Did Soundflower just improve my sound quality?

Discussion in 'Computer Audiophile: Software, Configs, Tools' started by schnesim, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. schnesim

    schnesim Rando

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    I was curious how bit perfect audio playback might improve the sound quality on my Mac and since I only have Spotify I couldn't use Tidal/Qobuz together with say Audirvana to bypass the internal audio processing of macos.

    So after some digging I learned, that Soundflower might do the trick. And now after having it running my initial impressions via an Audioquest DragonFly Black 1.5 and Sennheiser HD6xx are, the soundstage got slightly deeper and sound sources are smidgen more fleshed out.

    I don't claim to haven golden ears and am definitely not an experienced listener, an apprentice rather. So if a fellow member would be willing to give it a try as well I'd be very thankful hearing his/her impressions and if my observations are correct or just in my head.

    Here as link to a Mojave compatible version of Soundflower: http://www.fluxforge.com/vector/soundflower_2.0b2.zip
    And I recommend watching this video first on how to set it up as it's not straightforward:
     
  2. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  3. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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  4. Baten

    Baten Almost "Made"

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    It works but it is really stripped down. I believe it's based on the foobar phone code.
     
  5. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Well, not sure how Soundflower is "bypassing" anything, but I could be wrong.

    The source code of Soundflower is derived from the PhantomAudioDriver (later AudioReflectorDriver) example that Apple created to showcase how you can take the audio output of an app and then make that the input of another app (useful for when you want to create a virtual instrument app). Typically the "input" of the other app will still eventually go through the audio stack of Mac OS, since it doesn't actually "replace" the default audio driver per se.

    In short, I suspect it's actually not bypassing anything, and may be adding more processing to the chain, which may account for a part of the differences that you may be hearing.

    Oh, and also I've heard that Loopback is the new Soundflower implementation. Haven't dug too deep into that one either, but it sounds fun. I used to use Soundflower back in the days to do 7.1 audio routing with a Mac Mini.

    Linky: https://rogueamoeba.com/loopback/

    Couldn't find the source code to this one on the author's Github, but Soundflower's is readily available.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  6. schnesim

    schnesim Rando

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    The Pine Player is an ok free bit perfect player, but I've been looking for a solution which allows for bit perfect playback with Spotify. Which means the whole audio processing has to circumvent to OS sound stack.
    Jriver has an option to bypass the Windows sound stack and route everything through Jriver but unfortunately this is not available with the mac version.

    If memory serves correct the problem with the OS audio stack is, that no matter what you serve it, it will do some resampling. Even you specify 44.1 as output format and feed it 44.1 it will still resample it to 44.1. Maybe because the OS doesn't know what sample rate you're actually feeding it.
    Only bit perfect players/drivers (like Audirvana or Soundflower) will actually avoid this resampling (unless you tell them to) and feed your DAC unpreprocessed audio.
     
  7. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Well, I'm not sure how Audirvana does it (because there doesn't seem to be source code available for it?), but the Soundflower source code is readily available.

    And again, it doesn't seem to replace the OS audio stack/drivers. It just routes your audio from one app to another, so eventually, it still goes through the original OS audio stack and gets resampled anyway. I don't think it does bit perfect or non-resampling.

    Or wait... are you routing Soundflower to Audirvana? If Audirvana provides a driver-replacement, perhaps that may actually work.
     
  8. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I don't think you will ever get lossless full fidelity with Spotify, unless they start offering it. Grab a good player, see ultrabikes suggestions and rip from cds.

    Otherwise, relax and enjoy what you have with Spotify, do not fret. It will never be bit perfect like from a cd, nor will it ever sound like it.
     
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