Mac Software for Audiophiles

xsmixsmi Posts: 1,417
edited January 2015 in Going Digital
I seem to remember a few threads asking about this kind of thing. I ran across it this morning. Maybe there should be a sticky at the top of this section for us to add information to when we get it.

http://mac360.com/2015/01/an-audio-player-for-mac-audiophiles/
2-channel
Yaqin MC-30L, Marantz SA8005, Denon DVD 3900, Sony C69ES CD Changer, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable, Pro-Ject Phono Box MM, Klipsch KG-4, Monster Cable throughout.

Comments

  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,717
    edited January 2015
    Decibel is pretty good, but is an overall replacement for iTunes and you really do lose a lot of functionality. Decibel does have some functionality missing in iTunes, like the ability to change the sample rate on the fly, but is overall more limited. I think that article is completely one sided and paints an unfair picture of iTunes, but that's another discussion.

    JRiver is also available for Mac and is a much more comprehensive replacement for iTunes, but doesn't sound quite as good as Decibel.

    The two best options out there in terms of sound quality IMO are Amarra and Audirvana Plus, followed very closely by Decibel and then there's a pretty big drop in sound when you get tho JRiver and iTunes default.

    The big advantage that Amarra and Audirvana Plus have is the ability to still use iTunes as the interface. They both have their own interface and can bypass iTunes if you want, but I actually like the way I've got everything set up in iTunes and how it integrates with the AirPlay gear around the house. Those both can use iTunes as the interface and just do the sound processing, which is the setup I use.
  • thsmiththsmith Posts: 6,092
    What he said. ^^^^

    I have been using Amarra for almost 4 years now, see no reason to change.

    Being able to use Airplay is a big benifit as well.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475

    The big advantage that Amarra and Audirvana Plus have is the ability to still use iTunes as the interface. They both have their own interface and can bypass iTunes if you want, but I actually like the way I've got everything set up in iTunes and how it integrates with the AirPlay gear around the house. Those both can use iTunes as the interface and just do the sound processing, which is the setup I use.

    is that the only reason (airplay capability) you use ITunes as the interface?

    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • VCoakVCoak Posts: 200
    I have been using JRivers 19 on my mac mini. At first it was a bit over whelming compared to iTunes. My mac mini runs 24/7 and jRivers has not once failed or need a reboot.

    As for sound I have not compared other software so no advice. Sound quality is good with my DAC [W4s DAC2 dsdse].
    W4S SX-1000, Adcom gfp-750, Polk 1.2tl, W4S DAC 2 DSDse, 2012 mac mini (mod), JRivers ver. 19, WD Cloud NAS 2 t.b., Monster Cable AVS-2000 signature, Doug's Alpha I/C & Doug's biwire 6' speaker cables
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,378
    I kinda dropped out of the computer High Rez thing just like I did with Super Audio and DVD Audio. IMO they just don't have enough content for me. Yeah I can get some cool stuff that I enjoy listening to but there is so much more I listen to that I can't. So much I'd rather have then what I have.

    Pure Music or Channel D is what I have been using for the last few years. As much and how cool it is , it sucks to. I have a iPhone that I put music on and I have to watch what I put on it as it doesn't play the high rez stuff. What Pure Music does is puts Book mark in a folder where you store all your high rez stuff. Then it puts the music into iTunes but it doesn't really live there like all the other stuff does. So IF you have a 16/44.1 cut of a Album and then a 24/192 of the same Album , they both show up in iTunes. You can play both of them through Pure Music but IF Pure music isn't running in the back ground , the 24 bit stuff won't play.

    This is the total reason I really like having a separate device as a player like the Sony HAP unit. I think this is the right thing for me anyway.


    I bata Tested J River and thought that was a very nice interface.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • thsmiththsmith Posts: 6,092
    footwedge wrote: »

    The big advantage that Amarra and Audirvana Plus have is the ability to still use iTunes as the interface. They both have their own interface and can bypass iTunes if you want, but I actually like the way I've got everything set up in iTunes and how it integrates with the AirPlay gear around the house. Those both can use iTunes as the interface and just do the sound processing, which is the setup I use.

    is that the only reason (airplay capability) you use ITunes as the interface?

    Your question is a personal preference one. For me I find iTunes as a GUI to work as well as anything and is easy to manuvier using my Ipad with a headless MM.

