Windows vs Linux

insider9

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Though I'd share my early impressions of installing Ubuntu 16.0.4 and running Roon server on it.

I've used Windows based streamer for the last 6 months. Usual complaints were with software updates needing sometimes several reboots and the setup being slightly annoying running headless. I though I'd try Linux.

Both of these are non issues. Not just that but Wake on LAN works perfect and I can suspend the system every time with no issues and no need to reboot.

One thing I didn't expect was sound quality improvement. It really sounds better to my ears. I went to a mate of mine yesterday and we played same track via Windows and then from Linux running of USB stick and he also noticed the sound being more natural.

Anyone else noticed this? Anyone else tried? If you haven't... try it. You can boot from a thumb drive. Basic player Rhythmbox is a part of Ubuntu so it will take you half hour to try it. As long as you cm have a 16GB USB stick free.

Oh and another good things no drivers needed. It just works. I won't be returning to Windows and neither will my mate.
 

MajorFubar

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insider9 said:
One thing I didn't expect was sound quality improvement. It really sounds better to my ears. I went to a mate of mine yesterday and we played same track via Windows and then from Linux running of USB stick and he also noticed the sound being more natural.
Not tried Linux but I did find that the audio on my Mac comfortably beat that coming out of my Windows PC. As you probably know, Mac OS is built around a Unix back-end just like Linux. My PC at the time was a 17" Toshiba laptop running Vista. I haven't used a Windows OS more recent than Vista (not for audio anyhow) because shortly afterwards I moved to the Mac platform. I didn't really understand why my Mac sounded better until I read (on here actually) about how Windows cocks about with the audio unless you use special software to bypass its jiggery pockery.

However I did think all that had ended at least with Windows 10 if not Windows 8, and there would now be no difference between Windows and a Unix-based OS in terms of a bit-perfect output.
 

insider9

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Many people use Macs as they are supposed to sound better.

I'm shocked though that the difference is something you will notice immediately as long as you know the sound of your system. Actually I tell a lie. At my mate's we've noticed it straight away even though it's not a system I listen to on a daily basis.

Supposedly ASIO should bypass all Windows processing but it still sounds worse.
 

MajorFubar

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Yes it's very strange indeed. You're certainly not the first to claim a Unix OS sounds better than Windows, be it Mac OS or Linux, I definitely don't know enough about the topic to fully understand why. However I'm sure there must be a few people on here successfully using a Windows-based solution to stream music. Perhaps they can shed some light on how their setup works more successfully than you and I have managed.
 

insider9

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daveh75 said:
Been run various forms of Linux for years.

But Bit perfect is Bit Perfect though and if you're using ASIO/WASAPI that's what you're getting.

The are any number of reasons in your subjective comparisons you might think Linux sounds better, but it isn't because there is a difference...
Please expand on this. If you may.

Yes I have been using both ASIO and WASAPI. And yes they are both bit perfect.

My take on it that the driver implementation is different on Linux. But I certainly hears a difference not just on my system but my mate's too.
 

daveh75

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Been runing various forms of Linux for years on desktop, servers and other applications, BSD too.

But Bit perfect is Bit Perfect though and if you're using ASIO/WASAPI that's what you're getting in Windows

The are any number of reasons that in your subjective comparisons you might think Linux sounds better, but it isn't because SQ is better under Linux...
 

daveh75

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Sound levels, expectation bias...

If you were to do proper blind/ABX tests I'm sure any perceived differences would disappear

Driver implementations sounding different is in the realms of audiphool bunk AFAIAC.
 

insider9

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I thought you might say this. Now I haven't done any proper AB tests. It's purely subjective. But I'll say this even if it is bias and there's been no sonic gains. Improvements in terms of functionality, stability and ease of use (once setup) are well worth it.
 

richie60

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I would install Clementine or Audacious as the music players as they allow you to bypass pulseaudio which is what Rythmnbox uses. This will get you a direct link to the hardware output.
 

insider9

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daveh75 said:
Driver implementations sounding different is in the realms of audiphool bunk AFAIAC.
I'm not so sure about this to be honest. Look how many bits of hardware make you download Windows drivers yet work out the box with Linux.
 

insider9

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richie60 said:
I would install Clementine or Audacious as the music players as they allow you to bypass pulseaudio which is what Rythmnbox uses.  This will get you a direct link to the hardware output.
Cheers. I'll let my mate know as he'll definitely want to know this. I'm using Roon. Am I correct in thinking that ALSA is Linux equivalent of ASIO?
 

ellisdj

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windows sounds prettu poor generally, you need to do a lot to windows to make it sound good
 

MajorFubar

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ellisdj said:
windows sounds prettu poor generally, you need to do a lot to windows to make it sound good
Why do you reckon this is though? It's not something I've ever fully understood, though I have experience of hearing the difference (albeit on a now obsolete version of Windows, as explained above). Why do Unix operating systems like Mac OS and Linux seem to sound better right out the box? Doesn't make sense, especially if you use 'bit perfect' drivers on your PC, like ASIO4ALL which I used.
 

ellisdj

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There are lots of reasons i.e. things people do to get it to sound better - disabling 99% of it for starters.

