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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
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.