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Myth or reality? Volume control in Windows

amirm

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#22
I feel real good today, every day, the sun is shining and the autumn leaves are splendidly colorful.
Was a gorgeous day here too. Nice breeze, 100% clean and blue skies and crisp temps.
 

NorthSky

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#23
In that case unfortunately there is no way to bypass Windows audio processing. You would need a different player like Roon, Foobar2000, etc. to access WASAPI/ASIO.
What audio media player comes with Apple?
 

NorthSky

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#25

Vincent Kars

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#28
I believe you also have to set Allow Exclusive Mode in the Sound CP in Windows.
Correct.
Priority is not a bad one too as it can save you some dropouts.

All operating systems are more or less the same audio wise.
You can have multiple streams hence there is a mixer and as you can’t mix different sample rates, all streams are converted to a fixed rate as set in the audio panel.
As mixing is calculating, everything is converted to float, mixed, dithered and converted back to integer.




All audio is using WASAPI including Direct Sound.
The difference is the mode.
WASAPI in shared mode uses the win audio engine (resampler/mixer)
WASAPI in exclusive mode talks straight to the audio device.

I wonder if Windows Volume control is “bad”.
Yes is converts to float, dithers and back to integer but if we talk 24 bit audio I wonder if there is an audible difference assuming no resampling.

Often media players do have their own volume control.
This will be active even if you use WASAPI.
In essence WASAPI is not about “bit perfect” playback.
It is about transmitting the output of the media player unaltered to an audio device.
It can’t control what is happening upstream hence a media player can do all the DSP you (don't) want.

The windows resampler is “bad”. There is a measurable distortion.
As WASAPI (exclusive) talks straight to the audio device you not only avoid the resampler, you have automatic sample rate switching as well.




Nice article: http://archimago.blogspot.nl/2015/11/measurements-windows-10-audio-stack.html
 

Jinjuku

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#29
Which is why I have an Emotiva DC-1 and use it's volume control with Windows set at 100%.
 

amirm

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#30
Thanks for that. As I mentioned I will post some measurements later. For now, this is the key statement:

"Despite the clear limitations, there is a big benefit to this kind of upsampling - it works fast. This is probably a good thing in the Windows world because the OS runs on so many types of machines ranging from lowly single-core netbooks/tablets/handhelds to full-function multicore desktop workstations. However, for the audiophile "power user", it would be nice if there existed an "Advanced" option where we could choose "high quality" samplerate conversion even if doing this might increase CPU utilization. I guess the fear would be that people with very slow machines might complain if they turned this on by mistake; hassles for the IT support guy maybe."​

The algorithm was designed 15 years ago. I remember being very concerned about how much CPU usage we would have and was surprised how little was spent, making the transformation from the earlier and horrible Windows XP not noticeable on CPU load.

Alas, my team was disbanded 10+ years ago so there is no group or senior management focused on audio fidelity. So not surprising but sad that this was not revisited years ago as CPUs got faster and a better resampler could have been put in there.

As a side historical note, the whole reason that I got my team to re-do the Windows audio stack from the terrible Windows mixer logic in Windows XP was that I noticed it was screwing up even the sound of low bit rate audio! That is, I could hear artifacts of the resampler even when there were horrible compression bit distortions (we are talking about 32 kbps and even lower!). So when we hired JJ, I gave him the task of completely revamping the Windows audio stack and add such things as Room EQ.
 

Old Listener

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#31
Why are we not told by Windows to not use their digital volume control?
Why are they not doing it right in the first place, or correct the issue?
I always have problems with sound quality from various Windows versions.
I lost precious time in trying to find out the reason why.
Today I still don't use the Windows 10 volume control; it sounds so bad that I'm having nightmares in the comfort of my sleep @ night.

By the way, I lost the Audio "Enhancement" feature a long time ago.
I found Windows very mediocre on both the audio and video aspects.
Many times when I open my laptop the camera is gone!
The audio is highly distorted, ...and many other issues.
Computers are not my field of expertise.
Simplicity of life is. I'm just about to switch on the other side of the wall, the brighter side...the Apple side.

WASAPI/ASIO...first time ever in my life I'm just reading it.
Why isn't it not mentioned in Windows audio troubleshooting, on the wide Web world, on the Internet highway of global communication?
The Windows volume control (and other Windows audio processing) would not be responsible for the problems that you describe. Bypassing it with WASAPI or ASIO makes a small difference.

If you describe your system thoroughly, we might be able to help you solve your problems.

You have not provided much information about how you play music. What steps do you take to play a music file? Once you have started playing a music file, what do you see on the screen? Do you see a window that appeared when you started playing music? Do you see the name of a program on the title bar of that window?

You said "And the speaker driver is from Realtek." That is probably the software for the motherboard audio output that is part of your computer. Whether or not it is being used depends on how your computer sends audio to the headphones or amp+speakers that produce sound. It would help to know how your computer is connected to the rest of your system. (3.5mm cable, USB cable to a DAC, a toslink (SPDIF) optical cable) or some other kind of connection. If you are plugging a audio cable into an amplifier, what kind of input to the amp are you using? (line level or a low level input intended for input from a turntable).
 

