JRiver Media Center Owner's Thread - Page 63 - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1861 of 1868 Old 04-28-2015, 03:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greggplummer View Post
The other response is mostly correct. The audio driver is the software that allows your audio hardware to communicate with your operating system. There are different types of drivers, some are designed to work simply with audio playback. Others may be more sophisticated and allow things like surround sound and bass management. Others might be geared more for a recording studio and have a nice mixer panel to control routing of inputs and outputs.

An audio device at the consumer level is usually called a sound card. Since most pro level audio device were external boxes, they were usually referred to as audio interfaces. So maybe it's an internal/external thing, but basically audio interfaces are just higher end soundcards. The audio interface might have a USB or a FireWire cable connection.

The DAC is a chip in the audio device that converts the digital data into an analog signal - digital to analog converter. Audio devices for recording will also have an ADC - analog to digital converter. There's a lot more to these than just the DAC. There might be a sophisticated DSP chip for special recording/routing features or effects. However, for music enthusiasts, the most important part is the analog circuitry that follows the DAC. So 2 sound devices with the same DAC chip might sound differently because of the design of their analog circuitry. There's a bit of artistry to the analog design. It's also very much a subjective thing.

Consumer audio devices are designed primarily as playback devices and might have some nice gaming features. The components have average to good specs, but they typically don't have anything special for the analog circuitry. There are some higher end consumer products that do a little better and are targeted at music playback, like the ASUS U7 you mentioned. Pro audio components are really designed for recording studios. They use good quality components, but don't use expensive components to get the best playback performance. These products are more spec driven and their sound is more neutral or transparent. I don't really no where to begin to describe the audiophile gear. This is the stuff designed primarily for music playback and they have put a lot into their analog design and use what they consider are the best sounding components. Thus, these products can be pretty expensive. That market is a bit of a mess as far as I'm concerned. The main reason for this is because of a lack of a native USB Audio Class 2.0 driver for Windows. Most of the audiophile manufacturers don't have software driver expertise, nor do they want to use a proprietary driver, so they have some limitations. I think if Microsoft were to finally provide a native driver, We'd see a lot more audiophile solutions.

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From my research, the pro audio interfaces/sound cards (or what ever you want to call them) are very good, but, to my knowledge, there are very few, if any consumer level or audiophile style audio interfaces/sound cards that can input and output at least 6 or more channels, and the ones that can, are very expensive. I have a simple 5.4 home theater setup and a separate, dedicated 2 channel music setup that I am hoping to use with JRiver in order to simplify the way I use and interact with my listening enjoyment having my PC be both the control center and the source..

I plan to use, (what ever I end up going with), a unit with a minimum of 6 inputs and 6 outputs going straight into my amplifiers with no AVR or pre/pro in between them. My amplifiers are pro audio amps, specifically, I use multiple Behringer iNuke1000dsp's for the front LCR's and one iNuke1000dsp for the surrounds with two iNuke3000's for my four subs. I would really like to find an audio interface/sound card/whatever that has balanced outputs and still cost under $300.

Right now the plan is to buy the Asus Xonar U7 and use it to get started and learn the ropes then in a couple of months upgrade to something like a Behringer FCA-1616 or a Focusrite 18i20 if I can afford it. I have been into audio and home theater for over 20 years, and into the DIY side of things for 4-5+ years, however, I have an extremely limited amount of experience with computers. lol.
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post #1862 of 1868 Old 04-28-2015, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Tip24/96 View Post

Right now the plan is to buy the Asus Xonar U7 and use it to get started and learn the ropes then in a couple of months upgrade to something like a Behringer FCA-1616 or a Focusrite 18i20 if I can afford it. I have been into audio and home theater for over 20 years, and into the DIY side of things for 4-5+ years, however, I have an extremely limited amount of experience with computers. lol.
Why do you think the Behringer or Focusrite will be an improvement over the Asus? Just because of the balanced outputs? Unless the transmitter and receiver are of very good design, then balanced brings no benefit especially in the relatively quiet (electrically) environment of a domestic home. Just make the correct interconnects. See here.
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post #1863 of 1868 Old 04-30-2015, 03:35 AM
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Why do you think the Behringer or Focusrite will be an improvement over the Asus? Just because of the balanced outputs? Unless the transmitter and receiver are of very good design, then balanced brings no benefit especially in the relatively quiet (electrically) environment of a domestic home. Just make the correct interconnects. See here.
Honestly, as to why I think the Focusrite (not sure about the Behringer?) will sound better than the Asus Xonar U7 is due to its better performing DAC, analog output stage, and better circuitry over all, although, I could be totally wrong on this assumption. Besides that, another thing that draws me to the Focusrite or Behringer are the balanced outputs, which I always prefer to use whenever possible, especially considering that all of my amps have balanced inputs. I know that having balanced connections will have no affect on the sound quality, though.

