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  1. #1
    Junior Member dallasjustice's Avatar
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    Preampless Volume-Jriver

    Does Jriver gave good volume control such that there is no resolution loss by using Jriver volume instead of a preamplifier? I understand that Amarra has great volume control but I am holding out on buying an Apple as long as possible.
    THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

  2. #2

    If you are using the Lynx

    If you are using the Lynx mixer, you can control volume with it, even in ASIO. A remote can be programed to run it.

  3. #3

    change the bit depth

    > Does Jriver gave good volume control such that there is no
    > resolution loss by using Jriver volume instead of a preamplifier?

    Current versions of JRMC 15 use 64 bit floating point for arithmetic on the audio stream. That's good.

    You might change the output format bitdepth to 24 bit or 32 bit rather than "source bitdepth". (whichever fits your audio output device.)

    This will push the truncation or dithering of the audio stream after the volume control action down to the 24 bit level which is less likely to produce a result you won't like.

    You'll find the bitdepth setting in the Player/DSP Studio dialog. Click on "Output format" in the left pane of the dialog.

    This is easy to change so you can try it out and form your own opinion.



  4. #4
    Junior Member dallasjustice's Avatar
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    Going Preampless?

    I got interested in the topic after reading Robert Harley's Complete Guide to High End Audio 4th Edition, p.165 wherein he states: "For those who listen to only digital sources the disc player or DAC with a volume control is ideal. This feature allows you to drive a power amplifier directly, with no need for a traditional analog preamplifier . . . and has the potential to sound better because fewer electronic components are in the signal path." Harley's comments about about the Spectral DMA-360 monoblocks driven directly by the BADA are interesting. Much to the Spectral's shagrin, Harley claimed the Spectral monoblocks sound much better without the Spectral pre-amp interposed between the amp and DAC.

    I decided to take this advice to heart. I ordered an Empirical Audio Overdrive DAC and a pair of Luxman M-600a monoblocks which I intend to connect directly to the DAC. I will report on this combination next month when I get everything setup.
    THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

  5. #5

    Adding Math

    I haven't read the book, but I'm going to have to disagree with Mr. Robert Harley based upon your description. He's correct that eliminating the preamplifier will remove a piece of physical equipment - a good thing. But he hasn't factored in the addition of a new piece of equipment: Math. Using a digital volume control in the DAC at anything other than 100% will introduce rounding artifacts that easily constitute a weak link if not executed properly in the software.
    dBro (Derek)[br]FLAC > Media Monkey > SPL Volume2 > Adcom > Paradigm

  6. #6
    Junior Member dallasjustice's Avatar
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    More is less?

    If we assume highly transparent attenuation and robust DAC output stage designed to directly drive the amp, how can adding a preamp improve the sound?
    THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

  7. #7

    It's all in the assumptions

    I agree.

    Mr. Harley posited that the attenuation provided by the volume calculations in the DAC software would sound better than the attenuation provided by the analog preamplifier.

    Depending on the variables involved that might not be the case.
    dBro (Derek)[br]FLAC > Media Monkey > SPL Volume2 > Adcom > Paradigm

  8. #8

    Less is more

    I'd say, from my experience, math wins over "piece of physical equipment." A well configured setup with a digital volume control as via J River MC15 instead of a hardware analog preamp(with extra IC's and power cables), in my ears and setup delivers the better sonic outcome. That's a practical/pragmatic assessment that further highlights how many of the stated imperfections in the digital realm, and how digital attenuation "alters" the data, in certain setups are of such a (minor) magnitude that their equivalence in perceived sound is minuscule - if at all audible. While theoretical limitations within digital attenuation are easily outlined, often they do not correspond to "real-world" auditionings to the extent they're speculated(or rather, taking for granted).
    Moreover, the unspoken stance that analog attenuation(i.e.: the hardware unit with cables as a whole) is a point of reference to be measured against - as in, being more or less perfect - is definately erroneous; first when taking into consideration the inherent and, in my view, more outspoken shortcomings of the analog domain in named context, all factors entailed, then can we have a more comparative frame from which to assess the potential of digital attenuation. That is, many seem to focus solely on the (especially theoretical) limitations of digital attenuation, while leaving out the mention of flaws in the analog domain and the addition of a hardware unit.

    To the OP, dallasjustice: I can definately concur on the successive use of the internal digital volume control of J River MC15 in a high quality audio setup, while leaving out a hardware analog preamp. In my own system I output directly from the analog outs of an HDSP RME 9632 soundcard into the poweramp, via a dedicatedly assembled IC cabel. The RME mixer volume is set to max, so that only the internal J River volume comes into play. In that the gain of my poweramp is only 21dB it means the volume range in the J River application is suitable.

