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Xonar drivers disable SpeakerCompensation tweak testing

What it does (updated 03 Aug 2017)

This tweak disables the SpeakerCompensation driver setting, this setting is enabled by default and not accessible through Asus/C-media Panel. The purpose of SpeakerCompensation was unknown but from what I was able to deduce, when enabled, SpeakerCompensation is altering the sound output by modifying the amplitude of sound frequencies. By disabling it, early indications show that the sound output may be closer to the source file. Disabling SpeakerCompensation also results in a lower DPC latency. There may be other benefits or drawbacks that are yet to be discovered.

I invite you to test this tweak and submit your findings and impressions. I’m interested in hearing if you find the sound quality to be better after disabling “SpeakerCompensation” and if you consider that this tweak should be applied default with UNi Xonar drivers.

Tweak works for the all the UNi Xonar supported cards:

  • Asus Xonar: DG, DGX, DG SI, DS, DSX, D1, D2, DX, D2X, HDAV, HDAV Slim, ST, STX, STX II, Xense.
  • Other C-Media CMI8788 audio chip based cards: Auzentech X-Meridian & X-Meridian 2G; HT Omega Claro Plus, 2, Halo, eClaro; Razer Barracuda AC-1.

How to apply the tweak

For easy switching between enabled and disabled, it’s recommended that you use UNi Xonar v1.80 or older drivers.

  • Download and extract this file.
  • Run “disable SpeakerCompensation.exe”.
  • For v1.80 and older drivers: Close any application that uses the soundcard and run “restart card.exe”. You would hear the card popping if the restart went through, if you didn’t hear that then restart the PC.
  • For v1.81 drivers: Restart the PC. Do not run “restart card.exe” as it will result in a blue screen.
How to restore to the default behavior
  • Run “restore SpeakerCompensation.exe”.
  • For v1.80 and older drivers: Close any application that uses the soundcard and run “restart card.exe”. You would hear the card popping if the restart went through, if you didn’t hear that then restart the PC.
  • For v1.81 drivers: Restart the PC. Do not run “restart card.exe” as it will result in a blue screen.

Audio frequency analysis (Work in progress)

I’ve recorded the Xonar output though a loop cable the playback of various melodies with SpeakerCompensation enabled and disabled. Then I’ve compared the resulted FFT spectrums with the ones of the original files. I’ve observed that when SpeakerCompensation is enabled it significantly decreases the amplitude of the frequencies that are above 21200 Hz and possibly slightly alters other frequencies.

On the topic of of the frequencies above 21200 Hz (21.2 kHz), I’ve read that commonly stated range of human hearing is 20 Hz to 20 kHz, but not all of us can hear up to 20 kHz and that some can hear above 20 kHz . So if frequencies above 20 kHz can’t be heard then why bother decreasing them? Is there any benefit of doing this? Maybe someone from the community can help here.

On the topic of alteration of frequencies below 21.2 kHz I will have to do a more in depth analysis to be sure.

Audio quality (Work in progress)

At the moment we don’t know for certain if disabling SpeakerCompensation improves or worsens the sound quality. So far, two people reported that sound is improved(#1,#2). Other people’s input is welcomed. Please check the feedback guidelines.

Right Mark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) tests

RMAA tests that I’ve done on my Xonar DX with a audio loop cable didn’t show any significant difference between “SpeakerCompensation” being disabled and enabled.

Someone with Xonar D2 or D2X card should do the RMAA test with ALT recording device (high-quality onboard path from Line-Out directly to the Line-In)  as the tests will be more accurate. If you are able to do these tests I am particularly interested in seeing results for the following settings:

  • in ASUS/C-Media/XonarSwitch Audio Panel: sample rate 44.1kHz
  • in “Windows Volume->Playback Devices->Speakers Xonar card->Advanced”: 24 bit, 44100 Hz
  • in “Windows Volume->Playback Devices->Line In Xonar card->Advanced”: 24 bit, 44100 Hz
  • in RMAA: 24bit output, 44.1kHz sample rate

If needed a detailed setup guide can be found here. You can send me the generated .sav files or upload them somewhere and post the links.

