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I am trying to get my head round this, as web info seems sparse except here.


1)Is Amarra's principle benefit that it automatically changes sample rates?

2)Is Amarra just software or a combo of Hard & Software, and if it is a combo, is the hardware a Dac?

3)If I am using a MacBook is the best output for an Amarra/iTunes system Firewire or can I use USB2.0 and still get 192/24?

4) Does it have a security dongle thing?

5) How much does it cost

6) Anyone know if there are UK reps so I can hear the magic?


Help here much appreciated




Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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1.Among others




5.Like some one said, already too expensive if you ask.~$5xxx??


I would love to have a listen also.



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Hi blueixus - I've had Amarra for quite some time, but am probably not the best person to answer your questions. Your best bet is to contact one of the dealers. The Amarra dealers actually know what they are talking about when it comes to computer based audio.


1) I wouldn't term auto sample rate recognition the principle benefit, but it's one of many. The Sonic engine running behind the scenes is really good. In fact many of the albums we listen to were created with Sonic Studio's Soundblade. Amarra and Soundblade are based on the same code I believe. I had lunch with Jonathan Reichbach, and others, on Saturday and discussed Amarra with him. He is really doing some innovative things with the application. I'm not sure I can mention what he is doing for fear of giving his proprietary information away. I hope he or someone at Sonic release some of this information because Amarra really is a great product and most people are still in the dark about its benefits.


2) Software and hardware combo. Amarra will only work with specified hardware. the model 3 and 4 Sonic hardware units, Weiss Engineering products, and one other product that I'm not sure has been talked about yet so I'll withhold my comments. the model 3 is a FireWire to AES converter I believe and the model 4 is a full DAC. One cool thing about the model 4 is I believe it can to A to D as well so you could digitize a vinyl collection with the same unit as you playback your music.


3) Amarra is FireWire with the Sonic hardware.


4) Amarra uses an iLOK dongle


5) A dealer is the best person to answer this question


6) Not sure about UK reps. I'd call Sonic or one of the U.S. dealers if you're really interested.




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1 - The details so far released on what Amarra is are on their website - I don't think I've seen any further details than these. (http://www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/index.html)


2 - Isn't the Amarra system combination of software and approved/compatible hardware - i.e. the Amarra Model Three and Model Four firewire interfaces, Daniel Weiss has mentioned getting his hardware approved also and I guess others too. From reading the Model Three provides digital output to a separate DAC the Model Four has built in DAC.


3 - Firewire only with the equipment I've seen mentioned as compatible / approved.


5 - Does anyone know for sure ... it's not been launched yet has it? I've a feeling $3,500 has been mentioned - but what part of that is for the software and what for the hardware element I don't know.


6 - Probably will be ... once it's been launched. I would guess in USA first, then slowly make it's way to Europe. Sonic Studio have UK / European dealers listed - that would be your best starting point I would think (http://www.sonicstudio.com/purchase/index.html#EuropeAndAfrica). As they say on the website it's being shown at Munich show I would expect they plan to sell in Europe.


My read on the situation is that we're still waiting for final launch - the system has been shown at several shows but isn't on sale yet - all will be revealed when that happens. I don't have any more information beyond what is published on-line, but I am waiting curious about the improvements it will bring - and whether they are worth the estimated cost. Other people have seen / heard it in action and have more information - though some of it probably bound by confidentiality agreements.






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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...I'm really eager to understand what Amarra does to the bit flow in order to make it sound better out to any DAC. Or as opposite what iTunes on osx or Foobar/ASIO on win do wrong with it... I tried to look in the web but it's hidden like black magic :-) , at least for me, maybe someone on the pro enviroment with better knowledge on the engine can help....

To come to the basic question:


What the hell happen to the poor bit in his travel from hardisk bird reading head to the input of our whatsoever DAC?


