Amarra for iTunes at RMAF...

As my listening habits are split about 70% from iTunes and 30% vinyl I was pretty excited to see Stereomojo report on the new Amarra software for iTunes that can increase the sound quality of your digital music.

I was somewhat less excited to see that the price tag on this software add-on is almost $1k. Has anyone heard the Amarra software and have thoughts on if it's worth this price? Are there any similar products out there for a more reasonable price?

Happy listening!
I read all the relevant forums and don't recall a single Amarra user mentioning any problems in this area. I don't think it's anything to worry about.

TBG, you do know that you still use iTunes when you use Amarra, right? Hopefully it's the sound of it you cannot tolerate and not the UI or functionality, otherwise you are SOL.
Yes, Itunes is the control.

I talked with Daniel Weiss at the RMAF who was using Amarra on a Mac Mini. He was not concerned and indeed recommended Amarra.
If it makes my computer based system sound a bit better ..... that is all I want.
I do have some concerns tho.... Not with Amarra itself but with my computer setup.
I use MacBook Air which has only one USB. (Isabellina HPA DAC, Empirical Audio Offramp Turbo, Ridge Street Audio Design Poiema!!! R-v3 USB Digital Master USB cable) Will including quality USB Hub degrade the sound or compromise my setup in any way?
If it is a problem, I would like to use (purchase) Mac Mini ....... MacBook Air is mostly used on the go so it is not something that did not cross my mind.
My Air is 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM.
I am not sure if that is optimal but if I was getting the Mini, what spects would you recommend? I figure 4GB memory but how about the processor speed?

Mrjstark, see the review in 6moons on the Minerva
from all that I have learned, you want to avoid USB2. I am getting a Mac Mini for what the Sonic Studios setup says.
I am getting the big one, but you will have to get an external raid hard drive with firewire connections.
I have experimented extensively with Amarra, and wouldn't be without it.

The best solution I found was to use a powerful Mac (more power is a good thing) with 8GB of RAM (more RAM is a good thing), Amarra/iTunes, and outputting through an Empirical Offramp 3 and an excellent USB cable (I like the Offramp as it allows me a world of DAC choices).

I also found that with my 24/96 DAC, I was best to convert all my files to 24/96 and store them at that resolution, uncompressed. Its a bit like the idea of feeding your LCD with a file that matches its natural resolution. This takes load off both the Mac (no unpacking of ALAC files on the fly), and off the DAC (no real-time upsampling to do). Both can then work more accurately. And you really should dedicate a Mac to the task, not use it for anything else.

Peoples' preferences about upsampling versus 'native' blends/confuses two different issues. Upsampling, if done well can be very beneficial, up to a point (which depends on your DAC chip), but doing it in real time taxes your DAC's performance. I use AIFF as it can handle tags etc, unlike WAV, and use SampleManager software for the conversion to 24/96.

Remember that the digital to analog conversion essentially upsamples in the way that it joins the dots in the analog domain between the discrete samples. Different algorithms for joining the dots sound different, even though the imaginary data is supposedly beyond our hearing range. There is a trade-off between how much of the imaginary data is done in the digital domain (upsampling) and how much is done by the DAC process. Doing it offline is a good thing as I have said before, but there is a limit to how high you should upsample - mainly based on whether your DAC works well (or at all) at the higher bit rate.