Amarra best version

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REShaman

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #40 on: 1 Jun 2012, 07:54 am »
Comparing different players in different systems is similar to comparing different cables in different systems. Lion vs Snow Leopard may yield different results as well. Gordon Rankin prefers Lion to Snow Leopard despite integer mode available only in Leopard (this isn't important for Offramp users, if I am not mistaken they don't support integer mode). Amarra is typically my choice for Mac (PM has deeper soundstage and perhaps more accurate low end), Jplay is fantastic player for Win. Sometimes I prefer one over the other. My preferences change depending on the mood I am in/music I listen to.
How does one become a beta tester for Amarra?

I never argue with perception. I own all the software players for Mac. Honestly, I do not know what you mean or what you hear or what you experience when you state PM has a deeper soundstage and perhaps more accurate low end. Mind you, I am not arguing. Merely not able to confirm what you state based on my listening experience with PM (latest build) versus Amarra Symphony latest build. And software alone does not determine soundstage and low end independent of the system you are listening through. I know you post extensively at the Circle. I am not even suggesting you are wrong. With my system, PM is excellent. So is the latest BitPerfect, 1.0.3. (BitPerfection, the new build won't work with my dac). Audirvana Plus is also excellent as is Decibel and Fidelia. AND (avoiding BUT) Amarra Symphony is the better of them all (for me) with my system and in my discernment, soundstage and low end. With SQ, Amarra is my absolute favorite as well. As for becoming a beta tester, suggest you contact Sonic Studio. I know several manufacturers employ PM when they exhibit. Steve employs Amarra. So there's room for different perceptions as to which is preferred because of what is discerned as the best player. I can appreciate how you might reach your conclusions without making you wrong or me right. The important thing is to enjoy the music using either.
Best,
Richard

tpaxadpom

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Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #41 on: 2 Jun 2012, 12:48 am »
I am with you Richard. Perception is very subjective.
On the subject of the source. I noticed many of you use mac mini. Why upgrade PSUs in minis if you can use Mac Book Pro with built in battery? I use mine and turn off display brightness, keyboard led's off and control it from touchpad (splashtop remote, switch track and disconnect not to waste CPU cycles). I've measured noise on 5V line of USB with supplied adapter as well as Chineese knockoffs from ebay. The old Dell laptop laying around at work had lower noise (better regulation). It's ugly when charging circuitry is on and pretty clean (comparing to battery powered) when battery is fully charged. Just a food for thought...

REShaman

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #42 on: 2 Jun 2012, 01:15 pm »
I am with you Richard. Perception is very subjective.
On the subject of the source. I noticed many of you use mac mini. Why upgrade PSUs in minis if you can use Mac Book Pro with built in battery? I use mine and turn off display brightness, keyboard led's off and control it from touchpad (splashtop remote, switch track and disconnect not to waste CPU cycles). I've measured noise on 5V line of USB with supplied adapter as well as Chineese knockoffs from ebay. The old Dell laptop laying around at work had lower noise (better regulation). It's ugly when charging circuitry is on and pretty clean (comparing to battery powered) when battery is fully charged. Just a food for thought...

Appreciate your recommendations. I have read several similar posts (at Computer Audiophile where I seem to hang out mostly) from members who have similar preferences. Just started chuckling to myself when suddenly a remembrance of some tech support person telling me that Dell used cheap USB ports and it was the source of my problem. This was back in the days when I had a Dell Laptop (2003 to 2008) long before I ever became interested in computer audio. I was having problems with peripherals attached to the USB ports of the Dell, and the memory of the exchange just popped into my awareness. But that has nothing to do with today's Dell laptop, or any of your suggestions. I would have to admit to a bias in favor of the Mac Mini as a music server with SSD/8GB/Thunderbolt/min-display/HDMI ports.

What shaped my choice for the first Mac Mini I bought in 2011 when I first pursued computer audio system (and only offered in the 2010 Mac Mini model style with internal DVD or the server model) and months later, absorbed the cost and purchased the Thunderbolt i7 2011 version (no internal DVD), were the recommendations at various websites, i.e., PM, Amarra, and others. They also mentioned Mac Pro and Mac Book Pro.

I do not doubt that you have honed in a setup that provides the minimum electronic, if any, interference etc. with the rendition of music because of hardware limitations. I had briefly considered the Mach 2 but something just holds me back (including resistance and possibly ignorance) which I rationalize as not wanting to get esoteric. So when it comes to support if ever needed I don't have to jump through hoops. I am not that ambitious when it comes to modifying components, although I did purchase Oppo's upgrade of the BDP-83 to an SE, but not Modwright's or Nuforce, who provided better regulation etc.