For your curiosity there's another piece of clever commercial sw that combines upsampling to 32x192 of all the music stream and room correction; all integrated into iTunes osx. It is not much known, is from an Italian company called Tangerintech, who wants to dig here can find info, ask google translate for you :-) ... http://www.tangerinetech.net/adcharon.html




MacMini->FW->Digital Konnect X32(AES->Weiss DAC1 mkII

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I inquired about the Amarra 3 and was told it was about $6k USD!


tomE[br]Bryston BDP-1, Bryston BDA-1, Oppo BDP-95, Rogue Audio Sphinx, Montor Audio Silver RX8s. [br]Analog: LP12, Alphason HR100S, Benz Micro LO04 and Rogue audio Triton phono pre

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That looks pricey even if it is 25% of that.


I will be exploring the Italian option, thank you Paolo.


There is a lot of english on the site and it gives a tasty clue to the sort of stuff we can expect with room correction.





Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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...it is black magic :-)


well, 6k for just a player... not aimed so to music production pro but consumer... if Weiss bundle it with own product ...it will exceed the top DAC1MKII price.... uhmm... donno but I have quite a reservation...


Chris, did you had chance to compare Amarra vs wavelab or similar? Just curious to know on a 10 scale where they position assuming the basic standard of iTunes/osx and Foobar/ASIO being positioned at 1.




MacMini->FW->Digital Konnect X32(AES->Weiss DAC1 mkII

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dear blueixus, not to cold down your Italian's excitement :-) , but the Tangerintech product seems to be here in the range of 3K Euros (double Ouch!), but there is a version with their own build DAC and a version only SW (well actually I understood they deliver for the price the sw license, a bootable HD and few hours of a technician doing the room correction analysis and setup (you can do it yourself but they reccomend not to).


I'm waiting my new DAC .... a Weiss DAC1MKII is going to replace the BDA-1... I should receive also in 2 weeks a Micro Clock MK2 to bust up my Digital KonnectX32, then when the setup is stabilized as well my ears, I'll book a home demonstration of AD Charon... wanna see...ops, wanna ear if it really works as reported by friend from hifi tradeshow demo. The good thing, apart from the room correction, is the engine that automatically upsample all streamed play to 32/192...this will solve the switching operation between different sample rates. But I still have many things to dig, like how the 32/192 is lowered to 24/192 to feed the DAC...




MacMini->FW->Digital Konnect X32(AES->Weiss DAC1 mkII

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Paolo thank you, again, for your comments. This stuff all looks very pricey. I am highly sceptical of both systems not because of their performance, which I am sure is excellent but because I fear a solution to changing the sample rates may appear from someones garage at a much lower price!


I am seriously considering making a version of my library at 88.2kHz 24 bit - upsampling my Cds using dbPoweramp and downsampling my higher res files as an interim measure to I solve the sample rate problem.


This way I can retain my fantastic Audionote DAC that i love and can assess things over time. I am more of a marathon runner that a sprinter!




Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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while DAC's are quite mature in R&D, and if you are happy with your Audionote that would be the heart of your digital source for sure, in the SW player application there's IMHO still a long run to go.


There's for shure a mix of digital audio & operating system kernels knowledge that probably very few people handle today. There's the party of upsampling all the way, and the party sticking with original sample (it remembers me the zero oversampling vs oversampling DAC debate). Anyway, at least you can try and make your own experience with a flavour of sw already available.


I do believe the real added-value is the DSP to improve room response. And here too there's a long run to go. But I see serious progres from the pro market, they paied always attention to passively treat properly the room, but now more and more active loudspeakers monitor includes active DSP room EQ. Tannoy and Genelec, to mention just two, are doing a lot and it is interesting to think of just 2 (or more in case of multichannell) of these speakers connected via AES/EBU directly to our PC's.


I triggered Chris to tell us how much an engine sw player like Amarra weights on the performace of his system, as my feeling is the major improvement could come from that system component part.




MacMini->FW->Digital Konnect X32(AES->Weiss DAC1 mkII

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  • 2 weeks later...

I suspect it is a case of


Total Cost to bring to Market/Number of expected sales * Profit Margin (inc Dealers)


Cost to bring to market will be Development & Marketing & also cost of customer support. Obviously there are also dealers in here as the point of purchase and they also need a margin. In the old HiFi world this was often 40%.


