Saturday, 28 January 2012

Software Players and some further thoughts

I finally had a chance to try out some Mac software to improve the playback experience. In my quick test and review, I had the chance to use Pure Music, Audirvana and Decibel. The setup was my EM4 connected to the Calyx Coffee which was USB connected to MBP. All files were 16/44.1 Apple Lossless, ripped from CD via MAX, and a two tracks from HD Tracks in 24/96 FLAC files.

Very quick impressions of each so far, using the same 6 or so tracks. Decibel has a very laid back, flat sound. To my ears, using this combination was a tad boring, I also had some initial problems getting sound out of it, and after changing a few options, got it to work. Pure Music was a lot better in this regards. But overall, I found this setup to work really well with Audirvana. It was powerful, dynamic and engaging. I kept wanting to switch back to this player after listening to the others. This must be a good sign. This was a very quick review of all three software; and I really wanted to like Pure Music. But it didn't seem like a huge step up from iTunes itself; and I found the interface not to my liking. Although it is very powerful; the set of features that I would use will be limited.

Amarra is something to test next, as I just downloaded the 15 day Mini demo. Not sure when I will get another chance to have some dedicated listening, but I hope it will be in the next week, before all the other demo licenses wear off.

I also had the chance to do a direct comparison between 16/44.1 and 24/96 using one track, REM's Losing My Religion. The first basic impression was that the 96 had more detail and definition to the sounds and instruments. More dynamics and separation, which must be a good thing, cause I found the 44.1 very flat after listening to the higher res version. At lower levels, the differences were as pronounced, but as you cranked up the volume, the differences became more audible. I ask myself whether this would affect the overall enjoyment? Probably not. But then when you are not just listening for enjoyment and relaxation; and more about review, examination and appreciation; I think the differences would be worthwhile. I also found that the sound stage was a little larger with the 96 version. The 44.1 was well inside my head between the ears, and the 96 was more wider, and more around the ears, rather than between.

Anyway, more to come late, and I hope to put some photos of the current setup...

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