On reading about the high-end players resampling CD's to 24-bit/96KHz I decided I miss the option of highest quality SSRC resampled output that that plug-in and the MAD 24-bit decoder plug-in gave me from WinAampP under WindowsME to my m-audio Audiophile2496 and relatively high-end AV amp. Since adopting WindowsXP, I need to use the ASIO output to avoid the WindowsXP kmixer degrading any CD playback. I decided to read up on the new, free foobar2000 player, developed by a WinAMP developer who is concerned totally with quality. With the low cost of 200GB+ hard disks, I also took the opportunity to re-rip all my albums using Audiograbber and compress using the lossless Monkeys Audio .APE format, which requires about 600-860Kbps, so are about 3x the size of my 256Kbps MP3's but are bit-perfect copies of the originals and support ID3 like track/album/artist/year tagging which audiograbber seems to do automatically. Lots of people recommend EAC, but I found it unfriendly and audiograbber gives me repeatably bit-identical rips and seems to read at 12x off my Pioneer A03 drive. I have yet to do extensive listening via my HTPC in my listening room, but it sounds very, very promising via my desktop Audigy/Cambridge Soundworks 4.1 speakers in my office. Here's 5 reasons why I think foobar2000 is the future (apologies to Phoenix nights fans): (with the exception of the KS output, it's all part of the standard kit and the KS part is easily downloaded from the foobar2000 site) 1. Decoding done internally to over 32-bit fixed precision, using 64-bit floating point accuracy. This is used by all processing components, such as volume, replaygain, etc. Lets say I don't think we need worry about loss of precision internally. (there are complex DSP components, like a convolution equaliser, but I won't go in to too much detail on this first post). It includes native .MP3 and .APE decoders among many others. 2. Replaygain support It doesn't sound much, but it is. This measure your music tracks and stores a volume level adjustment gain figure, say -5.2dB as a tag on the end of the .APE file like how album and track info is stored. It doesn't mess with the digital audio at all. It's fantastic, as modern stuff has more and more dynamic range compression to sound louder and louder. e.g. listen to Van Morrison's Moondance after JT's Cry Me a River and Moondance sounds thin and quiet. Not any more. You set the volume you are in the mood for and that your system plays best at. Simple. This is light-years ahead of simple 16-bit peak level normalisation that I used to get audiograbber to do for me in the past. It actually calculates two gain figures, one per-track and the other per-album. foobar2000 then uses this figure to internally adjust the volume (at over 32-bit precision) to make each track sound the same loudness. You can toggle playback to use the Album mode "audiophile" gain to preserve differences in level between tracks per album, but the default "Radio" mode works brilliantly for me, even for a live album like Eric Clapton Unplugged, you don't notice any gaps or per track volume changes. I was surprised that the standard download included everything I needed to create this replaygain info in my .APE files. Simply select all your tracks in foobar2000, right click and choose replaygain, scan selection as multiple albums. 3. Output bit-depth is easily configurable The vast internal accuracy needs reducing to output to mere mortal 24-bit or similar output for our DAC's. Set it to the highest depth your high-end soundcard supports well, i.e. 24-bit or 32-bit. It also includes dithered algorithms if you have to output at 16-bit, which apparently increases the apparent depth at 16-bit. 4. Kernal Streaming KS output An easily downloaded KS output .dll can be used to output bit-perfect accuracy, avoiding the Windows KMIXER bugs. There are also ASIO output ones, but they seem harder to find the KS one works brilliantly for me. 5. SSRC Resampling (at over 32-bit precision) You can resample to 48, 88.2 96KHz, etc again with the renowned SSRC algorithm. 24-bit 96KHz S/PDIF output, no problem. This happens at internal precision, before the final depth reduction to 24 or 32-bit, etc. Let your own ears decide if you prefer the best 24/96 resampling over standard CD audio from your own CD's. Oh and for free! To my ears it rids a lot of the harshness I dislike about many CD's. The next step is for me or someone to create a girder setup to allow remote control of the player. I'd be interested what others think of this. Oh and it seems happy to coexist with WinAmp till I decide which one to keep. References: http://www.replaygain.org (good introduction, but confusingly not updated to mention foobar now supports calculating and playing these tags. Watch out for the red herring that is the MP3gain app that calculates replaygains but adjusts MP3's themselves, meaning non-replaygain aware MP3 players can benefit, but it doesn't handle .APE and is limited to 1.5dB adjustment multiples and only works in per-track "radio" mode not Album mode, if you ever decide to care!) http://www.foobar2000.org http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?act=SF&s=&f=28/ regards, Rob.