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Amarra VS Pure Music


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Leaving aside the most important question of sound quality for the moment what is it about the features, look or function of Pure Music or Amarra that lead you to prefer one over the other?


"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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Amarra vs. Pure Music


Wow, tough call. There are so many factors that apply and any judgement is going to be terribly subjective. But hey, I think you are asking a tough question to begin with.


Pure Music has some really positive points. attributes going for it though.


Cost and License: Pure Music is far better than Amarra, with a much lower price and infinitely more liberal license terms. Pure Music is $129 for the full version, and may be used on any number of computers with reasonable ownership restrictions.


Pure Music works on PPC Macs. The old Mac Minis we have are great for use with Pure Music in the den, office, or extra bedroom. As far as I can tell, everything in Pure Music works on the PPC platform.


Works okay with the REMOTE app. By okay, I mean that Pure Music, due to the unique way it interfaces with iTunes, does not always do a great job of updating the play position of a track. Also, the play/pause button will often flash between play and pause, which is how Pure Music tells you the song is playing, at least on the remote app.


Realtime upsampling. If you like the sound of upsampled music, Pure Music does the upsampling, in real time, and does it very very well. There several choices available when configuring Pure Music to upsample.


Memory and Hybrid Memory Play. These two, together with marking albums as gapless in iTunes, enable gapless playback of albums. This doesn’t seem important until you don’t have it readily available. This is especially important to me, as I don’t have to take any action at all to get gapless playback.


Responsive tech support. Okay, world class fantastic support.


Pure Music negative points


The negative points for Pure Music as few, and not really all that negative. Still...


Configuration is complex. Pure Music has about as many options as Microsoft Word. Moreover, many of the settings interact with each other. Activting Integer Mode is a good example. Not only is there a specific sequence to follow to turn it on, but there are pre-requisite settings that must be activated. That’s just one setting. There are dozens and dozens of settings. Note that for some people, this might be a positive point, rather than a negative. It is a slight negative for me, as I have to warm up on all the settings before I dare make a change. :)


The second negative is not a given on every system. On my systems, Pure Music will occasionally start eating up CPU and cause the fans to come on and spin up. I have no idea what it is doing, but it does it to other people too.


Third, Pure Music will just skip music it cannot play. This is not always desirable behavior.


The last negative is all subjective. Pure Music does not always smoothly update iTunes. Track position and the play/pause button in particular can be confused. A track will be playing, for instance, and the play/pause button will indicate that nothing is playing. Mildly annoying. It does the same thing with the REMOTE app, only if anything, a bit worse. There are settings to mitigate this somewhat but it is difficult to eliminate.


Amarra Positive Points


The number one positive point for us is that Amarra plays the music and, given decent recordings, we never get tired of it. We do get tired of iTunes, and all the other players, including Pure Music. It isn’t that they do not sound great, it is just we get fatigued listening to them.


Amarra Equalization is fantastic. If you need it, it is there, and it can be used to help some poor recordings become more listenable. Even kicking in the Default equalization can help out sometimes. Most times - you don’t need it. But when you do, you really do.


Amarra will politely un-mute iTunes when it is asked to play a file it cannot play. And when Amarra later encounters a song it can play, it quietly takes over again, and as a listener, you never know that something happened.


iTunes and Remote apps update properly, with no special settings. Response is very fast, even when using cached play mode.


Amarra sips resources, the fans on our machines never turn on with Amarra.



Amarra Negative Points


Cost. Amarra Jr. is $99, Mini is $299, Full is $699. All are locked to a single machine at a time by license, and Amarra enforces those licenses with online authorizations.


Each Amarra license is good for one machine at a time, and only one machine at a time. The license process has been updated to be far more sane than it was last year, and you no longer have to worry about loosing a license if a machine crashes.


Gapless playback is only available in Amarra Mini and Amarra Full, not in the $99 Jr. version.

REMOTE.app and iTunes controls do not work with gapless payback.

Gapless play means you have to play the album from the internal playlist menu.





In summary, Amarra is our choice of player, though we own licenses for Pure Music as well. Our only real gripe with it is we want effortless gapless playback! We can listen to Amarra for hours on end without listener fatigue.


-- 30 --








Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Thank you Paul for taking the time to make that detailed post. I use PM but I downloaded Amarra on my iMac to take a look at it. It might sound funny to say it but I was a bit 'overwhelmed' by the simplicity of the Amarra set up. I guess I expected 'more' and felt I had to be missing something.


I also ask because I had a friend ask me about the two and I felt I did not properly understand each to make the distinctions.


Thanks again and I hope others might chime in with their views.


"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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I couldn't find where I've read it before...


It said, the sound of Amarra is more tube like; while Pure Music is more solid-state like.


I think it depends what kind of sound you prefer, and depends which software will sound better to you in your system.


I wondered which player will receive more votes if there is a vote system in CA.


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Paul's evaluation is for my money right on the mark.


It is always exciting to have lot's of knobs and buttons which PM offers over Amarra but I like simplicity.


I greatly prefer the design and layout of Amarra and the fact it does not do that much but play music in an unfatiguing way.PM niggles at me.


I also like the fact that Amarra is light on resource. Funnily enough that has got worse since I installed Lion, which I may reverse.


Like, I suspect, many here I have tried all the software players and I always stick with Amarra. That said, I am impressed with BitPerfect - again nice and simple - but for me Amarra rules.


Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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(blush) I actually did not mean to transmit that until I had a chance to review it and correct all the high-speed typo's in it. I was pretty tired when I wrote that.


Yeah, the long and short, Amarra is much simpler, hiding the vast majority of its complexity behind a simpler interface. Pure Music is a tinker's dream.


When it all comes down to it though, Amarra is the system we always seem to come back to, and listen to the most.


You can sometimes catch a copy of Amarra Mini for 1/2 price as well, which puts it into a more competitive pricing tier with Pure Music.


One thing I did forget to mention, Pure Music can take any old Mac and stream hi-res music, up to 24/192, to it. I think it does up to four streams at a time. It is somewhat complex to setup, enough so that it took me five hours to get it to work the first time. The complexity is what keeps me from using it for streaming on a regular basis.






Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I could not afford Amarra but PM seems, for me to have the same abilities at 1/6 the cost. In addition, I really like the update service. Every one is better than the last and some have made a bigger difference in my setup than changing gear.


I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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"You can sometimes catch a copy of Amarra Mini for 1/2 price as well, which puts it into a more competitive pricing tier with Pure Music."


In fact when I downloaded the demo version I noticed a significantly reduced price the other day.


I must admit I both like and dislike the available user adjustable options in pure music. Dislike for those I do not understand. Or would never use but like the ability to try different combinations or feature for comparison and evaluation.


As silly as it is to say it I look at the simplicity of the Amarra interface and ask myself what am I paying for?


"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open."
Frank Zappa
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