XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players

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wushuliu

XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« on: 15 Sep 2010, 09:39 pm »
Just thought I would share my experience w/ these two players. I am fairly new to using a PC as a music server and it's been a very interesting experience. I started with a Dell Dimension E510 w/3ghz P4, Vista, 4gb Ram. I use a Teralink X2 SPDIF converter to a DIY AD1865-based DAC. Now I have a custom PC w/ AMD X2 245, W7 64, 30GB SSD (for OS), 1TB (for everything else). In the search for the best playback quality for my wav, flac, and mp3 files I tried out quite a few players (and I know there are still more I've missed): J River, Foobar, Media Monkey, WMP, Reclock/Potplayer, Cplay/CMP, XXHighend, Ulilith.

Foobar, Media Monkey, and J River. Trying out both WASAPI and KS. All three sound more similar than not, but there were differences. Like a good cd player. Kind of bland, but not offensive. I preferred MM of the three. I then gave Cplay a shot, but got frustrated right away with playing my files which are comprised of mp3, flac, and .wav. I prefer a program that will just play what's selected without plug-ins and/or additional steps. I listened to some .flac files and found Cplay was somewhat cleaner than the first 3 but still a similar tonality. Apparently it's recommended you go all out with w/ DIYing your PC PS and other mods to get CMP/Cplay at it's best.

Potplayer and Reclock. Now it's really down the rabbit hole into tweak/geek land. Now I have to install TWO separate apps and a whole bunch of options for both. It was silly. Just a recipe for constant fiddling and not enough listening. Been there done that. I am about fiddled out w/ computers. So I kind of get the two apps to work but there's skipping and dropouts and of course no documentation and I would just spend days and days posting on forums blah blah blah.

Ulilith. Not a lot of documentation or feedback. I notice that the more options music software has the smaller the chances are that there's any documentation. At least the newer versions are in English as I understand the earlier were not. Ulilith was a nice step forward, however. I probably didn't maximize all the options, as there a bunch for playback but I fiddled around enough to get the picture: Clean bass, transparent. Not bland at all, but can be a little fatiguing depending on your setup. Slightly tipped towards upper mids. It was this slight fatigue quality that kept me going otherwise I would have stayed with it. Also it lacks some depth, but it has a very nice GUI and really clean, smooth low noise sound. I like it alot.

I came across mention of XXHE on Computer Audiophile, so gave it a try. It's still in beta basically and has only just been given a GUI apparently. It's useability falls between Ulilith and PotPlayer. There's pretty good documentation at the main forum site and folks there are very helpful. A really nice plus is if you hover your cursor over a button or function, nice and lengthy info will pop up. It's a different kind of interface with plenty of tweaky options. The designer, Peter, is somewhat circumspect when it comes to certain functions but is very responsive to questions. It has some very intriguing options for playback. Downside is the player is a little quirky, particularly when installing. Ideally it needs administrator rights, but I and some others can't seem to do that w/ the new version, so I just run it w/o it. Works fine, but I do get prompts when opening. There are other quirks. Not major, just the kind you associate with anything beta. Finally, it is avaliable as a Demo, but costs $100 to run fully. Yeah. If you've got money to burn go for it. I just use the Demo, which is fully functional except for a few features.

But here's the thing. It sounds really.frickin'. good. I mean, REALLY frickin' good. Not a little bit better than the rest. A LOT better. The rest no matter what all sound like digital playback to some degree. XXHE actually sounds like analog.Tangible. Depth, soundstage, imaging. All there. I switched back and forth and you can hear instantly. The music breathes. Whenever I get grumpy about some of the quirks (I just want something that works out of the box like everyone else), I try something else and then realize nope, doesn't cut it and head right back. Not to mention some of the playback options like the different Engines, buffers, and Paramaters are fun to try out and tailor the audio to your exact tastes.

It's just the best damn player I've heard by far. Once the kinks are ironed out I will gladly drop the $100 for it. Til then the Demo mode will do.

I know this isn't the most detailed review, but covering all the features for these players would be very lengthy.


my .02

w




viggen

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #1 on: 16 Sep 2010, 01:34 pm »
Thanks for the review.  I just want to point you to this thread on headfi that I found yesterday.  It does a similar comparison and found another player to be also better than ulilith.  I haven't had the chance to try.

