Sunday, May 07, 2006

Which Slimserver firmware sounds better?

With the release of Slimserver version 6.2, more chatter has emerged about which version of Slimserver, both software and firmware, sounds better. V. 6.2 fixed many things, including router compatibility, and it also changed the sound quality slightly.

The consensus is that version 15 of the firmware sounds the cleanest: extended bass and more air on the highs. To hear for yourself, one user (mgalusha) has created a killer tool for switching firmware in and out. Click here for more details. This link contains details on installation and a link to firmware v. 15 and others.

Read the thread all the way through to see installation notes. You will need to install, if you don't have it already, Microsoft .Net 1.1 in order to use the tool.

Why would the firmware have any impact on the sound quality? Slim Devices CEO Sean Adams says:

"After fw15 the volume curve was changed to provide more resolution on the low end. This used a wider multiplier and a bug was immediately reported in the calculation of the LSB. It was later fixed by using an 8-bit multiplier on the higher end, and several people who were hearing the bug before have confirmed the fix. You can't simply A/B with the old firmware because the levels are different. "

Adams also notes that running firmware 15 is definitely NOT recommended as we do not test old revs with current versions of slimserver.

One interesting point: V. 15 does NOT invert phase whereas more recent versions do invert phase. This only occurs when you use the analog outputs of the SB3; if you use digital outputs, phase should not be impacted.

For Macintosh users wanting to test the older firmware, if you have access to a PC, run mgalusha's software to update the SB3 using the PC, and set the options in Slimserver on your Mac to disable automatic firmware updates. Otherwise, v. 15 will be updated automatically everytime you connnect.

Post your comments as to what you think sounds better.