• The Computer Audiophile
    The Computer Audiophile

    JRemote - The iOS remote for JRiver Media Center Review

    thumb.jpgOver the last few years iOS remote control applications for JRiver have gradually improved. Most of the apps went from cumbersome to decent to pretty good but still not that enticing. Everything changed with the release of JRemote from Banjo Media. The app is so good it has increased the value of Windows as a music server platform as much as anything in recent memory. Many die hard Apple users have switched or have seriously considered switching to Windows solely because JRemote has surpassed Apple's Remote application by leaps and bounds. The value of a remote control application can't be overstated. It's the interface to musical enjoyment or untold frustration. A remote app should place the user in control rather than force the user to listen a certain way or enjoy music how the app developer believes music should be enjoyed. Technology shouldn't dictate how one's music collection is enjoyed and certainly shouldn't take the enjoyment out of browsing a vast collection curated meticulously for decades. JRemote's speed enables users to swipe through an entire collection or pared-down playlist with ease. Support for high resolution images and graphics on the iPhone / iPad Retina Display is also a treat for the eyes. JRemote is the remote control app by which all others are judged.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

     

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    JRemote For JRiver Media Center

     

    jremoteLogoHeader.pngJRemote is currently an iOS only application available through the iTunes App Store for a meager price of $9.99. A single version of the app operates on both the iPhone and iPad eliminating the need to purchase separate apps for different sized devices. The newest version of JRemote takes advantage of the iPhone 5 larger screen rather than being letterboxed like most other apps. The app also requires JRiver Media Center. It wasn't designed as a jack of all trades with compromises to support every playback platform under the sun. Unlike some remote applications JRemote doesn't require any additional software installation on the Windows music server. This cuts down on added services or programs running in the background and eliminates one more piece of software that requires updating.

     

    The speed of the JRemote interface on both iPhone and iPad is the best part about the application. The initial release of JRemote was fast but had an issue when scrolling through a library viewing the album art. The images wouldn't load until the scrolling stopped. Fortunately that was fixed long ago. Scrolling through a library with the swipe of a finger is very fast even with the images loading as one scrolls up or down. Nothing annoys me more than a slow application that can't keep pace with my scrolling speed. When I want to find an album I want to find it the way I want to find it. Scrolling through 4,000 album covers may not be the most efficient, but a good remote app should enable users to navigate any which way. JRemote succeeds in this area where others fail. The PlugPlayer and My River applications don't even come close to matching the speed of JRemote. In fact upon opening PlugPlayer one's entire library isn't visible until the app loads it in cache. Thus, it's impossible to scroll beyond the letter C in my collection without waiting a minute or two. Using JRemote I don't think about the technology or the application. I only think about my music. I may have an idea what album I'm looking for but the ease with which I can navigate via JRemote enables me to stumble upon many other recordings. I frequently forget what album I was originally seeking.

     

    JRemote's speed is also wonderful when searching a library. My library of over 50,000 tracks can be searched instantly within JRemote. Typing in my favorite band Pearl Jam instantly returns a list separated into categories identified by metadata. Standard groups such as Artist, Album Artist, Album, and Genre/Style are visible in addition to groupings by Catalog Number, UPC Code, Composer, Publisher, and Period. Again, the speed at which the search results are returned is critical and what separates mediocre apps from gray apps. Without speed I simply won't use a search feature. JRemote excels at search speed.

     

    After the search results are returned users have a number of options. In my search for Pearl Jam I found the special yellow edition of the album Ten. Pressing and holding the name of the album for a second reveals a popup menu containing the options Play all now, Play all next, Add all to playlist, Shuffle and play all, Clear playlist, and cancel. If pressing and holding and album or track or artists is too time consuming for a user JRemote has what I call a quickset menu at the top of the window when viewing the contents of an album. This menu provides users nearly all the previous press and hold options, but the option selected in this menu becomes the default behavior of a single press of the finger. For example, my quickset menu is set to Add all to playlist. Whenever I select a track within an album all tracks are added to the playlist. If I change the default quickset option to Play now the single track I select will immediately play in Jriver. Setting the preferred option in this quickset menu can shave a few seconds off one's music selection time. Over the course of a few decades that can really add up :~)

     

    A recent change to JRemote added the letter of the alphabet to the right side of the screen when viewing artists, albums, etc… This feature has long been visible on the iPhone and is much appreciated on the iPad. Pressing a letter of the alphabet displays the albums starting with that letter. That's pretty obvious. I like to browse my collection so I usually press the letter A and swipe my finger down the alphabet until I either find something interesting or get to where I was originally going. Swiping through the alphabet is quick but still provides a glimpse of the albums as they fly up or down on the screen.