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/340451/lilith-audio-player/150

Btw, I am assuming lilith and ulilith are different players?

wushuliu

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #2 on: 16 Sep 2010, 03:51 pm »
Thanks for the review.  I just want to point you to this thread on headfi that I found yesterday.  It does a similar comparison and found another player to be also better than ulilith.  I haven't had the chance to try.

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/340451/lilith-audio-player/150

Btw, I am assuming lilith and ulilith are different players?

No, they are the same. Ulilith replaced Lilith.

Tyson

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #3 on: 16 Sep 2010, 04:32 pm »
I have XXHighEnd (and most of the other players mentioned here), and it sounds very good, but not as good as the free StealthAudioPlayer (SAP).  SAP has no GUI and is a bit of a pain to use because of that, but for pure sound quality it's not really a contest, SAP is easily better.

wushuliu

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #4 on: 16 Sep 2010, 11:04 pm »
I have XXHighEnd (and most of the other players mentioned here), and it sounds very good, but not as good as the free StealthAudioPlayer (SAP).  SAP has no GUI and is a bit of a pain to use because of that, but for pure sound quality it's not really a contest, SAP is easily better.

I'll give it a shot.

mumbles

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Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #5 on: 17 Sep 2010, 05:53 pm »
HI there,
I reply appreciate your referal and your enthusiasm for XXHighennd
So far I am having difficulty with it. Are there some simple clear operating instuctions to be found. So far I can not find any.I have been to the blog but not seen any help.
Maybe I am not well versed enough on computers?
 I have installed XX but am confused how to activate it. Some times I can get it to start others not. One time I experimented and got a track playing and I think it is pretty impressive.
Any advice would be appreciated

wushuliu

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #6 on: 17 Sep 2010, 06:58 pm »
HI there,
I reply appreciate your referal and your enthusiasm for XXHighennd
So far I am having difficulty with it. Are there some simple clear operating instuctions to be found. So far I can not find any.I have been to the blog but not seen any help.
Maybe I am not well versed enough on computers?
 I have installed XX but am confused how to activate it. Some times I can get it to start others not. One time I experimented and got a track playing and I think it is pretty impressive.
Any advice would be appreciated

Hi mumbles, have you been to the main forum?

http://www.phasure.com/index.php?board=1.0

The installation guide will get you started

hoxuanduc

Error playing SAP
« Reply #7 on: 18 Sep 2010, 12:03 am »
Hi Tyson,

I tried to play a WAVE file with SAP but got an error message:



The following is the configuration file:



 Can you help?

Thanks,

Duc

hoxuanduc

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #8 on: 20 Sep 2010, 05:54 pm »
Just a quick follow up, I tried the software with other computers w external DACs instead of built-in speakers. They worked fine. Must be an O/S or hardware problem.   :-) Now I'm looking into MP3 support. Having a tough time locating "libmad.dll" on the net.

Sounds great with FLAC! Better than foobar for sure! I love the fact that there is no U/I!!! Is it better than XXHighend?  Not sure, but I really dig the non-U/I!!!  Just double click on the file from Windows Explorer.  Cool!

Thanks, Tyson, for pointing this player out.

Duc



Vincent Kars

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Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #9 on: 20 Sep 2010, 06:13 pm »
What your media player sends to WASAPI must match the capabilities of the audio device in terms of bit depth, sample rate and number of channels.
If the onboard sound card only supports 48 kHz, playing 44.1 will fail.
http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/SW/Windows/Win7/WASAPI.htm

viggen

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #10 on: 20 Sep 2010, 07:18 pm »
I first tried XXhighend about 2 years ago but couldn't get it to play nice with my laptop.  Probably because I only had 1gb ram at the time.  I've since upped it to 3gb and tried the newest XXhighend version, .9z2 I think, over the weekend.  This time, I could get it to play but couldn't get many things to work.  Without going into detail, the GUI is very frustrating. 

On a whim, I thought .9z2 didn't support XP.  So, I downloaded .9y6.  And, this player works very well.  I then paid for the license and gained access to the parameters settings.  I moved each parameter 1-5 to somewhere in the mid 20s.  Now, I am enjoying very warm and relaxed sound out of my laptop.  Good CDs now sound great.  Mediocre CDs now sound a bit better.  Seems like the better the original CD's recording/mastering is, the greater the improvement it has with XXhighend.

