XXHighEnd - The Ultra HighEnd Audio Player
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Author Topic: 10 | Features of XXHighEnd  (Read 35590 times)
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« on: August 20, 2010, 09:55:01 am »


Today, June 2013 and after improving XXHighEnd further and further since the start of its life in 2006, it is easy to agree that XXHighEnd is the most sophisticated software player for music reproduction through loudspeakers. This means that you will be able to perceive the best Sound Quality ever heard, if you take some time to try out all the various SQ influencing settings.

The power of XXHighEnd is in the fact that the Sound Engines provided are the most lean (what about using a virtual 0% CPU at 44100 -> 705600 upsampling) and utilize the Operating System's possibilities for the best SQ possible in full. Merely, the Operating System is fully -and automatically !- tweaked ahead of this all (this is called Minimized OS Mode); something which other players require to do manually, most often with unpredictable result. Not so with XXHighEnd, because for the many years by now you all listened to the many (new) SQ influencing features, and when no consensus exists, it goes out again.

It is known that the best SQ comes from Audio Engines which run without Graphical User Interface. Well, so does XXHighEnd and it is called Unattended Mode. One difference with the other players : there *is* a GUI which allows you to be in control over everything, but as soon as Playback starts this controlling GUI disappears from memory - if you want. From there on various keyboard (or tablet) shortcut commands exist to still control (like changing the Volume), one of them just bringing back the User Interface.
So, best of all ways and no SQ deteriorating phenomena are in the way.

Possibly it is important to keep in mind that XXHighEnd is not about the best or most beautiful User Interface, but about the very best Sound Quality. So, don't complain too fast and realize that "no interface" would require music files to be "manually" copied or moved to some playback screen, no Library Management will be there, and setting parameters then will require editing text files.
In the mean time you can adjust the User Interface to quite some degree to your likings. Look here for a few examples (but careful not to hurt your eyes because the colors used are quite extreme).

Possibly the most important "feature" of XXHighEnd is that it is actually developed by yourself. To give a more extreme example anno 2013 : Suppose you find that certain SATA cables (which inside the PC connect to hard disks etc.) improve SQ, then it is all our expertise which (seriously !) could lead to just avoiding them at all. So, XXHighEnd should provide all the means to utilize music sources avoiding HDDs like in this example, and when it needs an additional functionality for this, it will be made. And let's remember, with XXHighEnd it is all about choosing files to play, and let all the technicalities to do that per the best means to the software itself. Sounds pretty vague eh ? Well, not when you know that SATA cables indeed to matter, the spinning of HDDs matter, SSDs matter (often for the worse), WiFi matters, network matters ... ALL matters.
Now it's a matter of knotting all together such, that again we achieved a SQ improvement.
You come up with the ideas, XXHighEnd provides tha path.

Hope you will recognize it, and love it.

For those who don't know, here's a list of features dedicated to XXHighEnd.

  • To start were it should : The best audio player around for Sound Quality on the Windows platform (XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 (32 bit or 64 bit and including all the server versions)).
    Several explicit means are there to control Sound Quality, some with sliders for it, combinations allowing for sheer infinite overall influence.
    You may check this board to read what others say (and which changes per version), here : Your thoughts about the Sound Quality.

  • Sound Quality does not emerge from "DSP" whatsoever and playback is guaranteed to be "bit perfect" (but better : lossless, see hereafter);
    It is to be noticed that the music data is to be remained consistent up to the smallest microscopic level and that, for example, rounding errors do not influence the one music fraction (tech : "audio sample") differently from the next. Therefore, ALL of the DSP like functions in XXHighEnd are completely lossless. This means that, for example, the attenuated audio stream per means of the Volume in XXHighEnd, can be 100% reconstructed into the original data. For the proprietary (not ringing !) Arc Prediction Upsampling/Filtering counts the same, and again the same applies to Phase Alignment. These "DSP like" functions only behave like this in XXHighEnd, and nowhere else.

  • Fully touch screen compatible.

  • Remote controllable for all of its functions with explicit sustainment of the best Sound Quality (meaning, this can be arranged for without LAN services being active, though it needs a set of dongles which can be obtained from Phasure).
    For this a laptop (or any PC) can be used, any Tablet (iPad, Android) and Apple based devices. Smartphones are supported as well, although full support of all the functions may be a more tedious operation.

  • Playback of .WAV .FLAC .AIF .AIFF .MP3 (all fully supported in Cue files).
    MP3 may look strange for a high-end player, but the best decoder possible is used to even let sound MP3 the best possible.

