Audiophile Software Roundup: The Case For And A Comparison Of HiFi Software

Discussion in 'Home Theater PC (HTPC) & Media Servers' started by admin, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    As the audiophile marketplace pushes towards digital, at the frustration of people with $60,000 record players, we thought it was time to help people figure out how to manage their digital music libraries.

    This article looks at why you would want to use special playback software and compares some of the most popular pieces of software on the market.

    Are you using any special software? Why or why not?


    [​IMG]

    Read the Hi-Res Music Playback Software Comparison article.
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  2. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    Wow, I am truly shocked we let snake oil pusher publish this nonsense on the AH site....
    For Audio- Foobar2000 (win only). SongBird for Pc & Mac

    For Video - VLC (Win,Mac, Linux)
    other great multi-platformer - mplayer

    All free and "HiFi"

    and finally as much as I hate Apple, itunes makes music purchases easy and convince and offers music management and integration easy... (I just hate how slow iTunes on pc is)
    and it DOES support Lossless files, ALACs which can be losslessly converted from/to flac
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013
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  3. FirstReflection AV Rant Co-Host

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    Wow. So...pay for all this software, or...ya know...output the digital signal from your computer and let your AV Receiver/Processor/DAC handle the actual audio quality.

    What's next? Should I rub a green permanent marker on my CDs to make them sound better?

    Yeesh. It's 2013. Do we honestly still not understand what digital means?
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  4. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    FR, you missed the point - all these software recommended is for AUDIOPHILES, not audioholics :)
  5. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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    +1

    +1

    I agree completely. No real info on free or open source alternatives, mighty suspicious :rolleyes:
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  6. jotham Audioholic

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    I have to be honest, I didn't understand the article or the what it was trying to achieve. I don't do audiophile computer-based music so that might be why I don't get the issues.

    I think computer audio breaks down into a number of categories of which only one is being addressed in this article.

    1. Audio file format - let's agree that some sort of lossless format such as ALAC, FLAC, etc is a nice to have. I probably can't hear the difference between high-end MP3 and FLAC but I still use FLAC at home.

    2. Getting the audio out of the computer - use a digital audio output such as toslink to a DAC or receiver and given non-crap hardware, it should be audibly perfect. I'm sure there is some sort of measurable jitter but computers operate in a time-scale that most people just can't really grasp.

    3. Playing audio from the computer - I think this analog step is what the article was touching on. I could see different drivers, hardware interfaces, I/O cards, etc making an audible difference. It does seem to me that a computer is one of the riskiest places to handle analog audio because of the numerous other things going on and rampant EMI challenges. My solution, don't do it, stay in the digital domain and leave the analog portion to dedicated audio devices.

    Nevertheless, I certainly look forward to other folks comments so that I can understand this.
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  7. ratso Full Audioholic

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    not to harp, but again people... how does one all digital source possibly sound better than the other? where is the proof here, and if there is none, why is this article here?
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  8. mikebabcock Audiophyte

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    You probably didn't get it because the article doesn't make sense. The rant about square waves is out of left field and shows a total lack of understanding of digital audio.

    I can't believe this even got published here.
  9. mikebabcock Audiophyte

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    I expected the article to be three lines long: Use lossless compression, use an audio manager that makes it easy to find your music, and use a good streaming system or output device.

    For example, all my old-school CDs are ripped to FLAC and I keep track of them with Amarok (open source, primarily for Linux) which also does lyric look-ups and lets me rank the tracks and so on. If I want them on an MP3 player or something like that, I can grab a list of tracks and export them in whatever format I want and it reprocesses them to that format (probably lossy) but my original tracks are in their 'best possible' format.

    YMMV of course, but there's nothing better in digital audio than lossless originals.
  10. ratso Full Audioholic

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    exactly. i use jriver because i like the interface, ease of use and how it looks. it DOES NOT sound any "better" than any other lossless software. this should have been an article comparing ease of use, features, etc. not sound quality. again audioholics, this is getting disturbing. people come here for straight shooting and quality info and this is not providing it to anyone.
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  11. slipperybidness Audioholic Ninja

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  12. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    Tough crowd. I think this article has good merit to compare the various types of software offered. Kinda new ground for us since we rarely broach this topic.

