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What software to use for playback? (Windows/PC) - Page 2

post #16 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanwier View Post

Hey Dave - looks like the link you posted there is dead...   was hoping to read


Works just fine for me. You can always go to CA and read the whole article on the CAPS server. The one area where I would part ways with Chris is his choice of power supply. The 12V switching brick that is supplied with the motherboard he uses I can almost guarantee is a piece of crap - with atrocious levels of DC ripple and saggy voltage regulation. Not really ideal for an audiophile grade server. Something like a Hynes linear 12V supply would improve performance quite a bit.

post #17 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

JPlay I don't know about, I haven't tried it yet, but there are good reasons for using RAM for playback rather than streaming from the hdd, and JPlay also claims to shut off many of Window's unneeded services which is also beneficial for sound quality.


So, I just tried downloading the JPlay trial and tried A/B testing (not blind) a bunch of tracks against Foobar.  There's definitely a difference between JPlay and Foobar, and the difference, for me, wasn't very subtle.

 

Something about Foobar sounds a lot noiser.  JPlay has a much better sense of silence between notes, which makes it much easier to pick up on little details.  I just heard a few small things in tracks that I never noticed while listening to Foobar, and when I put the track on through Foobar, I had to rewind a few times because I missed some of the spots with newly noticed nuance.

 

That said, I don't like JPlay.  Something about it sounds very digital to me.  It has a sound characteristic that makes me feel like I'm listening to computer audio.

 

This part is kind of tough for me to put into words, because I'm expressing dislike for software that makes detail retrieval probably 30-40% easier to pick up on.  Normally it'd be a slam dunk for me to say JPlay > Foobar, but there's something about the character of JPlay, for every genre I threw at it, that makes it sound like I'm listening to something very digital.  I'm going to stick with Foobar because, while it might not reproduce sound as cleanly as JPlay, it has a characteristic to it that lets me listen to music uncritically.  There's some weird uncanny valley effect going on in my mind when I listen to JPlay.

 

Anyway, take that for what you will.  As many audiophiles will attest to, it seems most people who try JPlay out like it more than Foobar.


Edited by Elysian - 11/8/11 at 12:45am
post #18 of 69

Amazingly each piece of software has a different sound. I cringe when I read people use Winamp. Foobar is great. The only time I can degrade  Foobar's performance is if I play around with the EQ too much. I think Macs have a better sound in my set up which uses USB conections. I know USB is not the best as I read many are getting better sound using optical or digital to get the signal to the DA converter/amp. So maybe in some ways the connections to the DA may have more affect than the software. In the end I get better sound out of a 11 year old CD player. In many ways computer audio is a waist of time. 

post #19 of 69

I use both Foobar and MediaMonkey with windows 7. I like Foobar for the simplicity and ease of finding my music, but like the options that Mediamonkey gives you with regards to driver change etc. Also, it accepts more formats with music files. Plus if you are using usb only then the directsound driver in MM is very good.

post #20 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

Amazingly each piece of software has a different sound. I cringe when I read people use Winamp. Foobar is great. The only time I can degrade  Foobar's performance is if I play around with the EQ too much. I think Macs have a better sound in my set up which uses USB conections. I know USB is not the best as I read many are getting better sound using optical or digital to get the signal to the DA converter/amp. So maybe in some ways the connections to the DA may have more affect than the software. In the end I get better sound out of a 11 year old CD player. In many ways computer audio is a waist of time. 


Better sound and optical digital are an oxymoron. Optical is hopeless. It's the worst possible format you can use. I believe that for both PC and Mac, USB is as good as it currently gets, although the Weiss DAC202 does make a strong case for FireWire. Even the very best sound cards from Lynx and RME with custom AES output cables fall to the Audiophilleo, JK Hiface, Off-Ramp, and presumably the Alpha USB as well, at least when using something like the SoTM card. The only exception is the Merging Tech Mykerinos sound card, which I know very little about. It's only sold through very few select dealers.

 

I don't think computer audio is a waste at all. Its dominance is inevitable. DVD-A is effectively dead, and only a few audiophile labels are still producing SACDs. Music Blu-ray discs are little more than an oddity. Surround sound music was a failure. The future is FLAC, and I don't think that's a bad thing at all. Try Foobar, JRiver, XXHighend, cPlay, and JPlay, and if you're unhappy with all of those, there are an equal number of audiophile spec programs for Mac. Devices like the Sonore PC servers or the Mach2Music Mac Minis make it very easy for people without a computer background to give it a try.

 

The efforts by traditional companies like Bryston to make servers I don't think are that great yet, but they are still early generation products. Give them a few more years, and I think they will get very good at it. Companies are still trying to perfect the turn table after all, and the earliest roots of vinyl go back over 100 years. 

