Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts

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wushuliu

I have spent the past few weeks messing around again with various audio software. It seems we are turning a corner in terms of how many options are now available but have not yet reached a balance between affordability, performance, and ease of use. Still I thought I'd share my recent and not so recent discoveries - please excuse me if I kind of jump all over the place.

Reclock
http://www.videohelp.com/tools/ReClock-Directshow-Filter

Reclock is a program I read about on head-fi, mostly trumpeted by user 'leeperry'. Since head-fi is not exactly the most audiophile forum, it made a little bit of a splash but not much. Too bad as he is right, it is an outstanding audio renderer. It is easy to configure for Wasapi Exclusive playback and the sound quality is top-notch. It can be used as a third party renderer with other programs including JRiver (don't quote me on that). I have used it with lesser known programs KMPlayer and PotPlayer and best of all

Media Player Classic Home Cinema
http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/

Yep, little old Media Player Classic has now been made into an audio/video powerhouse whilst retaining it's minimal interface and footprint. The playback quality when using ReClock as the audio renderer ranks second to Jplay, but kick in Fidelizer and I think it goes toe to toe with the exception of Jplay's Hibernation Mode. MPC just sounds more musical to my ears but Jplay does have a level of fidelity that keeps it slightly ahead. This is my go to player. Also, it's free. Jplay, not so much.

Fidelizer

The newest Fidelizer (2.1) is a must-have tweak before using any audio software. It has never failed to improve my listening experience to some degree or another regardless of program used.  Use it in conjunction with Reclock and MPCHC (Media Player Classic Home Cinema) or any audio program.


Jplay
http://jplay.eu/

I'd been reading about Jplay for a while and finally decided to give it a whirl. This little program is the real deal. It's like the anti-XXHighend; just choose from a couple of playback options and hit the space bar. No zillion of options and dials and buttons to tinker with. Heck, no GUI at all. It's real ace in the hole is the Hibernate Mode. Playback in hibernate mode is close to magical. The lack of volume control options (they do offer -6db increments as of the latest version) and mp3 playback not so much. Since my output is straight to amp, this makes jplay impractical. But for everyone else you HAVE to try it out. The lack of mp3 playback made me think of trying put something I haven't done for a long time -

Mp3/Flac to Wav conversion

I have a lot of my files in flac and mp3. In other threads I've mentioned preferring wav to flac, but given the jplay restriction mentioned above I thought I'd confirm another impression I had - I prefer  mp3s converted to wav. No, it's not a night and day difference. No, I don't believe the conversion adds anything that isn't there. What it does do is flesh out the depth and imaging of the file. I've had to do this conversion several times over the years even before I was bitten by the audiophile bug and the impression has always been the same. Wav just sounds better. So I downloaded db Poweramp and am now converting all my flac and mp3 to wav.

Windows 8
http://www.buildwindows.com/

On the Jplay forum co-creator Marcin mentioned improved audio quality when using Windows 8. Setup was simple and easier than any other windows. I installed W8 and after a few minutes getting used to the layout I began demoing some of the programs mentioned above. Aside from the fact that W8 is actually kind of cool, the sound quality is indeed terrific. Transparency and width improved and a delicacy to the playback I have never heard on W7.

Linux

Every now and again for kicks I like to try out different linux distros. This time I went looking to compare sound quality. Per usual, I end up being incredibly unimpressed with the GUI. There's something pre-schoolish about the look; pastel colors, large icons - like it's trying to convince how EASY it is to use. Of the ones I tried only Linux Mint had me listening to music from my USB DAC out the box. The sound quality ws actually very good but I could detect processing. A little research led me to a world of confusion and command lines. It seems audiophile sound quality is not easy to achieve. Too bad, because I think linux would the perfect tool to for audiophile music player (note I said player, not just server a la VoyageMPD which has only remote GUI).

XBMC
http://xbmc.org/skins/

Surprised not see more mention of XBMC here. It is hands-down my favorite music interface. It is so slick and polished and accessible you just want to show it off. The sound quality is also IMO very good. Yes it does downsample everything to 16/44 and it's not quite bit-perfect but with WASAPI it still sounds very good. It throws a huge soundstage and music is dynamic. I found it involving if not with the rarefied fidelity of Jplay. And it looks so cool! I may very well go back to it. It is also a GREAT for video playback.


