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Amarra sQ / sQ+ / Amarra for TIDAL


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This thread is for discussion of the growing line of Sonic Studio Amarra sQ products for streaming sources. Sparked by Sonic Studio's pre-announcement on July 3, 2015, of a new version of sQ+ (2.2) that will be compatible with Amarra's DSP software, iRC (their integrated version of DIRAC DSP software) and a special version of sQ+ for users of the TIDAL music streaming service. But open for discussion of all topics related to the Amarra sQ line of products.

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My question is: if you already have SQ+, why would you need a new / special version just for TIDAL? Buggy as it is, I can use SQ+ for all my sources - why would I buy a separate software that is hard-coded to one source?

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - SonicTransporter i9 running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > Topping D90 > Topping A90d > Dan Clark Expanse / HiFiMan H6SE v2 / HiFiman Arya Stealth

Home Theater / Music -SonicTransporter i9 running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Denon X3700h > Anthem Amp for front channels > Revel F208-based 5.2.4 Atmos speaker system

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My question is: if you already have SQ+, why would you need a new / special version just for TIDAL? Buggy as it is, I can use SQ+ for all my sources - why would I buy a separate software that is hard-coded to one source?

 

Assuming it is just a TIDAL-branded version of sQ, Sonic Studio's answer might be "You don't and you shouldn't."

 

So far, of course. Sonic Studio has given only the vaguest and most general indication of what sQ for TIDAL actually is and what its capabilities and limitations might be.

 

Wait and see, but sQ for TIDAL might just be a hook to recruit new sQ users from the ranks of TIDAL HiFi subscribers. For that cohort, it could be a great thing to have.

 

As a Roon subscriber and TIDAL HiFi subscriber who also already has Amarra sQ (but not sQ+), I don't plan to get the sQ for TIDAL software, as I cannot conceive how they could improve on Roon's library management, metadata, and user interface. If I were still using the TIDAL desktop app or Chrome interface with Amarra sQ, perhaps Sonic Studio could demonstrate an improvement to justify switching, but I like you would need some convincing evidence to switch to a TIDAL-branded version of sQ.

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iamoneagan, thanks for the heads up. I went ahead as an experiment and signed on for the 30-day free trial of Amarra for TIDAL. VERY preliminary impressions are that Sonic Studio has done a very nice job with the user interface/user experience on this application. First of all, unlike the current kludgey approach of running the TIDAL app and Amarra sQ, with the output of TIDAL going to Soundstream (and thence to your DAC), here you just point the application's output toward your DAC and are done with it. This may also help reduce processor strain that may enhance sound quality; that is pure supposition.

 

Second, it let me access my saved EQ curve from Amarra sQ.

 

Third, the library management features look and feel and act much like the TIDAL app that I am used to.

 

Fourth, it very clearly is applying the Amarra audio engine honey that I love.

 

So, my preliminary assessment is that Sonic Studio has released a winning piece of software that I hope they can get a significant chunk of TIDAL subscribers to upgrade into. Those users, if they have even a mid-fi reproduction system, will like what they hear and will not be off-put by any sort of dumb UI/UX mistakes.

 

That all said? I won't be purchasing Amarra for TIDAL for my own system unless something goes seriously wrong with the anticipated release of Amarra sQ+ 2.2, which will incorporate iRC (Sonic Studio's name for its licensed version of the fabulous DIRAC DSP software). If Amarra sQ+ 2.2 plays well with Roon, which is now how I manage both my local/owned tracks library and my TIDAL "My Music" favorites, then I won't be using Amarra for TIDAL. But any TIDAL user without my (huge, ridiculously expensive) commitment to Amarra Symphony with iRC would do well to consider Amarra for TIDAL.

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to all of you above: how do you get ROON to work with Amarra Sq or Sq+ and what is this new version of Sq+ and if ROON doesnot work with either Sq why would TIDAL plus Amarra Sq be any better than ROON alone?

i got very nice reply from CEO of Amarra who says Sq and Sq+ work with ROON but i can't seem to get it work

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I'm using ROON with Amarra sQ and Dirac Live right now. I have the Dirac Audio Processor as the default output device in Sound settings. In ROON's Audio settings, I have to use System Output, not SonicStream. Using these settings, Amarra sQ accepts ROON as input and outputs to your default audio device.

 

I don't generally use this setup, though. I prefer the sound of ROON direct to Dirac Live in exclusive mode using tweaked Dirac target response curves as EQ.

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bobbmd, Roon can work with Amarra sQ (and I assume sQ+) by outputting Roon to SoundStream and SoundStream to your DAC. SoundStream is a virtual output device created when you install Amarra sQ. the Mac OS will recognize and output to SoundStream as if it were a sound card or DAC. So it is a two-step jump from Roon to SoundStream, then from SoundStream to your DAC.