DPC Latency results

DPC latency tests showed a 10-25% lower DPC latency that’s been generated by the use of the Xonar sound card when SpeakerCompensation was disabled. Results vary depending on other soundcard settings that are used and OS being tested.  Some tests I ran:

  • Windows 7, measured with DPC Latency Checker, network disabled, UNi Xonar v1.80b Low DPC Latency, Aimp audio player, avg. DPC latency results – DPC Latency in idle(10us) :
speakercompensation2.0 analog5.1 analog7.1 analog7.1 analog with ASUSAudioCenter
disabled203641115
enabled254557134

 

  • Windows 10, measured with LatencyMon, UNi Xonar v1.80b Low DPC Latency, 2.0 analog output, Aimp audio player, 2 min audio playing, results for STXII.sys:
speakercompensationDPC countHighest execution(ms)Total execution(ms)
disabled599970.0660981034
enabled650870.0737671154

 

Feedback guidelines

When submitting feedback please include the following: audio card, audio driver version, Windows version, settings used (analog or digital output, number of channels, any other relevant settings that where enabled), speakers and amp or headphones model, music format (lossy or lossless).

With “SpeakerCompensation” disabled I am also interested in knowing up to which frequency you can hear (see tests here).

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55 Comments

  1. dgm    18 Jul 2017 @ 14:04   

    Hey Carved, thanks for your continuous support. Just wanted to provide feedback with a similar setup. STXII [with muses02 buffers and muses01 in the I/O if it matters] win7 64bit, using 1.75br3 since it’s more stable and ran into issues (bsod) with 1.80b, possibly due to ASIO 64bit. Uninstalled using the application, installed lowlatency with stereo upmix disabled, 24 bit full range under sound options and asio to 24bit 10ms, everything else on default for 2.0, using foobar2k, browser/networking enabled
    this is with turbo mode disabled on cpu oc to 4.5ghz, high precision event timer enabled in device manager, cpu clock on auto

    without tweak:
    – asio 25-50 asio average 25-30 range
    – DS 36-50 – occasional 100 spike

    with tweak:
    – asio same results averaging 35 more stable
    – DS average 30-40 occasional 60 spike

    Overall the dpc latency lowering tweak stabilizes the direct sound input from windows to the level of asio which shows an improvement, results can also stay similar before the tweak is applied

    Reply

  2. Den    30 Jul 2017 @ 12:53   

    I have UNi Xonar Drivers v1.81a rev.2 (low DPC version) on a Xonar D1 (Windows 10 v1703 (15063.483) 64-bit) and I also disabled the “SpeakerCompensation”, and the sound has become incredibly deep and more detailed. But I can not change result in a lower DPC latency, they are consistently high (500-1000), purely by ear they have significantly decreased. It is a very, very good tweak. Thank you.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    31 Jul 2017 @ 02:03   

      Thanks for sharing your experience with this tweak.
      It’s entirely possible that disabling SpeakerCompensation would result in a more detailed sound. I’ve been researching what Speaker Compensation could mean and I found that some guitar pedals have an option called this way that does filter all the frequencies above 5,000 hz before being sent to amp speaker (info here). We will have to do more digging to see if this “SpeakerCompensation” option implemented by C-Media is some sort of sound frequency filter.
      I will test again, this time with my headphones and see if a can notice any differences. Hopefully others will check share their impressions as well.

      Please give us more details about your setup, if you’ve used analog or digital output, if you listened through speakers or headphones, what speakers/headphone do you have?

      The high DPC latency that your system has is most likely not from the Xonar drivers and the difference gained by disabling SpeakerCompensation is unnoticeble in this case.

      Reply

      • Den    05 Aug 2017 @ 12:11   

        I use the standard setting (16 bits, 44 kHz) and I use analog outputs. Basically I listen through the speakers: music on 2.0 Vigoole C2128, movie on Genius SW-HF 5.1 5000.

        Reply

    • CarvedInside    03 Aug 2017 @ 23:21   

      I would like to ask some follow up questions. The music on your PC is lossless(flac) or lossy(mp3)? Can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking the files here?

