Audio gear thread

I am going to lay here the framework on how to look at your sound chain.

Components: 1.1 PC -----> 2.1 Audio card (DAC, ADC ) ------> 3.1 Amplification ---------> 4.1 Headphones / Speakers

Ofc you can have independent systems like modern Bluetooth devices. These are already quite good on their own when done right ( Sony & Sennheiser for example)

1.1 Think "audio player". Linux tends to be a great OS for audio IME (subjective impressions - with mid-fi to high end gear seems to sound most natural), many people make use of dedicated audio servers so the OS is only focused on playing audio. Audio server build is not must have but just adding it in here.

1.2 I'd be modest when adding all kinds of Equalizers and sound enchangers. The net effect can be worse than original. The bottom line is - If you don't feel the changes or don't get concrete feedback of the impact an EQ has - just don't use it. If it works, then it works. Often they do degrade mids and coherence of the sound. There can be trade-offs.

1.3 When setting up your EQ It best to do it in tandem with a tone generator like this. A good EQ should have a "preamp" lever. The point is, If you amplify sounds with EQ you loose in dynamic range. Example --> If you want 3dB boosted low range, you should set preamp to -3dB or lower all EQ bands and leave the desired region as default(relatively lifted). In our low-end example you get a Low frequency shelf EQ preset, in which you lower everything else relative to bass, so you are not using artificial amplification of the digital signal. This how it should be done.

2.1 One of the most important components in the audio chain that gets overlooked is the "sound card" "audio interface" part that includes the DAC (digital analogue converter). This is the first step of getting the bits from your audio file to an analogue signal. Many PC internal soundchips/cards can have noisy or distorted sound. One theory is that its in a noisy environment (electromagnetic noise into the audio signal) , yet low resolution and detail retrival is due to subpar chips, design and implementation. It might be worth trying a dedicated "audio interface" or even well shielded PCI-E sound card.

2.2 Fundamental technologies to consider when choosing the DAC interface. First, the most common PCM DACs which range from very bad to very good sounding. Second, are R2R Multibit DACs. These DACs can have more natural, easy going sound, since they are originally based on a more straight forward technology. However neither warrants good sound on their own, the devil is in the details.

3.1 Proper amplification (read: amplifier) of the system is essential for both headphones and speakers. DAC and AMP are equaly important here. Class A or class AB? Transistors or vintage tubes? Discrete or integrated amp? How much power is needed? Which is better for you, linear power supply or switch mode power supply? Proper amplification isn't about watts RMS or any of the mainstream distortion measurements. Its about how well the amp drives the drivers, providing impactful dynamic range from bass to highs. Is it able to reval delicate and "soft" details with ease? Good amplification should be able to provide all aspects of the sound.

4.1 Choose what you like , people have different preferences. It might be worth visiting a speciality headphone or stereo store to get a feel for whats good. People can be mislead by big €€€ = good sound. This not always the case. However, you can't beat bigger diameter drivers when it comes to producing quality bass. Mids and the highs depend on whether there is a capable tweeter & mid range. It might take some digging to get it right (different types: ribbon, paper driver, silk dome, metal, diamond etc.)

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