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Getting the digital music out from SeeDeClip4 and into your HiFi

This page discusses the various ways of getting the music into your HiFi's amplifier in the most accurate way possible.

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Right to Left: Raspberry Pi, 24bit USB→Optical, Ultramatch →88.2kHz, Ultracurve DAC, Tube SEP amp

The main issues to note are:
  1. To declip a signal it's usually necessary to attenuate it to create room for the repaired peaks.
  2. Due to the nature of digital attenuation the fine detail is preserved only when a 16bit signal is upgraded to a 24bit one.


There are three ways in which you can playback music declipped by SeeDeClip:
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  • Use a Linux box (the Raspberry Pi is ideal) to directly playback 24bit data into an external DAC. This is the preferred option and is pictured above.
    • Pros: Cheap, direct, high quality (ALSA permits 24bit). Well supported.
    • Cons: Setup time of a Pi.

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  • Export a playlist to SSD/USB stick and play in another device.
    • Pros: Allows you to use existing flac players. High quality if you export as 24bit/88.2k.
    • Cons: Indirect: time to create and copy. When SeeDeClip4 is upgraded or settings change it needs re-exporting.

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  • Listen directly from a browser like Firefox or Chrome on a device (Exploring or as a Slave).
    • Pros: Easy to use and accessible on most devices. Artwork, waveform and Vu meter display.
    • Cons: Lower quality: Firebox limits you to 16bit playback, Chrome resamples everything via 48kHz.


Summary

The aim of HiFi is to present a sonic wave to the listener free of distortion. Sources of distortion are everywhere but in general occur in this order of importance with digital audio today:

  1. Mastering
  2. Recording
  3. Speakers
  4. Room
  5. DAC
  6. Amplifier


This list order will vary but holds true in general. Obviously if any item is really terrible it will be the biggest factor!

Some people think wires/cables are important too. Digital ones are not, the others are rather debatable, it's wise never to underestimate the effect of mood and placebo effects on HiFi purchases.

This page only addressed the issues of Mastering (SeeDeClip's speciality) and presenting a decent digital signal to the DAC, but you will be able to greatly improve your sound by adhering to the principle that reducing distortions in the sound is key to a higher fidelity of sound.

Flat tops and chopped off waveforms represent a gross form of distortion that can destroy the musical quality of a track completely and irredeemably. In general todays recordings are actually very good indeed, they are just ruined at the mastering section. Some are spoiled in different parts of the process though, AC/DC's 'Black Ice' has flat tops that have then been EQ'd (becoming flat slopes inside the waveform) before the remainder is clipped again some time later.

Repair of clips will reduce the distortion and some repairs will be almost perfect - but others not so good, so you should always look for older recordings to play in preference, and consider using iTunes 'Mastered for iTunes'. Ignore the lossy format, the waveforms are still more accurate than the mangled lossless versions and sound a lot better.

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