I tried switching between 16 bit 44.1Khz and 24 192Khz but not as high as 32 bit 384Khz even though that is an option in the list. I'll try that tonight. I tried switching between 16 and 24 bit integer and floating, and 32 bit an a 24 bit packet in jriver but none of this had any effect on the distortion/crackling. I havent tried linux (dont have a pc with linux running atm).
Also tried 2 different hdmi cables, 1 m and one 30 cm. No difference.
These settings won't have any effect on your setup unless you are outputting to your dac in direct mode as opposed to wasapi or asio. Shared mode allows all windows sounds to be played through you sound device, card , dac etc but you don't want this because all of your music would go through the windows mixer before reaching your dac. If you are using wasapi or asio or kernel streaming you are running in exclusive mode which gives just one program (J River) exclusive control over your dac while that program is running.
I wish I could help with the Hydra issues but you are already talking to the right guy about that.