Fidelizer Pro 6.5
Fidelizer Pro 6.5 is the creation of an audiophile from Thailand by the name of Keetakawee Punpeng. Back in 2011, Keetakawee released freeware for Windows called Fidelizer that provided optimization for dedicated Windows computers working as music servers. His software was designed to improve the sound of music software playing on Windows 7 computers. The software was easy to use and did not make a permanent change to the operating system.
Keetakawee’s Fidelizer freeware is still offered, but the software has matured to 2 new offerings; Fidelizer Plus and Fidelizer Pro, both claimed by Keetakawee to offer features and sonic improvements over that provided by the freeware.
I asked Keetakawee, who uses the name Windows X on his site and internet forums, to tell me about how he became interested in computer audio in his native Thailand:
"Getting music server to play audio file at the same quality of highend Esoteric transports is my lifetime's journey. Since I couldn't find such quality I desire from market back in years ago, I decided to build one myself. Lucky me that I have good studies about computer in university and have good mentors about highend digital audio from hifi shop like Inventive AV in Thailand, I was able to understand the core fundamentals of computer and highend CD transport that could be applied to computer audio. Thanks to them that I could study about highend audio gears in details when I was saving for my tuition fee. It's almost ten years since the time I started my own computer audio research. Time sure flies. Fidelizer is a project derived from my own music server project. The concept of original Fidelizer was to instantly turn any computer into audiophile grade workstation platform. It involves all possible system optimizations that won't cause permanent changes such as NT6 multimedia optimization, system kernel optimization, process priority and core optimization, service controller optimization, etc. Without causing permanent changes, I don't have to risk damaging user's machine without knowing its consequences on larger scale. Now I started implementing some system configuration derived from my own music server project into Fidelizer Pro. Maybe some days I could show all of my hard work to fellow audiophiles in this world."You can read a full biography here.
This product delivers the same concept as the original Fidelizer in that it won’t modify the system or cause any permanent changes. This product represents what Fidelizer should be like when it’s not freeware. This version offers the following:
- All the features from the free version are included.
- No more anti-theft to protect software from being secretly integrated in other projects.
- Core optimizations are improved for better audio performance.
- Improved Network streaming audio performance.
- The program remembers the selected audiophile player app.
- Optimization improvements such as stopping more Windows services.
This product will launch itself on system startup for system optimizations. It will also make permanent changes to the system as well. The following improvements over the free version are:
- All features from the Plus version are included.
- You can choose to perform optimizations on startup automatically.
- System tweaks for permanent optimizations are now available with some very unique tweaks (Uninstalling will revert all optimizations back to system defaults).
- Services not utilized for audio will be disabled resulting in a better resource pool.
- Core optimizations are redesigned with machine configuration that improve network optimizations and control service disabling for use with software like JPLAY Control/Audio PC.
Fidelizer offers 4 Optimization Level settings that progressively increase the resource utilization of the operating system for music playback. The 4 levels are Workstation, Audiophile, Extremist, and Custom.
There is a progressive reduction of resource utilization on low-priority system tasks and network services with an increase in priority for audio related process as one advances to a higher level of setting. Isolating non-audio process to idle CPU core and launching media software after the optimizations are made are features found in the Audiophile and Extremist settings. Stopping unnecessary system / network services and leaving only audio ones is found in the Extremist mode. Keetakawee believes that Extremist mode, with its stopping of network services, results in a machine exclusively designed for audio use. Custom mode allows one to select exactly what optimizations are applied to one’s computer.
Keetakawee provides a more detailed explanation of the Optimization Levels at his site. But for those interested in the Fidelizer core optimizations, here is a more detailed explanation from Keetakawee:
- Multimedia Class Scheduler Service or MMCSS optimization: You may see some DAW software having MMCSS options and we have no clue what they do specifically as if it's developers' secrets. At least you can find explanation in Fidelizer and here's how it's done.
-Keep audio task working steady without losing focus to other tasks
-Raise over all audio task priority such application, I/O, etc.
-More time slice for audio resource utilization (Much more frequently)
- Kernel timer resolution optimization: I first discovered this from DPC Latency checker software. I used to have stuttering audio for low latency playback but running this software stopped stuttering. So I looked further and found it changed kernel timer resolution from 15.6ms to 1ms fixing this stuttering issue. So I added this to Fidelizer as well and will set it to lowest possible (0.5ms). This would solve most low latency issues in digital audio.
- Audio thread priority optimization: Here's a real gem. This is the only unique feature that I couldn't find any software claiming to do and needs to be done from Core Audio's API call. It will increase audio thread priority by raising some audio processes priority so audio performance is improved from its core.
