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Searching for PC audio player


tinpanalley

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I have a large collection of audio files (FLAC and 320kbps MP3) that I keep on a separate internal HDD. This is in addition to shelves of CDs and records. I have always simply used Windows Explorer because I keep everything organised by artist and then with subfolders for chronologically ordered albums. That organisation system plus my metadata method doesn't play nice with a lot of software out there. I don't use playlists at all. I find them pointless for my use. I listen to albums in their entirety 98% of the time and never shuffle my music except for the odd time when I listen to one song and then just search for another. (This, like random web browsing, can last hours if you're not careful when you have a massive collection wink.png )

 

The thing is that I'd really like some kind of GUI that could be the equivalent of skimming through records so I could look at album covers while I search for what I want and then clearly see the album I'm playing and its cover when I'm playing it while looking at other album covers in my library. Can anyone recommend a software I can use? I used to use Winamp but the GUI is awful. Then I've tried all these other programs I've read about (media monkey, musicbee, foobar) but they're ALL playlist and Windows library based. Nothing is just a simple GUI mixture of Windows Explorer and physically flipping through records and CDS. And no, foobar can't do EVERYthing. This simple thing I want, for example, is something that no foobar add-on is capable of doing.

 

I'd love to hear any suggestions. Thanks!

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It's not particularly clear what you want but I'm pretty sure that foobar can actually do *everything* ... if not ootb, you can always write/cfg your own plugin... noone said it's gonna be easy :)

 

Another very popular alternative is jRiver..many say it's better/easier than foobar. Not free but they have a trial version .. and it's worth the price., especially if you use/need the advanced features like remote-apps, filters/convolution, video player, etc.

 

Or you can just continue using WindowsExplorer with various cover/media views and right-click + play-in-foobar.

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It's not particularly clear what you want but I'm pretty sure that foobar can actually do *everything* ... if not ootb, you can always write/cfg your own plugin... noone said it's gonna be easy :)

 

Simmered down to basics, I'd like to see the following columns:

Column 1: Artist names alphabetically

Column 2: The folders for each artist when selected in column 1

Column 3: The albums in whatever folder is selected in column 2

 

Then somewhere else on the screen...

- a detailed 'playing now' with the album tracks and info on the currently playing track. Big album artwork.

- being able to look through that column database seeing artwork without having to do anything more than double click to hear a song or select a whole album.

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Simmered down to basics, I'd like to see the following columns:

Column 1: Artist names alphabetically

Column 2: The folders for each artist when selected in column 1

Column 3: The albums in whatever folder is selected in column 2

 

Then somewhere else on the screen...

- a detailed 'playing now' with the album tracks and info on the currently playing track. Big album artwork.

- being able to look through that column database seeing artwork without having to do anything more than double click to hear a song or select a whole album.

 

That's very close to the ColumnsUI plugin for foobar. Default columns are

1. genre

2. artists

3. albums

The ColumnUI is highly configurable, may be possible to accieve your wish. Can't tell you exactly how... never tried that and it's not on my list.

 

Have fun doing it ... and dont forget to come back & tell us how you did it ;)

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I realize that you are currently using windows explorer to find the tracks but what are you playing them with? It's entirely possible that whatever you are using for playback may already be able to do what you want. Truthfully there is a list of capable players and it all comes down to personal preference. Up until this year, I have always done things in explorer like yourself. This year I tried more than 10 players and I honestly just like iTunes for it's ease of use. The issue is that I had to convert all of my library to ALAC from FLAC which is easy but time consuming. There are plenty of others which use FLAC I just for some reason didn't prefer any of them to iTunes. For movies though I love XBMC, it's free and does music too so give it a try. JRiver takes a bit of configuring and is not free. Foobar I found to be hard to setup and I hated the interface (although it can be changed to a custom setup). Others to consider: Musicbee, Media Monkey & of course Windows Media Player.

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For movies though I love XBMC, it's free and does music too so give it a try.

Thanks for all the advice. Good points. Funny thing about movies though is that while I do have XBMC running on my Boxee, my Apple TV and my computer, it simply doesn't work for me because I really think all these media organisers are made for people who just dump their content into one folder. My video hdd gets as meticulously organised as my music one and I do this because the primary thing for me is cataloguing my media and organising it as I would on a shelf. I need things in different categories, etc. On top of that, I'd say about 80% of my video catalogue is British TV and documentaries and classic films and you'd be surprised how few of those have any images available for making XBMC look good.

 

I've got a configuration running on JRiver 19 right now that works pretty perfectly. I just have to tweak some visuals but I can see why audiophile people like it. This is the closest I've gotten to how I like things.

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I like JRiver Media Center but functionality for JPLAY has been removed in the two most recent builds. If you ever want to use JPLAY then JRMC is not an option. foobar2000 is not as pretty but it's sounding good in my system at present ... and it's a freebie!

