Recommended Components Fall 2022 Edition Computer Software

Computer Software

Channel D Pure Music software: $129 ★
Pure Music (Mac only) can play sampling rates of up to twice the 192kHz limit of Amarra and Decibel. Like those programs, Pure Music (Mac only) offers memory play, automatic sampling-rate changes, and full compatibility with native FLAC files and in its latest version, DSD files. Going from iTunes to Pure Music, the sonic improvement was modest but worthwhile, with cleaner trebles and improved pitch certainty. Compared with the less expensive Decibel, however, Pure Music lacked some openness and clarity, decided AD. Using Pure Music in its Memory Play and "Hog Mode" settings for optimal sound quality resulted in a wider soundstage and greater sense of ease, said JA. A free, 15-day trial version can be downloaded from www.channel-d.com. Included with Channel D's Pure Vinyl Version 3.0. (Vol.33 No.8, Vol.34 Nos.7 & 9 WWW)

Channel D Pure Vinyl LP ripping software: $379 ★
Used with a microphone preamp or non-RIAA phono preamp, Channel D's Pure Vinyl digitizes vinyl LPs at 24-bit/192kHz resolution and applies the RIAA or other EQ curves in the digital domain, where there's no interchannel phase shift, capacitor distortion, additional noise, or component variability. Record mode allows the user to apply over 50 EQ curves or create custom EQ settings; Editor mode allows the user to insert track breaks or remove surface noise. CDs made with Pure Vinyl sounded "much better" than those made with the Alesis Masterlink, said MF. Compared to the original LPs, the digitized versions lacked a touch of body but sounded "very analog-like." Compatible only with Apple Macintosh computers. Version 3.0 and later includes Channel D's Pure Music front-end program for iTunes. "Pure Vinyl will change the musical lives of collectors with large collections of pre-1954 discs," said MF. JA was impressed by Version 5's RIAA de-emphasis with LPs that had been ripped with the Channel D Seta L phono preamp's Flat outputs. (Ver.5 was not yet compatible with macOS 15/Catalina in the fall of 2020.) Channel D's Rob Robinson strongly advises recording at 192kHz—"Pure Vinyl was designed and optimized with that sample rate in mind (back in 2003!)" he told JA—but for monitoring the recording in real time, the playback D/A converter must be sample-synchronous with the A/D converter. (Robinson recommends the Lynx HiLo, an MF fave, for that reason.) "To say that I was impressed with the quality afforded needle drops by Pure Vinyl would be an understatement," concluded JA. "While the user interface is not as intuitive as I would like, the versatility on offer is extraordinary." (Vol.32 No.3; Ver.3.0, Vol.33 No.8; Ver.5, Vol.43 No.11 WWW)

Dirac Live 3 room-correction software: $349 stereo license, $499 multichannel license ★
Sound quality, of course, is dependent on the hardware in the system, wrote KR, about the original Dirac Live, an app that runs without external processors on Macs or PCs. But its acoustic transformation capabilities are well beyond what is built into most processors, he wrote. Live 3 allows the user to measure the system's in-room response, then generates the necessary correction filters. The Dirac Live Processor then applies the filter corrections to music as it plays. In PCs (Windows 10 and above) and Macs, it can be installed as a plug-in or as a regular application. JRiver, Audirvana Studio, Amarra, and most DAWs support it as a plug-in. Roon does not. KR continued his recommendation for the app, writing that with Dirac "I hear no loss of transparency; rather, I hear more transparency due to the removal of distracting artifacts." Live 3 also includes Dirac Live Bass Control, which KR tried in beta form. He found that "Full Bass Optimisation resulted in much better integration of the subs with each other and with the main speakers—to the point where the subs disappeared but the main speakers seemed to have prodigious low-frequency extension and control." (Vol.37 No.5, Vol.44 No.10 WWW; also see JA's discussion of Dirac Live LE in his review of the NAD M10 integrated amplifier in Vol.43 No.1 WWW)

JRiver Media Center: $59.98 (single platform); $79.98 (multi-platform) ★
KR wrote in the January 2018 Stereophile: "If your [JRiver Media Center] setup is working to your satisfaction, there's no need for you to download every new build." Really. No need at all. But, having said that, . . . the 64-bit Windows version of Music Center became available in September 2017, and KR reported that it's better, stronger, and faster than the 32-bit version: "Since installing the 64-bit version of JRiver Music Center 23, I have heard not a single burp." $79.98 for a "Master" License covering Linux, Windows, and MacOS. (Vol.41 No.1 WWW)

Roon Labs v 1.8: $12.99/month, $119.88/year, $699/lifetime
Roon is a cloud-based music-playback application that can be downloaded and run on the user's desktop or handheld computer or run on dedicated file players from manufacturers including Auralic, dCS, Linn, and others. Described by JI as "a tour de force of programming, design, and metadata mining," Roon offers a graphically sophisticated user interface that, he said, looks good and feels natural. When first installed, Roon scans and incorporates the user's existing music collection. Over time, it continues to "groom" that collection, taking into account new additions to the collection and to Roon Labs' ever-growing library of metadata. With v1.8, Roon offered a major revision. "Visually, it's new, and to me, better," wrote JCA. The recommendations engine, Valence, has been improved, with useful changes to the Focus feature, which now encompasses streamed music from Tidal and Qobuz—not just music in the user's library. "The music I own and the music I rent is now one big, searchable, browsable library," enthused JCA. JA is also a fan and sprung for the lifetime subscription. (Vol.44 No.5 WWW)

COMMENTS
Auditor's picture

The text under the J. Sikora Initial is the same as under the J. Sikora Reference, which is obviously a mistake.

