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!
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
- 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/