I have listened about the Jplay music player software before but never get too excited on it, because the most important thing to get best sound quality is never will be the music software, it migh improve a little bit on audio quality but never will be a breakthrough to me. As a Mechanical based guy I believe more into the hardware rather than the software, so I don’t really care about the software as long as my hardware can performed. Most of the time I sticked to the Foobar and Jriver Media Centre for my ‘music obsession period’.
But my point of view didn’t stand for too long because I just can’t believe Jplay has gained so much attention in the forums from worldwide, besides, my audiophile friends keep mentioning the Jplay to me. Out of curiosity, how could I resisted the Jplay if it can caused so much fun to the final audio quality, why don’t just give it a try? Like usual, I have contacted Josef from Jplay to get a sample of Jplay (Users can download their trial version for 99Euro on their website).
How does it work?
Jplay can worked in such ways (As I concerned and most probably the way it will be used for) :
- Standalone music player (Jplay Mini) interfaces really close to zero. In this mode, you can just copy your music and play in the Jplay, and you can skip to next track (but no previous track selection), Playback mode (Default or Shuffle) and Cache Setting (which you can select how much are you allocated your cache memory for audio, for larger files you will need to allocate bigger cache momory). Normally I will just load a album into it, worth to mention that in this mode there is no support for .APE music file format. If your computer is not fast enough you will noticed a decrease in computer speed.
- Associated with other music player such as Foobar and Jriver MediaCentre, if you can’t accept the UI of Jplayer Music player, you can actually use it with your music player (Your DAC have to support Asio anyway), while there is better audio quality but I think the most important factor is now it can support DAC without install your DAC’s driver.
- Hibernate Mode : This mode can work woth both of 1 and 2, in this mode, computer will go into hibernate mode and you can’t skip tracks and do anything, the only thing that you can do is just sit tight and enjoying music.
Is the audio quality really improved?
The answer is definitely yes. While the original Foobar and Jriver Media Centre is not really bad in term of audio quality, they are not as good as Jplay, no questions asked. The different is quite subtle if you listen thoroughly. Well, not really need to listen thoroughly, I am at my office when I received the review sample of Jplay from Josef, after installing it and some brief listening, instantly I have noticed some cleaner, more transparent and clearer sound coming out from my office table system, it is not something high/mid end though, just a cheap Sennheiser HD202 ii and xDuoo TA-01 (Vacuum tube headpone amplifier with a built in DAC). The positive outcome really iuntriguing me to test eJPlay more thoroughly with my home setup, which is much more better than the one I am using in office.
When I went back to home, I installed the Jplay in my personal computer (Thanks Josef for allowing me install Jplay in my computers) and listened thorugh my ‘better’ setup, my first impression still preserve but I also noticed some better impact of bass and more open sound overall (With Jplay Standalone player), if I use it with my Foobar/JRiver Media Centre the difference is not that great though (Although still better), this might because of my Firestone Audio Tobby already hasw some excellent USB platform. But using DAC/Amp combo that is like the Xduoo TA-01, the improvement is obvious. I like to use it as a standalone player if I just want to listen to one album only, but if I allocated too much cache memory for it, my computer will obviously slowed down as well (My computer is not that fast). Interface and control is not as convenience as let say foobar 2000 and Jriver Media Centre, but if you are not going to listen an album or two and just sit there, Jplay Mini is a wise choice. I am using Yulong Audio D100 II as my DAC/Amp, and directly drive my AKG 701 for example, immediately I noticed if I:
- Play through Foobar2K : Dry and emotionless, with a lot of grain.
- Play through Foobar2K with Jplay Asio driver : Cleaner and darker background, less dry.
- Play through Jplay Mini : The best out of three, definitely more emotion involved and expressive. Bass is taut and obviously more impact and detailed.
The real secret power is in hibernate mode
But I am enjoying the Jplay the most when I use it in the so called hibernate mode. The improvement need not an expert to tell out the differences, the sound is grand with smoother/realistic soundstage, also better bass response. Although I can’t access my music library when I am in hibernate mode, but I can focused on my music 100 percent without online surfing or anything. If you selected your songs thoroughly before you put into your playlist then should not be any problem. Audio quaity differences are very obvious.
Jplay is a wise choice if you are really into this Pc-fi thing. If you are asking me why choose to pay when there is somethingthat is free and less hassle to use, lets say Foobar2K. The final answer is still boiled down to audio quality and what is your expectation in audio outcome. If you really spent a lot of your precious time in Pc based audio listening and already have some good DAC, amp and headphones (Not necessarily high end), then I think that you should give Jplay a serious thought.