    I urge you to try it out and hear for yourself before writing off the solution of digital attenuation..!
    HTPC/Win 8.1 64-bit | Fidelizer 6.1 | JPLAY 5.2.1 Official - Xtream via JRiver MC20 | JRemote 3.08 | Audiophilleo2 w/PurePower via BNC input | NuForce DAC-9 | Belles SA-30 | hORNS Mummy MkII | Mundorf Silver/gold speaker cable(solid-core, 1.5mm dia.) run single-wire parallel with DIY ~2mm2 Mundorf copper foils | KaDo Sound RCA interconnect | DIY 16 awg solid-core copper wire power cables (all powercables connected "powerstrip-less" with screw terminals for direct conductor-contact)

  9. #9

    Direct sound required to use JRiver volume control?

    Isn't direct sound required to use the JRiver volume control?

  10. #10

    It works with ASIO or Kenrel Streaming for MC 15 on Win XP

    > Isn't direct sound required to use the JRiver volume control?

    I just tried it out. There is a delay related to the size of the output buffering you specify.

    Bill


  11. #11

    Hello Bill, good to hear from

    Hello Bill, good to hear from you. I am embarrassed that I asked the question before actually trying it. In my set up in Windows 7 with a Musiland usb to SPDIF converter JRiver volume only works with WASAPI event style.

  12. #12

    good to hear from you too

    dbb,

    Yes, good to see your postings too. How is JRMC treating you?

    I haven't bought any equipment in awhile but I'm still finding music to buy.

    This thread is relevant to me. I'm going to experiment with using the volume control in MC as a convenient way to change volume from my listening position. I'll still have an analog volume control in the audio path to keep unsafe signal levels from getting to my amplifier and speakers.

    Bill




  13. #13

    Bill: I love JRiver.

    Bill:

    I love JRiver. Zillions of classical recordings organized just the way I want it, almost.

    My preferred set up a couple of years ago was to go direct to my amp using a Lynx L22 analog out balanced with Windows xp and software volume control. At that time I was using a Keyspan remote sometimes programed to the JRiver volume control and sometimes to the Lynx mixer. I had a Goldpoint passive volume control also. I could hear no real-world deterioration from loss of bits by using software over the Goldpoint.

    Since that time I went to Windows 7, an outboard DAC, Neko D100, and upgraded my pre-amp. My preferred method now is to use the preamp with its remote volume control. Yesterday for an experiment I went back to the direct method using the JRiver volume control. Very very clear.Female vocals sounded fabulous. Probably the impedance matching was not perfect because I lost imaging, some dynamics and body to the music. Back to the pre-amp.

    David

  14. #14
    Senior Member esldude's Avatar
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    Digital volume controls if

    Digital volume controls if done right should be of no concern with hurting sound quality.

    http://www.weiss-highend.ch/computerplayback/Digital_Level_Control.pdf

    Good basic explanation here. Basically if properly dithered and a 24 bit result any added noise will be below detection thresholds. J. River does volume control at the 64 bit level. Just make sure it is putting out a 24 bit depth and it shouldn't be an issue.

    I would think any pre-amp that sounds different than J. River thru a good quality Dac directly connected to a power amp is different because it is coloring the sound. You might prefer the coloration which is fine, but that is likely what is going on.

    Passive volume controls built with good resistors between DAC's and power amps beat most pre-amps even very good ones. You do sometimes get a loss of dynamics and air with passives but that is explainable. Well done digital volume through a DAC directly connected to a power amp is even better and doesn't suffer loss of dynamics or air. Seems fully transparent.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

    Mark Twain

  15. #15

    "I would think any pre-amp

    "I would think any pre-amp that sounds different than J. River thru a good quality Dac directly connected to a power amp is different because it is coloring the sound. You might prefer the coloration which is fine, but that is likely what is going on."

    If coloring the sound means better imaging and"center fill" between the speakers, better dynamics, and more body and air, then I am for it. I think it depends on the quality of the preamp. My experience is that a passive setup produces the ultimate in clarity, but other desirable qualities in the sound might be diminished.

  16. #16
    Senior Member esldude's Avatar
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    Well, obviously I have not

    Well, obviously I have not heard all pre amps made. But I have heard or owned some mighty good ones. Never heard one improve the sound over quality DAC straight into the amp. I am skeptical that a pre-amp helps. I have heard some components (though not pre-amps) color sound to be subjectively better. In this case, feeding a DAC straight into an amp seems to leave little reason for sound to be degraded. So a pre-amp might sound identical if it were the mythical straight wire with gain. Most aren't. So if the sound changes going through a pre-amp, the pre-amp is coloring the sound. What else could it be doing?

