Getting started with JPLAY. Beginner’s guide

by admin
September 15, 2017
0

If you have no or little experience with JPLAY, the Manual sounds a bit too technical or you simply want to know which features are most suited for your needs – this article is for you.

How do you want to play your music?

A) Control playback directly at the PC and use mouse + keyboard for browsing music files
(difficulty level: Easy)
B) Control playback remotely from any smart device in your home network
(difficulty level: Advanced)

JPLAY is not only an extremely optimized sound engine. It’s also quite powerful playback software package that can be used at least in 3 different ways. The answer to this question will help you choose the right way.

JPLAYmini – tiny app, big sound

jplayminiscr

If your answer was A) and your highest priority is sound quality, then JPLAYmini may be all you need. The interface is basic and playback is controlled by pressing keys on a keyboard. It’s simple and easy to use – for some people even easier than GUI as they can play music without even looking at screen or keyboard. Check it out!

Improve sound quality of any player with JPLAY Driver

If JPLAYmini is too minimalist and you’d like a proper graphical user interface (GUI), you can benefit from JPLAY’s supreme sound engine by using it on top of other playback software: just select JPLAY Driver as an output in preferences. That’s it! Audio is routed to JPLAY. The integration is completely transparent – you can use the player of your choice as usual.

jplaydriver
JPLAY with foobar2000, but you can use it with all players supporting ASIO output. Our manual shows step-by-step instructions how to combine JPLAY with most popular players.

Enter Network Audio with JPLAYStreamer

If your answer was B) things get a bit more complicated as one needs to understand the concept of network audio, but the sound quality is best and your PC essentially becomes an audiophile network streamer, JPLAYStreamer.

It means that after initial setup you no longer have to go near your PC every time you want to play an album. In fact, you don’t have to touch or even look at your PC/laptop at all, because you can use your smartphone or tablet as a remote.

You can even disconnect mouse, keyboard and display and make your PC ‘headless’. Of course, if you wish, you can control playback directly at the PC/laptop with JPLAY (JPLAYStreamer) installed. It’s up to you which device in your home network is used as a remote – you can have as many as you want.

Control, serve, stream

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JPLAYStreamer is based on OpenHome Media standard (an extension of UPnP). Once you install JPLAY on a PC with Windows 8 or later, it automatically becomes a network streamer – a player that uses your home network for transferring music data. JPLAYStreamer is the sound engine. It acts as a renderer for any compatible audio data that it gets over network – either from music services such as TIDAL or Qobuz or from a Media Server.

Media Server, as the name suggest, is a piece of software that serves media (in our case it is a music server as we need only audio data). Media Server reads your media library and then sends music bytes over network to a renderer (sometimes called endpoint), JPLAYStreamer.

Media Server can run virtually on any PC/laptop/Mac in your home network. It often comes preinstalled with NAS drives, so if your music library is on a NAS drive, you may not need to install any media server as it’s very likely you already have one. In any case, for JPLAYStreamer we recommend using MinimServer software which supports transcoding feature required by JPLAYStreamer (MinimServer converts any audio format to WAV on the fly, please check our Manual how to configure MinimServer for JPLAYStreamer)

Lastly, we need a remote app – so called Control Point which acts as a bridge between Media Server and Renderer (JPLAYStreamer). We recommend free Linn Kinsky / Kazoo (available for Windows/MacOS/iOS/Android) or BubbleDS (Android) which additionally supports TIDAL & Qobuz streaming.

kinskyscr

JPLAYStreamer, Media Server & Control Point can run on separate devices in a home network, but a configuration where all components are on a single Windows PC is also possible – in this case your PC acts as a Media Server, a Renderer and a Control Point at the same time.

For more information please check our manual, visit our forum or simply send a mail at support@jplay.eu

About the author

abouttheauthor
Marcin Ostapowicz is a recognized high-end audio consultant. Computer audio pioneer. Co-creator of the award-winning software, JPLAY. Manufacturer, curator and distributor of high quality audio products. Constantly strives for perfection of sound. Foundations for his breakthroughs finds in areas that others ignore.

JCAT NET Card FEMTO

by admin
June 26, 2017
0

1st ever audiophile network interface

With streaming services becoming the primary way of listening to music and with the shift from standalone computer audio setups to network renderers, the quality of network-related components becomes crucial if one wants to enjoy high resolution music at the highest sound quality.

