Thread: Distortion #2: NetMD vs. SBLive
April 24th, 2003, 07:12 PM #1
Distortion II: NetMD vs. SBLive
I'm really in complete disbelief. I just don't understand how it's possible. I've been listening to my WMP9 for a while and have basically listened to music on that thing since I got my new computer in december. I like to use my equalizer to enhance my music and get better bass. However, if I put the bass or basically anything above 4 on the highs and 8 on the bass, I'm guaranteed to distort due to my sound card. I've posted plenty of pictures of how my equalizer is set up, so you can check them out if you want.
I already posted that I got a NetMD minidisk player (model MZ-S1). When I listen to my music (most of it is heavy on bass) on my netmd, it's really amazing. The thing can put out WAY more bass than my WMP program's equalizer can. In fact, the bass output is downright amazing. The highs aren't as clear, but they aren't equalized, so they sound pretty good as is. I'm really stupified. How the heck can I get such wonderful clear sound out of my small NetMD without ANY distortion when my high-end computer, WMP9, and SBLive cards can't even come close and distort frequently. I'm in disbelief and I listen to music on my NetMD now.
My question: what am I doing wrong? I can't understand how my computer has less output and distorts way more than my minidisc player, which has unbelieveable bass (probably double WMP9's output) and NEVER distorts. What am I doing wrong? There's got to be some way I can get my computer to sound better.
Last edited by MD1032; April 26th, 2003 at 06:19 PM.
April 24th, 2003, 07:27 PM #2
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I know this might merely be a workaround for the problem, but does WMP9 have a main gain/cut for the EQ? You can turn the gain down and then jack the bass/treble. You'll have to turn the volume up louder, but it shouldn't distort so badly.
It is kind of shadey that you're getting distortion though. What are you playing WMP9/SBLive! through? Headphones? Computer speakers? And what are you using for the NetMD? You may be overpowering the speakers/headphones with the SBLive!'s output.
April 24th, 2003, 08:13 PM #3
OK, I'm going to generate a photo of all of my settings and post it. Check back here in a bit. I don't know what you mean by gain.
here are my levels. I'm really sorry about the picture. I can't believe how scrambled it is!! Oh well, you can get the general idea. You can see the EQ on my WMP9. The bottom left is my creative mixer and the right are my windows settings (kind of repetitive).
You may have to wait for the photo to be approved.
Last edited by MD1032; April 24th, 2003 at 08:27 PM.
April 27th, 2003, 08:19 PM #4
May 8th, 2003, 03:32 PM #5
OK, 20 stupid questions time...
Are you using the NetMD with your existing speaker setup? And not getting the bass distortion?
I see two possibilities. 1) You didn't mention what speaker system you're using. They could be distorting from overload at anything more than a minimal volume. This would be the likely culprit if you're using the NetMD with some other speaker system.
2) would be that the bass boost is causing the D/A (digital to analog) convertors in your Sound Blaster to overload. This produces an extremely unpleasant distortion. What Whir was referring to in terms of "gain" was your overall system volume (Creative Mixer and windows settings main volumes), which, I noticed, is fairly low. Sometimes big amounts of boost, particularly in the low end, need to be compensated for in order to avoid overload. The levels I'm seeing shouldn't cause that type of A/D convertor overload.
Wonder if it's the speakers? The only other thing I can think of is that, even though your overall system volume is low, the volume control on the speakers is way up which basically just increases the speakers' sensitivity to the incoming signal and is gonna distort with almost any (or no) input at all.
Try that stuff, or enlighten me if I missed some facet of the system.There's only two things in life. But I forget what they are.
May 8th, 2003, 03:52 PM #6
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Amplifier headroom vs clipping levels, etc. Same tradeoffs for any audiophile amplifier.
BTW, on the PC soundcards, are you using line level output to drive the home stereo amplifier or amplified output to drive speakers or line level to drive speakers (probably not, it would not be very loud) or the amplified output to drive the home stereo amplifier? If you are using the line level into the home stereo, then something is waaaay not right, it should do better, unless you are already pushing the levels to the maximum. If you are using the amplified outputs for anything, I can only say (politely and respectfully) - duh. Those outputs are not the most fine tuned circuits in the world.... some cards I've seen reach 5% THD at rated outputs, not good at all.
May 8th, 2003, 04:57 PM #7
OK, here's the deal. I use my KSC-50 headphones with both of these things. My walkman has great bass an never distorts, while the output from my soundcard does. For some reason, I can't get much bass out of my soundcard without it going distorted. High highs also distort. Mids never distort. Maybe my soundcard is so weak that it can't handle them?
May 8th, 2003, 05:25 PM #8
Right there is your problem. You don't EVER turn any level up over 80%. First of all, there's absolutely no reason to. Second of all, it practically guarantees distortion.
Those bass/treble controls should be set flat....at zero.
The Logitech speakers I thought you had are decent enough speakers, give them a chance. Basically what you're doing is taking a good steak and putting ketchup on it because you 'think' it taste better. It doesn't.
