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JRiver vs JPLAY Test Results

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mitchco

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Recommended reading first The reason is that I am not going to reiterate the baseline components and measurements of my test gear already covered in that post.

 

Here is a high level block diagram of my test setup:

 

JRivervsJPLAYtestsetup.jpg

 

On the left side is my HTPC with both JRiver MC 17 and JPLAY mini installed. The test FLAC file is the same Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Refugee at 24/96 that I have been using for my FLAC vs WAV tests.

 

JRiver is set up for bit perfect playback with no DSP, resampling, or anything else in the chain, as per my previous tests:

 

JRiversettings.jpg

 

JPLAY mini is set up in Hibernate mode and the following parameters:

 

JPlayhibernate.jpg

 

On the right hand side of the diagram, I am using Audio DiffMaker Audio DiffMaker for recording the analog waveforms off my Lynx L22 analog outputs of my playback HTPC. All sample rates for the tests are at 24/96.

 

Here is the differencing process used by Audio DiffMaker:

 

AudioDiffMakerProcess.jpg

 

Audio DiffMaker comes with an excellent help file that is worth the time reading in order to get repeatable results. One tip is to ensure both recordings are within a second of each other.

 

As an aside, this software can be used to objectively evaluate anything in your audio playback that you have changed. Whether that be a SSD, power supply, DAC, interconnects, and of course music players.

 

My assertion is that if you are audibly hearing a difference when you change something in your audio system (ABX testing), the audio waveform must have changed, and if it has changed, it can be objectively measured. I find there is a direct correlation between what I hear and what I measure and vice versa. I want a balanced view between subjective and objective test results.

 

First, I used JRiver as the reference and I recorded about 40 seconds of TP’s Refugee onto my laptop using DiffMaker. Then I used JPLAY mini, in hibernate mode, and recorded 40 seconds again onto the laptop. I did this without touching anything on either the playback machine or the recording laptop aside from launching each music player separately.

 

Just to be clear what is going on, the music players are loading the FLAC file from my hard drive and performing a Digital to Analog conversion and then though the analog line output stage. I am going from balanced outs from the Lynx L22 to unbalanced ins on my Dell, through the ADC, being recorded by Audio DiffMaker.

 

Clicking on Extract in Audio DiffMaker to get the Difference produces this result:

 

JRivervsJPlayminihib.jpg

 

As you can see, it is similar to when I compared FLAC vs WAV. What the result is saying is that the Difference signal between the two music players is at -90 dB. I repeated this process several times and obtained the same results.

 

You can listen to the Difference file yourself as it is attached to this post. PLEASE BE CAREFUL as you will need to turn up the volume (likely to max) to hear anything. I suggest first playing at a low level to ensure there are no loud artifacts while playing back and then increasing the volume.

 

As you can hear from yourself, a faint track of the music, that nulls itself out completely halfway through the track and slowly drifts back into being barely audible at the end.

 

According to the DiffMaker documentation, this is called sample rate drift and there is a checkbox in the settings to compensate for this drift.

 

“Any test in which the signal rate (such as clock speed for a digital source, or tape speed or turntable speed for an analog source) is not constant can result in a large and audible residual level in the Difference track. This is usually heard as a weak version of the Reference track that is present over only a portion of the Difference track, normally dropping into silence midway through the track, then becoming perceptible again toward the end. When severe, it can sound like a "flanging" effect in the high frequencies over the length of the track. For this reason, it is best to allow DiffMaker to compensate for sample rate drift. The default setting is to allow this compensation, with an accuracy level of "4".”

 

Of course this makes sense as I used a different computer to record on versus the playback computer and I did not have the two sample rate clocks locked together. The DiffMaker software recommends this approach, but I have no way of synching the sample rate clock on the Dell with my Lynx card.

 

Given that the Difference signal is -90 dB from the reference and that the noise level of my Dell sound card is -86 dB, we are at the limits of my test gear. A -90 dB signal is inaudible compared to the reference signal level.

 

I am not going to reiterate my subjective listening test approach as I covered it off in my FLAC vs WAV post.

 

In conclusion, using my ears and measurement software, on my system, I cannot hear or (significantly) measure any difference between JRiver and JPLAY mini (in hibernate mode).

 

April 2, 2013 Updated testing of JRiver vs JPLAY, including JPLAY ASIO drivers for JRiver and Foobar plus comparing Beach and River JPLAY engines. Results = bit-perfect.

