HQPlayer by Signalyst

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Billfort, May 27, 2015.

  1. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,636
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    There has been a lot of conversation here about this upsampling audio player for Windows, Linux and OS X (Apple), and since I’ve been a very happy user for a while now, I thought I’d start a dedicated thread for it.

    [​IMG]

    HQPlayer is the work of Jussi Laako and in my opinion, might just be the best player software available from a purely sonic perspective – it really is something special in this regard. From a usability, convenience and pretty GUI perspective however, some feel it leaves a lot to be desired. :)

    There certainly are some negatives which might quickly rule it out for many (and it’s not free) but if musical playback performance is your number-1 priority, it may be worth working through the ‘challenges’ and hopefully, this thread can help in those areas.

    There is a free trial available for this (draw your own conclusions!) but I’d suggest digging a little into what is needed from a system and setup perspective to get it working first – it’s only a 1 month trial and it’s easy to get frustrated and give up on it before you hear what it can do. I mention this as it happened to me; teething problems had me shelving it but a second try with more perseverance has me enjoying digital like I never thought possible and I believe that is mostly down to HQplayer and in my case, what it does with a good DSD capable DAC.

    I’m going to ramble on about the DSD side of this player but I should note that most of my digital listening is actually PCM source (all converted to DSD128 on-the-fly) and this player does have extensive PCM upscaling capabilities too – it’s just not something I use so I have little experience with it.

    And please; if you have a problem with this approach, feel it doesn’t matter, it’s all 1s and 0s, nothing matters beyond 16/44.1, etc. great, start another thread and leave this one to those who are interested.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,636
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    Where I’m at with HQPlayer

    Most of the dirty (and boring ? :)) details of my digital journey that eventually included HQplayer are covered in another thread but my current state is this;

    • All my digital files (PCM 16/44.1 on up to 24/192 in flac and wav, DSD64 & DSD128 in dsf) live on an unRaid server
    • HQPlayer is running on an old AMD Phenom II X4 3.2GHz quad-core/8GBram/64GBssd Windows7 PC (outside audio room)
    • I’m using HQPlayer’s NAA (wired Network Attached Adapter) to feed my DSD DAC – NAA software is included with the HQPlayer license and I’m running it on a simple, quiet, ARM based Linux appliance – mine was pretty close to plug-and-play.
    • I currently remote-control HQPlayer from the listening room using TeamViewer (running on a real old Dell netbook, Linux Mint OS) – HQPlayer does*not*have control apps available for phones, tablets or ipads.
    Documentation for HQplayer can be a little thin, technical and hard to find so here’s a few sources I’ve found;

    A quick-start guide from Signalyst is here; http://www.signalyst.com/quickstart.html
    A users-manual comes with the software download
    This HQPlayer Kick-start guide is good;http://soundgalleries.com/articles/hqplayer/
    This thread goes with the above;http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/hqplayer-kick-start-guide-and-feature-requests-20870/
    This extensive HQPlayer thread covers a lot and has lots of input & troubleshooting from the designer (Jussi/Miska);http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/hq-player-20293/

    The end game interface (as shown above) is pretty sparse and is really designed by a guy who plays ‘albums’, not individual tracks, playlists, mixes, shuffles, etc. and IMO, that shows. I’m an ‘album’ player too but do jump all over the place track-to-track at times and have gotten reasonably comfortable with the interface doing both.

    The thing to remember is that the lower ‘window’ is the ‘player’ with tree selection of music above and you can drag-and-drop albums, individual tracks, m3u/m3u8 formatted playlists, even Internet flac stream urls (which I haven’t tried) into that box and it will play. When I was un-comfortable with the interface, I’d even use Jriver to get at my music, and then drop it into HQPlayer – clunky but the same end result out of my speakers. I don’t bother with this anymore as I pretty much listen to digital the way I listen to vinyl and Miska’s approach is just fine, now that I’ve gotten used to it.

    The good stuff in this interface is that middle bar that in this case, shows my current favorite settings (from right-to-left); everything is being output as SDM(DSD), the bit rate is 5644800 (SDM5.6/DSD128), modulator is DSD7 and the oversampling filter is poly-sinc-short. You can vary these via the pull-downs (before playing the track) and I do from time-to-time to suit specific recordings etc. but I really have found a sweet-spot here that suits my system and computer limitations – you can easily over-load your CPU here which may kill playback (silence) or bring on skipping and clicking.

    Here is a shot of where I set my defaults and again, this is to suit my audio preference and system limitations i.e. DoP for USB audio specification and Pipeline SDM to better leverage my quad-core processor.

    [​IMG]

    This is all pretty overwhelming stuff but IMO finding settings that work and sticking with them is already a very good thing and maybe where you stay. What all this means (deep geek stuff and all) – especially regarding filters & modulators – can be found in the users-manual and in this thread.

