|I have had a Musica Pristina Virtuoso music server for about 2 months at present. See www.musicapristina.com/music-s... |
Previously, I had a Computer Audiophile CAPS2 music server, which used JRiver (and other) software. Over time, I also investigated several other music servers, but found none that I could be comfortable would meet my needs as a classical music listener.
The Musica Pristina Virtuoso has been a major improvement over the CAPS2/JRiver in every respect.
First, the sound is as at least as good as – and usually better than – what I was able to achieve with the best software setup on the CAPS2 (eg, kernel streaming or WASAPI) and JRiver (even with the JPlay plugin).
Second, the capacity of the solid state drive and RAM is such that I never get the “out of storage space or memory” messages that I frequently got with the CAPS2. Now I can play a 7 GB high res download of Mahler’s Third with no problem.
Third, the Musica Pristina software is easier to use than JRiver, and MUCH less prone to bugs. JRiver was endlessly frustrating. JRiver was designed to do a lot of things that audiophiles do not need and, in doing so, became overly complex. Presumably, that is why there were problems with every version upgrade of JRiver. Musica Pristina uses a Foobar interface, but has gone well beyond the Foobar software. From a software and system resources perspective, Musica Pristina is designed much like JPlay – it eliminates as many processes and simplifies so as to gain maximum purity of sound.
Fourth, as a classical listener I found Musica Pristina to be much better suited to my needs than CAPS2/JRiver and other software and servers. With my own file naming system, incorporating composer, genre, and piece in the filename, Musica Pristina allows me to play from the Windows Explorer file structure and avoid the inevitable problems of metadata that simply does not work for classical listeners in many instances. Gone are the days of trying to find a Beethoven piece and learning that the metadata had tagged the piece under “L” for Ludwig, rather than “B” for Beethoven.
Fifth, and most important, the Musica Pristina software (and hardware) support is on an entirely different level than JRiver (and CAPS2). The complexity and frequent problems with JRiver were greatly compounded by the lack of support. The only way to get support was to go on a blog, along with hundreds of other users, and post your question. Thereafter, (if you were lucky) you would get a short – and often incomplete -- answer from the overworked and under-resourced JRiver team. Indeed, in my experience, the JRiver responses avoided the question almost as often as they addressed it. Dare I say that the happiest day of my computer audio life was when I said goodby to JRiver/CAPS2 and went to Musica Pristina.
The contrast of Musica Pristina and CAPS2/JRiver could not be greater in terms of number of problems (very few with Musica Pristina) and the support to set up the system and solve problems. With Musica Pristina, you can talk to a live expert. First, the technical people assisted greatly with determining my needs and the precise configuration I needed before I placed an order. For someone who is not already extremely knowledgeable about computer audio, this is invaluable. Once the computer arrived, it got even better.
The Musica Pristina tech guru, Kevin Welsh, was extremely accommodating and helpful in setting up the system in the manner best suited for my needs. He spent as much time as I needed to assist me and explain the features of their system.
In thirty years of dealing with computers, I can think of only one certainty: even with the best systems, you will have problems at some point. Although the Musica Pristina system is well designed and robust, I did have a few problems – most of which were my doing. And this is where Kevin and Musica Pristina really distinguished itself. Kevin Welsh is perhaps the most knowledgeable computer person I have encountered, and he certainly is the most communicative and helpful of the dozens and dozens of computer people I have had to contact to resolve problems over the years. This fact, in itself, has made the Musica Pristina experience worth the price. If there were a Nobel Prize for computer service, Musica Pristina and Kevin Welsh should get it.
In sum, I was quite frustrated with the limitations and problems of CAPS2 and JRiver. I spent five times as much on my Musica Pristina Virtuoso, but it was worth it. What good does it do to spend $1000 and get limitations and endless problems? To me, it was a better audio investment spending $5000 for the Musica Pristina Virtuoso and getting a great sounding, robust, well-supported music server that should meet my needs for some time.
Incidentally, I should note for the record that I have no connection with Musica Pristina, and have received no consideration for, my review.
by Dcgraves on 12-27-12