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Help required in introducing an Arcam rPlay streamer into my PC / JRiver set-up


Terry Dactyl
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Hi - I hope someone can offer me some pointers on how to set up JRiver to work with an Arcam rPlay streamer, please.

First of all, my system...

A Linn LP12 turntable which is used now only for the purpose of ripping my LP collection to FLAC. My amp doesn't have a phono stage, and we have two cats who will jump up onto the turntable, thus making it unsuitable for relaxed playback.
My music is stored on a Western Digital drive which is connected by an ethernet cable to my (Sky) hub.
My amplifier is a Quad Vena, which is (was) connected to my laptop (Windows 10) via USB.
The speakers are B&W 684s.
I used to use iTunes, but have found recently that it's almost impossible to scroll through my library. My understanding is that fast scrolling over a network is difficult under Windows 10.
I downloaded JRiver Media Centre 23, and it has worked much better than iTunes in that regard, so I bought the licence.

What I've wanted to do for a little while now is to eliminate the (assumed) path of the music through the laptop. The plan was to use the laptop only for 'control' with the music path to be NAS drive > Sky hub > Quad Vena > speakers.

My local Hifi shop has lent me an Arcam rPlay streamer which has now been installed as follows;

Ethernet cable from the rPlay box to the Sky hub; coaxial cable from the rPlay box into the Quad Vena.
Therefore, as far as I can tell, the music does NOT travel through the laptop.

Please bear with me. The rPlay says I should download the DTS Play-Fi app either onto my laptop or onto an Android device (my Samsung mobile phone). I'm not a great user of phones and really wanted to keep the JRiver setup on my laptop as my method of control. So I've installed DTS Play-Fi onto the laptop and have it set to "Music Mode - All Audio Sources"
The rPlay box says 'Wirelessly stream from your Play-Fi, AirPlay and UPnP sources to your Hi-Fi' but I assume I should ignore all of that because I'm not streaming wirelessly(??). The only wireless bit is the link between the laptop and the hub.

Now to the nub of my question. Clicking 'Play' on an album cover on JRiver duly plays the said album, and I'm assuming that the music is travelling via the rPlay and completely bypassing the laptop. Is there a way in JRiver to tell if this is actually the case. I've seen the wiki article about 'audio path' that says that "With the Noire skin, the DSP button will change to blue in this case", and mine definitely isn't.

What's also casting doubt in my mind about the 'path' is that whilst it's possible/probable that the 'album' music is going direct from the NAS drive to the rPlay and on to the Quad, I'm now listening to internet radio (bach.net) which I select in JRiver through the 'Open URL' option which in turn opens bach.net's website on my browser. That would suggest (to this bear of simple brain) that music is still emanating (via WiFi??) from the laptop.

So....is it conceivable that my music is being routed thus - NAS > Hub > wireless to the laptop > through JRiver > wireless back to the hub > through the rPlay and on to my ears. If it is, then there's no point in my buying the rPlay.

Guys I'm sorry for the long-winded question, but I've tried to be as explanatory as possible.
I could speak to Arcam's Customer Services but they're closed for Christmas / New Year. My HiFi dealer is very knowledgeable but has no experience of JRiver.

All responses greatly appreciated.

Terry

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Hi Terry,

 

First thing I should mention is that you might get a better response if you post network streaming type questions in the relevant section, ie, Networking, Networked Audio & Streaming.

 

As for your actual issue, you should certainly avoid using DTS Play-Fi's streaming technology. Its design has been found to be flawed, the main problem being precisely the same thing you wish to avoid: the music files stream through the device that the DTS Play-Fi controller app is running on!

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/ca/bits-and-bytes/dts-play-fi-has-major-design-flaws/

 

However, seeing as you are using JRiver to control the Arcam rPlay, it looks like you are not actually using DTS Play-Fi streaming, since JRiver only supports standard UPnP/DLNA streaming. This must mean that the rPlay can be used both as standard UPnP/DLNA streamer as well as a DTS Play-Fi streamer and that the DTS Play-Fi  software you installed on the laptop is actually redundant when you are using JRiver as a UPnP/DLNA controller.

 

That's the good news. The possible bad news depends on how you have configured & are using JRiver. JRiver's built-in UPnP/DLNA controller can instruct the rPlay as a UPnP/DLNA renderer (aka streamer) to either stream audio files from its own internal library or from an (external) UPnP/DLNA media server.

 

JRiver's own library can access networked shared folders as well the files stored on the machine it's running on. Any music file that you get the rPlay to play from JRiver's own library would have to pass through JRiver itself, so effectively including any files that you have linked JRiver's own library to your NAS's networked shared folders.