It would be nice if the Asus U7 did in fact sound just as good as the Focusrite. I wish that I could find someone that has used both and could compare the sound quality between the two!
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post #1864 of 1868 Old 04-30-2015, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tip24/96 View Post
Honestly, as to why I think the Focusrite (not sure about the Behringer?) will sound better than the Asus Xonar U7 is due to its better performing DAC, analog output stage, and better circuitry over all, although, I could be totally wrong on this assumption. Besides that, another thing that draws me to the Focusrite or Behringer are the balanced outputs, which I always prefer to use whenever possible, especially considering that all of my amps have balanced inputs. I know that having balanced connections will have no affect on the sound quality, though.

It would be nice if the Asus U7 did in fact sound just as good as the Focusrite. I wish that I could find someone that has used both and could compare the sound quality between the two!
What you appear to be looking to do here is (effectively) using a PC built for pro audio (recording, mixing, mastering) as an HTPC. Not a bad idea overall. You might go knock around some of the pro audio equipment forums out there and see what is said about the units. Focusrite is extremely well-regarded in the PA world - so there is some safety there - but also probably some "brand inflation."

Side note: Balanced connections exhibit their primary benefit when there are long cable runs involved, where cable shields lose their effectiveness and where the cable becomes a very efficient antenna as it gets longer, picking up "common mode noise" in the form of induced RFI and sticking it in your signal path. Balanced connections are the treatment for this problem, since they "cancel out" common mode noise at the input side of the connection.

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post #1865 of 1868 Old 04-30-2015, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tip24/96 View Post
From my research, the pro audio interfaces/sound cards (or what ever you want to call them) are very good, but, to my knowledge, there are very few, if any consumer level or audiophile style audio interfaces/sound cards that can input and output at least 6 or more channels, and the ones that can, are very expensive. I have a simple 5.4 home theater setup and a separate, dedicated 2 channel music setup that I am hoping to use with JRiver in order to simplify the way I use and interact with my listening enjoyment having my PC be both the control center and the source..

I plan to use, (what ever I end up going with), a unit with a minimum of 6 inputs and 6 outputs going straight into my amplifiers with no AVR or pre/pro in between them. My amplifiers are pro audio amps, specifically, I use multiple Behringer iNuke1000dsp's for the front LCR's and one iNuke1000dsp for the surrounds with two iNuke3000's for my four subs. I would really like to find an audio interface/sound card/whatever that has balanced outputs and still cost under $300.

Right now the plan is to buy the Asus Xonar U7 and use it to get started and learn the ropes then in a couple of months upgrade to something like a Behringer FCA-1616 or a Focusrite 18i20 if I can afford it. I have been into audio and home theater for over 20 years, and into the DIY side of things for 4-5+ years, however, I have an extremely limited amount of experience with computers. lol.
That's exactly the solution I tried to solve several years ago. I created a business to manufacture an audiophile grade multichannel audio interface. I wanted it to be similar to a very nice pro audio product with a very high-quality DAC and output stage. But with drivers that would work with more than just 2 channel audio playback, so you could use it to listen to high-quality audio when watching Blu-ray movies or concerts or listen to DVD-Audio surround recordings. Plus, I wanted this device to work for programs like Windows Media Center when you watch TV. So it needed to have a driver that the operating system recognized as a multichannel audio device, just like the onboard 5.1 audio or consumer 7.1 soundcards. None of the pro audio cards could do this. They mostly relied on ASIO drivers and would only work with software for audio editing and recording, with the exception of JRiver Media Center. My biggest hurdle was the drivers. I was hoping that Microsoft, like Apple, would create a native USB Audio Class 2.0 driver, so that a product like mine could be close to plug-n-play and not have to worry about supporting a proprietary driver and force customers to my website to get the latest driver updates. I don't think the business would be sustainable unless I could make a product that was high quality and very consumer friendly.
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post #1866 of 1868 Old Yesterday, 08:03 AM
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A few weeks ago I bought a new computer to use as a HTPC.


