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Justadad
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I have enjoyed greatly listening to the various performances members have provided links to recently and look forward to hearing more.

 

The limitations of compressed, MP3 format files is often referred to but another obstacle to a good listening experience can be the program used to play the file. I am a big fan of Microsoft generally but Windows Media Player seems capable of making anything and everything sound worse than it should.

 

I'd be interested to know of any good alternatives to WMP - especially free ones.

 

Best wishes

 

barry

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Some people swear by Media Player Classic. I gave up using it because it kept asking me to save downloaded files to my desktop rather than simply opening and playing them, but I think this is a problem with my set-up rather than the programme.

 

I hate Real Player. With a vengeance. I find it intrusive in the extreme. Avoid it if you can.

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I use iTunes for quite a lot of things (not just for loading songs on to my iPod).

 

 

All this modern techno-talk is just plain scary.

Bring back shellac, that's what I say!

 

 

 

[...and while you're at it, I would like toast re-classified as a fruit for the purposes of satisfying my 'five a day' requirement].

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but Windows Media Player seems capable of making anything and everything sound worse than it should.

It is merely transferring bits to a device driver, possibly expanding them from a compressed format on the way. This expansion is well defined, and no player should sound detectably different - any problem is elsewhere.

 

The quality of compressed files is determined mainly by the quality of the encoding. MP3s at 192 b/s are virtually always indistinguishable from the original in blind tests, but lower bit rates can introduce detectable artefacts; and occasionally a particular sound can induce a gross error in the encoding with a particular encoder, even at decent bit rates.

 

If you want a player that can handle the maximum number of media formats without needing its codecs topping up, then the free open-source VideoLAN VLC is what you are after.

 

Paul

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All this modern techno-talk is just plain scary.

Bring back shellac, that's what I say!

[...and while you're at it, I would like toast re-classified as a fruit for the purposes of satisfying my 'five a day' requirement].

 

What an excellent idea!

 

One of our choirmen has a huge collection of '78s'. I have heard some really interesting performances - such as the one where some famous organist of yore (whose name currently escapes me) was desperately trying to fit Widor's Toccata on a four-and-a-half minute side.

 

Hmmm....

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Dear Paul

 

Thank you for that. I had never understood that all media players should produce the same sound from the same hardware.

 

I find that given a particular file, either .MP3 or .wav ...

 

WMP (11) sounds thin, and distorts at greater volume

Creative MediaSource (which came with the soundcard) adds a slight phase effect, and yet

Creative Wave Studio and Cool Edit Pro 2 play the same track as clean as a whistle

 

And whilst I can't say for sure that this is true for all files, it seems to be true for most. Given that in each case the rest of the kit is consistent and the only variable (I know of) is the media player, I wonder where the problems are?

 

Best wishes

 

barry

 

ps ... I prefer vinyl but I can't get my 33s in the floppy drive :huh:

 

It is merely transferring bits to a device driver, possibly expanding them from a compressed format on the way. This expansion is well defined, and no player should sound detectably different - any problem is elsewhere.

 

The quality of compressed files is determined mainly by the quality of the encoding. MP3s at 192 b/s are virtually always indistinguishable from the original in blind tests, but lower bit rates can introduce detectable artefacts; and occasionally a particular sound can induce a gross error in the encoding with a particular encoder, even at decent bit rates.

 

If you want a player that can handle the maximum number of media formats without needing its codecs topping up, then the free open-source VideoLAN VLC is what you are after.

 

Paul

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I did some practical research on this before settling on Windows Media Player 11 as my software of choice. I use it to rip, store and index, and playback all of my music at home*. I store music in Lossless WMA format, which for me compresses audio to approximately a third of the original WAV size but without losing a single bit of data (analogous to a ZIP file) - WMP will do the conversion. I use professional equipment connected to the PC for playback (a MOTU 2408 interface and HHB Circle 5 monitors) and the sound quality is identical to that of the original CD. Sound cards in PCs vary wildly in quality, as do the software drivers for said cards - under Windows at least, it is often the driver that is the weakest link.

 

I can't really fault my setup at all, aside from the fact that WMP11's features are designed for pop, not classical music, so for organ music, 'contributing artist' becomes 'location' and so on. I would recommend WMP11 both for simple playback, and for more complex tasks such as creating a searchable music library (as I have done). iTunes may fulfil this function well too, but personally I didn't like it - others may. RealPlayer - never!