    I have 3 airplay devices around the house, outside as well and use my Iphone to stream to them using the MM.

    For me I just did not want to mess with Windows and all that goes with it.

    The Mac Mini was pretty much plug and play and Amarra gives me the audio quality I like, Airplay is just icing on the cake.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475
    thsmith wrote: »
    footwedge wrote: »

    The big advantage that Amarra and Audirvana Plus have is the ability to still use iTunes as the interface. They both have their own interface and can bypass iTunes if you want, but I actually like the way I've got everything set up in iTunes and how it integrates with the AirPlay gear around the house. Those both can use iTunes as the interface and just do the sound processing, which is the setup I use.

    is that the only reason (airplay capability) you use ITunes as the interface?

    Your question is a personal preference one. For me I find iTunes as a GUI to work as well as anything and is easy to manuvier using my Ipad with a headless MM.

    I have 3 airplay devices around the house, outside as well and use my Iphone to stream to them using the MM.

    For me I just did not want to mess with Windows and all that goes with it.

    The Mac Mini was pretty much plug and play and Amarra gives me the audio quality I like, Airplay is just icing on the cake.

    Thanks for the response. I'm really thinking hard about going digital and would love to have all my cds on an external hard drive then connected to my oppo for playback and visual library seated from my chair.

    I have yet to rip a cd but have been doing a lot reading. Probably to much since I seem to stay confused. So I've decided to take it one step at a time and researching for the best cd ripper software for a mac. Right now Amarra is the choice but I keep reading about dbpoweramp's ongoing beta test for a mac and want to see if it ever comes to fruition.

    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475
    I meant XLD ripping software. Told y'all I was confused.
    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,289
    Just to get your feet wet, rip a few cd's with ITunes.....you have ITunes right ? Then blast it over to the oppo.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • thsmiththsmith Posts: 6,092
    I use XLD to rip, no issues
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475
    tonyb wrote: »
    Just to get your feet wet, rip a few cd's with ITunes.....you have ITunes right ? Then blast it over to the oppo.

    Sounds like a good idea.

    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,289
    Just make sure you rip to lossless and not MP3.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,717
    footwedge wrote: »

    The big advantage that Amarra and Audirvana Plus have is the ability to still use iTunes as the interface. They both have their own interface and can bypass iTunes if you want, but I actually like the way I've got everything set up in iTunes and how it integrates with the AirPlay gear around the house. Those both can use iTunes as the interface and just do the sound processing, which is the setup I use.

    is that the only reason (airplay capability) you use ITunes as the interface?
    There are several reasons I use iTunes.

    The first is that Amarra produces the best sound of anything I've heard on a Mac or Windows PC. Amarra does have it's own library interface, but it's very limited and I doubt many people use it, I use the mode where it runs on top of iTunes. Amir produces a 'sweet' sound that I've yet to hear another program reproduce, it strikes that perfect balance between detail and musicality. At a purist level you could argue that I don't want my software doing anything at all to change the sound and that's a logical point, but apparently my ears aren't connected with the logical part of my brain because I like it. I'm not alone either, you will find complaints about Amarra online but they're all technical issues, I've yet to find anyone who isn't super impressed by the sound.

    The UI of iTunes is personal preference, I personally like it a lot and appreciate how clean it looks and how easy everything is to read. People are mixed on that aspect, and compared to something like JRiver you can't really deny that iTunes is limited in terms of customization and features. Every piece of software has its quirks and iTunes is no exception, but overall I prefer it over any other library program I've used in terms of layout and UI.

    I also like how easy it is to sync things like an iPhone or iPod. I don't sync music to my iPhone, but I do have several iPod Classics that I use and I love the fact that I can set up certain playlists to sync to those devices. I also like how I can set it up to either sync the full lossless file or transcode that to a compressed format on the fly as I sync, this means I don't have to manage two separate libraries (a lossless and a compressed format). And finally, I like how I can set all that up at an individual device level, so for the iPods in the car and for outdoors stuff I can sync one playlist or a set of playlists and have those converted down to MP3 so that I can carry more music, but on my high end headphone rig I can sync the same or a different playlist and keep the full lossless copy. Those features are standard in most tools including JRiver on the Mac, but they're integrated seamlessly in iTunes and just work better for me.