 

On the other hand, your NAS has a built-in UPnP/DLNA media server which is the method of it providing its media files, other than via its network shared folders. Using JRiver to get the the rNAS to play from your NAS's UPnP/DLNA media server is precisely that: the files will be streamed by the rPlay directly from the NAS's UPnP/DLNA media server library.

 

Question is, which of the two options have you set up JRiver to do?

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Hi there, thanks for responding. 

 

Despite a lifelong interest in hifi mine is an analogue brain trying to find its way in a digital world.

 

Thank you also for your guidance on which section to post in - I hadn't realised there was a better place than where I was. Anyway, you found me. :D

 

I dare say there's a commercial tie-up between Arcam, because the instruction leaflet that comes with the rPlay tells you you must download the DTS Play-fi software. The box is littered with references to DTS, and you are strongly encouraged to sign up to the premium version at an extra $14. I've stuck to the free version because the box is on loan.

 

Thank you also for the insight on Play-fi. From the product I have you'd swear it was the dog's. I of course duly installed Play-fi expecting it to present me with my library all ready to go, controlled from my laptop. It didn't. All it seems to do is to give me the option to use  'speakers - DTS Play-fi audio renderer' in the little box in the bottom right of my screen. If I don't check that box, JRiver won't play.

(When I bought the Quad Vena, just by connecting it via USB to my laptop allowed Windows to recognise it - there was no software to install).

So if DTS Play-fi isn't running on my laptop, no music comes out of the system.

In all honesty I can't tell you how I've configured JRiver because I just played around with it until the music started. Maybe you could tell me what I should be looking for. (Incidentally I have also posted on the JRiver website forum, and one of their bods fobbed me off by telling me to bone up on DLNA).

 

All of this palaver has come about because I have recently renewed my laptop (new one's an Acer) and I noticed a worsening of the sound I was getting. I figured that by finding a way of routing the music from the NAS through the router to the rPlayer to the Vena to my speakers, thereby cutting out the laptop except for control, things would improve.

If the music is now routing through the laptop then it's making two WiFi crossings, there and back, which must surely be detrimental?

JRiver's website tells me that the program will tell me the exact route of the signal, but my version certainly doesn't give that information.

 

If you are able to help me with what I should be looking for in my set-up of JRiver I would be very grateful, especially if I can dispense with DTS if it's as bad as you suggest.

 

Thanks for staying with me...!

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Oh dear, looks like I misinterpreted your original post and incorrectly assumed that the rPlay was a standard UPnP/DLNA streamer as well as supporting DTS Play-Fi. The giveaway is you saying that it only works with DTS Play-Fi software installed, ie, the rPlay only supports DTS Play-Fi. The resulting 'DTS Play-Fi audio renderer' appearing as a speaker option is quite clearly an audio output device for the computer itself.

 

So you are actually using JRiver's own audio file player to play the music files with JRiver configured to use the DTS Play-Fi audio renderer as the audio device to output to. Therefore it is JRiver's own audio output that ends up at the rPlay via the DTS Play-Fi network streaming mechanism.  This has nothing to do with using JRiver's built-in UPnP/DLNA controller to get the rPlay to network stream the files directly from the NAS.

 

Unfortunately, this means the files have no option but to pass through the computer because JRiver itself is playing the files and is sending the output to the DTS Play-Fi provided audio device on the same computer!

 

Sorry for raising your hopes.

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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The rPlay *should* work as a UPnP renderer, at least Google tells me so. :-)  Make sure you have JRiver's DLNA/UPnP server enabled (in Options under Media Server).  Next, in the left hand column, click Playing Now > Playing Library.  You should see the DLNA library from your MyCloud.  Click on that and in the main window, click "Load Library."  This will make JRiver use your MyCloud as the library.  Now, under Playing Now click Player and you should see the rPlay as a renderer.  Click that. Then anything you play from JRiver should stream directing from your MyCloud to your rPlay, bypassing JRiver's own playback engine.

 

I hope that's right.  Let me know if it helps.

 

PS. Make sure your NAS has DLNA server turned on.

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Guys, I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth. I'm going to telephone Arcam tomorrow to get their views on it, and go from there.

 

Incidentally I have music playing from the NAS drive (via JRiver), but I cannot define its route. I've got a lot of 24/96 music on there, but I cannot prove that that's what's reaching my ears. For all I know the files may be being degraded by them being routed via wireless through the laptop and being 'downscaled'. For all I know I could be listening to mp3 quality music!

Also the rPlay won't work without DTS Play-Fi running, and I'm getting some bad vibes about that technology.

I thought DLNA enabled a direct route from the NAS, through the router, the rPlay and on to my DAC.

