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JIMV
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The July Issue...Art on computer software

Again I am left with a few problems...Art reviewed 3 separate Music Software solutions for a Mac. Of the 3 I only know Pure Music...Now the ommissions...I have no dea how he configured Pure Music...did he upsample? Did he try HOG mode? It appears he used memory mode but I was not sure....

It appeared, from my read, he used a plain Jane setup with no bells and whistles in his comparison. If so, if the software was not optimized, how could it be compared to the other software being considered.

I did appreciate his noting the software version used (just massively updated).

It was a well written and interesting read but I still feel the magazine is not catching what these software packages offer very well yet. To review in a manner one can use, one needs to know exactly how the software is configured. Pure Music sounds very different upsampled, in memory mode, in hybrid mode, or in Hog Mode. The latest version has another option, integer operation, that is different as well. In addition, a lossless file sound way different than a Hi-Rez file in each possible configuration.

I would have liked to hear his oppinion on operaiting a lossless file upsampled, a Hi-Rez file in HOG mode, etc...

It was not that he did not give each product a fair shake, he did, but the basic configuration data was lacking.

Please, when reviewing software, list exactly how you have configured it in each comparison.

 

Drtrey3
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Darn

I am not a maccie. I will never be a maccie. I had an Apple 2 GS back in the day. I was unsure about buying it, or a PC. Apple had a wonderful promotion called "Apple II Forever!" I believed them and bought an Apple II. They canceled the platform 6 months later. I have an iPod, two actually, but I kind of hate myself for it. So no Macs for me. Ever.

Trey - who kind of enjoys holding this grudge

jazzfan
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Rants
Drtrey3 wrote:

I am not a maccie. I will never be a maccie. I had an Apple 2 GS back in the day. I was unsure about buying it, or a PC. Apple had a wonderful promotion called "Apple II Forever!" I believed them and bought an Apple II. They canceled the platform 6 months later. I have an iPod, two actually, but I kind of hate myself for it. So no Macs for me. Ever.

Trey - who kind of enjoys holding this grudge

Trey,

While I appreciate a good rant as much as anyone and while I commend you for daring to take to on the Apple fanboys still I must protest since as you well know jazzfan is this forum's resident ranter. In the future before posting a rant, even one against Apple, please check with me first.

As for Jim's comments regarding AD's review I think that Jim is being overly harsh. For some strange reason the software in question appears to require some type of user configuration, which the reviewer clearly missed. I feel that Jim's comments are misplaced since how did software requiring user configuration ever make onto a Mac in the first place?!? Clearly someone at Apple is to blame since, as the review reveals, most Mac users have no idea how to configure any software. "It just works!" is, I believe, the overriding mantra of Apple/Mac users. Apparently the Pure Music does not follow the "It just works" philosophy. So Jim please do not blame the reviewer since the fault lies with both Pure Music and Apple for requiring user configuration.

For all of the Apple/Mac users out there, here is a some information you might find useful:

con·fig·u·ra·tion

noun /kənˌfig(y)əˈrāSHən/ 
configurations, plural

 

  1. An arrangement of elements in a particular form, figure, or combination
    • - the broad configuration of the economy remains capitalist
    • - the arena is equipped to stage indoor sports with various configurations of seating
  2. The fixed three-dimensional relationship of the atoms in a molecule, defined by the bonds between them

     

  3. The arrangement in which items of computer hardware or software are interconnected
    • - it comes with a removable hard disk drive as part of the standard configuration

I hope that helps to clear things up a bit.

JIMV
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I am not successfully explaining

I believe a review of computer or software audio components needs a different sort of review...Just as the writer lists the gear he plays with in his review and the music played, I believe the computers setup and the softwares settings used needs be defined...

jazzfan
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The sage speaks
JIMV wrote:

I believe a review of computer or software audio components needs a different sort of review...Just as the writer lists the gear he plays with in his review and the music played, I believe the computers setup and the softwares settings used needs be defined...

Jim,

I believe that JA hinted why Stereophile's review falls a little short:

John Atkinson wrote:

Okay, what specifically should we be reviewing that we are not currently writing about? Note that I regard such questions as what routers to use, what computers, how to set up a home network, etc as being beyond Stereophile's mission.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Perhaps reviewing software should also be considered as "being beyond Stereophile's mission."

