They both sound great. I agree with your assessment of the differences though. Unfortunately, PM is not yet stable as you also point out, which gets very frustrating for me. Hence, Amarra gets my vote.
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I can't comment on pure music, but can tell you that the first time I've ever been able to say "that sounds really good" without adding the words "for digital" was with Amarra on my Mac Mini feeding my Ayre QB-9. Some of the differences are obvious, but many are subtle and require some extended listening to notice (or not notice the low levels of grunge and harshness that pass for normal with most digital). Since PM is relatively inexpensive and Amarra can be checked out in demo mode for free, why not try both? I've been meaning to do that comparison but haven't gotten around to it yet. (Or maybe I'm afraid that, since I own Amarra that I wasted a bunch of money). In any event, Amarra is a pretty tough act to follow
Have not tried Amarra, which seems awfully $y for software.
Pure Music is certainly inexpensive, and seems to makes some improvement in sound for my rig. The visuals for the controls are uninspiring, a sort of kludgy cut and paste onto the iTunes interface, and I find the functioning a little twitchy. Lately, it stops after one cut when I start an album. Anyone have a fix for this? (PM did not respond to an email.)
I have been using Pure Music for the last month and agree that there are a few glitches. The latest version 1.3 seems to be working better for me. I still have some delays and for some reason at times I will highlight a song to play and it skips down to the one below. Haven't figured that one out yet. Overall though the sound is far better than itunes and for the money the improvement in sound is hard to beat. If something comes along that is better at least I do not have a lot of money tied up in it.
Dmailer: I have the PM 1.02; is the 1.3 a free upgrade.? Apparently they didn't debug the skipping track problem you describe, b/c I have that too. Had a couple of other guys over last night, and there was a strong consensus that PM is a nice improvement in sound. I'd happily pay a bit more for smoother functionality. John
IMO Amarra adds it's own sonic signature that I don't care for. I much prefer the "pure" (pun intended) presentation of Pure Music. I suppose there are so many different variables in computer audio that one might not ever get to the bottom of why but I have never experienced any of the stopping, popping, clicking problems others have reported with Pure Music. I could not be happier with Pure Music SQ.
I have both Amarra(Not the mini) and PM on my macbook pro, PM 1.4 is much much stable and sounds better than any early versions, especially with Hog mode and Less Is More enabled, and play from memory. PM compare to Amarra? I can't even stand the sound from Amarra, PM sounds more refined, more detailed with a nicer texture. I only paid $79 for PM, and One grand for Amarra! I really hope the Amarra 2.0 will sound better than PM, and not just a little!
So what happens if you are using iTunes and decide to go with Amarra or Pure Music? Does it wipe out your iTunes artwork? Change the way iTunes manages your library? or does it just "go around" iTunes to produce the music?"
Several in this thread are obviously well-versed in how this works.
My music is stored on an External HD, not in the iMac.
Not trying to threadjack, but rather a note of thanks for the topic. I had no idea Pure Music was out there (or anything like it), and have since enjoyed the improvement it's made in the sound of my system.
I'd often wondered why there wasn't more software manipulation of the sound on the Mac. The payoff for all my lossless files is coming to fruition.
Is anyone using Pure Music in a wireless system? I have the demo version of PM and can highjack the stream using Airoil to one of my three systems (Airport Express, two Apple TV's). It appears to be a great improvement, although it's very tough to do a comparison since I have to quit PM and restart iTunes before Itunes will run, and the level settings are very different. Or is everyone using a wired connection from their Mac to their DAC?
Has anyone tried comparing the latest Amarra 2.1.1 vs Pure music 1.74 or any other like Fidelia recently?
I have tried Amarra's latest (2.1.1) vs Pure music's (1.74) and much prefer Amarra.
I am getting very upset with Amarra's continuous glitch issues though. I am still waiting for these to be fixed. It is expensive software for what it is, and it's glitches are like problems you get with free software. Most upsetting. And soon they intend to charge for updates too!
But sonically I find PM to be diffuse and flat when compared to the more detailed and 3D Amarra. There is not that much in it, but I do find PM to sound a little boring. I guess if you have a bright and peaky system PM may help you tone it down.