  • 100% Memory Player.
    This is not something like "a very large buffer" you may hear from other players;
    It includes 100% preparation for playback in advance, so nothing is left for processing during real-time playback. Of course all in gapless mode.

  • Fully separately operating Sound Engine from the controlling user interface. This guarantees that the sound quality remains consistent while the GUI can be changed at will.
    Yes, everything matters.

  • Automatically shuts down all Services and Processes which are not necessary for audio playback, largely enhancing sound quality with that. With the activated version this even goes further by removing those Services and Processed from the Operating System (Minimized OS feature).

  • Automatic Sample Rate and Bit Depth selection during playback; a mix of this is allowed to be in the playlist.

  • Support for all Bit Depths and Sample Rates imagineable (not 32 bit float), up to 32/768.

  • Features the proprietary "Arc Prediction" filtering for NOS DACs, with THD figures as good as any filtering means, but without ringing and 100% equal phase.

  • Automatic Filtering/Upsampling from any Sample Rate to any other Sample Rate (from 22050 up to 352800 or from 44100 up to 705600 (or 48000 up to 768000). Thus, also from e.g. 192000 to 768000).

  • Comprehensive Libary functions allowing for as much album related coverart and other data as needed without the necessity of explicitly organizing it. The only thing needed is storage of album data on a per folder base, the structure in that folder not being important.

  • Features "Galleries" as the means to infinitely create shadow copies of the real physical album data, so one physical album appears in a "Jazz" as well as in a "Women singers" Gallery, etc.;
    All Gallery structures are normal folders and files, and no means of a "database" is used anywhere.

  • Creates one logical volume of all your music disks, no matter how many there are.

  • Blazingly fast access to - and search in all the music data; Find your album or track within a second, while 20,000 albums (200,000 tracks) are under the hood.

  • Conversions to and from WAV, FLAC, AIF(F) in mass mode, unaccording folders or disks.
    You think you need more ? let it know.

  • Extensive Library functions to control super large amounts of album. This is certainly not only about speed, but merely about "what do I already have".
    Facilities are there to exchange albums from one to the other PC by fully automated means. Thus, if 10,000 albums are there, and a certain disk contains another 4,000 albums, the both can be held along eachother and within 1 minute a list is there telling which of the 4,000 is not contained in the other 10,000. Next a press of a button merges the two for the not common denominator.
    The names of the albums compared need not to be exactly the same.

  • Facilities to "maintain" coverart are there, not seen in any other "graphical" programs. Although there's much more than told here, this is merely about resizing coverart to acceptable (disk) size, while maintaining the quality for readability. All automated and by means of mass manipulation.
    Notice that people tend to scan coverart with a result for disk size which can easily be over 20MB, while 1MB really can do the job as well with proper "resizing".
    This is not about disk size as such, but merely about speed.

  • It has been said already : Sports the only (and proprietary) "losless" digital volume control in the world;
    At using it, it is guaranteed that actually all remains "bit perfect", to the sense of inter-consistency of the sample data. "Lossless" here means that an attenuated file (track) can be used to rebuild the original.
    Nothing fancy about 64bit float etc., but just smart integer-only processing.
    The importance of this is, that now no deteriorating pre-amplifier or other attenuation means needs to be used; If you think it is bad to leave out the pre-amp and such, this is very okay, but at least now you have the opportunity to leave it out. Also, don't think that you already tried with the Windows etc. volume, because that is not lossless at all and *that* deteriorates !

  • Normalized Volume per album.
    This means that the volume will be (about) the same over albums, but the relation within an album is maintained. This guarantees that soft meant pieces remain that in relation to the loud ones on an album.
    Normalized Volume unaccording albums (thus tracks only) is possible as well (from off 0.9z-3).

  • No "install" as such, except for a small OCX needed, independent from versions.
    This means that you can have as many XXHighEnd versions next to eachother as needed, without again installing. Just start the one you want.
    Notice this comes off handy when you are comparing versions, which is key to the best SQ possible. It is not your developer who decides what sounds best, it is "you" !
    What this comes down to is that development listens to what you have to say about the SQ of a certain version or feature, and when something is wrong or can be bettered, it *will* be done; the board referred to earlier is sufficient proof of that.

  • Similarly *any* wanted feature is honoured, if it only is found useful in general, and fits the priorities during development.

  • Features world's only explicit analysis functions in the analogue domain. You may look here to see some of the results/possibilities : Measuring XXHighEnd ...;
    Notice though that this is merely used for the (SQ) development itself, than that it will be available to you. This is related to "matching clock" hardware needed for ADC and DAC, which "equipment" you normally won't own. It may be a feauture of the Phasure NOS1 D/A converter though (not sure at this moment), sold by Phasure.

