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Amarra Conclusions - Thumbs Up!


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There will be an update coming out soon, so if anyone is having issues, rest assured the should be addressed quite soon.

 

Ha, you beat me to it. I just posted under the other thread that Jon is working on a new installer.

 

Peace,

 

Lee

 

Locus Design Group[br]www.locus-design.com[br]www.cryo-parts.com[br]www.cryo-freeze.com

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"iTunes version plays a few milliseconds behind the version going through Amarra"

 

I think it's the other way 'round. It was clearly Amarra that was playing with more latency in earlier versions I demoed. It was very obvious when switching back and forth, although I haven't paid attention to it on the latest versions.

 

clay

 

 

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Yes, I think you are right -- I had it backwards. Sorry! I just tried to re-create this effect, but now I don't even get a delay. Strange. I'll respectfully bow out and let someone closer to the code answer this question.

 

Sanjay Patel | Ciamara Corporation | New York, NY | www.ciamara.com

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Everybody seems to be raving about Amarra, so I decided to give it a try. I use a macmini 4gb ram, no monitor, no mouse and no keyboard attached to it. Listening was via a Wavelength Cosecant. After extensive listening I have to report, that I don't hear a big difference between Itunes and Amarra. Certainly Amarra has a better stereo image, sounds warmer and rounder, but all this differences are minuscule. I have tried the Macmini/Cosecant/Amarra on my two stereo setups and also on a friend's setup, same results all around. On my systems I can clearly hear a difference between my MH ULN-2 and the Cosecant and all my other sources; turntable, CDP, they create a clear difference in sound between each other. Hence I don't think it is my setup which doesn't allow me to hear a difference between Itunes and Amarra.

 

So I am wondering what's wrong here? Btw, I was prepared to spend money on the Amarra software, but the way it sounds right now doesn't encourage me to splash the cash.

 

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Two questions for you:

 

1. Which build version of Amarra are you using?

 

2. Have you tried it with your Metric Halo?

 

Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

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I have had two ULN-2 in the past years, first the regular ULN-2, and later the ULN-2 2D Expanded. I intended to digitalize my vinyl, however I never got around to it. So this is one of the reasons I sold the ULN-2. Another reason for selling it was, that I didn't use the software which came with it

 

Sonically I preferred the Cosecant v3 to the ULN-2. However the ULN-2 is a superb dac and I am sure in a other setup the ULN-2 may sound better than the Cosecant v3. Right now I am trying to decide if I should order a Crimson, although I probably have to wait for a while, since I heard, that a Crimson v2 is on its way. I don't want to buy a Crimson now and upgrade it in a few months, if this will be possible at all.

 

 

 

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Ear says:

"Certainly Amarra has a better stereo image, sounds warmer and rounder, but all this differences are minuscule."

 

People pay big bucks for hardware that provides even slight improvements in precisely the areas you ascribe to Amarra. In my opinion, the preferences for such are often so strong that (actual relative) differences wind up being over-stated.

 

I'd be willing to bet that in at least some instances even claimed 'night and day' differences would not be A/B/X-able.

 

At this level of audiophilia, we are well beyond the knee of the well known 'diminishing returns' curve (relative to the entire music-playback spectrum). ;)

 

clay

 

 

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For my part, and to follow on Clay's comment, I find sonic upgrades at the so-called diminished end of the upgrade chain to give equal or more enjoyment than upgrades at the low-hanging fruit end. I have long wondered why this is so, but my experience has consistently been that necessarily 'small' clarifications at subtler levels bring disproportionate enjoyment. I'm led to think that music's emotional character resides the greater in lower levels of music detail. It's the difference, probably, between great and merely good poetry: one tiny inflection, one slightly different word ...

 

And, yes, you might be right that some of these differences might not be ABXable. I personally don't put much stock in ABX trials. Read the recent Absolute Sound (Stereophile) interview with Meridian's CEO: he says ABX is really not relevant to audio listening.

 

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Thanks for posting. Interesting thoughts.

 

First off, I'm not a fan/proponent of A/B/X either, nor do I expect others to be. However, I was attempting to point out, in any event, that if someone calls a difference 'night and day', it damn well ought to be 'testable' at near 100% accuracy using some form of blind testing. Just my thoughts.

