Why does Audirvana Studio sound so much better than JRiver Media Center?

I deliberately asked it this way to invoke responses from others who disagree. I have always been a loyal JRiver user. I think it has a better look and feel and I like that it encourages active user involvement. But I stopped using it at Release 28 because the sound quality of Studio is far superior to me. That’s a strong statement, but to me it was like upgrading to a better dac. I am not happy with Studio’s quirks and bugs, although it’s getting better. I wish it was as nice to use as JRiver.

Putting those amenities aside, I am talking only about sound quality when playing the same files.

But does anyone have an explanation of how and why a music player can sound so much better than another when both stream in hi-rez?

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Are you using a PS Audio DAC? PS Audio provides files that will light a lamp on the DAC to show it is receiving their file as bit perfect.

BTW, I use Foobar 2000 (free) to play my very large library from my network attached storage. I have no desire to change.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

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All I’ve ever used is jriver. Is there a consensus that audirvana sounds better ?

I’m using Audirvana Origin, which has the same sound quality as Studio but fewer features. I had been using Audirvana 3.5, and then I downloaded a trial version of Origin to compare sound quality. I was shocked at how much better Origin sounded than 3.5 when playing back hi res files stored on my SSD. What was left to improve in 3.5? I don’t know, but my ears clearly preferred Origin.

My DAC is a Marantz SACD 30n. Like the other recent Marantz SACD players, it used the “Marantz Musical Mastering” system to upsample everything to DSD 256.

I paid for a year of Audirvana Studio. It sounds nice but its a complete pain in the bottom to deal with. I almost prefer poorer sound than having to use it . Bah.

It looks like Audirvana uses something like Fidelizer to optimize music playback from a computer? If I’m reading that correctly then a better comparison would be to JRiver w/ Fidelizer.

That’s exactly what I have.

BTW, yes I am a Foobar evangelist (it is free). If anyone is interested in using Foobar with Windows, I can provide to you my configuration files to get you up and running in no time. Just PM me.

Sorry, I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but I do want to post that there are other options for a player.

It is fully bit-perfect, but you can install digital equalizer plug-ins if you like.

The challenge with Foobar is that it is a geek’s tool and requires some configuration to look good, and for that it helps to have some computer savvy. The good is that you can make it look and handle anyway you like. Further, it has a zillion plugins to play all kinds of crazy files and has file utilities. I have it configured with a dropdown to select output drivers with a click, so I can select output between my PS Audio DAC, and my Woo Audio headphone DAC/Amp. It also has a sliding buffer size tool to help with any juttering you may have using an older, slower computer. The Geek Illuminati notes that it is very lite on computer resources. And on and on and on.

Again, PM me if you are interested.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

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Hi, using Audirvana 3.5 with Win10 and external DAC audiolab M-DAC (not the newer plus version) via USB which works perfect for me. Good sound, no trouble. Although Audirvana hides information where music files are located and I have no influence to alter anything. So I tried latest revision of JRiver which has a more meaning user interface for me. Simple comparison did not show any difference in sound quality yet. I hear blues, rock, rockabilly where the recording is not always perfect. No classical music. Further, I did not want to go for Audirvana Studio because it is a subsription and at beginning had a lot of bugs as the Audirvana forum shows. So, if I want to make a better comparison I need to use my STAX electrostatic earphones which have an excellent resolution. But time is short.

Hi, forgot to mention why I don’t switch to Audirvana Origin although it might have parts of the Studio version. Reason is easy. Audirvana 3.5 had a 2 simultanious usable PC license, Origin does not. You can switch the license to another PC and back. But this is a uncomfortable process which I cannot use. So I stay with 3.5 or will move to JRiver.

Welcome Sven!

I’ve used JRiver for years because I read that it does nothing to the native audio files, unless you want it to. Even further back, I was a big Apple iTunes fan because of its user interface, but when I read that it’s not bit-perfect, I kept using it, but for organizing only - using River to play. Recently I set up BitPerfect which uses iTunes (now Apple Music) to control the playback only - BP does the playing. I’ve compared it to JRiver and hear no difference. Never used Audirvana, but organization is critical for me - I’m as much a student of music as an audiophile.

