Computer Audio Players

Discussion in 'Computer Audiophile: Software, Configs, Tools' started by JoshMorr, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    4,479
    Dislikes Received:
    90
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    thanks, I am looking for something very lightweight, jriver and roon already sound quite colored to my ears. my experience has been that simpler players with less features sound much better.

    so far this is the simplest player I have found for OS X, I will try it first https://cogx.org/
     
  2. Ksaurav402

    Ksaurav402 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 7, 2019
    Likes Received:
    943
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NY
    Audirvana is best for mac but in case you want something which is free and can play all files, you can try VOX. Used it long time back so can't say how intense it is on CPU but feels like a lighweight system from outside

    https://vox.rocks/mac-music-player
     
  3. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,555
    Dislikes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Northwest France
    I've been using foobar2000 lately. Works fine so far but don't know how many features are missing compared to Windows
     
  4. dietwater

    dietwater Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    57
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    India
    I have finally got around to trying PlayPCMWin, Smallplayer, Ulilith and JetAudio. There is a change to my system during this analysis. Earlier I used my apogee groove (Dac-AMP) + HD800 (nopads), or apogee groove (Dac 2v out) + Burson fun (sparkos ss3601 opamps) + SRH1540. PC remains same - surface book. This test was done using topping nx4dsd, and urbanite xl, both of which are brighter, noticeably less resolving than the formers, but I've tried my best to decouple this from the music player effects. I've personally experienced each link in the chain imparts a specific sonic footprint, regardless of changes in the other links (except when the links are tied together, like Output impedance correlations). I also did the USB selective suspend removal, and removed system sounds as per this guide from focusrite : https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207355205-Optimising-your-PC-for-Audio-on-Windows-10 . Buffer size on my dac was set at 32768 samples, the max permissible value, on all scenarios except Ulilith (reason below).

    1. JetAudio - Unfortunately it doesnt seem to support asio/wasapi. And sq was only Okay. I'm not even sure if it supported usb asynchronous audio. Enhancements were turned off. I'd be happy to give it another try if anyone can guide me to set this up in bit perfect Asynchronous audio.

    2. SmallPlayer - Sq in terms of texture was alright not much problem with unnatural shimmer or bad boomy or bootleggish bass, but noticeably mistimed. Pans, etc weren't so great. Not sure if it supports usb asynchronous, I doubt it considering how old it is and the sound, I seriously doubt it. I guess it would be a very nice pairing with internal cards on pcie or otherwise. I did try it on my Laptop speakers directly and it performed quite well there, but a bit quiet and extremely lacking in bass. (I guess showing the speakers with their actual properties instead of faking density using compression or other artefacts. It had noticeably more energy and speed than I'm used to with my laptop speakers). I'm gonna keep it for my laptop speaker playback.

    3. PlayPCMWin - Very nice. I like it a lot. One of the few players that compete well against musicbee in my setup. Had to fiddle a little with settings. Settled on Exclusive mode with Pro audio priority. 16bit downscaling I left to truncation instead of other options, but it's not a deal since my dac accepts more than 16bit data streams. In terms of sound reproduction, while it is noticeably different from musicbee, neither of them feel coloured or wrong. It's the presentation, and texture around instruments where the differences pop in. PlayPCMWin sounds a lot more efforless compared to Musicbee. Musicbee has a bit of an edge to the sound and as if the instrument had an accompanying low level noise band, in comparision to PlayPCMWin where the instruments sounded fairly natural without any additional band/texture around them. However I feel that there is a problem with that too, PlayPCMWin seems to shave off the edges to the sound of instruments a little. I find transient hits to be slightly more impactful and real despite the slight noise around them on musicbee, while PlayPCMWin seems to mute it just a tiny bit away from what could be perceived real. It is tiny, but it is noticeably and makes me wanting a little more attack. It also makes bass guitars and low level echoes harder to follow than Musicbee even though it is cleaner on that aspect. I can sum it up this way. Musicbee shows good detail and hints of what could be hidden extreme detail, but is a bit distracted sounding. PlayPCMWin shows good detail in better precision but doesn't try to extract the hidden extreme details like musicbee does. PlayPCMWin is the closest I have gotten from windows to my current reference WTFPLAY linux distro, in terms of texture, effortlessness and most importantly lack of color. Hysolid, another player for windows, is more detailed than PlayPCMWin and also is just as effortless while extracting a lot of shades of shimmer, but is more denser sounding than what could be perceived real (think PlayPCM win = HD800, Hyslolid = LCD2). It's a bit of toss between hysolid and PlayPCMWin, but hysolid is buggy, PlayPCMWin is not. WTFPlay is still my reference/champ, it has the texture, and effortlessness of PlayPCMWin but also far more detail, better realistic impact, and believable sound than all of PlayPCMWin, Hysolid and Musicbee.

