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More on the sound of Pure Vinyl, and time to Play


bmckenney

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After further listening to PV I have a better handle on its characteristics in my system.

 

I have to say that iTunes sounds broken and flat compared to PV. PV does change the sound very dramatically to my ears. I do like the midrange quite a bit. There is a nice natural fleshing out of the mids that Itunes does not have at all. And there is a touch of sweetness in the mids. I really like what the PV does with vocals and especially harmony. It is remarkably easy to follow harmonies compared to iTunes. There is an increased sense of PRAT or musical groove with PV. I do find the bass is a bit warmed up though and I find this quite distracting to the overall sound of PV. And I do find the sound comes across as being artificially smooth, almost syrupy. It almost seems like the whole sound has been reprocessed and EQ'd or something. And while it is clearly so much better than iTunes in many areas, I find it a bit overdone and not exactly natural sounding. It sort of reminds me of vintage valve equipment. Easy to listen too, but euphonic. It almost seems like in trying to improve some of the weaknesses of PCM, like how it doesn't sound as smooth as good vinyl, things were overdone a bit too much to the smooth side. The good news is there seems to be some real promise here.

 

If Amarra is even more of this, I would not enjoy it at all.

 

Next up is Play. I listened to one song and it is certainly like Clay described. Clean. This might be pretty good actually. More neutral. Hopefully not edgy. Hopefully enjoyable.

 

I can see how the best app for a given system could be heavily dependent on overall system synergy.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

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Interesting Bryan, in my, admittedly short review so far, I'd say you had it pretty much spot on. System dependence is the key with PV.

 

I have a DIY Sabre32 Dac with digital volume control (Buffalo32s from TP) going direct into 300B SE Monoblock Tube amplifiers and out through some Beauhorn B.2.2 speakers. All cabling is pure silver or silver foil. Lots of mains filtering as well, IsoTek Titan and Russ Andrews. Source is MacMini, external drive and Toslink.

 

I think if your system is already mellow-ish, mine is I would say, then adding PV is adding too much honey. I found the sound pleasant enough but missed some of the highs and the bass seemed a touch recessed to me? Not light and day, subtle, but enough for me to notice.

 

I'm only writing as I had a similar experience with some NOS Cyro valves which reminded me of this effect. I substituted these for my normal ones and gave them a weeks run-in. Now the sound I got was also more "honeyed" but in this case the base had also become a bit bloomy. All in all a bit too much syrup. You can have too much of a good thing ;-)

 

However, perhaps in a more upfront solid state system, I could see PV being extremely well received!

 

As ever there are no universal panaceas, you pays your money and you takes your choice, trust you own ears.

 

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we have a winner.

 

"I can see how the best app for a given system could be heavily dependent on overall system synergy."

 

...as well as listener's tastes and/or intent.

 

I can definitely see using Pure Vinyl to introduce folks to computer audio, especially those of the Vinyl persuasion, given the spinning vinyl metaphor.

 

The sound seems a bit bolder than life to me, forward sounding, etc., exactly what you'd want to 'impress' someone on a first listen. [note: I've not been able to listen to a major portion of my library yet, so this may change with further listening & I'm only able to listen to version 2.3, not the Pre-release version 3]

 

OTOH, PV and it's spinning vinyl display takes a heavy TOLL on the processor, pushing my Powermac G5 ( dual processor 2.3 Ghz ) between 75 and 100% utilization. Interestingly, the Apple VNC Server consumes roughly 40-50% when the spinning vinyl - with the firefly metering - is going, and the processing load on PV is less. Only when I minimize the spinning vinyl window does the PV load (alone) jump up to the level indicated above.

 

cheers,

clay

 

PS, someone who's looked at the code for Play says that the music's path through the code is short and sweet (my words, not theirs).

 

Play does allow AU plug-ins for those who want a 'clean' way to insert plug-ins into their music player, as opposed to using Audio Hijack Pro, which was my previous recommendation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clay, I just got out of vinyl and had a pretty decent front end but I don't feel like PV is much like vinyl. Yes it has some smoothness about it that is sort of similar I guess, but I think the analogy that PV is like vintage tube gear is more fitting. To my ears. And too much coloration is just not a good thing.