 

The problem I have is that while generally this works and I am able to play Room through sQ, often (most of the time, actually) at some point during playback I start to get clicks and pops. This same problem used to present itself when using the TIDAL music player with Amarra sQ, but TIDAL eventually managed to solve the problem with the update to their player that was released about a month ago. I am confident Roon and Sonic Studio can address the clicking/popping issue, too; it may not be widespread enough of an issue for them to have attempted the fix, or maybe they are silently working away on it right now. I do know that Roon pushes out fairly regular updates. In any event, you were not misled. Roon and Amarra sQ will play together; just not always well, in my own experience.

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So went ahead and downloaded free trail version of Amarra for Tidal. Initially just playing some music off my MacBook Air to ifi iDSD micro to Hifiman HE 500 headphones.

And..... I'm struggling to hear differences as compared to the Tidal App?? Amarra may have a slightly darker background and a fraction more focus. Maybe its just me with this setup?

Really appreciate if some people have a listen and post some listening impressions.

Ta

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... I'm struggling to hear differences as compared to the Tidal App?? Amarra may have a slightly darker background and a fraction more focus. Maybe its just me with this setup?

Really appreciate if some people have a listen and post some listening impressions.

Ta

 

I am hearing the signature elements of the "Amarra sound" as I am used to it. Namely, improvements to the soundstage, including height; unforced presentation and ease, meaning the music simply appears to flow from the space between and around the speakers rather than feeling like it is being pushed out or squeezed out mechanically (or, put even more subjectively, reduced listening fatigue); and excellent performance of massed orchestral strings. The type of music makes a difference as to how much good Amarra does in my experience; the things I find most improved by Amarra are associated with live presentations of acoustic instruments and less so with electronic or heavily-produced and EQed studio recordings.

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Amarra for Tidal is utter garbage. Slow ,poor interface .hitting those arrows the app moves around at a snail's pace.

 

Deleted trial after 10 minutes.

 

Strange, as I encountered none of those issues. The application did spend a long time right after installation loading in my playlists and other "My Music" entries, but once that was done it worked fine and has continued doing so. I wonder why our UX was so different?

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Amarra for Tidal is utter garbage. Slow ,poor interface .hitting those arrows the app moves around at a snail's pace.

 

Deleted trial after 10 minutes.

 

I found those arrows vary annoying too but you can just use the show more links in each section to expand. Much easier. In general it seems stable but the search is kind of slow loading and so are large playlists. On Tidal app and Roon, it's instant.

 

But if you can handle the simple interface, it does provide the Amarra sound with wider soundstage, blacker background, and more dynamics compared to the Tidal app even with Amarra sQ.

 

My issue is now that I've got access to Tidal's huge library, I would like to explore and was looking for more discovery features. Amarra for Tidal is completely lacking them. Tidal's app is somewhat lacking compared to Spotify. So I decided to give Roon a try again and seems to be what I'm looking for. I even find the exclusive mode with integer enabled to be more dynamic than Amarra. Just missing the sweeter Amarra sound signature. Obviously there's a huge price difference, so I'm still weighing my options.

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bobbmd, Roon can work with Amarra sQ (and I assume sQ+) by outputting Roon to SoundStream and SoundStream to your DAC. SoundStream is a virtual output device created when you install Amarra sQ. the Mac OS will recognize and output to SoundStream as if it were a sound card or DAC. So it is a two-step jump from Roon to SoundStream, then from SoundStream to your DAC.

 

The problem I have is that while generally this works and I am able to play Room through sQ, often (most of the time, actually) at some point during playback I start to get clicks and pops. This same problem used to present itself when using the TIDAL music player with Amarra sQ, but TIDAL eventually managed to solve the problem with the update to their player that was released about a month ago. I am confident Roon and Sonic Studio can address the clicking/popping issue, too; it may not be widespread enough of an issue for them to have attempted the fix, or maybe they are silently working away on it right now. I do know that Roon pushes out fairly regular updates. In any event, you were not misled. Roon and Amarra sQ will play together; just not always well, in my own experience.

 

Just following up on this to let all know that I upgraded to Amarra sQ+ and stopped getting the "ticks and pops" problem on playback noted above. I am unsure whether this resulted from the upgrade or whether Sonic Studio and Roon also managed to fix it for the older, basic sQ application; I noticed the problem disappearing right after I switched, but I have not gone back to listen to Roon through sQ to check whether the problem went away there, too.