    4. Ulilith - Seems to have issues with large buffer sizes, was stuttering heavily on 32768 samples on the buffer so I dropped down to 2048 samples. Works great in Wasapi. It is very different from PlayPCMWin and Musicbee. Both the star and pitfall of the show is the treble. Its sizzly, shimmery, but also aggressive. It is not distorted or fuzzy. It is very real, but very forward and in your face. Like you are standing next to a cymbal crash, with no muting off of any part of the sound. Oucch. My current setup being a bit treble fuzzy doesn't help it much either. I expect it to be a lot more enjoyable when I get back to my Srh1540 or HD800. It veers on the opposite end of PlayPCMWin if you keep Musicbee in the middle. Both Ulilith and PlayPCMWin sound cleaner than Ulilith, but both show deviations in either directions. While PlayPCMWin is mellow and laid back, Ulilith is forward and aggressive but without any of the general distorted feel which i get when eq'ing up the treble. I love the energy and shimmer of Ulilith, but I would have to be very careful of system pairing. One more point to note, I first tried buffer to Auto from 32768 which was unbearably aggressive during cymbal crashes. Setting it to 2048 made it more bearable, I think fixing it to a more optimal value would help me get it to good enjoyable levels while still maintaining that aggression.

    I would be experimenting further on both PlayPCMWin and Ulilith with my other gear and other settings, as of now, I like PlayPCMWin a lot for windows and Ulilith as a flavor player. Musicbee still remains my go-to choice due to it being the middle of the line, despite its minor issues, but all 3 are compromises in one way or other, when compared to something like WTFplay.

    I plan to move out to streamers where these player swaps would likely start to make lesser difference, I just made these posts to help people looking to extract the best of their existing system.

    Tldr:
    Wtfplay Linux - still the best, by a large margin
    Musicbee - a good compromise land in windows, nowhere near as detailed or clean as wtfplay, but still good enough for me.
    Play pcm win - closest to wtfplay in terms of texture and lack of colour/noise but also noticeably lower detail, slightly less than even musicbee. Ever so slightly muted in the attack.
    Ulilith - Clean and aggressive. Opposite of playpcm win. I love the flavour but pairing can be iffy if the rest of your chain is aggressive as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
    Jerry, Gazny and Ksaurav402 like this.
  5. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    4,479
    Dislikes Received:
    90
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    @dietwater interesting, thanks for sharing. I like PlayPCMWin too. in general, I find WASAPI output modes on most players to be uninspiring and homogenizing but not this one. maybe it has to do with the RAM loading.

    as you've already discovered, the best thing to do for computer audio is not use Windows 8)

    some other players you may like to try for fun if you haven't already: Tunebrowser, APlayer, SoundByte using quicktime engine
     
    dietwater likes this.
  6. dietwater

    dietwater Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    57
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    India
    Thanks I'll check them. I'm planning to code my own headless player in Linux for my Allo sparky, with certain features I'm interested to implement. The infrastructure seems to be well developed already. https://gist.github.com/ghedo/963382/815c98d1ba0eda1b486eb9d80d9a91a81d995283

    Would love to know if you got any guides for me in terms of further tweaks on it (rt kernels etc).
     
  7. dietwater

    dietwater Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    57
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    India
    Well I guess I was a little quick to conclude PlayPCMwin lacks impact, it was actually the secondary system, mainly the dac I used that was lacking, just that it was masked by the noise in musicbee and PlayPCMwin showed it as is. Went back to my primary systems and PlayPCMwin has all the grunt and kick, and the effortless details with all headphones, including the urbanite. Not quite as good as wtfplay but it's very good. I forgot that I never tried nx4 on wtfplay - it is actually a little muted sounding on a good source.

    Ulilith is just as expected. Forward treble hits. Just not as obnoxiously harsh as on the topping + urbanite xl but still quite forward, and cleanliness is retained. Can get fatiguing quite quickly. The threshold time counter just ticks a bit slower here.
     
  8. dietwater

    dietwater Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    57
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    India
    Update: also I can hear noise band whenever I have content around 8khz when using PlayPCMwin, I think this also affects the low end a little, especially if the hit comes in around the 8khz band together with the bass (guessing this must be USB frame noise 1/125us). This did not happen with Wtfplay with the same system and wtfplay was all round noticeably better, so this is unlikely to be a complete fault of the dac, and has happened with all DACs I own (though I do see that a better dac should have thought and fixed this). Wonder what is happening here! Is PlayPCMwin likely playing around with the usb output power profile too? In fact this particular issue wasn't distinctly audible even with other players despite them having a bevy of other noise. Is it something relating to how the spread of noise affects the analog section, like if it's a single noise band, it being more reactive/unstable than if it were a wide noise band? My supra usb cable also had a similar but far worse effect and caused a bootleggish sound signature. I'm assuming it's something related to a specific noise profile, might be similar or different to the above. I have tried everything right now using either stock groove cable or uptone uspcb. I'll try to pair up supra with PlayPCMwin and see if the effect compounds or nulls or modulates into something esle.

    Is there a known way to get this fixed? PlayPCMwin seems to come eerily close to fixing windows audio for me, this particular issue aside. I'm thinking of a simple regenerator or a 8khz notch filter in the ground plane of the data line. I think going external power would also help.
     

Share This Page