• CA Podcast Episode 2 - Jonathan Reichbach Interview (Amarra)

    In Episode 2 of the CA Podcast I interview Jonathan Reichbach of Sonic Studio about Sonic, Amarra and its Early Adopter release and discount Thursday April 23, 2009. Read more for the download links.


     

     

    The CA Podcast is now available in iTunes!
    As usual send your podcast related questions, comments, and suggestions to podcast@computeraudiophile.com.
     

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    Direct Download: CA Podcast Episode 2 (AIFF 238 MB)
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    Direct Download: CA Podcast Episode 2 (Apple LossLess 104 MB)
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    mp3
    Direct Download: CA Podcast Episode 2 (mp3 320 kbps 54 MB)
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    Comments 18 Comments
    1. BEEMB's Avatar
      BEEMB -
      <br />
      <br />
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      I'm guessing this was already recorded before I suggested it.<br />
      <br />
      You asked the question we all wanted you to ask. I'd love to have the answer straight in my head as I still struggle with the audio stream being any different to another data stream. I'd love this to be expanded on, maybe some diagrams etc - since it's not a cheap system.<br />
      <br />
      Interesting interview and thanks for asking THE question!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      I love it Rance! Excellent!<br />
      <br />
      Been - The interview was actually done last night. I can't say you were the only reason I did the interview, but your suggestion did play a role. Also, I knew I would never hear the end it if I didn't at least ask THE question.
    1. machinehead's Avatar
      machinehead -
      Awesome 'cast Chris.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks for keeping us at the bleeding edge of computer audio.<br />
      <br />
      Any thoughts on the sound vs. of an Amarra w/ a model 4 vs. a Berkeley Alpha DAC? How about vs a Pacific Microsonics Model 2?<br />
      <br />
      Anyway it is good news to here it will interface with a Lynx card, which means I may still be in the running price wise for a system like this.<br />
      <br />
      Sounds like to use Amarra the music server will need to be in direct proximity to the stereo system, or at least within Firewire range?<br />
      <br />
      Look forward to all of the details tomorrow. (read, how much??)<br />
      <br />
      Thanks!<br />
      <br />
      machinehead
    1. flatmap's Avatar
      flatmap -
      So he's saying that a big hitter in the software rendering of audio is to manage the floating point error. At least that's what I heard. It would have been a loooong time before this line of thought occurred to me. <br />
      <br />
      This gives me another angle, also, to understand why EQ can screw things up -- since this is probably all about FP multiplication.
    1. Wavelength's Avatar
      Wavelength -
      Guys,<br />
      <br />
      Think about this for a minute... all hardware upsamplers have fixed point math. Think about how much low level information is lost in the truncation of data on these chips. Most of them only have mantissa's of 24 bits... what's with that?<br />
      <br />
      Thanks<br />
      Gordon
    1. rydenfan's Avatar
      rydenfan -
      I will listen to the podcast tonight when I get home. I am truly baffled as to why the software would cost $1,495. That is double the price of a Mac Mini to run it. I was very excited about this release until I know see the price...
    1. machinehead's Avatar
      machinehead -
      I was trying to find the price, what website has it listed?<br />
      <br />
      BTW, although it is not cheap, it is less than the $5k or $10k rumors I first heard for the hardware/software package.<br />
      <br />
      Keep in mind this is built off of the same core that runs half or more studio software.<br />
      <br />
      Anyway the best of anything isn't cheap....<br />
      <br />
    1. rydenfan's Avatar
      rydenfan -
      The hardware is that expensive! they want for $1,495 for just the software. The drop down box for each product will give you the price at the bottom of the page<br />
      http://www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/index.html<br />
      <br />
      The DAC is $8K and I dont think that includes the software.
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      Yes, I was hoping the referred to phrase "THE question" was about the price, not the fact that software can make a difference sonically. I listened to the podcast, and although interesting (thanks Chris, keep doing them), it is beyond me how a company like Sonic Studios could charge $1500 for home software in a very immature industry. Sure, there may be unlimited lifetime updates and upgrades, but two years from now we're all using different software anyway! <br />
      <br />
