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Found 10 results

  1. My journey to music management app nirvana

    This is a brief blog outlining my journey through various audio management & playback apps which took me to where I am today. 
 Dial the clock back to around 1997. I had gotten into minidisc as a way of making my own compilations and recordings of music - a definite step up from cassette. Also in the mix were CD-Rs which would allow music to be burnt to a CD and played in a regular CD player. Though as time went on, the step of copying the music to some form of physical media became increasingly redundant; the advent of the iPod a few years later in 2001 further accelerated this trend. 
 I began with keeping my "digital" music collection in a folder on my PC (at the time, probably a 486 or equivalent). Downloading was of individual tracks due to low connection speeds. As my collection expanded, full albums were placed into individual folders within Windows. As it grew further, the root folder was divided into genres and the album folders placed within those. As I was keen on being able to browse via album art, I set the folders to be displayed in "thumbnail" mode, which allowed an image (called folder.jpg) to be superimposed on the folder icon. I spent some time acquiring the front covers of the albums, renaming to folder.jpg and placing them within the individual folders. If a folder had a few albums in it, then up to 4 album covers could be displayed on the thumbnail icon. Eventually it looked something like this: 
 
 At this time I was using Winamp to play the music. As can be seen in the screenshot above, it allowed for a small unobtrusive player to be situated somewhere on the screen. Winamp could also read and display some of the basic file metadata such as artist and song title. At this time I also used the "visualisation" feature that a lot of these players had - graphics that moved in time with the music. Bit of a gimmick, looking back 
 Around this time I also experimented with Windows Media Player. This was the next step up, as it improved on folder structure-based browsing by using file metadata to arrange and display the music. You could then browse by artist, album, genre and year. Album art was shown without the folder icon in the background, and if there were a number of albums by a particular artist, it would show a "stack" effect which was quite nice. I don't have any screenshots of my own of this, though it looked something like this: 
 
 Always on the lookout for improvements, I think around 2006 I discovered Mediamonkey. This was a more versatile app and allowed for user customisation. What was great was that instead of just growing by artist, album and genre, you could define your own criteria and be able to browse via these criteria in the menu tree. As well as the above, I set it to be able to browse by "compilations by album" and "compilations by genre". As a snapshot, my setup around this time looked like this: 
 
 Eventually, two other useful features came along. The first was "coverflow" type browsing as popularised by Apple. This was meant to emulate the act of flicking through CDs/the physical media. I found this more of a novelty rather than anything else, as I preferred the "grid view" which allowed a more organised and higher-level look. The second feature was the ability to display a second image relating to the album in a sub-window. For example, the rear album art could be displayed alongside the front album art - the following screenshot shows these two features: 
 
 The problem with this particular setup was that the rear album art image was quite small - unless you resized the window, in which case it encroached on the browsing tree and made the main window too small. However it was a nice addition, though required quite a lot of extra work to make sure that all the albums had a rear album art image in their folder. The customisability of the browser tree allowed for some other useful features - for example, showing the number of items within each folder or sub-folder. 
 I was happy with Mediamonkey for a few years, though soon something better came along: JRiver Media Player. This just seemed to be a slicker and more polished product than Mediamonkey. It was similarly customisable and had a very helpful user forum with good input from the development team. This forum was necessary, as modifying the tree required the understanding of the particular code that it used, which (to my mind) was not particularly intuitive! It also seemed to be in active development with regular updates. I was able to customise the tree further, e.g. to browse via decade before drilling down to year, along with a range of other customisations over time. It also had the "stacked" album view that I enjoyed in Windows Media Player. Here is a screenshot of my JRiver setup in October 2010 (ignore the albums themselves, as I was having an issue with the code at the time and the screenshot was to show an error): 
 Here is another screenshot, showing the individual album view: 
 