 

June 13, 2013 Archimago's Musings: MEASUREMENTS: Part II: Bit-Perfect Audiophile Music Players - JPLAY (Windows). "Bottom line: With a reasonably standard set-up as described, using a current-generation (2013) asynchronous USB DAC, there appears to be no benefit with the use of JPLAY over any of the standard bit-perfect Windows players tested previously in terms of measured sonic output. Nor could I say that subjectively I heard a difference through the headphones." Good job Archimago!

 

Interested in what is audible relative to bit-perfect? Try Fun With Digital Audio - Bit Perfect Audibility Testing. For jitter, try Cranesong's jitter test.

 

Happy listening!<p><a href="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc11cee0_jrivervsjplayanalogdifference_zip.abc5ef36e963925ad0e4deb087100dfd" class="ipsAttachLink ipsAttachLink_image"><img data-fileid="28076" src="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc11cee0_jrivervsjplayanalogdifference_zip.abc5ef36e963925ad0e4deb087100dfd" class="ipsImage ipsImage_thumbnailed" alt=""></a></p><p><a href="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc122aa6_jrivervsjplaydigitaldifference_zip.20206be38ed0e9589a31ef13f8b678e6" class="ipsAttachLink ipsAttachLink_image"><img data-fileid="28077" src="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc122aa6_jrivervsjplaydigitaldifference_zip.20206be38ed0e9589a31ef13f8b678e6" class="ipsImage ipsImage_thumbnailed" alt=""></a></p><p><a href="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc94d683_jrivervsjplayanalogdifference_zip.a113b760512958701d5cb35ef7e6ddac" class="ipsAttachLink ipsAttachLink_image"><img data-fileid="28326" src="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc94d683_jrivervsjplayanalogdifference_zip.a113b760512958701d5cb35ef7e6ddac" class="ipsImage ipsImage_thumbnailed" alt=""></a></p><p><a href="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc9523e8_jrivervsjplaydigitaldifference_zip.2e148f06b06fbf3b249a96e630e6facb" class="ipsAttachLink ipsAttachLink_image"><img data-fileid="28327" src="<fileStore.core_Attachment>/monthly_2012_05/58cd9bc9523e8_jrivervsjplaydigitaldifference_zip.2e148f06b06fbf3b249a96e630e6facb" class="ipsImage ipsImage_thumbnailed" alt=""></a></p>

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Absolutely tremendous report, Mitchco.

 

 

 

I for one had never been able to hear a difference between WAV and FLAC and between JRMC and JPlay.

 

 

 

Yet, I had read so many posts stating that others could detect noticeable differences.

 

 

 

Thanks for bringing some badly needed objectivity into a hobby where emotions seem, at least some of the time, to so heavily influence listening results.

 

 

 

Joel

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Have to agree - great work! Why speculate, when actual facts are reasonably easy to find out? OK, the truth is maybe less entertaining than the wild claims of the voodoo fringe of esoteric audiophilia, but sometimes we just have to deal with plain, boring reality.

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An interesting test might be to test Jplay vs. Jplay. Jplay in its most convenient mode and Jplay in hibernate mode. If there's no difference there, that might explain why there's no difference between it and JRiver, or it might mean that hibernate does nothing for SQ, or it might mean that your pc isn't "dirty enough" to need "cleaning" by Jplay's hibernate mode.

 

 

 

Similarly, it might be worthwhile to run your test on several rather different pcs. The reason would be to determine whether you just happened to run an ideal pc for JRiver, or if a pc's electrical noise factor and wireless keyboard/mouse/network and whatever else is said to cause SQ problems, can be overcome by Jplay's hibernate mode, but not by JRiver.

 

 

 

-Chris

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LOL. no pretending. some just do hear it. trust your ears.

 

 

 

PS. I didn't pay for JPLAY I paid for JRiver because of the functionality.

 

So in reality, i should be favouring JRiver because i need to justify paying for it?

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Mark, I don't think it's that simple.

 

 

 

I happen to be somewhat aware of the beginnings of Jplay and a bit of its development. Initially it was just a very simple free player (if you could call it a player) a basic command line argument or two, that played a file, or a few. The person who developed it, as far as I could tell had no thought of making it into a saleable thing. He was just after getting the best sound possible from a computer. He and others thought they had something that sounded significantly better than standard programs like JRiver, Foobar etc.

 

 

 

So, my point. The developer and the people who tested and demoed his little player gadget just thought it sounded particularly good, no money involved. How it became a commercial endeavor, that's another story. But a number of people loved it before they were driven to love it (voodoo set in) because they paid a lot for it, or had anything including pride invested in it.

 

 

 

I'm not making an argument for its SQ; I did try it at the time, but wasn't in a position to make a definite judgement, I'm just saying. Your comment is just a bit too easy.

 

 

 

-Chris

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Proves there is no difference. It really does. I told him that his original Flac/WAV results would not convince the believers in voodoo. This won't either.