    The upper limit with this software is way beyond my equipment but it is*nice*to know that you are getting comfortable with a tool that will take you far into the future – and it sounds amazing where I’m at now. I also like the fact that all my source material is staying in the straight-up ripped state I took it off my physical media in (or purchased as a download) – everything about my playback chain, computers, software & settings can change up to time of playing as things improve and evolve, those original files stay clean and un-molested ready to deliver wherever I take this

    HQPlayer can upsample all the way to DSD512, even though very few DACS can support it and only Windows ASIO drivers can get it to that DAC. I believe OS X might get you to DSD256 but no-one has released drivers beyond DSD128 yet for Linux (which may be related to the upper-limit of DoP). Some of the more sophisticated filters (and certainly DSD512) can bring the latest quad and hex core processors to their knees, but HQPlayer is there ready to leverage that new hardware if you ever go there. This is NOT ‘run it on anything’ software which is a good thing to note before going past step-one.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. RH67

    RH67 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    526
    I`m totally new to computer audio and indeed this seems complicated. I have spent many months, days and hours at computer audio and they speak a different language over there, i`m just after the basics or foundation of HQPlayer, i need to walk before i can run.

    So if i understand right playing my music via HQPlayer i will have better sonics vs JRiver or HDTracks? if this is so than is it possible to transfer what i have bought on JRiver or HDTracks to HQPlayer? or in the future download what i purchase from JRiver or HDTracks directly to HQPlayer?

    I know some player software is not compatible with each other in which case i would end up with all three, JRiver, HDTracks and HQPlayer or am i making this too complicated?
     
  4. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,636
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    If converting to DSD, yes, I feel HQPlayer sounds better than JRiver but that's just opinion - I think you have to draw your own conclusion.

    This is just player (and NAA) software, your files are just read from wherever they currently reside and converted on-the-fly for playing - they remain as they were. If you add new files, you have to add them to the HQP library but it's just a pointer, HQP doesn't change them in any way.

    HQplayer and Jriver can live fine on the same machine, I still use Jriver for ripping, tagging edits, etc. and as mentioned above, you can even drag-and-drop music right from the Jriver interface to the HQP play window.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  5. RH67

    RH67 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    526
    Thanks, that helped.
     
  6. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    My only pause, is the price of the software. It seems the innards are great but the rest gives me pause.
     
  7. slippers-on

    slippers-on Music...let it move you!

    Messages:
    4,635
    Location:
    Saint Charles Mo.
    Dave....I did have a chance to play around with HQP for about 2 days before my trial expired. I was able to get it running. I will revisit HQP in the near future. I wouldn't recommend HQP to a person who's not really computer literate and fresh to computer audio....HQP can be overwhelming. Now thats not to say HQP is bad, because its not. only that its a little more challenging due to the GUI not being as friendly as Jriver, but possibly HQP being more advanced in technology. Once you find your way around a lesser software as well as computer audio, you might want to revisit HQP.
     
  8. marantzfan

    marantzfan ... Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,686
    Location:
    Peoria, Arizona
    How have I missed this thread? I've been using HQPlayer happily now for a few months. For me, the interface isn't a problem since I listen an album at a time anyhow rather than creating playlists.

    I compared HQPlayer to PureMusic and IMHO, it wasn't even close. :no:

    I never did try Jriver due to reading many peoples feedback that they compared the two and found HQPlayer to have the edge sonically when converting to DSD128 on the fly.

    I don't know if this was mentioned earlier, but if not, it is worth noting that HQPlayer requires a fair amount of processing power to do all the number crunching. There are options available for lesser machines within the software but if you really want to tap into what HQPlayer is capable of, you'll likely want a Quad Core machine with 3.0ghz or higher processing power available. :yes:
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  9. RH67

    RH67 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    526
    Thanks Byron, i will take your advice.
     
  10. JimmyNeutron

    JimmyNeutron Super Member

    Messages:
    3,277
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    So how is this working out for you Bill? Compared to J. River, which sounds better, which is easier to use daily, which is easier to install and maintain? J. River is great because it pretty much works out of the box, and daily use is super easy with easy ripping/tagging/playback. Also the Gizmo app is wonderful. So HQplayer "seems" like a higher quality player? How does it stack up?

    Jimmy
     
  11. JP

    JP 7480 74111110101115

    Messages:
    2,162
    Location:
    NYC and Brookfield, CT
    Bill et al, are there any smart phone (iDevice in my case) remote options for HQPlayer? Something similar to JRemote? Last I looked I wasn't able to find any.
     
  12. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,636
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    I love Jriver and use it daily in several of my systems - everything Jimmy says here is true and it's an integral part of my listening environment.

    But.

    For straight-up, no-holds-barred, music listening where the ONLY yardstick is out-right sonic performance, I feel HQPlayer (with a DSD DAC!) is in a different league. It's clunky on a lot of levels, difficult to setup, absolutely eats CPU & memory, can only be 'controlled' directly from a desktop or remote desktop...on and on with the negatives...except for the one that matters in my main system - sonic performance. I love HQPlayer when really listening and would not be without it now.

    I kind of see it like my turntable (and now enjoy digital just as much as vinyl because of it) - a little inconvenient and compromised in areas not related to how it sounds, but absolutely worth it when I want to sit down and listen to an album.
     
  13. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,636
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    No, nothing.

    Just like my turntable. :)
     
  14. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,636
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    Maybe some relevant notes from the last few days.