This setting is the classic computer playing music from internal or externally connected hard drives without the need for network support.
Music Server with Network Support
This setting takes the Extremist Optimization Level and adds network support for a remote controller.
If the main purpose isn’t simply playing audio but to transfer audio to another machine to play instead like DLNA/UPnP server or JPLAY Control PC, this is the optimal configuration.
“Network Render” is used to optimize networked audio such as DLNA/UPnP render and JPLAY Audio PC.
This configuration is specially designed for video enthusiasts optimizing the best possible audio/video quality without degrading overall performance.
One very important feature of Fidelizer Pro is that it can easily be uninstalled by its built-in uninstaller feature. I feel that this is a very important feature so one does not have to worry if his copy of Windows is being corrupted by this software. I used this feature numerous times with no observable errors or OS blue screens.
The optimization of the Window’s operating system for computers playing music is not a new concept. One of the first to promote the improvements of computers for high end audio was the anonymous Cics and his cPlay (cics Play) minimalist audio player and his cMP (cics Memory Player) computer. Cics’ computer optimization for high end audio began in 2006 and attracted a large following among computer audio enthusiasts. Turning off unneeded computer process for music reproduction in Windows was felt to produce a positive musical result.
I have turned off a number of Windows processes such as page file, Windows Update, Windows Defender, before applying Fidelizer Pro to Windows 8.1. But I was quite eager to see if Fidelizer Pro could offer a simple technique to “slim” or optimize Windows 8.1.
My Computer Setup
An early 2011 MacBook Pro 2.3 GHz i7 Quad Core, 16 GB RAM with Samsung 840 Pro SSD was used with 2 GRAID 8TB Thunderbolt drives for the music libraries; one for PCM and the other for DSD files. Boot Camp / Windows 8.1 64 Pro was the OS used in this evaluation. JRiver Media Center 20 and Foobar2000 software players were used along with JPlay.
The GRAID Thunderbolt drives were powered by HDPlex linear power supplies. An iFi Micro iUSBPower was also driven with an HDPlex linear power supply. The MacBook Pro and the hard drives were plugged into the Shunyata Research Hydra DPC-6. The iFi Micro iUSBPower / HDPlex were plugged into the Shunyata Triton Power Center.
The computer was placed on a Synergistic Research Tranquility Base powered by the Transporter Ultra SE. Synergistic Research Thunderbolt Active SE cables were used for the hard drives. The USB cables used in this review were the Synergistic Research Galileo LE and the JCAT Reference USB cable.
The DAC employed was the MSB Technology Analog DAC with the Analog Power Base.
Extremist Setting Grabbed My Attention
While I heard no difference in sound running the Workstation setting, I did hear a slight improvement in terms of a wider soundstage and a little bit better focus with the Audiophile setting. I then decided to go for the max and install the Extremist setting with no network operation. The improvements to the sound while listening to JRiver and Foobar were quite obvious to me. The soundstage became much wider and deeper; the bass was now better defined. Focus and definition improved with an added bonus; a slight midrange hardness I have heard in JRiver was now gone. I also observed that JPlay continued to work with Foobar2000. When I booted up Windows, Fidelizer Pro 6.5 did open my selected music software after the optimizations were completed while in the Audiophile or Extremist settings.
The latest version of Fidelizer Pro 6.5 offers Extremist Mode with network support for remotes like the iOS app JRemote. I love this app and was hoping that adding network support with the Extremist Mode would not seriously degrade the sound I was achieving with the full Extremist setting. I am happy to report that most of what I heard with the full Extremist setting was preserved running Extremist with network support. Yes, the full Extremist setting was a tiny bit bigger sounding and the bass slightly better defined, but there was nothing I really missed listening to Extremist with network support.
For those that are interested, I ran Windows Task Manager to see how many processes were running in various setups. Without Fidelizer Pro, I was seeing 51 processes when running JRiver Media. In Extremist with network, I had 45 processes. In full Extremist mode there were 42 processes running. The image I posted indicates 46 processes in the Extremist with network support. The extra process indicated is the screen capture program.
A Positive Operating System Tweak
I have found Fidelizer Pro 6.5 to be a positive system tweak for my setup, and more importantly, it did no permanent harm to my Windows 8.1 Pro 64 setup. I am aware of other optimization and operating system “slimming” techniques that can be performed, but I found Fidelizer Pro to be very simple to implement. Keetakawee offers support for Pro 6.5 if you are having issues, and has been offering free updates to the program since its release. For those that also enjoy running JPlay, I encountered no issues running JPlay with Fidelizer Pro 6.5.