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Nov 23rd, 2017, 6:10pm 
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Rajesh
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Sound quality and sound card  
« on: Dec 1st, 2004, 6:47am »
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Hi,
 
Considering that HA uses its own sound bases, does it still matter what sound card I use? This sounds like a pretty novice question even to me... but honest to god, I dont know the answer!  
 
I also ask this because I have tried the same piece using HA on two different machines - one with a Sound Blaster Live and another with a Sigmatel audio and I find no significant difference in sound quality, though I would assume I should see appreciably better quality in the Sound blaster purely going by the sound card quality.
 
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Rajesh
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Sylvain Machefert
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #1 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 6:58am »
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For me it doesn't matter... because I have 4 cheap soundcards (on the 4 computer I listened music made with HA).
 
It's like the mp3 or Audio CD, there is not a big difference. It can depend also on the loudspeaker (which are not the same on a laptop and a desktop computer).
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Rajesh
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #2 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 7:04am »
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This is interesting... I thought this was the case but I also thought I must be mistaken...  
 
Are you, in effect, saying that I can have an entry level sound card on my machine and still produce the same quality that someone using, say Cakewalk or Finale, would produce on a high end sound card (provided I have something like Gold Sound base 2 loaded on my machine)?
 
In this context, what is the role of the Digital Audio output specification in the Global Setup->Hardware Configurations?
 
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Rajesh
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Didier Guillion
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #3 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 4:06pm »
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on Dec 1st, 2004, 7:04am, rajesh wrote:
This is interesting... I thought this was the case but I also thought I must be mistaken...  
 
Are you, in effect, saying that I can have an entry level sound card on my machine and still produce the same quality that someone using, say Cakewalk or Finale, would produce on a high end sound card (provided I have something like Gold Sound base 2 loaded on my machine)?
 
In this context, what is the role of the Digital Audio output specification in the Global Setup->Hardware Configurations?
 
Regards,
Rajesh

 
These settings changes the way Harmony/Melody send digital data to the sound card.
 
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #4 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 4:11pm »
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Didier,
 
At your level of understanding, your brief reply was perhaps all-explanatory! Frankly, I dont understand... does the way you send data to the sound card vary with the sound card? Unlikely... why then doesnt Harmony choose any one sound card and just proceed from there?  
 
Also, I would think this sound card independence is a major cost advantage from other 'competing' softwares and I would assume it is a sound marketing advantage that you can produce high quality music with a low end sound card...  
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Olivier Guillion
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #5 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 4:42pm »
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on Dec 1st, 2004, 4:11pm, Rajesh wrote:
Didier,
 
At your level of understanding, your brief reply was perhaps all-explanatory! Frankly, I dont understand... does the way you send data to the sound card vary with the sound card? Unlikely... why then doesnt Harmony choose any one sound card and just proceed from there?  
 
Also, I would think this sound card independence is a major cost advantage from other 'competing' softwares and I would assume it is a sound marketing advantage that you can produce high quality music with a low end sound card...  

 
On some PCs, several digital outputs are available. It can be either a single sound card with several separate outputs, or several sound cards in the same computer.
The setting in "Configuration>Hardware configuration" enables the user to select which output the software will use.
 
Harmony Assistant has only some simple requirements about the sound output :
- It must be capable of an output at 44 kHz, 16 bits, stereo
- It must be full-duplex (i.e. capable of recording while it plays).
 
Most of (not to say all) the sound cards available for desktop computers today, even the cheapest, include these features.
 
So, yes, the output will be <quite> the same on any sound card, whatever its price is.
 
I used "quite" because usually, more advanced (and expensive) sound cards own better chips, and are more protected against static noise, have a better dynamic because of a better preamplifier circuitry, but the difference will be rather subtle.
 
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #6 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 4:46pm »
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Thanks a ton... I think that sort of closes this discussion for me!
 
The guys out at SoundBlaster might not like your reply but I am just cool with it.
 
