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I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite #2902774
10/21/19 12:23 PM
10/21/19 12:23 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,349
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Ralphiano Offline OP
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Ralphiano  Offline OP
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Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,349
I need help with my new USB DAC. Until now, I have been playing with my VPC1 connected to my computer, which has Garritan CFX Lite installed. The computer has a Windows 10 Pro operating system. My amplifier receives analog signal from the computer's 1/8” analog out socket. This has worked well.

Due to a prior, happy experience with an external DAC, I decided to add one to this setup. I bought the SMSL M8A dac after researching specs and reviews.

I have downloaded and installed the SMSL's driver, unzipped it, and ran the installation wizard. The driver file is named: XMOS_USBAudio_v4.11.0_2017-06-12_setup.exe, suggesting the driver had to do with the USB functions


Computer Sound Settings

On my computer's “Sound” settings page, “Speakers SMSL USB DAC” appeared, without any input from me, as the output device.

Under “Device Properties-Additional device Properties” there are five tabs. Under the “General” tab “SMSL USB DAC” AND “XMOS” appear in a box titled “Controller Information”. In the box labeled “Device Usage” the option “Use this device (enable)” was preselected. I made no changes.

Under the “Advanced” tab the Default Format was preselected at 32 bit, 48000Hz (Studio Quality). When I clicked the test button, my computer-amp-speakers setup sounded the test sounds successfully. In the box labeled “Exclusive Mode” both boxes were pre-checked to allow applications to take exclusive control of this device, and, to give exclusive mode applications priority. I did not change them.

I returned to “Sound” settings. I clicked on “Manage Sound Devices” and found “Speakers SMSL USB DAC” listed as an Output Device. I highlighted “Speakers SMSL USB DAC” and a little button labeled “Test” appeared. I clicked on it but there was no test sound forthcoming.

I closed the Settings box/window.


Sounds Menu

I right clicked the speaker icon in the lower right side of my screen and clicked on “Sounds”. Under the “Playback” tab, “Speakers SMSL USB DAC Default Device” was pre-selected. I clicked “OK” to leave the “Sounds” box without changing the setting.


Current Problem State

I do not get sounds from my VPC1/CFX Lite combo to my amplifier. The computer seems to be well connected to the VPC1 as the virtual keyboard in the CFX Lite display shows the keys being played as I press keys on the VPC1. And, if I just connect my amplifier to the analog audio out of the computer it receives the piano analog signal, per my VPC1 inputs, just fine.

However, the computer will play sounds from the its onboard cd player through the DAC and to the amplifier. So, in the case of the cd player, the computer to DAC connection seems fine.
So, there seems to me to be some problem between the CFX Lite digital output and the DAC. From what I understand, the elements in that linkage would be CFX Lite, the new XMOS v4.11.0 driver, and the DAC.

Can any of you experienced audio guys make sense of this and point me toward a remedy?

Thanks for your help.


Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX Lite
Pianist since April, 2015
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Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2902809
10/21/19 01:41 PM
10/21/19 01:41 PM
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 638
Celestis
Granyala Offline
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Granyala  Offline
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Hmm did you forget to set Garritan itself to the proper audio device?

It may not adhere to windows "standard" setting.

Tools -> Preferences -> Audio API (WASAPI or ASIO, depending on what your DAC supports)
Audio Device -> Pick your DAC


The backbone of modern industrial society is, and for the foreseeable future will be, the use of electrical Power.
VPC 1 -> Pianoteq 6 Std | Garritan CFX / Pearl Alto Flute 201
Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2902818
10/21/19 02:10 PM
10/21/19 02:10 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,349
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Ralphiano Offline OP
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Ralphiano  Offline OP
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I am not at the computer/piano right now. But, I think it was set at ASIO and ASIO4ALL. I'll go back and look to see if my DAC appears in the pull down list of available Audio Devices.


Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX Lite
Pianist since April, 2015
Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2903069
10/22/19 10:17 AM
10/22/19 10:17 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,349
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Ralphiano Offline OP
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I am sorry to have taken so long to report back. I've been unable to log in to piano world for the last 24 hours (this has been happening about one day per week over the last month or so).

Thank you for your help, Granyala. You hit the nail right on the head! The DAC is working fine now.

It's great to have smart friends!😊


Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX Lite
Pianist since April, 2015
Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2903764
10/23/19 05:50 PM
10/23/19 05:50 PM
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 54
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MikePianoLover Offline
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To Ralphiano and to Granyala and to any other person who would not mind answering my questions below,

I am new to external USB DACs so just a few very basic questions.

1) Do you connect this external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) the following way:
Computer --> external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) ---> Kawai digital keyboard VPC1 --> headphones.
---Is this setup correct? If not, could you describe the setup that you use?


---By the way, what headphones do you use?

---Now, comparing without using this external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) and with using it, do you hear a significant difference when using your headphones?


2) Now, concerning using this external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) with your computer in the following configuration:
Computer --> external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) ---> headphones.

---By the way, what headphones do you use?

Same question than above in 1):
---Now, comparing without using this external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) and with using it, do you hear a significant difference when using your headphones?

Thanks for your feedback on this matter.

Kind Regards
MikePianoLover

Last edited by MikePianoLover; 10/23/19 05:51 PM.
Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2903828
10/23/19 08:31 PM
10/23/19 08:31 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 9,666
Raleigh, North Carolina
MacMacMac Offline
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MacMacMac  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 9,666
Raleigh, North Carolina
Mike, this diagram might help. I depict a console piano. But for the sake of the connections it is mostly the same as your VPC1.
But ... the VPC1 has no "line in" for audio because it has no speakers so just ignore the piano "line in" in the diagram.