Flatten out some of that equalizing and turn the volume up a little...you'll get much better sound.
May 8th, 2003, 05:34 PM #9
I agree with Outpatient, if you are having to eq the signal to that extent then you really need to look at changing some components for ones you actually like the sound of. Most good quality tone controls and eq's have a fairly subtle effect, sticking everything to 100% on an el cheapo software eq is bound to cause problems. If you find yourself applying a "bathtub" style curve to an eq or ramping up the bass and treble settings you really should consider getting some speakers/amplification that can provide the bass and/or top-end you want.
Last edited by SpookyEddy; May 8th, 2003 at 05:41 PM.I dreamt that a large eagle circled the room three times and then got into bed with me and took all the blankets.
May 8th, 2003, 05:47 PM #10
Here are my current settings. Sounds great with the Klipsch speakers. I used to have to crank the bass back when I had cheapo speakers. But the same settings that would make those crappy speakers sound a little bit better also will make good quality speakers sound like crap. Less EQ is better.
My current settings:
May 8th, 2003, 06:59 PM #11
I think Out hit it. I haven't had an SB card since the AWE64 Gold and won't ever again, if I can help it, but that's me. I'd bet you money, marbles or chalk that all of that cumulative boost, especially in the low end (which consumes the vast majority of the available voltage/power swing) is overloading the soundcard.
Human beings have a genetic prediposition to push sliders up and turn knobs clockwise when it comes to EQ. If the tone is really that bad and better transducers (speakers and headphones) are not possible, try leaving the top and bottom flat and cutting the mids.
If I'm mixing a record and look at the board and discover that my EQ knobs are all over the joint and mostly clockwise, I know I'm doing something drastically wrong (unless the EQ is there for some sort of special effect). Similarly, if I find that one level control is maxed and the next one in the chain is cranked way down, or vice versa, I've got the gain staging wrong. That's that gain that Whir referred to.
Adding boost adds gain, and massive amounts of low end boost ad massive amounts of gain. Which leads to overload/distortion, andonandonandon.There's only two things in life. But I forget what they are.
May 8th, 2003, 07:26 PM #12
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I agree with OuT too. Software equalizers in general are bad news. Especially the ones built into the players. The one built into your sound card software can be half-decent, but even those are nowhere near as good as hardware equalizers.
May 8th, 2003, 07:52 PM #13
Wow out, nice explanation!!!! Anyway, I'll take your word for it (AAAHHHH me conused--too many buttons!). But then how am I supposed to boost my bass? I can leave everything flat or it sounds horrible! You at least have to up the highs and lower the mids a bit! Should I lower the bass on my mixer and then use WMP9 to boost the bass? I'lll experiment right now. Believe it or not, I use "Ghosts" by MJ to do this bass testing due to it's atrocious amount of low bass and a high frequency beat.
edit: The source is not with my windows settings, it's with my WMP9 equalizer. I set the bass to 14 on the EQ (which is max and causes the bass to give out a HORRIBLE distortion) and messed around with my windows settings. The windows setting and mixer settings had NO effect on the music whatsoever. Even with all of the master settings at minimum, the distortion was still horrible and the problem is indeed with WMP9. Now I need to get another media player because this one is bad. Acutally, OpenMG, my horrible PC->minidisc player software, has excellent bass and does not distort half as much as WMP9. I will miss WMP's highs, though.
Last edited by MD1032; May 8th, 2003 at 08:01 PM.
May 9th, 2003, 04:45 AM #14
Does WMP still have this thing in it? SRS Wow Thing. That can have drastic effects (both good and/or bad) on your bass response.
May 9th, 2003, 07:22 AM #15
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With everything maxxed out, you have eaten up all the (ahem) headroom, and are (cough-cough) clipping.
But I didn't say that...
The distortion is because the signal want to go higher, but the amplifier has run out of capabilities to go higher.
May 9th, 2003, 03:52 PM #16
I have the SRS effects turned off, it's just that the program can't amplify the bass signal enough. I'll be using Musicmatch/OpenMG from now on, it's clear that half the problem is WMP9.
edit: I'll definitely be using MUSICMATCH from now on. It doesn't distort at all, and it has deeper bass.
Last edited by MD1032; May 9th, 2003 at 08:34 PM.
May 21st, 2003, 07:24 PM #17
Sorry to bump, but I figured it out! After listening to MUSICMATCH for a while and wondering why I had been using WMP9's horrible quality for so long, I realized the problem with WMP9--there was no auto equalizer volume leveling! I went into WMP9 and scrolled past the equalizer and found a button to turn auto volume leveling on. BOOM! The distortion was history. It still doesn't sound half as good as musicmatch, so I'll continue to use that, but I've figured it out. Another lesson to expand my audio knowledge!
May 21st, 2003, 09:19 PM #18
AHA! Glad you found a solution, even if you're not gonna use it!
Stuff like that'll drive you buggy.There's only two things in life. But I forget what they are.
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