      Reply

      • Den    05 Aug 2017 @ 12:21   

        I listen to music mostly is lossless(flac) on foobar2000 (asus xonar asio driver). According to the test, I can clearly hear 16 kHz.

        Reply

  3. Fll    30 Jul 2017 @ 13:39   

    Hi, I use ASUS Xonar DSX & Windows 7 PRO 64bit. Only using the digital out on the card (DTS interactive or pcm settings only, no analog), does -Disabling “SpeakerCompensation”- result in a lower DPC latency too.
    Thank you.

    Reply

  4. SmokyMoe    31 Jul 2017 @ 14:49   

    Hi all, i tried this tweak and it really seems to increase audio quality on my setup, i think i leave this option disabled all the time on my machine 😀 i can hear improvement very well – sounds more crispy, detailed and deeper with better bass line, sry but i dont checked latency, my setup – win 8.1 64bit home modded with all updates from Mr.T, xonar dx + 5.1 analog cable connected to creative g500 speakers, drivers 1.80a r3, foobar2k + tested on all outputs- direct sound, wasapi and asio but even on firefox youtube clips i can hear better sound and i must check it in my favorite games, Thank you so much for your work! Please still do what you have to do! :d

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    03 Aug 2017 @ 23:20   

      Thank you for the feedback. The music on your PC is lossless(flac) or lossy(mp3)? Can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking the files here?

      Reply

      • SmokyMoe    06 Aug 2017 @ 11:44   

        My music collection is mainly lossless but mp3 is there too off course because its so popular format, tried both and both sounds noticeably better but flac benefits much more from your tweak, frequencies i can hear on speakers is from 8khz to 18khz but on my portable headphones (sennheiser cx300-II precision) only up to 17khz.

        I must update my last post, i tried hearing test again and i can tell that frequencies on speakers are easy to hear from 8khz to 18khz on low volume but when i upped volume to more than 60% on my speakers (in drivers and windows i always have 100%) i can hear 19khz, 20khz and 21khz and i am very surprised because most people in my age (28) should lose capabilities to hear so high frequencies (medical facts that people older than 25 lose ability to hear high frequency sound, older people cannot hear high frenquency at all) and im very pleased that my setup can reproduce this sounds, 22 khz i cant hear even on 100% volume, on headphones increasing volume make difference too beacuse sounds from 17khz to 20khz is showing up, more than 20khz i cannot hear, this test should have other results with enabled Speaker Compensation? I check this later because i have no more time today for this

        Reply

        • CarvedInside    09 Aug 2017 @ 00:48   

          Having SpeakerCompensation enabled lowers amplitude (volume) of certain frequencies so they would be harder or impossible to hear. This is particullary evident for frequencies above 21 kHz. I’m still in the process of figuring out which frequencies are altered. Had some hard time with this since the subject is new to me and also had inconsistent results because of bugs within the tools that I used.

          I’m 30 years old and I can hear only up to 14 kHz on the speakers without raising the volume too much. I suspect this is not a result of aging but having been exposed to loud sounds, unintentionally I may add.

          Reply

  5. Nick    03 Aug 2017 @ 18:29   

    I just tried this on Windows 10 (1703) x64 with a Xonar D1 using UNi Xonar 1.81a r2.

    There is no difference DPC latency (was 89us before, it’s 89us after). I also cannot tell any difference whatsoever in how it sounds.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    03 Aug 2017 @ 23:17   

      Thank you for the comment. Have you restarted your system after applying the tweak? Which tool have you used to measure DPC latency?
      If you can provide me with the information that I am asking for under Feedback I would appreciate it.

      Reply

      • Nick    04 Aug 2017 @ 17:22   

        Yes, I rebooted the PC.

        I used LatencyMon 6.51 for the test.

        Audio card: Xonar D1.
        Audio driver version: 1.81a r2.
        Windows version: Windows 10 Pro x64 (build 1703).
        Settings used: Analog, 2 channels, 16-bit 48kHz.
        Speakers: JBL Spot 2.1.
        Headphones: Samson SR850.
        Music format: I have some FLAC albums I listened to, as well as just games and youtube.
        On the frequency hearing test, I can hear up to 16kH with the speakers, and up to 18kHz with the headphones.