NorthSky

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#33
The Windows volume control (and other Windows audio processing) would not be responsible for the problems that you describe. Bypassing it with WASAPI or ASIO makes a small difference.

If you describe your system thoroughly, we might be able to help you solve your problems.

You have not provided much information about how you play music. What steps do you take to play a music file? Once you have started playing a music file, what do you see on the screen? Do you see a window that appeared when you started playing music? Do you see the name of a program on the title bar of that window?

You said "And the speaker driver is from Realtek." That is probably the software for the motherboard audio output that is part of your computer. Whether or not it is being used depends on how your computer sends audio to the headphones or amp+speakers that produce sound. It would help to know how your computer is connected to the rest of your system. (3.5mm cable, USB cable to a DAC, a toslink (SPDIF) optical cable) or some other kind of connection. If you are plugging a audio cable into an amplifier, what kind of input to the amp are you using? (line level or a low level input intended for input from a turntable).
My PC and my laptop are not connected to my main audio rig.
They are independent, secondary audio sources, very.

Windows own media player is used to play my audio files, and from the headphones the sound is much better than the small integrated stereo speakers. I also use, occasionally, a secondary stereo sound system permanently connected to my PC, using the analog stereo jack.

For hi-fi sound through my main audio gear playing the hi-res audio files from my laptop I use a HDMI connection.

I have no serious issues; my main issue is with Windows own volume control when playing through the laptop speakers. I have to put the level very low, no more than 25 @ the very max, with a range from zero to 100.
But if I'm using external speakers it sounds Ok.
The issue is with the Realtek device, and the volume control when using that device. I just bother not. Because I don't use that for serious music listening.

This thread mentioned Windows volume control, and what could possibly be wrong with it. It attracted my interest from my own experience. I am sharing the little I have, and learning the bigger I get.

I'm good, I live with the trademarks of Windows and the inconveniences and insignificant life compromises in our computerised world...Windows.

Today is going too fast for spending time in fixing other's mistakes.
I've got autumn leaves to rake and sun to breathe, to bath in.
 

Soniclife

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#34
I wonder if Windows Volume control is “bad”.
Yes is converts to float, dithers and back to integer but if we talk 24 bit audio I wonder if there is an audible difference assuming no resampling.
That seems the key question for the OP. I'm sure it's not as good as Roon's, but is it bad like the resampler, about as good as you can do in 24 bits, or somewhere in between.
 

Soniclife

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#35
Alas, my team was disbanded 10+ years ago so there is no group or senior management focused on audio fidelity. So not surprising but sad that this was not revisited years ago as CPUs got faster and a better resampler could have been put in there.
In something that claims to have a 'creators edition' you would hope it has been addressed, but I doubt it.
 

amirm

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#36
In something that claims to have a 'creators edition' you would hope it has been addressed, but I doubt it.
I am actually shocked about the whole focus on "creativity" just the same for visuals. Alas, there is next to nothing in the OS to indicate they have done anything significant there either.

I will test the volume control too and see where it stands today as I have the latest update on my computer.
 

Blumlein 88

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#37
My thoughts as well. What made this a "Creator's Edition"? Like if they put a name on it that's what makes the difference.
 

RayDunzl

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#38
Digital volume reduction is what?

A fractional multiplication of each sample, with rounding error?

Internally, I suspect most modern devices operate at a 24bit (or higher) level, so the rounding error is miniscule.

How can you mess that up?
 

RayDunzl

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#39
How can you mess that up?
Well, ok.

On our ISDN Adjuct trial (1987) at US West in Denver, we'd test all week, no problem, let it run over the weekend, and then Monday morning crash - restart until that sequence escalated into a full reload of the system and icy cold restart.

Head scratching ensued.

Same thing next Monday.

Somebody had coded the Data Billing to subtract one packet and compare to zero when a connection was terminated in order to "count" the number of packets sent. When enough packets (over the weekend) had been sent, the time it took to perform that operation (instead of a simple subtraction) caused a watchdog timer to overflow and restart the machine.

Since billing data was reserved in all level restarts up to a full reload it kept restarting, and trying to bill that connection, and crashing, and escalating the restart level until it gave up.

The Japanese insisted the programmer had done nothing wrong.

We disagreed, and they changed the code.
 

amirm

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#40
Digital volume reduction is what?

A fractional multiplication of each sample, with rounding error?

Internally, I suspect most modern devices operate at a 24bit (or higher) level, so the rounding error is miniscule.

How can you mess that up?
It is actually done in floating point in Windows. Back to integer it goes through dither which adds some noise. It should be pretty good but I still like to test it.

In Windows XP the volume control was horrible as I don't think they dithered. I could change the volume control one notch and have it become bright, and then one more notch and it would sound better!
 
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