 

The CD simply cannot last much longer. Labels like MFSL and DCC were able to achieve amazing results with 700MB and 16/44 to work with, but even the very best belt driven CD transport is not THAT different than a computer. We just need to make better computers. Look at the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport. The line between CD player and computer with that is pretty blurry. Rather than spend buckets of cash on a VRDS drive that has to try to get the read right the first time in real time, the PWT uses a cheap DVD drive that just reads over and over until it gets it right. The actual playback is done from memory, just like a  computer.


Edited by DaveBSC - 11/8/11 at 3:43am
post #21 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

Wow. Even by the standards of "magical" playback software, the JPlay site has incredibly flimsy justifications for it's features. Apparently, my PC will "lose the rhythm" with lesser playback software.

 

It's a healthy combination of what appears to be veiled references to jitter, which are just plain wrong, and claiming that I need to avoid all hard drive activity and minimise latency, which makes equally little sense. 



I agree with your assessment. Also, I tried to download the trial version to indeed hear for myself. Now, although I'm not a computer geek, l have never had a problem downloading anything, until now. After several hours attempting to try out JPlay I just gave up. It makes me suspect of the player and the marketer's claims for it.

 

post #22 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


Er. No. iTunes on Windows is junk. Horribly coded, junk. Foobar is solid. If you want all of the media management features JRiver is fine, but it adds nothing sonically. The new kid that I haven't yet tried is JPlay. I believe it costs $99, but there is a free trial. JPlay does a lot of stuff that Foobar can't match, but I think it's better suited for dedicated Windows based music servers rather than regular use PCs, as in order to get the maximum performance out of it, you can't actually use the computer for anything other than playback.



Stating emphatically that iTunes is junk is a surprise to me. What could warrant a statement so bold and absolute? My experience with the concept has been quite satisfying. I can distinguish it from foobar with some material but from analysis it seems foobar is just louder. I think iTunes is more intuitive than other media players I've tried, and it sounds really good, like SACD.

 

post #23 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post



I agree with your assessment. Also, I tried to download the trial version to indeed hear for myself. Now, although I'm not a computer geek, l have never had a problem downloading anything, until now. After several hours attempting to try out JPlay I just gave up. It makes me suspect of the player and the marketer's claims for it.

 


Did you even read the directions? I just downloaded the trial, and its the easiest thing in the world to use. 1. Run as administrator. 2. Set it for WASAPI mode by pressing "a" on the keyboard. 3. Go to windows explorer, highlight what you want to play, and hit Ctrl C, or just right click and copy 4. Press space in JPlay. It loads the tracks into RAM, and starts playing. Even a non "geek" shouldn't have any problems with that. Now, loading a custom skin in Foobar that doesn't have an automatic setup routine, THAT takes an advanced computer science degree, and usually about an hour of googling and downloading obscure .dll files from Chinese websites.

 

post #24 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post



Stating emphatically that iTunes is junk is a surprise to me. What could warrant a statement so bold and absolute? My experience with the concept has been quite satisfying. I can distinguish it from foobar with some material but from analysis it seems foobar is just louder. I think iTunes is more intuitive than other media players I've tried, and it sounds really good, like SACD.

 


iTunes on Windows IS junk. It's awful, and it's not bit-perfect.

post #25 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

 

That said, I don't like JPlay.  Something about it sounds very digital to me.  It has a sound characteristic that makes me feel like I'm listening to computer audio.

 

This part is kind of tough for me to put into words, because I'm expressing dislike for software that makes detail retrieval probably 30-40% easier to pick up on.  Normally it'd be a slam dunk for me to say JPlay > Foobar, but there's something about the character of JPlay, for every genre I threw at it, that makes it sound like I'm listening to something very digital.  I'm going to stick with Foobar because, while it might not reproduce sound as cleanly as JPlay, it has a characteristic to it that lets me listen to music uncritically.  There's some weird uncanny valley effect going on in my mind when I listen to JPlay.

 

Anyway, take that for what you will.  As many audiophiles will attest to, it seems most people who try JPlay out like it more than Foobar.


Are you using the "River" engine, or the "Beach" engine? River is supposed to be more detailed, but that may be causing your digititus. Try Beach mode, see if you like that better. It's supposed to sound warmer, more analogue. 

 

post #26 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


Better sound and optical digital are an oxymoron. Optical is hopeless. It's the worst possible format you can use. I believe that for both PC and Mac, USB is as good as it currently gets, although the Weiss DAC202 does make a strong case for FireWire. Even the very best sound cards from Lynx and RME with custom AES output cables fall to the Audiophilleo, JK Hiface, Off-Ramp, and presumably the Alpha USB as well, at least when using something like the SoTM card. The only exception is the Merging Tech Mykerinos sound card, which I know very little about. It's only sold through very few select dealers.

