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My listening "impressions" of Pure Vinyl


cfmsp
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These are my listening "impressions" (thanks pj) of Pure Vinyl - version 2.3 and 3.

 

A few days back I reported these findings upon listening to version 2.3 of Pure Vinyl:

 

"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."

 

I also reported that if I could only use one word to describe the sound of PV, the word would be 'bold', whereas for Play, I would use the word 'clear', and for Amarra, I'd use the word 'rich' or 'deep' (I forget, as I had trouble finding one word to sum up Amarra).

 

Since then, I've been able to listen to the vaunted Pre Release version 3 of Pure Vinyl.

 

First off, for the record, these words are (only) my 'impressions' and are not to be construed as a formal review. YMMV, etc, et al, yada yada...

 

I will not comment on the features, but only on the sound in my system - which consists now of highly tweaked multiple Mac source computers, feeding a ULN-2 via Firewire (with floating power), which in turn directly feeds a First Watt J2 via balanced ASI Livelines, and then on to Audio Physic Virgos. Alan Maher AC circuit tuning/power conditioning gear in use. [note: the speakers are well known for their soundstaging abilities, which I point out due to my comments below.]

 

My second impressions are much the same as my first impressions. I find the sound of music played via version 3 to be, well, upfront, perhaps even more so than 2.3, or perhaps my expectations were simply higher knowing that performance enhancements were claimed for version 3.

 

All words below (except as noted) are from listening to version 3 alone.

 

Vocals, but also instruments, seem bolder, and bigger than life in many instances. The sound is definitely more forward than I'm used to, and indeed more so than any of the other players I've listened to recently - iTunes, Amarra and Play.

 

As I've stated earlier, PV (2.3 and 3) sounds more different (from iTunes) than the other players. It now seems apparent to me that this is because it deviates from the recording more than the others, in my opinion, which is based on my experience.

 

On first listen, it is definitely impressive - it sounds bigger, bolder, the primary instruments stand out more, but after a short while I found this to be fatiguing, despite that it could occasionally be appealing with certain aspects of some songs. OTOH, the more I listened, the more this annoyed me.

 

PV 3 also doesn't seem to provide all of the richness & complexity of the music (as compared to Amarra). It's similar to Play in that regard. Perhaps this is a reason that some sounds seem bigger, there's less 'other stuff' to compete with - in the same sense as with a rug made with fewer colors, the ones used would stand out more - as opposed to the richer tapestry provided by Amarra. If you prefer this style, Play seems to sound like this as well, in my system, and it's free. [note: I've not yet listened to Play enough to have a solid impression of it's overall sound, but it seems like a promising player. I understand there's a major new release on the way]

 

I also didn't feel that PV 3 provides great insight into the back (or sides) of the stage - partly due to the forwardness of the front of the stage, but also due to perceived less distinct detail in the rear (than what I'm used to with Amarra). Indeed, given the forwardness, occasionally sounds near the front edge of the stage collapsed onto the speakers, which is something that rarely happens with the Virgos in my system.

 

Another reason I believe the sounds seem bigger is that they literally were, or rather are. Focus seems somewhat less distinct to me, said another way, an instrument seems to take up more space within the overall soundstage, in my system, but not in the sense of more body/resonance, but rather, due a lack of distinctness or precision.

 

There also seemed to be some freq response anomalies that I couldn't get a handle on quickly, other than to say that, in my system, the sound was brighter than I'm used to (although I admittedly seem more sensitive to this than some). Frankly, given how far away PV3 is from my idea of how recordings (should) sound, I didn't take the time to sort out the rest of the audio band. I'll just repeat that PV 3 sounded more different to me than all the other players I've listened to lately, and by 'different' I don't mean 'in a good way'.

 

I'll end by saying that these opinions are mine, and mine alone. I don't expect them to agree with yours, nor am I trying to convince anyone that mine are right. Just my honest opinions of the sound of Pure Vinyl in my system.

 

I will point out that they my comments are somewhat consistent with what Lars (aka Mercman) has posted, although I didn't notice an increased ability to separate voices as he did - but neither do I listen to choral pieces. Nor did I buy a copy of Pure Vinyl.

 

[bTW, He did a great job clarifying the feature set comparison in his post on AA.]

 

One thought about my listening environment - I listen in a (near) near-field setup, partly becuase it works well with my speakers, and partly becuase I enjoy it. Perhaps the forwardness that drove me crazy would not bother those with a more typical setup. I have no way of knowing. My prime position is just a bit father away (maybe 2 feet) than a perfect equilateral triangle, IOW, just slightly isosceles.