Glotz
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That would make for fascinating reading.

And we wonder why there aren't more audiophiles out there...

Is this last month's forum?

Art Dudley
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The July issue...Art on computer software

Thanks for reading the column. I did in fact evaluate Pure Music in a plain-Jane installation -- just as any other consumer would have done, and just as I did with Decibel and Amarra. 

 

Best --

-- Art

quadlover
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Alas, I'd love to comment but

Alas, I'd love to comment but as of this morning I do not have either the physical or digital copy of Stereophile for July!

Drtrey3
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Thanks jazzfan

I needed the laugh! I appreciate our friendship pal. Have a great weekend.

 

Trey

JIMV
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Thanks for the info

Appreciate knowing what was evaluated against what...I have not heard anything but Pure Music but in memory/Hog mode with upsampling, on my modest system, the product sounds a good bit different than the unmaxed plain Jane setup...For info, PM just did a massive update to 1.8a and this new software sounds a lot different on my setup than 1.74

 

For your own edificatiuon, a quick listen to the new product might be interesting.

Bubbamike
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Protestant Revolution or Reformation?

Reading the religious rants on this and other board is always entertaining if mind numbing. It seems clear that the M$ folks are Protestants as they wear hair shirts and believe in interpreting their own computers whilst the Mac users are Catholics following the dictates of the Holy Father in Cupertino. Then we have the cultists who follow St Linus, the heretics of Vaxen, The Sun worshipers of Solaris and the existentialists of BeOS. All battling over the one true path to computer heaven.

Reed
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I agree with JIMV

I really do not get it either. The various options have drastic effect on the music. In an earlier PM thread, I found that both myself and JIMV wound up liking the exact same configuration.

To listen to this type of software without testing the various settings is remiss. The kind of differences I experienced, as I tried various options, were quite drastic. When you think about it, it dynamically changes to traditional NOS mode, upsampling to say 96/24, upsampling to only multiples of the original rate (44.1 is up sampled to 88.2 vs 96), buffered memory mode, and others.

I would think the average consumer for this type of software is not going to just simply install and listen. After all, we are talking about the same group of folks that spend hours changing interconnects, listening to the the same songs over and over, trying to pick put the smallest improvements in performance.

They would be best served understanding the various options, what they mean and the perceived difference in performance observed. At the very least, stating that the various options tried and what was settled on for the comparison. Reviewing it like it was reviewed would be akin to listening to a DAC through it's Toslink iinput and assuming that the DAC sounds that way through all of it's inputs.

Software reviews are really tough and time consuming, because of the many possible permutations of settings. Due diligence most be done, however.

IntlManOfDanger
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JIMV, do you have $33?

Hey Jim,

Given your experience with Pure Music, I'm hoping that you - or someone else on this forum - will do a more exhaustive comparison against Decibel. I haven't purchased either product to date, so it would definitely be less expensive for me if you did this. ;-)

And thanks for your post; otherwise it could have escaped me that there are software settings that might impact the relative performance of the two products.

Cheers,

Kevin

JIMV
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Poor...as in I am

In this age of the summer of recovery, I am unable to buy multiple software packages. This site has a long thread on the issue

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Pure-Music-18

There are hundreds of posts with a LOT of data...It begins with the newest version of PM and then goes into comparisons.

All I can say is that on my setup....

iMac with 4GB of memory

glass toslink to

Benchmark DAC1

Transparent Cable to PrimaLuna Dialog II

Transparent speaker cables and Energy RC30 speakers

PM sounds very good indeed when used in memory mode/upsampled/HOG setup. It is better than my Theta transport for CD's to the same DAC. I can also note that PM is great for free updates (the change from 1.74 to 1.8a was bigger than my last DAC change) and they have very good customer service. I know nothing at all about the other software.

 

 

Mycophile
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The July issue...Art on computer software

"I did in fact evaluate Pure Music in a plain-Jane installation -- just as any other consumer would have done, and just as I did with Decibel and Amarra. "

Default settings: Gotcha!

 

Those default settings were designed for the comfort of beginning Mac computer users (there are plenty of them). Even such users very quickly move beyond the basic settings. Something we surely would have communicated, had we been given the opportunity.