Still, I greatly appreciate the contrast you present which prompts me to review, research and get comfortable with an area I avoid because I am not comfortable with modded equipment beyond what the manufacturer might offer. Not that Dan Wright or Nuforce are controversial (although they have made errors like reversing wires etc.). I also liked the clean (in appearance) powerful processor and array of ports. I keep USB/firewire mandatory. While I do not shut off everything, i.e., Time Machine and Spotlight, I keep operations essential when playing music. I can not provide you with technical reasons nor am I technically savvy. What I do have is a great sounding system, and I am certain that changes I am not even familiar with or eager to implement could make it even better. That's one of my weaknesses. You're thoughtful to educate me. And I truly appreciate the information.

Steve promotes his OverDrive SE so that one does not need an OffRamp 5. He also believes a passive line stage preamp á la Music First or Sterling Knight (?) would improve the SQ greatly. That I am considering. But the OverDrive SE is quite costly. And honestly, the W4S Dac2 sounds very good and with the OffRamp 5 even better. I am waiting for several things to converge including that moment when I feel a green light go off somewhere in my awareness and then I takes my chances.

Sorry for the long post.

Adding this piece of information derived from a thread at CA I just happened to read after posting to you. Mac Mini AP Edition http://www.itemaudio.com/index.php/digital-audio-sources/modified-audio-computers/mac-mini-upgrades/detail/8-parts-a-modification/flypage%7Cask/128-mac-mini-ap-edition?sef=hcfp

Best,
Richard

REShaman

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #43 on: 28 Jul 2012, 01:55 pm »
Since my last post re Amarra. There have been stunning changes. By stunning I refer to the SQ which I find superb (even if the word feels lofty). I play mostly jazz, classical, pop and rock and lots of instrumental. I know others argue Pure Music has a better soundstage, Audirvana Plus easier interface etc. I own them all and keep them updated. I know Steve who appears and endorses Amarra, at least their EQ, has a favorite build. What does Steve know? :) Latest published build is excellent. But the Betas in progression have improved in SQ, and reliability for playing gapless while in Amarra mode meaning no flagging in iTunes. Playlist mode has also improved even beyond how good the SQ was before. Yes, you have to add the tracks into a playlist to accomplish playing the tracks (gaplessly as well) without the need to first flag them as gapless.
Presently, the most recent Beta is stunning. It should have some wrinkles pressed out shortly and become the next published release. My enthusiasm for Amarra has some wondering if I am on their payroll. I never respond to those comments. And I am only a beta tester because I decided I wanted to give back in some way for the pleasurable listening experience I derive from Amarra. I also have a large (?) collection of over 4,000 albums (may be that's not large) and I am in the process of converting everything over to AIFF. The ease of selecting (actually even finding the album easily), not having to handle discs and operate sources (well a remote if I chose to)...You know where I am going with this. As I own all the other players (they're mostly wonderful too), I have a perspective (subjective at best) and Amarra is sonically superior to my ears.

Merely touching on the progression of this player from time to time. Now with Mountain Lion, which I favor over Lion (never cared for that OSX build), Amarra and ML make beautiful music together.
Best,
Richard

audioengr

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #44 on: 28 Jul 2012, 05:23 pm »
How do the current mac mini's sound?

Not as good as the older late 2009 model which was DC powered.  If you use the USB port next to the middle one, it is killer good.

Steve N.

ketcham

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Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #45 on: 29 Jul 2012, 12:20 am »
Steve.   Can you post a pic of the ideal usb port to use?   One on either side of center?  Regarding post above,  an offramp 5 used with Steven's new dac actually makes the unit sound worse,  flat and unnatural.   Actually auditioning the various components helps the decision process emmesely. 

audioengr

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #46 on: 29 Jul 2012, 05:19 pm »
Steve.   Can you post a pic of the ideal usb port to use?   One on either side of center?  Regarding post above,  an offramp 5 used with Steven's new dac actually makes the unit sound worse,  flat and unnatural.   Actually auditioning the various components helps the decision process emmesely.

If you look at the end USB connector, near the center of the chassis, it's the one next to this.

Steve N.