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Rajesh
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #7 on: Dec 1st, 2004, 4:55pm »
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on Dec 1st, 2004, 4:46pm, Rajesh wrote:
Thanks a ton... I think that sort of closes this discussion for me!
 
The guys out at SoundBlaster might not like your reply but I am just cool with it.
 
Regards,
Rajesh

 
What makes diffrence in soundcards?
 
Usually the more expensive soundcards have their own DSP chips, that allows have a better performance of audio streaming (less use of your computer cpu) and also handle some standards like VST effects without problems that you can find with cheaper soundcards.
 
Also, recording from "line-in" or "mic-in" is very diffrent from a "onboard" or cheap soundcard that a expensive ones. They have less noise and better Analog to Digital converters, that mean better quality in recording.
 
Soundblaster cards are not expensive, for few money you can buy any of them, and you have a lot of onboard effects that works in realtime, a not bad line-in, and plus soundfont capabilityes.
 
luck!
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #8 on: Dec 3rd, 2004, 6:35am »
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For one inexpensive sound card I had once, I could hear disc access when the volume was loud enough (and nothing was playing, or a soft part of a tune). The sound card wasn't sufficiently electrically isolated from the rest of the computer so that made that parasitic noise. More expensive cards will presumably have less low-level noise like that (same goes for more expensive amps, etc.).  
 
My current sound card has 4-speaker output, which is very nice if you can put two speakers behind you! It's really a big difference to be immersed in sound like that.
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #9 on: Dec 3rd, 2004, 11:21pm »
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To go back to the original intent of the original question as I understand it:
 
HA (and MA and the Myriad Music Player) default to using their own Digital Soft Synthesizer for music output, with optional Virtual Singer voice synthesis. Using either or both of these, and optionally also using Digital Audio tracks (actual pre-recorded audio brought into a score for any of a variety of purposes such as spoken narration, real singing, expressive solos that can't be done with the SoundBases, etc.) will produce a file that can be played nearly equally well on any sound card.
 
However, most PC sound cards also include a MIDI synth (they used to be on-board, but now most use their own software synthesizers using the Microsoft version of the Roland GS sound set, which is apparently part of the requirements for AC-97 sound card standards compliance -- on the Mac side, QuickTime Musical Instruments is also a MIDI soft synth that defaults to using the Roland GS sound set). Many also include one or MIDI output ports, and you can add more, including USB to MIDI converters. HA will control up to three MIDI output devices and accept input from one MIDI input device (for recording and MIDI Echo / Thru purposes) at the same time, and can do this at the same time that it's also using the Digital Soft Synth.
 
So, for instance, if you like the sound of the Gold SoundBase piano better than the one on your sound card, but you also like the sound card's Strings better than any of the ones in the Gold SoundBase (not likely, but hey, it could happen!), you can simply assign a Gold SoundBase piano to a couple of Staves, and Strings to another Staff or two, and have the Strings output through MIDI 1 (this is assuming that you have that set to your sound card's on-board or device-included MIDI synth, whether hardware or software) and the Piano through Digital. (Some here have read me singing the praises of the on-board Physical Modelling synth on my $15 sound card, and Myriad can let me use it [though not to its full powers] alongside Digital sounds.)
 
You could also install GigaSampler, Propellerware Reason, B4, or any of a number of other fine professional and specialty soft synths, as well as a MIDI routing driver (some of these come with that), and use them as MIDI Outputs 2 and/or 3. You could also connect a real MIDI external hardware device (keyboard, tone module, etc.) to your computer's MIDI output or via USB-to-MIDI or Serial Out to Host Connector (on some MIDI devices) and use that as well. You could use any combination of up to three MIDI devices, be they hardware or software, in conjunction with Digital Output with any Myriad SoundBase, along with Virtual Singer, and pre-recorded Digital Audio Tracks, all at the same time (assuming that your CPU and hard drives can keep up)! This lets you easily exceed the hardware polyphonic limitations of a single MIDI device or soft synth, as well as picking and choosing the best sounds available on each device for the overall best sound.
 
