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  1. #1
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    [Audio] Improve your sound quality ?

    Here we go! This is the second edition of this tutorial, I earned a lot of knowledge in the domain these last months so I thought it'd be necessary to share it with everyone who'd love to improve they sound experience and over all, get rid of the awful sound rendering provided by the motherboard integrated chipset (Realtek).

    1) Source

    It all starts by the sound card! You'll obviously need a new sound card in order to improve the sound quality properly. There are two major brands on the market: Creative and Asus. I'd personally recommend an Asus product though (I actually own two of the products below and heard many bad things about Creative products. Also Asus products works with the Dolby technology.)


    Asus Xonar Phoebus (Republic Of Gamers) - 134.99€
    This is my sound card. (Includes an amplifier to support 300Ω Headphones).

    Asus Xonar U7 - 85.99€
    My brother's sound card, I'd say it's almost the same as the Phoebus, it's just that you don't have all the gaming features, which are totally useless anyway because it doesn't provides any improvement at all.
    It's an USB external soundcard, it's useful if you don't have any free PCI/PCI-E slot on your motherboard.

    Asus Xonar Essence STX - 169.99€
    This is probably the best internal sound card that you can find on the market. Thisone will hurt your wallet but accorded to what i've seen, it's totally worth it. Note that the STX II did just get released (269.99€) and includes 7.1 input for your home cinema. This sound card also supports mighty amplifiers.
    (Not that this card requieres RCA to Jack converters or/and Jack 6.3mm to 3.5mm converters)

    2) Headphones

    I will unfortunately not be arguing about speakers in this thread, however if you want the most Hi-Fi sound, avoid all the "gaming" sound systems. It generally has good basses and a very clear sound for noises but doesn't handle the music very well. About headphones: note that you'll need at least 100 hours of use to fully exploit your headphones's potential. Check this spoiler to see a list of few headphones I'd avise.


    Make sure to order a correct product. Note that audiophile/Hi-Fi headphones will always be better than those fancy gaming things.

    Here's a description of the different kinds of products you'll find over the market:

    Gaming: Usually good looking headphones, with a certain style, even too "bling bling" sometimes with flashy (useless) LEDs anywhere... these heaphones also includes a microphone, which is very useful for conferences.
    Certain uses the 5.1 or the 7.1 technologies, which allows to control certain channels independently.
    However take care about those having style but nothing in the ears...

    Audiophile: Also called "home headphones" due to they size, those headphones are specially made to listen the music. It goes from the basic series to the professional DJ headphones. They price can sometimes reach much higher values than gaming stuff. And there is a good reason! The sound quality, even for a basic stereo, is one hundred times better than any gaming stuff.

    Out/Sport: Those are the most little headphones, sometimes even wireless. Usually used to walk in the street... they have none interest in this thread since it is completely pointless to use that kind of stuff for a computer. Also, the sound quality of these are very limited, mostly due to they size which is reduced a lot.

    Useless to say that if you wan the best sound possible, you'll obviously need one of those "home headphones".

    Music's world never ends to hurt the wallet... So i've rated the products by category:

    Low wallet
    AKG K511
    Sennheiser HD 419 (closed)
    (My previous headphones, very comfortable, very decent sound for its price.)
    Sennheiser HD 439 (closed)

    Medium wallet
    AKG K142 HD (open)
    AKG K242 HD (semi-open)
    AKG K272 HD (closed)
    (What my brother has, very very very comfortable headphones)
    AKG K550 (dynamic open)
    (My headphones, just incredible. Less comfortable than the K272 though.)
    Sennheiser HD 380 (closed)
    Sennheiser HD 558 (open)

    Big Wallet
    AKG Q701 (semi-open)
    Beyerdynamics DT 880 (semi-open)
    Focal Spirit (closed)

    Cresus wallet
    Audio Technica ATH-W5000 (closed)
    Beyerdynamics T5p (closed)
    Sennheiser HD800 (open)

    For god's sake, avoid beats by dre...

    3) Media player

    Now you need to get rid of the Windows Media Player. Here's a list of the most popular media players:

    Winamp: https://www.winamp.com/ (Music)
    Foobar2000: https://www.foobar2000.org/ (Music, File converter)
    VLC: https://www.videolan.org/vlc/ (Music, Movies)

    There's much more of course, but those above are the most interesting. I've been using Winamp since a while but I've recently took Foobar2000 again because of a little issue I had with Winamp (Winamp's and Windows's volume were both variating when I was setting it with the keyboard media key). Foobar's very useful to convert WAV files into MP3 for your car or convert WAV to FLAC or uncompress FLAC to WAV. (Make sure to download the codecs)
    Most of media players has they own graphic equalizer, but you shouldn't touch it.

    4) Graphic equalizer

    It's a complicated but very important step to refine the sound at your needs.
    Note that you have only to set the EQ from the sound card pilote and never from the media player.
    Let's give a look at how i've set my EQ:

    Legend: Basses; Mediums; Trebles

    Usually, the EQ setting will always be different for everyone, it depends of your audio source, hardware and your preferences. If you like a rich sound with basses, you'll raise the 3 first frequences (32,64,125) and if you dislikes agressive trebles like me, you'll reduce the high frequences (4K, 8K, 16K). Don't reduce the trebles too much though, otherwise it will sound played from behind a closed door. For people sensible to trebles, I advise to reduce the 4K a little bit, that'll be much better
    Enable the Surround. The "Intelligent Equalizer" is an interesting feature proposed by this pilote, it corrects automaticly when some frequences are too high/low and balances the sound rendering.

    Forget all those music genre presets that you can encounter on any drivers, it's total bullshit.

    5) File format

    Watch out not to download your music from a bad source. Authentify your track format/bitrate to be sure you've got a quality file. Check this thread for further informations:

    Here's a list of most common file format:

    WAV: Studio (24bit/96k); CD (16bit/44.1k) Quality.
    FLAC: Free Lossless Audio Codec, reversible compression of a WAV format. Useful to reduce the track's size and make place on your hard drive disk. (Not all devices can read this format, also reading FLAC formats on your smartphone will drain your battery faster).
    MP3: Irreversible compression. Very low file size but loss on the track's integrity (quality).
    Check the thread above to certify your track has a bitrate of 320kbps.
    M4A: VBR (Variable) Apple compression. Average bitrate of 256kbps.
    ALAC: Apple Lossless.
    AIFF: Let's say it's Apple's WAV (Audio Interchange File Format).

    I hope i've made everything clear. Now you can enjoy a real immersive sound experience
    Last edited by Skyward; 20.04.2014 at 19:15.

  2. #2
    Campers Clan

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    Downloads: 55  Uploads: 4

    just discovered this media reader this is fuckin' incredible:


  3. #3
    Campers Clan

    Join Date
    January 2008

    Downloads: 55  Uploads: 4

    Finally found something interesting about the sample rate:

    If you buy hardware mentioning you can listen up to 118db or even 124db, it will be totally useless if you listen any compressed format or even uncompressed with a sample rate of 16 bit. See the graphic above, only 24 bit sample rate (or above, which is useless anyway) allows to reach those 124db.

    So it has nothing to do with the sound quality, but with the sound level that you can reach.



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