Watthead

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #47 on: 19 Aug 2012, 02:20 am »
OK it's been a like a week since i've downloaded the trail version of Amarra and I wanted to add my 2cents on my thoughts about it. What i've been using all along is Pure Music, so i can't help but compare them. Pure Music I like a lot, love it. It's solid program with a great sound. Do Amarra and Pure Music sound different? They certainly do. I gotta say that I actually prefer Amarra's sound. It seems to have more omph on the lower, mid/lower territory. But don't get me wrong,  its a pretty well organized and defined omph, so for me its definitely a good thing. Also, the tonality as a whole seems to be more tight, which I like. Pure Music, in comparison, is lighter on its feet. It's a more forward/bright sound. So, for my taste, Amarra takes the dinner home on sound (for my particular system and my personal taste). Another advantage Amarra has is  you can "needle drop" to any point in a song. Pure Music doesn't let u do that, its just the beginning of the song where u can go to. If Pure Music can do this, please enlighten me, but I still haven't been able to crack that yet.
The way I listen to music is: Pure Music>Itunes>Airfoil for wireless transmitting (As many of you know Itunes won't airplay to apple tv when run by Pure Music or Amarra)>Apple TV>DAC>AMP>Blla bla bla. The reason I mention this is to bring to light the only thing I haven't liked about Amarra. Sometimes, with this configuration, It just won't sound, and it ends up crashing. Airfoil doesn't get a signal, and when i try to go to Amarra to ask it what's up, it won't respond and it ends up crashing. So yea that's a big bummer. When this happens, it sticks. It just won't work. I dunno if it's something i'm doing wrong, but the fact that it simply crashes at the end, tell me it's some Airfoil/Amarra communicating  problem. Which brings me to a point in Amarra's defense, this happens only with Airfoil and Amarra. If i connect the computer directly to the Dac, no problems. But I do my music sessions wirelessly, and the only way I can get the music to the apple tv using Amarra is thru Airfoil, so for me it's a problem. Well anyhow, what i do when this happens is, I open up Pure Music, and use it, and after a while open Amarra to see if it settled it's issues. Sometimes it's still angry, but most of the times it's ready to play again. So on this, Pure Music gets the points. Pure Music has never crashed on me, and that's pretty important. I see it like a car, once a car leaves u stranded on the road, u start looking at it differently. On the other hand, if it's a trooper and it's been to hell and back with you without incidents, you love it to death.
So to wrap it up: take in mind i'm probably not using any of these wonderful programs to it's full potential. I just plug and play, so maybe this review won't be that good for some, and by not mentioning all the capabilities maybe i'm not being fair to either. Having said that, i guess the question I have to try and answer to myself is if my better liking of Amarra's sound over Pure Music is gonna over shadow the crash issues? I hate to say it (cause I already own Pure Music) but i think it does. When i use Pure Music now, the first thing i do is open up the EQ and give a lil' boost to the 120hz and bellow freq. That's something I never did before listening to Amarra. But i don't like giving that boost to Pure Music, it still doesn't sound as natural or tight as Amarra. So Amarra wins in my book, to me it just sounds that much better in my system.

(Paradigm Studio 20 V.5, Paradigm Seismic 110 Sub, Nakamichi Sasis PA-5 amp, Peachtree Audio iDac, Apple TV, Wireworld Oasis 6 analog Inerconects, Wireworld Supernova 6 Toshlink, Wireworld Stream 16/2 speake cables)

Paz,

Simon

PS: The version of Amarra that came with the trail is 2.4.1(4405), when/if i buy it i'll see if I have the option to download the version that Steve recommends.



tpaxadpom

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Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #48 on: 26 Sep 2012, 04:40 am »
IMHO Amarra 3.4.1 is a move in a wrong direction but it doesn't matter anymore.
Not to change the subject of this thread, but those who haven't tried JPLAY 4.3 absolutely must do this. New version supports ASIO though I've heard not all devices are compatible (Diverter HR works including direct link mode). Do it now, do not wait.  :roll: I doubt I am going to boot Mountain Lion on my Macbook Pro for music playback. :lol: I have been using jplay plugin with foobar (you can download app to control from your phone/tablet) but you can also use it with itunes and jriver. No more headaches with .cue, flac, ape, wv... It just works and it sounds fantastic.
 

audioengr

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #49 on: 26 Sep 2012, 05:09 pm »
I have heard that the Jplay/Foobar combo is a winner from several people.

I compared the latest release of Amarra 4.2 yesterday and unfortunately it is still not there IMO.  4318/19 release is still the best I have heard.  4.2 sounds like you are listening through a tunnel.  Not live.  I like Amarra because I always use the EQ capability, and my version sounds really good.

I may get a chance to use Jplay and Foobar soon, but it will not have the benefit of EQ....

Steve N.

tpaxadpom

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Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #50 on: 26 Sep 2012, 10:19 pm »
Steve, the trick is ASIO. KS and WASAPI sound somewhat congested (listening through a tunnel is another way to describe it). Until Jplay 4.3 release Amarra was my favorite player.

audioengr

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #51 on: 26 Sep 2012, 10:42 pm »
Steve, the trick is ASIO. KS and WASAPI sound somewhat congested (listening through a tunnel is another way to describe it). Until Jplay 4.3 release Amarra was my favorite player.

That could be a problem.  The M2Tech driver is most stable with KS and WASAPI.  Tends to crash with directsound, but I'll give it a try.  Thanks for the clarification.

Steve N.

Ern Dog

Help getting started
« Reply #52 on: 1 Dec 2012, 05:39 am »
So I tried the 15-day trial of the version 4319 and loved it.  I just purchased and downloaded the latest Amarra version, but now I'm having trouble re-activating the 4319 version.  I tried opening the Extra folder and running the delete preference command then opened up the 4319 version- then it prompted me for the activation code.  I entered my new activation code, email and password, but it gives me an error!

