In my humble opinion, I think it is time to upgrade your OS to Win 10.
Your current machines are utilizing dinosaur tech, and aren't even supported by Microsoft- so there are a lot of security issues, to say the least.
You can get a cheap laptop with Win 10 for almost nothing(Okay, a couple hundred bucks), that will give you the flexibility to use current streaming programs at better resolution than you are using now. And, you get better security, to bat.(Forgive me, but I am a nut when it comes to security).
Do the other PCs show 44 or 48? 44 KHz is non-standard, 44.1 KHz is standard. If you are seeing 48 KHz then the audio is being changed fro 44.1KHz (CD standard) to 48KHz. Many PC systems convert to 48KHz which will downgrade the sound.
This gets a little technical, but hopefully it will make sense.
You should look at what audio format is being used for the usb output. My guess is that may be causing the differences you here. In general XP was not a good sounding OS, whereas Windows 7 was a big improvement. Windows 7 introduced WASAPI, which bypasses the Windows audio system. Direct Sound, the old system, uses the Windows audio system, which can degrade the sound. It would also explain why you have 48 KHz. Do not believe WASAPI was available on XP.
J River is a very good player, although it can be a little complicated to get used to. It is $50 and then updates are about $20 after that. It has a free 30 day trial. Foolbar is free, but the user interface is generally not as good and tends to be somewhat technical.
flac is the most common format to replace wav on windows. It is a compressed version of wav, although there is no loss of data) and it has better tagging capabilities. A program like JRiver can convert to flac and rip to flac.
I would get a Windows 7 system with WASAPI going using something like JRiver or foobar and see how that sounds.
If you need help getting J RIver set up, ask for help.
Thanks for the responses.
GDNRBOB, I'm not so worried about security as I have full McAfee protection and on auto renewal with them. I hardly use the older laptops for surfing the web, only uses my latest (still old but at least its Win 7 Pro with McAfee full suite protection active). Thanks for highlighting.
DTC, thank you. I am getting 44 KHz on 3 of them, (not 48 KHz) even the Win 7 Pro. The only one showing accurately and reproducing the data at 44.1 KHz is the 8 year old Netbook running Win XP Home with Win Media 8. I do not know of the setting or what WASAPI means in the system (cannot find it in the Win Media). I wrote to JR once and their response was a cold "look up their forum for all the guides" or something to that effect. I am a pure 2 channel guy, don't even have a TV at home. I am looking for sound clarity. I am worried that my new purchase may come up same as my current notebooks unless I have some "external" software installed.
I found the netbook sound by accident. I was cleaning my rack and found too many "boxes" and cables, MF VLink192 and V2Dac to amplifier. I have a net book lying around and decided to connect it direct to the CD player and compare, found the sound to be so close but saving lots of cables and boxes, not to mention the $$ saved.
I bought these workhorses as they are and use them as they are, no rigging, modifications, adding software or downloading any applications, (screwed up one notebook trying to install a software and had to send to the shop to reprogram, downloaded one software on another and found warning of Trojan, gave up trying. All programs are tested and installed during purchase (I'm an idiot, who would only buy when the shop is willing to show and run all the applications I need, before I do the purchase). These brick and motar shops are now filled with people that scorn when I ask them some basic questions and I can see all their smiles gone in a flash, :-( .
I will continue to shop around till I find a shop that's willing to serve.
Unfortunately, WASAPI is not available through Windows Media Player.
If you cannot install J River or foobar or another player, then maybe you should look at a server, such as the Sony HAP-Z1ES. It is a stand alone unit containing a player, data storage and DAC. It is technically much easier to install and use. There are other options like this from other companies. If you have a decent brick and mortar store maybe they will have such a solution for you. It is a common solution for people who are not PC experts. Of course anyone who has such a solution is also going to suggest you move to a new OS.
Of course, if you like the Netbook system you can just build on that, although it is a dead end solution.
I use an old Netbook with Windows 7 and J River and it works well as long as I do nothing else on it. Of course, I can always upgrade to a new PC and later OS when needed.
Thanks again DTC, Sorry for late acknowledgement.
I fully agree with you on using a older computer for the music and later "upgrade" if the opportunities come along.
As for the Sony HAP, I believe there is a software and some configurations
to be done for it to run. I would rather no go in that direction when any equipment needs me to constantly renew software or reconfigure software for it to play my music. I am thinking of upgrading the sacd player and amplifier later to get better sound quality, but not one with software installing or twigging just to get it to work. Read about the latest Marantz Reference 10 series and can only dream :-( ;-(
I purchase a new 500Gb hard drive and copied all my WAV titles into it and spent a whole day going through the web to locate the correct tagging for these titles. That's the biggest problem I see in WAV, apart from this re-tagging, it's a good and free software which sounded so good. I know FLAC could save me 40% to 50% storage space, but I will have to install another another software just to get it. I wished there is another easier way, but then :-) :-), we'll see.
First, Windows normal output is via a mixer, which pretty much means you won't get the right rate unless you set it, and even then your output won't be bit-perfect.
It can be done, but I find getting Windows to output bit-perfect in any version is a PITA if you ask me. :) Even with Windows 10, you still have to go find an appropriate USB 2.0 driver. It's far behind Linux and Mac in this respect. Rather than suggest you upgrade your Windows to it's more advertising and spy-ware friendly version, check your music software's instructions. MediaMonkey and JRiver can output bit-perfect music, but it takes a little work.
If I were you, I'd repurpose one of those laptops to be a Linux box and run Logitech Media Server with Squeezelite, or build a new Linux music server. I built a 2TB server for about $600. I probably could have done it cheaper too.
Arh, this needs a server and a internet connection to work apart having to download 2 different software to boot It's a tall order. Just an additional info, my house where my system is currently located is not web connected. I had the internet connection back then but have quarrelled with the provider many times as the speed is just ridiculously low at max 60 kbps and hovers around 15 to 25 kbps most of the time. Decided to discontinue the subscription and only log in, in my misses office, where I spent most of the day light time, anyway.
I'm currently "studying" the JRiver wiki, after DTC's comment and also many reviews and comments from this forum. If I take the leap of faith, I'd probably use my laptop with Windows 7 Pro with 64 bit system. This laptop is still very "new" as I bought 5 years ago when I retired and had very low worked done on it. I did not take up the Win 10 free upgrade offer as I am afraid things will then go in a way that I'm no longer able to perform.
I will always be the physical disc guy, only funds are holding my already itching gear swapping cries.
Thanks again ALL
If you can, please try JRiver first. Truth is I loathe almost all music software. Somehow it always seems it was designed for people besides me. Of those, I hate JRiver the most, and can tolerate MediaMonkey.
I'm very much alone in this though, but both will output bit perfect audio. Jriver seems to have a more extensive ability to incorporate digital EQ, and has more plugins.