Mach2Music mini and Amarra : Huge disappointment

I invite all the fellow Audiogon members than own both the Mach2Music Mini and Amarra to share they experiences.

Mine has been a huge disappointment .

The sound I get from the Mach2Music mini even with the advantage of playing Hi-Res files is mediocre at best and way inferior to the sound of a common CD.
Mach2Music tech support after checking that every setting is correct and everything is as it should dropped the ball. They blame the mediocre sound I'm complaining about on Amarra newer version of software they say more stable but sounding not so great.......

To me It doesn't add up. When there are problems the old music start playing: It's someone else fault. May be it's just that the Mach2Music mini is not so great as some say to start with.......

After spending over $4000 on the Mach2Music web site purchasing all the best available upgrades to possibly get the best possible sound from this computer based system, including their top of the line cables (power, USB, Firewire) an optional solid state SSD hard drive besides their special sandwich case to reduce vibrations and the expensive software Amarra, I get instead the sound you would from a cassette least that's how it sounds to me in my audio system....

My audio system as you read below is of high quality and well balanced where everything from acoustic treatment to power treatment has been closely matched starting from a dedicated room 20x24x9H fully treated with massive use of acoustic diffusers Gikq7 and bass traps Soffits and Tritraps by GikAcoustics.

Audio components connected to the Mach2music mini are:

DAC : dCS Debussy 24/192
Pre: BAT VK52SE upgraded with 6H30DR supertubes Reflector 1987.
Amp: 2x BAT VK600SE Mono
Transport ; Oppo 95
Speakers ; Magnepan 20.1
Speaker cables : MIT Oracle Matrix HD90
Interconnect : MIT Oracle Matrix XLR
Power: 2x Torus RM20 (one x each amp on two dedicated 20 amp circuits)
Power cords all MIT Oracle ZIII
Audio rack Adona Zero reference
All internal and external stock fuses replaced with HiFi Tuning Supreme.

I rarely write on the forum but this is too big of a screw up to pass and I hope to save to somebody the frustration I went thru.

Besides if some of you has a very positive experience with other computer based systems please share . Help is always appreciated.

I hear good things about Solos by Meridian or the USB Thumb reader by Bryston and I'll probably move on one of the two.... life continues......

so if you'll see my Mach2mini for sale on Audiogon in the near future you already know why..............................
Sorry to hear of your misfortune. You have obvioulsy paid great attention to achieving quality sound reproduction. Unfortunately the audio enthusiast landscape is littered with disappointments in the sound of otherwise quality components and systems. It's all about synergy and matching. I have read great things about the Mach2Music Mini. Something is amiss. I wish you well in discovering what the matter is. I have only recently entered the computer audio world so I can't offer any advice, but I will watch this thread with interest.
Mach2music is not at fault here. Not fair to blame them. The latest Amarra is unfortunately not great sounding, just like Mach2 claims. You should backtrack and install the previous version, 2.2.3. Ask Mach2 how to uninstall properly and install the new version. This version enabled me to get best of show at RMAF in 2011. Version 1.2 got me best of show in 2010. I avoided the in-between versions 2.0-2.1 because they were not good. All Amarra back versions are usually available. BTW, Jon of Sonic Studio is aware of the Amarra SQ problem and is working on a fix for a newer Amarra version that is forthcoming.

If you have no patience for that, then just install Pure Music.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Not being part of the Mac world, all I can do is suggest that you try posting on Beyond that, I can tell you that my MediaMonkey/MusicVaultII server/Modwright Transporter easily beats my NAD 6300 cassette recorder. In fact, I am continually surprised at home good even the standard quality Pandora stream sounds.
I have a Mach2mini, it's almost as good as my cd player,
Their customer service leaves a lot to be desired
Good Luck with whatever direction you take
Getting 'Best of Show' recognition in a hotel hifi exhibition is like CNET saying your smartphone has the best screen for watching movies on a handset. So what?

If you're not getting good sound out of a dCS Debussy DAC, you have a serious problem upriver. Running old software shouldn't be the answer. Who allows audio quality to degrade in newer versions of software when they're in the music playback business? I agree, try Pure Music. Or forget it for now and pony up for a 47 Labs non-oversampling CD player.

What doesn't add up is that if M2M shipped the server with Amarra installed, then they have responsibility as the integrator for including something they admit knowing does not sound great in the iteration they chose to ship. The software & systems fingerpointing is leaking into hifi. No chance we'll regret that....

