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Best sounding music player on Windows ?
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ilovemusic
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#1
19th July 2011
Old 19th July 2011
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Best sounding music player on Windows ?

What is the best sound music playback software on Windows ?

I am currently using Foobar.
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19th July 2011
Old 19th July 2011
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Foobar is okay, especially if you're on Windows 7 and using WASAPI. If you're on XP you can use ASIO output. Depending on your preference, as long as the equalizer is not enabled, if you use the ASIO output plugin, Winamp and Foobar are the same... And btw, the equalizer sucks on both of them.
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20th July 2011
Old 20th July 2011
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It depends on the audio card too though. On some audio cards, MME and DirectX is 1:1 bit accurate. Also, don't forget about the Kernel Streaming interface.

Secondly I guess I'll add that it also depends on if you're asking about lossless codecs, or lossy codecs. For layer-3 playback, Foobar sounds quite good. I can blind ABX it against Winamp P<0.05.
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20th July 2011
Old 20th July 2011
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I've not heard of bits getting lost in digital playback software. Who would allow that? How is FOOBAR any "better" than Winamp sonically? Or Windows Media Players?
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20th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwjd View Post
I've not heard of bits getting lost in digital playback software. Who would allow that? How is FOOBAR any "better" than Winamp sonically? Or Windows Media Players?
Some players alter bits (for instance: iTunes) and some don't. But that wasn't the concern that had been voiced by Th3_uN1Qu3. He was mainly talking about the API used to access the soundcard, but mentioned that (of course) you can't have the EQ enabled without altering the sound (and I agree their EQs suck, there's much better places and EQs to do speaker/headphone correction with). Some of those APIs, on some soundcards, are not bit accurate to the DAC.

If you're on OSX, your best bet is probably Songbird. On Windows and Linux there's quite a few more options that still have features of media library, working with iPods, etc.

As far as any one proper player being sonically better than another; when there is a difference, that's a subjective judgement. But there can be differences, that can sometimes be audible to some people on some systems, with how they sound when decoding lossy codecs. The reference spec for a proper mp3 decoder obviously isn't stringent enough, or I wouldn't be able to blind ABX several different reference decoders.
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20th July 2011
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yeah, iTunes is scary to me. I never use it for DETAILED listening anymore where ever I go. If a proggy was altering bits (other than EQ or special EF) I think it would be a failed program. I been using WinAmp for many years and it always seemed fine.
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21st July 2011
Old 21st July 2011
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Wait, music players can actually have different audio qualities (excluding coming from different codecs), this isn't like that 'Which DAW sounds more sparkley?' argument?

I use iTunes, without the EQ, soundcheck, any of those features. Would I really be better off going back to Songbird?
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21st July 2011
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God bless how complex and rediculous this is. Why did they choose to make anything not bit accurate? What is the upside?
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21st July 2011
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I don't use macs much, and will do it less in the future, but my experience with iTunes on MAC was it was destroying the bass - adding audiable distortion even with all the extra feature settings turned off. Granted this was only on the ONE system I was using, but I couldn't beleive how butchered it sounded. I tried everything in my knowdlege to clean it up to no avail: checking ALL the settings, testing the speakers, the audio interface, trying various levels of gain, checked wiring, checked AC quality, double checked the sourse material elsewhere for quality, it just sounded like crap thru itunes.
Again, this is probably just one isolated incident, but it was a high end MAC and I was not expecting such a poor performance.
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21st July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editronmegatron View Post
Oh no you didn't.
This isn't my opinion. This is easily proven on a $40 eBay oscilloscope (although using a bitscope is easier) and it's already been talked about and proven here multiple times, in addition to discussing where it's coming from. If you want to discuss the methods they used, or disprove it, bring it up in one of those topics.

If it actually makes an audible difference... I'm definitely NOT going there.
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22nd July 2011
Old 22nd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Graffam View Post
This isn't my opinion. This is easily proven on a $40 eBay oscilloscope (although using a bitscope is easier) and it's already been talked about and proven here multiple times, in addition to discussing where it's coming from. If you want to discuss the methods they used, or disprove it, bring it up in one of those topics.

