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Audio newbie looking to learn how to properly set audio settings for headphones.(use asus xonar d2x)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello I am ashamed to say i am a complete amateur when it comes to audio stuff even tho i consider it extremely important in my enjoyment of my gaming/everyday use pc. I wish to learn a few things here and hopefully debunk a lot of myths i believed from the past. Any information is massively appreciated i am always looking to learn something new and improve my audio.

I have a lot of questions:

1)I am using an asus Xonar D2X sound card which has:
118 dB SNR rating for all 7.1 channels ( what the heck is SNR used for does it mean higher is better sound quality?)

24 bit 192KHz sample rate ( what the heck is sample rate ? default is 44.1 does this mean 192 KHz will give better sound quality?)

- I also use a creative aurvana live headphones: ( does having 32 ohms mean i cant utilize headphone amps ?)

Frequency Response
10Hz-30KHz
Input Impedance
32 ohms
Sensitivity
103dB/mW

my sound card setting and the most confusing part for my entire life:

https://imgur.com/a/RHdrG


2) Channels

It says and recommend i use 8 channels when playing 3d games and 2 channels when listening to cd this is freaking confusing what does this mean and what is correct when using headphones? I always thought headphones only have 2 channels.

3)sample rate i am so dam confused on this. What is the best setting for sample rate? some website i googled said 96 KHz best but isn't it better to max it out at 192KHz for better audio?

What about settings for windows? ( under default format in advanced settings for speakers ) i set it it to 24 bit 96 KHz.
whats difference between 16 and 24 bit audio? is bigger better?

https://imgur.com/a/zFZVm

Can anyone who uses or used a asus xonar d2x (im assuming audio settings are universal anyways) suggest me best settings when using headphones only and no speakers?

Any information is extremely appreciated.
Edited by KingAlkaiser - 10/3/17 at 12:32am
post #2 of 8
Analogue (non-digital) signals are a continuous stream of voltages. The voltage, at any one instant in time, is related to how loud the sound is.
Digital signals are a stream of digital numbers. Each number describes how loud the sound is at one particular instant of time.

Lets look at a sound signal of 3000 Hz ,which is about the sound of the human voice. Note that one hertz = one cycle per second.




A digital signal takes an analogue signal and, for example, divides each second into 44,100 parts (sample rate) and assigns an 8 bit (bit depth) digital number, that represents the volume of the sound at that instant, to each of those parts.



CDs that you buy are 44,100/16 (sample rate/bit depth), typical MP3s are 96,000/128, high fidelity would be 128,000/24 on up to 256,000/32.

The greater the sampling rate the better the digital numbers are able to accurately represent the original analogue signal .
The greater the bit depth the better the digital numbers are able to accurately represent the original analogue signal .

Questions?
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post #3 of 8
For headphones obviously set 2 channel or Headphones and set the sample rate to 24bit / 44.1kHz and you are good to go.
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post #4 of 8
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post #5 of 8
Using a digital sample rate/bit depth that produces analogue music with higher fidelity than your amp, speakers, or headphones can play is a useless waste of time.
"If your equipment won't play the difference you won't hear the difference."
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post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
first and foremost thank you so much for all the technical information it is nice to be able to understand some of the mumbo jumbo stuff i barely understood before.

I wanted to also know the following:

1) sampling rate surpassing the designed rate such as setting sampling rate over what its rated. I understand the term of oversampling but what does it really mean? Does the system have to do more work to play theoretically more stuff? what happens when you over sample? is it a good thing or a bad thing to have?

In my mind isn't sampling rate setting the max capacity you are allowed to have, thus by this logic having a higher cap means you are able to have a better range of things not just what you are currently listening to such as things at 44.1 then listening to higher rated things.

Do you have any loss in data if you over sample?


2)how many channels do "headphone" settings run at normally? is there a way to find this out? to my limited knowledge i am assuming headphones have 2 channels, but it gets confusing when some headphones say they can emulate 5.1 or surround sounds.

Also my asus xonar d2x tells me to set it to 8 channels which is the max when playing 3d games. So if i set it to 8 channels my headphones even if i set it to headphones under settings (which is what is confusing me) my headphones will emulate 8 channels of sound?

isn't channels originally mean the medium by which you are distributing sound? such as if you have 5.1 it will be 6 channels as in 5+ sub? front left, back left,
front right back right
center
= 5 channels and the .1 for the sub?
so a setting at 5.1 will need 6 channels?

but what happens if i set it to 2 channels ? does it not just play the rest or what happens?

the whole thing with channels in general is confusing me specially since "HEADPHONE" doesn't necessarily have anything set universally. ( why would my sound card tell me to set it to 8 channels)

P.S-
i remember when i used to play the game fear i set it to 2 channels or something else and my 5.1 speakers never used to play some voices and stuff.

So are headphones "universally" should be set to 2 channels no matter what? even if you want "surround"?

i tested it and it does sound a lot louder.

3)
can someone briefly explain analog vs digital cabling.
is it better for me to go digital if i want best sound?
i just use regular analog cables that come with speakers and " 3.5mm gold-plated stereo mini plug" that is build in headphone?

how the heck can you use digital on headphones is there a adapter that converts 3.5mm gold-plated stereo mini plug to digital?



by the way once again thank you from the bottom of my heart for any educational/tips/tricks and information provided, audio is honestly extremely important for me near equal to visuals and its a shame its so dam hard to grasp over all these years.
post #7 of 8
I'd leave the sample rate at 16-bit/44khz unless you're playing content you know to be higher (ie. DVDs at 16bit/48khz). There shouldn't be any degradation setting it higher as long as the implementation isn't junk.

