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I recently changed from a Dell Dimensions with XP to a Mac G5. The Mac works and sounds great. I like Itunes as well as anything that was available for the PC (I used j river most of the time), but there is still the same frustration.


None of the jukebox programs on the PC sounded as good as WaveLab or the other pro editing programs. Itunes does not sound as good as Bias Peak. This is NOT a subtle difference. There are trial versions of these programs available. Give it a listen.


But, of course, it gets tiresome loading on file at a time (though I do it fairly often. It is much better).


Why doesn't someone take the playback engine from one of these pro editing packages and put it with a nice clean data base? I'd give $100 for it, and I think just about everyone who takes computer audio seriously would. I would probably give $200, but I would grumble.



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Exactly guys. Amarra is just the solution. It uses the SoundBlade engine with the iTunes interface. Tons of the music we all listen to today was mastered with SoundBlade and it makes a lot of sense to offer the guts of the app as a playback solution. Plus Sonic Studio is using the iTunes interface. This is a great combination. In fact I received an updated copy of Amarra about ten minutes ago :~)


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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I feel sure that software is the single greatest problem of computer audio. I tried to get XXHighEnd to work. Frustration with it and Vista are among the reasons I decided to grab this G5, which had its handlebars (what else to them?) smashed rather badly in shipping, but works fine. It's in a closet so its ugliness is hidden.




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I installed the demo version of XXHighEnd on my Vista computer with a Juli@ interface card. I like what I hear so far but I need to do more critical listening, which I probably won’t get to until late April or May.


All my 16/44.1 and HRx 24/176.4 files sound very good with the XXHighEnd software. I also downloaded some of the high rez test files from 2L including the 24/384 track that I briefly played with the XXHighEnd software. I was not impressed but maybe that's because I had to use XXHighEnd to downsample the file to 24/192, the limit of my DAC. I also tried upsampling 16/44.1 files to 24/88.2 and 24/176.4, which sounded pretty good though I’m not sure that I prefer upsampling to no upsampling.


My other Windows computer uses XP, a Lynx AES16 and MediaMonkey. I prefer the sonics from either Windows computers over my Macbook Pro playing iTunes. I also tried Play and Cog on my Mac, but the differences were not enough to make me want to use them instead of iTunes.


10 things that I like:

1. My Windows computers run cool, the XP music server runs 24/7. By contrast the Mac laptop can often get very warm.

2. Both MediaMonkey and iTunes are capable of continuous playback of my entire music library. I don’t believe XXHighEnd presently has any infinite loop playback feature.

3. XXHighEnd has adjustable sliders that tailor the sound, while supposedly still providing bit perfect playback.

4. XXHighEnd is able to do 2x and 4x upsampling, but the jury is out on whether this sounds better or not.

5. iTunes on a Mac is the easiest and fastest to rip and play.

6. iTunes has the best and flexible visual interface especially with the Apple remote and Front Row.

7. The Remote application with an iPhone to remotely control my Mac music server is the tops.

8. XXHighEnd and MediaMonkey play all my files formats, AIFF, FLAC, and WAV.

9. Both MediaMonkey and XXHighEnd automatically match the sample rate of the file playing.

10. XXHighEnd prompted me to use a structured file system for my music library, which is highly recommended if you want to share or transfer libraries between players


I look forward to Chris’ review of Amarra. Sonic Studios had a demo version of SoundBlade that I just couldn’t get to work. I hope they provide a demo or trial version of Amarra.



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I couldn't agree more. I found the "Play" software to sound better than Itunes but the file organization is awful. It deleted 70% of the filenames when I loaded music into the librarary because I hadn't tagged them using sbooth's Tag software. It is beyond annoying so I scratched that program. Itunes doesn't sound bad at all but when I used Pro Tools it blew me away. A night and day difference, no contest choice for Pro Tools. The difference is almost scary especially when I first believed all software was supposed to sound the same according to many people if it's bit perfect etc, etc. I'm glad I didn't get stuck endlessly upgrading and chasing rabbits on that path. Pro Tools for my computer playback was like taking a huge step with a completely upgraded CD Player & DAC in the traditional sense. Chris has said that Sonic Studio is releasing their Amarra software in the near future and it is exactly what you are looking for. Convenience and quality all in one package. I love the sound I get with PT but I think I'll buy the Amarra software for the sake of my sanity. Loading each AIFF individually and having to delete the Left & Right channel copy Pro Tools creates gets really old fast; but it does make me appreciate each song more because of the extra effort, right? ;) PS: I edited a typo in my post and it dropped it below, whoops!


david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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Has Sonic Studio decided to sell the Amarra software without the Hardware?


Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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So do these players bypass Apple's core audio in favor of their own drivers? Or they using the core audio services smarter?


2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I will download the trial versions of WaveLab 6 and Bias Peak to see what I am missing. I think PeterSt (XXHighEnd) has spoken very highly of WaveLab.




So do these players bypass Apple's core audio in favor of their own drivers? Or they using the core audio services smarter?


I think, by nature, the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) applications have the urge to be "smarter" because otherwise they can't support enough channels with the necessary low latency. They never would have (had) the urge to make sound music better though. But it's an implicit means I think.


Speaking about myself it indeed is so that the "audio engine" is used more smartly than one normally would do (or think about). I won't say that is all, but it sure is part of it.

Besides, before I started XXHighEnd, it was my own conclusion that anything which was, say, more from a professional angle, sounded better. They just must have used a means (without them knowing) that made it so ...


Referring to the first quote above, I hope I am allowed to say that today Wavelab doesn't cut it anymore. But this is relative of course, and Wavelab didn't change. As many people tell me, it already doesn't for Direct Sound output of Engine#1 in XXHE, which by itself is nowhere close to Engine#3 (WASAPI). But, Wavelab would still be a good second, btw to share with TheaterTek's sound output which goes over DirectShow (yeah, there's some more stuff around :-).


The "problem" (if any) most probably is the character ASIO gives to the sound. And although many implementations of ASIO exist (not so good and good like from Wavelab) that character is always there, and at least I don't like it much. YMMV here of course.




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XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

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i use a laptop with Winblows XP SP3 and J. River media center 13 with ASIO. I am in an audophile club and I eat the macs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The SQ from my laptop into thier dacs is more musical and engaging thaan any mac with that ludicrous damn Itunes.


Powerbook G4 15 inch Aluminum, \"Fidela,\" M2tech EVO (BNC)with RF attenuator,dedicated PSU, Stereovox XV Ultra (BNC) Audio Note Dac Kit 2.1 Level B Signature Upgraded to 12AU7 tubes, ARC SP-16L Tube preamp , VAC PA100/100 Tube Amp), Vintage Tubes, Furutech ETP-80, (Alon 2 Mk2, (upgraded tweeters, Usher Woofers), Pangea Power cords, Omega Micro Active Planar PC. Signal Cable Silver Resolution ICs.

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I've found that with most DAW software, if it can burn cd's then you can use this fact to create a one click solution for album playing. Basically, you go through the procedure for burning a cd, whatever that is, but instead of doing the burn you just save the job to file. Essentially you're saving a cue list. This list can then be recalled at any time and the contents played. I don't know about Bias Peak, having never used it, but the system certainly works well in Wavelab. It's no iTunes, but it does get the job done with the minimum of fuss.


Do a forum search for Wavelab and you should find a step-by-step for that program.


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Excuse my recent posts in which I continue to ask for proof of such claims ... whilst I'd never argue against using your ears in a blind test environment to compare systems, I'd love to see some stats backing up your claims. I've had both a Mac and PC system and really struggle to tell the difference, if such a difference exists.


Bob - I'd never thought of that. Cool. Consider your recent lack of activity excused.


Chris - I know, I'm banging on about stats and measurements and I'm getting more and more dull.



HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Hi Matt, I think it's just a sign that you're pretty much sorted! Getting there myself these days. I'm using a Squeezebox now and, where I can hear some deficiencies in absolute detail, it is still much more musical and involving than any set up I've had before. So now I'm agonising over Flac vs wav! I've always used wav, not being much of a 'library' kind of guy I've never needed the tagging - but I just can't get my brain to accept that a Flac sounds as good as a Wav. I'm sure it does, but somehow my brain feels short-changed! ;)


Software-wise, I still think that Wavelab is a no-brainer. Much better than anything else, just about as user-unfriendly as it gets! As for the rest of 'em, I just think it comes down to OS and how you like your software rolled. That's where the Squeezy wins for me, it's all network packets until it gets to the box. No ASIO, no dll's, no mixers. And t'internet radio is brilliant. Can't get Pandora, of course, but Hober is just as good!


Stay cool!


Thread hijack over.


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Oh Bob - honestly, I'm cool. Always some messing around in my posts.


Is the Squeezebox easy to use.? It has a rather cool handset which appears to do the job... I'm counting down the days to my iPod Touch. Can't come quickly enough.



HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Mrs. Squeezy - for that is her name - is just lovely. Or, in other words, no where near as good as a Touch but it gets the job done! Dead quick, good screen, album art, search, genres, favourites, playlists, blah, blah, blah! The only drawback? It isn't an iPod Touch!!


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I've just started using VOX (versiontracker.com), plays pretty much all the formats I have to chose from.

iTunes is the best software to view, search, catalog etc... for any platform, some people are willing to compromise a little sound difference for the sake of ease of use.

I will give VOX more demo time through my Linn system (Laptop, Numerik, Majik-I, LK100's, Kan II's, Linn silver interconnects), but will probably go back to Itunes - AppleTV.

A funny note however - with the price of CD players going down so much, I'm actually considering purchasing the Linn Ikemi, or getting an older Sondek LP12, I did like the days of putting a cd, or a record on, then listening through the whole LP.

With a Ripped catalog of music, it's too easy to keep skipping to the next artist or track. I must be getting old or something.


Please don't crucify me for mentioning analog, or CD's.



Michael J. Howell[br]Macbook Pro, Airport Extreme Base Station, AppleTV, Majik, Numerik, Katans. Linn Silver and Audioquest 3 Toslink, AQ - Indigo (bi-wire), Mapleshade Bedrocks (yes these actually work).

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"Chris - I know, I'm banging on about stats and measurements and I'm getting more and more dull."


Hi BEEMB - No worries at all! I think you speak for a large portion of the CA audience. You've earned enough respect around here to ask tough questions and at least ask for more information. Continuing on this topic, I'm not sure if you read my comments on another thread about an experience two weeks ago listening for two hours through Samplitude then switching to MediaMonkey. Honestly the difference was very large and everyone in the room heard it immediately. You obviously don't have to trust me on this one but I'm 100% honest about the experience. We weren't really comparing applications rather we just decided to switch. I'd love to provide some measurements as to why there was a sound difference when both apps output bit perfect streams and I'll keep pursuing this goal. The testing methods are far beyond my skill level. The system we used for listening was also one of the most transparent I've heard. Magico speakers, Spectral monoblock amps and preamp, and a Pacific Microsonics Model Two DAC. If you're not familiar with the spectral stuff and the Model Two I highly recommend researching them. There is some amazing engineering behind both brands.


I'd like to think that the difference we all heard would have been very audible on any system, but I really don't have any way of knowing. One thing is for sure though, everyone can run their own tests at home (scientific or not) and decide for themselves.


I know I've said this in the past BEEMB, but I am continuing to look for answers surrounding applications sonic differences and file format sonic differences etc...



Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems AudiophileStyleStickerWhite2.0.png AudiophileStyleStickerWhite7.1.4.png

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I really like the concept of Amarra, but iTunes as the interface is a non-starter for me. The library management/searching/sorting capabilities of iTunes are far too limited to deal effectively with large collections of some kinds of music, especially Classical (I have about 1000 classical CDs ripped). Even J River, which is far more extensible and customizable, doesn't do everything I want.


Do you know, Chris, if the Sonic Amarra software has an API to allow old dog C++ programmers like me to roll our own interfaces? I'm in the midst of writing my own interface to the J River DB, but I could change directions ...





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When are the rest of us going to get copies of Amarra?


That's the single biggest question these days here in the CA forum that needs a proper answer. Certainly can't blame Chris if he has no answer. At least we're reasonably confident it isn't vaporware!


- Rand


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