Best Sounding Computer Audio Player For PC

 I have been using Foobar2000 to play computer audio through my DAC. It is simple and straight forward. But I am wondering if there is a better sounding players out there. I tried JRiver and thought the sound was slightly better. But JRiver is designed for not only music but video and well as photos. There is a lot of overhead that I really don't need or want.

 So what other audio players have better sound than Foobar2000?
Give Roon's free two week trial a shot.

It doesn't alter your library or metadata in any way and is easy to install and de-install if it isn't for you. No harm, no foul. (Runs sweet with HQPlayer but the setup with it can be tricky.) 

The graphics and reviews are excellent and operation is easy. There's real good support at the Roon Community Forum.

It won't alter your library but it will definitely reveal any deficiencies in the library's metadata. 

I've used iTunes on both a Mac and a PC. For a free piece of software, it is a complete package and if it didn't sound as good as I'd hoped, the blame would've rested more on my system or the quality of recordings. iTunes with Bitperfect (upsampling app) sounds great to me. 

Good luck.

HQ Player is the obvious consensus answer according to the online comments of the most enthusiastic computer audiophile crowd. The downside is you need a more powerful computer than typical and it is more complex to use than JRiver or similar. Built-in digital EQ is a bonus if you are into that. Many tout it's ability to upsample and convert PCM into quad DSD. Whether or not you can take advantage of it depends on your choice of dad since quad DSD is just coming into common use. 

All that being said, I don't do any of it because I prefer a simpler solution using a NAS and network player(aka single purpose tiny Linux computer made specifically just to run audio) with a tablet-based & phone-based control app. Search microRendu if you care about that whole thing which gets off your topic. Cheers,

Spencer, microRendu looks very interesting but would not work for me. My NAS is not in the same room (or floor) as my stereo. Also it does not say what DACs it supports. My DAC uses a special USB driver so I am guessing it wouldn’t work.

dbtom2, I browsed the roon website. The overall concept is interesting. But I don’t think it is what I am looking for.

PCs are too noisy for proper sound. You can pick up a decent second hand macbook with an ssd drive on ebay for less than $800, install Audirvana Plus for $75, connect your dac, and you have a superb standalone music player for less than a grand. The software comes with a pdf explaining how to optimise your laptop for best sound. Basically you want to run it off battery power, use the correct usb port, set Audirvana preferences so that you're in Type One Integer Mode, then fiddle with the computer's main volume so that you can max out the volume on Audirvana. I run the dac straight into a power amp and it sounds incredible.
I tried PureMusic and Amarra as well: They both sound great but I prefer Audirvana by quite some margin.

Avoid iTunes at all costs. It sounds horrific. Just. Just awful.
@lostbears It's good that your NAS isn't in the same room as your audio system; that's the best place for it. If you can run a long CAT ethernet cable into the listening that is ideal. If not, you can use adapters that plug into AC outlets in both rooms and send the signal from router to audio room where you'd plug a an ethernet cable from the plugged in adapter to the microRendu. Other options include wifi receivers that have ethernet outputs and many brand new routers that come as 3 or more pieces to "spread your router" and wifi signal more evenly thru the house. Anything that has a standard RJ45 ethernet output and you will be in business.
As far as DAC, most are not a problem, and regarding special drivers, you can post on the Sonore Forum on computeraudiophile and Jesus from Sonore( who posts there daily) will address the issue, even working with the manufacturers if they need to write a special compatible driver. For a handful of exotic DACs these issues have already been conquered thanks to other buyers, but most of the time it isn't an issue at all. Ask Jesus telling him about your specific DAC.

Lastly, in my firsthand experience, everything suggested by @uberdine is bettered by a mile with the NAS & microRendu and at a lower cost. I used Mac, A+ in standalone integer mode for years and tested the others mentioned. It was fine and better than most full computer solutions, but the microRendu is in a completely different league and is more intuitive & less buggy in terms of user interface(especially for visitors) and more reliable without library indexing issues, crashes, etc. common to Audirvana+. Cheers,

I agree fully with sbank. I am also using the Microrendu in my system, and find it to be sonically superior to running the music through a PC or Mac. A fantastic solution for my digital audio needs for under $700. Save your money and spend it on a good DAC. You can continue to use your JRiver program with the Microrendu as well.

I have been doing a lot of reading about the Microrendu and I think it might be the way to go. But, I have an Audio Research DAC8 so I need to use a USB to SPDIF or AES converter. Supposedly the DAC 8 sounds best using AES or SPDIF instead of USB anyway. There is a multitude of choices for USB converters and some have a higher sound quality than others. I am not sure which one would be a good choice..Ideally I would like one that is Linux compatible. Why doesn’t the Microrendu have a SPDIF or AES out?

Second, is there a wireless option I can use with the Microrendu? Both my router and NAS are on a different floor. Running a cable is just not an option for me. Thanks!


               The Dac8 is better via AES. I also use Foobar with the DSD plugin, then Fire Wire to a Weiss INT202 interface then AES to the Dac8 this provides me with bit perfect checking and remote volume control. The Dac8 runs direct to the power amps.