Bit Perfect - ah, here is the rub.

PS Audio has files you can play to determine if your system is bit perfect. Playing these files will light up on your display (senior or junior) and let you know if you are getting bit-perfect pass through.

If you are not getting bit-perfect pass through, then check if you have Windows volume up to 100… windows kernal does evil to a bit stream.

Regarding sound… if the player is passing a bit-perfect stream, it should sound no different from other bit-perfect players. Some say this is not true. I disagree and say they do. The Direct Stream DAC and Junior take great pains to eliminate jitter and other bit stream related issues. However, wierder things have happened in this audio world… so… to each his/her own.

BTW, foobar has super-fast database organization and management… I don’t know if others are as fast/good, but years ago, foobar was peerless in this aspect. I have mine set to display the library as a Windows tree structure… I like it and find no reason to change players. I know Ted uses it as well as other players… maybe a question direct to him on what he likes best and why is in order.

Peace
Bruce in Philly

One thing I learned over the years of using JRiver is that there are so many intricate setting buried deep in the menus that it’s easy to set something that borks bit-perfect output.

JRiver (with certain skins) has an indicator to let you know the output is bit-perfect. If it’s blue, Jriver is not altering the original bits in any way:

image

The caveat, which I have experienced personally, is you have to be careful. JRiver might be sending the stream with no alteration, but you have to make sure Windows (or any other OS) is not. When I updated to Windows 11, JRiver was still showing bit-perfect output, but my DS was showing 24/48khz when the original file was 24/96. It was being caused by a Windows 11 setting despite using the PS Asio driver. I don’t remember where I found the problem though, as it was quite some time ago.

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Thanks for that interesting information tak. It could explain why I hear superior sound qualilty with Audirvana Studio. I have stopped using JRiver, but I still purchase the latest releases. I will have to revisit JRiver and try to make sure its settings are sending a bit perfect signal to my dac. I am using Windows 10 Professional.

I no longer have the DS Sr, but my DCS dac does have a series of lights indicating the bit/sample rate. I still much prefer JRiver’s user interface and customizable options. I still wish JRiver provided the ability to stream Qobuz.

Jim, the owner, has adamantly stated they will NEVER include Qobuz, Tidal, et. al.

There was some kind of bad history a long time ago when they did try to integrate - I don’t know which service it was, but I think it had something to do with the service switching codes in some way after they put a lot of work into it. Someone always asks in their forum, and they get shot down immediately - sometimes with a simple and pretty terse “NO!”

Their logic/reasoning is that the WDM driver is available, and you can also activate network capability and stream to JRiver as a renderer, which is what I do with Bubble. The Bridge II (which I still have installed) also shows up as a renderer, so I am able to stream Qobuz directly to that too.

For a very different take on a similar topic. The folks on the Roon forum, in general, are very much bits are bits people (or folk). Any argument otherwise gets shot at with both barrels.

@audiojerry - in the Roon thread that @amsco15 links, the OP found that his Audirvana was set at a “+6” for volume to his DAC. This would DEFINITELY skew the perception that AV sounds better.

It APPEARS that the OP did not set this, at least intentionally, but it makes me think if it’s a default of AV, if it’s done intentionally to make users thinks AV sounds better than whatever they’re using prior.

Again, I would like to reiterate that Audirvana appears to use some audio optimization settings in it’s software, similar to what Fidelizer does, so that alone could be why it sounds better to some depending on what you have running Audirvana on and how ‘audio optimized’ your machine is already.

Ah… so it is kind of a philosophy question then… If the changes to the bit stream, intentional or not, sound better, then is this good or bad?

IMO, the player should pass bit perfect. Heck, our whole hobby is about not distorting anything… remember the words “High Fidelity” (high truth).

Now having written that, I have an equalizer plugin installed but not active in foobar. Yes, I am getting bit perfect, but I have some gawd-awful recordings where I just must turn down the treble and so I can activate the equalizer when needed, then unplug it back for bit perfect.

And yes, we perceive something louder as better. That is why you must level-set equipment if you are A-B’ing.

Peace