 

 

We had no inkling that a review was being prepared involving our product, Pure Music (until, by surprise, we received a draft copy of your article for comments), so there wouldn’t have been a reason for someone from Channel D to contact you.

 

I would like to know why you contacted the other two manufacturers, but didn’t contact us, Mr. Dudley?

 

Rob Robinson

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The July issue...Art on computer software

I found this piece somewhat disturbing.  It would not appear
to be an attempt at a thorough comparative review.  Indeed,
to call it a 'review' at all is insulting to the word review! 
One has to wonder about the motive behind it and be surprised
that it passed any Stereophile editorial review.

I have both PureMusic and Decibel on my music player
evaluation system and feel comfortable about knowing something
about their capabilities.  I have not experimented with Amarra
beyond reading the user manual.

Decibel was made available as a free Beta version download at around
the time of the 2010 RMAF.  At the time it was called "AyreWave"
(or something close to that) as it's development was significantly
encouraged by both Ayre and Wavelength for use with their
asynchronous USB D/A converters.  Decibel includes a "Special
Thanks" to Charles Hansen, J Gordon Rankin, and Clarke Greene in
it's "About Decibel" window.  Considering that two of these are
mentioned by Art Dudley as buddies from whom he can always get help,
I think that some form of full disclosure statement would have been
in order as no association with Decibel is obvious from the text.

It is fortunate that Decibel has very limited features as there is
no user manual and, if you try the "help" button, you are told that
there is no help.  Presumably there must be something in the works
(I hope).  The other item to note is that although there is a "free
demo" period, it only lasts 48 hours (funny that the 15/14 days for
PureMusic and Amarra were spelled-out in the article but the Decibel
period was not quoted). 

I currently have Decibel 1.2.3 on my system.  It is a good sounding
player and a viable choice if you can live with it's limited feature
set.  One would expect Art Dudley to find that it sounded good "out
of the box" on the system for which it was targeted.

I currently have PureMusic 1.8a on my system. 

Just for completeness perhaps I should mention that my evaluation
system comprises an i7 MacbookPro with a Firewire connection to a
Metric Halo ULN-8. The ULN-8 feeds into my audio system.  I use a
DAW for multichannel feeds.

PureMusic has the most features of the three music server programs
covered in the article and one needs some time to fully evaluate what
configuration sounds best on one's system.  Fortunately the user manual
is quite good. It seems clear that Art Dudley did not want to do anything
serious with PureMusic and his pathetically feeble excuse that users
would only go with "out-of the box" (in a response on this site) is both
incorrect and insulting.  Hardly an approach that I would expect from a Stereophile reviewer.

Amarra has a reasonable feature set but it does not include crossover
generation (up to a four-way 64-bit system with PureMusic) and you are
limited to the in-built EQ.  PureMusic allows for any Apple compatible
plug-in or AU and so has much more flexibility.  It should be noted
however that 64 bit plug-ins are not plentiful yet.

One feature that I particularly value in PureMusic is the ability to
tag a music file with it's signal polarity. A large proportion of my
music collection has inverted polarity.  PureMusic recognises this tag
and plays the file with the correct polarity.

I am not sure how Art Dudley found the Amarra to be the most "luxurious
of the three" (whatever that is supposed to mean) when he could not be
bothered to evaluate PureMusic - I have to presume that he did not even
read the manual.

I find there to be very little difference in sound quality between
Decibel and PureMusic the way I have them set up in my system.  I would
presume that Amarra would also sound about the same.  They all claim bit
accuracy and make attempts to limit negative interactions with the system
on which they are installed.  Apple's Core Audio is of professional audio
quality and is not really a key issue.  It is interesting to note that
Sonic Studios series 300 recording hardware (sourced from Metric Halo)
interfaces through Core Audio.

I would suggest that feature set is an important factor in making a choice. 
All three servers can be made to sound about the same (not identical but
not significantly different).  Art Dudley's article seems totally
inadequate and misleading.
 

Glotz
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If some noob...

tries out any of these programs and uses them to good effect, how does that lack value?  He's educating other newbies to get interested in the process, and creating a starting point for further auditioning. (Sounds like the point of a review to me...)

