Category: "Snakeoil Tweaks"
Bits are bits - and your computer playback will always be perfect. Right?
Do not answer that - the above is a rhetorical question.
No matter how good your computers are - once in a while you may find your computer is running fine one minute but suddenly crash in the next.
The rarer this phenomenon occurs, the harder it is to troubleshoot the cause.
There are many reasons why a system may crash this way. More often than not, the main cause is simply badly written software. The less usual suspects are leaky motherboard capacitors, poor quality ‘Yumcha’ power supply and issues like over heating.
However, there is one component that is often overlooked, and this component can cause unpredictable system or software failure. This component is the main focus of this article, and you you probably already know what that is:
Usually I refrain from blogging computing technical stuffs on Snakeoil. This article will be a rare exception, today I would like to talk about bit rot. This is something you guys should aware of (but not alarmed).
This article will briefly describe:
- What is bit rot
- What bit rot means to an audiophile
- My personal experiences with bit rot
- How to detect if you are affected with bit rot
- Strategies to prevent bit rot
Hopefully after reading this article you’re more aware of what bit rot is and how to counteract it. Before we start let it be made clear that bit rot is not a big problem. There is no reason to panic and the sky is not going to fall over.
Let us begin!
Many tweaks in my audiophile journey are discovered by accident. In this blog we will talk about one of the best kept hifi secrets - phase.
A surprisingly large number of people wired their system up wrongly, getting the left and right channels mixed up is more common than you think! But phase is something more difficult, and tend to catch people off guard.
Phase (also known as polarity for audio) is a common issue for people with balanced gear, however it may apply to single ended equipment as well in very rare cases.
In the past I was unaware of any reliable ways to test for this, until the Don pointed out the pop test.
More on this later, let’s get some of the basics out of the way first.
So what is native playback? In essence it means the digital music files are played back in:
- Native Format: music files are played in their original format using the original codec (without re-sampling, format conversion,etc). In other words, lossless audio such as FLAC is played direct as FLAC, DSD direct as DSD, WAV direct as WAV, and so on.
- Bit Perfect Mode: data is played directly without any manipulation, digital signal processing or volume control applied.
This method does not necessary imply worse/better sound quality, or less/more accurate reproduction. There are far too many variables in an audio system for anybody to reliably state native playback on it’s own is good or bad for you.
However, one advantage with native playback is it allows you to better understand some of the variables in your audio setup. Grasping these variables gives you a better picture of what is good and what is bad in your audio system, insights that may well prove invaluable when auditioning gear for your next upgrade.
As an example, your system may be better at playing DSD when compared to standard 44.1 kHz redbook, or WAV better than FLAC. People often choose the better playback method and move on to something else, and that is not a good thing. This is call masking - masking happens when you do something that changes (masks) the effects of another.