Should I use JRiver?

I’m looking into JRiver and am wondering if it would provide an increase in sound quality for my system. I’m currently using a Bluesound Node 2 connected to my PS Audio Gain Cell DAC via coax. I’m using Tidal and can stream MQA files (just the timing benefit - not sure which “unfold” that equates to) and regular cd quality files to the GCD which then feeds my S300. I also have a good quality Onkyo cd player (stereophile class b) which is connected to my GCD via toslink optical. I have a decent CD collection and this connection does indeed sound better than my Bluesound Node 2, but it is no slouch - it’s only marginally better.

Would I see much of an increase in my system if I added JRiver to my setup and played files from my PC? Would I only hear an improvement if I purchased and played DSD files to my GCD? I’m just trying to understand the potential benefit - if any at all. It’s hard to beat the convenience of the Bluesound Node 2 and Tidal (soon to be Qobuz when I switch over), but I’m all about the best sound quality. If I can manage a better sound quality through something like JRiver then I’ll give it a shot.

JRiver offers a 30-day free trial. Why not demo it for a month and see what you think? Also, it sounds like you are asking if ripping your CD’s to your PC’s hard drive and then playing them back off the hard drive would yield better sound than playing the physical discs in your Onkyo CD player. There are so many variables embedded in that question that it would be impossible to give a definitive answer. You could try ripping a few CD’s to HDD and then play them back via your Node 2 and compare the sound to that of spinning the optical discs in the Onkyo. In other words, you do not need JRiver to play CD rips. Just make sure you rip your CD’s to a lossless format (I use and recommend FLAC).

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You’re essentially picking up on what I was putting down - so to speak. Good idea doing some a, b, and c testing - I didn’t think of that. I understand the embedded variables - it indeed makes it hard to give a definitive “yes” or “no,” but I’m relatively unfamiliar with computer audio playback through a hifi system. Thus, my question. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything obvious that my fellow PS Audio forum-ers would be able to point out to me :wink:

Though I am curious about DSD playback through something like JRiver on the Gain Cell DAC and how it sounds vs. what I’m used to…

This ^^. IME JRiver Media Center (JRMC) has presented the best sound quality in my streaming system. I use Roon, Tidal, MCONTROL/MCONNECT and JRMC/JRemote to play music from the internet and/or my iMac. To my ears, downloaded and ripped files playing from my iMac to the DirectStream Sr. DAC over ethernet (via JRMC with JRemote) consistently sounds the best compared to all the rest (including Roon playing the same files from my computer, which leaves me scratching my head a bit).

(Disclaimer: The only other DS Sr. input I have used is coax fed by a Denon DVD-2900 universal player - close, but no cigar.)

Some system/signal path details (thanks for indulging me):

iMac downstairs to AT&T modem/router in man-cave/bonus room over Wi-Fi;

modem/router to TP-LINK MC200CM Gigabit Media Converter via Wireworld Chroma Ethernet Cat8 Cable; (Check this out: Optical Isolation)

TP-LINK MC200CM Gigabit Media Converter to TP-LINK MC200CM Gigabit Media Converter via Tripp Lite Duplex Multimode 62.5/125 Fiber Patch Cable;

TP-LINK MC200CM to TP-Link 8-port passive gigabit ethernet switch via generic Cat6 ethernet cable;

ethernet switch to DirectStream Sr. DAC via Wireworld Starlight Ethernet Cat8 Cable.

When I got into PC audio, I went with JRiver 21and Vinyl Studio.
I really like JRiver, but it can’t stream Tidal, and appears to have no plans for Qobuz. As I go straight from a laptop, only used for music, this meant I had use Tidal’s desktop player. It got so bad, I couldn’t get through an album file without it stopping or just buffering nonstop. I have Spectrum that is running at 200 Mbps. My PC is limited to 100, and doing speedtests I am getting about 95 Mbps. So Tidal can’t blame my ISP.
So I tried Audivarna+, 14 day free trial. It plays Tidal flawlessly, and is ready for Qobuz.
I haven’t done any comparisons between JRiver and A+, but compared to Tidal’s player, it works.
I always disliked having to change players, so now I can build playlists with a mix of my music and Tidal’s.
I have a friend who tried the Bluesound and returned it, but I think he was using the built in DAC.
I will say that for a beginner A+ is easier to setup, but JRiver offers more options. Although the A+ for PC is new, and I believe I read that more features are coming.
As suggested, try them all, they all offer free trials.
I would have preferred to not buy another player, but Tidal was useless without it.