 

I will spend some more time with Play next. First initial impression is that it seems to be quite close to iTunes. It doesn't seem to sound much different. AIFF doesn't seem to import properly. It will play fine, but meta data is not coming across for some reason. And if there isn't a bulk import and it can't just point to the iTunes music folders without importing then it might be too much hassle.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

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If I had one word to describe my quick assessment of Pure Vinyl it would be very musical. I evaluated Play, Cog, and Amarra on my MacBook Pro and found their sonic superiority to iTunes to be real but subtle. With PV the sonic superiority over iTunes was clear and perhaps as Clay described as impressive at first listen especially to those of the Vinyl persuasion, to which I freely admit I am a card carrying member. Of course the DAC I used for most of these comparisons is the Benchmark USB DAC1 which is usually praised for its excellent details and accuracy and sometimes criticized for being cold and sterile (something I corrected with a Shunyata King Cobra power cord). I am using an earlier demo version of Pure Vinyl 3 with Tiger OS that does not seem to have any 15-day limit and not the latest version that according to the website requires Leopard or Snow Leopard.

 

Of course, I find that PV sounds more analog than perhaps to any other player to be extremely logical. After all the chief function and purpose of PV is to digitize vinyl, which most say it does very well though it is cumbersome compared to Audacity. However for those truly interested in getting the best in digitizing vinyl I highly recommend the Korg MR2000s that I truly believe should be on the CASH list as an excellent A/D and D/A pro component that supports all PCM and DSD formats and is much easier to use than any software or tape recorder.

 

What I like about PV and Amarra are their abilities to run with iTunes by taking the best of iTunes and leaving the worst behind. I hate the proprietary nature of the iTunes database and library but if you can live within its constraints, iTunes is easy and a joy to use. I am extremely fond of Front Row or with my iPhone, Remote. By contrast, any preferences for using Play and Cog are easily outweighed by their clumsy and limited library database management and play capabilities.

 

 

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I just downloaded the most recent (unstable) version of Play. Sounds pretty darn good after just a brief session.

I tried to register on the sbooth forums but Stephen has the automatic registration disabled due to SPAM issues and I can't find his e-mail anywhere on his site. . .anyone have it?

 

Can anyone elaborate on what the "automatically adjust sample rate" feature does? I run a MacPro with Lynx AES16e clocked externally feeding my DAC. Wondering how this all works together. . .

 

Thanks,

 

Bob

 

BPT 3.5 Ultra/Reference 3A Reflectors/MSB Technology S201 Amplifier/MSB Technology Analog DAC/MSB Technology Network Renderer/Audirvana +

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Bob, SB's email is meATsboothDOTorg

 

That latest unstable version is what supports AIFF attributes. I will have to try it out.

 

Bryan

 

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

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Clay,

 

I'm going to post the following into every thread you post your "impressions" regarding PV until you upgrade to 10.5 or SL and install a copy of PV 3 (4n4)!!

 

Pure Vinyl 2.3 vs. Pure Vinyl 3 Preview The Recording and iTunes Music Server features have been superseded by the corresponding features in Pure Vinyl 3. For optimum performance, users should discontinue using Pure Vinyl Recorder 2.3 and begin using Pure Vinyl Recorder (Preview) 3.

 

You are really not getting an accurate idea of PV what is capable of, and I believe you are doing both the CA community and PV's developers a disservice in persisting with reviewing PV2.3.

 

Switching off the Vinyl display/animation and metering makes a vast difference to CPU usage. With vinyl animation off the PV app alone runs at around 10-10.6% CPU utilisation, switching of metering drops this down to around 3.8%. This is similar to or slightly lower than iTunes playing the same tracks (3.9-4.2%). This is on a Core Solo Mini (1.5Ghz/2Gb Ram/OSX10.6.2).

 

I've made these screen shoots with iTunes and PV windows maximised and Screen Sharing disconnected. I was logged in via ssh and top run from the ssh session to minimise additional process.

