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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I had a shocker yesterday. I was trying to tune my Car audio system on my Samsung 3s since I don't have real EQ hardware yet. Google Play had an update which a 5 band EQ I was using, stopped working. Therefor I switched over to WinAmp Pro, which has a more clunky EQ interface but is 10 band. With a flat EQ signal playing the exact same sound file, the difference was immediate to a flat Google Play signal. The sound was cleaner and much more responsive . I looked at the signal on the RTA and sure enough the slope was a lot more smoother and tighter (sorry don't know the correct terminology). Winamp does have a prevent clipping option but even when I turned it off the sound was still better.

 

I don't know enough on how to test what is going on but it never dawned on me that software could matter so much in regards to sound quality. I don't know what is going on and I would need to play around and test some other software, but what is going on that the difference would be so audible? I don't know the science well enough but I would of thought 256k MP3 should play the same but it is being processed differently somehow.
 

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if one of the EQ sections is not transparent, they'll sound different. AFAIK, highly unlikely that conversion of the MP3 itself to PCM is where the issue is. It's the processing software that's poorly implemented . . . .


Like my old analog 32 band EQ that always added hiss whenever any band was adjusted to something other than zero. A design fail. also like my phone, which adds nasty noise between songs and at least sometimes overlays a haze of very ugly noise in quieter passages. Makes listening to it suitable for lawn mowing and, if I stay away from jazz and classical, taking walks where I have no alternative. But it drives me nuts. IDK if it's a software or hardware issue . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Here is the weird part I never noticed it with a decent set of  headphone. My headphone still sound better than the system. However when I listened closely I can barely tell the difference it just was not as pronounced with headphones. Therefore it that case it could be in my head on head phones.  I also noticed an improvement via Bluetooth. Although it was not as drastic so it could not be the powered line, although that might be some of it. This was all done at volume no higher than 2/3rd on the phone. I just though the software was all running the same decoding codac and it was all about options and user interface. I just never had read over the years one player sounding better than another on the same hardware. I just was wondering if players are now about enhancing sound, or some how modifying the single. I did not think they did that unless the some option in the software was explicated asking.

 

I notice when I turn the preamp up on Winamp it started to distort pass a few db increase. So could Google play be applying a preamp? I will check to see if the levels differ.
 

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MP3 is just a specification. Implementors are free to buy or write their own decoders. There is no central entity which certifies them. As a result, the decoding quality does vary. Here is a rating of a few decoders from years back:




In the context of phones, using least amount of power is important so some shortcuts may be taken there too although in this day and age, those processors are so fast and efficient that hopefully they are no longer doing that.


In addition to the MP3 decoder, there are other software implementations. You mentioned EQ. There are indeed poor implementations of that. Building a nice one requires more care than many put in them. And one universal down side is that you need "headroom" to make them work meaning you have to lower the levels which is the option you saw in one of the players. Without it, it can cause clipping which badly distorts the music.
 
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