i tunes vs. j river in pc realm

I own a PC and just dipped my little toe into the "computa" music server world having purchased a fairly inexpensive (but good, I think) DAC from Kingrex. Installation was a breeze and I'm listening to Pandora, LastFM and Wolfgang streams as well as purchasing tracks off I Tunes. I'm hearing that J River is an improvement over I Tunes. Can someone please explain if this ONLY comes into play during the "ripping the CD" process (which I'm not doing yet) or if it comes into play whilst just listening to the streams mentioned above. Also, what is it that J River does better?
J River CAN sound better set up properly as it gets a lot of the computer out of the way via ASIO or Kernel Streaming. But you are streaming low resolution sources anyway, so it likely won't make much difference at that stage in the game. If your gonna rip, don't use lossy compression. dBpowerramp is great for ripping.
If you get the current version of the free JRiver, you won't be able to use kernel streaming or secure rips. IIRC you'll have to find V12. JRiver Media Center, like iTunes, is overkill for just playing/managing music files.
iTunes is crippled on any PC. Use something else like Foobar2K or Jriver. At least with these you can use ASIO, WASAPI or Kernel Streaming to avoid the bad PC audio stack.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I think $50 for way better audio is a bargain. YMMV.
Get J River 15, dbPowerAmp for ripping (much more userfriendly than EAC), and ASIO4ALL drivers if you are using XP.

Audiolab has a great manual with screenshots on how to customise J River to play bit perfect files on varrious platforms.

It can be downloaded from this link:

If you get J River you no longer need to get ASIO drivers, as they come with. If you get J River 16 (in BETA, but working great) it is also a better fit with Apple ripped music, although I'd highly recommend at a minimum to use J River for ripping, and better yet dBpowerramp (which is programmed by the same company).
Srwooten - somehow Audiolab engineers disagree. Only after installing the ASIO4ALL driver and choosing the right options the volume control and the whole 'mixer' switches off.
Well, they may disagree. They are incorrect.