I come from software & computing, professionally. We're ten years into computer audio and it's still a pathetic cluster****.

I've got the mini with a QB-9 dac and love it. Be careful what you wish for with hi-rez files. I've downloaded many many 192 kHz files and most suck. The hi-rez game has been something similar to a scam IMHO, at least from some companies.
I couldn't agree more with 213Cobra. I would have steam coming from my ears too if I had invested as much as you in my playback system. I think too many people have jumped in way too early for a technology that is still far from maturing. But hey you knew that going in. Someone has to help pay for the R&D, right?

Try to get the Amarra 2.2.3 version up and running at let us know how that sounds.
I can certainly understand your frustration however my
experience has been quite the opposite. I too own a
Mach 2 modified 2011 mac mini which in my case is connected
to a Playback Designs mps-5 with USB-x. This setup wil play all formats as well as DSD files. Puremusic 1.85
software has been working very well and to my ears sounds
very good. Some of the music that sounds exceptional:
Monty Alexander-Calypso Blues 24/192
Ornette Coleman-Change of the Century 24/192
CCR-Chronicle 20 greastest hits 24/96
Duke Ellington- Ellington '65 24-192

Try the Puremusic software. Its a free trial.
Best of luck!
I'm curious about how many hours the OP has on the power cords. I just have a straight 2010 Mini and recently upgraded the power cord to one that Mach2Music sells. The break-in was erratic. It took a good 80 hours to settle down. The end result is pretty remarkable. Love what I'm hearing.

Also, unfortunately, my experience with high-res files is similar to that of Bjesien's. I only have about 6 albums worth. But they're at best average.

Does M2M have the Mini set up so that the default is for it to boot up into 64 bit mode? That makes a very significant improvement in my setup.
Mach2Music and Amarra: Huge disappointment. Just remember,
" Eventually all new Music will only be available via
Downloads". In other words there won't be any CD to fall
back on no matter how "Disappointed" anyone is with
Computer Audio Downloads. Computer Audio is a Format that is stuck in the rut from improvement due to the fanatism of those who over zealously protect it. It is this attitude that prevents any honest criticism, and any real desire to improve it. They make it a dead end Format. Ten years to work out the bugs, and still you get nothing; but, excuses! It is a Format whose obsessive followers have elevated it to, "Perfect Sound Forever" status! How dare anyone touch, or honesly criticise the "Precious" Computer Audio Download Format! We are supposed to train ourselves to be oblivious to its warts. For added incentive towards that goal, pull alternative Formats like SACD/ DVD Audio/ and CD. Paint the Masses into a corner by simply cutting off their options. Read that first message again, clearly it is an Ultimatum. A declaration of War on any competing Format! It is certainly NOT a joke! You WILL listen to Computer Audio Downloads only, because we are going to make sure that your favorite Music isn't available on anything else- like it or not! Get use to it- NOT!!!
Pettyofficer, I don't want to get you riled up but there is more good music available on cd and lp right now than you could listen to in your lifetime, if you are willing to keep an open mind and explore different genres. This music will be availble on the auction sites for many years to come, maybe even at very low prices.

Eventually they will get the bugs and record company issues worked out of music server systems and another deluge of music will become available.

You really should let this one go and spend the time you devote to this issue finding new music and enjoying the music you already have. The clock is running.

It's called market forces. Why on earth would anyone want to carry records, tapes, CDs etc anymore? The freedom to have your music with you where ever you go is wonderful.

Any sonic issues are only about the choice of equipment. The file format has no sound. It is the the master. Not a version of the master tape.
213 cobra,
"We`re ten years into computer audio and it`s still a pathetic cluster"


"I`ve downloaded many many 192kHz files and most suck"
Both of you have spoken for many experienced listers.
Both of you have spoken for many experienced listers.

And of course, many experienced listeners disagree. Lots of folks, myself included, have gotten sound they like a lot from computer front end with tolerable amounts of hassle (and much more convenience than any other format once up and running).

As to getting best of show in a "hotel hi fi" exhibition, I expect Steve's point was not that he and his co-exhibitors got the best possible sound, but that they got better sound than people taking other approaches in comparable conditions (at the same hotel), including people using hi end analog front ends. (Though on my hearing, I'd not mind getting that sound everyday!) Seems like a valid comparison to me; certainly as valid as comparing experiences in wildly different listening rooms (as is done all the time here).
You havent mentioned anything about burn-in or did I miss that?Perhaps theres a remedy somewhere,good luck,B
No arguement from me, my point is it`s just another alternative pathway to build a system. I believe computer audio runs the gamut from bad to excellent just as any other front end choice and people will have varying degrees of satisfaction( just like other formats).

