samedi 9 février 2013

Test - JPlay release 5


Here it is ... JPlay rev 5




On the audiophile planet, there are not so much computer audiophile solutions able to perform at a very high level. You have most probably noticed that computer tuning is a quite complex art requiring high computer knowledge when it comes to discuss about kernel parameters topic. Because of this situation, a few manufacturers have found that it was somehow easier to turn to pure hardware solutions and build an optimized computer using a linear power supply, shielding and filters in front of any noisy device.
At JPlay, people think the other way round, providing audiophiles with pure software solutions trying to overcome hardware limitations. It is a few versions we did not write any line about Josef’s work, waiting for him to mature the next step of audio reproduction with the introduction of the Xtream mode.

We are today happy to provide you with our current test result with JPlay release 5.0b. This new release shows up with a real huge stability, in standalone or coupled modes with iTunes/JRiver or foobar.

Jplay has developed a true sound identity over time with the rounded River, sharped Beach and now well balanced Xtream “sound signature”. Nicely colored on the high medium range, Xtream combines Beach’s sharpness with River’s softness providing us with a wider soundstage and a more transparent output. We were absolutely impressed by the level of details offered on the higher part of the audio specter, especially in the highest audible range where it was very accurate, depicting a nearly perfect mastering of jitter control over asynchronous USB exchanges. The soundstage is also very realistic, even if sometimes, depending on settings, the Xtream effect seems to ‘overcarve’ the natural depth.

Low latency and CPU cycles used to feed dac out of the Xtream routine deliver a gigantic bandwidth extending up to the very low range of a few Hz. With our 6 large subwoofers we have rarely heard the whole room shake this way, even the manufacturers present for the occasion were surprised about the exceptional quality of sound.
Naturally to get the best out of Jplay, one must use the hibernation mode. Despite the USB stick necessary to stop the process, the quality of sound is really impressively better in this mode than in the normal throttling one. Soundstage extends up to 1 meter larger in both directions, sound color becomes more natural and phase is perfectly in place, instruments are not moving a single feet away from start to the end. Hibernation mode is a must have and to get the best out of it, Josef has imagined a new service:

JPlay over net

With Jplay release 5 you can dedicate a computer on the local area network to play in hibernation mode. This computer has only an additional thread listing to a network socket to wait for commands. In this way of doing, the USB stick becomes useless. You just need another computer to control what you want to play, for example with JRiver or foobar. The JPlay ASIO driver then transfers the whole stream to the player computer over the network and everything is played locally from its memory, as usual. In this mode, we observed that the sound quality is a bit under the standalone computer mode, but the easiness of use makes it our preferred solution for an audiophile. Network interrupts are unpredictable and we know that with broadcasts activity the system runs into a lot of CPU cycles reading and recording information at every second. Even when nothing happens, there are broadcasts and announcements, this is probably why, leaving the networking thread fully alive gives this difference.

We did a try with a lot of material. With regular CD encoding, the sound quality was as good as with high definition on our test files. When it comes to details, high definition content sometimes gets a cleaner split on layouts. Best result was achieved with 24 bits / 96 KHz files, 176.4 and 192 KHz were either over distorted on the higher range either bringing too much clarity, then less general balance. 
Rachel Ferrell’s live at Montreux Festival was absolutely stunning, color of keyboard notes were natural with perfectly credible resonance over the voice, without mix, where most of Rachel’s small inflections were impeccably reproduced. Our feeling regarding instruments was reinforced by HD content from Bach suites for Cello by Richard Tunnicliffe. The excellence of this session recording allows capturing the event with real majesty; the intimate atmosphere was transcribed with a lot of micro-information driving the soundstage at a level of reality rarely observed.  At the opposite, concert hall on Bob Marley’s concert was large and the stage feeling really realistic especially when it comes to placing players and public.

Whatever we observed, we invite you to run JPlay 5 and enjoy listening to music as it suddenly comes alive no matter the level of setup you would have, even on smaller setups, we observed it was like rocking the amplifier! Jplay is like this little piece of magic you like to add to sound so that it suddenly becomes real.


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