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experiments with buffer settings

I'm doing some experiments with buffer settings in JRiver.

My setup is a MacBook Pro with an iFi Nano iDSD DAC (custom modified by an acquaintance). I've tried both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt external drives to hold the music.

My software is JRiver Media Center.

So when I first starting using JRiver it seemed like lower buffer sizes were better. I'm referring here to four settings:

- software buffer
- hardware buffer
- prebuffering
- latency

By the way that's a hell of a lot of options and settings if I was to actually try all combinations, but I'm just trying things and listening a lot.

So basically lower buffer settings seemed to offer more speed and extension, while higher buffer sizes sounded a bit constrained dynamically and congested.

But then everything changed. I discovered the setting in JRiver called "exclusve access to sound device." When I checked that, first of all the sound got much better. Secondly, now it seemed like larger buffer sizes were sweeter and smoother with a lower noise floor. There was no sense of constraint or congestion any more with the larger buffer sizes.

Another option to play with is dithering. I'm a bit confused what JRiver actually does when you turn on dithering. I thought that dithering was handled by the recording engineer in producing the original file, or maybe the DAC does something like dithering in playback, but I thought the point of the media player was to send the data to the DAC in bit perfect form.

(oh i should say at this point that most of my files are 44.1/16. My favorite recordings are usually available only on red book CDs)

Nonetheless, changing the dithering setting has an effect. It seems to vary with the recording. Sometimes I feel like turning on "JRiver Bit Perfect Dithering" improves leading edges. The drums really pop and slam. Amazing how I felt like the drummer was right in the room with me. But on other music, it seems that turning dithering off gives a more neutral and truthful ("objective") perspective which can often really improve the musical expression -- the musician's point gets through better.

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Topic - experiments with buffer settings - mike1127 23:39:31 03/13/17 (12)


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