I don`t feel this format(at this stage) is inherently superior to a well setup CD or analog system,but just offers another choice(choice is good). i`m extremely happy with my current CD front end and I`m certain you are with your computer based system.At this point in time I don`t find a compelling reason to change, that`s all.
I've heard hard disk and SSD-based systems that sound fine, but system complexity was inappropriate for domestic conditions, especially for conveniently ripping a large CD collection. Also, the discrete componentization introduces inter-box variables even more vexing than the analog variables of interconnects, power cords, etc. And computer power supplies, fans, disk noise, etc. are intrusions where they shouldn't be. Not to say there aren't some computer audio configurations that don't address some, most or all of these concerns, but the system complexity just for a source remains a dog's breakfast of gear.

On the other hand, the Olive 06HD appears on first glance to be an ideal solution for slipping computer audio into a domestic hi-fi along with other 17" wide source and control components. Ideal, that is, until you find that Olive uses a proprietary data model for storage, that cannot be readily used by other "industry standards" like iTunes-based retrieval.

Then we have multiple garage shop integrations of Linux OS servers requiring network integration and browser control. Bryston threw up their hands and came up with the strange offering of a dedicated computer to stream files from USB devices directly attached to it for output to a DAC. Can it sound good? Sure. Is it useful in a multi-system household? No. Not unless you're moving to yet another physical carrier -- USB drives. Early adopters and kids who are young enough to not have amassed a physical media library can build fresh libraries of downloads -- if they don't mind not having full-resolution audio files for most of their music. But the great middle of the market has CD libraries that have to be ripped. An Apple Mini no longer includes an optical drive, so add yet another box. Some ripping and music management software goes backward in sound quality, version to version. We get software within software or on top of software to get sound in the ballpark of musicality. Every ripping solution is replete with data errors in album art and notes. Yeah, right....I'm going to find time to comb through the data of 3000+ ripped CDs to edit errors. NAS, backups, wifi foibles. Where's plug'n'play?

I haven't actually seen it be more convenient to find and play music from a large collection stored and managed via computer audio, than organizing physical media for retrieval. Small collections, sure. But I have over 3000 CDs to rip, and will surely acquire more. Every large collection I've seen ripped to hard disk is made no easier to retrieve through existing data management playback applications, like iTunes. I tend to listen to albums anyway, not playlists nor single tracks.

In most digital technologies I have a long history of being an early adopter, but not in this realm of computer audio. It's impractical, intrusive, glitchy and woefully inefficient to make the transition. Most solutions are inelegant and poorly integrated, and the options that are elegant integrations all fail in at least one or two vital characteristics. Circa 2004, I accepted the chaos. In 2012, no. Given the rate of change in everything else digital, the pace of computer audio evolution is unacceptable. Application UX/UI is ill-conceived and often awful in execution. Noise and the scatter of boxes are disruptive. Surgery to turn off features in a generic computer's OS is arcane. Yeah, I could hack through it. But why? Technology glitches force an IT mentality into a leisure activity. No, no, no,!

Productize, somebody, please. Apple, which is easily in a position to make a consumer-grade one-box media server has refused so far to integrate above the iPod/iPhone level. Fine, when can I have a 3TB iPod Touch or iPad? I witnessed someone at an Apple store's Genius Bar asking how to assemble a computer audio system around a Mac mini. She walked away shaking her head. It's a small market that wants NAS + computer + network + digital player + DAC to play music at home.

If you are a hardcore audiophile with a truly high quality system, especially tube centered, then I suspect any hard drive system will be a disappointment. In the same way that the Benchmark DAC is not an audiophile type component, computer hard drives systems are not audiophile grade. Unless you wrestle one to the ground and beat it half to death, a hard drive system won't be musical, sweet, airy, or possess any other audiophile desired flavors. It will just report what is stored on the hard drive and many people won't like this non-editorialized sound.