 However my quest to improve the album art aspect of things continued. I tried a range of media management apps including MusicBee, iTunes, Album Player and many more. Eventually I settled on FooBar2000. This took customisation to the next level, and finally (with a great deal of effort and input from the helpful user forums) I was able to customise it to show what I wanted - including the front and rear album art. It looked like this: 
 To me, this made for a much more realistic browsing experience. Extra features which I added to the app included a detailed waveform seekbar (even the colour of the progress bar was customisable), having the front album art show in a jewel case, a number of information panes (including artist info, news & reviews, comments and other images in the folder), a customised information panel at the bottom (showing information including bit rate, bit depth and sample rate) and having the rating show after each file in the tree. A number of these addons required the installation of special modules - Foobar2000 is quite a modular app. 
 Foobar2000 was my music manager and player for a number of years. As always, I remained on the lookout for any new and interesting alternatives. Foobar2000 was great, and I liked the amount of detail you could get on a single screen (i.e. as per the screenshot above), though it looked a bit "computery". In 2006 the company Sooloos came on the scene; they offered a very slick and elegant bespoke media browsing experience, with great integration of a range of metadata (imported from the AMG service) - though tied in with hardware and with a price to match. In 2008, Sooloos was purchased by Meridian, an AV manufacturing & distribution company founded in 1977 and based in England and the product became (and remains) Meridian Sooloos. In 2015 however, some members of the original Sooloos team formed an agreement with Meridian to start their own new enterprise: Roon Labs. Further details are provided in a blog entry by Enno Vandermeer, founder/CEO of Roon Labs: 
 http://blog.roonlabs.com/what-a-journey/ 
 Roon took all the things that were great about Sooloos and released it as a standalone software app that could be installed onto any PC or Mac. When it was released in May 2015 I knew that it was the app for me. The interface and paradigm was completely different to all the previous media managers (apart from Sooloos). It presented your music collection in a much more visually appealing way - in part due to the ability to run it via a touchscreen. It also (like Sooloos) drew on online sources to recognise your media and pull the appropriate metadata. Roon also has a very active user base with excellent input from the developers onto the forums - and has undergone a number of updates since the initial release, now up to version 1.3. There is also a strong focus on sound quality and compatibility with various devices. There are still a number of features that I would like included (in particular relating to its management of album art) - though there is a new version (perhaps version 2.0) in the pipeline with some big changes in store, apparently. Hopefully I have found my media management endgame. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  2. I've not seen much written about this DAC/AMP here or on Head-Fi, but I wanted a portable to stack with my DAP and to run balanced output to my 64 Audio A6, that would also serve me well as a USB DAC for PC. I took a leap of faith on this unit, bought from Moon Audio, and thus far pleasantly surprised by it's quality. The unboxing and ergonomics are nothing special, rather plain and uncluttered in appearance: That said, implemented thus far as a USB DAC from PC (still waiting for proper interconnect to stack w/my DAP using the KEB-03 Toslink input) I am impressed with it's sound signature. Using the 2.5 mm TRRS, AK-type plug on my IEM's, the balanced output achieves wonderful, wide soundstage, although depth and height are less impressive. Layering, instrument placement and separation are also strong points. I do feel it lacks some of the detail retrieval of my iDSD Micro., and whereas the Micro. brought out the lower frequencies in my A6, KEB-03 synergy with these IEM's provides a more neutral frequency response overall. The iDSD / A6 combo. has visceral, impactful bass but bleeds sometimes into mids. With KEB-O3 I hear a bit cleaner, grain-free and more forward mids (vocals sound terrific) and greater top end sparkle. The Micro. doesn't have balanced out put, so this may account for the soundstage / separation difference in part, but the overall signatures sound different beyond that as described. Both have Sabre DAC's, which I sometimes find a little sterile, but as implemented in the KEB-O3 signature is overall more balanced across the frequencies, quite musical, and less "digital" sounding than I sometimes perceive with the iFi Micro. I'm not very well-acquainted with "tube" sound but from the auditioning I did last month at CanJam SoCal. of the Woo Audio and other products, the KEB-O3 sounds more "tube-like" to me than the Micro. and suits most of my material well. I listen to a lot of classical piano, and the sound is nicely balanced, engaging across the frequencies but never shrill or strident. For classic rock or acoustic jazz featuring standup string bass, I do miss the low end "punch" the Micro. coaxes out of my A6 that the the KEB-03 can't quite replicate. Overall, I'd conclude that the KEB-03 offers great value for a moderate price, and strengths are the balanced output producing wonderful soundstage and instrument separation. Weaknesses are that it falls short in detail retrieval and bass impact, and I would add that it is not a powerhouse (balanced output is 131mW/channel @22 ohm load) and may be best suited for IEM's or low impedance / high-sensitivity cans. Lastly, a question: The manual (here) indicates it can decode native dsd via USB but I can only get it to do DoP in Foobar. I have foo_dsd-ASIO installed, works fine with iDSD Micro. The manual appears to be translated from Japanese so I may be misreading it (it could be indicating that native DSD is implemented for Android USB OTG), or perhaps I have Foobar configured incorrectly. Any help would be appreciated.
  3. Hi Folks I wonder if there is interest in a customized, multilanguage Windows 8 Pro x64 Version, tuned and tweaked for audio use and installable like every other "normal" windows version... Since there is absolutely no interest in violating any Copyrights, a legal Windows 8 Pro Key would be needed to install this version of Windows 8 and activate it later on. The Focus of this Windows Version is just Playing Music an the best level possible and beeing a Network Client for NAS Systems (SMB/DLNA/...) The System would be completely stripped down as far as possible without loosing network services, JRiver MediaCenter 18 (Trial) and Foobar2000 already pre-installed. Foobar with the needed Plugins, etc.. There are many possibilities far beyond from what i have read so far on many sites in the net. - Stripping Down all Windows Services etc. (standard... ) - General System tuning for performance - Div. Tuning for SSD use - Div. Tuning for NTFS - Div. Tuning for Audio use - and lot's more... This windows version would be highly customizable, there are almost no limits. and it would be available as regular ISO File to burn it on CD or create a bootable USB Stick. Compatible with all hardware a normal windows 8 installation would be.... It won't get easier than that guys ...so what do you think, would the work be appreciated? Cheerio, John Doe
  4. Hi All, Having become "Tube-Curious," but glued to my Dynaudio speakers, a tube pre seemed like the smartest first step. And, I believe my class D amp to be dang-near totally transparent. But, since a tube stage really could only add even-order distortion and a craptastically high noise floor, both of which are quantifiable and therefore modellable in software, I figured that Mr. Google could turn up a free way to test the waters using Foobar2000 in Windows. Sure enough... Step 1, the VST plugin adaptor plugin: foo_vst: VST 2.4 adapter - Hydrogenaudio Forums Step 2, the Nick Crow TubeDriver VST plugin: Nick Crow Lab Step 3: Turn it on. And... I get it. Distorted edges of notes and vocals? Check. Like it? Yeah. Deeper sound stage? Check. Floating instruments? Uh-huh. Not too shabby for a free plugin. Problem 1: I can hear that it's distortion, and I can hear that the depth is the result of a decomposition or decay in the frequency response that, ultimately, makes everything sound like it was recorded in a dark barn the music is being sucked into. I'd like to scale it back a bit. Problem 2: I'm blind and can't adjust any of the plugin settings. So, I'm wondering if any of you gents have any handy presets to post that I can play with. Also welcome in this thread will be any reflections on software emulition of tubes, pro or cons. Just doing it for fun, really, since I'm not at all dissatisfied with my gear. Very interesting result so far, though.
  5. Hi Guys, Foobar is my player of choice for many reasons, but one feature it's missing (on the surface) is the ability to push audio to multiple output devices on my network. Is there a way via a plugin or third party software (independent of foobar) that any users here have been able to play a song in foobar, and have it pushed to any number of devices on a network to utilise their speakers? I have 5 different sets of speakers attached to computers throughout my house, and would like to selectively distribute the audio playing from foobar to those speakers. I have tried AirFoil but it had significant lag and synchronisation issues, so it got the flick. Has anybody done this successfully before? Thanks! sabrehagen
  6. Show us your Foobar2000 layout