I emailed Amarra about how to do this a couple days ago and they still haven't gotten back to me.  I'm impatient and can't wait.  Can anybody help me with this?

Thanks,
Ernie

audioengr

Re: Help getting started
« Reply #53 on: 1 Dec 2012, 06:17 pm »
So I tried the 15-day trial of the version 4319 and loved it.  I just purchased and downloaded the latest Amarra version, but now I'm having trouble re-activating the 4319 version.  I tried opening the Extra folder and running the delete preference command then opened up the 4319 version- then it prompted me for the activation code.  I entered my new activation code, email and password, but it gives me an error!

I emailed Amarra about how to do this a couple days ago and they still haven't gotten back to me.  I'm impatient and can't wait.  Can anybody help me with this?

Thanks,
Ernie

You must enter the old password and then give it a new password at the prompt.

Did you delete preferences in the existing Amarra folder and left the 4319 files alone?

Steve N.

Ern Dog

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #54 on: 1 Dec 2012, 07:16 pm »
I tried that and no luck and yes I deleted the preferences in the new folder.

I read that after 3 tries the system locks you out and that it will need to be re-set by Amarra.  Looks like I'm gonna have to wait until they get back to me.  uggggg

audioengr

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #55 on: 1 Dec 2012, 07:37 pm »
I tried that and no luck and yes I deleted the preferences in the new folder.

I read that after 3 tries the system locks you out and that it will need to be re-set by Amarra.  Looks like I'm gonna have to wait until they get back to me.  uggggg

If you can't remember the password, the best thing is to do the email option so they send you a new one.

Steve N.

acousticsguru

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Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #56 on: 12 Feb 2013, 12:03 pm »
Not as good as the older late 2009 model which was DC powered.  If you use the USB port next to the middle one, it is killer good.

Steve N.

Hi Steve!

I've been reading this thread (and many others) with great interest. I'm also in the market for a USB to SPDIF (preferably AES/EBU) converter (still trying to figure out whether yours also comes as 220 VAC model). Please feel free to PM me!

Curious about two things: which "older late 2009" Mac Mini are you referring to? There are at least three different Intels: 2.26 GHz, 2.53 GHz and 2.66 GHz. Also, does your opinion regarding the "best" Amarra version remain unchanged?

Thanks in advance!

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

acousticsguru

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Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #57 on: 12 Feb 2013, 12:06 pm »
Here is what I found:

2009 Mini sounds best.  120GB SSD m akes about 10% improvement.  8GB DRAM makes no difference.

Making
the SW changes in the other thread (UltraFi) makes aboiut 20% improvement.

Amarra 4319 makes about 30% imrovement.

A better power suppl for the Mini makes an improvement, but I have not tried it on mine yet.

Using one of the two inner USB ports makes about 15% improvement.

Steve N.

Could you point me to that "other thread", please (not sure which)? TIA!

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

audioengr

Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #58 on: 15 Feb 2013, 06:42 pm »
Hi Steve!

I've been reading this thread (and many others) with great interest. I'm also in the market for a USB to SPDIF (preferably AES/EBU) converter (still trying to figure out whether yours also comes as 220 VAC model). Please feel free to PM me!

IT is universal.  I will put the correct AC plug adapter in the box.

Quote
Curious about two things: which "older late 2009" Mac Mini are you referring to? There are at least three different Intels: 2.26 GHz, 2.53 GHz and 2.66 GHz.

2.26 version

Quote
Also, does your opinion regarding the "best" Amarra version remain unchanged?

Unchanged.

The mods to OSX can be found in iBooks in iTunes:

The Audio Optimization Guide

Steve N,

acousticsguru

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Re: Amarra best version
« Reply #59 on: 17 Feb 2013, 04:08 pm »
Dear Steve

Thanks so much for the pointers! A few more questions if I may:

1. Do you no longer offer a battery power supply for your USB interface? If so, why?

2. Have you compared your 2009 Mac Mini's (just missed pulling the trigger on one at auction, bummer…) audio performance to that of a Mac Book Pro (whose RFI rejection is said to be superior)?

3. How important is the OS's ability to do handle files in integer mode (in other words, should one install 10.6.8 Snow Leopard instead of Mountain Lion on a dedicated music server)?

4. How does one play back files on a Mac Mini if no USB connections are ever meant to be used simultaneously, that is none apart from the one connected to the USB interface (no keyboard, no screen), with the WiFi turned off? (Only thing that springs to mind would be to connect the Mac Mini to the local network via Ethernet and use e.g. an iPhone or iPad via the "remote" app.)

Thanks in advance!

Greetings from Switzerland, David.