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Advantages of MinimStreamer
16-04-2014, 07:30 (This post was last modified: 16-04-2014 08:08 by gnomus.)
Post: #1
Advantages of MinimStreamer
As part of my progress on this steep learning curve, I have installed MinimStreamer and now have WAV playing through my renderer rather than the FLAC that I had yesterday.

I am not sure, however, what, if any, advantage I gain by doing this? Can someone help me understand? I had understood that FLAC and WAV were "bit identical".

I understand that it is possible to convert the 16-bit FLAC files to 24-bit WAVs (once I get a renderer capable of playing these). Again, however, I am struggling to understand what I gain by doing this. Surely the quality of the sound will be limited by the source 16-bit file. We cannot conjure extra sonic detail out of nothing.

Am I missing something? I'm not trying to be negative, I'm genuinely curious to hear the argument.

One thing I have noticed. When running MinimStreamer, I no longer seem able to fast forward through the track. If I tap half-way into the track timeline, the player will stop for a second or so and then skip to the next track on the playlist. Is that to be expected?
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16-04-2014, 11:14 (This post was last modified: 16-04-2014 22:32 by DavidHB.)
Post: #2
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
As there is an important distinction to make, we probably ought to discuss terminology first. When MinimServer/MinimStreamer presents your FLAC files to the player/renderer as, say, WAV24, it is transcoding rather than converting. The FLAC files on the server are unchanged, but are streamed in the different format.

What is the advantage of doing this? The only one I know is sound quality. You will find many reports on this forum and elsewhere (including reports from Simon himself) that with transcoding the sound is more 'open' and 'clearer'. Of course sound quality is very much a matter of individual judgement and experience, and the effect of transcoding will no doubt be different on different systems. So you need to experiment for yourself and make your own judgement. If it doesn't work for you, you can always switch it off.

Why does transcoding change the sound quality, if it does? I don't think this is fully understood. What we do know is that streamed music often sounds better than the same track played direct from the CD because the system has less to do when the digital data is already, as it were, pre-read. We also know that sound quality is affected by tiny differences in timing ('jitter') and that different formats require different amounts of processing effort to render them as input to the DAC. These and other factors will, I guess, mean that the behaviour of each system may well be subtly different in a number of complex ways, and presenting the music stream to the player in a different format may have a bearing on some of these subtle differences. This is why, in the present state of understanding, it is best to just try transcoding on your system, and see if it makes a difference.

I use FLAC to WAV24 transcoding on my system, and think that it makes a noticeable if not dramatic difference. It's a no cost option, so that is fine by me.

David
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16-04-2014, 14:14 (This post was last modified: 16-04-2014 14:17 by gnomus.)
Post: #3
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
(16-04-2014 11:14)DavidHB Wrote:  ...
Why does transcoding change the sound quality ...

... I use FLAC to WAV24 transcoding on my system, and think that it makes a noticeable if not dramatic difference. It's a no cost option, so that is fine by me.

Thanks again for your time and patience in explaining this to me. I will certainly give transcoding a more prolonged try (although I can only play 16 bit files through my current Sonos setup and it may, in any case, be insufficient to reveal subtle differences in sound quality).

I note what you say about "jitter", which I think I partially understand. Even with my relatively inexpensive system, there are times when I think I am hearing things that I never heard before on my moderately expensive CD player. At other times, however, the new setup seems too harsh (or "bright" if you prefer) to my tastes. I am beginning to wonder if at least some of the harshness is related to jitter and is occurring at times when the signal passing between my NAS and my Renderer is reduced in strength/quality for whatever reason (see my other thread here [post #9] for description of this).
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16-04-2014, 22:27
Post: #4
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
We need to be careful. The important point with transcoding, as with pretty much anything in reproduced music, is to try it for yourself, and decide whether you like it. The technicalities may be interesting, but they won't give you that answer.

I long ago realised that the most unreliable (or at least the most unpredictable) component of any audio system is the one between the listener's ears. My own definition of a good listening session is one where I don't give a thought to the sound quality I am hearing or to how well the technology is working. There may need to be an element of self discipline there; it is all too easy to start listening for what is wrong with the system, rather than just listening to the music, which is what the system is actually there for.

There is nothing I can usefully add to Simon's advice on your networking issue. Whether that has, or can have, a bearing on sound quality in your system, I cannot say. The conventional wisdom is that either networking works or it doesn't; there isn't a process of progressive deterioration. I have an open mind myself as to whether things are really that simple. But I hope that following Simon's advice will enable you to resolve your particular problem.

David
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17-04-2014, 10:04
Post: #5
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
(16-04-2014 07:30)gnomus Wrote:  As part of my progress on this steep learning curve, I have installed MinimStreamer and now have WAV playing through my renderer rather than the FLAC that I had yesterday.

I am not sure, however, what, if any, advantage I gain by doing this? Can someone help me understand? I had understood that FLAC and WAV were "bit identical".

I have only just seen this post. FLAC and WAV contain identical audio information, but they require different processing for playback in the renderer. With some renderers, this difference may change the sound that is reproduced.

Quote:I understand that it is possible to convert the 16-bit FLAC files to 24-bit WAVs (once I get a renderer capable of playing these). Again, however, I am struggling to understand what I gain by doing this. Surely the quality of the sound will be limited by the source 16-bit file. We cannot conjure extra sonic detail out of nothing.