If Sonic studio are reading this PLEASE pull your finger out and fix this excellent sounding software. My experience of your software is cheap even though it sounds great and is expensive.
I have compared Amarra 1.2, 2.0, 2.1, 2.1.1, Pure Music and AyreWave in my system.
Let me say first that they are all good and an improvement over iTunes.
In my system I prefer the sound of the old Amarra 1.2 to the others. YMMV. I also like the EQ feature and the transparent volume control of Amarra. This may all change as the others tweak their software or I discover new software.
I have not found any of them to be stable all of the time. It is best to close the S/W when you are done playing and re-open it at the next session. Ocassionally you have to reboot also.
What is it about these programs that make them sound different I wonder?
Are they doing some kind of digital signal processing to produce a certain sound?
I would expect any software programs used to play digital audio to just pass the bits by default (ie do nothing to affect the resulting sound) unless you chose to alter it in some way, similar to most audio signal processing devices?
I have been trying out Fidelia which I think sounds even better than Amarra. I am not a fan of Fidelia's interface. Personally I love using the Art work cover flow interface in Itunes to search through the library using Amarra in the background as the output.
Somehow Fidelia's sonics are even more detailed and maybe sweeter than Amarra 2.1.1. There is not much in it but it is there and worth having.
I liked 1.2 a lot too, but 2.1.1 sounds very slightly smoother/vibrant to me in memory mode. The stuttering at the start of each track in Itunes I find ruins it. I hope they fix this ASAP. PM have managed it.
I have found nearly all software sounds slightly different. Don't ask me why! Especially on PC. Even Pro software from the same manufacturer.
I use both Pure Music and Amarra Mini; most of the time Pure Music. I've tried Fidelia. If there was a difference, it was not worth the lack of convenience.
I've also briefly tried Audionirvana--from just a brief listen, I thought this sounded very good, maybe better than PM. Again, however, I missed the ease of use and convenience that PM allows me.
'I have found nearly all software sounds slightly different. Don't ask me why! "
There are endless reasons why this might occur. You are pretty much at the mercy of the software.
But, if it were me designing these tools, I would envision a good design would merely stream the existing data in real time as needed by default and not do anything to the bit stream unless the user specifies. Similar to being able to bypass processing on an analog equalizer or other signal processor as desired.
Of course, bugs are always possible as well, meaning even if designed to work properly, the program still does not.
One reason I stick with Windows Media Player for example is I have found it to be very robust and reliable which is what I would expect in that it has been around through multiple revisions already, has a large user base and is designed by a major software vendor who knows as well as any company how to do these things right.
I am not very trusting off one off software vendors when it comes to this kind of thing. Doing it right is hard and takes both time and money (like most things).
Lots of folks like some of these players because they sound "smoother". If your system needs "smoothing", then they are the right choice for you.
IMO, once you have achieved really low sibilance, jitter and noise in your system, you abandon "smoothness" for liveness. This is a long road and a spendy road for some.
I'm pretty sure Windows MEdia player just passes the bit stream and does not change it by default, at least when used just as a music server and not player.
Newer versions do have a loudness leveling option that helps keep different loudness level tracks more equal level, but that is it and you have to select to turn that on.
I have media player on one of my studio computers and it does sound a little different from the mastering and production software on the same machine. Not by much. There is something in the treble which is more relaxed and it is not quite as separated compared to Nuendo 5 or Wavelab 6. I do like it though.
I find it odd that they can sound different as they are using all the same hardware.
Having been listening to Fidelia in my hifi system for a couple of days now I think it is very close to Amarra 2.1.1. It has something very slightly sweeter in the highs and I find imaging is more compact, smaller or pinpoint on some recording. It is only on really good recordings that these differences show themselves. Orchestral recordings seem the best way to tell.
As I said I feel both these 2 bits of software sound better than Pure Music 1.74 in my system. Remember all this software is on the same machine and playing through the same DAC/Amp/cables/speakers/same room and same ears!