    I also use iTunes Match. I don't sync files directly from iTunes to my phone since I don't want to use the 64GB of storage for music, instead keeping that open for apps and photos/videos. iTunes Match allows me to upload/sync my personal music library to the cloud, and I am then able to play back those files on any Apple device. I can download albums from that online library to my phone, but I mostly just stream those directly from the cloud. iTunes Match is limited to 25,000 songs which is a bummer, but is ultimately something I can live with. Apparently things you've bought from iTunes do not count toward that limit.

    The last reason I use iTunes is because of the Apple TVs I have around the house, one in each room. Although I don't use the ATV for music much, I do use them for video and have a fairly large and growing collection of movies and TV shows (about 800 movies and 30 TV shows full series ripped down). So my iTunes library is as much about video content as it is about music.

    AirPlay is nice and I use it, but JRiver also has that functionality so that is not a factor in my choice of iTunes.

    I do all my tagging for audio and video files in iTunes now as well. I've previously used other utilities for that, but with a couple automator tasks and a few AppleScripts I've built and a couple downloaded from dougscripts I've been able to move all that over to iTunes AND gain a lot more control over how things get tagged. This is the best system I've used yet for managing tag info, it's the simplest and most comprehensive.

    I'n not wearing Apple blinders though, there are a few key disadvantages of iTunes:

    First, iTunes on the Windows platform is an abomination, or at least it has been historically. I haven't tried it in a few years, but hard to imagine they've come far enough with changes to make it an enjoyable experience on Windows. Steve Jobs once said that iTunes on Windows was like giving a glass of ice water to someone in hell, while that statement itself is funny I personally find it hilarious because it couldn't be further from the truth. That man clearly never used iTunes on a Windows machine.

    Second, by default the sound coming straight out of iTunes isn't that great, even in OS X. It's fine for most people but not for us audiophiles, there's a reason we have several options on the market specifically designed to improve the sound of iTunes. This one isn't a big deal because it is so easily corrected, and you don't have to spend big bucks either. The $5 BitPerfect app easily gets iTunes up to JRiver level of sound quality, beyond that you can spend as much as you want trying to squeeze out that last .1%.

    Finally, you have limited file type support in iTunes. Videos need to be in the MP4 container which isn't a big deal since that's pretty much standard. On the audio side, the lack of FLAC support is annoying, but more out of principle than anything else. It's ultimately not a deal breaker as I just rip everything to ALAC, and these days pretty much anything that plays one of those formats plays the other.

    The funny thing is that I've been using iTunes for several years now, and have never purchased a single item there, not even rented a movie or bought a single episode of a TV show.
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475
    Thanks AsSiMiLaTeD for the detailed and informative reply.

    Was not aware of ITunes Match and like the idea of using ITunes for library management. Will need to read up on the automater task, the necessary scripts and buy (IFS) the ones you built if I go that route. That's the problem- to many
    routes. Thinking I need to start will a small sampling, evaluate and then move forward.

    Since you rip to ALAC, I will assume you use iTunes for ripping or do you use something else? Do you use the Mac optical drive for ripping or is their a better outboard alternative?

    Any experience with dbpoweramp? I've been following a thread about a beta program for the Mac that now is schedule for a possible May release. Sorry haven't learned how to link on the ipad.

    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,717
    There's no need to buy any scripts, they're all out there to freely download. I don't use iTunes to rip my music, have always used dbPowerAmp and don't really have a reason to change at the moment since it has produced excellent results. I run a Windows VM on the Mac for work purposes, so I just installed dbPowerAmp there, have not tried the Mac version and don't plan to in the near future. I probably won't try iTunes for ripping, if I wanted a program on the Mac I'd go with a single purpose tool like dbPowerAmp or XLD.

    I do use iTunes to manage the tags though, that's where some of the scripts come in handy especially with a large library. So I rip to ALAC, load into iTunes and then do the tagging.

    The optical drive in a Mac runs fine for ripping CDs and DVDs both, no issues there.

    I'm thinking I may put together a couple guides specific to each OS on how to rip and organize media, when I do I'll post a link here.
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475
    Thanks again. Looking forward to the guide.
    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,289
    Speaking from a simple standpoint and to not confuse you. Try just using ITunes for it all. Throw a cd in the computer with ITunes open, set it to rip in apple lossless with error correction on, that is all you need to do to get your feet wet.