Am I missing something? I'm not trying to be negative, I'm genuinely curious to hear the argument.

The 16-to-24-bit conversion pads the original 16 bits with zeros. The 16-bit stream and the 24-bit stream contain identical audio information, but they may require slightly different processing for playback in the renderer. With some renderers, this difference may change the sound that is reproduced.

Quote:One thing I have noticed. When running MinimStreamer, I no longer seem able to fast forward through the track. If I tap half-way into the track timeline, the player will stop for a second or so and then skip to the next track on the playlist. Is that to be expected?

This shouldn't be happening. Please produce two debug logs by doing the following for MinimServer playback and repeating the same process for MinimStreamer playback:

1) From the minim icon, select 'Show log'
2) In the log window, set the logging level to Debug
3) Leave the log window open
4) Start playing the track
5) After about 10 seconds of music, try to fast-forward the track
6) After another 15 seconds, click 'Save as' to save a log file
7) In the log window, set the logging level back to Info

Zip the two log files and attach them to a post here. I will compare the log files and try to find what is causing this problem.
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17-04-2014, 12:50
Post: #6
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
(17-04-2014 10:04)simoncn Wrote:  
Quote:One thing I have noticed. When running MinimStreamer, I no longer seem able to fast forward through the track. If I tap half-way into the track timeline, the player will stop for a second or so and then skip to the next track on the playlist. Is that to be expected?

This shouldn't be happening. Please produce two debug logs by doing the following for MinimServer playback and repeating the same process for MinimStreamer playback:

1) From the minim icon, select 'Show log'
2) In the log window, set the logging level to Debug
3) Leave the log window open
4) Start playing the track
5) After about 10 seconds of music, try to fast-forward the track
6) After another 15 seconds, click 'Save as' to save a log file
7) In the log window, set the logging level back to Info

Zip the two log files and attach them to a post here. I will compare the log files and try to find what is causing this problem.

Simon

Thanks again for your input. I will do as you ask, but I am now out of the country and will not be back until the middle of next week. I will do it when I get back. (By the way, I get the same issue whether I am using Kinsky or Bubble UPNP.)

Regards
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17-04-2014, 15:24
Post: #7
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
(17-04-2014 12:50)gnomus Wrote:  Simon

Thanks again for your input. I will do as you ask, but I am now out of the country and will not be back until the middle of next week. I will do it when I get back. (By the way, I get the same issue whether I am using Kinsky or Bubble UPNP.)

Regards

The problem is likely to be caused by an interaction between the renderer and the server. If so, using a different control point wouldn't change this.
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17-04-2014, 18:02
Post: #8
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
Naim produced a white paper on their top of the line streamer and commented on their finding that transcoding the FLAC files on a NAS reduced the effort on the streamer. The streamer itself would have to do the transcoding if it was fed FLAC files, making it's processor work harder, raising the power needed and therefore the noise level inside the streamer. Naim concluded this could have an effect on sound quality.

As always, try for yourself.
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23-04-2014, 09:38 (This post was last modified: 23-04-2014 10:05 by gnomus.)
Post: #9
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
(17-04-2014 12:50)gnomus Wrote:  
(17-04-2014 10:04)simoncn Wrote:  
Quote:One thing I have noticed. When running MinimStreamer, I no longer seem able to fast forward through the track. If I tap half-way into the track timeline, the player will stop for a second or so and then skip to the next track on the playlist. Is that to be expected?

This shouldn't be happening. Please produce two debug logs by doing the following for MinimServer playback and repeating the same process for MinimStreamer playback:

1) From the minim icon, select 'Show log'
2) In the log window, set the logging level to Debug
3) Leave the log window open
4) Start playing the track
5) After about 10 seconds of music, try to fast-forward the track
6) After another 15 seconds, click 'Save as' to save a log file
7) In the log window, set the logging level back to Info

Zip the two log files and attach them to a post here. I will compare the log files and try to find what is causing this problem.

Simon

Thanks again for your input. I will do as you ask, but I am now out of the country and will not be back until the middle of next week. I will do it when I get back. (By the way, I get the same issue whether I am using Kinsky or Bubble UPNP.)

Regards

I'm now back in the UK. I have followed the procedure above. I only got one file which I have saved as a .txt file and attached to this post. Thanks again for your ongoing assistance.

Ignore the above. I have now followed the instructions correctly. I have a log for playing FLAC via MinimServer and a log for playing WAV via MinimStreamer. Hope this helps. Thanks again for your assistance.


Attached File(s)
.txt  minimserverlog.txt (Size: 7.99 KB / Downloads: 3)
.txt  minimstreamerlog.txt (Size: 12.28 KB / Downloads: 3)
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23-04-2014, 10:54
Post: #10
RE: Advantages of MinimStreamer
(23-04-2014 09:38)gnomus Wrote:  I'm now back in the UK. I have followed the procedure above. I only got one file which I have saved as a .txt file and attached to this post. Thanks again for your ongoing assistance.

The idea was to go through the full set of steps with a non-transcoding setup (producing log 1) and then repeat the same steps with a transcoding setup (producing log 2). However, the log you posted shows a problem, so I don't need the other log at the moment.

I have a possible theory for what might be causing this. To check this, please try doing a small skip near the start of the file and see whether this works. For example, play the file for 5 seconds only and skip forward by a very small amount (10 seconds). Does this work?
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