I thought some of you might find this interesting. There's probably someone here that knows more about this stuff than I do and I thought this might be fun to talk about.
Ubuntu supports bit perfect playback. That means that the audio is decoded by your DA converter in it's unaltered state. So if you play a 96khz 24bit file, it makes it all the way to your hardware that way instead of going to a software mixer and being downsampled to 44.1 16 bit. I've found that when I play files back this way even mp3s, .wav and .FLAC that are already 44.1 16 sound better. The caveat is that only the player can access your audio hardware during playback. The Clementine player switches pretty seamlessly though. As long as I press stop I can switch to playback in my browser immediately. The other direction can take a few seconds, you might have to close that youtube tab before starting your music back or you will get an error message saying that your hardware isn't available.
This may only benefit those who have high end audio hardware that can reproduce the sound difference and or handle high bitrates and depths. With my hardware I've found it's beneficial even with Mp3 files.
This is the way that's so easy that I could do it:
Step one: Acquire Clementine
Clementine Music Player
Step 2: Unplug and or deactivate all audio hardware that isn't the device you intend to use or learn the hardware's designation. The designation can change though apparently. That's why I just unplug my recording interface, which doesn't work when I boot into Ubuntu anyway and also causes interference and my motherboard's sound card is deactivated in the BIOS. That keeps my USB DAC at "hw:0,1".
Here's how to see what you're doing:
linux - What do ALSA devices like "hw:0,0" mean? How do I figure out which to use? - Super User
Step 3: Configure Clementine
2. Select Audiosink(ALSA) in the dropdown menu in the GSTREAMER section
3. Enter your output device. Mine is "hw:1,0"
Here's some visual confirmation on my setup:
Any player that isn't configured for bit perfect playback downsamples and uses the mixer and some shitty sounding bullshit that I won't get into, here's the default player during playback of a 96khz 24 bit file:
The handy lights on my DAC tell me that it's only getting 44.1:
Now playing the same file in the configured Clementine:
The DAC says it's all cool now at the original 96khz sample rate:
This isn't all about high sample rates, everything sounds better to me including 44.1 .FLAC and .mp3 files when played back this way. Audible results will certainly vary depending on hardware, but I wouldn't be surprised if you can hear the difference on stuff like a regular soundcard, because it isn't that subtle in my opinion.