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What is your favourite player under Snakeoil?


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#1
Hello! Smile

In the last couple of days I'm switching between MPD and LMS+Squeezelite.

MPD has much better resolution, 3D space and dynamics, it is faster and everything is more impressive and "hifi". 
But, the longer the listening session, more the listener fatigue creeps in.
If I exclusively listen to audiophile samplers (which happens almost never Smile ) everything is OK,
but after one hour of listening to some of my favourite music, of which many is not very well recorded or produced,
I can feel highly irritated with some unpleasant high pressure sensation in my ears.

Squeezelite sounds more fuzzy and blurred in comparison to MPD,
it is slower and less dynamic, with low and high frequency extremes not so prominent, but the midrange is more fuller and feels richer in harmonics.
The sound is more relaxed, so it is much more forgiving when playing poorer recordings.
With certain recordings MPD can sound glassy cold and really unpleasant.

This whole thing reminds me of that old and oversimplified cliché - more precise but "cold" and "sterile" solid state sound (in this case MPD) vs less precise but "warm" and "pleasant" sound of the tubes (LMS+Squeezelite). 

So most of the time I feel frustrated - when I listen to MPD I admire the technical aspects of the reproduction,
but after some time I get the feeling of swollen and irritated ears, so I switch to LMS+Squeezelite to get an instant ear relief,
...but then I start noticing that many details are missing, so I switch back to MPD, and then I get tired again so I switch back to Squeezelite... and it goes round and round! Smile

If I go back to my old MacMini with Audirvana+ and Amarra players, I can have all the audiophile "details" without listener fatigue,
but I prefer the small headless Snakeoil NUC sitting in my hifi rack just like a regular audio component.

I have been playing mostly with MPD v0.21.16 and Squeezelite Ralph.

What are your favourite versions?
In his latest article dedicated to SOtM USB card, I have noticed that @agent_kith is using Squeezelite 1.6.4.
Is there some reason why it is preferred to more "modern" Ralph and R2 versions?
Are there big differences between various MPD versions? What are they?

Yes, I know, I can test them all by myself, but my head is already swollen from constant switching between these two players, it will explode If I throw all the other versions into the mix! Smile
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  • agent_kith
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#2
(07-May-2020, 09:28 AM) koko6969koki Wrote: So most of the time I feel frustrated - when I listen to MPD I admire the technical aspects of the reproduction,
but after some time I get the feeling of swollen and irritated ears, so I switch to LMS+Squeezelite to get an instant ear relief,
...but then I start noticing that many details are missing, so I switch back to MPD, and then I get tired again so I switch back to Squeezelite... and it goes round and round! Smile

Well done!! Your summary echo my personal experiences. I have a short wiki article talking about this, and also linked it back to here. Big Grin

Always exiciting to hear comments that almost mirrors mine, and we havn't met each other to reach the same observations!

Basically, I use MPD to "show off" to my friends (How good my sound system is), and LMS+Squeezelite when you want a good time (listen to music).

 
(07-May-2020, 09:28 AM) koko6969koki Wrote: If I go back to my old MacMini with Audirvana+ and Amarra players, I can have all the audiophile "details" without listener fatigue,
but I prefer the small headless Snakeoil NUC sitting in my hifi rack just like a regular audio component.

Are you using FLAC (or any other lossless compressed codec?). If yes, switching to WAV may improve your enjoyment when you use LMS+Squeezelite.

When playing back WAV on LMS+Squeezelite, it's less "fuzzy" than FLAC, giving me that extra resolving resolution that is close to (but not quite on par with MPD). This is the compromise I have to make as I simply don't have enough good source materials to play on MPD.

I personally find a good correlation with the Dynamic Range calculator (from Foobar plugin) with this. MPD almost always require DR rating of 12 and above, LMS can get by with DR rating of around 10. Exceptions do apply of course.

Note that are potential problems keeping your music library as WAV (Bigger filesizes, prone to bit rot, tagging problems, higher overheads, etc)

The reason why I use Squeezelite 1.6.4 is I started listening to this from the get go I used computer for playback. I have a playlist of reference tracks I use for evaluation. So sticking to this player is just for consistency sake (reduce number of variables). Eventually I'll move on to a newer version when I have more time to sit down and re-calibrate Tongue.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#3
Quote:I personally find a good correlation with the Dynamic Range calculator (from Foobar plugin) with this. MPD almost always require DR rating of 12 and above, LMS can get by with DR rating of around 10. Exceptions do apply of course.
 That is an interesting idea... Cool   I will have to do some tests and follow up.
Whilst mentioning testing/analysis software this might be of interest... Wink Little known, very specifically targeted,  cross platform ( Big Grin ) and well supported.
https://sonicvisualiser.org/
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  • agent_kith
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#4
(08-May-2020, 08:32 AM) agent_kith Wrote: Well done!! Your summary echo my personal experiences. I have a short wiki article talking about this, and also linked it back to here. Big Grin

Always exiciting to hear comments that almost mirrors mine, and we havn't met each other to reach the same observations!


