I’m a happy owner of a Sprout v1 that spends most of its life paired with HifiMan HE4xx and Jamo S 602 speakers in my office. I have a FLAC collection of my favorite albums that I play via Foobar, but admittedly most of my listening happens with Spotify Premium -> High Quality Streaming out of convenience. I spend the majority of my time listening to Celtic/Canadian/American folk music and just about anything Mark Knopfler sneezes int he general direction of.
Recently, I’ve been curious if I’ve been maximizing the fidelity of my audio coming out of my Windows 10 PC into my Sprout, so I downloaded JRiver and using the default settings it mimicked my experience with Foobar. When I selected XMOS Audio 2.0 Kernel Streaming that all changed. In an instant, Christy Moore’s “Wise and Holy Woman” from Live At the Point became a far more more intimate experience. All the subtleties of the intro rhythm strumming picking were noticeably more clear, the noise floor of the recording appeared to decrease as crowd chatter became easier to discern from just crowd noise, and Declan Sinnot’s first lead note had an added edge to it that almost made me blink in response. When the vocals came in, I noticed that Christy’s voice seemed to have less bassy overtones on top of it and it just seemed more natural and clear.
Now, maybe the perceived increase in resolution is just some level matching issue or some invisible EQ, but it definitely does sound different, as confirmed by my non-hifi girlfriend.
I’m trying to understand a few things:
Why is this experience different? As far as I understood, WASAPI/ASIO are bit perfect. Shouldn’t it all sound the same?
Are the XMOS drivers bundled with the Sprout driver? I haven’t seen them in Foobar before. As far as I understand XMOS it’s a controller used inside devices like the sprout, but it’s confusing to me that it operates as its own output.
What output format does Sprout use by default in windows 10? While I can Select Sprout WASAPI/ASIO in foobar, I get no such options within the windows sound mixer/device properties. Is this something that can be changed at the system level
I appreciate any guidance anyone can offer, even if it’s just pointing me in the direction of some reading material. I have a software engineering background by trade but I have next to zero knowledge of audio drivers and how they interface with hardware.