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24 bit crytalizer and remote for x-fi fatal1ty

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April 4, 2006 5:18:30 PM

i have just started to play around with my new x-fi fatal1ty and notice that if i turn up the 24bit crystalizer to 100% it would make the music sound alot better.
is it safe to have this at 100% all the time?
what does the 24bit crystalizer do to the music to make it sound better?

also i like to listen to music while playing games, does anyone no if you can configure the remote that came with it to skip from one track to the next because at the moment i have to come out of the game i am playing to change tracks?

if i rip my cd's at 320kbps instead of the default 128kbps format will they be twice as good? the higher the better right?

is mp3 the best quality of fomat i can rip out of mp3 asf and wav?

More about : bit crytalizer remote fatal1ty

April 5, 2006 10:44:49 AM

From an old thread...

http://techreport.com/reviews/2005q4/soundblaster-x-fi/...

Frequency Response - White is original flat sine wave.



Intermodulation Distortion (time domain high frequency ringing)


The Crystalizer looks alot like the "happy face" equalizer preset used in the 1980s in the West Coast. They called it "West Coast Sound," which was thumpy bass and shrill highs (changing the sound of the original recording).

Why does it sound good with the Crystalizer? Maybe:

1) you just like your sound that way, 80s style West Coast.

2) your speakers aren't very accurate (please don't take this as an insult, its just another postulation), perhaps because the drivers are too small to accurately reproduce the original recording.

So by equalizing it, it's more accurate than before. This helps alot if the speakers lack a large enough woofer for the low end and tweeters for the high end.

The graphs do show the side effect of such aggresive equalizing, which is very high amounts of intermodulation distortion. IMD also can occur from various other things like the gimmicky gaudy wattage numbers amplifiers were sporting in the 70s and 80s due to a technique called negative feedback, where the power was looped back several times. The effect of IMD is high frequency distortion. Not everyone is very perceptive of high frequency distortion, while others are (see owners of aluminum-based tweeters or midrange drivers).

3) You are sort of a genre specific music listener (or gamer) and the EQ helps make that type of music sound good to your ears. While these exaggerations might be fatiguing with other music, it doesn't really affect you based on your usage.

Q) does anyone no if you can configure the remote that came with it to skip from one track to the next because at the moment i have to come out of the game i am playing to change tracks?

You can bind keys on your keyboard using programs like Girder, or your keyboard drivers, to the change song/stop/pause functions on your media player.

Q)if i rip my cd's at 320kbps instead of the default 128kbps format will they be twice as good? the higher the better right?

Depends on the recording. The higher the dynamic range of the original recording, the more a higher bitrate matters in terms of preserving detail. On low dynamic range recordings like pop (or anything thats really loud and has exceeded the CDs 144db dynamic range because too much gain is applied), it would most likely matter less. Trial and error.

Q) is mp3 the best quality of fomat i can rip out of mp3 asf and wav?

It's the most prevalent. Best quality format? According to the spectrographs mp3s hold up very well in higher bitrates, but is not one of the better compressed formats at lower bitrates. I'm not too sure how it holds up specifically to those two formats however.
Anonymous
April 5, 2006 5:39:33 PM

It is just an equalization curve. It shouldn't cause any damage to leave it on, assuming you don't do other bad things like overdrive your equipment etc.

Quote:
Why does it sound good with the Crystalizer?


As Astrallite pointed out it is applying a "happy face" equalization curve. It just so happens that human hearing frequency response is sort of a sad face, kinda the opposite of the happy face. In other words somewhere in the middle frequencies ie 500-5000Hz we have a sensitivity peak and sounds at say 60dB will sound louder to us than a 60dB sound at the hearing extremes say 100Hz and below or 10KHz and above. The happy face is a method of sound shaping artificially allowing humans to percieve a flatter output response from our sound systems.

For example if your ear is not as sensitive to say 30Hz as it is to say 1KHz. A 1W sin wave will sound louder to you if it is 1K than 30Hz. The happy face boosts the power of the 30Hz tone ideally to a level that is percieved by humans to sound the same as to a sensor which is equally sensitive at all frequencies. This is the theory... in the real world frequency response from a sound system will be very dependent on the environment and a canned equalization curve will not be a good solution for everyone.

Edit: of course Astrallite is correct when he says that it is also used for trying to improve the respomnse of a sound system too. I was just pointing out why the smiley face would have logically come on to the scene even with good equipment.

