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milowg
2008-12-15, 09:31
I recently got a Squeezebox Duet (controller and receiver). I LOVE the functionality of the controller and Squeezecenter.

However, after doing A/B tests with my existing HTPC, I have been disappointed by the sound quality of the Receiver. The highs seem muffled by comparison and there is a lack of range. It almost seems like the music is being played as an MP3 (I use FLAC files for lossless audio).

I am using the optical digital output to my Sony ES receiver, and I have the duet controller volume set to 100%. I actually found a setting in the Squeezecenter Controller settings that makes the volume 100% always.

So my question is - are there any settings I am overlooking that are causing the Squeezebox to compress or convert to an mp3 stream? Are there other audio settings I have missed?

Finally, if there are not, has anyone managed to hook up a Duet controller to a custom HTPC? I can build my own fanless HTPC no problem, but I really would like to keep the controller as the driver..

Thanks in advance for any help!

maggior
2008-12-15, 09:48
On the settings page of the web UI, look at the audio settings for the player and ensure that bit rate limiting is disabled. This setting is used to transcode the stream and can be used to convert FLAC to mp3. This is used most often when playing remotely via the Internet.

You can turn a PC (including the one that is running squeezecenter) into a player by running something called squeezeslave (search for it in the Wiki). This is a command line program that plays through the soundcard and can be controlled via the SBC (controller) or the web UI. I use it to play music through my server and to stream remotely over the Internet. For me, it was like finding a player for free by running it on my server.

Eventually SqueezePlay will replace squeezeslave, but it doesn't have a headless mode yet (none that I'm aware of anyway).

Also, you can check out the SB3 (classic squeezebox) or the transporter. You are using the digital out, so you've bypassed the most significant difference between the players - the DAC. Hmmmm.

Hopefully you find that you have turned on bit rate limiting by accident.

swayzak
2008-12-15, 09:56
so you've bypassed the most significant difference between the players - the DAC. Hmmmm.


I thought the DACs on both were pretty much equivalent - at least I hope so as that was why I was happy going for the Duet !

maggior
2008-12-15, 10:48
What I meant by different is that they are physically different chips - the SB classic uses a Burr Brown DAC and the receiver uses a Wolfson DAC.

They are probably similarly spec'ed, but there could be sonic differences to some ears/systems.

milowg
2008-12-15, 11:28
Thanks for the quick response..
No, I made sure bit limiting was set to unlimited. So it's not that.

I do think it is very strange that the Receiver and my HTPC sound different because they both use the same source files, and they both use optical out to my Sony.

Could it be something about my wireless connection? It is working fine, and at 90% or so signal level, but does the Receiver software somehow autolimit bitrate based on using wireless as opposed to wired?

I know I'm grasping at straws here, but..

I will try running SqueezeSlave later tonight on my HTPC and see if the sound quality is the same as the player I use.

Patrick Dixon
2008-12-15, 13:06
I do think it is very strange that the Receiver and my HTPC sound different because they both use the same source files, and they both use optical out to my Sony.

There are two things that are important when you convert a digital signal to analogue: one is the actual data, and the other is the instant that data is valid. To use a musical analogy, it's not just the pitch of the notes (ABCDEF etc), it's also the timing of them (quavers, semi-quavers and crochets etc).

So even if the data is the same, the different implementations of clock and digital interfaces can cause subtle differences in the timing of the data at the point it's converted, and that may be why you can hear a difference.

OTOH, it could be that the data sent to the Duet is not quite what you think it is ...

milowg
2008-12-17, 20:45
Just in case anyone reads this later on, here is my follow up:

I tried running SoftSqueeze on my HTPC and it sounds great. So the problem is definitely with the Receiver. I used my Duet controller successfully to control SoftSqueeze so that was cool to be able to do.

So what I have decided to do is get a mini-itx fanless HTPC and put a good sound card in it, then control the whole thing using the duet controller. It will end up costing more than the Receiver but a lot less than the Transporter.

Aesculus
2008-12-18, 03:18
Just in case anyone reads this later on, here is my follow up:

I tried running SoftSqueeze on my HTPC and it sounds great. So the problem is definitely with the Receiver. I used my Duet controller successfully to control SoftSqueeze so that was cool to be able to do.

So what I have decided to do is get a mini-itx fanless HTPC and put a good sound card in it, then control the whole thing using the duet controller. It will end up costing more than the Receiver but a lot less than the Transporter.

I just installed a new receiver via Coax to my amp. I have had the SB Classic before. I too found the sound quality very poor and the volume very low (at least 20 db lower than expected) on my SB Receiver. I am going to AB the Receiver against one of my SB Classics tomorrow to see if there is a difference.

Bytec
2008-12-18, 06:32
Are you sure your PC sound system does not do any sound alteration (resampling, equalization etc)?

By using digital connection Receivers DAC is bypassed. This means that pure PCM strem decoded from FLAC is passed to your SONY receiver. Then SONY is doing digital->analog conversion.

I also use FLAC almost exclusively with my Squeezebox Duet and sound is very good (no problems). Sound from my PC is worse.

My devices are connected this way:

QNAP TS-109 NAS (FLAC collection + SqueezeCenter) -> Wireless Router (WRT160N) -> Duet Receiver -> SPDIF -> custom built AMP+DAC.

P.S.
By playing DTS-WAV and AC3-WAV files I have verified that Duet system does not do audio data alteration (audio is lossless).

milowg
2008-12-18, 07:13
Well, I can't be 100% certain that there is no sound alteration on my PC since it IS windows :)

However I don't THINK Windows has any built-in equalizer that both my custom player and SoftSqueeze will go through.

Normally I don't use equalizers as I think they alter the music too much, and the sound of my test song (The Visitors by Abba) sounds SO much better on the PC than on the duet. On the duet receiver the sound is dull and the highs are muted.

When you did a test on your PC (where it sounded bad) are you using a digital optical output from your PC? What sound card do you have?

Bytec
2008-12-18, 08:55
Well I had issues with Creative (Audigy 2 if I remember correctly) card.
It resampled EVERYTHING to 48 KHz and did it fast and dirty. Sound lost it's clarity and it used to have jitters.

Now my PC has integrated sound card (Realtek HD Audio). It is cheap and does a lot in software...

I don't use Duet Receivers built in DAC or any sound DSP in between (EQ etc), but I have a complete confidence that Squezebox Duet Receiver gives bit precise audio stream from my FLAC files to my external DAC.

Aesculus
2008-12-18, 11:15
I just installed a new receiver via Coax to my amp. I have had the SB Classic before. I too found the sound quality very poor and the volume very low (at least 20 db lower than expected) on my SB Receiver. I am going to AB the Receiver against one of my SB Classics tomorrow to see if there is a difference.

Update: I swapped the SB Receiver for a SB3. A world of difference. Volume was as expected (at least 20db louder than the Receiver) and quality was good too. So I put the Receiver back in again to check one more time and its good now too. It must have needed to be power cycled after its initialization.