There are so many variables that I don't expect others to necessarily have the same experience, but it's also good to experiment and I wanted to throw out some other easy to use options. At this point I consider programs like Foobar, MediaMonkey, J River, etc. to be bottom rung in terms of sound quality compared to the ones mentioned above.

Mike B.

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Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #1 on: 18 Nov 2011, 08:39 pm »
Thanks for the recommendations. I just downloaded Fidelizer. I really like it. It offers options on what it will do. I chose the Audiophile option. Which do you recommend?

wushuliu

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #2 on: 18 Nov 2011, 10:41 pm »
The highest option that does not compromise your needs. I like to keep internet going so I do the custom but check the network box...

mjock3

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #3 on: 19 Nov 2011, 03:53 am »
Thanks a bunch for sharing what you have heard Wushuliu!! I plan on checking some of these things out. I have jplay and do appreciate what it can do for the music. Some of the others I have never heard of.

So thanks again!

Mark

Noseyears

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Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #4 on: 21 Nov 2011, 11:41 pm »
Good stuff there, this should be a sticky. Are you planning to add more programs to that list? It would b awesome.  8)

mjock3

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #5 on: 22 Nov 2011, 12:19 am »
You know I had read about the Windows 8 on jplay's site as well but never went looking for it. The link you provided was all I needed to get going. And I have to say for the First time I am actually looking forward to a new Windows. The difference in sound is amazing. Thanks!

toddbagwell

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #6 on: 22 Nov 2011, 01:37 pm »
Stickied!  :thumb:

 

wushuliu

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #7 on: 24 Nov 2011, 05:43 pm »
You know I had read about the Windows 8 on jplay's site as well but never went looking for it. The link you provided was all I needed to get going. And I have to say for the First time I am actually looking forward to a new Windows. The difference in sound is amazing. Thanks!

Thanks Todd!

@noseyears. I will update if I come across any players/tweaks worth mentioning (IMO).

@ mjock3   Yes I hope more folks try it out. I did some comparisons with SSD, regular SATA hard drive and W7 and 8. Windows 8 and SSD = new benchmark in windows audio playback quality. Now I am contemplating buying SSD for my music files ($$$!).

Another plus is that W8 install is fairly quick and the boot time is only a few seconds.

Fun! :D

lag0a

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #8 on: 27 Nov 2011, 07:50 am »
An Sata spinning hard drive is annoying with the spinning noise but still the best bang for the buck per GB. SSD doesn't spin or make any noise which is a big plus but they differ too much in their controller and quality. I'm still skeptical about the lifespan of SSDs. Windows accesses the hard drive far greater than Linux so a SSD with fast access times and speed should help Windows tremendously.

I think even using Linux my sata hard drive sounds like it is spinning at a lesser speed and doesn't seem as loud compared to windows. Not sure if it is idling more in Linux.

slingshot

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Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #9 on: 28 Nov 2011, 05:17 pm »
I have spent hours trying to get JPlay to work. Posted in their forum and received answers but it still won't play. It does load the tracks. Not very user friendly in my opinion, like the old DOS programs of 20 years ago. One issue is that I have to run it as an adminstrator even though I am the adminstrator. Don't know why. I'm not a computer expert that's for sure. Maybe someone has some suggestions. Will try the Classic program.  :cry:

lag0a

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #10 on: 28 Nov 2011, 09:30 pm »
I use Windows 7 x64. I tried the jplay trial version and it worked for me. When you first try it you are asked to reboot. After the reboot I right clicked a flac file to copy so jplay recognizes it and played it. I don't know how it didn't work for your system.

The combination that I've come up with that I currently like hearing in Windows 7 x64 is MPC-HC, Reclock, and madFlac.
« Last Edit: 30 Nov 2011, 08:43 am by lag0a »

DougSmith

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Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #11 on: 1 Dec 2011, 01:12 pm »
I noticed an improvement using Reclock with Google Chrome for MOG streaming, which is my main music source these days.  I use MPC-HC with MadVR for mkv playback (bluray rips), but haven't tried it yet for music files.  Have you tried Reclock with MPC-HC in that context?  Does Fidelizer really make that much of a difference?

lag0a

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #12 on: 1 Dec 2011, 08:43 pm »
MPC-HC works well with Reclock but needs tweaking with the settings for bit exact playback. I tried MPC-HC with lav audio decoder but madFlac is better but only works with flac I think as the name implies. When I first tried Fidelizer I could hear a difference for the better and stuck with it ever since.

whell

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #13 on: 1 Dec 2011, 09:01 pm »
Actually, Linux is fairly easy to set up for bit-perfect playback.  Since there is less info out there about music programs for Linux (compared to Foobar or J River for example), it might take a bit of poking around to get the set up parameters correct.  Just like Windows takes a bit of message to get bit perfect (WASAPI / ASIO set up, picking the right player, tweaking Windows features to free up processing power / memory usage), installing the right player and making a tweak or two (actually fewer tweaks than necessary in Windows 7) gets you bit-perfect audio in Linux pretty quickly.  I'm using Ubuntu, and from inserting the install disk to bit-perfect output was about 45 minutes.

