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)
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.