If it actually makes an audible difference... I'm definitely NOT going there.
What error was found?


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22nd July 2011
Old 22nd July 2011
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#13
23rd July 2011
Old 23rd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemusic View Post
What is the best sound music playback software on Windows ?

I am currently using Foobar.
For mp3, it's Apollo in 24-bit mode - as proven on the site. It's not hard to hear - even my friend with his crappy computer speakers could hear it.
For anything lossless, no difference.

The stuff being said about bit-accuracy to DAC is rubbish. MP3 is an interpreted format, so it's not that some players "alter bits", it's that some decoders are better than others at intepreting the signal to spec. The playback decoder makes the most difference in terms of sound. Almost as much difference as the encoder, but not quite.
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24th July 2011
Old 24th July 2011
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On a Mac, the audible improvement when using Sonic Studios "Amarra" is so large, you'll be surprised and amazed.

Using Sonic drivers (rather than Apple drivers), and the playback engine from SoundBlade, you'll only ever boot iTunes to import/organize music, load up your iPod, or work with Gracenote..........certainly never to listen to music.

Amarra digs into iTunes directly in order to get playlists, etc. There's no need to re-import any of your music.

Anybody with a Mac, who's using iTunes for any sort of reference or general playback should really demo Amarra..........you'll buy it if you do, and relegate iTunes to "just being the database".

Frankly, I was amazed at the audible improvement with Amarra........so large and so obvious that there wasn't a need to A/B it with iTunes........it was simply a way better listening experience.
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26th July 2011
Old 26th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Graffam View Post
This isn't my opinion. This is easily proven on a $40 eBay oscilloscope (although using a bitscope is easier) and it's already been talked about and proven here multiple times, in addition to discussing where it's coming from. If you want to discuss the methods they used, or disprove it, bring it up in one of those topics.

If it actually makes an audible difference... I'm definitely NOT going there.
I'd also like to know what the error was.
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26th July 2011
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I see no degradation of data with iTunes. Passes the null test with a digital loop-back recording (nulls perfectly).

I also use iTunes to pass DTS audio out into the 5.1 amp in my lounge, which doesn't work unless the output is bit-perfect.

There was a bug a few months back with iTunes where it was collapsing the stereo image, but this was fixed in an update.
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26th July 2011
Old 26th July 2011
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Interesting thread positing the "whys" of the superior sound of Sonic software......... from a while back in this forum.

Why does Sonic Sound Better...
#18
29th July 2011
Old 29th July 2011
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iTunes smells funny when I hit the play button.
I definitely recommend using something else.
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29th July 2011
Old 29th July 2011
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I just want to re-iterate the points Jesse Graffam made across several posts:

1.) "On some audio cards, MME and DirectX is 1:1 bit accurate"
2.) "it also depends on if you're asking about lossless codecs, or lossy codecs"
(IOW, there are differences in output between decoders...)
3.) "Some of those APIs, on some soundcards, are not bit accurate to the DAC."
4.) "...there can be differences, that can sometimes be audible to some people on some systems, with how they sound when decoding lossy codecs. The reference spec for a proper mp3 decoder obviously isn't stringent enough, or I wouldn't be able to blind ABX several different reference decoders."
5.) player alteration of bits has been proven to Jesse's satisfaction in other threads however, "If it actually makes an audible difference... I'm definitely NOT going there. "

Seems pretty informed and rational to me...

It's easy to pick apart someone's post without reading what they've written earlier in the thread.

I don't know about bit accuracy between soundcards and software (I've only overseen one driver project for a sound card manufacturer ages ago), but I can verify different decoders produce different results when dealing with lossy formats.

I just did some research into callback procedures for various audio specs and couldn't immediately see how the bit stream could get munged but I don't doubt it's possible, there are a lot of variables in play, especially on windows.