If I were blind folded I could tell the difference between PM and Amarra or PM and Fidelia, but I would find it hard to tell between Amarra and Fidelia.
Unfortunately regardless of the sonics it is the interface that makes or breaks it for me. When you have spent so much effort getting the system to sound good, it is a real let down when your main interaction with it is clunky, slow or unstable due to the playback software.
Maybe Apple will just get itunes to sound good and all these little software companies will go away or at least sell their code to Apple to integrate properly.
Maybe some players that target high end audio users go for a "house sound" to help distinguish them from the competition along with the various features? I suppose these "components" should not be much different from a marketing perspective than the more traditional ones.
Its possible I suppose that different software sources might sound different with an attached DAC again depending on how well it is able to provide the bit stream in real time. PErhaps jitter comes into play here similar to other scenarios.
I use a network music player (with outboard DAC) connected via wifi network to the laptop I use as a server. I think in this configuration in particular, the interaction between the remote (to the windows server) player and the DAC is what determines the exact nature of the sound (jitter, etc.)with any particular DAC. I suppose when the player is onboard the PC the same types of interactions would occur but the nature of the hardware and software involved is different and quite variable.
So two things I could envision accounting for sound differences from player to player are 1) the "house sound", if in fact a distinct one exists for the player, at least in some cases perhaps, and the player/DAC process and interaction in regards to jitter.
When you have spent so much effort getting the system to sound good, it is a real let down when your main interaction with it is clunky, slow or unstable due to the playback software.That's the crux of the computer audio issue for me, and it overshadows any subtleties in the sound of the software. The playback system first has to work: smoothly and flawlessly. Only then can one's attention focus on the fine details of the sound itself, and IMO computer audio front ends have a long way to go before they work properly.
to be honest I have had no real issues until now. The continuous updates sometimes cause as many issues as they solve. Aside from this new issue in Amarra I could not be happier. I know others had had other differing issues.
The convenience of having every record I own, at all sorts of high resolution at the touch or slide of a finger out weighs any of the problems so far. I could never go back to a CDP or any format that means one album or side at a time.
As a result I listen to a much wider selection of my music collection than I ever did. That alone as a music lover is worth any hassle. Once these bugs are sorted which in theory could be any day now, that will be it.
The sound quality is up there with anything I have heard or owned. And I have owned a few gems along the way... I would not underestimate it.
make sure that hair shirt doesnt fit too well. I guess it is like any other format or equipment set up. There is a certain amount of investment in time and effort before you can yield great things.
As a fellow contrarian in many aspects of my life, there does come a point when you just have to say if you cant beat them join them.
The joy of controlling all your music via an ipad or iphone with full artwork and track information right at your finger tips is a fiendishly tempting prospect even for the most bloody minded of audiophile! With the right gear the sound is sublime, so no excuse there. OK there is a little teething now and again.
Come join the party... When I say party I mean watch me reboot. The blasted thing froze. But with the super fast SSHD it will only take 2 seconds! I couldnt walk to the CD rack as fast. Let alone choose one.
I own both a computer front end and a CD player. It's not as though I refuse to join the party. I use a MacBook Pro or an iPod Touch (same as an iPhone without the phone) to control the MacMini music server, so my opinion is based on experience with both.
I prefer the CD player to the computer. Less hassle. Fewer hours spent troubleshooting. Simple as that.
Ironically, 90% of my listening is provided by a Logitech Transporter wirelessly streaming RadioParadise.com or Pandora.
Updating my previous post: the current version of PM (1.74) is much less glitchy than the initial release (as were the last several versions); the main thing I notice is that it sticks and I have to close and reopen if it's been idle for a while. I've always enjoyed the sound, and I now have about as few functional issues as other programs I use (MS word, anyone?).
FWIW, I find the many comments about what a hassle computer audio is a bit mystifying. I'm not tech savvy at all, and while I've not invested the time needed to push the envelope like people such as Steve, I've invested very little time in troubleshooting my MACbook/PM/Lacie/Perfectwave set up.