    The sound quality ratings are purely subjective based on user experience so if you don't agree with it that's fine too.

    The square wave stuff is a bit of a stretch I agree. I am personally in Camp #2 that the author describes. I also spoke with several experts in the field, most notably our friends at Oppo whom are also in camp #2. I gave the author some latitude to express his viewpoint since all 3 are presented.
    gene,
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  13. its phillip Audioholic Ninja

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    foobar supports everything, and it's free. It's very customizable if you want to go that route and make it prettier or have lyrics or album art or other information.

    Set the output device to WASAPI so windows will pass the bitstream completely unaltered/untouched by the windows mixer straight into your dac/receiver/sound card/speakers/whatever.
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  14. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    I decided to give a benefit of the doubt and re-read this nonsense more carefully.

    The simple truth is this: There are no 3 camps. Camp 1 and 2 are same thing (the buffering and jitter are real and COULD occur in some cases)

    Camp 3 however is more relevant to operation of internal processing of dac. All the "issues" he mentioned are real, but completely limited to dacs and dacs alone.
    No where else in the whole pc. It's limited to ether internal function of external dac (or receiver, pre-pro etc) or of pc sound card (ether onboard or add-on pci card).

    Now modern PCIe bandwidth performance speeds far surpass the need for even highest quality audio stream, which by the way is ones and zeros until it reaches dac. Chances or buffer under-runs and as result jitter are extremely low on any modern pc. Before that stage Sound WAVE simply does not exist.

    So, I again, I and many others, fail to see how any software could affect sound in any way, granted it works correctly - aka converting audio file (compressed or not) into PCM stream which is sent to dac or in case of digital out audio - it could be bit streamed AS IS to audio processor/receiver

    Unless proven otherwise - this Article talking about difference in quality between different players has no merit and no place on No nonsense AH site.
  15. tmurnin Audioholic

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    This is one of the most disappointing articles I've read since joining AH. I'll readily admit to not being the audio science expert that many here are, but I didn't get the point of this article in any way whatsoever. It purports to be a "review" of software, but it doesn't say anything remotely negative about any of these products and then it makes a bunch of snake oil claims about software making music sound better. People come to this site to learn, and I'm really disappointed that Audioholics published this, and featured it so prominently. Starting to look like Dr. Oz having psychics on his show - any opinion is valid so long as you're willing to defend it.
  16. chaluga Junior Audioholic

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    I agree with gene , relax. Ah is not the journal of medicine ... people are not dying cuz of one dudes opinion . You didn't pay for the article
    If its good enough for gene its good enough for me. I am learning more by reading technical stuff but every once in awhile its nice just to a subjective opinion . If this happened daily that would be different .
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  17. corey Senior Audioholic

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    It's a good topic to bring up, but I think you need to start with some double blind testing of 320kbps MP3s, WAV, and 24/192.
  18. fmw Audioholic Samurai

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    I've done them. I haven't uncovered any audible differences. I use 256 MP3 personally. I can't hear any difference there either and it saves hard drive space. I went through the whole rigamarole before I started ripping my CD collection. It was a worthwhile effort. I should mention that 24 bit is really for recording engineers. It gives them some digital headroom for mixing and mastering. There is no reason to listen to more than 16 bits.
    fmw,
  19. its phillip Audioholic Ninja

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    LAME (the best mp3 encoder) has had good variable bitrate presets for ages. Much better than using CBR :) According to some threads on hydrogenaudio, v2 (a lame compression preset) and above (v1 or v0) should be audibly transparent. I'll usually convert my flacs to v2 for the car.
  20. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    I think we are getting off-topic here. The article was not about which audio codec or compression is better, but Audio quality of different players - which make no sense to me
    (btw: Lame (the mp3 compression tool) is great :) )

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