Low Volume Out Of The Box

Support questions for Neutron Player only.
Jean-Paul Petrosyan
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:52 am

Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by Jean-Paul Petrosyan » Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:02 pm

I'm sorry if I'm posting in the wrong thread.

Should I enable Generic Driver when using external USB DAC?

blaubär
Posts: 1784
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:48 am

USB DAC vs generic driver

Post by blaubär » Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:25 pm

Not to worry, I've split the topic 8-) . As to the Audio Hardware settings : I suggest you start with everything set to defaults, that would probably activate Generic Driver. Unsetting that wouldn't make much sense imho, because the alternative OpenSL ES is regarded as obsolete by Neutron. You might want to try Direct USB Access, as this would fully utilize the available hardware, if this hardware is supported by Neutron.

Jean-Paul Petrosyan
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:52 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by Jean-Paul Petrosyan » Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm

Thank you! So, Generic Driver is a better option in any case? When I wasn't using USB DAC I was using Custom Format with configuration I looked up in the system files. But I though that this is relevant only when trying to send digital signal to the internal DAC of the device. Is it not the case? If I should enable Generic Driver, what options should I enable there? In fact, I've done some testing some time ago and I think I found that the sound with Generic Driver enabled feels more low-res (I'm not sure about it, though, so I'm asking what should be better in theory). I've got Direct USB Access enabled, of course.


By the way, do I understand correctly that the Hardware Gain is not needed as it relates to the phones internal DAC only?

I also got a few questions more but I'm not even ready do formulate them as it won't be easy considering that I'm not that good in English. I'm sorry for being slightly off-topic, but do you know, isn't the Dev russian speaking by any chance? Bold guess based off the nickname.

blaubär
Posts: 1784
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:48 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by blaubär » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:18 pm

Jean-Paul Petrosyan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm
When I wasn't using USB DAC I was using Custom Format with configuration I looked up in the system files.
I suggest you don't use the generic driver's custom format at all, it's not meant to be used to choose the sampling rate in the normal course of events. When you've enabled direct usb access and if Neutron supports your usb dac then you should see the available sampling rates in Audio Hardware > Frequency. If you see no frequencies above Default and everything besides direct usb access is set to defaults then Neutron doesn't support the usb dac. If you see other frequencies there's reason for hope - perhaps the usb dac shows the sampling rate, so that you can be sure. And you can try to make sure high res is supported as decribed in How to make sure your phone supports high-res-audio .

blaubär
Posts: 1784
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:48 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by blaubär » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:22 pm

Jean-Paul Petrosyan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm
By the way, do I understand correctly that the Hardware Gain is not needed as it relates to the phones internal DAC only?
If you disable Audio Hardware > Hardware Gain you'll get the internal gain slider, which should operate on Neutron's output. I suggest you try that and play around with the volume settings in Direct USB Access. Feedback would be appreciated.

blaubär
Posts: 1784
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:48 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by blaubär » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:25 pm

Jean-Paul Petrosyan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm
I also got a few questions more but I'm not even ready do formulate them as it won't be easy considering that I'm not that good in English. I'm sorry for being slightly off-topic, but do you know, isn't the Dev russian speaking by any chance? Bold guess based off the nickname.
I'm no native english speaker myself. Don't worry about grammatics etc, the point is to be understood. And it would be nice if everybody in this forum used english, otherwise things will get tedious.

blaubär
Posts: 1784
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:48 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by blaubär » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:53 pm

Jean-Paul Petrosyan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm
Thank you! So, Generic Driver is a better option in any case? When I wasn't using USB DAC I was using Custom Format with configuration I looked up in the system files. But I though that this is relevant only when trying to send digital signal to the internal DAC of the device. Is it not the case?
I'm not sure. If you don't use direct USB access and/or Neutron doesn't fully support the USB dac then Neutron would have to access the Andoid standard output, which might mean the audiotrack interface, which is here called "generic driver". Feel free to ask neutronmp@gmail.com.

Jean-Paul Petrosyan
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:52 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by Jean-Paul Petrosyan » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:58 am

blaubär wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:18 pm
Jean-Paul Petrosyan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm
When I wasn't using USB DAC I was using Custom Format with configuration I looked up in the system files.
I suggest you don't use the generic driver's custom format at all, it's not meant to be used to choose the sampling rate in the normal course of events. When you've enabled direct usb access and if Neutron supports your usb dac then you should see the available sampling rates in Audio Hardware > Frequency. If you see no frequencies above Default and everything besides direct usb access is set to defaults then Neutron doesn't support the usb dac. If you see other frequencies there's reason for hope - perhaps the usb dac shows the sampling rate, so that you can be sure. And you can try to make sure high res is supported as decribed in How to make sure your phone supports high-res-audio .
I've read that some devices may not support hi-res audio output via Direct PCM, so it may be required to set the Custom Format manually, in accordance with the device's system configuration (if it's capable of hi-res output at all). Indeed, it seems like it was the case with my Huawei P30 - the sound through the Direct PCM driver (was, as I do understand now, suffering effects of resampling) didn't feel hi-res at all. I looked up the systems audio config file and according to it my device supports Hi-Res output via 'Direct" driver with sampling frequencies up to 192 kHz. So I've modified the Custom Format settings accordingly and the sound did get better (also, it had the most difference from the sound I got via all other configurations I've tried). But than was when I listened straight from the phone's audio jack.