EDIT: by the way, if you heard "processing" with Linux Mint, you were likely running the signal through Pulse Audio.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, unless you're trying for bit-perfect playback.  You can configure players like Quadlibet and Deadbeef to bypass Pulse Audio, go directly to the ALSA sound system, and use ALSA for bit-perfect playback to your external DAC or internal sound card. 

hoxuanduc

Shut down win 8
« Reply #14 on: 2 Dec 2011, 07:02 am »
To shut down win 8, you have to hover the mouse over the start button until a sub menu appears, click setting, then click the power button at the bottom of the sub screen to the right, then click shut down!!! How the hell does burying the shut down button two level deep in the setting menu pass usability testing at MicroSucks???

Unbelievable!!!

Duc

wushuliu

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #15 on: 2 Dec 2011, 07:43 am »
Actually, Linux is fairly easy to set up for bit-perfect playback.  Since there is less info out there about music programs for Linux (compared to Foobar or J River for example), it might take a bit of poking around to get the set up parameters correct.  Just like Windows takes a bit of message to get bit perfect (WASAPI / ASIO set up, picking the right player, tweaking Windows features to free up processing power / memory usage), installing the right player and making a tweak or two (actually fewer tweaks than necessary in Windows 7) gets you bit-perfect audio in Linux pretty quickly.  I'm using Ubuntu, and from inserting the install disk to bit-perfect output was about 45 minutes.

EDIT: by the way, if you heard "processing" with Linux Mint, you were likely running the signal through Pulse Audio.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, unless you're trying for bit-perfect playback.  You can configure players like Quadlibet and Deadbeef to bypass Pulse Audio, go directly to the ALSA sound system, and use ALSA for bit-perfect playback to your external DAC or internal sound card.

Again, all easier said than done where Linux is concerned. If someone wants to detail a step by step ( and I mean step by step not just do this and then just do that), I'd be more than willing to give it a go.

Yes it was Pulse Audio. My 24/96 USB DAC was not detected otherwise...

wushuliu

Re: Shut down win 8
« Reply #16 on: 2 Dec 2011, 07:45 am »
To shut down win 8, you have to hover the mouse over the start button until a sub menu appears, click setting, then click the power button at the bottom of the sub screen to the right, then click shut down!!! How the hell does burying the shut down button two level deep in the setting menu pass usability testing at MicroSucks???

Unbelievable!!!

Duc

... or you can Alt-F4  :wink:

Small price to pay for the sound quality.

wushuliu

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #17 on: 2 Dec 2011, 07:49 am »
I have spent hours trying to get JPlay to work. Posted in their forum and received answers but it still won't play. It does load the tracks. Not very user friendly in my opinion, like the old DOS programs of 20 years ago. One issue is that I have to run it as an adminstrator even though I am the adminstrator. Don't know why. I'm not a computer expert that's for sure. Maybe someone has some suggestions. Will try the Classic program.  :cry:

Yes, it is very purist. However you can apparently use other software to load into it like J River, etc if you need an interface. Hope you get it figured out.

hoxuanduc

Re: Shut down win 8
« Reply #18 on: 2 Dec 2011, 08:19 am »
... or you can Alt-F4  :wink:

Small price to pay for the sound quality.

I vented because the whole family uses the HTPC for movies, music, games, etc. Even the 4 year-old uses it for cartoons and pbskids.org, so the new UI is a no no for us. A bit of googling shows how to disable the new UI by regedit, so I get my start menu back!

Thanks, Wushuliu!

Aleg

Re: Windows 8, Jplay, Fidelizer, Reclock and other thoughts
« Reply #19 on: 2 Dec 2011, 09:44 am »
Yes, it is very purist. However you can apparently use other software to load into it like J River, etc if you need an interface. Hope you get it figured out.

If all remained the same as in the preview I received than from this weekend you will have a new version with an integration of JPlay with Foobar or iTunes.