I now have JRiver on it and I'm so impressed with it.


Audio -> Perfect
Video -> Perfect


I've actually never experienced a computer working so well,... it's amazing.
Why does anyone go any other way?... I can't really imagine why anyone with a PC for use as HTPC would use anything else.


-Brian
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post #1867 of 1868 Old Today, 11:37 AM
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Wanna See My ID?

Hey,

River now sells rebuilt hardware with Jriver installed and they call them ID.

like this stuff...

http://jriver.com/Id/

Well I don't have one of those but I put Windows 10 and Jriver on a Dell Tower type and it must be similar. It's working great.

I guess much of the pre-packaged ID systems run linux but I need windows because I use the 3D LUT video processing of MadVR.



I removed the DVD drive and added a SSD for OS and a 3TB drive for data (to complement 2 other NAS units.)

So far it's the best HTPC experience I ever had... though... I was gone from HTPC for a long while.
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post #1868 of 1868 Old Today, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LairdWilliams View Post
What you appear to be looking to do here is (effectively) using a PC built for pro audio (recording, mixing, mastering) as an HTPC. Not a bad idea overall. You might go knock around some of the pro audio equipment forums out there and see what is said about the units. Focusrite is extremely well-regarded in the PA world - so there is some safety there - but also probably some "brand inflation."

Side note: Balanced connections exhibit their primary benefit when there are long cable runs involved, where cable shields lose their effectiveness and where the cable becomes a very efficient antenna as it gets longer, picking up "common mode noise" in the form of induced RFI and sticking it in your signal path. Balanced connections are the treatment for this problem, since they "cancel out" common mode noise at the input side of the connection.
It was pro audio devices that first made the HTPC a viable alternative to high dollar pre-pros. Here is a thread from 2003 that was one of the first I read at AVS: High-End Analogue Soundcard Shootout: LynxTWO, RME DIGI96/8 PAD and Delta 1010

The a PC build for pro audio is exactly what makes the best HTPC for the following reasons:
  1. Line inputs can be used for connecting a pro/processor or SACD player and using JRiver's DSP (similar to how a miniDSP 8x8 works)
  2. Line inputs are also useful when connecting a measurement mic with its own preamp such as my Earthworks M30BX
  3. Mic inputs are useful for connecting a measurement mic that needs phantom power such as my iSEMcon EMM-7107
  4. Multi-client ASIO support is essential when routing from one program to another (Audiolense through JRiver for convolution measurements)
  5. Multi-client ASIO support is essential when using various outputs for different zones playing at the same time (living room and kitchen)
  6. Headphone outputs are helpful when the kids want to listen to one thing and you want to listen to something else - or when you want to watch a movie late a night and use headphones
  7. A mixer with good routing (like the Motu devices) is essential when using the ASIO line-in input on JRiver.

Two of JRiver's developers use the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 so it has already been vetted for HTPC use.

Balanced output is important for an HTPC because of the higher voltage available from audio devices. Most have +20 to +24 dBu available which provides the necessary headroom when doing parametric EQ or convolution. It also provides a much lower noise floor in the signal chain and allows one to use lower gain in the amp. Here is a quote from Benchmark about their latest amp, the AHB2:

Quote:
The AHB2 is a low-gain design. Maximum output is not reached until the balanced inputs reach +22 dBu. This is a much higher signal level than is used at the input of most power amplifiers. High interface signal levels are required to achieve the best possible system signal to noise ratio (SNR). Most power amplifiers have far too much gain and consequently they suffer from poor noise performance. The AHB2 is 10 dB to 30 dB quieter than some of the very best power amplifiers on the market. A rear-panel gain switch can be used to set the AHB2 at higher gain settings if necessary. The low-gain setting is designed to interface directly with Benchmark DAC2 converters and other professional audio products.
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