 

In any event, the reason I upgraded to sQ+ is that when Sonic Studio updates sQ+ to version 2.2, they are promising it will work with my existing iRC license. This should allow me to apply the iRC DSP corrections to Roon playback. In another thread dedicated to Amarra Symphony, some users are indicating that there already is a solution, namely playing Roon through the standalone Dirac Live software application (iRC is just Sonic Studio's house label for Dirac as integrated into Amarra). However, the basic Dirac stereo standalone application costs $432, and I already have invested as much or more in Sonic Studio's products. So, I'll report back here once Sonic Studio has updated sQ+ to version 2.2 and provide my impressions of how it works, whether it integrates well with Roon, and how Roon sounds through Amarra sQ+ and iRC. At least one person running Roon through the Dirac standalone application, by the way, loves the result, so I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from taking that route. I just can't see making that kind of a payment when I may have another, cheaper solution at hand.

 

(Oh, also, I apologize for misidentifying the SonicStream audio output as "SoundStream," especially as I did so in a mini-tutorial for someone asking how to make that work. I hope my mistake did not result in any frustration or confusion.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Today, Sonic Studio released the much-anticipated v.2.2 update to Amarra sQ+ (also apparently for sQ), which incorporates iRC if you have a license. The update was easy and seamless; just follows the directions and my iRC license was activated in sQ+. I was able to load filters (limited to three), including those I had created using iRC Measure and Dirac Live (so yes, they do seem to be compatible).

 

I am just beginning to listen to various streaming sources; so far only Naxos's ClassicsOnline HD-LL, later I will try TIDAL through Roon. Too early to say much about SQ other than nothing obviously out of character for the signature Amarra sound, and no artifacts like clicks or pops. However, it is not playing gaplessly with ClassicsOnline (not a surprise, as sQ+ 2.1 did not, either).

 

I will report back with more, but wanted to share this with any Amarra with iRC fans who like me have been waiting for a way to play streaming sources with iRC.

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I have tried running Roon through sQ+ 2.2 with iRC and, unfortunately, it does not work at all. Pops, clicks, buzzing; they just don't integrate. Roon connects beautifully with Dirac, so I'm going to stick to that for now. I may experiment with running the TIDAL desktop app through Amarra sQ+ just to see how that sounds/works, but honestly, the Roon user experience with TIDAL is so vastly superior to TIDAL's own application (especially in the area of liner notes!), and the SQ of TIDAL is never really outstanding enough for critical listening, that I may put on hold my desire to hear TIDAL with Amarra and iRC room correction. I get the latter by using Dirac, and honestly, the room correction is a much bigger improvement to my system's sound than the Amarra sound itself.

 

So, to recap:

 

- Amarra sQ+ v.2.2 has been released; it integrates nicely with iRC room correction if you already have a license (if not, it will be another $450 to obtain that, plus ~$170 to buy a compatible microphone to measure your room and create filters for iRC)

- sQ+ with iRC plays well with Naxos's lossless streaming service ClassicsOnline HD-LL

- sQ+ with iRC does NOT play AT ALL with Roon ... clicks, pops, buzzing, music somewhere in the background of all the noise. Yuck.

 

That is all I have tested. I am pleased that I can get the "Amarra sound" with iRC on at least one of my streaming services, and because I already owned sQ+ and had an iRC license, it cost me nothing to find that out. I am disappointed just a little that I can't make it work with Roon, but I'm becoming very enamored of the Roon + Dirac setup (without Amarra's additional layer of engine honey), and I think I may just step off the Amarra train except for Naxos's ClassicsOnline streaming service and that occasional time where I may want to play files from my local collection in all their glory with Amarra Symphony with iRC.

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I have tried running Roon through sQ+ 2.2 with iRC and, unfortunately, it does not work at all. Pops, clicks, buzzing; they just don't integrate. Roon connects beautifully with Dirac, so I'm going to stick to that for now. I may experiment with running the TIDAL desktop app through Amarra sQ+ just to see how that sounds/works, but honestly, the Roon user experience with TIDAL is so vastly superior to TIDAL's own application (especially in the area of liner notes!), and the SQ of TIDAL is never really outstanding enough for critical listening, that I may put on hold my desire to hear TIDAL with Amarra and iRC room correction. I get the latter by using Dirac, and honestly, the room correction is a much bigger improvement to my system's sound than the Amarra sound itself.

 

So, to recap:

 

- Amarra sQ+ v.2.2 has been released; it integrates nicely with iRC room correction if you already have a license (if not, it will be another $450 to obtain that, plus ~$170 to buy a compatible microphone to measure your room and create filters for iRC)

- sQ+ with iRC plays well with Naxos's lossless streaming service ClassicsOnline HD-LL

- sQ+ with iRC does NOT play AT ALL with Roon ... clicks, pops, buzzing, music somewhere in the background of all the noise. Yuck.

