Different PCs gives me very different results


Hi All,
I have been following some of the threads in this forum on various topics for a while now, and thank you all for the vast information fed out here, some with lots of "infighting" but makes a good read too. I am an OLD retiree with very little PC skills, thus had not gone into streaming or software like Media Monkey, JR and the likes My system is a basic Pearl Lite integrated amplifier, SA8005 sacd player and a pair of SH5Plus speakers, no fancy cables or power strips.
 
I'm a newbie as far as PC audio, digital and streaming is concerned. I had always been using what's in the software standard (Windows Media ripping my CDs and SACDs to WAV format) to rip and playback my music. If I'm lazy, to play my physical disc, I would use the Windows Media playback and seems to get a reasonable result going directly into my SA8005 player's usb B port using a reasonable cable.

My question here and hope some of you could enlighten me:
A little background:  I have been using different laptops for the playback with music ripped in external hard disk. Two of them are using Win XP, one XP Pro and one using Win 7 Pro.  The only one laptop that shows 44.1 on the SA8005 display during playback is this Netbook, (Also the best result in terms of clarity), while the other 3 all shows 44. Even my DELL Lat 6430s laptop with the latest Windows Media and XP Pro, shows 44 on the SA8005 display and the sound quality is so "muffed" as compared to the old netbook
Q1: Why do I get the best result with a Netbook using Win XP Home (8 years old)?
Q2: What or how could I improve on the current system? WAV is quite bad with media info and I constantly find some tracks from an album get missing on its own!
Q3: Is there a software that requires minimum PC skills to take over Win Media as it will be a paid program from Win 10 thereon?

Sorry for the long winded read and thank you all in advance for any feedback.
RayT
cusco69
In my humble opinion, I think it is time to upgrade your OS to Win 10.
Your current machines are utilizing dinosaur tech, and aren't even supported by Microsoft- so there are a lot of security issues, to say the least.
You can get a cheap laptop with Win 10 for almost nothing(Okay, a couple hundred bucks), that will give you the flexibility to use current streaming programs at better resolution than you are using now. And, you get better security, to bat.(Forgive me, but I am a nut when it comes to security).
Do the other PCs show 44 or 48? 44 KHz is non-standard, 44.1 KHz is standard. If you are seeing 48 KHz then the audio is being changed fro 44.1KHz (CD standard) to 48KHz. Many PC systems convert to 48KHz which will downgrade the sound.

This gets a little technical, but hopefully it will make sense.

You should look at what audio format is being used for the usb output. My guess is that may be causing the differences you here. In general XP was not a good sounding OS, whereas Windows 7 was a big improvement. Windows 7 introduced WASAPI, which bypasses the Windows audio system. Direct Sound, the old system, uses the Windows audio system, which can degrade the sound. It would also explain why you have 48 KHz. Do not believe  WASAPI was available on XP.

J River is a very good player, although it can be a little complicated to get used to. It is $50 and then updates are about $20 after that. It has a free 30 day trial.   Foolbar is free, but the user interface is generally not as good and tends to be somewhat technical.

flac is the most common format to replace wav on windows. It is a compressed version of wav, although there is no loss of data) and it has better tagging capabilities. A program like JRiver can convert to flac and rip to flac.

I would get a Windows 7 system with WASAPI going using something like JRiver or foobar and see how that sounds.  If you need help getting J RIver set up, ask for help.
Thanks for the responses.
GDNRBOB, I'm not so worried about security as I have full McAfee protection and on auto renewal with them. I hardly use the older laptops for surfing the web, only uses my latest (still old but at least its Win 7 Pro with McAfee full suite protection active). Thanks for highlighting.

DTC, thank you. I am getting 44 KHz on 3 of them, (not 48 KHz) even the Win 7 Pro. The only one showing accurately and reproducing the data at 44.1 KHz is the 8 year old Netbook running Win XP Home with Win Media 8. I do not know of the setting or what WASAPI means in the system (cannot find it in the Win Media).  I wrote to JR once and their response was a cold "look up their forum for all the guides" or something to that effect. I am a pure 2 channel guy, don't even have a TV at home. I am looking for sound clarity. I am worried that my new purchase may come up same as my current notebooks unless I have some "external" software installed.
I found the netbook sound by accident. I was cleaning my rack and found too many "boxes" and cables, MF VLink192 and V2Dac to amplifier. I have a net book lying around and decided to connect it direct to the CD player and compare, found the sound to be so close but saving lots of cables and boxes, not to mention the $$ saved.

I bought these workhorses as they are and use them as they are, no rigging, modifications, adding software or downloading any applications, (screwed up one notebook trying to install a software and had to send to the shop to reprogram, downloaded one software on another and found warning of Trojan, gave up trying. All programs are tested and installed during purchase (I'm an idiot, who would only buy when the shop is willing to show and run all the applications I need, before I do the purchase). These brick and motar shops are now filled with people that scorn when I ask them some basic questions and I can see all their smiles gone in a flash, :-( .  I will continue to shop around till I find a shop that's willing to serve.
Unfortunately, WASAPI is not available through Windows Media Player.

If you cannot install J River or foobar or another player, then maybe you should look at a server, such as the Sony HAP-Z1ES. It is a stand alone unit containing a player, data storage and DAC. It is technically much easier to install and use. There are other options like this from other companies. If you have a decent brick and mortar store maybe they will have such a solution for you. It is a common solution for people who are not PC experts. Of course anyone who has such a solution is also going to suggest you move to a new OS.
 
Of course, if you like the Netbook system you can just build on that, although it is a dead end solution.

I use an old Netbook with Windows 7 and J River and it works well as long as I do nothing else on it. Of course, I can always upgrade to a new PC and later OS when needed.

Good luck.