        I also use the Xonar D1 on Linux (dual-boot) and the drivers there are completely different, written independently by Linux kernel developers, not by C-Media. They don’t have any kind of “speaker compensation” and the audio sounds the same to me as the Windows drivers.

        However, the Linux drivers have a setting called “DAC filter roll-off” with settings “slow” and “fast”, which is missing from the Windows drivers. This seems to be a hardware setting, not a software one. Can’t hear a difference between the settings though (other than the card muting the audio for a short period of time to switch the setting.) Maybe this has something to do with this?

        Reply

  6. Shing    04 Aug 2017 @ 11:22   

    Maybe high frequencies makes you dizzy even if you can’t hear them? Or it’s useless information for DAC+cables, etc, so it might decrease the quality on some lower quality setups. But most digital sounds has no high frequency information anyway, especially the 44,1-48khz ones, so i don’t see why is this a thing.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    06 Aug 2017 @ 01:41   

      The thing is, it does not completely filter out those frequencies, just lowers them. In case they were low in the original file then those frequencies would be essentially filtered out after the SpeakerCompensation processing. Most music tracks that I’ve tested had frequencies in the 20-22 kHz range. Thank you for your input.

      Reply

  7. zwan    05 Aug 2017 @ 00:08   

    This thing changed the bass; less bass distortion and more detailed.
    Overall made the sound ‘sparkle’.
    Then I re-enable SpeakerCompensation, and can confirm that I am still sane.
    Windows 7, Xonar DG, UNi-Xonar-1823-v1.80a-r3, analog, Hifi mode

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    06 Aug 2017 @ 01:00   

      Thank you for the feedback. Which sound do you prefer, with SpeakerCompensation enabled or disabled?
      The music on your PC is lossless(flac) or lossy(mp3)? Can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking the tests from this page?

      Reply

      • zwan    06 Aug 2017 @ 15:43   

        I prefer SpeakerCompensation disabled; made the Xonar DG sound amazing.
        I have both flac & mp3. I can now probably tell between the two in a blind test.
        I can clearly hear to 14k at normal level.

        I did more listening, and can now hear more on recordings that previously sounded harsh. So much so I can crank the volume and not flinch.
        So highs are less harsh, lows are less distorted. Feels like that leap from 720p to 1080p.

        Reply

  8. William Clarke    05 Aug 2017 @ 01:18   

    Hi, i have a Xonar STX running 192khz on the 1.80r3 and 24bit 192khz in playback setting (win7 64bit), my setup runs in this order: soundcard to behringer ultragraph pro 32 band equalizer then to a phonics am120 mixer then to crown xls2500 amplifier then finally out to a home built dual line array of 4 kicker (150wrms each speaker, 600wrms @ 4ohm each array, 1200wrms @4ohm both arrays) cs6934 6×9’s in each array, i am a lover of very low frequency bass under 30hz, since turning off speaker compensation i have noticed ALOT better lows and better highs!!!

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    06 Aug 2017 @ 18:49   

      Thank you for the feedback. Interesting. If you know a track with very low frequency bass that is publicly available please link it. If not, maybe you can tell me the name of some of these tracks.

      With SpeakerCompensation disabled, can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking these tests?

      Reply

  9. kean3D    05 Aug 2017 @ 23:49   

    tested the tweak on my setup with Xonar STX, Pioneer A-10 amp, and Alesis Elevate 6 studio monitor, al connected with good power and signal cables; immediately notice what also other users said, so better and rich bass and low freq, also more brights high freq; in production noticed better latency management with daw; clearely that tweak seems disable a sort of filter applied on the whole audio spectrum by drivers.. so wanna thanks you to find out and shared , joob job man

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    06 Aug 2017 @ 02:03   

      Thank you for the feedback. I am pleased that I have you guys helping me figure this thing out.
      If you can detail this “in production noticed better latency management with daw” statement. What kind of latency are you talking about? Is it a measured latency or perceived? If it’s a measured latency if you can give me the results of before and after tweak.

      If you can tell me the drivers you used and your OS. With SpeakerCompensation disabled, can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking these tests?