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I like JRiver Media Center but functionality for JPLAY has been removed in the two most recent builds. If you ever want to use JPLAY then JRMC is not an option. foobar2000 is not as pretty but it's sounding good in my system at present ... and it's a freebie!

I don't even know what jplay is. :)

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Noone needs to :)Hope I didnt just derail your thread
Most people don't either.

No to add to the derailing of my own thread, but how exactly can software on a computer determine the quality of an audio file's playback? Shouldn't that be more dependant on your sound card, your speakers, and the encoding of your audio file?

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Jplay is another software package. Many people use it with two PCs. One being the processor and the other doing the playback. Lots of people claim it's the best thing out there. I heard no benefit in sound and didn't like how it affected my PC. The answer to your question about software changing the sound of a file is an I don't know answer. I believe that every process a computer does adds noise whether audible or EMI. That noise impacts sound. What I do know is that software does impact sound and even the operating system itself does as well.

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Dear tinpanalley,

 

make a decision, but I would definitely choose a software with a database (like JRMC). You colud install the test version and import all your data, and then play. There is no impact to your folder structure. I do it the same way like you, with the difference, that jriver scans my folders in a regular basis and finds and imports the new audio files.

 

All I have to do, start my iPad (with jremote) and use all the nice features of the database. You don't need the ipad, of course you can play with the userinterface on your computer - if the computer is in reach.

 

Bernhard

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The benefit I found with J River was the ease of being able to create custom views, I now have 16 different views that allow me to skim through my library in several different ways. Makes it much easier to find music.

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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No to add to the derailing of my own thread, but how exactly can software on a computer determine the quality of an audio file's playback? Shouldn't that be more dependant on your sound card, your speakers, and the encoding of your audio file?

 

SoundQ surely depends a lot on all those components. (Un?)Fortunately it also depends on software .. otherwise this forum wont exist :)

Like in any other part of the world there are of course crooks who exploit the software-matters angle and I would be very skeptical of any such claims.

Quick tip for Windows: use the ASiO or WASAPI sound output and never the default DirectSound. YMMV.

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No to add to the derailing of my own thread, but how exactly can software on a computer determine the quality of an audio file's playback? Shouldn't that be more dependant on your sound card, your speakers, and the encoding of your audio file?

Jitter.

 

i had very little interest in computer audio until I gave fidelizer a try. It was free.

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I'm definitely not using DirectSound but I have no idea whether ASiO or WASAPI are selected, or quite frankly what they are. I assume they're audio drivers?

 

ASIO drivers are often provided by your DAC manufacturer. Sometimes you have to go to their site, look it up, and download the driver. The ASIO concept is to get you away from the layers of Windows and closer to the hardware - more direct. However there isn't a standardized protocol on the hardware end (at least that's how I've interpreted this - I'm sure someone will correct me if that is wrong) so the DAC manufacturer provides an ASIO driver that is compatible to the USB interface they have incorporated into their DAC.

 

Bottom line: Do you have a DAC? Does it support the latest high res rates (PCM 24:192 or DSD)? If so, then there is probably an ASIO driver for it somewhere. If not, then tuck this knowledge away for when you purchase a new DAC.

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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Bottom line: Do you have a DAC?...

Ok well, I have a motherboard in the system I built. That's the only thing running my audio. So, no, I don't have a DAC. But I should probably drop this because I've hijacked my own thread with another topic. :)

 

In any event, switching back to the topic of my post... Right now, I have Jriver set up so that it lets me scan my library by artist and then I created a custom second "Location" column and set that to my Root Music folder. So, every time I choose an artist (Sinatra is a particularly tricky one), that column gives me all the folders I've set up for organisation and then I can pick the albums according to the folders I've created. I think this might be a keeper!

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ASIO drivers are often provided by your DAC manufacturer. Sometimes you have to go to their site, look it up, and download the driver. The ASIO concept is to get you away from the layers of Windows and closer to the hardware - more direct. However there isn't a standardized protocol on the hardware end (at least that's how I've interpreted this - I'm sure someone will correct me if that is wrong) so the DAC manufacturer provides an ASIO driver that is compatible to the USB interface they have incorporated into their DAC.

 

Bottom line: Do you have a DAC? Does it support the latest high res rates (PCM 24:192 or DSD)? If so, then there is probably an ASIO driver for it somewhere. If not, then tuck this knowledge away for when you purchase a new DAC.

 

What he said :)

 

On a more practical note, there is a WASAPI plugin for foobar. Install it and then under file-preferences-output choose one of the "wasapi event xyz" outputs. You may hear a big diff, you may not :)

Also, you'll have to cfg your soundcard/dac in the windows control panel, audio mixer settings...disable all 'enhancements', enable exclusive access and select 24bit 192khz output (or the max your card supports).

Do those changes and you'll most prolly have a so called bit-perfect audio output. Otherwise your sound may be way worse than your PC is capable of.

 

Good luck & google is your friend.

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