 

I don't think computer audio is a waste at all. Its dominance is inevitable. DVD-A is effectively dead, and only a few audiophile labels are still producing SACDs. Music Blu-ray discs are little more than an oddity. Surround sound music was a failure. The future is FLAC, and I don't think that's a bad thing at all. Try Foobar, JRiver, XXHighend, cPlay, and JPlay, and if you're unhappy with all of those, there are an equal number of audiophile spec programs for Mac. Devices like the Sonore PC servers or the Mach2Music Mac Minis make it very easy for people without a computer background to give it a try.

 

The efforts by traditional companies like Bryston to make servers I don't think are that great yet, but they are still early generation products. Give them a few more years, and I think they will get very good at it. Companies are still trying to perfect the turn table after all, and the earliest roots of vinyl go back over 100 years. 

 

The CD simply cannot last much longer. Labels like MFSL and DCC were able to achieve amazing results with 700MB and 16/44 to work with, but even the very best belt driven CD transport is not THAT different than a computer. We just need to make better computers. Look at the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport. The line between CD player and computer with that is pretty blurry. Rather than spend buckets of cash on a VRDS drive that has to try to get the read right the first time in real time, the PWT uses a cheap DVD drive that just reads over and over until it gets it right. The actual playback is done from memory, just like a  computer.


Most of my digital audio devices have Toslink inputs and outputs. The heart of my system, a Sony TA-E9000ES control amp, has both coaxial and Toslink inputs. Since I need a USB to S/DIF converter to get computer audio to this device; and, since my converter, an X-FI HD, only has an optical output, I am limited to optical at this moment. However, I do not have any complaint with Toslink other than, it being a consumer digital connection, it must comply with SCMS. Of course, IEC 958 coaxial must comply to SCMS too, so I do not see one as being better than the other, although, for sure, the Toslink, does not have grounding issues which could effect playback as when using coaxial connections. At any rate, several of my devices, like my Sony PCM-7010F Digital Audio Recorder, have AES/EBU XLR, balanced analog, and IEC coaxial options, allowing me to experiment when connected to an M-Audio CO-2 optical to coaxial/coaxial to optical interface. The bottom line is Toslink sounds no different than professional AES/ABU XLR connections; and,  I have no problem with my USB to Toslink interface from computer to HT, although I do perceive a V- LINK async converter may be better. It has both coaxial and optical output. As I understand it, the folks at Musical Fidelity recommend the optical out for those with HT's that accept either optical or coaxial simply because grounding issues are eliminated.
 

 


Edited by sterling1 - 11/8/11 at 4:48am
post #27 of 69

I have been messing with computer audio from 1995 on. Mainly music production and recording. I have had soundcards and the whole deal. Fun stuff was when Reason came out. Rebirth was totally cool as it gave you vintage Roland drum machines for a song. Even with different soundcards I never really liked the sound. Don't get me wrong I really don't want to sound like a snob. I do use computers to load MP3s in a DAP all the time. But I guess I have gone though a personal back lash trying to get computer audio to sound better than a CD player and so far I never could. The dream of harddisk recording and higher sample rates were a very romantic dream, but I don't even know if I can hear higher resolution than 16 bit done right. I think some vinyl rips really sound good and giver us an alternative to CDs. I will buy another CD player when mine breaks. That is if they still make them.

post #28 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


iTunes on Windows IS junk. It's awful, and it's not bit-perfect.



Your argument is as baseless as it is defenseless. It does not persuade me.

 

post #29 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


Did you even read the directions? I just downloaded the trial, and its the easiest thing in the world to use. 1. Run as administrator. 2. Set it for WASAPI mode by pressing "a" on the keyboard. 3. Go to windows explorer, highlight what you want to play, and hit Ctrl C, or just right click and copy 4. Press space in JPlay. It loads the tracks into RAM, and starts playing. Even a non "geek" shouldn't have any problems with that. Now, loading a custom skin in Foobar that doesn't have an automatic setup routine, THAT takes an advanced computer science degree, and usually about an hour of googling and downloading obscure .dll files from Chinese websites.

 



Yes, I read the instructions. The  problem was  display of clipboard, which is a computer function I've never needed to access. I did not and still do not understand how to access it.

 

post #30 of 69
Quote:

Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post

 

The bottom line is Toslink sounds no different than professional AES/ABU XLR connections; and,  I have no problem with my USB to Toslink interface from computer to HT, although I do perceive a V- LINK async converter may be better. It has both coaxial and optical output. As I understand it, the folks at Musical Fidelity recommend the optical out for those with HT's that accept either optical or coaxial simply because grounding issues are eliminated.


That's wrong. Optical has all kinds of timing problems. The little red LED can't blink fast enough, which is why optical really struggles with 24/192. It just can't keep up. Even with lower res formats, the electrical-optical-electrical conversion adds a ton of jitter. If MF is recommending it over coaxial, that's disappointing, like when Esoteric said you should use Windows Media Player. Simple galvanic isolation should deal with any grounding problems with coax, and when implemented properly with 75 Ohm BNC jacks, coaxial pounds Toslink into the ground.

 

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