While many Mac users just opt to use iTunes, things are different on Windows. While Microsoft’s operating system has always offered built-in options like Windows Media Player or Groove Music, Windows users are more likely to search for their own preferred music player.
However, if you’re an audiophile, the search gets trickier. Try searching for a music player that supports hi-res audio in FLAC, MQA, or DSD format, and your options are slim. Which is why we’ve rounded up the best hi-res music player apps for Windows.
If you have your PC hooked up to a quality Hi-Fi system, Hysolid could be exactly what you’re looking for. This isn’t traditional media player software. Instead, it transforms your PC into a music player that you control with your iOS or Android device. Just kick back on the couch, pick the music you want to hear, and your PC plays it over your Hi-Fi system.
Hysolid will play most hi-res formats you throw at it. The app is compatible with PCM audio, including WAV and FLAC up to 384 kHz as well as DSD from 2.8 MHz to 11.2 MHz in DSF format. Hysolid can also display the operating mode of the USB DAC you’re using as well as whether playback is bit perfect.
Download: Hysolid (Free)
2. Amarra Luxe
If Amarra Luxe seems familiar, it’s because it also earned a place on our list of the best hi-res music player apps for macOS. This is a premium music player, and as such it isn’t cheap, but it is packed with features. It also supports key hi-res formats, including FLAC, MQA, and DSD. Unfortunately, MQA is currently only supported on macOS.
This is also a handy app if you like to stream hi-res audio as well. In addition to playing back your music collection, Amarra Luxe can stream from Tidal and Qobuz. If you want to control all your music with one app, no matter where that music is, this may be what you’re looking for.
Download: Amarra Luxe ($99)
Another app that was featured on our macOS list, Audirvana focuses on giving you control over your audio streaming from source to output. If you have a powerful computer you want to put to work processing great-sounding audio, this is an option worth considering. For example, Audirvana supports running higher-performance algorithms to take the load off your DAC and avoid oversampling.
This app also supports VST3 plugins. Whether you want to add a touch of EQ or you want to view your favorite songs through a spectrum analyzer, this can be handy for audiophiles. Audirvana is another option that isn’t cheap, but the sheer power of the app may make it a price worth paying.
Download: Audirvana ($75, with 30-day free trial)
One of the most popular music players for Windows, Foobar2000 is practically a household name. That may not be a great name, and the interface is a little dated, but this app is fast, configurable, and perhaps most importantly, free. While it’s not the only free player on this list, it is the only one that resembles a “traditional” media player.
Foobar supports FLAC out of the box, but not DSD. In order to get support for this, you’ll need to add the DSDIFF add-on, which you can download from the Foobar2000 website. Once the component is installed, this becomes an even more powerful audio player. This information is especially handy if you already know and love Foobar200.
Download: Foobar2000 (Free)
Jriver is software that tries to do a lot of things for a lot of people. Fortunately, it seems to do a good job at mostly everything it aims to do. This supports bit perfect audio in both lossless PCM and DSD formats. When it comes to the audio subsystem, it can use either ASIO or WASAPI, meaning it will transmit audio perfectly to your DAC.
There are several features here that seem obvious but are lacking in other players. One example is the optional audiophile-grade crossfeed. The developers say this makes listening on headphones sound more natural and less fatiguing, since it’s more like what you’d hear from speakers in a room.
Download: Jriver ($59.98 for Windows-only license, $79.98 for Master license)
While most examples of hi-res music player software focus on sound quality alone, Roon focuses on something else. The developers say that something has been lost in the transition to digital music. To bring back the feeling of engagement you’d get from poring over liner notes, Roon aims to present a searchable “magazine” of your music.
Roon doesn’t just apply this technique to music stored on your computer. It can do this to music played from a local NAS or even streamed from Tidal as well. If music isn’t a background activity to you but something you want to engage in, Roon may be worth trying.
Download: Roon ($199/year or $499/lifetime, with a free trial available)
7. JPLAY FEMTO
If you proudly declare yourself an audiophile to anyone who will listen, this may be the perfect software for you. Developed by self-described “fanatical audiophiles,” this software aims to optimize everything to deliver the audio signal from the source to your DAC in the highest quality possible. This features support for PCM audio, DSD, and even claims to improve the sound quality of Tidal and Qobuz.
Like Hysolid, this isn’t a player. Instead, it’s a server. Once it’s up and running, you can use it with any UPnP-compatible app or hardware. The developers recommend Bubble UPnP for Android, but Kinsky for Windows, macOS, and iOS has been tested as well.
Among other features, JPLAY FEMTO includes a Hibernate mode. This aims to reduce background noise created by your PC. It does this by eliminating jitter-producing processes and threads. This means you might not want to use your computer for much else during playback, but it will sound fantastic.
Download: JPLAY FEMTO ($167.79)
Are You Looking to Start Your Hi-Res Audio Journey?
Finding the right hi-res music player app is great, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t have hi-res music to listen to. These apps will play your MP3 collection as well, but if you’ve got a great audio setup, you’ll get more out of it by buying high-quality audio.
When it comes to buying music, there are a several online stores to choose from. Then there are streaming services, which are beginning to offer hi-res audio as well. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at our list of the music sites all audiophiles need in their lives.
Read the full article: The 7 Best Windows Music Players for Hi-Res Audio
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