work on what interests them.

 

As a sw engineer who's been down in the bits and bytes of hardware for a long time, I agree with Gary.  Every analog to digital back to analog will have errors, the number of bits and the algorithms used to encode/decode will simply minimize the errors.  Some folks can hear the errors, others can't.  A lot depends on the type of music (seriously, is anyone going to hear errors in a Katy Perry song?).  At one point in time, transistors were the "digital" against the tube "analog".

 

Similar thing exists with digital vs silver based photography:  no way that even current technology can equal the subtle gradations on good B&W material.  Digital is getting better, but not equal.

 

OP:

I assume you're using an external codec of some kind to take the digital signal and push them to analog preamps/amps?  A lot of codecs involve patents that may not be licensed freely enough for the OpenSource community.  Toss in that's specialized hardware that a developer would have to physically have to write and test the best device driver and you can see why Linux Audio didn't fit your needs.


Edited by mremski, 12 June 2016 - 07:37 AM.

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#6 Rocky Bennett

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 09:12 AM

any help here...?

 

http://www.ap-linux.com/

 

 

I never could figure out how to install that. I looked into it, but I just couldn't actually implement it.


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#7 Rocky Bennett

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 09:15 AM

Personally I don't believe in "bit perfect" reproductions of audio. Audio is an analogue entity, and as such any digital representation of it has errors (quantisation errors) which cannot be removed.

 

Can you find a reproduction that is pleasant to your ear, most certainly yes, however, that does not mean that you have found a "pure" reproduction, since all reproductions introduce errors from the original sound, either through the signalling methodology, the equipment used to render the audio signal, or the ability of the listener to differentiate between differences in tone (and that ability deteriorates markedly as you get older).

 

As an ex-BBC engineer, I know that in most cases, a bad listening experience is much more influenced by the latter two reasons than by the signal encoding process.

 

 

For the sake of computer audio, the definition of "bit perfect" is that stream of information that comes out of the computer exactly matches the information in the original file. There is no more to it than that. The argument between digital and analogue has absolutely no bearing.

 

Is reality digital or analogue? We may never know.

 

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/is-reality-digital-or-analog-read-the-essays-and-cast-your-vote/


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#8 Rocky Bennett

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 09:22 AM

 

 

Very good video. Everybody that is interested in music reproduction should view that video.


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#9 dannyboy950

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 09:26 AM

I for one will miss your insights. You spoke at a level I could understand a little better than most of the others helping.

They tended to talk way above my head lol

Since I do not do music at all I have nothing useful to add.

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#10 RolandJS

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 09:27 AM

Rocky, you have more than one computer, yes?  Ok, keep Linux on the computer you don't use for music.  For the computer you use for music - whichever Windows works best for you.  I see no reason for not being loyal to both Linux on the non-music computer to Windows on your music computer.

 

Let me give a political example:  I lean toward Republican values and beliefs AND I lean toward total Civil Rights for all Americans.  Being Republican and for Civil Rights is not mutually exclusive.

 

All you Linux fans out there "Rocky!  Rocky!  Rocky!"  Get him into the Linux ring [on his non-music computer]!


Edited by RolandJS, 12 June 2016 - 09:32 AM.

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#11 Rocky Bennett

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 10:01 AM

Thanks Roland. Me and my wife live alone, we have one computer in the house, one television in the house and three stereos hooked to my NAS system. I don't even own a laptop, just this stupid big rig that I built myself.

 

Oh well, it was a good idea.


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#12 RolandJS

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 10:08 AM

...we have one computer in the house...I don't even own a laptop...Oh well, it was a good idea.

An Englishman once at an American university intoned something like:  Never, never, never give up!

Ok, buy a dirt cheap laptop, put Linux galore on it, and simply have pure fun on the Linux laptop, and you can still answer Linux questions here in BC   :)   You do have a birthday coming up, correct?  There's always Christmas...    [Hey!  Where's the Linux audience shrills when we need 'em?]