On Edit, Mac players aren't on topic but I guess the context might warrant mentioning:

Audiofile engineering's Fidelia and Sonic Studio Amarra (which I think is a workflow fail because it uses iTunes rather than running standalone).

Last edited by DSPaudio; 29th July 2011 at 09:02 AM.. Reason: less dribble more nibble
#20
29th July 2011
Old 29th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSPaudio View Post
iTunes smells funny when I hit the play button.
I definitely recommend using something else.
That fishy tuna smell!


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#21
11th September 2011
Old 11th September 2011
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Open the latest versions of WMP and Winamp, load the same song, switch between them, and use your ears. There is a difference.
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22nd September 2011
Old 22nd September 2011
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I like Foobar2000 since it has ASIO support and sounds clean and unaffected. It can play 24-bit and 32-bit and 32-bit float WAV at full resolution. And it can play FLAC's and ALAC's and and FLAC or OGG's and of course AIFF's and MP4's and pretty much any high-res audio. If you feel like messing around, it has EQ too. You really can't go wrong with Foobar2000. foobar2000
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22nd September 2011
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So I see a lot of people saying some programs are more bit accurate or they sound better than others, but nothing backing it up. Googling it either brings back audiophile sites with not much of an explanation (a lot like that rotational velocidensity hoax). The only site with real backing only claims iTunes to be non-bit-perfect when ripping audio from a CD, which I don't use it for.

So any actual info on this? I did try A/B'ing WMP, Itunes, and Winamp, and they all sounded the same to me. And WinAmp's interface is such an eyesore I decided to get rid of it. Plus with iTunes supporting WASAPI now, even if this thing is real, I don't think iTunes matters anymore. All I'm asking is for someone to prove me wrong.
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23rd September 2011
Old 23rd September 2011
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All I know about iTunes is there used to be a bug in it so that the audio balance sounded panned slightly to the right. I've heard that, but I think it may have been corrected in a later release.
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23rd September 2011
Old 23rd September 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astroidmist View Post
All I know about iTunes is there used to be a bug in it so that the audio balance sounded panned slightly to the right. I've heard that, but I think it may have been corrected in a later release.
I know exactly what you're talking about. Open Quicktime on your computer, and search through the settings. Somewhere in there it will have the stereo balance, a while ago mine was set to Left:100 Right:99
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23rd September 2011
Old 23rd September 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemusic View Post
What is the best sound music playback software on Windows ?

I am currently using Foobar.
If you're talking mp3, it's Apollo in 24-bit mode. Otherwise it doesn't matter really.
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23rd September 2011
Old 23rd September 2011
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I love VLC for playback privately. Great player that plays every known and unknown in all impossible formats

Can't say if it alters any bits. But it works on every computer, PC, MAC, Linux, etc.
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#28
28th February 2013
Old 28th February 2013
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Hi,

I just compared Winamp with VLC and was amazed how dull and lacking of resolution Winamp sounded compared to VLC Player (I use a very high quality listening environment).

I wonder which Windows audio player sounds even better than VLC ?
#29
28th February 2013
Old 28th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3_uN1Qu3 View Post
Foobar is okay, especially if you're on Windows 7 and using WASAPI. If you're on XP you can use ASIO output. Depending on your preference, as long as the equalizer is not enabled, if you use the ASIO output plugin, Winamp and Foobar are the same... And btw, the equalizer sucks on both of them.
I don't use them for critical work, but I did manage to replicate a pretty good ISO 226:2003 on both Winamp and Windows MP.

And how does the eq suck on Foobar? It's got twice the bands as the graphics in Winamp & MP. What really sucks on Foobar is VBR only on mp3 output.
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Best sounding music player on Windows ?-10-band-graphic-eq-iso-2003-26-loudness-curve.jpg  
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1st March 2013
Old 1st March 2013
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fb2k setup for bit transparent (wasapi or asio) output, with lossless files.
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