Best FLAC player for Slackware regarding sound quality
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I dunno...I got the vlc 2.0.5 just now and opened it, xine, and audacious and played the first 40 seconds of a song (the same song) in each, 4 times (each) and there *is* a slight difference.
To *me*, xine had the crispest sound, everything seemed 'equal' and I could hear the snare cleaner than the others. VLC was second but compared to xine it got a little 'heavy' in the midrange. Audacious does okay, but compared to the other two it seemed a tiny bit...muffled, or muddy...I guess is the best I can describe.
This was on my slackware 14, with alsa, a SB Live (damn thing's got to be 12+ years old, lol), cheapo koss earplug-type headphones plugged into a logitech z-680 with all the levels set at the center and the effect at 'music'. The mixer is kmix and I have the treble set at 88, the bass at 65, master at 100 and pcm at 93.
The 'differences' I heard between these apps was just barely discernable but still *is* discernable, IMO. I forgot until this waa all typed out to try 'play' <mutter>.
According to ksysguard, vlc used the least amount of RAM just sitting there not playing anything - 4.6 (19.1 shared, whatever that means). Audacious was next with - 10.8 (10 shared). Xine last with - 21.5 (11.7 shared).
None of this really means much as all my stuff is cheapo (except the logitech setup), but figured I'd put in my two cents worth to muddy the pool.
Exactly, glad, that I am not the only here one noticing this.
I'd confirm that Xine has the "crispest" sound, and I know also, what you mean by "heavier" midrange of VLC. This was my first impression, too, but now I think that VLC paints a more compact stage, or puts the audience a bit closer to the stage (still in front of it, but first row), without being louder. This would also explain, how VLC manages so well to separate and position individual instruments.
I found some music, where I like the sound of Kaffeine (or Xine) slightly more, especially, when there are Cellos or Violas, as they sound, as you correctly say, a bit heavy, or "dark", with VLC. Also, with piano concertos, it seems, that VLC seems to focus on the wooden sounding board of the piano, while the Xine family emphasizes the metal strings of the instruments, which "explains" the crisper sound.
Where the Xine family already shines, compared to the other contenders, like MPlayer, Juk etc., are voices, especially sopranos. But VLC even tops them. Not sure: Is headroom the correct English term for this? Finally, VLC is incredible precise regarding bass.
Regarding snares, they sound "brighter" with Xine, but with VLC I was able to identify individual beats more clearly, and also could "see", and their position is slightly more "defined".
These differences are very, very subtle, though, and sometimes more a question of personal likings than quality. Also, your personal ranking may depend on the music you select for your own tests. But it's definitely possible to distinguish between the following, if default settings are used in KDE 4.8.5:
VLC, the Xine bunch of players (Xine, Amarok, Kaffeine), MPlayer and SoX/play. I am unable to tell the difference between the Xine based players, though I sometimes thought Kaffeine is slightly better, while Xine is crisper, but I could not reproduce this reliably. But VLC definitely sounds different (in most cases I'd say better) compared to the other GUI players, and I could tell in 7 out of ten tests correctly, when VLC was playing, and when something else was playing. I was harder for me to distinguish between MPlayer and the Xine bunch, and virtually impossible to distinguish between the Xine players (see above).
But really, all of this is very, very subtle. All the players mentioned so far, are excellent. However, if we proceed to Audacious, I'd confirm all along, what you say. And the differences between Audacious and JuK compared to the players mentioned above are significantly less subtle. Of the two, JuK sounds more "vivid", but sometimes gives pianos wrong colors and makes concerto pianos sound like cheap E-pianos, but it's got bass and rhythm, and it's UI is perfect for quickly setting up a playlist for your next pyjama party.
Last edited by gargamel; 01-01-2013 at 02:03 PM.
Reason: Corrected a typo.
Does VLC do anything to the audio between decoding it with libflac and actually playing it? From looking at Tools->Preferences->Audio, it would appear that the answer is... it can. Replay gain might be turned on, for example, and the volume might be set higher than the system default. There are also several dozen audio filters that I would assume you haven't turned on.
If you want to check if resampling is being done, you can check by opening the messages window (Tools->Messages) and setting the verbosity to DEBUG.
Internal filters could explain, why there are differences in sound, of course, and they could also explain, why Amarok is less loud. Does anyone know, if Amarok uses other/more/less filters internally by default than other (Xine based) players?
I've used all players with default settings. As far as I can tell, most of them sound pretty neutral, except JuK, and, to a degree, Audacious. They don't sound "bad", but sometimes, the "colours of sound" are not quite correct, I'd say.
I'm on Sennheiser HD-25 and i must say that it matters in what source music is recorded in to hear a difference at all.
Yes, confirmed, I said that before. While it's relatively easy to single out VLC from other players, because it not only sounds better, but different, the differences between MPlayer and Kaffeine become evident only in certain parts of certain pieces of music.
Originally Posted by slacktroll
For example most soundcards sample at 48khz while file is usual 44.1khz. a normal person would'nt actual notice the difference, but playing a file which is recorded in 48khz makes a huge difference.
Confirmed, again, although I wouldn't call it huge, but "easily noticeable".
A few years ago I visted a fair organised by local dealers. Not sure, if it was Naim or Linn, but one of these two U.K. legends demonstrated their then new network player with material recorded with different sampling rates. And the difference between 44.1 kHz and 96 kHz was really huge, while the difference between 96 kHz and 192 kHz was noticeable, but much more subtle.
Of course, the company had something to sell: Not only did they promote their network player, but also their newly founded record label, offering all their recordings at different sampling rates up to 192 kHz. Summary: CDs are actually crap. You better buy 192 kHz stuff
Originally Posted by slacktroll
Perhaps, for some unknown reason vlc have something that upsamples the input file to 48khz rather then letting the soundcard doing it which results in better soundquality.
Originally Posted by slacktroll
Btw! Thanks for very nice article!
Originally Posted by slacktroll
and op please give me a PM if you want some real 48khz sounds (and compare them to 44khz) you WILL notice the difference.
Edit: xine sounds better, just tested myself, indeed sound in this program is more crisp and it sounds like input is better!
So you say, Xine sounds better than VLC? Or better than anything, except VLC? I have tested mostly with Xine derivatives (Amarok and Kaffeine). So, maybe I should do a few tests with pure Xine against VLC.
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
You are talking about the differences in gain/"EQ" applied by each piece of software here.
What would help at this point is to hear from someone who knows what the path of information is from file to soundcard using each of these applications.
The subjective "this sounds better" is all well and good, and is informative, but what is needed, since there is a difference, is to find out where the errors/changes are happening.