John Atkinson's picture
Auditor wrote:
The text under the J. Sikora Initial is the same as under the J. Sikora Reference, which is obviously a mistake.

Fixed. Thank you.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

lesmarshall's picture

I was very surprised to read that the Benchmark DAC 3 is no longer a Recommended Component . In the earlier 2022 edition of Recommend Components , it was an A+ component . Your stated reason for the deletion was because it was not auditioned in a long while . Well why not audition it then ? Also, why is an audition necessary ? It measured as one of the best DACs ever . Why would its measurements change simply because you have not auditioned it recently ? I understand its your policy , but it seems rather unfair to Benchmark that you no longer recommend it for that reason . I believe a much fairer policy would be that a highly rated component should only fall off the recommended list if it is auditioned periodically and you determine that its current level of recommendation is no longer justified based on the factors that you use to include a component of the recommended list .

JRT's picture

Les, toward some light hearted amusement, consider a reductio ad absurdum.

The quoted material below was excerpted from the first version (published 01 May 1963) of Stereophile's recommended components, just the A,B,C rated amplifiers and preamplifiers:

Quote:

Preamplifier-Control Units
A: Marantz 7, McIntosh C-20
B, C: Dynaco PAS-2

Power Amplifiers
A: Marantz 8B, McIntosh MC-60 (footnote 5), Marantz 9A (footnote 5)
B, C: Dynaco Stereo 70

Footnote 5: mono amplifier.

Reductio ad Absurdum... Should the old gear listed above continue as currently recommended gear, or is it best left in its original context in the circa 1963 article? ...and why or why not? ...and is it a much too different set of cases for comparison? ...why? Would that old gear be good fodder for a listing of recommended vintage gear, and is that good subject matter for the current Stereophile readership? These are mostly rhetorical questions, but not all.

JRT's picture

Would you also include the essentially similar PAS-3, and then also the PAS-3X with updated tone controls, and then maybe also Frank van Alstine's improved Super PAS Three, etc.? The original short-list can grow large.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/recommended-components-1-0

https://www.stereophile.com/tubepreamps/1088vana/index.html

georgehifi's picture

It would be nice if the "title" of the piece recommended was clickable, so one could easily then read the full review of all these thousands of "recommended components" instead of searching like a ???

Just a thought??

Cheers George

liquidsun's picture

I must say I'm surprised to see Perlistens into Restricted Extreme LF category as I thought they were full range speakers.

Kal Rubinson's picture

For most, they will be full range but, as you can see from JA's Fig. 4, the FR is rolling off smoothly below 100HZ such that it will easily mate with a complementary subwoofer. I believe that was Perlisten's intent. That said, unless you are assessing the sound of low, low organ pedal tones, explosions or thunder, the bass from the s7t is clean, powerful and musically satisfying.

Robin Landseadel's picture

There's a lot of Dance Pop/Techno music that gives the lowest octave a workout. Managed to blow out the small bass driver from a Paradigm bookshelf speaker with a Sarah McLaughlan track---"I Love You" from the album "Surfacing"---a quiet ballad with a synth bottom without overtones, so there's pure, deep bass. Another good example would be the work of Bill Laswell, a producer/bass player.

Kal Rubinson's picture

OK but how is this relevant? On the one hand, I am not surprised that one can blow out the small bass driver in a bookshelf speaker. On the other, I doubt if it would do that to the Perlisten.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Blowing out the driver of a Paradigm Atom might not be meaningful save that I blew it out with a track that is low in level and undynamic. More to the point, it sounds like the speakers in question could use a sub. Of course, you pointed out that the speakers in question are designed to integrate well with subs. My Infinity 250 speakers, small floor-standing speakers, also requires a sub for deep bass.

What is meaningful is that there is more to the bottom octave than organ pedals and explosions. Lots of modern productions take advantage of digital recording/playback's ability to record/reproduce the lowest octaves of sound.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Yes, there is a lot more to the bottom end than I cared to mention but the distinction between the small Paradigm Atom and the s7t is that the former needs a sub (or a LP filter) merely to survive wide-band signals while the latter does not.

Did you read my comments about the Garage Door test? I doubt that either your Paradigm or your Infinity could compete with the Perlisten, with or without a sub.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Doubtless. My point was more about program material and really deep bass. In any case, my Infinity Primus 250s are aided by my Sonance Son of Sub. As the system is in a small room, it's probably as much bass as the room can take.

Anton's picture

I like to hit this issue and pretend all my Hi Fi gear is gone and I have to start over with my budget and this list.

Glotz's picture

Droooooool.. and I'm done FOREVER.

Soulution, MBL... heaven.

KEFLS50W's picture

It will be interesting to see if Stereophile catches up to the focus on active, integrated designs. The relevance of separates seems to be waning in comparison to these sexy and modern designs (many of which are good value to boot) from KEF, B&W, Q Acoustic, ATC, Dali, and others. LS50WII for example gives me access to high quality, high current class a/b amplification I would not have been able to afford with separates. On another note, why are REL subs not listed - they would floor the competition listed in terms of sonics and build quality. Sorry but SVS is a home theater product and KEF KC62 is for kids.

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