 

I think a lot of what drives audiophiles is perfectionism, and the resultant accomplishment (and let's admit it - exclusivity) that comes with being able to discern the subtle differences, and the acquisition of gear on the preferred (nee 'right') side of the 'difference'.

 

As for emotion, this is an intangible that accounts for the seeming wide variety of different gear in use. I'm thinking of flea watt 2A3 amps with horns, etc. as compared to bombastic multi-kilo-watt amps driving floor-to-ceiling multi-driver dynamic speakers.

Each of us have our own views as to the 'je ne sais quoi' of our audiophile experience, IOW, we don't all get goosebumps from the same music reproduction.

 

And that's all good (to me).

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Clay, yes, the night-and-day language is to me inappropriate. Also to the perfectionism add obsessive (typically) male pursuit of technical superiority. One interesting hook that gets me is the combination of technical-toy-upgrade + art-like medium or result, a combination sure to be for me a life-long disease. My god, I was a teenager when I first heard an excellent stereo, and I was transfixed.

 

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Maybe it would be helpful if someone can describe the improvements from using Amarra in dollars terms? E.g. would using a $395 cable (price of Amarra mini) show more improvement than using the Amarra? This would help those like me who are considering the software.

 

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Going through the comments regarding my question about Amarra, leads me to the conclusion, that there is nothing wrong with the way that Amarra sounds in my setup, it is a question of the "diminishing return" in High-end.

 

It is such a pity, because I had such high hopes for Amarra, after reading all the glowing comments/reviews about it.

 

Perhaps my expectations were too high.

 

 

 

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Gentleman,

 

Please keep in mind that one would not configure a $20k MBL Dac with a $200 cable or $500 preamp or $2000 speakers. It goes without saying that you need to think about all components in the chain, and their synergies, since weakness in any one can pass along jitter, noise or just poor reproduction in the chain.

 

Thus, don't ask if Amarra has more value add than a cable for example, but instead what is the best, most tested combination of components/computer that will reproduce the best, smoothest and most accurate signal for any given budget? What interface affects the signal the least, etc.?

 

The best answer, given the large number of components out there now and the recent explosion of computer audio, is to seek out someone like a dealer or audio consultant who has tested many different configurations, and properly audition for yourself a few systems that work well together and actually approach the sound of analog. I know audio consultants/engineers that still suggest one use a G5 running Tiger for optimum results! Chris too has spoken about this and written up several excellent configurations on this site.

 

The Digital Symposium was another excellent opportunity for this invaluable A/B comparison of configurations, as we were able to hear first hand which worked and which didn't and why. And I am not talking about a small degree of difference here, but something that was clear to many of us who listen to live music a lot. Remember, it's the challenge of sounding live and accurate that we are after, and this is difficult for any system.

 

/Lee

 

 

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Lee is right, we must always listen for ourself. If we don't, we wind up paying for something someone else thought was good, and perhaps wasting money due to not being able to detect any improvement (or worse, any decrease in performance).

 

There is a temptation in audiodom, I think, to 'buy up', and acquire gear that is out of our current ability to discern any difference as a sort of 'reserve' capacity, or rather 'peace of mind'. I've seen this even with beginner audiophiles making their first serious purchase. I'll recommend they listen to a particular component - they go to store, listen to it, like it, and then buy the next model up for reasons unexplainable when questioned later, or likely, it was assumed it would be better.

 

With regards to this comment:

 

"I know audio consultants/engineers that still suggest one use a G5 running Tiger for optimum results!"

 

... I can't help but to VERY PLAYFULLY suggest that this configuration is only recommended for "legacy" DACs (aka dinosaurs) that have not yet been upgraded to modern interfaces designed for data transmission by computers, such as Firewire. :)

 

YMMV,

clay

 

 

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Clay,

 

Actually, not at all true. The dual 2.0 G5 not only has FW, but works as well as any modern (Intel) Mac for audio playback, as tested thus far by my sources. The G5 offers pci slots and thus allows a Lynx card enabling AES to any Dac. So you're good to go. And when you are talking about keeping CPU usage (and thus heat and fans) to a minimum, choosing the fastest and latest Intel can have it's drawbacks. Quad-core Intel machines are great for crunching video. But are they necessary for playing hi-rez audio? Not at all.

