Monday, June 25, 2012

Wrestling with media players

I have really learned to love computer audio, especially the high definition files you can get online from a number of sources. It's generally accepted that JRiver is the gold standard when it comes to media players, and there's even a free Media Jukebox (JRiver 14) that allows the listener to harness the features of JRiver Media Center 17 (their latest iteration) with a few less doo dads than their upgrade (read pay) version. There are some features that you simply MUST pay for, to get the very best sound, with ASIO and kernel streaming. They are considered the final word in audiophile streaming, but personally my ears aren't golden enough to miss them! Thank God for small miracles.

I had been using MediaMonkey, another way to harness lossless files, and it taught me the ropes as far as how to set up your player to suit your individual tastes. Tagging is a must, and when a file needs certain portions of information that isn't included, that's when you get industrious and begin the research routine. Wikipedia is your friend when it comes to discographical info, and Amazon has a nice feature that allows you to sample audio from millions of mp3 files to help the investigative process. Classical music requires a lot of particular information, but for that reason among others I can be glad that classical isn't my cup of tea. Off topic, I use Wikipedia at least once a day if not more, for a number of questions that seem to continally pop up on a ton of diferent topics. I guess I'm just crazy curious about so many things that I could wear that thing out, for sure!

It sure is nice to put the computer on shuffle and sit back with your favorite libation and simply enjoy your selections. I have a 37" Vizio monitor so I can surf songs from my couch, but for those who like to go the wireless route, there are Android apps for JRiver that allow you to do your surfing with a variety of Android-enabled tablets with your playlists set up in the pad's memory. In fact, you can arrange it so that your pad can read your entire library and access all the commands you normally could at your PC, not to mention multiple zone streaming. If I didn't have the large screen I'd definitely opt for the pad solution. The software, designed for wifi operation, is called Gizmo, and it's perfectly synced to JRiver's latest versions.

In conclusion, computer audio has made my listening much more the relaxing and easy experience with modern appliances and applications. I would never imagined even five years ago I'd be listening like this, and in high definition to boot. If you haven't experienced that treat yet, you owe yourself the indulgence as it takes the listening experience to another three or four higher levels at least. The sky is the limit when it comes to innovations in audio, and if you're still listening to mp3 because it fits on your ipod better, go for wav and experience compressionless audio that opens up a whole world of fidelity and resolution that you've never witnessed before. Ask someone who knows and you'll have them evangelizing the experience to you upon first mention!

Don't be afraid to get your feet wet with computer audio, it's definitely the wave of the future, as is the whole idea of wireless pad remotes/multi-zone audio over wifi. Tomorrow we'll get our whole head wet with brainy ideas like these, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

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