Sunday: 24.July.2005

DirectSound output plugin generates nasty hiss with songs played using Winamp, while waveOut does not

Finally hooked up my computer's sound system yesterday, which includes the sound card, the mixer (which Buddy likes) and speakers.

Last year, I lent the system to a friend who was mixing a score for a movie/video. But after getting everything back and hooking it all up, I noticed a terrible hiss.

At first, I thought they broke something, or maybe something got damaged in the move.

But after further investigation, I discovered the hiss disappeared while listening to music streamed off the 'Net, which meant the hardware wasn't damaged (my biggest concern).

Further detective work revealed the nasty hiss could only be heard while playing songs with Winamp.

continued

So I downloaded & installed a different player: Foobar. Again, no hiss. Which meant the problem was isolated to Winamp.

But I prefer Winamp (which, as you know, really whips the llama's arse). I use v2.81 lite, cuz it's still the best version (which can be downloaded here, along with my favorite skin: ampesizer-grayblue).

Anyway, while comparing the configurations of two players, Winamp & Foobar, I noticed they were configured to use different output plug-ins.

Winamp was using the DirectSound output plug-in, Foobar was configured (by default) to use waveOut. I had changed this setting in Winamp when I loaned the hardware last year. Cuz I have another sound card in my system (cheapie old SoundBlaster Live) ..

.. which I used while the good stuff was gone. I configured Winamp to use DirectSound with the SoundBlaster because the Winamp FAQ on DirectSound said it was better. But it had been so long, I forgot about making the change.

Soon as I reconfigured Winamp to use the waveOut plug-in, the hiss went away. Woohoo! So waveOut is the way to go. Not sure why the DirectSound plug-in (a Microsoft invention, which is part of DirectX) generates such an awful hiss with my good sound card, and not with the krappie one. It shouldn't matter.

Listening to the SmoothJazz stream (128-kbps) at SKY.fm now. Sounds so good, compared to the junky system I was using before.

Further investigation at the Winamp FAQ on DirectSound reveals: "WaveOut uses software mixing only, which makes it less prone to system-specific probmlems (see below), while DirectSound can use hardware mixing if available, which is known to cause sound qualtiy issues with certain configs"

For more info along these lines, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query terms: waveout output plubin winamp directsound





Posted by Rad at July 24, 2005 10:36 AM

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