 

cheers

Paul

 

 

 

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Paul,

 

"I'm going to post the following into every thread you post your "impressions" regarding PV until you upgrade to 10.5 or SL and install a copy of PV 3 (4n4)!!"

 

You raise an interesting point here - and I definitely appreciate the spirit in which it is intended. Allow me to offer a counter point - perhaps I should post in every PV thread here that PV 3 will not run on the best sounding OS X platform available - due to inability to run on Tiger. I'm joking, but only partly, as my point is as valid as yours, and therein lies the quandary. :)

 

For the record, I have Snow Leopard installed on a Mac Mini which I used as audio server before succumbing to the recommendations of Tim Marutani, Chris and others, who believe that OS X 10.4.11 running on PowerMac G5 is the best sounding of the Mac OS X platforms.

 

I prefer the sound of my Tiger/G5 combo to Snow Leopard on the Mini. I cannot run Snow Leopard on the G5, although I could install Leopard. Indeed, I said that I would do so if/when I get the AIFF bug sorted out. So far, I've gotten no help from anyone here, or Pure Vinyl, in addressing this (other than a recommendation of an interim version of v3 that still runs on Tiger). I"m not gonna go through the trouble of installing an OS just to listen to one app unless I know it's gonna work in my system.

 

As a non-professional poster simply sharing "impressions", I'm not sure that I should be required to maintain and provide feedback on every OS imaginable in order to post my thoughts without doing a 'disservice' to CA readers. Like most of us here I suspect, I'm interested in how the app will sound in MY preferred environment.

 

When testing players, I've found that the latest version is almost always under construction, and is therefore considered 'unstable', or 'pre-release', or something similar. So, do you test this version - and have any critical comments dismissed due to it being 'under construction' - or do you test the stable version, and have any critical comments dismissed due to it being an 'outdated' release?

 

Seems to me that some developers want to have it both ways, in that regard. I"m not a professional "reviewer" but I believe those who do want to formally test music players have a dilemma to deal with.

 

For the record, I'm usually of the persuasion that you test the latest release, no matter what, BUT, in this case, the latest release does NOT run on my preferred version of OS X, and the one I've been listening to exclusively for the last few weeks. So, switching over to a new OS means that my listening observations are no longer apples to apples, and therefore no longer valid for me to make my own impressions needed to make a decision.

BTW, I also needed to make the decision within a couple of day to meet the deadline, now since passed.

 

One final point, I'm not sure that the latest version (of any player software) is necessarily likely to sound 'better'. IMO, extra features (with the exception of memory play) have a greater chance of lowering the sound quality than improving it.

 

All that said, you raise an interesting, very valid point.

 

For the record, when I began my listening evaluation of PV 2.3, these were the notes on the download page (as opposed to the quote you post above):

 

"Pure Vinyl Preview Release 4n4 can coexist with the Pure Vinyl 2.3 Application Suite (which should be installed first, to get the most from this software). Preview Release 4n4 includes performance and usability enhancements. The recording functions supersede those in Pure Vinyl Recorder 2.3.

 

Includes enhanced (compared to Pure Vinyl 2.x) iTunes Music Server features. System requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6; G4, G5 or Intel CPU."

 

 

A few critical comments, and the story changes as to what is recommended, and how strongly, although the recommended version is still Preview Release!

 

 

Thanks again, for a well meaning, well intentioned post. I hope mine comes across as the same.

 

cheers,

clay

 

PS, as a former software developer - of systems for investment banks, and therefore not publicly available - I do appreciate the developers side of the dilemma as well. They have customers who want what they want, and they want it now, and they have other customers who love what they have and don't want any bugs, and maybe not even new features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Clay,

I'm running Pure Vinyl Release 3 4n4 under Leopard on my Mac Mini, and AIFF files sound very good.

I'm not sure what your "AIFF bug" is, but I have not had a problem playing them on my system, which admittedly is a Core 2 duo and not a G4/G5.