Don't get me wrong, I am a avid hard drive music user, but their primary advantage is in how they allow you to access you music collection. If you're a music lover with a sizable collection a hard drive system will allow you to readily listen to a much larger proportion of your music collection than otherwise. For me that makes the subtle differences in sound quality irrelevant. Others can disagree.
I have put together a great system built around the PS Audio PWT, PWD, and Bridge now at MK II status. At times it has been a frustrating experience. As an early adopter of this system I've taken a crash course in all manner of new vocabulary and learned many new skills. It has been a fun time. Now to the sound quality.
The sound of the PWT and PWD mk ii together via the I2S HDMI rivals some of the best out there. Is this the best available? I don't know as I've not heard all the contenders.
The sound of Bridge with PWD MK II Is very close to the thound of the PWT and PWD. And with all the advantages that a server based system brings. Being able to play all my music using my iPad is really a great experience. Yes it was a pain to rip all my CDs , but once this is done and a backup system is implemented it is easy to maintain and add new material.
The convenience and fun of accessing all my music more than compensates the very slight decrease in fidelity and with each update PS Audio closes the gap between PWT and Bridge.
As for HD content, the quality of the sound is much more dependent on the skill of the producer of the album or CD than the format. One cannot manufacture a silk purse from a sow's ear. This has been a weakness of analog and vinyl as well as digital. It is not the format of the music that is to blame but the skills, experience, and desires of the artist, recording producer, label. It is not the format that causes sucky recordings.
So in a word, yes, it is possible for server based systems to sound excellent and if one is ready to embrace something new and spend the same amount of time tweaking your system as you would tweaking a hi definition analog rig one can have a server based system that can easily be compared to the very best in analog/vinyl and the best of the digital world of transports and DACs.
I think a lot of you guys need to buy better gear. If you feel a good hard drive based system sounds worse than any other makes wonder about the sanity of many audiophiles here.

I understand that some systems sound better than others. In that case you need to find/ choose a better performing set up.

If you listen to music made in the last 10 years or so, it is highly likely it was recorded on such systems in the 1st place. It's only a file (wav/Aiff) being played back. Get yourself one of the better Weiss FW DACs. The only disappointment will be the emptiness of the bank account. But sonics will be fine. Use decent cables & keep the computer power isolated from the rest of the system.
I'm always a little surprised to hear 'goners lamenting the complexity of computer-based audio, given that so much of what goes on around here *celebrates* complexity.

Sgr's got a statement computer based system, which I've enjoyed many times. It's complex, and he puts the hours in. But that was true *before* he went to CBA, just as for the many tri-amping, room treating, active cross-overing, subwoofing, analog-tinkering hobbyists around here. They *already* have an IT problem, and it sure looks like it brings them a lot of pleasure.

I work in front of a computer all day, but I'm a complete klutz, who hasn't memorized a single shortcut key. At this point, I don't want complexity in my music playback, and I don't have it: hard drive --> MAC/Pure Music --> DAC --> integrated --> speakers. I'm guessing that puts me on the low end of complexity around here.

Do I have the occasional IT hassle? Yes. Does this mean I spend a lot of time tinkering with my rig. No? And while I can't speak to convenienvce for a 3k CD collection, I certainly have better access to my 700 CD collection than I did with hard media. And personally, I found it fun to do the ripping. If I didn't, I'd find a kid to do it for 25-50 cents a pop, and spend a lot less than people spend on an interconnect.

How does it sound? Not as good as Sgr's big rig, as one would expect, given the investment. But to my ears, better than a lot I've heard, and miles better than the pretty ambitious CDP I replaced. (I agree with CHarles1dad that CBA is not inherently superior on sonics, but I do wonder what the people who think CBA can't compete sonically have listened to.)

No doubt, from the perspective of an IT professional, the SOTA for CBA is pretty kludgy, given what's technically possible. But that doesn't mean that the end user can't have something pretty lean and easy if that is what they desire (unlike a lot of audiophiles).



I pretty much agree with you. But the most important factor which you have not probably experienced yet is via a computer set up, especially if controlled via an iPad, brings a whole different aspect to your listening sessions.

With the best will in the world, with a CD player one seems to revolve around a certain amount of disks. The ones at the front of the pile usually!

With a server based system I have found I listen to music I forgot I had or just never got around to listening to.

The upshot is I listen to way more music. If I am not mistaken this is the whole point of Audiophilia. The gear should facilitate music listening. Not the other way around. With care the sonics are of the finest order too.

Yes it's a drag to import everything. It took me years. But it's done. Now I just enjoy with full artwork & information. I cannot imagine going back. It would be like watching TV without a remote control. Not flicking to see what else is on.