  • Supports HDCD decoding and Peak Extension.

  • For those who think it is important : Turns your Windows PC in a real time machine, sporting the absolute world record of an internal latency of 1 stereo sample with a decent(ly setup) machine at 24/192 playback. Notice though that it will be your soundcard (or USB DAC) that determines the external latency, normally not going lower than 32 samples.
    Also notice that this will require the setting of an appropriate "Core Appointment Scheme" which is not available to non-licensed versions (as the only SQ related feature not available in demo mode, next to a (random) limited playtime per startup of XXHighEnd (between 6 and 60 minutes) and a to 100 limited number of items in the Library Area).

  • Explicitly supports multiprocessor systems up to 24 cores, applying conversions blastingly fast (like a complete FLAC album within one second), and again enhancing sound quality by completely reorganizing the OS default behaviour.

  • A license (ad 72 euro) applies to your "household". So, all your PCs in your household can make use of the one license.
    The license is obtained via PayPal. When later a second license is needed (reinstalled the OS, second PC etc.), this again needs the PayPal procedure, but your money will be refunded in that case.
    When you don't have the possibility to use PayPal, send a PM via the forum or drop us an email (sales - phasure - com).
    Also see Demo version, Install notes and getting an Activation Key.

  • XXHighEnd makes use of two general means of "sound engine";
    One is WASAPI (only possible for Vista and up), and it is the most detailed implementation of it (did you know XXHighEnd was over 1 year ahead of any second player (XMPlay) that made use of it ?). With "detailed" is meant literal detail you'll perceive from the music. But :
    After over 3 years of everybody happily using it, it was found that WASAPI is cold and too analytical. This is general, but may count even more for XXHighEnd (just because *of* that extra detail). So :
    At the beginning of 2010 Kernel Streaming was used to create Engine#4 (the other one is Engine#3), and we like to call it "the emotional engine". Notice that the KS engine is selected by choosing a sound device that is preceeded with "KS:".
    It has 3 forms within itself which all are - and sound very different, Normal -, Adaptive - and Special Mode. They are different Sound Engines within itself, and have different (internal) means to control SQ (which for you will be the Q1 control).

  • Through various settings provided, there's always a playback path offered which does not deteriorate Sound Quality or at least keeps it to a minimum for the path chosen. Think about playing over the network, NAS, WiFi-Direct, local, RAMDisk and all the combinations, plus the choice of a "Playback Drive" (could be an SD card) which highly determines SQ in the end.

Of course there is more, but the above can be seen as dedicated to XXHighEnd.
One little advice : You may be (very) skeptical about "bit perfectness" on one side, and software that can change Sound Quality on the other. And, of course it is up to you whether you perceive differences and whether you think it is worthy to obtain a license. But :
Never think you can deal with this over one little night of playing, and unless you hear the differences immediately, please think about this :

You might not be used to looking for the differences which are in order here. They are not subtle (at all) but are in areas which are not common or unknown to normal CD Player playback, or other software for that matter. Do not fall into the pitfall of "what a wide (or narrow) stage". It will be different allright, but it is not about that (do you actually *know* how wide the stage must be ?);
As a first thing, try to look for "standing waves". At the low end they normally will disturb you at being at certain places in the room. The bass sounds louder there (or is not there at all). Generally your sweet spot will catch standing waves just the same, although you might have "calibrated them away" with physical (bass traps) or electronical (PEQ) means. With XXHighEnd try to see if they are still there ...
For the higher frequencies "standing waves" create a buzzing sound throughout the room. Something which disturbs the focus. Here too, try to see whether something has changed in that area.

If you are not sure and were using one of the Kernel Streaming Engines, ha ! that can be right. This is because it still has some of it, which is rather on purpose. But now hop over to Engine#3 (and choose a sound device *not* preceeded with "KS:"). Now listen again ...
Yes, if all is right you will be surprised (and of course don't use headphones for this !). You may not like the sound better, but at least you now know how enormous the differences can be;
If you don't like the sound of Engine#3, just go back to Engine#4 again, and *know* that you can obtain a sound which is towards Engine#3 by using Special Mode and the ultra low latency possibilites. It might not be easy for you at first to have it all glitchless (also depending on how low you go for the latency), but for now it is the most important that you have learned there *is* a difference.

