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Author Topic: JRiver Mac Sound Quality  (Read 6296 times)

xj32

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JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« on: February 26, 2013, 10:18:14 pm »

So I have been demoing Decibel for Mac, actually started about two days prior to purchasing J River for Mac. Anyway has anyone been able to do a side by side of the audio quality? I am guessing with J River that there is no reason to entertain spending the $33 on Decibel when my demo runs out?

Not trying to start a flame war of a competitor on J River's site, just curious.

Thanks,

XJ
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glynor

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 10:32:11 pm »

If you're looking for "perfect quality" (whatever that means), MC Mac should already be essentially there.

It has an exclusive mode, and bit-perfect playback support. (Is it fully working and tested yet with every single edge-case and weird file type?  I make no promises, but that's the goal and if it is wrong, it will be fixed, I imagine.)  There is no "better quality" than that, as it is bit-for-bit, exactly what was on disk.  The rest is all up to your DAC.

However, if you are looking for "subjectively pleasing quality" then MC has a powerful DSP engine that allows an amazing array of adjustments to your audio (the Parametric EQ is amazing and the Room Correction system is full featured*, for example).  In other words, if you are looking not for "absolute" perfection, but subjective perfection, then MC allows you to morph it to whatever your tastes desire.

With the new ZoneSwitch feature in Windows, you can even essentially design "profiles" (Zones) for particular kinds of music (or even particular tracks) and have them automatically activate whenever playback of that particular file happens.  So you can have some EQ settings for one kind of music, and others for another kind of music, and they'll automatically switch as it is playing back.

This last bit isn't available on OSX yet, but... It is there in Windows, and we're very, very early on OSX.

So, I'll leave it to the reader to answer your main question, but...  I think it is fairly clear there.


* Though it needs some kind of built-in "auto" setup system where you can use a Mic to perform measurements, as it is now fully manual.  We also don't yet have the Convolution engine from the Windows side, which I imagine some people out there are eying greedily.
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xj32

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 10:36:14 pm »

Thats what I was expecting/hoping! Thanks!
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nycjazz

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 11:25:12 pm »

If you're looking for "perfect quality" (whatever that means), MC Mac should already be essentially there.

It has an exclusive mode, and bit-perfect playback support. (Is it fully working and tested yet with every single edge-case and weird file type?  I make no promises, but that's the goal and if it is wrong, it will be fixed, I imagine.)  There is no "better quality" than that, as it is bit-for-bit, exactly what was on disk.  The rest is all up to your DAC.

However, if you are looking for "subjectively pleasing quality" then MC has a powerful DSP engine that allows an amazing array of adjustments to your audio (the Parametric EQ is amazing and the Room Correction system is full featured*, for example).  In other words, if you are looking not for "absolute" perfection, but subjective perfection, then MC allows you to morph it to whatever your tastes desire.

With the new ZoneSwitch feature in Windows, you can even essentially design "profiles" (Zones) for particular kinds of music (or even particular tracks) and have them automatically activate whenever playback of that particular file happens.  So you can have some EQ settings for one kind of music, and others for another kind of music, and they'll automatically switch as it is playing back.

This last bit isn't available on OSX yet, but... It is there in Windows, and we're very, very early on OSX.

So, I'll leave it to the reader to answer your main question, but...  I think it is fairly clear there.


* Though it needs some kind of built-in "auto" setup system where you can use a Mic to perform measurements, as it is now fully manual.  We also don't yet have the Convolution engine from the Windows side, which I imagine some people out there are eying greedily.


