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Korg DACs and Their Audiogate Software

Discussion in 'DACs' started by Teej, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Teej

    Teej Active Member

    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    New Orleans, La
    I love my Korg DS-DAC-100. It looks like a spaceship, is a sweet little headphone amp, and it makes my digital files sing.

    BUT, I find their proprietary software a bit lacking. My collection is not THAT big (about 27k files), but when I migrated my iTunes over to Audiogate (which Korg really wants you to do when using their DAC), it (Audiogate) runs incredible slow and sluggish to the point of utter non-usability.

    I play music from two laptops, a 2016 Macbook Air with 8GB of RAM and a pretty nice 2018 HP laptop with a 1TB solid state drive and 12GB of RAM. I run iTunes on the former and Media Monkey Gold on the latter. There is no reason either of these shouldn’t be able to handle Audiogate.

    I installed the Korg drivers, and I’ve been using iTunes and Media Monkey with no issues. Everything sounds great. However, I haven’t seen the indicator light go above the 48 mark, though. Not even once, even on some very high-quality files. I’ve considered only migrating over my high-quality files, but I haven’t tried it yet.

    So, do I really NEED Audiogate for the best listening experience? Would Audiogate unlock the true potential of this DAC?
     

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  2. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

    Messages:
    16,366
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    The correct Korg drivers should be all you need.

    Where are you getting your files from? Is it possible that none of your files are any higher rate than 48K? Of the DAC's I own two of them display the sampling rate. Some files I've downloaded have sampling rates up to 96KHz. For the DSD files (only one does DSD) I've downloaded it shows the DSD sampling rate (64, 128 or 256).

    For true HD audio files check out HD Tracks. Download one of their free samplers. I have two of them and they have sampling rates up 96KHz. If you want to hear some free to download DSD/DSF files check out Blue Coast Music. They have files at all three DSD rates.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  3. Teej

    Teej Active Member

    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    New Orleans, La
    I went ahead and downloaded that HDtracks sampler (I had actually created an account with them a few days ago anyway in anticipation of picking up some quality digital files). However, while using the DAC last night I started to encounter problems with the playback on the Windows 10 PC.

    Specifically, playback is abruptly halted right in the middle of a song. I tried switching playback sources to the laptop speakers and back to the DAC a few times, and while that sometimes worked, it usually resulted in the first 13 seconds of the song being played repeatedly in a loop. Only unplugging and reconnecting the USB cable of the DAC seemed to reset everything correctly, and even then not every time. All this time the light indicated 48khz.

    I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers, DAC control panel, and Audiogate several times and in different orders, but that did not help. The closest I got to success was when I uninstalled EVERYTHING and then installed only the DAC drivers (no Audiogate or DAC Control Panel which I’m fine with because neither ever seemed to do what it was supposed to do anyway). That seemed to correct the halting issue, but now the DAC indicates only 44.1khz all the time, even on higher bitrate tracks (the HDtracks sampler tracks included), but at least it WORKS without the random halting of the music.

    Unfortunately there is still another issue that is driving me nuts. For some reason the DAC does not work after the PC goes to sleep and then wakes up again. I have to physically disconnect the DAC every time I put the PC to sleep, then reconnect it on waking to get proper playback. If I don’t take this extra step, the playback either does not work (but sill works fine through built-in laptop speakers) or it has that 13-second looping issue again.

    To try and fix this I did a system optimization (Sweetwater has one on their site), reconfiguring power and USB settings for best performance, but that has not corrected it. Perhaps I am doomed to a life of always unplugging the DAC when I am finished using the computer for the night….every night.

    Tonight I plan on trying a different program for playback (I was using Media Monkey Gold), probably VLC Media Player, but I still think it's something to do with the USB (not using a hub, BTW). I will also try putting the Macbook through its paces as well to see if this issue really is just isolated to the Windows 10 computer. None of this nonsense has happened a single time on the Macbook Air. It believe it really is just a Windows problem.

    This is all a bummer because I have never seen a better looking DAC, but I would prefer better performance to all these headaches. Once everything is working the way it should, I will start focusing on higher-bitrate and DSD playback.

    Anyone else experienced anything else like this? My other digital setup uses a Schiit Modi with absolutely ZERO issues, and I’m considering buying another and just going with that full-time; but I like my spaceship DAC, dammit!
     
  4. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

    Messages:
    16,366
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    Those system optimization programs are usually a waste of time. Frequently they install apps you don't need or want.
     
  5. Teej

    Teej Active Member

    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    New Orleans, La
    This one is not a program but a step-by-step list of things you can do within windows power and other settings. No installations needed!
     
  6. Teej

    Teej Active Member

    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    New Orleans, La
    I played hours of music last night through this DAC via the 2016 MacBook Air and experienced zero playback issues. The performance was outstanding. On the Mac the DAC Control Panel from Korg does not seem to want to let me change settings (not even giving the option/pull-downs). It's a lot less "control" than just "panel." Whatever - I can live without it.