    If your Oppo is set up for wifi to your computer, you have the OPPO in your wifi network, you should be able to shoot it over easy as pie.

    For someone first getting into streaming, this is the easiest route. There are many other ways, other programs, etc. Try this with a couple cd's first and see how you like it.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475
    tonyb wrote: »
    Speaking from a simple standpoint and to not confuse you. Try just using ITunes for it all. Throw a cd in the computer with ITunes open, set it to rip in apple lossless with error correction on, that is all you need to do to get your feet wet.

    If your Oppo is set up for wifi to your computer, you have the OPPO in your wifi network, you should be able to shoot it over easy as pie.

    For someone first getting into streaming, this is the easiest route. There are many other ways, other programs, etc. Try this with a couple cd's first and see how you like it.

    That is the plan. A small sampling of various programs for comparison. And, yes I might like the iTunes process but might like something else better.

    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • VCoakVCoak Posts: 200
    Both tonyb and AsSiMiLaTeD are giving you some great info, so I want add to make it more confusing. But I think someone might head for the rabbit hole...LOL
    W4S SX-1000, Adcom gfp-750, Polk 1.2tl, W4S DAC 2 DSDse, 2012 mac mini (mod), JRivers ver. 19, WD Cloud NAS 2 t.b., Monster Cable AVS-2000 signature, Doug's Alpha I/C & Doug's biwire 6' speaker cables
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,289
    footwedge wrote: »
    tonyb wrote: »
    Speaking from a simple standpoint and to not confuse you. Try just using ITunes for it all. Throw a cd in the computer with ITunes open, set it to rip in apple lossless with error correction on, that is all you need to do to get your feet wet.

    If your Oppo is set up for wifi to your computer, you have the OPPO in your wifi network, you should be able to shoot it over easy as pie.

    For someone first getting into streaming, this is the easiest route. There are many other ways, other programs, etc. Try this with a couple cd's first and see how you like it.

    That is the plan. A small sampling of various programs for comparison. And, yes I might like the iTunes process but might like something else better.

    Yeah, maybe so....but just to get you started is all I'm saying. For some reason digital scares people. It's only as complicated as one makes it though....doesn't need to be.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • footwedgefootwedge Posts: 475
    tonyb wrote: »
    footwedge wrote: »
    tonyb wrote: »
    Speaking from a simple standpoint and to not confuse you. Try just using ITunes for it all. Throw a cd in the computer with ITunes open, set it to rip in apple lossless with error correction on, that is all you need to do to get your feet wet.

    If your Oppo is set up for wifi to your computer, you have the OPPO in your wifi network, you should be able to shoot it over easy as pie.

    For someone first getting into streaming, this is the easiest route. There are many other ways, other programs, etc. Try this with a couple cd's first and see how you like it.

    That is the plan. A small sampling of various programs for comparison. And, yes I might like the iTunes process but might like something else better.

    Yeah, maybe so....but just to get you started is all I'm saying. For some reason digital scares people. It's only as complicated as one makes it though....doesn't need to be.

    When I rip a cd it will be my first, so you could classify me has hesitant. Thank goodness for YouTube videos.
    2-Channel Office room
    Marantz SA8004> Joule Electra LA 150MII > B&K 200.2 > LSIM 703's
    Douglas Alpha ic's, MIT T2
    Need - room treatments, dedicated 20 amp circuits
    Looking for - new speakers and amp

    HT/ 2 Channel Living room
    Samsung 65KS8000FXZA
    Pioneer SC 27
    Parasound P5
    Parasound A23
    Oppo BDP 103
    Uverse DVR
    LSIM 703
    LSIM 704c
    LCI60's
    Velodyne EQ-Max 15
  • VCoakVCoak Posts: 200
    Best part of digital is the delete key on your computer. Just remember to keep the original copy.
    W4S SX-1000, Adcom gfp-750, Polk 1.2tl, W4S DAC 2 DSDse, 2012 mac mini (mod), JRivers ver. 19, WD Cloud NAS 2 t.b., Monster Cable AVS-2000 signature, Doug's Alpha I/C & Doug's biwire 6' speaker cables
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