 

I don't mind Jack Johnson sounding like he's in my living room, but I don't want a veritable lap dance along with Better Together. :)

 

So, in summary I'll rephrase what I said a few days ago:

 

The sound [from Pure Vinyl 3] seems bolder, and bigger than life to me, forward sounding, a bit bright, exactly what you'd want to 'impress' someone on a first listen (or if you wanted to stand out by comparison).

 

caveat emptor,

clay

 

PS, I'll be taking a break from significant posting activity at CA for a while, as a couple of you whom I've talked to offline will know, this came about from gaining a better (read more balanced) perspective during a trip to the mountains this weekend.

 

PPS, I can't offer my impressions on the support from Pure Vinyl, since I've NOT yet received any, despite initiating requests over 4 days ago. After multiple emails to the software support address posted online - and requests for help here at CA - I've not yet gotten a single reply from Pure Vinyl. Hopefully, in this regard, your mileage will definitely vary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Clay,

 

I'm surprised that you keep banging on about lack response from Rob @PV. Take a short trip back in time and I think you'll recall these words appearing in a post addressed to Rob (the lead developer and support person) at Channel-D when he questioned why you hadn't contacted support:

 

That is correct, I have not contacted technical support. I posted my experiences here and the fine group of fellow posters here have helped me out. As stated earlier in this thread, I'm not interested in software that requires developer support to setup, especially a music player.

 

Give the context you posted these comments in I'd suggest you'll be extremely luck to get a response.

 

unneccessary comments deleted

 

I'm actually glad to see you have made the effort to install and listen to PV3. Regardless of your findings it's only reasonable to give the softwares a chance to perform to their optimum.

 

regards

Paul

 

 

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Yestarday I also tried pure vinyl. All I can say is that I am SHOCKED from the improvement I got compared to itunes standalone. The Voices became more real, It is like I went from Weiss Minerva to Weiss Medea and I am not exaggerating at all! The soundstage became huge in all dimensions, the music is even more palpable, I dare say LIVE!

 

Highly reccomended from me!

 

MacBook Pro > M2Tech Evo > Stylos SYS HAD > Sovereign Director > Sovereign Power > Tidal Piano Cera (Cabling: Argento)

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Hi Clay,

 

I think I'll give a try to Pure Vinyl when I have some time. Even with my simple LAVRY DA10 I should be able to hear the differences if they are as proeminent as posted.

 

Have you ever tested the sound editor called 'Wave Editor'? This is not so practical to use on a day to day basis for playing lots of files, but to my ears the Sound Quality is just superb! When I got the Naim DAC for a loan, it was a joy to use Wave Editor for critical listening sessions. ;-)

 

 

 

Daphile or VortexBox based audio player with ASUS MB and fanless Streacom case. Paul Hynes and Teddy Pardo linear supplies. SSD drive. Paul Pang SATA cable on its way...

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I don't recognise Clay's descriptions at all. I find PV more natural and less grainy than iTunes, and less "processed" than my Amarra Mini. Definitely one to try for yourself. While iTunes can sound a touch 'forward' I don't hear that with either of the two players both are significantly better.

 

Some have mentioned difficulty with hi rez playback, this morning I have dug out the Weiss DVD to copy some 176/24 files. As per the instruction I set the target rate (176) on the device (Weiss) then opened PV and opened iTunes - viola. Sounds superb. See attached screen shot.

 

Steve

 

Audirvana Plus/Dirac Live - Weiss 202 - Lavardin IT-15 - Art Emotion Signatures.  DragonFly Red - Sennheiser HD600s & IE800s.

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thanks for responding.

 

this statement might offer you better insight into my earlier comments about support:

"I'm not interested in software that requires developer support to setup, especially a music player."

 

Like most of us probably, I do highly value support when required. Indeed, I don't purchase products from firms that don't provide world class service.

 

clay

 

ps, are you aware of the nature-recordists yahoo group?

 

 

 

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"Good to get different views"

 

agreed, Steve

 

"I don't recognise Clay's descriptions at all. ... Definitely one to try for yourself."

 

 

as Lars posted elsewhere,

 

"Given that all of our systems are different, it's a wonder we can agree on anything!"

 

and as if to reinforce that point, Lars and my thoughts (on the sound of PV) seemed (to me) more similar than not, yet, he prefers Pure Vinyl to Amarra, whereas, I do not.

