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  • 12-13-2006, 11:13 PM
    HIFI on MCE
    I would like to solicit some thoughts about the putting my music library in MCE for easy access.

    What i'm doing is ripping all my CD collections at the highest bit rate possible (lossless in WMA format-according to Microsoft this is Audiophile grade) and storing it on some sort of data base which can then be accessable by MCE. My MCE PC is connected to the receiver and an LCD monitor acts a the GUI which i can then use the MCE remote pretty much like a TV remote. I like the set up a lot because i don't need to put a CD on my player everytime i want to hear the music and the fact that you can access your entire music library via a remote is a killer for me.

    My concern though is the quality of the music. I feel that even though the bit rate is at its highest level, the quality (and volume) is not the same as the CD player when i listen it in my receiver using the usual stereo analog input. The sound seems compressed missing some dynamism. Albeit if i connect an amplified computer speaker, the sounds seems OK. I'm wondering now that it could be a mismatch (like impedance) between the output of the sound card and the input of the receiver. Or something else but i cannot see anything on the connection side that's why i'm looking on tweaking the sound card properties of the PC and probably using the optical interface instead. I'm not particulary keen of using the optical interface since i want to use my equalizer.

    Can anyone suggest which is the possible cause of the poor quality sound? Any thoughts or inputs will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  • 12-14-2006, 02:52 AM
    Dusty Chalk
    Use the optical interface. Doesn't the EQ affect the digital signal as well?

    What are you using as a soundcard? You might want a better soundcard. Even something as lowly as the M-Audio Sonica will be an improvement, since you are moving the DAC away from the computer.
  • 12-14-2006, 06:21 AM
    I frequently use these in my less expensive music servers, they work admirably and the sound is near CD quality provided you are dealing with good source recording.



    Note that this is only a 45 dollar upgrade, the last 5 to10% of accurate reproduction is going to cost you quite a bit of money. the external card Dusty reccomended is good, costs a lot more, and as he mentioned is the lower end of the line when it comes to HQ cards.

    Note that i avoid making a metal connection between my computer and audio equipment whenever possible. The TOS link (fiber) is the absolute best option for a interconnect if you can use it. Computers are a jamboree of magnetic fields and noise, and linking the ground shield of your audio cable to the ground shield of your receiver is an invitation for noise contamination
  • 12-14-2006, 07:35 AM
    the upgrade daedilus was talking about is a real good upgrade if you use a standard on-board soundcard,
    but, why use wma? the only reason microsoft says it's "audiophile grade" is because wma is microsoft's own format, use at least mp3 losless, or even better, use flac.
  • 12-14-2006, 08:31 PM
    HIFI on MCE
    Thank you all guys for input.

    WMA is native on Windows Media Player so i don't have to mess about finding or buying another MP3 software:confused. Is there really any difference in terms of quality against the MP3 if both of them are lossless? I suppose they basically do it the same way but with different algorithms.

  • 12-15-2006, 02:45 AM
    Dusty Chalk

    Originally Posted by beaver
    Is there really any difference in terms of quality against the MP3 if both of them are lossless?

    It shouldn't matter.
  • 12-15-2006, 05:17 AM

    Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    It shouldn't matter.

    I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but when it comes to WMA, I've found it better than MP3, loseless or otherwise. I'm sure they just stole or bought the codec from someone who knew what they were doing. There's other formats that are maybe a bit better, flac, etc, but I haven't heard enough difference to justify using them anymore.

    I have an external M-audio card, and an internal Chaintech AV-710, which is considerably cheaper. In all honesty, I cannot hear a difference using the optical cable - and the Chaintech card (which uses Wolfson Dac and Envy chipset like some M-Audio cards) won't break the bank at $25.

    Might be a good compromise - for gaming it's not so great, but it is better than my Audigy 2 for music. One of my computer geek co-workers suggested it to me, it was a great tip.
  • 12-16-2006, 04:40 AM
    Dusty Chalk
    I didn't think he was asking lossless vs. MP3 -- if so, I'm sorry, wrong answer. I thought he was asking lossless vs. lossless -- in which case, I stand by 'it shouldn't matter'.