 

That is all I have tested. I am pleased that I can get the "Amarra sound" with iRC on at least one of my streaming services, and because I already owned sQ+ and had an iRC license, it cost me nothing to find that out. I am disappointed just a little that I can't make it work with Roon, but I'm becoming very enamored of the Roon + Dirac setup (without Amarra's additional layer of engine honey), and I think I may just step off the Amarra train except for Naxos's ClassicsOnline streaming service and that occasional time where I may want to play files from my local collection in all their glory with Amarra Symphony with iRC.

 

 

 

 

 

The new amarra SQ+ 2.2 does not sound good. I was very happy with the sound of the 2.1 version does any know how I can go back to get the last version.

 

never mind guy's I was smart enough to of save version SQ+ 2.1

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The new amarra SQ+ 2.2 does not sound good. I was very happy with the sound of the 2.1 version does any know how I can go back to get the last version.

 

never mind guy's I was smart enough to of save version SQ+ 2.1

 

Thanks for the note, I'll make sure to save a copy of 2.1 before upgrading SQ.

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The new amarra SQ+ 2.2 does not sound good. I was very happy with the sound of the 2.1 version does any know how I can go back to get the last version.

 

never mind guy's I was smart enough to of save version SQ+ 2.1

 

Seriously? Please elaborate. I detect absolutely no difference in sound quality, although I only use it for radio streams. BTW, I always save the previous build just in case.

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jiminlogansquare:thanks for your help(and i was confused by your earlier reference to 'soundtream' instead if sonic stream)

i posted a query in the room correction etc page but you have answered most of my concerns.

i am not going to spend another 450$ for iRC(just to get roon to work with amarra sQ+) i automatically got free upgrade to sQ+ 2.2 and have amarra for tidal-all sound really great including ver 2.2 with Qobuz just wish roon and Qobuz would integrate-but i have transferred most of my Qobuz playlists to tidal using SOUNDBIZ_have you ever used that service??

just wish roon would work with amarra sQ+ without having to pay for some form of dirac(my CFO would never let me spend that much money!!)

thanks bobbmd

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I have tried running Roon through sQ+ 2.2 with iRC and, unfortunately, it does not work at all. Pops, clicks, buzzing; they just don't integrate. Roon connects beautifully with Dirac, so I'm going to stick to that for now. I may experiment with running the TIDAL desktop app through Amarra sQ+ just to see how that sounds/works, but honestly, the Roon user experience with TIDAL is so vastly superior to TIDAL's own application (especially in the area of liner notes!), and the SQ of TIDAL is never really outstanding enough for critical listening, that I may put on hold my desire to hear TIDAL with Amarra and iRC room correction. I get the latter by using Dirac, and honestly, the room correction is a much bigger improvement to my system's sound than the Amarra sound itself.

 

So, to recap:

 

- Amarra sQ+ v.2.2 has been released; it integrates nicely with iRC room correction if you already have a license (if not, it will be another $450 to obtain that, plus ~$170 to buy a compatible microphone to measure your room and create filters for iRC)

- sQ+ with iRC plays well with Naxos's lossless streaming service ClassicsOnline HD-LL

- sQ+ with iRC does NOT play AT ALL with Roon ... clicks, pops, buzzing, music somewhere in the background of all the noise. Yuck.

 

That is all I have tested. I am pleased that I can get the "Amarra sound" with iRC on at least one of my streaming services, and because I already owned sQ+ and had an iRC license, it cost me nothing to find that out. I am disappointed just a little that I can't make it work with Roon, but I'm becoming very enamored of the Roon + Dirac setup (without Amarra's additional layer of engine honey), and I think I may just step off the Amarra train except for Naxos's ClassicsOnline streaming service and that occasional time where I may want to play files from my local collection in all their glory with Amarra Symphony with iRC.

 

I have been a long time Amarra w/iRC user and purchased Amarra SQ+ 2.2 yesterday. I've also purchased a Roon license, I'm a Tidal subscriber, and hoped to get Roon playing through SQ+ 2.2 with my iRC created room filter. As Jim reports, no go. Can't get it working. One point worth mentioning: Roon supports .dsf file playback over DoP and SQ+ 2.2 does not so remember to keep this in mind when trying to get Roon to play through SQ+. I was able to get Tidal from Google Chrome to play through SQ+ 2.2 with my iRC filter. No remote feature, no Roon integration of library, etc. Not the configuration I was hoping to have. Hoping Roon through Amarra SQ+ 2.2 gets resolved quickly.

Ralph

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