    Good quality modern DAC's are quiet enough, resolving enough, have no problem driving a couple meters of interconnect into an amp, put out enough voltage for full output from the amp, so what is left for a pre-amp to do? Now that we can digitally control volume, and hard drives can be all the sources we need, I don't see much point in pre-amps.

    If a pre amp adds centerfill, imaging, body, air etc, I might prefer it, but it is a coloration. Tubes amps are certainly quite capable of doing this. Nothing wrong with a beguiling coloration as long as one knows that and doesn't mistake it for better fidelity.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

    Mark Twain

  17. #17
    Just a poor ole country boy sjoc2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by esldude View Post
    Well, obviously I have not heard all pre amps made. But I have heard or owned some mighty good ones. Never heard one improve the sound over quality DAC straight into the amp. I am skeptical that a pre-amp helps. I have heard some components (though not pre-amps) color sound to be subjectively better. In this case, feeding a DAC straight into an amp seems to leave little reason for sound to be degraded. So a pre-amp might sound identical if it were the mythical straight wire with gain. Most aren't. So if the sound changes going through a pre-amp, the pre-amp is coloring the sound. What else could it be doing?

    Good quality modern DAC's are quiet enough, resolving enough, have no problem driving a couple meters of interconnect into an amp, put out enough voltage for full output from the amp, so what is left for a pre-amp to do? Now that we can digitally control volume, and hard drives can be all the sources we need, I don't see much point in pre-amps.

    If a pre amp adds centerfill, imaging, body, air etc, I might prefer it, but it is a coloration. Tubes amps are certainly quite capable of doing this. Nothing wrong with a beguiling coloration as long as one knows that and doesn't mistake it for better fidelity.
    Recently there has been much discussion about different preamps. My ultimate audiophile quest is to get a transparent reproduction of a recording, good or bad.

    I have been using the JRiver internal (one layered) volume control to accomplish this into a Mytek 192 DSD dac (previously a Peachtree Dacit). With JRiver's 64 bit processing, and 32 bit depth (or 24), rounding errors are nonexistent, and you can get a bit perfect output directly to the dac (see Chris' review on JRiver 17 to read more on this subject).

    You can know this by watching JRiver's audio path symbol, upper left hand corner, in audio play mode. If the symbol does not turn blue, JRiver has measured a bit perfect output.

    So, the question becomes, if you can control volume digitally in JRiver, and get a bit perfect output directly to the Dac (in bypass mode), then feed the Dac directly to the amp, how can it get any better than that?

    A problem is that JRiver will not give you volume control when playing DSD files (presently the audio engine is disabled in the DSD bitstreaming mode). At this point I am using the analog preamp in the Mytek until I can figure a way around this. The preamp colors the music with a slight softening, pleasant result.

    Jim
    PC (J River-Jplay) > USB > Mytek 192 - DSD > XLR > Adcom GFP-750 Pre > XLR > Emotiva XPA-5 > Snell C/V's (bi-amped) / Klipsch Sub <100 Hz

  18. #18
    Junior Member dallasjustice's Avatar
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    Im still preamp less. I think as long as the outout stage if the DAC is good enough to drive the amp, a preamp is just another unnecessary gain stage. I use the volume control on my totaldac which dithers at 69 bits.
    THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

  19. #19
    Junior Member dallasjustice's Avatar
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    As far as DSD goes, you can use HQPLAYER and control volume in single bit domain. I haven't done it because my DAC is multi bit. I just convert my .dff files to 24\192.

    Btw, I dont really use jriver much anymore. I like hqplayer in my setup.
    THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

  20. #20
    Just a poor ole country boy sjoc2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dallasjustice View Post
    As far as DSD goes, you can use HQPLAYER and control volume in single bit domain. I haven't done it because my DAC is multi bit. I just convert my .dff files to 24\192.

    Btw, I dont really use jriver much anymore. I like hqplayer in my setup.
    Hello dallasjustice;

    I was not aware that the hqplayer can control volume for a bitstream relative to DSD/DFF files, if I understand you correctly. Presently this is not possible with JRiver or JPlay.

    Possibly Miska will see this post, and elaborate on how his media player can control volume for my new Mytek 192 in the bypass mode for DSD files without any other hardware attenuation.

    Jim
    PC (J River-Jplay) > USB > Mytek 192 - DSD > XLR > Adcom GFP-750 Pre > XLR > Emotiva XPA-5 > Snell C/V's (bi-amped) / Klipsch Sub <100 Hz

  21. #21
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    I have nothing of importance to add but please let us know how those luxman amps sound! I was looking at a pair but at only 30W/channel I wasnt sure if they would be powerful enough for my speakers.
    equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,