      Reply

      • kean3D    07 Aug 2017 @ 22:21   

        i mean that in production seems that my daw, with same settings with asio (currently 30ms 32bit) as before the tweaks it manage better with less heavy on cpu; this is with heavy projects, usually was 85-90% on cpu, (fx-8300 oc @4.5ghz, 16gb ram oc 2020 , ssd+hd); now with tweak at least 10% less than before, but it is perceived, so i need to do better test, but sure somehow it is different than befire tho;

        i use latests drivers 1.81 with xonat stx on win10 cu + latests updates too, and some tweaks like cpu unpark etc..

        for that tests i can hear it almost every samples on that, just the last two (21khz and 22khz) only with volume maxed and the others fine with volume normal; i knew that too cause i can hear 22khz on my projects, that has lots of distortions (i do industrial hc and raw distorted noises as usual from ages, and my ears are trained for thoose freqs)
        saturated and shaped sound/noises are more easy to be heard it also at that high freqs, also if im 35 years old

        Reply

        • CarvedInside    08 Aug 2017 @ 23:52   

          I appreciate the details. Let me know if you observe anything else that’s worth mentioning.

          About the frequencies above 20 kHz, maybe you know, can those affect how frequencies lower 20 kHz are perceived? I’m thinking that even if one can’t hear sounds above 20kHz frequencies maybe the blending of those frequencies results in a different sound.
          The FFT analyses that I’ve done on the recorded output between the SpeakerCompensation being enabled and disabled show very minor and inconsistent differences for frequencies below 21 kHz, so I am thinking that either the line-in recording is subject to other frequency filtering and thus the results are not accurate or something else is going on that produces this better sound.

          Update: On this subject of FFT analysis. It seems that the ocenaudio version I was using had multiple bugs so those results may have been compromised. There is also the possiblity I’m was not doing the FFT analysis correctly. I was doing the analysis of the whole recording instead of a individual wavelength unit, which seems to produce results where the differences are more evident.

          Reply

  10. billgates    08 Aug 2017 @ 02:52   

    Noticed more highest frequencies, even with asio. Asus st with 1.80b-r3 on w7 x64.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    08 Aug 2017 @ 23:41   

      Thank you for the feedback. Which sound do you prefer, with SpeakerCompensation enabled or disabled? If it’s possible, can you give me more information. I’ve listed what I would like to know in the Feedback Guidelines section.

      Reply

      • billgates    09 Aug 2017 @ 03:01   

        Of course, with “SpeakerCompensation disabled”.
        I’ve tested more, using FFT EQ to compensate differences of frequency response between these settings and exclude illusion of more detalisation because of more quantity of high frequencies on “SpeakerCompensation disabled”.
        And “SpeakerCompensation disabled” setting really brings more details even with EQ’ing (lowering highs). More silent sounds are revealing in complex compositions, even in mid frequencies.
        Also, stereo mode, headphones (integrated amp), analog output, lossless. I hear up to 18.5 kHz.

        Reply

  11. Jim    08 Aug 2017 @ 04:51   

    The “Disable Speaker Compensation” resulted in a subjectively better sound quality. As others mentioned, it seems to be a fuller and cleaner, top, bottom and middle. I think you have a winner. 192/24 source, STX II with Burson V5 Op Amps, Schitt Mjolnir hybrid preamp, Carver TFM-24 Amp, into Martin/Logan ESL’s.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    08 Aug 2017 @ 23:25   

      Thank you for the feedback. I’m happy to hear that you guys report this to be a positive improvement in terms of sound quality.
      Can you tell which drivers you have installed and which OS do you use? With SpeakerCompensation disabled, can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking these tests?

      Reply

      • Jim    09 Aug 2017 @ 03:23   

        1.81a rev 2, Windows 10. I can hear up to, including 12k. Also, I’m 64 years old and use hearing aids.

        Reply

  12. APoL0    10 Aug 2017 @ 14:52   

    Asus Xonar Essence STX here with UNi Xonar 1.81a r2 in W10 Pro x64, with Little Dot MK III Amp and Sennheiser HD 598 headphones, I’m testing mp3 and FLAC from youtube and foobar. It’s better sound quality now, more clearly and less distortion. Good job.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    13 Aug 2017 @ 12:11   

      Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad this tweak turned out to be such an improvement.
      With SpeakerCompensation disabled, can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking these tests?