Also remember this software is not built in China like, I suspect, the Mac Mini!


But it is damn pricey, even worse if you live here in the UK with our ever weakening pound! The interesting debate is if you compare it to a traditional piece of HiFi equipment, think about resale value, I have always factored this in when justifying the ridiculous money I spend on this hobby, quite how Amarra stacks up here is interesting.


You could argue that if it is updated automatically and does not have wear and tear it will not depreciate and therefore be quite excellent value!


Oh dear here I go again again trying to justify the cost of it! The fact is if it can make itunes both sound half decent and still have it's class leading user interface it may be worth it.


I suspect the development in this is top notch and top notch developers just don't come cheap.




Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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You can sell 10 copies at $100 each, or one for $1000.


It is a sound policy. Bill Gate became the richest person in the world because he thought very limited number of people would buy his software, priced accordingly. The whole world bought his software and now he is what he is.


Apple for apple, Job did a bad job and limit his hardware and software marketing. The world got shitty PC as a base and we lost out on a really cool IT growth. Apple is catching up with Iphone. Hope they dont screw up again.


I really dont think we will ever see cheap high end audio units. There is no volume to speak of and the margin x volume is perhaps too limiting to make such useful software and hardware cheap.


Qnap NAS (LPS) >UA ETHER REGEN (BG7TBL Master Clock) > Grimm MU1 > Mola Mola Tambaqui /Meridian 808.3> Wavac EC300B >Tannoy Canterbury SE


HP Rig ++ >Woo WES/ > Stax SR-009, Audeze LCD2

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Not ranting, just laughing a bit ...




What in the world makes the software so expensive?? The software is twice the price of the Mac Mini to run it. Could someone please explain this to me?


If it were that cheap ...

But think about this : I think I spent some 5000 hours on XXHighEnd. My normal tariff is a $150 the hour for software development. That gives ? ...

Add to this that this kind of development is rather special and few can do it. It may pay a $250/hr easily.


But ... first of all nobody is going to tell me that any other piece of software is sounding as good as XXHE, unless the same amount of time has been spent on it. I know what it takes. And then ? it would be as good.


If Amarra isn't bit perfect, well, anything could happen. It could even be worth its price. But would I buy it ?

Would you in that case ?


I sometimes hear complaints that XXHighEnd costs a lousy $100 (72 euro to be precise), and if I read about Amarra prices it makes me laugh. You know what ? I'll cook XXHE right in the middle of iTunes, and ask a $1000 and ... sell NOTHING.


But as I implied, it would just be worth it, because of the development costs (assumed some serious development). But it just doesn't work like that. They'll see ...




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Amarra seems to going for the ultimate, and I am glad people do that. The Pro audio editors, however, sound a lot better than any thing we have. Peak LE sells for about $80. Surely, it would be possible to take its sound engine and combine it with an Itunes-like database/interface, and sell it for $100 or $125 and make a good profit.


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I disagree on how Bill Gates became the richest person in the world. The Microsoft business model is to inundate the world with your product, even if at first you have to give it away. Microsoft operating systems and office products were never the best but they were usually inexpensive or free.


In the early PC days, PC DOS and MS DOS were freely copied and distributed. Later, many users were anxious for a Windows GUI for the IBM compatible PCs that dominated the world. Soon Windows 3.0 and Microsoft Office continued the Microsoft strategy of dominance in both OS and bundled office suite. The low price for MS products that were often freely copied by everyone selling or using an IBM compatible PC virtually ensured that the MS products dominate the world.


I suspect Sonic Studio is not looking to make millions of sales, perhaps since they are use to dealing with the small pro audio market. If the Amarra software is so good, a better strategy might be to release a time limited free version that expires on April 23, 2010 to the hundreds of millions iTunes users. On April 24, 2010 offer a continued license and upgraded Amarra versions for $100, with an annual maintenance fee of $20.