When we have listening sessions we pass the pad around for people to choose the next track or album. It is a wonderful way to enjoy music.
It seems you have a well organized and efficient CBA system that for certain soumds wonderful. I have nearly 1,000 CDs arranged alphabetically on the wall behind my listening position. It takes all of 20 seconds to walk to the rack(only 5 feet behind my couch) and select 1 or a few CDs to play. Very convenient and straight forward.

Again I have`nt any negative thoughts toward CBA at all, to me it`s simply a viable alternative,not'better' nor 'worse'.
My experience has been fantastic. I'm running latest amarra with 2011 Mac2music mini to Puccini Uclock/Soulution/Magico and it is appreciably more resolving then Puccini stand alone. Deeper, tighter bass and wider soundstage. The upgrade was necessary as without it, songs would begin 2-3 seconds late which does not work.... All in all, I'm very pleased with the performance. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Try a Bryston BDP-1. Simple and straightforward, and the sound is breathtaking. I abhor computer audio because of its unnecessary complexity and lack of reliability, but have found this to be the perfect solution.

And yet the excuses keep on coming. All of this to keep
Computer Audio in the same rut it has been for last ten years. Now we are going to shoot for another ten. Why
wont anyone take Computer Audio criticizm seriously, and
correct the problems? We criticized Cassette, 8-Track,
Record, CD, SACD, and even attempted some improvement on these. We dismissed the "Perfect Sound Forever" for any
Format. Why must Computer Audio be the exception, whose
warts and unreliability remain cryogenically frozen in time? Why is everyone so terrified of better sounding
Computer Audio? Why must everyone be forced to accept
mediocrate? What to you is an Audiophile? Someone who strives for mediocratic Sound Quality for the sake of
convenience- Really? How far down must we go? Is there
a basement here somewhere that we can hit rock bottom-
or not? Who is making all of the profit from ONLY having
to produce mediocratic Sound Quality at EVERYONE ELSE'S
expense? This is a slippery slope to MP3 taking over all
New Music, because THAT is were all of the Profits are at!
You have proven that already, there is no changing anyone's
mind now! Profit/Convenience talks, and Sound Quality walks! High Rez. is a goner, because it is not as CONVENIENT to produce as lower than CD quality MP3. You want convenience, allow Record Companies to have some convenient MP3 profit at your High Rez. expense. See how you conveniently like that!!! You are steering them in the right direction- don't stop now! Maybe you could offer them
a little more money to produce something less than MP3, Don't let anyone stop you!!!
Hi Charlesdad,

I don't wish to labor the point, but as soon as you have
an iPad as your controller for your library you will find getting up to flick through CDs crude & slow. No matter how well organised you may be.

It's just one of those things. Once you start, you will suddenly realize what
a hassle/inconvenience CDs are. Something like going back to flipping
over a record to listen to side 2 after having CDs. Let alone being able to listen to the whole album or flick through to find favourite tracks from your chair. Now you can cross reference artists, search directly for songs,artists albums, set up play lists. I have started to labor the point... Sorry!

It's such a wonderful way to enjoy your music collection. I guarantee you will be doing it. It's just a matter of when?

I had many thousands of CDs & it took dedication to find high quality artwork & clearing up the odd glitch in the listings. iTunes is a bit better now
but at the time it could do the odd strange thing. It's better now. Once you start the sooner it will be done.

I think you are wrong. The file type is irrelevant. MP3s are a tired format now. It costs no more or less to have 1 file type over another unless size is an issue. Theses days memory is cheap so not a big deal.

As for the gear it's self, one will always be better than another. But on the whole they are not bad. If you want SOTA, as always you will be entering
expensive specialist ground. But nowhere near the 30k cd players of old.

You should try the headphone output on the iPad. I have had specialist headphone amps that cost more than the iPad & had nowhere near the quality, let alone all the functionality. It is all moving in the right direction.

You watch with the down turn in the world economy how it shakes out. It will have to become good & cheap, otherwise no one will be interested.

Stop "contributing".

Just wanted to share an excellent 24/98 download
from iTrax. Laurence Juber's "Guitar Noir" (13 tracks) is
wonderfully textured and sonically really well done.
+1 on Sgr's comments. have had a chance to listen to many computer based systems and nothing i've heard bests streaming with the PWD II and the bridge. redbook sounds great and hi-res is truly a mind bender. incredible in all respects and comes VERY close to duplicating the sound my PWT can produce (PWD MKII upgrade really took it up a notch).

it was alot of work. between the many settings, glitches and firmware was also frustrating at times. learned more about computers in the last year then i have the previous 20 years. if you're willing to jump in with both feet (time and money), pc audio is definitely getting there if not there already imho.