     

    JRemote can also take advantage of JRiver Media Center's multi zone playback and control. Every music server running JRiver Media Center can be viewed as a Zone form within JRiver and JRemote. JRiver allows the user to control different Zones form a single interface while sitting at a computer. JRemote allows the user to control every Zone from the iPad or iPhone. Taping a little computer icon in the bottom left corner of the JRemote window brings up the Select Zone popup. The user simply selects the Zone he'd like to control. As long as it's on the network it's controllable. In addition to controlling a Zone JRemote turns the iDevice into a Zone allowing the user to stream unto 320 Kbps MP3 files directly to the device. I use this frequently at home when I don't have a lossless version of an album stored on my iPhone I use JRemote to stream the MP3 right to the phone. Other apps such as PlugPlayer and My River can do this as well, but again it all comes down to speed. JRemote is much faster than all the competition. Hands down.

     

    One feature I haven't used simply because I don't have a monitor connected to my C.A.P.S. server is the Remote touch screen within JRemote. This may come in very handy for users displaying JRiver's Theater View. The ability to have a touchscreen without really having a touchscreen (if you know what I mean) seems very cool. I imagine projecting Theater View on to a large screen between my speakers and being able to navigate like it's a touchscreen using JRemote would be very cool.

     

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    You Can't Please Everyone All The Time

     

    JRemote the iOS remote for JRiver Media Center isn't perfect. The app is extremely stable and does exactly what Banjo Media claims. There are four items I would love to see added or improved to JRemote. Granted Banjo Media is at the mercy of JRiver as to what can be done within the JRemote app (read only), but I will at least state my wished for improvements.

     

    1. Documentation - There is little no documentation describing the features of JRemote or how to use the app. 99% of the app is self explanatory and most people don't read documentation anyway. However, a quick guide or even video explaining items such as what I call the quickset menu. Is there a real name for the menu? Is it supposed to work how it's working for me? The trial and error method is fine for most people, but a little assistance wouldn't hurt the newbies.
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    2. Searching specific metadata fields - I would like the ability to search in the comments field or to search only track titles for a specific word or string of words. I frequently enter data such as Mastering Engineer or Downloaded From … in the comments field of an album. Searching for this info and only this info would be a very nice feature. Searching only track titles would be really nice although I realize it's possible to simply view the search results by the track title grouping.
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    3. Editing Metadata - I would love the ability to edit metadata directly from JRemote. I frequently scroll through albums with misspelled titles or without the proper Album Artist tag. I refuse to stop listening just to edit the tag from my computer. more often than not the tag never gets edited because i forget about the misspelling until I run into the issue all over again.
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    4. Creating or Editing Playlists - Along the same lines as editing metadata is the ability to create and edit playlists from JRemote. It's inconvenient to do this from a computer once one has already started listening. Sure, if I'm sitting at my computer and I think of a playlist I want to create or edit it's not an issue. In the real world I'm willing to bet people are actually listening to music when they think of a good playlist to create or see one they want to edit. if all my playlist editing dreams came true JRemote would be able to do the holy grail of playlist editing. That is the ability for a user to listen to a track or find a track in the library and add that track to any existing or new playlist. For example, I have a playlist of music I use during equipment reviews. When I hear a new track I'd like to use for reviews I'd love the ability to select that track and add it to my Review Music playlist from within JRemote on my iPad.

     

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    Conclusion

     

    cash-logo-black-thumb.jpgJRemote from Banjo Media has done more than provide users a nice interface with which to navigate their music collections. It has elevated Windows based music servers to a much higher level. Now that Windows servers can be controlled with a better interface than any OS X server many hard core iTunes users are considering a switch to or even adding a Windows server with JRiver and JRemote. iTunes for many users was supposed to be all about simplicity. Upon closer examination this simplicity is far less convenient for those seeking higher quality playback. Not only is JRemote a much better remote control app than Apple's Remote app, but JRiver supports nearly all file formats and changes sample rates on the fly. That's not going to happen with a stock iTunes installation. Compared to it's competition of JRiver remote control applications JRemote is in another league. Great features, great speed, and the ability to get out of the way of users listening to music are hallmarks of JRemote. Banjo Media has set the bar high for JRiver remote apps and continues to raise the bar with every free update.

     

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    Product Information:

     

    • Product - JRemote - The iOS remote for JRiver Media Center
    • Price - $9.95
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    User Feedback


    I couldn't agree more with the conclusion of this article. JRemote has made surfing my collection not only easy but even pleasurable.

     

    If our hobby is about enjoying music as much as we can, JRemote contributes greatly towards reaching that goal.

     

    I love it.

     

    Joel

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    I love the integration of JRMC and jremote via the web gizmo technology. by that I mean, I can create my own specific views in JRMC (like DSD, 24 bit hirez or whatever) and they can be carried forward into Jremote simply by adding them via JRMC's "customize web gizmo". This may be true for all web gizmo remote apps, but in combo with jremote's other niceties it's a great thing.