Do a test start shutting down all the uneccesary services not needed for audio - my audio pc has only 13 services running once its run through its servcie shut down cycle after a boot.

Thats just one small part of what needs changing to make Windows sound decent - windows server in core mode sounds best as there is no GUI
 

ellisdj

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there is hundreds of things you need to change on Windows with lots of other things to optimise for audio.

what Windows are you using?
 

cheeseboy

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ellisdj said:
There are lots of reasons i.e. things people do to get it to sound better - disabling 99% of it for starters.

Do a test start shutting down all the uneccesary services not needed for audio - my audio pc has only 13 services running once its run through its servcie shut down cycle after a boot.

Thats just one small part of what needs changing to make Windows sound decent - windows server in core mode sounds best as there is no GUI
none of that will make any difference to the audio though. Audio playback consumes very little cpu usage. If what you were saying were true, it would be impossible to make any recordings on a windows based pc, which we know is not true. Recording requires both inputs and outputs running at the same time plus the software and dsps. Also, if what you were true it would have to also be true for linux/osx

Archimego ran a good peice on his blog a while ago testing such things - worth a read - http://archimago.blogspot.nl/2015/08/measurements-audiophile-sound-and.html

One thing of note, from windows 10 v1703, they updated the usb audio implementation to v.2 - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/audio/usb-2-0-audio-drivers#usb-audio-20-drivers
 

insider9

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ellisdj said:
there is hundreds of things you need to change on Windows with lots of other things to optimise for audio.

what Windows are you using?
I was running Windows 10. Interesting that Roon recommends Linux.

Cheeseboy, thanks for the links. Will have to give them a read.
 

ellisdj

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insider has already discovered it does so you can either abandon Windows or take my advice and turn Windows into something that sounds really good.

as stock Windows sounds poor
 

cheeseboy

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insider9 said:
Cheers. I'll let my mate know as he'll definitely want to know this. I'm using Roon. Am I correct in thinking that ALSA is Linux equivalent of ASIO?
no, not really. ASIO was created not to nake things sound better, but to give the audio recording software (iirc it was created by steingberg) direct and exclusive access to the audio hardware without any interruptions. This is essential when you are recording so that windows suddenly doesn't decide to lob in a you;ve got mail sound for example. So, if you are using ASIO you know that there is nothing in between the audio software and the audio hardware. So, for example, if you are using two bits of audio software that are both accessing ASIO drivers and they sound different, it's something in the software. The windows software mixer, and another add ons add bits in between.

If you are running windows 10 (for eg) - right cllick on the speaker icon > playtback devices > select the properties of the current audio device. Sometimes here you may see tabs like system effects or spatial sound. These settings can affect the sound output. Similarly within linux, the playback software may have it's own bult in effects or eq, which is why you might be getting a difference in sound. Until you have eliminated all of these extra bits, then it would be impossible to definitely say why the difference exists.

Also level matching - this is a very important one - it might just be that one os is outputting higher than the other.

Having said that if you are happier with the sound from linux out the box, then enjoy it :)

bit of reading on how linux handles audio here for you https://www.learndigitalaudio.com/how-linux-audio-works-vs-windows-audio-2017
 

cheeseboy

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ellisdj said:
insider has already discovered it does so you can either abandon Windows or take my advice and turn Windows into something that sounds really good.

as stock Windows sounds poor
yeh, but he's asking why, so i'm giving some factual reasons.

I had windows souning excellent with very little set up, and this is coming from a studio recording background, which is far more intensive than just playback, and if any audio improvements such as you suggested actually made a real difference, then the studio world would embrace them open arms.
 

ellisdj

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For starters you want to bypass windows sound service - you want to turn it off competely - there are 2 services in windows that disables the sound service

Then try different methods of transmitting audio Kernal Streaming I think is the oldest and actually sounds the best - better than asio and better than wasapi.

If you running out of the motherboard usb - thats another area to look into as its massively limiting the sonic performance.

I can go on all day - making a computer sound good for audio is a project to itself - look at the new Naim flagship streamer - look at the lengths they have gone to make a computer sound good - faraday cages and all sorts going on - thats what it takes.

You can download the free version of Fidelizer which will disable a few things and optimise a few things - give that a try and see what you think?

The paid version is much better than the free but it will give you an idea - they have just released a new verison which is supposed to be epic but I havent tried it yet
 

ellisdj

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It wont work in a studio / work environment as you cant use the pc you are listening to - you want everything shut off except the audio - thats what sounds best - clearly thats no good for a work computer - dedicated to audio is the way forward
 

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