    I started using Foobar2000 for the first time today after having purchased a Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus. At first I was utterfly confused by the program, but after some messing around I started to understand how it works. I spent a few hours creating my own layout, and I'm quite pleased with the results. I then became interested in knowing how everyone here has set up their Foobar2000 layout and thought people might be interested in sharing. Here is my current layout
  7. Any suggestions of a good parametric equalizer DSP component for foobar for free? Looking for one that allows adding as many bands as I want, with different EQ curves options (high pass, low pass, high shelf, low shelf, peak), Q setting, etc. Thanks.
  8. foobar2000 - DSDIFF vs SACD Plugin

    Hi Guys, My first post here. I'd like to start by saying hi to everyone! Now the question: I have a PS3 ripped ISO. When I open it with foobar2000, it plays using the famous SACD plugin at a sample rate of 176.4kHz (on converting to PCM). When I extract the tracks to the DFF format, it plays in foobar2000 using the DSDIFF plugin at a sample rate of 192kHz (on converting to PCM). My major observation was that the DFF format sounded better and louder. Is it in reality, better quality than the SACD plugin's 176.4kHz? If anyone has tried this and can help me understand, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
  9. My system is finally up & running and it just sounds really good to my ears. Probably miles between this little system and yours, but if that's my worst problem, I'm fortunate. I had serious doubts a tiny Asus netBook with Foobar2000, plugged into the world's cheapest DAC, all driven by an old Denon receiver and a sub/sat speaker system with ZERO crossover point, could sound good, but it really does. My netbook boasts an Intel Atom processor incapable of running Windows 64 bit. I was just reading another thread here about AP-Linux, and someone over there mentioned Windows 7 64 bit sounds better than Windows 7 32 bit. Someone later said Windows 8 sounds better then 7. It ain't broke, & I ain't fixing it - YET. I plan to leave things the way they are for many months or longer. Still, a long-term game plan is a good thing, yes? I'd be much obliged to anyone kind enough to enlighten of significant differences - if any - in sq between win7 64, win7 32, and win8. Good evening to you all. Gary
  10. I have my USB DAC connected to my Win7 HTPC running foobar in DS mode. Every song skips at the end. It's a weird thing. When the track is about to finish (about 5 left) its skips and goes back a few seconds and does it again. It's almost like a broken record for any of you who remember those days. I've tried playing with the buffer but no luck. Does anybody have an idea of what's going on? PS I have also check system latency with a program called DPC Latency checker and says it should be able to handle streaming with no problem.
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