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    CA : "Now that Windows servers can be controlled with a better interface than any OS X server many hard core iTunes users are considering a switch to or even adding a Windows server with JRiver and JRemote. "

     

    Or any OSX user can wait for the ported version of JRiver MC for OSX.

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    Great review, I am finding more reasons to go back to Windows...currently a MAC user. Why can't Apple support FLAC and hi-res audio already? Don't get me started on 64GB max for their largest iPod...

     

    JR Media Center beats MAC hands down, the remote app looks great too.

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    Great review, I am finding more reasons to go back to Windows...currently a MAC user. Why can't Apple support FLAC and hi-res audio already? Don't get me started on 64GB max for their largest iPod...

     

    JR Media Center beats MAC hands down, the remote app looks great too.

     

    Apple supports hi-res audio just fine, thank you. I'd say it's obvious why they don't support FLAC, since they have a competing, open-source standard in ALAC (though I wish they would).

     

    I used to be a big Microsoft supporter, but have gradually switched to Apple / Mac over the past few years, to the extent the only Windows machine I now have in the house is a VM I run on my MacBook Pro to use Quicken, since they can't seem to port their code to OS X properly :/

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    Hello Cris, another great review.

     

    I support you the enhancements request, especially 2 and 4.

    I am quite surprise to find no playlist creating here.

    Most Control Points have; maybe the reason is that Jremote is really a remote and not a control point relying on local storage...

    As for the number 2, search in specific metadata fields, I guess you are looking for a more practical solution, but you know you could change the "Audio" view and add your own fields...

    I did that to add a "Classical" view with new fields Style, Period, Composer...those new fields are searchable.

     

    2 critics about JRMC

     

    1) Application does not refresh itself from changes in the JRMC settings. When I apply, for example, a new field in a view I cannot see it immediately ready. Closing and opening both JRMC and Jremote also did not solved. I add to delete and add server again in JRemote settings!

    2)

    This one is more directed to JRMC; is that the browsing is not intelligent; meaning, the order of the fields is pre-set and not dynamically changeable by the user.

    But that is a JRMC limitation, on the server side, not on JRemote.

    Try Minim Server, and you know what I mean...

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    Sorry, let me correct

    "1) Application does not refresh itself from changes in the JRMC settings. When I apply, for example, a new field in a view I cannot see it immediately ready. Closing and opening both JRMC and Jremote also did not solved. I add to delete and add server again in JRemote settings!"

     

    This didn't work either. Simply could not show a new view!

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    Apple supports hi-res audio just fine, thank you. I'd say it's obvious why they don't support FLAC, since they have a competing, open-source standard in ALAC (though I wish they would).

     

    I used to be a big Microsoft supporter, but have gradually switched to Apple / Mac over the past few years, to the extent the only Windows machine I now have in the house is a VM I run on my MacBook Pro to use Quicken, since they can't seem to port their code to OS X properly :/

     

    My bad, you are correct Apple does support hi-res in their proprietary format. This is one of the biggest problems in the history of audio or electronics...proprietary formats that is...FLAC is for everyone and its free, compression scheme is good too and most of all it sounds great. HDTracks 24/96 in FLAC anyone? Seems like a no brainer but Apple wants to control everything Apple why pay $12 to download a lossy version of an album from iTunes with no hard copy...CD's are cheap and make a good back up and last forever! (according to Sony)

     

    I love the MAC hardware but wish it had the functionality of Windows...dBPoweramp is the best for ripping HDCD's and regular CD's in general...iTunes bad...I have listened and heard the difference.

     

    JR has it all and then some compared to any MAC comparison. Will Apple try to compete or change for Audiophiles? Not likely.

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    Another Mac user here, just converted to Windows. JRiver is a great player, sounds quite different from the other players I tried (Audirvana, Amarra, PureMusic), but it's JRemote that made me install Windows 7 on my Mac Mini. Glorious application indeed.

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    Well, to each their own of course, but I definitely prefer XLD over dbPoweramp, though I paid or contributed dollars for both programs.

     

    And while I greatly like JRMC, under Windows it tends to crash. I cannot abide crashing programs. It interferes with my music listening.

     

    Paul

     

     

    My bad, you are correct Apple does support hi-res in their proprietary format. This is one of the biggest problems in the history of audio or electronics...proprietary formats that is...FLAC is for everyone and its free, compression scheme is good too and most of all it sounds great. HDTracks 24/96 in FLAC anyone? Seems like a no brainer but Apple wants to control everything Apple why pay $12 to download a lossy version of an album from iTunes with no hard copy...CD's are cheap and make a good back up and last forever! (according to Sony)

     

    I love the MAC hardware but wish it had the functionality of Windows...dBPoweramp is the best for ripping HDCD's and regular CD's in general...iTunes bad...I have listened and heard the difference.

