Old 1st May 2000, 13:05   #1
Bill Blue
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Is there any alternate version of Nullsoft VOC/WAV plug-in v1.21 (x86) for processing WAV input?

I have been trying to track down the source of audio degradation when playing WAV files, compared to other products that use the built-in Microsoft codecs directly. On good quality monitoring equipment and a reasonable WAV source signal, the difference between winamp and other players (such as Windows Media Player, Sonique, MMPlay, K-Jofol is quite evident.

I first thought it an output issue, but I don't notice any difference between various output devices (e.g. wavemapper, versus direct, etc), and optional plug-ins installed but in bypass. EQ out, volume control off, etc. No options in output or dsp seem to have any affect (except in some cases make it worse), which leaves only the input. After searching high and low for various plug-ins all over the web, I found nothing having to do with any alternate wav input processing.

I'm assuming at this point that it IS an input problem rather than something fundamental to the inner workings of Winamp, but you know about assumptions...

Please, no flames about how you can't hear a problem, or how wonderful it is. It IS wonderful, but the audio could be better. The anomolies are quite obvious on good playback equipment.

Anyone with some insight on this issue, or any suggestions?

Thanks.

--Bill

(ps, for those interested, the monitoring here is digital out of SBLIVE to an external Dodson D/A converter, to a Rowland Research C1 preamp, and Rowland Resarch model 5 power amp, feeding Mirage floor standing speakers. This system clearly reveals the differences, but once you're aware of what they are, they can be heard clearly on much lesser equipment as well on A/B tests)

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Old 1st May 2000, 14:28   #2
bluetooth
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First of all, I do not know of an alternate plugin, I assume you've tried bumping up the decode priority on the nullsoft plugin? Do you still have trouble with other input plugins (as far as quality goes, MIDI might provide a sufficient test source, or a very high bitrate MP3)...I can understand that you can here the difference on your setup between Winamp and other players, but if you say that you can tell the difference between a 320 kbps/sec MP3 and 44.1 Khz, 16-bit wave, I might just have to flame you
Also, just to see if this is a possible output problem (because like I said, you might be out of luck for input), how well does it work if you use the line-in plugin with a source on the SPDIF in?

~Adam
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Old 1st May 2000, 23:05   #3
Bill Blue
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Yes, I've bumped the processing priority to max, which didn't make any difference to this test.

I can't really evaluate the audio on the line-in module as you suggest because there isn't comparable functionality on other players to A/B.

I haven't re-tested the mp3 input, though the last time I did, it was a pale comparison to any player which used the built-in (to the OS) Fraunhofer decoder, or codecs from the Fraunhofer professional version. I know it has improved since then, but don't use mp3's that much so haven't been that interested in re-testing.

--Bill
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Old 3rd May 2000, 05:47   #4
bluetooth
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Using some decent headphones, I have been able to reproduce the audio degredation to a certain extent, however is occurs on all wave players, which says that you are experiencing a different problem. I have had some serious quality issues with the SBLive! digital-out output in the past, but those were almost certainly related to the D/A between the speakers and the sound card. If possible, you might try your setup on someone else's computer with an SBLive! card and see if you still have trouble in Winamp...I am having a hard time comming up with something that would affect your winamp waveIn plugin, but not any other wave player on the system...I am fairly certain that the quality bug isn't inherint in the waveIn plugin, but perhaps only manifests itself in your configuration. I wish I could be more helpfull. Does anyone else in this group have a better perspective on this problem?

~Adam
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Old 3rd May 2000, 06:25   #5
Bill Blue
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What I'm hearing is definitely not system specific. The main monitoring system, on which the problems are the most obvious, the differences are clear on two different sblive version cards, an AWE64 Gold, and a Turtle Beach, umm, Montego I think it is. On another average system with an AWE32 card and AR speakers it is also very noticeable. My office system is the lowest quality with a generic sound board and Altec speakers. You have to listen more closely, but the difference is still quite there.

Again, this is comparing the WAV file playback on virtually ANY other player (previously listed) versus Winamp.

I think I may have answered one of my own questions, though... it may not be the input module at all, but rather something internal to all Winamp processing. I set up a stream test where a 128k Windows Media ASF stream is encoded and the players tuned to the 'station'. In this case, the only two that support ASF stream play are WMP and Winamp. The differences between the two (between Winamp and WMP) are virtually the same as when playing .wav files directly -- quite different sonically.

It's even more interesting when you use Winamp to play the .wav's that are encoded to ASF and then played back comparing WMP and Winamp. When Winamp is used on stream playback (so essentially there's two of them in series in the audio chain) the degredation is much more significant -- it seems to be adding quite a lot of coloration at this point.

The same thing can be heard even on shoutcast streams when the originating streamer is a Winamp and then the stream is played on Winamp versus, say, WMP or Soniqe. QUITE a difference.

I'll try to describe the degredation as best as I can. Actually, in my first life I was an audio recording engineer so a lot of these descriptives are are well known, but to a non-audio person they are pretty obtuse. Anyway, listening to the overall 'sound image', the whole soundstage left to right is noticeably narrower on Winamp, and at the same time, the lower bass frequencies are just not there, while the extended high frequencies are smeared and 'splashy'. On some systems, at first listen, Winamp will appear to sound a little louder, maybe more boom boom to the low frequences, but very sibilant -- s sounds on vocals will tend to blend with cymbals, guitar overtones, etc. By comparison, the other players (which don't use built-in codecs and processing) have a very wide and detailed soundstage, with extended low and high frequencies. Everything is just clearer and more detailed.

Winamp apparently has some internal design limitation to its audio resolution that I now see to be independent of plug-ins used.

--Bill
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