Edited by RolandJS, 12 June 2016 - 10:09 AM.

"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)

"I heard Spock finally got colander!"  "I believe the word is Kolinahr."  "Oh."


#13 MadmanRB

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 10:39 AM

What a stupid thing to quit linux over.

I never once had issues with sound on linux, never once bought a sound card nor expensive gear.

I have a set of $30 speakers with a sub woofer and sound is good on both windows and linux.

But hey dem wubs right?


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#14 mremski

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 10:57 AM

 

Personally I don't believe in "bit perfect" reproductions of audio. Audio is an analogue entity, and as such any digital representation of it has errors (quantisation errors) which cannot be removed.

 

Can you find a reproduction that is pleasant to your ear, most certainly yes, however, that does not mean that you have found a "pure" reproduction, since all reproductions introduce errors from the original sound, either through the signalling methodology, the equipment used to render the audio signal, or the ability of the listener to differentiate between differences in tone (and that ability deteriorates markedly as you get older).

 

As an ex-BBC engineer, I know that in most cases, a bad listening experience is much more influenced by the latter two reasons than by the signal encoding process.

 

 

For the sake of computer audio, the definition of "bit perfect" is that stream of information that comes out of the computer exactly matches the information in the original file. There is no more to it than that. The argument between digital and analogue has absolutely no bearing.

 

Is reality digital or analogue? We may never know.

 

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/is-reality-digital-or-analog-read-the-essays-and-cast-your-vote/

 

 

 

I'm trying to understand the scope of the problem.   Your definition of "bit perfect":  isn't that basically what the operating system does?  Heck if Linux truly had issues with that things like NFS wouldn't work or pretty much any network traffic at gig speeds would have problems.  Was it more the applications could not present the data to the external device fast enough?  If the data is a file full of signed 16 bit little endian values, representing samples at 44kHz (CD quality audio), the OS is responsible for reading that from the file and handing the buffer to the application and then the application handing it to the output device.   There are multiple sets of buffers in the way (file system buffers, audio buffers presented to the device), so as long as new buffers are presented to the output device so there are no underruns, there shouldn't be an issue.

 

I'm not trying to convince you one way or the other, just trying to understand what the problem was.  As long as you are talking digital source and digital out of the computer, then there is no digital to analog.  Is there any resampling going on, so that your digital output is a different format from your input? 


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#15 Rocky Bennett

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 01:14 PM

My understanding on the subject is not clear (not in the least) but I think that because Linux has more layers of audio processing than Windows the output is vastly different. With WASAPI in Windows https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/dd371455(v=vs.85).aspx there is no processing at all, the data stream just passes from the file location to the output jack. With Linux the data stream is treated like an audio stream and must pass through different layers of software  http://tuxradar.com/content/how-it-works-linux-audio-explained  including ALSA, Jack and Pulse Audio. Each layer of software alters the data stream very slightly to the point that the output of the data stream is not bit identical to the file.

 

Like I said, my understanding is not clear at all but the evidence is that on the same computer hooked up to the same stereo components everybody can tell the difference, including my Grandchildren. My Wife made me do several tests on some of her favorite songs and the difference between Linux and Windows is striking. The actual difference is a smaller soundstage using Linux, as well as a less defined musical focus. Yes the musicians are playing their instruments, but with Linux the stage is constricted and the musicians do not stand in their own space/time domain.

 

With Windows, the soundstage is exactly like it is on the original album, whether it is a single blues player recorded in his home in Mississippi in 1932 or a big jazz band in a great hall in New York. Growing up with many of these albums I am very familiar with the recording process and the studio that was used, as well as with the mixing engineer and especially the mastering engineer. When I listen to an album on my computer I do not want the experience compromised from the way the album has always sounded to me, I want the album and all of the musicians to sound the same way that they did 30 or 40 years ago on my Dad's stereo. Windows gives me this experience.


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