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Buddha's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Pardon me for these dumb-ass questions...


I think I need some hand holding.

Today, I updated Windows Media Player to 11 Beta and fired up a cd - it sounds alot better than before. Better liquidity and timbre. I'm actually a little impressed.

Then I saw the thread about sound cards.

I checked my computer control panel uunder sound devices, audio. It says I have a SoundMAX Digital Audio whatever. That's the sound card, I take it.

So the question: What am I listening to, Windows Media Player, the SoundMAX thing, or both?

Does Windows Media Player just act as a transport? Am I bypassing the SoundMAX thing by using Media Player?

If I wanted to do some Hi-Fi playing, is replacing the SoundMAX what everyone talks about when they talk sound cards? If so, what exactly does the sound card do?

The computer sound outputs go to my Marantz integrated, so the computer isn't having to drive speakers.

Again, sorry for being a dummy.

Jeff Wong
Jeff Wong's picture
Last seen: 6 years 7 months ago
Joined: Sep 6 2005 - 3:28am
Re: Pardon me for these dumb-ass questions...

Buddha - I recently upgraded my computer. My new motherboard has a built-in soundcard and videocard. SoundMAX is what I've got as well. I haven't played with settings much, but, have found the sliders affect things independently of Windows settings, so, I'm guessing there's a software aspect to all of this. I have not integrated my computer into any of my audio systems. I'll check out tunes in links on the Web, but, do no serious listening. Usually, motherboards with built-in stuff allow for other cards to be used and the native one to be shut off or bypassed. You could get a super duper soundcard with better electronics like the few that the magazine has written about, provided you have compatible slots and OS.

This'll give you the skinny on soundcards in a more efficient and clear way than I could offer:

I would think your CD drive would be the transport. WMP might do some processing with codecs and filters. Maybe someone more to Culpeper's liking will chime in.

I'm wary of WMP 11. I recall reading that uninstalling it was not possible and would require a fresh OS install if you didn't want WMP 11 anymore. Apparently, this was changed:

jazzfan's picture
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Pardon me for these dumb-ass questions...

Hi Buddha,

A few words to the wise: Windows Media Player and iTunes should be avoided as much as humanly possible and by no means should either of them be used for serious listening.

I'm not sure about iTunes but WMP does not allow DirectSound output and directsound output is much better then wav output. Google Directsound for the tech mumbo jumbo.

While media players should not make all that much of a difference I do find that some of them do make quite a big difference in the sound. The gold standard in "colorless, odorless" media players is the, at this point, very old "Foobar2000". Sure it's got a real sucky user interface and is way behind the times in its feature set but it plays back the music without coloration, which is what us audiophiles want, right? Second best is Winamp, another oldie but goodie.

I picked up all this info over the years from computer audio geeks, many of whom I keep trying to tell my fellow audiophiles, care about the sound quality of music. Audiophiles are way behind the times when it comes to computer audio and need to get up to speed before they get clawed by some catlike things.

eagle's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 12 2005 - 3:28am
Re: Pardon me for these dumb-ass questions...

Your cd drive is the transport. SoundMAX Digital Audio whatever is the sound card with d/a, a/d converters and preamp/amplifier). Windows Media Player is the software that runs the whole thing. It takes the data from the transport (cd drive) and puts it in the form that the sound card wants to see and sends it to the sound card. The d/a converter in the sound card d/a's the data and sends it to the preamp/amplifier.

From there is goes out one of the outputs on the sound card, depending on which is active at the time. There is a line out and a high level out, amoungst others. I can connect my headphones directly and they'll play loud.

Once I get all my stuff moved here I'll be connecting a Nakamichi 60W/channel amp to the line out and hooking my RS Minimus 7s to it. That should sound quite nice. I also plan to connect an MB Quart 10" woofer to it using a Sub amp from Parts Express.

Oh, btw. The sound card also has a crossover for the main/subs.

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