With free or low cost audio players such as cMP/cPlay or XXHighEnd that provide superior sonics, the Amarra software at $1,495 is at a difficult price point. But if you can afford either of their $6K or $9K DACs, what’s another $1.5K? Again, I feel that Sonic Studio is more interested in selling a total hardware/software solution and is not planning for many software only sales. I think that’s a missed opportunity but it’s not my company.


Now for the real thing that matters – just how good does Amarra sound and compared to what?



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Spoke again to John at Sonic and will get a demo next week. I am pretty certain that there is way more value to this than people are perceiving. The podcast is very helpful to get a better sense of what Amarra is doing. I may own a Model 4 system by next week! :)


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Amarra needs some marketing help cause their description of Amarra software is:


1. • The convenience of iTunes

2. • Pristine audio quality of Sonic Studio’s proprietary SSE engine

3. • Plays all high resolution PCM formats up to 192 kHz sample rates

4. • Macintosh OS X for ease of use and management

5. • Uses iTunes for compressed and rights managed music

6. • Supports Apple Remote and iTouch Remote


#1, 5, and 6, are sort of Mac based features and iTunes related and nothing really related to audio quality.

#4 is not feature, but a requirement.

#2 and #3, they should expand on how the "pristine audio quality" provides better quality than iTunes engine.


Looks to me that there's more "features" of the amarra software when tied together with their hardware Model 4. As all the equalization and other controls are configured in software, but processed through the DSPs on the Model 4. Can the Amarra software do EQ via software instead of through hardware DSPs? If you buy the amarra software alone (to use with say a Weiss DAC2) what do you lose if you're not going to use it with the Model 4 DAC.


If they expect this to take off in this economy, they need a flux of positive experiences and reviews. I would have hoped an introductory pricing to get people off the fence.


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Chris, since you have used Amarra, and now that its been officially announced, can you share your thoughts on how Amarra actually sounds. If you can explain the configuration (hardware & software) that you used to listen to it and let us know how it sounds compared to your current reference computer front end (and let us know what that is) I think that would be extremely beneficial. That will provide, at least for me, a valuable data point about Amarra. I would still want to hear it for myself in my system, but its always good to hear from someone who has used it. Thanks so much in advance.




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Chris, thanks for the podcast. It was very informative.


One thing that greatly confuses me: if I don't use their DAC, but instead go digital out to my own DAC, is the output bit perfect or is it massaged for superior sonics?


If I have a 16/44 file is it sent to my DAC 16/44 exactly as it is on the source file?


A second thing that I'm wondering: Does it offer upsampling? If I have a 16/44 file will it send it to my DAC at 24/96 or some other higher than original sample rate?


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By now I heard 2 people telling that the podcast is very informative and helpful;


The postcast (idea) is very nice and it is a nice thing to do by Chris. But where this one was informative and helpful on anything ? it goes beyond me. And I don't think this is because I know a little more about it. On thing though :


Chris, I heard how surprised you were about the precise calculations and "this was not even brought up on the for..". Well, I guess the only one around here who could have brought that up was me, right ?

I guess this is true - or may be true to some extend, and these were my own first explanations over two years ago. But would I even give that for a reason ? I could, but it would degrade everybody else who wrote software in this area, as if they were all dumn and never left highschool. Oh, I'm sure able to degrade anyone, but then first I had to know ... and I can't.


This is a most weak explanation, and since it is the only one (to me) it does nothing but the contrary.


Is it bit berfect ? ... hear back that part of the interview. Chris, you gave the answer yourself like being afraid to hear no, and 0.5 seconds was spend on the confirmation : "of course".

I don't trust this much. Bit perfectness comes with prerequisites, and without them nobody is going to tell me it is on Vista. Ah, right, it isn't running on Vista. Ok ok.

Through everything I heard a longer answer : yes it is, but then you'd have normal sound ... of course.


Actually I am not amongst those who are negative without even listening. But I interpret reviews and interviews. If there is one while there could be 10, this is suspicious by itself. So that's a startoff. Can't help that.


With Tim not around, this time *I* have the feeling of telling to keep your money in your pocket unless it has been proven with measurements that Amarra is better of any sort. I guess it's a matter of how things are brought ?





Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2.5      Ethernet^3     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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