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Software Comparison: How Do They Sound?


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If this has been answered elsewhere and my search just missed it, I apologize.


What is the difference in the sonic character of the popular Windows-based playback software? I've read passing comments about some software sounding more analog-like, creating the implication other software sounds less analog-like, which I take to mean lacking the warmth created by either rolling off the treble in a pleasant way or boosting the midbass, and giving more transparency and detail. Considering I already have a tube-based DAC in my Ayon CD-2 I'd actually prefer a more detailed, tonally-neutral software solution.


I realize this is a difficult question because (apparently) the sound of a system can change based on software configuration. I don't know to what degree the sonic character can be changed by configuration settings in the software, but this would be an interesting issue as well.


Thanks in advance for your thoughts!


Front ends:

Digital: Sonore ultraRendu or SOtM 200 ultra Trifecta --> LKS MH-D004

Analog: Clearaudio Performance DC --> Rogue Triton

Back end: SMc Audio VRE-1C --> SMc Audio DNA125 Platinum Plus-->Stealth Dream v10 cables --> Ridge Street Audio Designs Sason speakers, dual Rhythmik F12SE subs



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Earlier this year I made the jump from conventional disk sources (both vinyl and polycarbonate) to a computer-driven system. For six months before I made the leap, I set about trying many different Windows-based programs before settling on J River Media Center. As a playback tool it functions superbly well, and it sounds pretty good too.


Then I learned something dramatic. I use a MacBook Pro (2009 17" model) which dual-boots into both Windows and Mac. So I was persuaded by my son to try listening to Audirvana playing in Integer Mode on the Mac.


What I have since established is that just about anything under OS/X sounds better than just about anything under Windows. I have seen many reasons postulated for why this should be, and I won't get into them here. But the difference - for me at any rate - is pretty colossal. I could go on... I settled on BitPerfect which plays in combination with iTunes.


As always, your mileage may vary, but if you're serious about sound quality - otherwise why would you post here - then you need to add the computer's OS to your list of software variables.


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