 

So to be clear, the G5 has no limitations when it comes to interfaces or pairing with existing modern dacs, not any more so than a current model. Quite the contrary, you have a host of interface options available with each platform. I happen to have both (Intel is a MacBook Pro), as well as a Zalman fanless machine for reference. The dual G5 running Amarra is my personal fav currently. This may change with Snow Leopard. But I will not jump into this new OS until sufficient testing has been done. I prefer listening to music over tinkering and debugging computers. But that's just me.

 

That said, we try and support both PowerPC and Intel platforms, giving precedence of course to existing models/technology.

 

/Lee

 

Sonic Studio, LLC

 

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What they have found is that a stripped down hardware/solution provides superior results. They have found that a stripped down Windows XP is superior to a stripped down Windows 7 and that the stripped down Vista is the last (actually the bloated stock Vista is the worst).

 

cMP/cPlay is a memory player that has been optimized for 1 GB of RAM and I suspect that you will find nothing better short of a dedicated Linux hardware/software audio solution. All the details can be found here:

 

http://cplay.sourceforge.net/

 

 

 

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When someone only has $395 to spend, they'll want to spend it on the most noticeable upgrade. Your example of a $20k MBL dac suggests that the Amarra will not show off its capabilities unless coupled with that level of dac, that sounds a bit scary to me. If that's the proportion of dollar value that Amarra should be in a system, then I don't have a choice but to stick to a single upgrade rather than a forced chain of upgrades.

 

I would really rather hear from users of Amarra how they feel - did the software beat other similar or more expensive accessories you've used before?

 

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Rennie,

 

I didn't suggest that at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I'm simply restating an age old audiophile adage: that you need to think about the entire system, as every part plays a role in the sound (or can detract from it), and no one component is a panacea.

 

Per the MBL dac, if I spent 20k on this unit, I would also want to match it with equally resolving speakers, amps etc. otherwise you're system is inconsistent and the potential of the MBL is wasted. Some speakers are so resolving they will actually enhance the weak link in your system and may sound terrible. So system configuration is everything.

 

Many of us unfortunately do not have 20k for a Dac. But we can certainly hear the benefits from Amarra on a well configured system. This I have heard many times, on both a sub 1k Dac and an expensive Pacific Microsonics unit.

 

More importantly, there are lots of synergies to be gained by choosing components that have been tested and shown to work well together in this exploding area of audio. This is where we feel you will benefit most.

 

/Lee

Sonic Studio, LLC

 

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"But we can certainly hear the benefits from Amarra on a well configured system."

 

Are you saying, if one can't hear a big difference between Itunes and Amarra, it is due to a not so well configured system?

 

Perhaps you have seen my previous post, where I said, that I can only hear very small differences on my setup when playing music through Itunes/Amarra.

 

I don't want to go into what my setup consist of, because it changes now and then and even the same setups sound very different in various rooms. But what I can tell is, that in all my different setup I was always able to hear differences between various dacs, cdps I owned or auditioned, and there were quite a few, eq. ML, Weiss, DCS, Wadia GNSC and so on.

At the end of the day I always preferred my vinyl rig.

 

I really wanted to like Amarra, because what I read about it, really appealed to me. And I can hear some of what was written about it, but it is simply not enough.

 

 

 

 

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Hi Ear - Maybe there is a language barrier or something else going on here.

 

You stated, "Are you saying, if one can't hear a big difference between Itunes and Amarra, it is due to a not so well configured system? "

 

I don't think someone with terrible hearing could hear a difference between iTunes and Amarra, yet attributing this to a "not so well configured system" makes no sense. This is essentially what you're question infers.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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Hello Ear,

 

It is difficult for me to know why you do not hear a difference. You should hear a difference on any Mac, certainly any current or recent model, given adequate RAM, use of SS drive, choice of interface, etc. I can only request that you demo another system using Amarra, perhaps at a local audiophile club meeting or at a dealer. Ask them to demo the differences for you. Better yet, come to RMAF or CES, as there will be several rooms using the app to demonstrate equipment.

 

For me, the iTunes bar is not difficult to beat and my ears have experienced this on numerous occasions, with different computer and component configurations, and well before I joined Sonic Studios. You do need to hear for yourself.

 

Good Luck.

 

/Lee

Sonic Studio, LLC

 

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