    I started the night on the PC to investigate the issue further (then moved to the Mac later on because I had to get some actual work done) and did experience the same issue again, I simply dis- and re-connected the USB cable to the Korg DAC and all was well within seconds. I actually think it's a processor/power issue. When I startup new programs there is a spike in CPU usage that disables the USB output for just a second and it doesn't auto-recover. I'm hoping there is a setting that will allow me to not sacrifice power at playback to accommodate other programs starting up. Anyone familiar with anything like this?

    I did download one free program from a company called Resplendence called "LatencyMon" and poked around with it on my garage computer (not the one that was giving me the issues). Seems neat so far. Hoping it will help me pinpoint what is causing the trouble.

    BTW, after a lot of online research, turns out I am not the only one having this problem. It is not isolated to just this DAC or the program playing the audio file. It appears to only happen with Windows. To test this theory out, I got on my garage computer that we use to play music ALL THE TIME and that is playing through a Schiit Modi 2. It has never had a hiccup - not a single one. BUT, I started a ton of processes very quickly to force-spike the CPU and it actually happened. The audio cut out and would not resume until I physically disconnected the USB cable and reconnected it. I've never had to do this once with the Modi, but now at least I am certain it is a Windows problem...

    I am having a party Saturday and will be playing lots of music, so I will definitely be using the Mac for that as it has not failed once.
     

     

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  7. Teej

    Teej Active Member

    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    New Orleans, La
    I've been mulling all this over and decided to treat this as a power problem first as those tend to be easier to fix. I bought a powered USB hub in the hopes that powering the DAC independently of the computer itself might prevent power loss and therefore stream loss. Fingers crossed.
     
  8. dshoaf

    dshoaf That high voltage buzz Subscriber

    Messages:
    10,162
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    in my experience with both Firewire and USB-based DAC systems, most of the popular pro-sumer stuff (see them on display at any Guitar Center in the US) will include plenty of bloat-ware. The fact is a basic driver needs to be installed. The rest of the software are crippled feature stuff designed to sell you something.

    As for the sudden-stopping, this is be around for the past 15 years. It will take quite a bit of Sys Admin skills to diagose the problem. Usually, you're not the first to have the experience and most of the big pro-sumer vendors operate online forums for lots of self-help. This has been the best source of my resolutions.

    If you're looking for a turn-key solution that doesn't need to be massaged and just works, keep it simple and stay away from a lot of those pro-sumer DACS until you're more familiar with the ins and outs of running them.

    Cheers,

    David
     
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  9. Teej

    Teej Active Member

    Messages:
    209
    Location:
    New Orleans, La
    I've learned a lot this weekend while fooling with the DAC. Turns out the dropout CAN happen both on the Mac and also on other DACs. This is actually a big relief because it means the problem is more universal to USB DAC's in general than specific to me and my setups (two PC's and one Mac, Schiit Modi 2 and Korg DS-DAC-100). It only happens during a playback stream when there is a spike in CPU usage such as when I first open a new program or when I rename a track in iTunes that isn't located on the main drive (I use a 256gb Transcend SD card for a lot of my music on the Mac and while handy it is simply not as quick as the on-board flash memory).

    As for the Sys Admin skills, that's probably a little above my head, but I did go in pretty deep with some system optimization retooling for high-performance playback. This did not fix the problem, so I am open to suggestions here. Ideally I would like the computers to know that I never want them to sacrifice processing power to an active audio stream to accommodate higher speed for any other applications. I'd rather the stream remain uninterrupted and the software just run slightly (probably a barely-noticeable amount) slower. I'm pretty sure this is the root of my (and a lot of other people's) problem with USB DAC audio dropout. Why is there not a simple option for this?

    I bought an independently-powered USB hub in the hopes that taking electrical power allocation out of the equation might fix the issue on the cheap, but it did not. This might still be the issue as the system is still outputting the stream through the USB port, so it was probably a fool's errand. At least I have a nice powered USB port now.

    I also took the radical step of purchasing a Schiit Wyrd and a pair of Schiit PYST A-to-B USB cables. The Wyrd's product description mentions one of the dropouts I've been experiencing, so I suppose it's possible this could be a fix. I've always been curious about the Wyrd and de-crappifiers in general, so it will be fun to experiment with it. I'll report back here if that works; but regardless of what little box the signal is travelling through it is still being output through that same USB port by the same computer, so I'll be pretty surprised if this is a real fix. Fingers crossed...
     
  10. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

    Messages:
    16,366
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    My solution to the same problem was to use a laptop dedicated to music playback. It's not used for any other purpose. Consequently, I've never had any gap or interruption during music playback. An added benefit of this approach is that the laptop doesn't have to be all that powerful. Lower end laptops are also very affordable.

    A 14" HP laptop with an AMD E-2/4gb RAM, two external 2tb HDD's into an Emotiva XDA-2 via USB/Audioquest Jitterbug is my music server

    I use an entry level 11" HP Stream laptop with an external HDD and a Behringer UCA-222 (USB DAC) for ripping LP's.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018 at 12:00 PM
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