Since soft synths usually have a latency issue, there is an adjustment in HA's configuration that you can use to adjust for this, to improve synchronization between slow MIDI soft synths and the faster Digital Output, etc.
 
Of course, using any MIDI output means that your Score is no longer portable, and will sound different or even incomplete if played on another system that lacks the same sort of MIDI hardware and software as yours. For this reason, you won't find many MIDI-using songs in the Contests and Music areas of this site. One workaround is to record the MIDI tracks to a single stereo Digital Audo Staff somehow (how you would do so depends on your MIDI devices and sound card), then disable or delete all MIDI tracks from the version of the file that you intend to share, and save the file in .MUX or .MU3 format so that the Digital Audio Staff wave data is included (this makes a larger file, of course -- .MU3 compresses the digital audio data using Ogg Vorbis [earlier versions used .MP3, thus the "3" in the extension -- but Ogg Vorbis is way better both in sound quality and in compression ratio]).
 
It should be noted that the Myriad Digital Soft Synth is different from most others in that it is NOT MIDI-based, and so does not have the limitations of MIDI. For instance, a given instance of a MIDI soft synth can only play up to sixteen different instruments (including drum kits) at any one time, since MIDI has only sixteen channels per MIDI device or port. That's a hard limitation to MIDI itself. Also, HA and the other Myriad programs translate pitch adjustments (Turkish Commas, Guitar Pull/Release, and Frequency Parameter Curves, etc.) into MIDI Pitch Bend messages, which affect the entire channel that they're on. This means that you cannot bend two different notes in the same chord on the same channel at the same time in different directions and/or amounts on a MIDI device.
 
The Myriad Digital Soft Synth, not being MIDI-based, does not have these limitations! Pitch bends are completely independent on a per-note basis, not per-Staff chord (as would be the case with MIDI output), for instance. Of course, if you export to a MIDI file, you regain such limitations. The software is smart enough to try to minimize them by spreading simultaneous notes to multiple channels if not all sixteen channels are being used, if you're doing microtuning effects, etc.
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Jean-Armand Moroni
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #10 on: Dec 3rd, 2004, 11:21pm »
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Quote:
For one inexpensive sound card I had once, I could hear disc access when the volume was loud enough
Well, the current sound card on my professionnal portable PC (Compaq Armada) has these parasitic noises too, not only with disc accesses but also with CPU usage. And the internal "loudspeakers" ("lowspeakers" would be more pertinent) are just awful. Of course it's still a very effective PC for everything else. I changed it a few days ago, going from an Armada to another Armada, and the problem is the same.
 
I tried to record some recorders (flutes) for Gold Base II. I made an attempt with the portable PC. It was rejected by Olivier because the sound card obviously did not record the sound correctly. So Olivier explained me another way of recording, so as to have the sound card behave correctly. It sort of worked, but the background noise generated by the card was still too important. Then I used my home tower PC (Dell) and, despite a loud fan, I was at last able to record with a sufficiently good quality.
 
Of course when I use HA with the portable PC, having a bad sound card is not a problem at all, once you are used to hearing parasitic noise. But it would really be a pain, should I have to record or produce sounds.
« Last Edit: Dec 3rd, 2004, 11:24pm by Jean-Armand Moroni » offline
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Re: Sound quality and sound card  
« Reply #11 on: Dec 7th, 2004, 9:24pm »
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It amazes me that pc's have little or no internal screening, particularly round sensitive input lines like the microphone.  
 
No-one would think of constructing a high frequency receiver or transmitter without carefully screening the various sections of the equipment.
 
All the motherboard tracks and connecting cables are completely open to interference.   Perhaps we shouldn't expect too much from a pc in the way of high fidelity.  
 
best wishes,
 
Graham
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