 

 

 

I do believe in some things. Different analog interface cables do change the sound. So do speaker cables. Whether changing a cable makes the sound 'better' is a separate issue.

 

People are of course free to believe whatever they wish to believe.

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Too bad that nobody comes with the idea that the test is flawed. I really am floored of what I read for responses. Started with the WAV-FLAC thing.

 

 

 

Praise here praise there (which Mitch really deserves btw).

 

 

 

I can't imagine that you guys don't see it.

 

But ok. Who am I.

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I just can't imagine that I (or we) should even be starting to talk about this. Btw, I rather let it be like this. It may let feel you all more comfortable. But then of course I too don't sell my software anymore. Haha.

 

 

 

FYI: I developed analysis software for this myself, so let's say I know what I'm talking about. If you cough, I see the difference. Ok ?

 

 

 

What happens here is maybe best explained by an example :

 

 

 

We are going to test two CD transports. DAC behind it is the same, amps behind them is the same - all is. There's a preamp connected in between the DACs (of same brand) and the amps and the inputs can be switched on the fly.

 

100 people listen to it - blind or not.

 

The transports are both of well reputation, and all a stransport does is reading the data from the CD and passes it on to the DAC over SPDIF. It is believed that they CAN NOT sound different, because all they do is reading the bits from the CD. There's error checking in both transports, and both don't show errors. Let's say that even AccurateRip is inside of them.

 

 

 

The test leader is controlling the switch, and it is clearly visible when he switches between the two transports. It is no secret that he does and when he does it.

 

The audience is to tell whether they perceive a difference between the two transports, which clearly can not be. Bits is bits you know ...

 

 

 

Without exception all of the 100 attenders do hear a clear difference. It is not about whether the one is sounding better over the other - just that there might be a difference. The suggestion of the unknowledged is that bits do matter, no matter they are the same.

 

 

 

After the event the test leader is puzzled. Anyway, he makes his report and he also unveils a big secret : one thing was different ...

 

 

 

He wasn't able to find two pair of interlinks from the DACs to the pre of the same length. One pair was 2ft, the other par 5ft. Still his conclusion is :

 

 

 

It is clear that the difference people perceived was because of this different lenght of interlinks. Bits are bits.

 

 

 

That's where I am floored.

 

As the only one. Happens more often ...

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This is not a matter of believing its a matter of hearing, not even understanding but feeling.

 

But in the otherhand, here, in this fine tune obsession that we all are, comes in individual perception... and all depends in this. And, as you can imagine, perception varies in each person as much as the lines of the faces. If you need to prove that a player is different from the other by technicals means, then you cannot trust your perception you are missing the point.

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Hats off to a great amount of work. My problem with what is easily declared as "truth" is, that my personal perception of what is happening in my listening room is very much different. I like JRiver for the looks, the ease of use etc. So i planned to buy, but i stumbled upon stealth audio player. Which does not cost a penny, just (another) act of love. Given the sonic result, the guy pretty much knows what he is doing. For me, improved clarity and even more control when the music is getting more complex, are a sign of clearly doing something right without having to discuss personal taste.

 

On the other hand, JRiver was some sonic improvement over my foobar setup.

 

This leaves me with foobar definitely sounding worst, though it is for a lot of reasons, the player I would like to be on par with the best.

 

Not a long shot we wouldn't see any differences between foobar, JRiver and stealth in their bitperfect modes, I guess. Means they all sound exactly (EXACTLY) the same.

 

Now, IF this is the/your case, I'm totally out of the game. When I use all of the three programs for what they are meant for, my reality IS different from yours, without having to spend a dime.

 

Sidenote: IMHO, Peter's XXHighEnd and Josef's JPLAY don't sound identical with foobar or JRiver or stealth, too.

 

Funny thing: Because you are (yet?) not able to tell the difference (in numbers) between the work of Matt or Josef (or maybe Peter?), you claim that there definitely is no audible one. That is what *I* call strong belief. And as long as anyone / the legions that are jumping by ("Oh my God! The truth! It is revealed!") is trying to install these findings as valid truth for really everybody, I wish you had not done all that work...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers

 

Andi

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"But in the otherhand, here, in this fine tune obsession that we all are, comes in individual perception..."

 

 

 

Absolutely. But what is your goal - achieving a setup that sounds pleasing to your ears, or achieving the most accurate reproduction of the original recording? They are two very different goals.

 

 

 

Nothing wrong with the former, unless you then generalize the results to others, stating "equipment A has much better sound quality than equipment B" instead of saying "to my ears (and brain), A sounds more pleasing than B".

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