 

* In case you wonder, I own every CD I have ripped and stored. Barry will probably tell me that it's illegal to make a copy in another format like this - certainly I can't find any advice to the contrary - but I feel that morally I'm OK, and it is the only practical way to listen to the 300+ CDs I own! Your thoughts, perhaps?

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Give me some of your 300+ CDs.

You've already got two! :P

 

Really? Really really? How about more processing power? ;)

Oh, now that's not fair :huh: From the point of view of playing back recordings already mastered, especially from disparate sources, my setup is very good. For making a surround/stereo decode of four tracks of B-format, now yes, I might allow that a little more processing power would help... ;) I was talking about the playback side, rather than the recording side (totally different software, some extra hardware).

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...all media players should produce the same sound from the same hardware. I find that given a particular file, either .MP3 or .wav ...

There could in theory be differences for compressed files like mp3, but they are not normally considered perceptible; however, wav files should not be processed at all by the player, so if you are truly hearing differences in this case there would appear to be some difference in setup between the players.

 

The other instance that can make a real difference is when the files are more than two channels (i.e. surround files usually); different players may well have different ways of combining the channels for stereo playback.

 

Beyond these comments, this is probably very hard to diagnose remotely, though!

 

Paul

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The competition re CD collection size and relative processing power looks much more fun :huh:

Sorry Barry, it was something of a tangent ;) I recorded a concert for Vox over a year ago in surround, just to try it out, and have failed to actually make the thing decode without glitches - a lack of processing power is my excuse.

 

My main point was to recommend Windows Media Player 11, as I have found it to be pretty reliable, even when listening on good speakers. If you're having problems, I would suspect the sound card drivers or perhaps the sound card itself. WAV or lossless WMA files should sound identical to CD audio (or better, depending on the source) although you should expect various degrees of audible artefacts in MP3 or lossy WMA recordings.

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I find that given a particular file, either .MP3 or .wav ...

 

WMP (11) sounds thin, and distorts at greater volume

Creative MediaSource (which came with the soundcard) adds a slight phase effect, and yet

Creative Wave Studio and Cool Edit Pro 2 play the same track as clean as a whistle

 

And whilst I can't say for sure that this is true for all files, it seems to be true for most. Given that in each case the rest of the kit is consistent and the only variable (I know of) is the media player, I wonder where the problems are?

 

Chances are it's the way you've got those various players set up (e.g. Volume controls, equalisers etc.). I'd second the call for VLC. It does have a very minimalist interface, so a lot of the advanced functionality is hidden in menus, but it plays _almost_ everything you could ever throw at it.

 

I use PortableVLC (www.portableapps.com), so I can't vouch for the regular version, but my experience is that VLC stays out the way and doesn't try to take over your computer in the way that real-player and quicktime do.

 

SC

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I recorded a concert for Vox over a year ago in surround, just to try it out, and have failed to actually make the thing decode without glitches - a lack of processing power is my excuse.

But to prove the point, you can decode B-format not in real-time, e.g. using VVMic. You'd have to have a seriously slow machine for it not to work in real time, though. I use VVMic with my new surround microphone :huh:

 

Paul

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But to prove the point, you can decode B-format not in real-time, e.g. using VVMic. You'd have to have a seriously slow machine for it not to work in real time, though. I use VVMic with my new surround microphone ;)

 

Paul

Tried VVMic - it seemed the best bet compared to various VST plugins, in fact - but it was behaving erratically and didn't like my MOTU interface. I see that the version I have is a little old now, so I'll try the latest version. The TetraMic looks good - I use a Soundfield ST250 which does OK, but I shudder to think what I'd do if it packed up. The Tetra seems more practically priced :huh:

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No. Please don't apologise. I wasn't complaining.

 

I really was looking forward to a techno slug-fest.

 

If I created any other impression I unreservedly apologise. Perhaps I used the wrong emoticon.

 

Best wishes

 

barry

 

 

Sorry Barry, it was something of a tangent :huh:
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I really was looking forward to a techno slug-fest.

First time for everything :huh: No apology necessary - I was just aware that I was taking it a bit off-topic, which wasn't exactly a help to you. Still, I suppose it's all good stuff, as long as I don't mention nu.... oops, nearly!

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