JRiver Media Center

I’m not affiliated with JRiver in any way, however I must dedicate a few lines to this wonderful software. While it may not be all that to all people, it has formed the base of my system. It’s able to house a lot of different and experimental setups. While the DSP part of this program already is quite elaborate, one can build upon it by adding VST plugins. It has a reasonably simple GUI for use as media player function. I tested some other programs for similar usage but this was the only one that could entertain all the different ideas I could come up with.

For starters it has two EQ banks that can house endless numbers of PEQ’s, shelves, crossovers and other functions. It also has a build in convolver for FIR filters, a graphical EQ and countless other features.

The DSP section which houses various options, the Output Format shown here as an example

I use the standard environment of JRiver and expanded upon it with a couple plugins. Together this offers a wealth of possibilities to use for processing.

JRiver plus a multi channel sound card can give you almost endless options to play with, whether you’re interested in Stereo, Multi channel Home Theatre or actively controlled speaker management. It can re-sync the audio/video after use of FIR filters (which can introduce latency). For me, I could not have done what I did without this nifty program. It has become the foundation that I build upon.

DDMF Metaplugin

DDMF Metaplugin is a plugin hosting program. It can also reroute the audio from channel to channel, making it very versatile in use to host several instances of a plugin or arrange mid-side EQ, create crossovers or any other task one could think of. Highly recommended for the tinkerer among us that likes to control what happens from one channel to the next. In the picture below I split the mains into a mid and side channel, add a secondary mid channel that gets added to my ambience mix, I have two subwoofers that get a hint of mid/side action based on a paper by Dr. David Griesinger and there’s two more ambience channels.

A sample of the routing and plugin host possibilities

Plogue Bidule

Plogue Bidule has similar functionality as DDMF Metaplugin. I used to host every plugin I needed inside Metaplugin. Sadly, after the move to a 64 bit environment for JRiver, I found out that some older or less maintained plugins no longer kept their preset values. Most notably the Lexicon plugin bundle I was using. Due to a lack of internal memory space inside Bidule, I can’t run and route everything I need inside this host. Hence the use of two separate but comparable plugin hosting programs.

Plogue Bidule
Plogue Bidule as an extension of Metaplugin to be able to host multiple instances of Lexicon reverb plugins.

DMG Equilibrium

DMG Equilibrium is my preferred EQ program. I’ve used a couple of different programs over the years and some favorites did not work in a 64 bit environment. So I had to find a good replacement. I’m confident that Equilibrium is that replacement. It can be a bit overwhelming with all its features but its sound makes up for that in spades. It’s transparent and has all the options I need to get the job done. In FIR mode it has options for Linear phase, Full Minimum, Zero-latency Analogue, Analogue and even a ‘Free’ mode. Even in IIR mode it has compensation settings and phase correction options. The reason I was hunting for an EQ like this was my need for a linear phase EQ in my mid/side processing chain.

Equilibrium in action, pictured is the pré-EQ I use to straighten the Frequency curve before applying DRC-FIR.

Voxengo MSED

Voxengo MSED is a simple to use mid/side plugin. Nowadays a lot of plugins have that ability build in, yet I still use MSED for a bit of clarity as I do have more than two channels with a lot going on. The plugin is available for free from Voxengo’s website and works as advertised. It can encode and decode stereo into mid/side streams and has options to alter the balance of mid and sides separately.

Voxengo MSED
Voxengo’s MSED with it’s decode options.

Lexicon PCM Native Reverb

The Lexicon PCM Native Reverb plug-in bundle is a set of reverb tools, all with a specific task in mind. Why use a reverb you may ask. To get the end results I wanted in my small, but still functional living room, I had to make use of absorbing damping panels. With those panels I stole a lot of energy from the room. To give something back, and at the same time generating a more ideal listening environment, I use ambient speakers. These ambient speakers get a mix of the stereo channels that’s mostly band passed, delayed and attenuated L-R and R-L, with just a touch of the phantom center mixed back in. To be able to work as a back drop one needs to make sure its signal is decorrelated from the mains. The ambience channels are not heard as direct radiators but reflect/diffract off of nearby objects. On top of that I add just a hint of reverb, to simulate a bigger, more ideal listening environment.

I’ve experimented with a variety of reverb programs, from impulse based reverb to algorithmic reverb like these Lexicons. The Lex reverb is something else though. I keep coming back to it, even after demo’s of countless other reverb packages. If you realize the trouble I went trough to be able to keep these lexicon VST’s in my processing chain, you’ll understand what this package is worth to me. I’m using a combination of the Random Hall and Room reverb modules. The Random Hall reverb is for hiding my real room, the Room reverb is used for ‘fighting’ the negative effects of crosstalk at the exact listening spot. Originally, the separate reverb algorithm’s in this plug-in bundle were also available as separate plugins. These days you can find this bundle at a reduced price of entry, though be aware if you use anything other than Windows as O.S. There is talk about an update coming out soon but don’t hold your breath. If it works though, I haven’t found anything that truly compares or competes. I want the reverb to hide itself while listening (so you don’t hear my ambience channels as a separate entity) and that’s what it does best.

Random Hall reverb
An example of the Random Hall reverb.