      Reply

  13. thomasrc    11 Aug 2017 @ 17:19   

    I’m using stereo composition disabled since a month now and I can tell you that the sound quality is definitely better imo. I also tried to re-enable stereo composition one day, but man… a lots of details are gone, so I prefer the disabled way.

    Bonus: I also tried it with 5.1 movies (yes, I prefer watching movies with dolby headphone :)) and the sound stage just went bigger. Actually the whole sound feels more cinematic if I can say that. Better deeps, better highs and the directions of the sound feels more clearer for me.

    // Windows 10, ASUS Essence ST, UNi Xonar 1.81a r2, Audio-technica A900x

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    13 Aug 2017 @ 11:48   

      Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad to hear that the 5.1 movie sound experience has also improved.
      With SpeakerCompensation disabled, can you tell me up to which frequency you can hear by checking these tests?

      Reply

      • thomasrc    13 Aug 2017 @ 15:46   

        Ah, sorry I forgot the hearing test results. With Speaker Compensation disabled I hear up to 21 kHz and I’m twenties if my age is matters.

        Reply

      • phlegon    13 Aug 2017 @ 19:58   

        Also done the test. Im 31 and I can hear up to 21kHz as well. Using a Steelseries Arctis 3 headset.

        Reply

  14. Teddy_McFluff    12 Aug 2017 @ 06:58   

    Hey CarvedInside, I have a Asus STX and have the 1.81 r2 and I enabled the tweak, I saw a icon (same icon from your .exe) on my sidebar and it says disable script, clicked on it then it went away, I tried replicating it to appear by uninstall/install then apply the tweak on WIN 10 but can’t seem to have that icon appear and when I restore and restart then apply nothing, I even tried the restartcard.exe and my pc didn’t BSOD, I can hear my card click from off/on and the speaker icon does the same, so I’m not sure if I fubarred it or something. I did a clean uninstall/install then applied the tweak, rrestart but that icon still wont appear and that’s where I’m at…

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    13 Aug 2017 @ 11:38   

      Hi. What you have there is expected behavior. The programs apply the settings and exit. They do not show anything and the tray icon may or may not appear depending on how quick the program was executed.

      Reply

  15. Shishir    15 Aug 2017 @ 06:09   

    Hi, first of all thanks for your efforts!

    Xonar DSX on Windows 10 64-bit here. I ran the program, didn’t get any confirmation or tray icon with the disable exe or any pops from the soundcard with the restart card exe. Restarted Windows and it does appear the sound quality is better! (But maybe it just sounds like that because I was hoping it would be :-D)

    Anyway, since I didn’t get any confirmation or pops, is there a way to confirm the disable speaker compensation setting has happened – maybe check a registry key or something?

    Reply

    • CarvedInside    15 Aug 2017 @ 07:09   

      Hi. You can find the Xonar driver registry settings by following the guide here (FAQ Q&A 5.1). There look if there is a SpeakerCompensation entry. If it’s there then the disable SpeakerCompensation tweak is applied.
      You probably didn’t hear any pops when you used the “restart card.exe” because something was “using” the card and it could not be restarted.

      Reply

      • Shishir    15 Aug 2017 @ 07:13   

        Hi, thanks for the quick response. Yes, it shows “SpeakerCompensation” in that registry key and the value is 0, so the tweak was applied. 🙂

        Reply

      • Paul    15 Aug 2017 @ 19:32   

        Is it possible to apply this on a vanilla (ASUS) driver? I’m on STXII with 8.1.11.5 driver on W10 x64

        Reply

          • Paul    16 Aug 2017 @ 17:29   

            Thanks. I’ll try and update my thoughts

            Reply

          • Paul    16 Aug 2017 @ 22:16   

            Uhm, quite difficult to say, as I can’t make comparison “on the fly”… I don’t even know if it’s a placebo effect or not,, but seems that the soundstage is a bit wider, with instruments a bit more “localized” in the soundstage, and some details that “comes up” better.
            Thanks for the tweak, seems good!

            Reply

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