This arrangement bettered the USB connection, for me Fidelizer is next and maybe Dirac.

@lostbears Already answered your question about what to do if you can't run an ethernet cable. Search CA for you the popular model of power line adapters that plug into AC outlets in both rooms and send the signal from router to audio room where you'd plug a an ethernet cable from the plugged in adapter to the microRendu. Pretty sure the pair of adapters <$100 via amazon,etc. 
The reason why microRendu doesn't is have multiple outputs is because every cent is engineered into optimizing the sound of its USB output beyond what is on just about every other USB output, including its use of Swenson's Regen tech.
So @lustformusic , when you say that Dac8 (or any other) sounds better with  AES have you tried that vs. USB fed from a microRendu? I would argue that the improvements made probably beat any other source via AES into Dac8. I have no doubt about your assertion using other sources. Cheers,

Spencer, hard to pin down why, could be that Fire Wire is better than USB, or the USB interface in the Dac8 is inferior to the Weiss interface, maybe even the addition of a extra clocking between server and Dac . the volume control within the Weiss is better so far than the volume control within Foobar or the Bent Passive Volume control I tried or the volume control built in to my Vac power Amp. I also tried  all the above in combination with each other.

I haven't tried your microRendu , not sure it's available here, well worth looking into though.

I have assumed that once bit perfect with low latency was achieved there  was not much more could be achieved but I am open.

Hi. I hope it's OK to resurrect an old thread.

I'm putting together a new media PC - the one I built back in 2005 has finally given out.

Over the last 13 years I have used the optical out from the motherboard to connect to my Denon AV amp that has 5 channel stereo (uses the centre and rear speakers - plus it has A and B front speakers). I mainly play pop and dance music mp3s - so nothing too high brow. It needs a good, clear thud to the base, lots of clear treble, pleasant vocals. It's not got to sound like a violin is in the room with me, it's just got to blast out some thrilling dance stuff that doesn't distort. My mp3s are all gained down a bit so they don't clip.

I have always used Winamp set to full treble and bass and the set up sounded absolutely amazing. I've never heard music sound better anywhere else.

I did try Windows Media Player and iTunes but these never came close to the quality of the sound that came out of Winamp.

I know Winamp won't work on Windows10 (although a new version might be coming out), and I don't think there is a Linux version. I could use some VPC software and use a Windows XP VPC to install Winamp so I know there will be ways round it.

However, there might be players around than Winamp that might meet my requirements. I've seen Foobar2000 and Audirvana mentioned. What would be the best sounding audio player for Windows 10 or Linux (probably Elementary or Mint)

I know Winamp won't work on Windows10 (although a new version might be coming out) ...  What would be the best sounding audio player for Windows 10 or Linux
Winamp works on Windows 10 for me, no problem. I don't think a new version is likely soon - if ever.

JRiver's Media Center is another good tool, but it isn't free.
Winamp will work - that's good news. Are you using that last .exe that they did?
No, I'm using v5.666 Build 3516. It's very stable and useful.
Right. I have a number of .exe files for Winamp but they are on the old media PC that isn't working right now. I can probably Google for it. Thanks for the info
If you've never heard music sound better than from an mp3, you need to get out of the house more or just invest in something better. Storage is getting pretty cheap, no reason not to store larger better sounding file formats. Ripped redbook CDs from your local library will be a big improvement. Good high rez files usually even more so. 

@lostbears So what have done since 2016 on the topics discussed? Cheers,
XXHE is the endgame for music players if SQ is top priority.

Firstly, the base player itself is superb in terms of resolution.
 I do find it sounds oddly veiled sometimes but its the complete opposite to other players that all have some degree of glare/harshness. so it can feel lacking in clarity or crispness but actual detail and timbre is the best youll get.
There are tons of settings to mess with, it can be very confusing but isnt something to worry about, once you get more comfortable you can start experimenting and get some further slight improvements to SQ.

Now thats the just the player, XXHE comes with a plethora of features that tweak your PC to sound better. memory tweaks, CPU tweaks, disabling services automatically , dramatically reducing background OS tasks, completely shutting down GUI during playing.
It is already a great player compared to most but when you utilize all these features it is on a whole other level to other software.

The UI is pretty horrible looking but not too difficult to used to, I actually find HQPlayer to be less ergonomic and fluid to control even though it looks better but dont expect anything as comfortable or customization as jriver or foobar.

A huge drawback compared to other players is no native DSD support (but you can actually encode DSD as DoP in a PCM package and it will play)

A benefit over HQplayer is lossy file playback

it has a free trial so Id highly recommend trying it out, the full version has most of the extreme SQ tweaks though.
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It's XX High End, a software package, from Phasure. It's got a small fanatical user base. 
It's a windows tweaker's paradise, but I find it far from user friendly. The last thing I want to do is change settings and control my playback from a computer keyboard. But if the idea of changing varying digital filters while you listen sounds appealing, then you might enjoy it. Different horses for courses...Cheers,