As you may know from previous posts, for the most part I share your disdain for computer audio. But the compromise I found was the Bryston BDP-1. I had all this music on my computer already for my iPod, so it was a simple matter of backing it up on a HDD, plugging the HDD into the BDP-1, connecting the DAC and off you go. Pretty much the same as a transport to a DAC, except instead of CD's you have a HDD containing all the CD's. Works for me and the sound is astonishingly good.

The bridge is very good, but have you read this:

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Steve: yes...i've read it and posted in it several times. is there something specific you'd like to point out?

i do have the mk2 upgrade.
I have a few hunderd hours on the MKII board and it is absolutely amazing. I would not be surprised if it creams the DCS, but only a proper shootout will tell. If the turn-key PS audio silent server delivers the goods, in theory you should have a plug and play computer based system, without the head-aches of doing your own integration. Reality is, this is an ongoing R&D project, which will have some frustrating bumps in the road.
I'll email you.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
As everyone knows, I am a Critic of Computer Audio. I know
it may seem that I want Computer Audio to fail, actually I
want Computer Audio to succeed. CD is failing, it could never stand up to Analog despite being more Convenient-
still having mediocre sound. Those that complained about
it's Sound Quality were quickly dismissed. The Market decided on the convenience and mediocre Sound Quality of CD. Now CD is a failure, and on its way out. This marketing
strategy did not succeed in the long run. Why do we want to
repeat this History with Computer Audio, going down the same road sacrificing Sound Quality for Convenience?
People, we are just going to end up exactly where we
started from- just going in circles. You want to break the
cycle, demand better Sound Quality from Computer Audio.
You deserve it, and Computer Audio might be around just a little bit longer than CD. Accept the mediocre Sound Quality of Computer Audio, and you will end up just putting another nail in it's coffin- CD all over again!
Learn from History, instead of just endlessly repeating it!
Mediocracy is the death knell of any Format, no matter how
immediately exciting it's convenience may be at first appeal. The End is never the less the End, unless you take steps to avoid it!
I have considered the Mini not more expensive Mach2Music machine. I had a laptop and several dacs before which I sold.

I want to get back into computer audio but it's hard to know what to do. It's confusing trying to figure what to buy to get the quality of sound that betters a quality cd player. And I sure don't want to spend 3k on a failed experiment.

I'd like to see a few manuf put together computer audio packages that reproduce quality sound streaming from the net or high rez or lower rez- and not cost so much money. I figure $3k for everything ought to get anyone there.
Steve: i never did get your email. can demand what ever you want. best of luck with that. my pc based system sounds outstanding and i enjoy it greatly. love the sound my transport produces as well. thanks for your concern but i'm fine and in a happy place =).
I will be receiving the CAPS 2.0 as a music server tomorrow ($1,400). I have a HiFace EVO with Bolder powersupply USB converter. No basis to compare to Mach2Music - my baseline performance is streamed I2S through the PS Audio bridge. If I continue down this path I may get an offramp 5 USB converter.
Foster9, I think you will just have to be patient a while longer unless you're computer inclined. Server based audio still needs time to develop.

I've been hearing that hi res downloads are almost here since the late 90s and they are still almost here. We are a lot closer now but still not there. Cd sound is steadily improving and SACDs are seeing some reissue action.

We'll know when servers are ready. Until then, there is a lot of music available on disc to enjoy.
Foster_9 and Tomcy6 - I used to have the same belief and attitude about computer audio but my visit to the most recent RMAF really highlighted the format's potential. My current system (optimized mac mini into Wavelength Cosecant) easily outperforms my previous more expensive disc spinner (Ayre C5xeMP) - it's shocking, really.

I'm primarily a vinyl listener - this is honestly the first digital system I've had (including SACD played back on the Ayre) that satisfies me.
Levy03: Just want one of two things. Either Computer Audio
follow the non-CD path of Sound Quality over convenience
( And not end up with a really short life span like outgoing CD Format ), or just point me in the right direction for replacement Format for Computer Audio. Don't
waste my time, money, and effort on Computer Audio ( Tens
of thousands of $$$ on audio Equipment ) just to have it
go flat ( Like CD ) due to lack of Sound Quality. Tired of going in circles, aren't you? Convenience over Sound Quality, what is different between CD and Computer Audio?
Hi Hfisher, I'm not saying that computer audio doesn't sound good, there are plenty of people raving about it. It's just that when I start looking into it, it gets complicated and buggy fast. Also, my stereo is not close to my router. Is that a problem?

