Audio freeware for a powerful, PC based, Hi-Fi system

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Updated December 2013

If you are planning to use your PC to listen to music, connecting it with an amplifier and hi-fi speakers, you are going to need some applications that will let you handle your collection – from converting audio between various formats, to creating compilations, etc. – and first of all you need to make sure you get the best possible sound quality. It’s been a long time since I use my PC for music, so that what follows comes from first hand experience and not from abstract calculations, guessings or reproductions of what other people might say.

If this can help you form a better estimation of my judgments, I should say that I prefer rather a balanced sound, sweet, smooth and clear, with a full body, including all the middle area, natural bass, mild treble.

The Source of Sound: If you use Winamp as the main source – and not the default Windows Media Player, you will enjoy a large community of users who create useful Winamp plugins extending the functionality of the player. Regarding sound quality itself, you might like to try a Kernel Streaming Plugin that will let you bypass the Windows native mixing system and achieve hi end sound, without the need of extra drivers. Note that this bypassing might prove only theoretical, while in reality differences are not audible.

When Winamp closes, you can replace it with AIMP, a player with a similar layout, great sound quality (wasapi or asio), some advantages, and some disadvantages too, like the absence of auto tagging. Check also XMPlay, a convenient hi end free audio player. However, I have not found so far a player with the convenience, flexibility and power of Winamp.

Another great free player is Foobar2000, an equally great player, supported also by a (smaller) library of important components (plugins), such as the Wasapi plugin for hi-fi sound.

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