Review: Got HiFi? Try MusiCHI Suite Lite

Play your digital music with this high-quality, high-fidelity music player.

MusiCHI Suite Lite is a HiFi-ready media player and music library manager. It's optimized for high-quality audio playback over your computer's speakers or, better yet, your stereo system. MusiCHI offers optimized "flavors" for Classical and Jazz music, as well as the more general Classique mode, and it's compatible with Direct Sound, WATAPI, and ASIO. Its full-featured music library manager stores song metadata with the song file so you're not tied to the software -- an important advantage if you decide to switch players at some point. MusiCHI Suite Lite offers the advanced tagging and search capabilities of the full shareware, although some features, such as the Tagger and Ripper, are unavailable in the freeware. But MusiCHI Suite Lite offers a lot for freeware.

MusiCHI Suite Lite's six panels make for a less-than-intuitive user interface; at least at first glance. It's our experience with similar software that familiarity comes quickly with use and features are included for a reason; and that's how it was with MusiCHI Suite Lite, which in any case can be customized to suit. Once we'd scanned and added our music folders, things got easier, though some of MusiCHI Suite Lite's steps (such as adding folders or directories) could use some de-clunking. But the proof is in the playback. We played files in several modes, including over an ASIO-enabled Firewire external sound card and high-quality amplifier and loudspeaker system. Did we hear a difference? Actually, yes we did, or seemed to, when playing familiar files with MusiCHI Suite Lite, which we compared to other media players, as well as Spotify Premium.

High-definition digital files and streaming data are changing the way we listen to music, and MusiCHI Suite Lite is among the first media players we've seen to rise to the challenge. We'd like more control over audio quality; for instance, what do the Jazz and Classical settings change, and how do they differ from each other? Ultimately, how good your tunes sound depends as much or more on your speakers and other equipment than what file format you use. But with MusiCHI Suite Lite, you're starting with high fidelity.

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