For the longest time, we’ve been used to requiring a core for our libraries to control them in a comfortable manner. Roon is a good example of this. As a 3-tier system, it requires a core, endpoint, and control component. The core is the part that tracks the library content and hosts the database, the endpoint is where you send the music to playback, and the control element is how you control this, usually with a phone or tablet, often an iPad. If your music sources are predominantly of the cloud service (streaming) kind, you might wonder why you’d still need a core. Indeed, as Qobuz Connect and Tidal Connect prove, you can just as easily stream to your endpoint directly from your phone or tablet. But herein lies the clincher. In the aforementioned cases, you are bound to a single service. All services have their own dedicated app that does not play ball with other streaming services. Even more importantly, these apps only work via Airplay.
JPLAY solves this problem by combining Qobuz, Tidal, and local content in a single, simple, and elegant interface that offers literally all the functionality one can wish for. According to the maker, the app works instantly with nearly every streamer or network DAC on the market through UPnP AV.
The design brief was not just to create a superb user interface, but JPLAY also made sure to minimize the network traffic between the app and the audio endpoint to the absolute minimum to ensure the lowest possible network noise and, as a result, the best sound quality.
Thanks to native iOS programming and advanced optimizations, JPLAY promises exceptional speed and responsiveness. You may combine all your music in a single library or use each music server and streaming service separately.
With the latest update (version 1.0.14), JPLAY also features integration with TIDAL MAX. With the integration of TIDAL MAX, JPLAY users can now enjoy audio streaming up to 24-bit, 192 kHz, exceeding the quality offered by TIDAL Master.
The cost matter
JPLAY positively stands out when it concerns the slickness of the interface and the extra functionality that is offered. In line with most software these days, JPLAY can only be purchased as a subscription, and the amount adds up over the years. A fair question is whether it is worth the extra expense over other single-purchase apps. Andoid users have historically been served better with a choice of UPnP apps while for iOS users, Mconnect was really the only good option.
Mconnect can be downloaded for peanuts, but its very basic functionality is only barely good enough. More precisely, I found its user interface merely adequate and nowhere near as good as Roon. Still, I used it because there was nothing better for iOS.
It is widely agreed that Roon has set the benchmark with its user interface. However, Roon is a 3-prong system that requires a core for the server component, does not work with UPnP, and is quite costly. In that light, what’s offered with JPLAY starts to make a lot of sense. And that’s before we even get into the Sound Quality side of things. But I’ll get to that in a second. First, let me show some more screenshots to illustrate the app’s extensive functionality.
When opening the app for the first time, it takes you by the hand by automatically scanning the network and showing the found renderers (streaming endpoints).
The next step is to select the desired streaming service.
After logging in with Qobuz for the first time, the JPLAY main screen is automatically and fully populated with all your personal content. Below is the Home screen in its full glory.
Is that a beautiful interface, or what? Every header, such as Playlists, Favorites, Recently Added, etcetera, has a “more” button to show more of the related content.
The beauty of this app is that it looks very clean and simple but offers all the functionality that I can think of and then some! And there is no learning curve; everything is where you expect it to be. You simply start exploring, and all is revealed naturally.
All the usual metadata sub-divisions and streaming service categories, as well as access to the app’s main settings, are right there in the main slide-over settings pane.
Every endpoint has its dedicated Settings section, along with all the adjustments you could ever need.
Once you have used Qobuz to play a few tracks, the home screen is also populated with all Recently Played Tracks.
Next: functionality Continued