    A friend has shared with me some live recordings – no real file structure, tags, images etc.. I'm sitting out on the deck (beautiful day) listening to some music on a Tivoli connected to my wireless laptop – Jriver playing flac, wav and some dsf stored on the NAS. At the same time, I'm editing the live recording files so they appear like everything else – Jriver again. Love this program.

    Last evening I wanted to concentrate on family, built a large playlist and filled the whole main floor of the house with music on the HT system – Jriver again, sounded great, I love this program.

    Today though, it's raining and I want to spend some time listening on the main system – HQPlayer is up and sounding fantastic. I'm looking through the library on the NAS (virtually - remote desktop), selecting an album, getting it into the play window and clicking play – pretty much the same as I did yesterday when playing albums on the deck with Jriver. Big difference though – I much prefer the sound of all my files hitting the DAC in this system as DSD128 using the HQPlayer filters. Pretty similar user experience, better sound – just couldn't use the phone remote-control app I have for Jriver which I don't miss in this scenario.

    Different tools for different tasks.
     
  15. Billfort

    Billfort Addicted Member

    Messages:
    8,636
    Location:
    Newmarket, ON, Canada
    As the subject of HQPlayer usually spins around to player PC performance I thought I'd try a few things. My 'goal' with this product (at least for now) should be stated first as I am not shooting for the 'ultimate' here. My DSD DAC is capable of decoding DSD128 and to my ears, that's it's sweet-spot – not 'non-oversampling' 16/44, pcm anything up to 24/192, not even bit-perfect DSD64 – DSD128 is my target. My equipment can't get me to higher DSD rates and I'm fine with that right now.

    My day-to-day HQPlayer arrangement as stated above uses a 5yr old AMD Phenom II 3.2GHz quad-core player machine– not even a 'powerhouse' when I built it. It can convert all digital source material I have – except some DSD256 tracks – to DSD 128 using a good selection of filters. Yes, I can overwhelm the CPU (resulting in clicks, drop-outs, silence) with some filters but I am VERY happy with the palate I have available.

    I figured I'd take a step back and try something even more pedestrian than the AMD so loaded up HQPlayer on my old laptop; an entry-level machine 5yrs ago – P6100 processor at 2.0GHz, 4GB ram (Windows 7 on an SSD) – the kind of machine many would move out as unusable for much these days.

    On the laptop, direct-connected to the DAC using DoP, I can stream DSD with a couple of the filters. Poly-sinc-shrt-2s/ASDM5 seems to work fine & sound nice, even up-converting to DSD128! I tried 16/44 up to 24/192 & DSD64 and only found 1 album that stuttered (a DSD file), dropping bit-rate down to 282440 (DSD64) cured it.

    So yes, this is a CPU hog and to get the most out of it you need a fast machine, but compromising a little on settings if you have a borderline machine still gets you some pretty incredible performance – assuming your DAC can deliver.
     
  16. RH67

    RH67 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    526
    Boy.... i have tried everything and HQP just sits there, i can get into settings and thats about it. It does not recognize my superdrive or my music files, i`am at a lost, i have read the manual and read everything posted at CA.

    JRiver was so easy to get going i was hoping to compare SQ between the two.

    Is there some magical settings for a Mac Mini that i might have missed?? I feel with all of the advances in software where i can get my phone, camera ect. to hook up with my car, home security ect. there is no need for HQP to be sooo difficult.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  17. RH67

    RH67 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    526
    Update, i have HQP up and running:banana:But don`t ask how, all at once my music files were there and i`m able to play music. There is a lot more that i have to get familiar with but the music sounds great.

    I`m on a trial offer with JRiver and HQP. Ease of use no question JRiver but SQ for me HQP trumps JRiver. If i can get HQP dialed in even more i`ll be very happy.
     
  18. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Well, for Windows, you can use WASAPI (native in Win 7 and beyond) or ASIO (for others before) and that removes the EQ problem. Not sure on the Mac with the hardware abstraction layer that is present.
     
  19. slippers-on

    slippers-on Music...let it move you!

    Messages:
    4,635
    Location:
    Saint Charles Mo.
    Dave...I was at my buddys house last night...the one with the Lampizator Big 7 and transport. He runs Jriver with Fideilzler Optimizer and the sound was lovely. "The Dude" preamp, and Coda mono blocks, huge custom built 5T computer playing for the sound/music and another computer in another room for the processing...He is using that config with "High-End Audio Optimizer" with some big old Legacy speakers. Has the new Regen on the Big 7 as well as an HDPlex PSU on the muisc computer....Jriver was wonderful. During our conversations to me he mentioned HQP. He's been hearing all the noise about HQP and is going to try it very soon. So stay tuned.....
     
  20. RH67

    RH67 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    526
    Byron... For the last week i have been spending about ten hrs. a day trying to get this digital set-up worked out. I have been going back and forth between JR and HQP and i personally feel that HQP`s SQ is much better and not by a small margin.

    It`s easy to say that there is a difference but i think if you hear the two back to back you will notice what i do.

    Can`t wait to hear what you think.:yes:
     

Share This Page