 

that says it all,

clay

 

 

 

 

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"PS, I'll be taking a break from significant posting activity at CA for a while, as a couple of you whom I've talked to offline will know, this came about from gaining a better (read more balanced) perspective during a trip to the mountains this weekend."

 

 

Well done! bringin' on the inner zen :)

 

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I found PV to be more resolving and easier to listen to.

 

Rob has been very supportive with my questions. He answers e-mail in an hour or so, and picks up the phone if I call him. I have had similar excellent customer service from Jon at Sonic Studio.

 

Steve

 

 

 

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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Having almost bought Audio Physic speakers I know from auditioning them that they throw out a HUGE soundstage. The biggest I've heard. This may have worked well with Amarra and Play but not with PV which also has great presence like the Audio Physics. Also Audio Physics are known to change SQ dramatically with (sometimes small) changes in components and even from styles of music. I swapped out run of the mill cables for hi-end speaker cables and the combo was way over the top with detail galore.

 

This may explain your difficulty with PV.

 

Regards,

 

James[br]

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"I found PV to be more resolving and easier to listen to."

 

I have no doubt that you did, as you always call it like you see it. I trust your sharing of your listening impressions more than almost anyone.

 

And I'm very happy for you, Steve, especially, given the amount of 'work' (ok 'play') you do on the front lines of computer audio playback. I"m always amazed at your level of aplomb in dealing with the arrows slung your way at that other place. :)

 

Can you give other examples of the better resolution you experience - other than the distinctness of separate voices in massed choir? Maybe I can learn something.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

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"This may explain your difficulty with PV."

 

you might well be right. I've noticed substantial improvements in detail and resolution with each of my recent upgrades.

 

This might also explain why I didn't notice as much improvement with Amarra (as others have reported).

 

Who knows, but as I've said before, now that we're not using one-box solutions (i.e. CD players) any longer, each of us is designing our own custom digital audio playback engine, from parts that are sometimes ill-equipped.

 

A few things to note:

Every part is critically important; the fewer the number of parts, the easier to improve the quality level of the 'whole'; and the higher the quality level of the whole, the more readily a weak link can be exposed.

 

I think my weak link is still related to AC, from both macrocosm and microcosm point of view.

 

clay

 

 

 

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"Well done! bringin' on the inner zen :)"

 

something like that, I hope.

 

All I know is that the only peace/zen/whatever you find on a mountaintop is the peace/zen/whatever that you bring with you. :)

 

 

Besides, maybe now I'll have time to build an Apple Script that will automatically re-load a clean install of OS X and Amarra onto an SSD partition when I press play, or maybe time to decide which weight aluminum foil sounds best when wrapped around the fuse. ;0

 

enjoy,

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clay,

 

It would be better if you came over to my place to listen than to talk about it. I find PV to basically be more resolving. That is, everything is better focused with a greater sense of ease.

 

I made a change to my DAC that I'll report on latter. The main thing that really makes picking out differences easy are my Wilson Sasha speakers.

 

But the fact is that Amarra 1.2 is excellent. Again, I like having both.

 

Steve

 

 

 

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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"It would be better if you came over to my place to listen than to talk about it."

 

Should I consider that an invitation? :)

 

You hear something different than I, so I'll keep trying to figure out why.

 

As you may recall, I set out to improve my system (and did) when I couldn't (easily) hear what others could hear with Amarra. :)

 

Still not sure how I would get rid of the forwardness I hear with PV, and that's a pet peeve of mine.

 

cheers,

clay

 

 

 

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You bet that's an invitation!

 

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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Like Lars, I have both. I've heard PV in three different highly resolving systems now. Whatever else one might describe about it, "forward" or "bright" hasn't been amongst them. Both PV and the latest Amarra take iTunes away from that.

 

Very interesting Clay, I'm sure you've been over your set-up and installation of PV with a fine tooth comb - but I don't get the "forward" description at all. I've had plenty of Naim gear so I know forward when I hear it. :-) I'm sure I'd agree if I could hear yours, because we seldom hear things that differently when confronted by the same demo. Likewise, if you heard it here - I don't think you would call it that way.

 

Steve

 

Audirvana Plus/Dirac Live - Weiss 202 - Lavardin IT-15 - Art Emotion Signatures.  DragonFly Red - Sennheiser HD600s & IE800s.

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At this pont, I don't hear really "bright" or "forward" colorations in Pure Vinyl, but a relative veiling of Amarra playback compared to Pure Vinyl. It is very noticeable on my system and my friend's system.

 

Steve #2

 

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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