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Possible competitor for Amarra


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I sent Matthew Foust of Audiophile Engineering, the maker of Wave Editor, the following email:

 

Matthew--

 

I assume you are aware that Wave Editor has been given a good deal of attention on audiophile forums because it and several other pro audio editors sound significantly better in playback than Itunes or any other available jukebox-type programs.

 

I don't know how closely you follow these matters. But recently, Sonic Studio in connection with VRS audio released a program called Amarra, which integrates the playback engine from Soundblades with the Itunes frontend (which is very good). The demo sounds great.

 

http://www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/index.html

 

However, the program is being sold for a ridiculous $1500. I would like to encourage you to develop a similar program for the rest of us. There would be some arguments that Wave Editor does not sound as good as Sound blades, but it is in the ball park. It resolves a much cleaner sound than Itunes.

 

I think there are a lot of us out here who would happily pay $100 for such a program. I would grumpily pay $150.

 

The potential consumer base is quite large compared to the consumer base for Wave Editor.

Best, DB

* * *

I received the following response:

 

Don, my apologies for the tardy reply. We are working on a competing product to Amarra. The price point will actually be in the $200-$400 range. Hopefully that doesn't make you too grumpy!

 

Matthew Foust

Audiofile Engineering

http://www.audiofile-engineering.com

 

 

 

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Interesting, hopefully Wave Editor would be more clear about what exactly is it doing and how it differentiates from kernel streaming, ASIO, WASAPI, etc, unlike that "magic in the box" Amarra.

 

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"...and should sound exactly the same as iTunes"

 

Are you basing these comments on the reference to Core Audio on the Wave Editor webpage?

 

If so, your use of the word 'exactly' seems like conjecture.

:)

 

 

 

 

clay

 

 

 

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"Are you basing these comments on the reference to Core Audio on the Wave Editor webpage?"

 

Hi Clay - I am basing this from a phone call to Audiofile Engineering. I wouldn't use conjecture on such a topic because I'd feel the flames already :~)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I doubt Audiofile Engineering will be concerned about explaining how it "differentiates" from ASIO, WASAPI, etc. Like Amarra, Wave Editor is a Mac OS X ONLY application.

 

ASIO exists for both PC and MAC, so they better have a logical explanation of what makes it better if want they their product to sell well.

 

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Chris,

 

Thanks for the quick reply - well that would explain why your posts seemed like you had talked to them.

 

I'm rather surprised that AE (presumably Matthew?) would say that it should sound exactly like iTunes. Maybe he needs a marketing dept?! :0

 

I've logged a post on the AE forum, I'll post any interesting information here.

 

Cheers,

Clay

 

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I fail to see why reluctance to pay $1500 for playback software should be viewed as "whining". And yes, unless new playback software is an actual audible improvement over iTunes, $200 is too much. As Chris has pointed out in his above post, making judgments about sound quality can be difficult, and it's easy to fool one's self.

 

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I'll happily pay $200 for auto-sample rate detection in osx. I'd like to keep the itunes gui and would insist that the sound be exactly the same as itunes alone because I prefer my bits unmolested. Credit card loaded and ready...

 

- John.

 

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It's rather amazing, at least to me, that people are complaining and making demands about some piece of software that hasn't been released, hasn't been priced, and hasn't even been officially announced. That's a little like complaining about the weather is going to be like next August 17th.

 

On the CoreAudio front, just what makes anybody think that CoreAudio is either good or bad? There's loads of pieces to CoreAudio, and the software designer can use these in a very wide variety of ways with loads of variations. I'm not sure anybody outside of the designers knows whether Amarra uses parts of CoreAudio or not. There's a good chance it does, so that the other parts of the operating system can still function while Amarra is running. If Amarra commandeered the USB driver directly, then no other sounds could be played while Amarra is running, could they? People have already reported that if you adjust the volume control on iTunes up from 0 while a track is being played back through Amarra, you can hear the same track played at a slightly different time delay - it's like an echo.

 

It seems to me, and this is just a moderately moronic guess, that it is more likely Amarra just bypasses some parts of iTunes. Amarra will apply what the designers feel are the appropriate filter characteristics and dither where needed. The sample rate change thing is a separate function and could be implemented by somebody who had the time, skills, and desire to fool with the preference files for Audio Midi Setup. (Apparently iTunes reads this file when it starts up, so if you change it while iTunes is running its internal processing gets messed up.) Amarra made this aspect more user friendly.

 

A number of people have indicated their preference for the sound from either Play (by Stephen Booth) or Wave Editor compared to iTunes. Both use CoreAudio as part of their process.

 

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CG

totally agreed.

 

as to this:

"A number of people have indicated their preference for the sound from either Play (by Stephen Booth) or Wave Editor compared to iTunes. Both use CoreAudio as part of their process."

 

For this reason, I was quite surprised that Chris reported AE as saying a new product (presumably?) based on Wave Editor would sound 'exactly' like iTunes.

 

There are quality settings in some CoreAudio functions. As I understand it, iTunes does not always select the highest settings. Another product could use CoreAudio and still have an improved sound if these settings do indeed make a difference. For example, the SRC function supposedly has a quality setting which can be set from 0 to 127. That's quite a wide range.

 

clay

 

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Apart from the sample rate detection, I would like to see a fantastic digital volume control.

 

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I said "According to Audiofile Engineering Wave Editor uses the same sound engine as iTunes and should sound exactly the same as iTunes."

 

Clay said "For this reason, I was quite surprised that Chris reported AE as saying a new product (presumably?) based on Wave Editor would sound 'exactly' like iTunes."

 

 

I think we still have a disconnect :~)

 

 

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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"There are quality settings in some CoreAudio functions. As I understand it, iTunes does not always select the highest settings. Another product could use CoreAudio and still have an improved sound if these settings do indeed make a difference. For example, the SRC function supposedly has a quality setting which can be set from 0 to 127. That's quite a wide range."

 

Actually, there's more settings than that since there's more than one level of performance. There's a limit on what can be set for real time sample rate conversion in any system since there are latency considerations.

 

Besides, there's all sorts of different types of sample rate conversion since the type of filter of filter and its characteristics affect the sound perception. If you look in the "Powered by iZotope" section of the Wave Editor page (http://www.audiofile-engineering.com/waveeditor/) they touch on this. Of course, there's more to read on this elsewhere, too. Like Ayre's web page (http://www.ayre.com/pdf/Ayre_MP_White_Paper.pdf), the documentation for SoX (http://sox.sourceforge.net/), and 44,000,000 other pages as well, at least according to Google.

 

Here's some fun places to check out.

 

http://www.earlevel.com/Digital%20Audio/index.html

 

Now you'll see that *everybody* has the "best" filter implementation, even though the responses are all different.

 

http://src.infinitewave.ca/

 

http://www.channld.com/pure-vinyl_src.html

 

http://www.audioease.com/Pages/BarbaBatch4/Barba4SRCTest.html

 

http://www.izotope.com/tech/src/

 

Here you can see that people's tastes change over time.

 

http://www.stereophile.com/features/106ringing/index.html

 

http://stereophile.com/cdplayers/meridian_8082808i2_signature_reference_cd_playerpreamplifier/

 

 

"Apart from the sample rate detection, I would like to see a fantastic digital volume control."

 

A quality volume control requires applying dither to the bot stream. This takes processing power to do in real time.

 

 

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