 

I also have a G4 Mini with Leopard installed, which I could try PV on, however it only has 1Gb of ram which may affect results.

 

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Thanks for your response, Blu.

 

My AIFF bug is that PV2.3 won't play any of the AIFF files in my system despite playing all other file types fine.

 

Thanks for the vote of confidence in your environment.

 

I'm still waiting for someone from PV to offer advice / support on this issue.

 

I've been waiting 4 full days on Pure Vinyl at this point, but have received NO response whatsoever, despite multiple requests through official channel, i.e. the email address for software support.

 

 

 

thanks again,

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So I'm just listening to Play and I have to say it sounds great, actually I was 100% not convinced that playback software did anything after my experiences with Amarra.

 

I can say though that Play makes a noticeable difference compared to iTunes; the main thing I noticed is a perceived increase in resolution / drop in the noise floor. This allows the nuances of guitar playing and voice phrasing to come out. For example on Richard Thomson's My Soul, My Soul, it is much easier to separate in ones mind the playing of the drum from the plucking of the guitar. The dynamics are also improved and as a result of the dropped noise floor soundstage focus appears to be improved, with each voice and instrument occupying more of its own space.

 

These effects were similar to what I noticed with Amarra but larger. Its still not unlike the difference between a medium and a high end cable to my ears.

 

 

 

Nyal Mellor, Acoustic Frontiers LLC.

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is the complexity if you're only interested in playback and not recording. I don't recall there being any manual for Cog or Play, though I'm sure there is some info on the websites. Even Amarra only has a 14-page software guide and a 4-page troubleshooting guide. By contrast Pure Vinyl has a 34-page getting started guide and a 126-page users guide. (My versions are not the latest so the page counts may be higher).

 

Even if Pure Vinyl is more capable, has more features and sounds better than the other players, this amount of material is likely to scare off or intimidate some. If you're like me you'll ignore the docs and just use the program, perhaps wondering if your configuration setup provides the optimum playback. Perhaps what I want is a Pure Vinyl Lite that just concentrates on providing the best play engine for my iTunes library without any of the recording features. Working seamlessly with Front Row and Remote would even be better.

 

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Actually I think PV is less complex than Amarra if you are only interested in playback. For example, memory play in PV is automatic; once you turn it on, it will read tracks into memory as you change songs. But in Amarra, memory play is implemented as Playlist and you have to manually select tracks and load them in. That means it is not iPhone Remote app friendly. I have tried both and bought PV. If you don't use its recording features, just ignore them, they won't get in your way.

 

 

 

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There is the mini-player in Pure Vinyl Recorder and there is the Pure Vinyl Editor/Player. Do both produce identical sound? Is the 64-bit Sample Rate Converter (the 64-bit internal upsampler for high-resolution (up to 192 kHz 24 bit) playback of audio tracks) available in both? Under the iTunes Integration chapter, the User Guide states “if you’re using an audio interface capable of 88.2 kHz or higher sample rates, Pure Vinyl will automatically upsample the audio using a pristine, 64-bit resampling stream”. Is this an option that can be bypassed if no resampling is desired? The User Guide also states “if using Pure Vinyl’s 64-bit Crossover feature, it also will be used for iTunes track playback”. Why or should one want to use the 64-bit Crossover feature?

 

Perhaps it’s just my unfamiliarity with the Pure Vinyl software. I have just used the default settings but I am not sure if there aren't settings within the program that may improve or diminish the sound quality of the defaults. Perhaps it is the version of the manual that I have. For instance I would assume that memory play provides superior sonics but I don’t recall any discussions to that effect or how to determine the proper settings for your particular hardware and music file resolution.

 

 

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Just load Pure Vinyl 3 Preview (4n4). Forget the rest of the software install if you just want to play music. Memory playback does sound better.

 

Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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Lars

 

Just started listening to PV this evening and I noticed that it is showing up as version "3 Preview (4n5)". BTW just love the sound quality.

 

A flaw in reasoning is a mistake in how conclusions are derived from assumptions, not a mistake in assumptions.

 

AB835

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Thanks for the update news AB835!

 

Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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