I read that Win 7 with .9z2 should yield even more sonic improvements.  I am in the process of learning how to dual boot my Thinkpad x60t with XP and Win7.  A bit of a pain at the moment since I am forced to use external dvdrom to create new partition and install Win7 since my laptop doesn't have an internal rom drive.  This is a hit or miss and more of a miss thus far.  Might be forced to purchase an Ultrabase which I am not sure would solve the problem yet.

I hope XXhighend would concentrate only on the audio engine aspect and let Foobar do the GUI . Currently/previously, I am/was using Foobar with USB-ASIO which is an improvement over ASIO4ALL.  I do like the Foobar GUI much much more than XXhighend's.  Foobar GUI with XXhighend engine would be best of both worlds.

I think I will continue to use Foobar when I am casually listening.

wushuliu

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #11 on: 20 Sep 2010, 08:38 pm »
I first tried XXhighend about 2 years ago but couldn't get it to play nice with my laptop.  Probably because I only had 1gb ram at the time.  I've since upped it to 3gb and tried the newest XXhighend version, .9z2 I think, over the weekend.  This time, I could get it to play but couldn't get many things to work.  Without going into detail, the GUI is very frustrating. 

On a whim, I thought .9z2 didn't support XP.  So, I downloaded .9y6.  And, this player works very well.  I then paid for the license and gained access to the parameters settings.  I moved each parameter 1-5 to somewhere in the mid 20s.  Now, I am enjoying very warm and relaxed sound out of my laptop.  Good CDs now sound great.  Mediocre CDs now sound a bit better.  Seems like the better the original CD's recording/mastering is, the greater the improvement it has with XXhighend.

I read that Win 7 with .9z2 should yield even more sonic improvements.  I am in the process of learning how to dual boot my Thinkpad x60t with XP and Win7.  A bit of a pain at the moment since I am forced to use external dvdrom to create new partition and install Win7 since my laptop doesn't have an internal rom drive.  This is a hit or miss and more of a miss thus far.  Might be forced to purchase an Ultrabase which I am not sure would solve the problem yet.

I hope XXhighend would concentrate only on the audio engine aspect and let Foobar do the GUI . Currently/previously, I am/was using Foobar with USB-ASIO which is an improvement over ASIO4ALL.  I do like the Foobar GUI much much more than XXhighend's.  Foobar GUI with XXhighend engine would be best of both worlds.

I think I will continue to use Foobar when I am casually listening.

Yes, the GUI can be quirky at first. It runs pretty smooth under W7 however w/ the exception of the admin rights issue. The audio quality improves substantially with the PC gear.

Also, dunno what other purposes your laptop may serve, but the fewer services that are running the better...

viggen

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #12 on: 20 Sep 2010, 08:54 pm »
I use my laptop for just about everything unfortunately.  I have half a mind to purchase a new Thinkpad with i3, SSD and Win7 just for this audio endeavor.  I don't think I will do this.. yet.

I did read somewhere that XXhighend relegates the audio processing portion on a different core away from all the other processes?

hoxuanduc

Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #13 on: 20 Sep 2010, 09:18 pm »
What your media player sends to WASAPI must match the capabilities of the audio device in terms of bit depth, sample rate and number of channels.
If the onboard sound card only supports 48 kHz, playing 44.1 will fail.
http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/SW/Windows/Win7/WASAPI.htm

Vincent,

Oh, that makes sense.  Thanks for your explanation.

Duc

Vincent Kars

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Re: XXHighend and Ulilith Software Music Players
« Reply #14 on: 20 Sep 2010, 10:16 pm »
Quote
WASAPI talk straight to the sound card so what you send to the sound card should match is capabilities.
It is as simple as that and like all really simple things, it takes some time to realizes the consequences.
Happens to me too.

I must admit I’m a bit puzzled by SAP.
The idea is no interface, no screen activity to improve sound quality
At the same time, playing anything else than WAV means converting the audio to WAV first. You might not have screen activity (but you do have a display on) but converting using SOX requires additional CPU.
No screen activity but more CPU improves the sound?