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Amarra, Peak and Itunes


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Following on from my "busted" mac mini saga I purchased the apogee duet which yielded much improvement. Following this I decided to download the demo version of Amarra (especially now a cheaper version is coming) to see what, if any, improvements this would make. I was disappointed with the results, only hearing a very slight improvement over Itunes.


At the weekend I downloaded a trial of Peak LE and was amazed by the sound difference over both itunes and Amarra. It was total night and day.


I know Peak loads the track into memory which may make a difference and that it also allows the user to change to sample rate quality between 1 (fastest but lowest quality) and 5 (slow but highest quality). I found that 4 sounded best on my system. I have yet to play with the buffer settings. I had no DSP or plugins switched on.


Does anyone know why there should be such a difference between Amarra and Peak? Could it be that Peak uses Core Audio which the Duet drivers fully integrate into and Amarra bypasses Core Audio which has yet to provide support for the Duet?


After hearing Peak i do not want to return to the Itunes sound but love its functioning especially with the ipod remote (I also do not want to use Windows).


I find it truly depressing that the Mac is capable of providing such quality audio but there is no consumer software that truly harnesses its abilities.




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I also have a Duet, and I also was finding it difficult to distinguish much of a difference between iTunes and Amarra, so I couldn't resist putting this to the test.


What I'm noticing the most is that the bass seems much clearer and better defined with Peak than with either of the other two. Not louder, just clearer. I have no idea what's going on on or why this should be.


Your guesses seem reasonable: Apogee gear does seem to integrate very well with Core Audio, so maybe Peak is a good fit? Maybe my system, with only 2GB of ram, is not allowing Amarra to show its best, maybe the Duet isn't fully supported (although I'm sure I saw it on one of the lists).


Incidentally, I've just tried the same thing with Logic Pro, with much the same result as with Peak. So it would appear that Apple has the technology in it's hands. Let's hope they put some of it into the next OS or the next iTunes, instead of adding more and more shopping features.


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The question is not whether Amarra works but whether it works well.


What seems to be suggested here is that Amarra may not be fully supported with Apogee Duet. The biggest complaint against Amarra other than price seems to be that many audiophiles don’t know what Amarra is doing. Clearly the Sonic Studio approach is for a hardware/software solution but that does not mean that you can substitute any hardware and achieve comparable increases in SQ.


The accolades for Amarra may very well depend on the DAC used. Thus the recommended Berkeley Audio DAC, Weiss DACs, Benchmark DACs, Wavelength DACs and Sonic Studio DACs may be all you can firmly depend on for now.



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