Somehow, I've got an impression that with the USB-DAC there's no need to account for the system's drivers as Neutron has it's own custom drivers for such scenario, and they are employed via Direct USB Access option. I'm using FiiO BTR5, I think I saw the support for it being mentioned in one of the recent update logs. I had some issues still, such as music feeling slowed down for example, but it seems it's gone now. BTR5 shows the sampling rate on it's screen, but it's not the whole story it seems. With some settings configurations the sound is clearly different from the others while retaining the same sampling frequency, maybe due to undergoing DSP correction implemented in the OS or something.
Last edited by Jean-Paul Petrosyan on Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jean-Paul Petrosyan
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:52 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by Jean-Paul Petrosyan » Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:06 pm

blaubär wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:22 pm
Jean-Paul Petrosyan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm
By the way, do I understand correctly that the Hardware Gain is not needed as it relates to the phones internal DAC only?
If you disable Audio Hardware > Hardware Gain you'll get the internal gain slider, which should operate on Neutron's output. I suggest you try that and play around with the volume settings in Direct USB Access. Feedback would be appreciated.
I've got it disabled, as it seems to degrade audio quality, while the slider doesn't have any effect on the volume. In fact, with the Direct USB Access mode enabled the only slider that has any direct effect on the volume is the Preamp slider, anyway (not the Digital Gain, nor the Hardware Gain). It's just as much as I've figured, Neutron has no access to the USB-device's internal DAC (if the volume-related options in the Direct USB Access mode's menu are left disabled). I've got those options all disabled too, as I've found any of those just being enabled has a small but noticeable detrimental effect on the audio quality. Also, I don't know how BTR5 should behave with those even in theory, so I'm left with my own observations only. So right now I only use BTR5's volume control buttons with 60 steps, although I'd like to have more precision.
Last edited by Jean-Paul Petrosyan on Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Jean-Paul Petrosyan
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:52 am

Re: Low Volume Out Of The Box

Post by Jean-Paul Petrosyan » Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:53 pm

blaubär wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:53 pm
Jean-Paul Petrosyan wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:22 pm
Thank you! So, Generic Driver is a better option in any case? When I wasn't using USB DAC I was using Custom Format with configuration I looked up in the system files. But I though that this is relevant only when trying to send digital signal to the internal DAC of the device. Is it not the case?
I'm not sure. If you don't use direct USB access and/or Neutron doesn't fully support the USB dac then Neutron would have to access the Andoid standard output, which might mean the audiotrack interface, which is here called "generic driver". Feel free to ask neutronmp@gmail.com.
Right now It seems that I've settled on the configuration that gives the best audio quality. Interestingly enough, it includes come options that in theory should not have any impact on the sound (by design at least), but still they do, in my case. I think it might be due to the fact that some features require processing power and I need every last bit of it (even though my device should have plenty) because I'm using EQ correction. Also, It seems like Huawei's EMUI is a very problematic modification of the Android OS with it's aggressive and nontransparent custom system's resource management algorithms (battery and operative memory at the very least). I'm employing all the tricks available, some of them not that obvious too, to exlude Neutron MP from these restrictions.
It seems like at the moment I'm at least moving in the right direction with my experiment-based sound quality optimization efforts, although I must say that it's proven to be a greatly frustrating, tiring and time consuming experience. I doesn't help that I don't even have a clear criteria for determining the increase/decrease in sound quality. And it also doesn't help that some aspects of the sound may benefit from its overall degradation and vice versa.
But, with the settings I've discovered, the sound is pretty distinct in character. It is very lifelike with a dark background and the "volume" in every sound brought by that clear background and reverberations, as well as clearly present overtones. The sounstage feels compressed and has less spatiality at the first glance, compared to other configurations (and the sound I get with them) and the raw resolution is lost in some places. But I suspect that it's exactly due to the high quality of the reproduction - I don't think I'm able to get the spatial cues right (to interpret them correctly, to be precise), but It may be due to the sounds in general feeling further away from me. The "body" of some sounds is lost due to them being more distant, and that's natural, I guess. But the separation of the instruments also suffers a bit, in fact. I guess it's because some instruments are being positioned close to eachother. Sounstage feels both a bit compressed (more like limited in space, maybe) and open at the same time. Maybe it's as if there's a considerable distance from myself to the virtual sounstage, so while the space between instruments feels smaller it also feels more real, more like the actual "empty" space. The thing I get with other options which seem suboptimal to me, is that the sounds are all around me - it's like I'm thrown in the middle of it all. There are sounds coming from all directions and in some aspects the sound is clearer and the separation seems greater, but I'm beginning to think that it's due to the sounstage being presented incorrectly, in an unnatural manner - with everything being very close to me in the perceived space. It feels more 3-dimensional, but the feeling of space is unnatural, there's almost no void, no empty space, almost no feeling of dark background. I think that's not how it has to be after all.

I'm sorry for drifting away like that, but I'm so confused and it has been so for such a long time.

I only wish there was a standalone DAP with a decent parametric EQ and it didn't cost more than all my internals which may be ever so slighly valuable on the black market altogether.

If you're interested, I can post my configuration of the Neutron's settings and, maybe, system settings also (although, I think the latter might be of greater interest to the Dev, then to you). I can also point out which make the most noticeable (sometimes unexpectedly drastic for some of those) difference with sound.

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