With what you learned, now start tweaking and know that tweaking can be endless. Stay away from Q2/3/4 (Q5 is good to try since version 0.9z-7) although it is allowed to set both Q2 and Q3 to 30 at listening to a piano. But set them both back to 0 once you heard the difference; it is better to workout the general stuff first. Learn what causes which.
Just watch the forum and see how some people suddenly find "some" setting after months and months of being an experienced user already. Also watch how most often such a finding just complies to everyone. Not because "we" like to be placeboed, but because there really *is* a difference, and nearly all matters.

This is what XXHighEnd is for. It is there to extend your hobby to some new dimensions and it doesn't use any equalizers or anything for it. It is there to let us all together explore how music reproduction through loudspeakers can be so much better than we all thought. This is not done by equalizing or digital processing, but by doing it "better" (whatever that means, but take the lossless digital volume as an example and try to see how it can eliminate a preamp as a "bad filter").
But always give feedback where needed. Only then we can proceed, me happily doing the work of the coding.

Have fun now !

« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 12:46:26 pm by PeterSt » Logged

For the Stealth III LPS PC :
W10-14393.0 - Oct 31, 2018 (2.10)
XXHighEnd Mach III Stealth LPS PC -> Xeon Scalable 14/28 core with Hyperthreading On (set to 10/20 cores) @~660MHz, 48GB, Windows 10 Pro 64 bit build 14393.0 from RAM, music on LAN / Engine#4 Adaptive Mode / Q1/-/3/4/5 = 30/-/1/1/1/ Q1Factor = 10 / Dev.Buffer = 4096 / ClockRes = 15ms / Memory = Straight Contiguous / Include Garbage Collect / SFS = 140.19  (max 140.19) / not Invert / Phase Alignment Off / Playerprio = Low / ThreadPrio = Realtime / Scheme = Core 3-5 / Not Switch Processors during Playback = Off/ Playback Drive none (see OS from RAM) / UnAttended (Just Start) / Always Copy to XX Drive (see OS from RAM) / Stop Desktop, Remaining, WASAPI and W10 services / Use Remote Desktop / Keep LAN - Not Persist / WallPaper On / OSD Off (!) / Running Time Off / Minimize OS / XTweaks : Balanced Load = 35 / Nervous Rate = 10 / Cool when Idle = n.a / Provide Stable Power = 0 / Utilize Cores always = 1 / Time Performance Index = Optimal / Time Stability = Stable / *Arc Prediction Filtering (16x)* / Always Clear Proxy before Playback = On -> USB3 from MoBo -> Lush^2*A:B-W-Y-R, B:B-W-R* USB 1m00 -> Phisolator 24/768 Phasure NOS1a/G3 75B (BNC Out) async USB DAC, Driver v1.0.4b (16ms) -> B'ASS Current Amplifier -> *Blaxius^2 A:B-R, B:B-R* Interlink -> Orelo MKII Active Open Baffle Horn Speakers.
Removed Switching Supplies from everywhere (also from the PC).

For a general PC :
W10-10586.0 - May 2016 (2.05+)
*XXHighEnd PC -> I7 3930k with Hyperthreading On (12 cores)* @~500MHz, 16GB, Windows 10 Pro 64 bit build 10586.0 from RAM, music on LAN / Engine#4 Adaptive Mode / Q1/-/3/4/5 = 14/-/1/1/1 / Q1Factor = 1 / Dev.Buffer = 4096 / ClockRes = 1ms / Memory = Straight Contiguous / Include Garbage Collect / SFS = 0.10  (max 60) / not Invert / Phase Alignment Off / Playerprio = Low / ThreadPrio = Realtime / Scheme = Core 3-5 / Not Switch Processors during Playback = Off/ Playback Drive none (see OS from RAM) / UnAttended (Just Start) / Always Copy to XX Drive (see OS from RAM) / All Services Off / Keep LAN - Not Persist / WallPaper On / OSD On / Running Time Off / Minimize OS / XTweaks : Balanced Load = *43* / Nervous Rate = 1 / Cool when Idle = 1 / Provide Stable Power = 1 / Utilize Cores always = 1 / Time Performance Index = *Optimal* / Time Stability = *Stable* / Custom Filter *Low* 705600 / -> USB3 *from MoBo* -> Clairixa USB 15cm -> Intona Isolator -> Clairixa USB 1m80 -> 24/768 Phasure NOS1a 75B (BNC Out) async USB DAC, Driver v1.0.4b (4ms) -> Blaxius BNC interlink *-> B'ASS Current Amplifier /w Level4 -> Blaxius Interlink* -> Orelo MKII Active Open Baffle Horn Speakers.
Removed Switching Supplies from everywhere.

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