 

Terry

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Hi,

 

That seems to be the best place to start. If I can't get this box to work satisfactorily I might as well not buy it and go back to an ethernet and a USB cable. £380 is a lot of money to spend just to eliminate two cables.

 

Thanks for keeping in touch. I will report back.

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Hi,

 

Well I spoke to Arcam's Technical Support department, and they were as helpful as they could be without intimate knowledge of JRiver.

 

The first thing I learned is that when you install Play-Fi on a device that has no built-in, in use media player, it installs its own software plus a 'library browser' (my phrase) to control the music from. That's why it did that on my phone and tablet. When I installed it on my laptop (where I want my 'control' to remain) it just installs the necessary software linking the laptop to the rPlay. It can 'see' JRiver (and Itunes although I'm not using it) and assumes their 'supremacy. The rPlay cannot be used without the DTS software running.

Secondly Arcam told me to ensure that 'transcoding' is switched off in Twonky. When I tried to check that, my computer keeps telling me Twonky isn't running, and I can't find its User Interface. Despite this I'm still playing music.

My worry about the music still being routed 'through' the laptop is unlikely to be the case. JRiver is indicating that my 24/96 are being played exactly as that so there's no 'downsampling'. There appears to be no way of tracking the exact route the signal is taking except that JRiver is set wherever possible to 'Direct'

 

I'm hearing music, so I guess I just need to stop worrying...  

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5 hours ago, Terry Dactyl said:

Hi,

 

Well I spoke to Arcam's Technical Support department, and they were as helpful as they could be without intimate knowledge of JRiver.

 

The first thing I learned is that when you install Play-Fi on a device that has no built-in, in use media player, it installs its own software plus a 'library browser' (my phrase) to control the music from. That's why it did that on my phone and tablet. When I installed it on my laptop (where I want my 'control' to remain) it just installs the necessary software linking the laptop to the rPlay. It can 'see' JRiver (and Itunes although I'm not using it) and assumes their 'supremacy. The rPlay cannot be used without the DTS software running.

Secondly Arcam told me to ensure that 'transcoding' is switched off in Twonky. When I tried to check that, my computer keeps telling me Twonky isn't running, and I can't find its User Interface. Despite this I'm still playing music.

My worry about the music still being routed 'through' the laptop is unlikely to be the case. JRiver is indicating that my 24/96 are being played exactly as that so there's no 'downsampling'. There appears to be no way of tracking the exact route the signal is taking except that JRiver is set wherever possible to 'Direct'

 

I'm hearing music, so I guess I just need to stop worrying...  

 

Looks like I'm going to have to disagree with @zackthedog, here.

 

I'm eternally optimistic, but I can't really see any outcome here but disappointment. The fact that the Arcam rPlay doesn't work without installing the DTS Play-Fi software on the laptop is ringing a very clear alarm bell :(

 

The "necessary software linking the laptop to rPlay" is an audio output device and JRiver "assuming supremacy",  just means getting JRiver to play the files to the DTS Play-Fi provided audio output device (& it would be the same if you were using any other audio file playing software, such as iTunes). Since JRiver is playing the files, that means they have to pass through the laptop, regardless as to whether they are being provided by the Twonky UPnP/DLNA media server on the NAS or not!

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Hi guys,

 

I borrowed this box to achieve the following:

 

1 To see if sound quality improved.

2 To do away with two cables running from my laptop.

 

At the moment I've achieved only one of those. And incidentally my Quad Vena is Bluetooth, so it's not as if I can't communicate with it wirelessly, but there's a marked degradation in sound quality.

 

I've also been thinking about the Oppo Sonica streamer, and I believe Cambridge do something similar. But I've read that the Sonica doesn't do 'gapless' and that would annoy me. Don't know about the Cambridge.

 

I'm going to a 'streaming seminar' at another HiFi emporium in a couple of weeks, but that shop only does high end gear (eg Naim) which I'm not allowed to buy (*taps nose*)

 

I think I'll give the rPlayer a miss and borrow the Sonica from my dealer over a weekend just to see what it does.

 

@Zack It seems to me there might be a lucrative commercial tie-up with DTS that made Arcam design the rPlay unusable without Play-Fi.

 

Thanks for the responses both. :D  

 

 

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Me again,

 

Following on from the main theme of trying to get the best quality music out of this streaming set-up of mine, in order to eliminate Play-Fi as an experiment I downloaded a trial of Roon. It plays without Play-Fi running.

First impressions of Roon are that it's got very few settings to play with, and seems very simple, a bit like iTunes.  But I'm not sure I want to pay over £100 for its subscription.

Is Roon better than JRiver, sound-quality wise?

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