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  1.    19 Aug 2017 #1
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 80
    Windows 10

    Why does MP3 player sound better than computer?


    I have an old MP3 player that I bought around 10 years ago, and have been copying songs to it from my laptop. Then I hook an audio cable between its headphone jack and the "audio input" on my home stereo. It sounds good!

    Lately, I hooked up my laptop to the stereo the exact same way using the same audio cable. I noticed that the music doesn't sound the same when doing it that way. The louder, or more climatic parts of the songs actually do sound louder and have more "punch" when played through the MP3 player. But when played through the laptop, the sound is more flat throughout. I believe this is relating to the "dynamic range" if I understand the term correctly. Not sure why it would be different if both devices have their own volumes turned all the way up, and I'm using the same audio cable and am playing the same music file.

    Are there settings in the computer that can be adjusted to get the actual dynamic range of a song when playing it from my laptop? I'm using Windows 10.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    20 Aug 2017 #2
    Join Date : Jan 2015
    UK, Midlands
    Posts : 11,002
    Win 10 Pro (1703)

    Might depend on whether you've a graphic equaliser or sound effect of any sort applied. E.g.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Also consider this:
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    Are the copies of your mp3's identical?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    20 Aug 2017 #3
    Join Date : Nov 2016
    Posts : 429
    Windows 10

    Untick "Immediate Mode", and Tick the "Disable all sound effects" box.
    Or Untick all the sound effects.
    If you have a Spatial sound Tab select "none".
    Everytime there is one of those version updates to Windows 10 it can change those settings.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    21 Aug 2017 #4
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 80
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by dalchina View Post
    Might depend on whether you've a graphic equaliser or sound effect of any sort applied. E.g.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	1.jpg 
Views:	64 
Size:	69.8 KB 
ID:	149657

    Also consider this:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	1.jpg 
Views:	64 
Size:	31.6 KB 
ID:	149656

    Are the copies of your mp3's identical?
    I went into those adjustments and tried different things, including with the graphic equalizer in Windows Media Player. I also tried playing through VLC Player and had no better luck. And yes, they are identical copies of the same file. Ironically, it was on my laptop first and was then copied to the MP3 player where it sounds better.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  5.    21 Aug 2017 #5
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 80
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Helmut View Post
    Untick "Immediate Mode", and Tick the "Disable all sound effects" box.
    Or Untick all the sound effects.
    If you have a Spatial sound Tab select "none".
    Everytime there is one of those version updates to Windows 10 it can change those settings.
    I'll give this a try and let you know if anything changes. Thanks!
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    21 Aug 2017 #6
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 3,724
    10 Pro

    It sounds better because it is louder. In 2009 volume of output was reduced by law because people of my generation were going deaf (see New EU safety standards for personal music players for example but it was a global change).

    You can improve PC sound by turning off any effects (as mentioned above) but the volume is still lower so your amp has to work harder.

    Your 10 year old MP3 player sounds better (assuming the quality of the rest is equal and the digital to analogue conversion isn't actually worse on your PC which is improbable) because the amp in your stereo is doing less.

    What you can do is make sure you've turned PC volume up to 11 and adjust to output volume on your stereo
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  7.    21 Aug 2017 #7
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 80
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by lx07 View Post
    It sounds better because it is louder. In 2009 volume of output was reduced by law because people of my generation were going deaf (see New EU safety standards for personal music players for example but it was a global change).

    You can improve PC sound by turning off any effects (as mentioned above) but the volume is still lower so your amp has to work harder.

    Your 10 year old MP3 player sounds better (assuming the quality of the rest is equal and the digital to analogue conversion isn't actually worse on your PC which is improbable) because the amp in your stereo is doing less.

    What you can do is make sure you've turned PC volume up to 11 and adjust to output volume on your stereo
    It's not really just a matter of being able to be louder, as in simply turning up the volume. It's the "dynamic range" that seems to be the issue. Here's what I found for the definition of it: "​the range of acceptable or possible volumes of sound occurring in the course of a piece of music or a performance."

    The sound file is the same. But you mentioned something about digital to analogue conversion. I actually have no idea if this is occurring or not. The laptop is playing the song from it's hard drive, and the MP3 player is playing it from its flash drive. Is the music being converted from digital to analog in both instances?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  8.    21 Aug 2017 #8
    Join Date : Aug 2016
    Posts : 19
    Windows 10

    Quote Originally Posted by Delly10 View Post
    But you mentioned something about digital to analogue conversion. I actually have no idea if this is occurring or not. The laptop is playing the song from it's hard drive, and the MP3 player is playing it from its flash drive. Is the music being converted from digital to analog in both instances?
    That's not what he meant. A digital audio file always needs to be converted to analog, else how are we supposed to hear it. Sound is analog once it leaves a speaker.

    He is writing about the possibility of your MP3 player's digital-to-analogue conversion being of a higher quality than your PC's, although he doubts it.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  9.    22 Aug 2017 #9
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 80
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by eddman View Post
    That's not what he meant. A digital audio file always needs to be converted to analog, else how are we supposed to hear it. Sound is analog once it leaves a speaker.

    He is writing about the possibility of your MP3 player's digital-to-analogue conversion being of a higher quality than your PC's, although he doubts it.
    Ah! I get it now. Well, if the conversion quality does happen to be less on my PC than it is on my MP3 player, is there a way to change it on my PC to something better? It seems like there's a download for everything these days. I'm not really familiar with what items affect my audio, but right now I have Realtek HD audio, and also something called Dell Maxxsense (my computer is a Dell). I messed around with the Dell Maxxsense to see if I could adjust it in a way to improve things, but nothing helped. I don't even know what Dell Maxxsense is, but perhaps there's a better version out there that does whatever it's supposed to do? Or maybe a better version of Realtek?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  10.    22 Aug 2017 #10
    Join Date : Jan 2015
    Los Angeles
    Posts : 260
    Windows 10 Pro 1709 x64

    This is just my opinion, but you should start learning how to use "audiophile snake oil tweaks" such as bypassing Windows mixer through WASAPI or ASIO (Realtek doesn't have ASIO so you need an external soundcard (which audiophiles calls as a DAC)) to "preserve bitperfect digital transmission" of your music. See more info here: Audio Output Modes - JRiverWiki

    In reality, those audio input/output modes are used when recording music via a specific DAW software , rather than reproducing music needs very short latencies to ensure that the recording and mixes are timed as accurate as possible.

    However, the downside of these tweaks is that they're more sensitive to buffer underrun as the latencies are much tighter than the default sound mode. Try using WASAPI Event on your realtek and see if it helps making sound as good as your MP3 player
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 
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