What is left on "perfect playback" to implement?  I have the bue light light during playback, but how do ensure that I bypassing all mac internal audio processing so i go directly to the DAC?  I don't know enough to explain, but are there settings to optimize this (e.g., integer mode, etc).   Right now, compared to Amarra, MC's soundstage sound flat to me .  This is most notable on tracks such as Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over.  Not knocking it, I just want to know if this is it  or whether I'm missing settings or should expect improvements.  I have the output set directly to my DAC (the Oppo105) via Wireworld platinum USB.
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glynor

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2013, 01:06:51 am »

What is left on "perfect playback" to implement?  I have the bue light light during playback, but how do ensure that I bypassing all mac internal audio processing so i go directly to the DAC?  I don't know enough to explain, but are there settings to optimize this (e.g., integer mode, etc).   Right now, compared to Amarra, MC's soundstage sound flat to me .  This is most notable on tracks such as Hotel California from Hell Freezes Over.  Not knocking it, I just want to know if this is it  or whether I'm missing settings or should expect improvements.  I have the output set directly to my DAC (the Oppo105) via Wireworld platinum USB.

To be clear, I wasn't suggesting MC isn't already there now.  Just that I don't know (absolutely 100%), at this early phase, if it is fully tested yet in every scenario.  But I don't work for JRiver, and they may have internal validation that proves it.  On the Windows version, crazy people have hooked up digital outs, looked at the actual digital output, and tested it bit-by-bit against the source.  I don't know if that's been done here yet (I'm guessing not yet, but who knows?)

In theory, if everything is functioning in the alpha as it should be:  All you need to do is enable exclusive mode in MC.  (Well, and make sure you don't have the DSP altering the sound in any way, but that's off by default).  Exclusive mode is available under Options > Audio > Output mode settings.

That should be bit-perfect.  If it isn't, it is because something is borked in the alpha and it'll be fixed.
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Fred1

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2013, 02:22:04 am »

I think xj32 refers to this problematic.
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nycjazz

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2013, 08:53:18 am »

I think xj32 refers to this problematic.

Thank you.  So from what I read, it appears that MC goes direclty to Core Audio, thus bypassing other audio processing layers in the Mac.   No user intervention needed to assure that, correct?

Another question is whether the feed is done at the Integer level as the default or whether the user needs to do anything to configure.  Same question on avoiding volume control degradation as experimented by using the itunes volume control.  Thanks!
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JimH

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2013, 09:09:19 am »

There is a lot of nonsense promoted in this area by developers who try to make people believe they are the only ones who understand how to preserve sound quality.  

Our approach is a little different.

This is a subject for another forum or a different time.  Hydrogenaudio.org would be a good place to bring it up.  Be prepared to have your thoughts "carefully examined".

Locking this now.
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JIMV

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2013, 11:54:32 am »

I have had the system up and running for a week and have moved from the initial effort to the 141 version (so far). My initial call is that the sound is more clinical on my iMac than it is on my PC's. By clinical, I mean digital. It has an edge in my system even though It is being played through a tubed amp. In contrast, Pure Music through the same machine is far warmer....

Not a problem and early days but I figured I'd mention it. So far most of the comment has been about features and look and not about what it sounds like.
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glynor

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2013, 12:17:22 pm »

I think you'll find that, generally, the community here isn't very receptive to these kinds of concerns.

The philosophy of JRiver, when it comes to this, is something like the Hippocratic oath:  First, do no harm.  Basically, they strive to perfectly reproduce the sound of the data source, with absolutely no regard to what sounds "good", and to provide the user with the tools needed to achieve a "good" sound quality.

The reason for this philosophical attitude is simple: No two people are every going to perfectly agree on what is "good".  You might prefer a warmer sound, others might prefer a more "cold" sound.  In any case, neither of those qualities are quantifiable.  Mathematical perfection (bit-perfectness) is quantifiable.  So, that is JRiver's goal.  Perfectly reproduce the content as it exists on disk.  Of course your PC and your iMac reproduce this differently!  They have different hardware, different DACs, and probably different room positioning!  Trying to make them "match" is a fool's errand.

The rest, is up to you, your DAC, and your sound system.  If you don't like the "color" of the reproduction in MC, that is what the DSP is for.  Go fix it and make it perfect for you.
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JimH

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Re: JRiver Mac Sound Quality
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2013, 12:34:21 pm »

I'm going to close this now.  glynor said it well.
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