Astrallite,

you said
Quote:
IMD also can occur from various other things like the gimmicky gaudy wattage numbers amplifiers were sporting in the 70s and 80s due to a technique called negative feedback, where the power was looped back several times.


Negative feedback is not a gimmick, and in my opinion is absolutely necessary for a good design. I would pose that any company promoting no feedback designs are a marketing driven snakeoil dealers, but I haven't looked into it yet so don't quote me there....yet. I would be interested to learn of any companies/links to companies who employ this open loop approach to amplifier design. While I don't see it as being impossible, but I am having trouble understanding what the designers must be trying to accomplish by this.

PS don't get me wrong. feedback needs to be used in a reasonable/responsible way, and I can certqainly imagine doing bad negative feedback designs, it's just that it really does bring quite a bit to the table over open loop architectures.
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April 6, 2006 4:36:40 AM

You know your stuff knewton :) 

Anyways, I always believed in getting the most accurate speakers. If your source is good (mixed properly), then what you need to hear is already there.

I know even this sounds too much like a blanket statement, since everyone has different in-ear response curves. A preset curve of course is not the answer, since its static and if a flat curve doesn't work for everyone, neither should another arbitrary curve.

In a perfect world, audio sources would be "perfect" (mixed for a completely linear system, rather than all those pop recordings mixed on Yamaha NS10s), and everyone would EQ (using minus gain only of course, to limit distortion gains) their system to fit their hearing curve at the listening position.

As for negative feedback, I have nothing against it. My point was it was used in excess--in the context of amplifiers of ye old days. Everyone thought this was great and dandy until many people realized it didn't sound too good. This required some new audio theory and IMD was discovered as a result.
Anonymous
April 7, 2006 4:52:49 PM

Quote:
You know your stuff knewton


LOL, lets just say I am a perpetual student looking for my path toward audio nirvana

I come from the same school of thought regarding speaker accuracy. My main goal in setting up my gear is to reproduce the signal exactly without adding or removing extras. I will even go one step further and try to get my room response + speaker output to be near flat on a power spectra graph using my computer sound card to capture pink noise through each channel one at a time. I use the Equalizer as an aid to try to get the flat part of my resulting curve to extend higher and lower on the power spectra graph and also to eliminate any resonances that are there. In the end I end up with what is more or less a smiley face, but I would say that it is a smiley face which is mine alone and will likely only work well in my specific conditions, with my room, gear etc.

I am in 100% agreement about one curve not being the answer for every situation since every situation is different. To make matters even more complicated it seems to me after I get it all dialed in just right I start to realize, especially listening to non remastered oldies, that not every sound engineer has the same ideas about mixing and many of the albums need to be re- eq'd to sound good on an individual basis.

BTW I would be very interested in learning of companies you may have heard about who employ the no negative feedback philosophy. I have heard rumors before and am very curious about how they can pull off a mass production product based on these designs. I would like to research the equipment for myself.

Edit: oops forgot that your supposed to tune pink noise for -3dB/octave. My bad. DOH!
April 7, 2006 11:50:56 PM

Haha.

I don't know any companies that don't employ negative feedback. Just mostly none who use it excessively these days. The North American market seems to be saturating with digital amps these days too (I own one! Yayzor).
April 8, 2006 12:46:05 AM

Quote:
i have just started to play around with my new x-fi fatal1ty and notice that if i turn up the 24bit crystalizer to 100% it would make the music sound alot better.
is it safe to have this at 100% all the time?
what does the 24bit crystalizer do to the music to make it sound better?

also i like to listen to music while playing games, does anyone no if you can configure the remote that came with it to skip from one track to the next because at the moment i have to come out of the game i am playing to change tracks?

if i rip my cd's at 320kbps instead of the default 128kbps format will they be twice as good? the higher the better right?

is mp3 the best quality of fomat i can rip out of mp3 asf and wav?



Well, unforunatly I like to compose music as a hobby and my opinion is that mp3 will always sound less good as an original cd. So in a way you won't get a better sound by playing mp3's nomatter what professional sound card you use. I think you will hear the best sound quality difference when you use monitor speakers and test your soundcard with monitor quality speakers and not by just plain simple pc speakers or normal stereo type speakers. Many people buy better soundcards for no reason in my opinion cause they dont use a professional speaker set. So it's useless to buy a better soundcard that way as the speakers they use can't even show them the difference in sound quality :)  Just a hint ;)  And the 24 bit is nothing really special as the 24 bit technoligy is allready old in some way. btw...you got to have good ears to hear the difference between 24 bit soundcards and 32 bit soundcards as it is almost not hearable when it comes to quality. Hope this will answer all your questions.
April 8, 2006 1:37:26 AM

I dont know as much as the people who posted above me (well maybe I know a little more about your experience as I actualy have the same sound card and remote as you) My experience is that it does sound fantastic and you can tweak it to sound how you like :) 

BTW I upgraded from an Audigy 1 and at first I didnt think it would sound any better but it actualy does ! (this is all subjective) as a plus when games start to support that 64MB's of X-Ram you will get some nice performance or sound effects !