Ethernet adapter for high-end network audio

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Setting up a media server on a PC or using a computer as a network audio renderer (endpoint) is easy nowadays. But the problem with computers is that they were never designed with audio in mind. While there are improvements for USB-based playback available (such as our JCAT USB Card FEMTO or JCAT USB Isolator), the network controller part of a PC remains noisy. JCAT delivers the solution with the NET Card FEMTO – the ultimate network interface designed specifically for transferring high-quality audio over LAN.

The most accurate components

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By using ultra-low noise linear power supplies and FEMTO Clock Technology combined with high-end Ethernet controller from Intel, the JCAT NET Card FEMTO ensures maximum network transmission quality. Connect a network audio player, a media server (NAS) or a broadband router to any of the two 1Gbit LAN ports on the JCAT NET Card FEMTO and experience great sound quality improvement when streaming audio data.

Exceptional audio quality

comparison

The sound image becomes crystal-clear: transparent, quiet, smooth and yet full of fine details you have never heard before. It will allow you to experience music at much deeper level.

scheme1

You can use the JCAT NET Card FEMTO to improve sound quality of any network audio player (renderer/endpoint/streamer) when streaming audio data from NAS (media server), from music services such as TIDAL, Qobuz, Spotify etc. or directly from PC music server.

scheme2

JCAT NET Card FEMTO will also enhance playback when installed in an Audio PC – a computer that acts as a USB Audio transport and connects to a USB DAC – as long as audio data is sent over network from other PC / NAS / media server or from Streaming services.

Best upgrade for JPLAY dual PC mode

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For JPLAY users looking to elevate performance of their dual PC setups, installing JCAT NET Card FEMTO in both Control PC & Audio PC is most likely the biggest sound quality improvement currently possible. Connect both PCs (JCAT NET Cards FEMTO) directly with a high quality LAN cable such as our JCAT LAN or JCAT Reference LAN Cables and enjoy vast sound quality improvement.

JCAT NET Card FEMTO not only improves sound quality, but also provides increased stability particularly desired with most extreme 700Hz/0.01s DAC Link/PC Buffer setting in JPLAY.

External PSU option

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Even though there are ultra-low linear power supplies exclusively on the JCAT NET Card FEMTO, for best performance it is recommended to connect external linear 5V PSU (such as our 200W or 400W linear PSUs) as the source of power instead of using computer PSU.

Specification:

• Audiophile PCI Express GbE LAN adapter
• Ultra-low noise linear regulators and filters eliminate noise interferences from PC
• No switching power supplies anywhere
• FEMTO Clock Technology (Crystek CCHD-957) lowers jitter below measurable levels
• Industrial grade components with operating temperature range from -40* to +85*C
• Enterprise level Intel i350 Ethernet controller
• Gold plated high durability EMI shielded RJ-45 connectors
• Two LAN ports supporting up to 1Gbit connection speeds
• LED-off feature to counteract noise
• Requirements for optional PSU: 5V/1.5A min
• PSU can be supplied from computer PSU via LP4 connector or from an external PSU via 2.1/5.5mm center positive DC jack connector
• Low-profile & full-height laser cut PCIe brackets included
• All x1-x16 lane PCI Express 2.0 slots supported
• Supported operating systems: Windows (all editions) and Linux

The JCAT NET Card FEMTO is available now for 422EUR at JCAT online shop. ►http://jplay.eu/jcat/

For customers who would like to purchase x2 NET Cards FEMTO (for Dual PC mode), the price is 800EUR (instead of 844EUR). Ask for the discount via email!

Getting the most out of JPLAY

by admin
March 1, 2017
0

Start with the right operating system

If you are getting a new PC or upgrading the one that you already have, make sure to load it with Windows 8 OS or any newer release either consumer or server: Windows 10, Windows 2012 Server or Windows 2016 Server. All are fine. My personal favourite is W2012 Server as it sounds better than its consumer equivalent, Windows 8, and allows for some serious optimization which elevates performance even further.

Windows 7 or Vista are still OK, but will not work with JPLAYStreamer and UltraStream Engine – both elements crucial in extracting the best from JPLAY.