Answers to some of your questions (I've tried to keep explanations simple here):

Headphones are two channels, right and left. I'd only set channels higher if you have a surround system hooked up.

You can simulate surround with something like Razer Surround or Dolby headphone. Whatever implementation you like is down to personal taste, though, I hear Razer Surround is quite good.

The difference between digital and analog headphones is what point in the chain the signal gets converted from digital to analog. The end of the chain is analog, though, as speaker and headphone drivers are analog devices.

On digital headphones, USB for example, the DAC (digital to analog converter) is onboard the headphones. The purpose of a soundcard or external DAC is that it's, presumably, of much better quality than whatever it's replacing. For your headphones I'd stick to analog.
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingAlkaiser View Post

I wanted to also know the following:

1) sampling rate surpassing the designed rate such as setting sampling rate over what its rated. I understand the term of oversampling but what does it really mean? Does the system have to do more work to play theoretically more stuff? what happens when you over sample? is it a good thing or a bad thing to have?

Oversampling is just software converting, for example, 44,100 samples per second (CD quality) to higher sampling rate like 196,000 samples per second (audiophile quality). Software "modifies" the existing samples and "synthesizes" the missing samples, And no, it doesn't make the music sound any better as nothing new is added to the signal (what's there is just changed around), and there is the possibility that the oversampling software will add errors to the digital streaming.

In my mind isn't sampling rate setting the max capacity you are allowed to have, thus by this logic having a higher cap means you are able to have a better range of things not just what you are currently listening to such as things at 44.1 then listening to higher rated things.

As I said above, oversampling doesn't add anything and has the potential to degrade sound quality.

Do you have any loss in data if you over sample?

2)how many channels do "headphone" settings run at normally? is there a way to find this out? to my limited knowledge i am assuming headphones have 2 channels, but it gets confusing when some headphones say they can emulate 5.1 or surround sounds.

Headphones have two speakers, so anything higher than 2 channels has to be "synthesized" from the existing 2 channels is such a way that your ears are "tricked" into thinking the sounds are coming from as many speakers as there are channels. That's a very hard thing to do as "psycho acoustics" is involved.

There are headphones with more than two speakers, but they are a joke.


Also my asus xonar d2x tells me to set it to 8 channels which is the max when playing 3d games. So if i set it to 8 channels my headphones even if i set it to headphones under settings (which is what is confusing me) my headphones will emulate 8 channels of sound?

Not exactly - it will try to emulate 8 channels. The sound overall quality will most certainly be degraded, but with gaming sound quality isn't an issue, hearing where the enemy is (to the right/left, front/back is the issue).

isn't channels originally mean the medium by which you are distributing sound? such as if you have 5.1 it will be 6 channels as in 5+ sub? front left, back left,
front right back right
center
= 5 channels and the .1 for the sub?
so a setting at 5.1 will need 6 channels?

Not exactly. There is essentially no source material available to consumers in true 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 nor 11 channels. It's all synthesized from 2 channels. Note that infrequently there are copies of original, multi channel, master recording tapes available, but they cost thousands of dollars. Besides that, for true multi channel sound you need a source fro each channel,, a pre-amp, amp, and speaker for each channel. Basically three stereo systems for 6 channels, etc..

but what happens if i set it to 2 channels ? does it not just play the rest or what happens?

Depending what the source is, pure two channel (then that's what you get) or synthesized multi-channel which will be "un-synthesized" back to 2 channel with all the inherent sound quality problems inherent in doing that.

the whole thing with channels in general is confusing me specially since "HEADPHONE" doesn't necessarily have anything set universally. ( why would my sound card tell me to set it to 8 channels)

The hardware/software engineers aren't telling you to do that, the marketing people are. They're tricking people into thinking that's better sounding.


P.S-
i remember when i used to play the game fear i set it to 2 channels or something else and my 5.1 speakers never used to play some voices and stuff.

Poor "uin-synthesizing"

So are headphones "universally" should be set to 2 channels no matter what? even if you want "surround"?

i tested it and it does sound a lot louder.

Louder is not better. psychoacoustically, anything sounding louder is interpreted by the brain as sounding "better" A phenomenon to be aware of when auditioning audio equipment!

3)
can someone briefly explain analog vs digital cabling.
is it better for me to go digital if i want best sound?
i just use regular analog cables that come with speakers and " 3.5mm gold-plated stereo mini plug" that is build in headphone?

There's no such thing as "digital wire". It's marketing hype.
All electrical signals traveling through wire are just electrons moving through the wire no matter if the signal is digital, analogue, synthesized, or whatever - it's all the same.

Note that there is much controversy about speaker cabling and component interconnection cabling. Let's just leave that topic at the "believe what ever sounds the best to you" state.
Personally, I have $1,200 in cabling for a 2 channel stereo system - so you can see where I'm at on the subject!


how the heck can you use digital on headphones is there a adapter that converts 3.5mm gold-plated stereo mini plug to digital?

You can't.
Just because you change the plug it's still whatever went into the wire on one end is the same thing that comes out of the wire at the other end.
Analogy:
If you hook the gas pipes coming into you house to your water distribution piping in you house you won't be getting water out of your sinks!


by the way once again thank you from the bottom of my heart for any educational/tips/tricks and information provided, audio is honestly extremely important for me near equal to visuals and its a shame its so dam hard to grasp over all these years.

The main source of "distortion" in digital signals is a phenomenon called "jitter" - read about it.
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My System
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Samsung 840 PRO Asus DRW-1608P (x2) Custom Water Cooling Win7 (Ult), Win 8.1 & Win Server 2012 R2 
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2 X Samsung 915N Ducky Shine III, Blue Cherry/Blue LEDs PCP&C 1kw Lian Li PC-71 (W/Window) 
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