Oh and leaving the crystalizer at 100% is just using the processor on the sound card its not over clocking it or anything so its perfectly safe if you enjoy it, use it ! I like to keep mine around 50% maybe I use higher quality MP3's ? I dont have any that are not encoded at 256kbps or more. What I read in one of the computer mags is that the crystalizer has more of an effect on MP3's that are encoded with more compression.
April 8, 2006 3:38:51 AM

Quote:
i have just started to play around with my new x-fi fatal1ty and notice that if i turn up the 24bit crystalizer to 100% it would make the music sound alot better.
is it safe to have this at 100% all the time?
what does the 24bit crystalizer do to the music to make it sound better?

also i like to listen to music while playing games, does anyone no if you can configure the remote that came with it to skip from one track to the next because at the moment i have to come out of the game i am playing to change tracks?

if i rip my cd's at 320kbps instead of the default 128kbps format will they be twice as good? the higher the better right?

is mp3 the best quality of fomat i can rip out of mp3 asf and wav?



Well, unforunatly I like to compose music as a hobby and my opinion is that mp3 will always sound less good as an original cd. So in a way you won't get a better sound by playing mp3's nomatter what professional sound card you use. I think you will hear the best sound quality difference when you use monitor speakers and test your soundcard with monitor quality speakers and not by just plain simple pc speakers or normal stereo type speakers. Many people buy better soundcards for no reason in my opinion cause they dont use a professional speaker set. So it's useless to buy a better soundcard that way as the speakers they use can't even show them the difference in sound quality :)  Just a hint ;)  And the 24 bit is nothing really special as the 24 bit technoligy is allready old in some way. btw...you got to have good ears to hear the difference between 24 bit soundcards and 32 bit soundcards as it is almost not hearable when it comes to quality. Hope this will answer all your questions.

Alot of the electronics industry is driven by advancements in processing units (speed increases). A lot of offshoot companies (or leeches as I call them) which cater to the electronics (gaming) industry keep coming out with new products without the same relative gains (or none really), but because they are attached to the said gaming industry, they can sell stuff for a large profit (as long as they use enough "cool" acronyms like OMGCOOLSOUNDtm) . In many ways sound cards fall into this category. It has nothing to do with people making futile attempts in improve their sound quality, more to do with marketing than anything else. If everyone was a perfectly informed customer, there would only be vertical market competition (creating better products) then horizontal market competition (keeping others down, not bothering to improve your own stuff, a relative dominance rather than objective improvement).

For example, if everyone knew that loudspeakers produced hundreds of times more distortion than almost any commercial electronics at clipping output, then they'd know dollar for dollar they'd probably get hundreds of times more utility out of investing in their speakers than their electronics.

Consider a set of 2.1 speakers like the Logitech Z-2300s for around $150. For only $200 + an amp you could pick up an AV123 X-LS bookshelf speaker, which goes deeper, reaches higher, and is about 4-5 times more linear (accurate) than the Z-2300s (+/-5db 200-20KHz via Audioholics, vs +/-1.8db 60-27KHz for the X-LS). Now that's 100% increase in cost for a system that's 3 times more linear in the midrange and over 5 times more linear over the entire audio spectrum. Or you could spend that extra $150 on a soundcard that's maybe +/- 0.2db more accurate than your onboard sound, and for $300 your system is still about 3-5 times less accurate than that 2-way bookshelf.

Not to mention with the bookshelves, you get better dispersion, better time-coherency, bigger sound stage, less beaming (one-way drivers shoot forward like a laser because they are forced to cover the highs) so you don't have to point the things right at your ears to reach the sweet spot (where the highs don't degrade--off-axis), no +10db peak in the upper bass that annoys your neighbors, so you can turn it up at 1am and still not bother your neighbor, and still have more bass than before, etc, etc. That's the power marketing in the soundcard industry.
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