Same here! Smile 

 
(08-May-2020, 08:32 AM) agent_kith Wrote: Are you using FLAC (or any other lossless compressed codec?). If yes, switching to WAV may improve your enjoyment when you use LMS+Squeezelite.

When playing back WAV on LMS+Squeezelite, it's less "fuzzy" than FLAC, giving me that extra resolving resolution that is close to (but not quite on par with MPD). This is the compromise I have to make as I simply don't have enough good source materials to play on MPD.



I have also learnt this while playing with Squeezelite buffers:

​​​​​​https://soundcheck-audio.blogspot.com/20...art-2.html
Quote:4. Buffer size settings

These Buffer settings shouldn't be mixed up with the Alsa buffer settings.
Squeezelite offers two buffers:
The stream buffer
The output buffer (output from squeezelite to Alsa!)

How it works.
Squeezelite puts the received audio data stream into the stream buffer first.
The internal processing stages e.g. flac-pcm conversion, resampling or 
volume control will then be executed. 
The result - the almost fully processed data get stored in the output buffer.
The data will be stored at 32bit in that output buffer - always 32bit.
The two things that'll still happen after the data leaving the output buffer is: 

the SW volume control
bit-depth adjustments


If I understand this correctly, with large enough buffers, a FLAC file is loaded to the RAM "stream" buffer in its entirety, then it is converted to PCM data.
After the conversion is completed, the whole song (now in PCM format) is transferred to the "output" buffer, from which the playback is executed?

If this buffer thing works like this, maybe converting all FLACs to WAV is not necessary, since the songs are fully converted to PCM data and stored in the output buffer at the beginning of the playback? 

I have monitored it with nmon, and the whole process takes only a second or two at the beginning of each audio file.

Some people seem to be very enthusiastic about the whole thing:
https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic.../page/445/
 
Quote:Comparing squeezelite case 4 (4GB buffers) with Roon, the SQ difference is quite obvious! squeezelite sounds so much better!
  1. Yet another jump in dynamics, but also
  2. it feels like the noise floor dropped even more
    • bigger and deeper image
    • better instrument separation
I was stunned. But what about stepping back from the precipice (very little free memory), and reducing the buffer size? With each step from 4GB (option 4) to 3GB (option 3) to 2GB (option 2), there were drops in SQ, although they were small. The final step - going from 2GB buffer (option 2) to default buffer - was the biggest drop in SQ.
 
Here's the kicker - running with the default buffer size (i.e. no -b parameter set), the SQ of Roon and squeezelite were indistinguishable. In other words, the SQ benefit from squeezelite comes from setting (and presumably pinning) large buffers.


 
(08-May-2020, 08:32 AM) agent_kith Wrote: The reason why I use Squeezelite 1.6.4 is I started listening to this from the get go I used computer for playback. I have a playlist of reference tracks I use for evaluation. So sticking to this player is just for consistency sake (reduce number of variables). Eventually I'll move on to a newer version when I have more time to sit down and re-calibrate



I have tried Squeezelite 1.6.4 yesterday, I don't know if it is a placebo or I was in the especially good mood for listening, but I felt that it sounded better than Ralph.
The stereo image seemed to be wider, and I thought that I could "see" further into the mix.
There was some magic in the air and I didn't feel at any point that I should switch to MPD for some additional audiophile goodness. Smile

PS I have read somewhere that this method of buffer setting is not working with Squeezelite R2. So maybe differences like this are causing different sound from different Sgueezelite versions?
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#5
(09-May-2020, 10:15 AM) koko6969koki Wrote: PS I have read somewhere that this method of buffer setting is not working with Squeezelite R2. So maybe differences like this are causing different sound from different Sgueezelite versions?

It's very hard to say, and also very system dependent. I honestly don't know the reason. If I recall correctly, I've built Squeezelite a commit before, and a commit after that 1.6.4-test. They sound different, but the code change have absolutely nothing to do with playback, at all.

This is the same with kernel versions, some just sound better, others not. And I cannot find a reason for this. So it's all about experimentation, and more experimentation. Which is really time consuming.

This is why Snakeoil's slogan is "Music, your way", and "designed by us, defined by you". Users with a good ear can tweak Snakeoil to absolutely make their system sing... And with collobration, Process priority, buffer tweaks, one by one, we can explore and collectively improve all our systems together (no one person can test all these endless combinations)...
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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