There are many listeners out there trying out computer audio for the first time.  Where's the point in deriding them for not being experts and pulling off an expert review (when they claim they are not experts in a given area)?  It's one person's experience.  Even MF finds himself correcting his own analog set up process in the name of growth. And its made him a better, more open reviewer.

Do people crap on SM for getting into the entry level?

Do people crap on AD for creating his own turntable plinth?

Do people just like crapping?

John Atkinson
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Pure Music

Mycophile wrote:
I would like to know why you contacted the other two manufacturers, but didn’t contact us, Mr. Dudley?

I take the blame for that, Mr. Robinson. I missed the omission in the editorial preparation of the July "Listening" column, for which my apologies.

I am planning on describing my own experiences with running Pure Music 1.8 in memory play and hog modes in a follow-up in the October issue, BTW, along with a further comparison between Pure Music and Decibel.

Incidentally, to those who have complained that Art didn't write about PM1.8, this release was not yet available in March, which is when Art prepared this column.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

 

JIMV
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Thank you for the followup

The intial review was a tad superficial...

Reed
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Same here- Thanks for the followup

I really appreciate the followup, as well as the increased commitment to reviewing "items" related to computer audio.

I'm using the V-Link now, because of your review.  It really brought things up a couple notches in my system.

Charles Hansen
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What is the Purpose of a Review???

Reading the comments on Art's column is a little bit disconcerting. It seems that when boiled down there are two negative sentiments expressed:

a) Art didn't try all of the configuration features that all of the programs offered.

b) Art picked the "wrong" program as his favorite.

Regarding the first point, I think it is appropriate to remember that Art's column is just that -- a column wherein he relates his explorations in the field of audio, whether it be learning about music player software packages or rebuilding fifty year old turntables. Any product mentioned in that column does not, by definition, receive a full review. In the column in question only part of it was dedicated to USB music playing software. Furthermore there were three packages discussed. So it does not surprise me that he did not go into every detail of every package.

Regarding the second point, I don't believe that anybody should take the word of any reviewer with respect to any product as the final arbiter of a component's merit (or lack thereof). Instead, a review is simply a sign post that helps guide the reader to products that may appeal to him. I don't think that anybody should purchase Decibel without trying it out first (because it was Art's first choice) any more than they should run out and purchase a Garrard 301 turntable without trying one out first (because it was Art's first choice).

Instead, the reviews are meant to guide the reader. They expose him to products to which he may not be aware. There should be a description of the strengths and weaknesses so that the reader can get a good idea of what might be the proper choice for him. Finally, while it may be difficult to find a Garrard 301 to listen to before purchasing, all three of the software packages reviewed have a free trial period. If the user doesn't mind configuring some of them beyond the basic out-of-the-box setup, surely he won't mind downloading all three packages to compare for himself?

Finally if we are to grouse about the testing of music player software, I think a much more pertinent criticism lay in the fact that Art didn't test any Windows software. Now I know that Art does not own a Windows computer. But rather than spending a lot of time following up with further reviews of updated versions of Mac music playing software (remember that Macs still only account for 10% of computer sales), how about somebody doing a test of some Windows software packages??? Especially J.River Media Center 16 ($50), J.River Media Jukebox (free), and Foobar 2000 (free).

Thanks, Charles Hansen, Ayre Acoustics, Inc.

JIMV
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Actually...

I started the thread. My problem with the review was that I believed the review to not be what was needed for a software review. I found it different than a normal review of equipment in that it did not cover what the device (software) sounded like properly and optimly configured. I found it like a cartridge review in which the cartridge was taken from the box, screwed onto the arm and then evaluated wthout any basic optimization being done. This was true for all 3 softwares compared. I discounted the final opinions as none of the software was properly set up. So...

There was no 'wrong software'.

As an aside, I have J-River software on all my PC's...I would also like to hear a good review of that sortware, a complete review of the stuff optimized for best performance.

Glotz
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Nice job...

kissing Mr. Hansen's butt.  You did a really good job of trying to validate yourself.  Give yourself a pat.  You waffle around your comments like politician...

This was clearly someone who was dipping his toes in the open digital waters for the first time.  Just like last month with LG, when so many tried to dunk his head under while he was learning to swim.

Yeah... it wasn't a full review, it was a column.  Perhaps you missed that after you were reminded of the fact- multiple times.

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