What kind of Mac mini do you have, how do you control it and how hard was it to set it all up? I've been spinning lps and cds for quite a while so I can continue to do that until music servers get real user friendly.
Tomcy6: Using a Mac Mini with 64gig SSD and 8 gigs ram. Altogether came in at under $1K. Using XLD or iTunes for ripping and Amara MINI for playback. In terms of optimization, not too difficult - lots of info out there on disabling what can be disabled in order to maximize processor speed. All music is stored on external thunderbolt drive although you could do it for cheaper on a firewire drive.

Running the Mini headless and controlling it with screen sharing from my macbook pro. Initial set-up required a dedicated screen so I plugged its HDMI out into my TV.

Any time computers are involved there will be considerable effort required. Pettyofficer mentioned the old convenience vs. sound quality conundrum and it applies here - to do computer audio right and at a reasonable budget requires considerable effort - it is most definitely NOT plug and play. But in the process I have learned a lot and have found it ultimately rewarding to have so much control over the proceedings. And I can tell you that the sound on some of the better recordings - both standard 16/44 and high resolution, is downright jaw dropping - the first digital front end I've had that actually CAN give my vinyl a run for its money (although my best records still sound quite a bit better!).

All I can say is that for a total bill of under $6K I have a great (dare I say "state of the art") digital front end capable of playing high resolution files. No way I could have accomplished this with an optical player!
"...a hard drive system won't be musical, sweet, airy, or possess any other audiophile desired flavors. It will just report what is stored on the hard drive and many people won't like this non-editorialized sound."

Onhwy61: Are you comparing music on a hard drive to cd or vinyl? I'm assuming vinyl. If not, please tell us how ones and zeros on a hard drive will sound inferior to ones and zeros on a cd.
Hfisher, It's good to hear another report of great sound quality on a server system. I'm sure it's especially satisfying when you put some hard work into acheiving it.

I am a lazy audiophile though. I am happy playing discs and although I'm sure my system produces well below SOTA sound, I still enjoy it. I will wait until some audio engineer comes up with a server system aimed at the less ambitious audiophile. Thanks for your replies and enjoy your music!
"It will just report what is stored on the hard drive and many people won't like this non-editorialized sound."

This is not the defect with most digital playback, and I mean both CD transports and Computer Audio. The real defect with both is simply jitter.

Once you deal with this properly, then computer audio can beat both CD transports and Vinyl. There is no way in hell that vinyl can achieve the dynamics possible with digital audio, even 44.1. Its physically impossible. The original digital samples should not be "editorialized" either, just played back with the lowest possible jitter.

I'm not saying that there are not poor computer audio systems and CD transports because there are, lots. But how many people need to post that their computer digital systems outperform their vinyl before your mind is opened?

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Audioengr: outperforming vinyl? My personal opinion is that by far the best sound I've heard has been the classic analogue jazz recordings from the 50's and 60's played back on state of the art analogue systems. As far as I'm concerned that was the golden age of audio recording and there have really been no advances in recording technology since then if one judges purely on sound quality. Furthermore, no digital transfer I have ever heard comes close to capturing the naturally detailed and organic sound of these works played back on a state of the art analogue system.

However, I do think that some of the more recent high quality recordings from the digital age can sound great on high end digital players - server and optical player alike.
My own experience with mach2music is actually excellent. Kevin Burke was very helpful in getting me up and running and the result is a very musical system. PureMusic is really very transparent and harmony-rich and via my Zodiac Gold + Voltikus I am amazed at the improvement over CD via AudioAero Capitole 24/192 SE, in both cases direct to my Wavac EC 300B. The amount of tweaking in computer audio still is an issue; for the record in my system I prefer memory play in hog-mode WITHOUT upsampling on less-is-more. switching off all I/O intensive OSX features such as screensaver, spotlight, etc. is important. Furthermore using a dedicated rather than shared USB bus is a must and linking the hard disks via firewire is preferable. All of this obviously goes beyond what a 30 min session, which mach2music offers can convey.