Likewise, I have the PM 1.74 and find it easy to use - even for me. I have not experienced the glitches that some have mentioned above. Love the sound and the fact that it tied in seamlessly with the iTunes library, artwork, etc. no disruptions there at all. I wouldn't go back.
Like Jdoris I am no computer guru by any stretch but have managed the learning curve and much prefer the Mac approach to music vs. the CDP. Interesting thread.
I am very much a computer illiterate. However, I've managed to be using a computer based system as my primary source for going on 4 years now. It's not like it's without its hassles. There are occasional problems. But I find that Google works wonders. I just type in whatever problem I'm having (e.g. iTunes can't find my music library) and there is a whole world of trouble shooting forums that has invariably been able to rescue me. I admit that I have a gnawing fear that something catastrophic will happen that causes me to loose my entire music library (in spite of dutiful backup procedures). But can put that anxiety aside when I listen to the results. BTW, have only heard PM on my system, and it's quite a sonic improvement over iTunes. I agree with other comments that the interface is dorky.
Hello, I have tried both programs in my system (Eastern Electric MiniMax Plus DAC and Paradigm S1 V.3 monitor speakers)and prefer the sound of Amarra over Pure Music. I hear more depth, transparency and better highs from Amarra. Amarra has some of the same code as in the professional mastering program Soundblade, a program widely used in the pro audio community. Also, I like the look of Amarra's interface a lot better than PM. The PM interface looks crude by comparison-a retro 1980s, early PC interface look.
Before making a final choice I listened to both Amarra and PM on my friends system, which consists of Vandersteen 5a speakers, ARC power and a Rega DAC which recently replaced the EE Minimax Plus DAC.
Using either interface was easy, so I don't really see an issue there. But PM had a small edge in soundstage depth and width. From top to bottom we could hear very little difference in sonic character, if any. Glare was not an issue and both did very well with creating a sense of space around instruments. Since my Merlin speakers are great at imaging and soundstage I went with PM and couldn't be happier.
I think people should try both. It is likely that this is more a matter of synergy and taste than one being clearly "better" than the other. They're pretty darn close!
Maybe the question of system matching is coming into play here with Pure Music and Amarra as other posters stated they prefered one of these computer programs over the other. I certainly don't consider hearing both PM and Amarra through Vandersteen 5a to be the ultimate test of the two programs--despite Vandersteen's strong virtues these speakers lack state of the art drivers.
I took another listen to both Pure Music and Amarra as I own both and I can confirm there definately is an audible difference on my system (EE MiniMax Plus DAC and Paradigm Signature S1 V.3)between these two FLAC player programs. Amarra sounds richer, warmer and more satisfying with Pure Music sounding leaner, especially in the high frequencies.
Bbopman - The only thing that can change sound, if digital file is the same, is jitter (it was verified by Stereophile that Airport Express transmission is bit-perfect).
Music stored on the hard drive has not timing. Music is transferred to AE compressed (ALAC) in packets and buffered (few seconds buffer). Timinig is created by AE. I cannot imagine how playback program could change sound with wireless AE unless CD was ripped differently (Itunes does not rip bit-perfect).
I have purchased decibel, pure music and amarra over 1 year.
I was very skeptical about Amarra since it is expensive and I was not sure
It will make that much difference. A few days ago, since Amarra has special sale I downloaded and tried it. (mini version).
I have to say "Wow Wow". It gives a lot more deeper and wider soundstage and high is REALLY smooth and has more air. IMO pure music has slightly tighter base but has glare at high to compare with Amarra and decibel is as smooth as Amarra but it has less definitive image and sound stage shrink a little bit to compre with puremusic. Amarra make the music much more enjoyable for much longer time. I still do not like their license limitation and price but I purchased Amarra mini without hesitation at this time at $195.
The sonic difference is not subtle. It is big diffeence IMO!
There's also BitPerfect, which is downloadable for the Mac from Apple's App Store. $5. It's the most minimalist of all of these and works behind the scenes very reliably as you use iTunes to control your music. Switches between sample rates (an essential reason to have one of these players being discussed, since iTunes won't do this properly), supports integer mode capable DACs, and offers choices around upsampling (or not).