The installer + a nice bonus that comes with the full version

If you are not planning to use the ‘dual PC setup’ – a system with two PCs connected via LAN with dedicated Audio PC fully optimised for music transport – it is best to tick ‘optimize for single PC’ option in the installer.

optimizeforsinglepc

Also the full (paid) version of JPLAY comes with a bonus: the alternative build. It is the same JPLAY, but optimized for intel CPUs. So, if your PC is equipped with intel CPU, it is a good idea to select the alternative build as it will sound better!

alternative

Adjustments in JPLAY settings panel

This is where you can select your output device (Playing via field) and adjust parameters that have direct impact on sound with Engine and DAC Link having the most profound effects. KS (Kernel Streaming) and UltraStream Engine offer the highest performance.

For best sound quality, I recommend setting DAC Link to 1Hz and PC Buffer to 10s (2s if you mind the delay) – this is also the combination with lowest CPU utilization. It may not work with all systems though. Some people prefer higher DAC Link and lower PC Buffer values. Feel free to experiment!

jplaysettingspanel
As you can see, I’m running a Dual PC setup with Hibernate mode.

JPLAYStreamer – JPLAY’s latest incarnation

Although JPLAY first became famous for its ability to transparently integrate with 3rd party players and to act as their sound engine, providing enhanced audio playback, there is a better mode available now. It’s called JPLAYStreamer. And it is the next-gen JPLAY. It offers the best sound quality of all JPLAY modes, and, once configured, is easy to use.

You can run it directly on a PC with JPLAY and a USB DAC connected. You can run it headless and control playback from an app on another PC/smartphone/tablet. You can have music library directly on a PC with JPLAY or anywhere else in your home network. JPLAYStreamer converts your PC into a music server/streamer and it’s the best sounding JPLAY up to date.

My favourite control point apps (remotes) for JPLAYStreamer are Kinsky, which you can use on Windows / MacOS / iOS, and BubbleDS for Android. With the latter you can additionally enjoy TIDAL HIFI and Qobuz HIFI lossless streaming services – improved by JPLAYStreamer’s superior playback techniques.

kinskyscr

The simple way with JPLAYmini

If all you care about is playing your favourite tracks as quick as possible and focusing on music only. Without remote control. Without cover art. You may find JPLAYmini appealing, even though it provides the most basic text interface. Correct – there are no buttons to click on available in JPLAYmini.

But who cares! The sound it produces almost matches JPLAYStreamer.

jplayminiscr

Going extreme with the Dual PC setup and the Hibernate mode

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using JPLAY on top of other player (JPLAY Driver), JPLAYmini or JPLAYStreamer, going Dual PC will get you better performance. Period. This feature is for most discerning audiophiles who want the best regardless of costs or level of complication.

It requires from a user some basic knowledge about TCP/IP networking, but if you’re obsessed with sound quality, it’s worth the trouble. Enabling the Hibernate mode, which shuts down hundreds of processes and threads, leaving only those vital for audio playback on a computer, will maximize the effect. This is as far as computer audio can go in terms of playback optimization.

For more details on how to use and configure JPLAY, please check our manual here: ►http://jplay.eu/manual/

About the author

abouttheauthor
Marcin Ostapowicz is a recognized high-end audio consultant. Computer audio pioneer. Co-creator of the award-winning software, JPLAY. Manufacturer, curator and distributor of high quality audio products. Constantly strives for perfection of sound. Foundations for his breakthroughs finds in areas that others ignore.

JCAT USB Card FEMTO

by admin
September 15, 2016
0

USB playback redefined

3 years after the release of the first revision of the JCAT USB Card, designed to enhance USB Audio playback experience with desktop PCs, we proudly present its successor – the JCAT USB Card FEMTO.

Even though the performance of the original JCAT USB Card was excellent and by many customers and professional reviewers considered best on the market, our endless pursuit of quality led us to new developments that set the bar at the level we have never thought would be possible with computer based USB Audio playback.

FEMTO Clock Technology

FemtoClock
We have found that the quality of clock used for generating USB Audio signal at PC side is as important for sound as the quality of clock in DAC. Therefore for the new revision of the JCAT USB Card we incorporated one of the finest clock oscillators available, Crystek CCHD-957 which has been designed specifically for High Definition Audio. It features a typical low close-in phase noise of -100 dBc/Hz @ 10 Hz offset, and a noise floor of -169 dBc/Hz. With this extreme low phase noise performance, you will “Hear the Difference”. The Crystek Femto Clock which is located just a few millimeters away from the USB controller chip is powered by a dedicated ultra-low noise linear regulator for maximum performance.