The VPC1 has MIDI in and out, and it also has USB-to-host. Either one can be used to send MIDI data to your computer.
There are three ways to accomplish this, depicted in red, green, and blue. Choose whichever suits you ... but I expect that people will mostly choose the blue USB-to-host method these days.
(That would not have been so likely ten years ago when I prepared this diagram.)

Regardless, this serves to get MIDI data from the keyboard to the computer. You must then find a way to get audio out of the computer.

You can use the computer's audio output ... which might be decent in newer computers, but might not be with older ones. (This is not shown in the diagram.)
Or you can use an outboard audio interface (a DAC, as you've titled it in this thread). This is shown below. The audio interface plugs into the computer via USB.

You can plug headphones directly into that DAC (if it has a headphone jack).
Or you can feed the DAC's line outputs to an amplifier to drive speakers (and you can also plug the headphones into the amplifier, as depicted here).
Or you can feed the DAC's line outputs to a pair of powered monitors (not shown in this diagram).

[Linked Image]

Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: MikePianoLover] #2903860
10/23/19 11:07 PM
10/23/19 11:07 PM
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 638
Celestis
Granyala Offline
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Granyala  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 638
Celestis
Originally Posted by MikePianoLover
1) Do you connect this external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) the following way:
Computer --> external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) ---> Kawai digital keyboard VPC1 --> headphones.

---[color:#3333FF]By the way, what headphones do you use?


Same question than above in 1):
---Now, comparing without using this external USB DAC (SMSL M8A DAC) and with using it, do you hear a significant difference when using your headphones?

1) No. In case Mac's pic is still unclear to you:
VPC1 -> Computer (via USB)
Computer -> DAC (via USB)
Dac -> Headphones (via stereo jack)

2) I use a Focal Clear Professional

3) I have an audiophile oriented soundcard (Titanium HD) so sound quality isn't an issue. I also have a simple USB audio interface (Rode AI1) for my mic. Used it once for testing purposes, no significant sonic differences. YMMV with onboard solutions.

Last edited by Granyala; 10/23/19 11:07 PM.

The backbone of modern industrial society is, and for the foreseeable future will be, the use of electrical Power.
VPC 1 -> Pianoteq 6 Std | Garritan CFX / Pearl Alto Flute 201
Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2903870
10/24/19 12:07 AM
10/24/19 12:07 AM
Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 983
Portland, OR, USA
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Osho Offline
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Osho  Offline
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Portland, OR, USA
Originally Posted by Ralphiano
I am not at the computer/piano right now. But, I think it was set at ASIO and ASIO4ALL. I'll go back and look to see if my DAC appears in the pull down list of available Audio Devices.


I haven't read the full thread - so maybe this has been mentioned. But if you are using ASIO4ALL, then you can open the ASIO4ALL config and then select which audio device you want to enable/disable. Make sure to enable only the DAC digital output. And then restart the program. That may help.

Also, check if your DAC has ASIO driver - if so, just use that (instead of ASIO4ALL).

Osho


Mason & Hamlin BB
Kawai Novus NV10 + Embertone Walker D Full/Garritan CFX/Pianoteq 6

[Linked Image]
Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2904009
10/24/19 10:35 AM
10/24/19 10:35 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,349
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Ralphiano Offline OP
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Ralphiano  Offline OP
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Joined: May 2015
Posts: 1,349
I connect my vpc1 to the computer via usb cable. This carries midi signals to the computer. The VST changes midi data to digital music data.

My DAC is connected to the computer via another usb cable. The digital music data goes via usb from computer to the DAC, where the digital music data is converted to analog audio signal. The analog audio signal leaves the DAC via its line out Rca jacks to my amplifier.

I rarely use headphones, and the ones I do use rarely cost more than $30.

I listen to my piano through bookshelf speakers and subwoofer powered by a pioneer home surround system amp.

The DAC has improved the sound. If the DAC is better than your computer's sound card, then you may experience an improvement in sound. My first experience with a DAC was about a year ago as I struggled to get an acceptable sound from my Pianoteq program. I bought the Optomo udac3 for $100. I could not detect any improvement over the computer sound quality. I returned the DAC and bought its big brother, the udac5. I immediately noticed a substantial improvement in sound quality. However, it became clear to me that my displeasure was with the organic sound of Pianoteq, so I returned the udac5 as I decided to abandon the Pianoteq setup. But, I didn't forget the dad's substantial improvement over the computer.

A couple months ago, I switched to Garritan cfx lite and liked the available sounds. After a month or so of tweaking cfx lite, I decided to upgrade with a DAC, and to harvest that untapped store of improved sound I had previously experienced. This time I bought the smsl m8a. It had a lot of good reviews, used dual DAC chips of exactly the same model as did the udac5 I had liked from my first DAC adventured, and offered an intriguing 10 selectable settings that each colored the sound slightly.

This DAC is wonderful. Three of those setting are denominated "Rich 1", "Rich2", and "Rich 3". They really raise up from the background all those little nuances of the original sound that let the listener know that this sound originates from a wooden instrument. The cfx lite sound was already nice. But, a stranger to piano could hear it and not conclude that the instrument was made of wood. With the DAC, you hear the unmistakeable sound of wood vibrating. It is really nice. I'm very happy with this setup.

I would guess it would have a similar effect for a headphone user.


Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX Lite
Pianist since April, 2015
Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2904050
10/24/19 11:48 AM
10/24/19 11:48 AM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 1,542
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newer player Online content
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Upgrade to CFX Full for a few dollars. The ambient mics are where the magic is, albeit too much so lower the gain of them a bit.

Re: I need help with new DAC connection to computer/CFX Lite [Re: Ralphiano] #2904621
10/25/19 08:15 PM
10/25/19 08:15 PM
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 54
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MikePianoLover Offline
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Thanks to those who replied to my questions.


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