     

    JR has it all and then some compared to any MAC comparison. Will Apple try to compete or change for Audiophiles? Not likely.

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    Paul, I've been running JRMC for quite some time now. One of the best aspects of it, in my system, is stability. It never crashes (except betas). What version crashed on you?

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    Hi Ted - every version from 12 to 18. On multiple machines. Usually crashes at least one every 24 hours, and always within a week. Multiple machines, multiple versions of windows.

     

    The little C.A.P.S. server here is the best about not crashing - crashing only once a week, sometimes two. It is possible it is something I am doing, but the Windows servers here don't crash, even the ones running Oracle and dB2.

     

    -Paul

     

     

    Paul, I've been running JRMC for quite some time now. One of the best aspects of it, in my system, is stability. It never crashes (except betas). What version crashed on you?
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    And while I greatly like JRMC, under Windows it tends to crash. I cannot abide crashing programs. It interferes with my music listening.

    Paul

     

    Since you can't abide by it, what did things did you try and JRMC suggest when you followed up with them in detail on this? Even a cursory review of JRiver forums show no one else has ever reported such regular and frequent crashes for any version for unspecified reasons, much less across many versions.

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    I reported them, search for my name over there. I have not reported then in the last couple versions - I just try the newest version and take notes. (shrug)

     

    Part of the reason why not many bother reporting crashing over there any longer is the disbelief you get when you do report it. The immediate reaction over there is questioning what you did wrong.

     

    I also note there is an entire FAQ that addresses mysterious crashes and such on the site.

     

    Do not get me wrong, when JRMC works, it works spectacularly well. I like it. I would not keep spending money on it otherwise.

     

    BUT - I do not want to have to reboot any machine on a regular basis. Every JRMC machine I have tried, setup, or had setup for me will exhibit mysterious crashes, and nothing aggravates me more than to wake up in the morning, bring up a remote app looking for NPR Morning Edition, and find the music server software has crapped out. In the case of JRMC, usually with a most annoying message about JRMC cano not continue to run and has terminated.

     

     

     

    The music server Mac here has not been rebooted since Mountain Lion came out, and then it was only rebooted to install a new OS.

     

    -Paul

     

     

    Since you can't abide by it, what did things did you try and JRMC suggest when you followed up with them in detail on this? Even a cursory review of JRiver forums show no one else has ever reported such regular and frequent crashes for any version for unspecified reasons, much less across many versions.
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    Another Mac user here, just converted to Windows. JRiver is a great player, sounds quite different from the other players I tried (Audirvana, Amarra, PureMusic), but it's JRemote that made me install Windows 7 on my Mac Mini. Glorious application indeed.

     

    Realmassy -- I had the same reaction as you. I got a mac mini in July and have been experimenting with the 3 music players you mention. However, the limitations of iTunes are clear, and JRemote quite appealing. Could you elaborate a little on the differences in sound with JRiver and the itunes players? Also, does JRiver do the audiophile stuff, like bypassing the Windows crap that degrades sound, memory play, etc.? -- Thanks. -- David

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    Thanks, Chris -- I plan on giving the article a closer read later. In the meantime, can you tell me off the top of your head, does JRemote let you show pdf documents (that's how I have liner notes) as part of a playlist, or something like that? What I've found is that itunes on the mac accepts pdf's in playlists, but they won't appear in the remote app in ipad. Bummer.

     

    Also, as I mentioned to realmassy, if you are feeling so inspired, some comparison of the JRiver sound vs. the popular mac player(s) -- Amarra, Pure music and Audirvana, would be welcome. Thanks. -- David

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    Sorry guys, but you're lying through your teeth.....there are no 'die hard Apple users' who have nor will seriously consider switching to Windows solely because of JRemote.

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    Sorry guys, but you're lying through your teeth.....there are no 'die hard Apple users' who have nor will seriously consider switching to Windows solely because of JRemote.

     

    I guess I should forget about the people I know personally who have done so :~)

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    Sorry guys, but you're lying through your teeth.....there are no 'die hard Apple users' who have nor will seriously consider switching to Windows solely because of JRemote.

    Well, I guess that's because in reality there is no such thing as a die hard Apple user... In reality people use Mac OS X because it does what they require it to the best/simplest; therefore it's not a huge wretch to move to Windows / J.River because it follows the philosophy of doing what they want the best...

     

    Apple use isn't a religion, it's about choosing what works simply and reliably in most cases!

     

    Eloise

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    On a different note: since I went from iPad to Android tablet previously, JRemote might make me want to move back to Apple :~)

    Or is JRemote planned to be ported to Google Play..?

     

    @Chris, have 'worked' with it, would you consider the new iPad mini 7.9" size more or less suitable as a remote, compared to iPad..?

    Edited by Lowlands
    typo
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