Ultra low-noise regulation

JCAT-USB-Card-FEMTO-i
In the previous revision of the JCAT USB Card, the USB controller’s digital core 1V power was supplied from the PC via PCI Express lane. We redesigned the card so that all internal circuits are powered by ultra-low noise linear regulators exclusively if any 5V power supply is connected (either external or internal).

Although the JCAT USB Card FEMTO will operate without 5V for self-powered USB devices, the best performance can be achieved with an external high quality 5V power supply. You can use the newly released 100W linear power supply from our JCAT shop or other high quality linear or battery 5V PSU.
linearpsublack1p
If high quality 5V PSU is not available please connect internal computer power supply to the LP4 connector on the card and switch jumpers J5 & J7 from default position 1-2 to position 2-3. By default the jumpers on the card are configured to use external PSU via DC jack connector on the PCI-e bracket next to the two USB ports on the card. If PSU is not connected then it is impossible to filter well.

JCAT USB Card FEMTO can benefit additionally from full galvanic isolation provided by our JCAT USB Isolator. We recommend using JCAT USB Cables for best sound quality.

Specification:
– audiophile USB Audio output for USB DACs & USB-to-S/PDIF converters
– ultra low noise design for high definition audio playback
– ultra low noise linear regulators and high quality filters designed to eliminate noise interferences from PC
– Femto Clock Technology (Crystek CCHD-957) lowers jitter below measurable levels
– uDP720201 NEC controller
– high durability gold plated USB 3.0 connectors from Amphenol
– two USB 3.0 connectors supporting Low Speed (1.5 Mbps), Full-Speed (12 Mbps), Hi-Speed (480 Mbps) and Super-Speed (5 Gbps) data rates
– 5V PSU can be supplied from computer PSU via LP4 connector or from an external PSU via 2.1/5mm center positive DC jack connector (the 100W linear power supply recommended for best SQ)
– both full-size and low-profile PCI-e brackets included

The JCAT USB Card FEMTO is available now in our JCAT online shop ►http://jplay.eu/jcat/

Only in September JPLAY owners can purchase the card with a 50EUR discount! The discount does not expire for customers who purchased the previous revision of the JCAT USB Card.
Please contact us if you are a customer and haven’t received the coupon code.

JCAT USB Isolator

by admin
August 3, 2016
0

Clean up your USB Audio signal

The JCAT USB Isolator blocks all noise coming from a PC and re-generates clean USB signal from scratch. It is capable of transmitting USB Hi-Speed (480 MBit/s) while providing full galvanic isolation up to 2.5 kV of both data and power lines – ideal solution for any sensitive applications requiring high-speed data transfer such as high end computer audio.
Recreating and reclocking of USB signal is done by a fast FPGA-based circuit inside the JCAT USB Isolator’s aluminum housing. The enclosure acts as a shield against harmful electromagnetic interference (EMI/RFI) to further minimize noise. Breaking all the noise coming from a PC results in vast sound quality improvements.
JCAT USB Isolator is a perfect solution for computer audiophiles seeking maximum sound quality from their USB DACs and USB-DDCs regardless of whether used with a PC, laptop or Mac.
JCAT USB Isolator can work alone or in chain with our JCAT USB Card. We recommend JCAT USB Cables for best performance.

isolatorboard

_IGP2636

Specifications
- Featuring world’s first industrial High Speed USB Isolation technology from Intona
- Provides galvanic isolation up to 2.5 kV to the USB bus in all speed modes: Low Speed, Full Speed and USB 2.0 High Speed (480 MBit/s)
- Plug & Play transparent operation, no drivers needed
- Supports all USB-Audio formats and sample rates
- No separate power supply needed; ultra low-noise linear regulation onboard
- Reinforced USB Connectors: Type-B on PC-side, Type-A on device-side
- Housing made of brushed aluminum
- Dimensions: 13 x 6.5 x 2.5cm. Weight: 170g

The JCAT USB Isolator is now available and can be purchased in our shop here: ►http://jplay.eu/jcat/

HIGH END MUNICH 2016

by admin
May 4, 2016
0

JPLAY will be used in combination with the MUTEC MC-3+ Smart Clock USB at the High End 2016 in Munich (Hall 1, Booth A08). See you in Munich!