      I am in the database and application software (enterprise business, not home software) biz, and understand a little about the business software and hardware markets. I understand that software, not hardware, is where the value-propositions are made, and where innovation takes place...but it's also the area where change is at the speed of light. Sonic Studios has a great pedigree in the pro world, and their stuff is unquestionably industry-tested. But that's the pro audio industry. The home computer audio industry is just getting started. It's in the infant stage, and will undergo significant changes over months, let alone years. How one company (with no real home brand recognition) could figure it is mature and tested enough to ask a home user to shell out $1500, or approx almost 2X their hardware costs, is beyond my limited computer audio understanding. <br />
      <br />
      However, maybe it's THAT good, and I'll be singing it's praises....once I decide on firewire vs Lynx, and PC vs Mac, and silent rack design vs NAS and yadayada.<br />
      <br />
      Ted<br />
      '
    1. Poo's Avatar
      Poo -
      I haven't used a dongle since I owned a Commodore 64! You're calling a dongle a 'new thing'? I seriously can't believe the Amarra forces you to have to use a USB dongle! <br />
      <br />
      Can I use this dongle instead???<br />
      <br />
      http://cgi.ebay.com.sg/Commodore-64-The-Consultant-Boxed-w-Dongle_W0QQitemZ130296346106QQihZ003QQcategoryZ749 45QQcmdZViewItem
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Poo - The iLOK is actually used by many software companies https://www.ilok.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/iLokManager.woa/1/wo/nFVsj9PnotOEiGpnktdFdg/3.0.2.25.1.3.0.1.5
    1. vortecjr's Avatar
      vortecjr -
      Great stuff! I hope one of my friends can afford it...hehehe. <br />
      <br />
      I vote for a lite version Actually, I vote for a very lite version. Seriously, how about no version at all! We don't need one more thing to worry about setting properly. "keep it simple stupid" <br />
      <br />
      If you use the Weiss DAC....I guess you would need an additional firewire port. Firewire is hard to come by, so lets just add an adapter to get some more ports. More and more and more equals more junk.<br />
      <br />
      My cd player is really looking simple these days. My HDX-1000 is looking simple these days. To bad it doesn’t sound great, but it might be easier to figure out what is wrong with it than playback on computer audio. <br />
      <br />
      If one can afford the Berkeley and the card and the wires and the system, then what’s a grand more for the software? This way you can brag about being able to play the 7 or so albums above 96khz. <br />
      <br />
      I won't ask about all that math stuff and floating points things as I am still using my fingers to add However, I am curious why they say it will play all hi res audio formats. I mean if it works along side of i-tunes it only really supports AIFF out of the box and the other junkie files in the bunch. Does, someone know how to play wav in itunes without converting? I guess it only really supports other files indirectly through conversion...right? <br />
      <br />
      What we need is simplicity and fidelity....is that to much to ask? Chris (afa - supreme audio commander) can we convene a computer audio panel? And let the panel of experts prescribe a few simple/canned systems that will work well along with proper settings. We can call them certified CA, you know like THX certified. Man you could get rich! If you do please send me a weiss or a berkley….hehehe<br />
      <br />
      regards<br />
      <br />
      vortecjr<br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      <i>"What we need is simplicity and fidelity....is that to much to ask? Chris (afa - supreme audio commander) can we convene a computer audio panel? And let the panel of experts prescribe a few simple/canned systems that will work well along with proper settings. We can call them certified CA, you know like THX certified...."</i><br />
      <br />
      No Comment ...<br />
      <br />
      http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Something-big-coming
    1. vortecjr's Avatar
      vortecjr -
      Chris, first i know that your working the academy, but computer audio is all over the place. Your in the perfect position to stear this monster. Just think about it....CA certified!<br />
      <br />
      Anyway, are you aware of any posts talking about windows xp embedded as the os. I have been looking into this as an idea for making a small footprint pc that will run the minimal background programs and the player. Not much info that I can find and need help! Clean and simple and can boot straight to the player. Nice! huhuhu Can or should we start a forum? Any ideas? <br />
      <br />
      regards<br />
      <br />
      vortecjr
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      Hey,<br />
      <br />
      I won't make friends here by saying so : what an ugly piece of hardware and software !<br />
      I know that has nothing to do with sound quality, and I despise greedy companies for selling silly stuffs at 10 times their price tag (mainly because of their look), but a nice look always makes users proud, and allows for a more relaxed state of mind. Here, Sonic Studio is rather trying to sell cold war looking interfaces <br />
      <br />
      rydenfan, the $8K price tag does include the software (that's written in a very small font on the right).<br />
      <br />
      Elp.
    1. AV-OCD's Avatar
      AV-OCD -
      OK, so THE big question was asked--how can audio playback software sound better than another? But the answer given by Jonathan of Sonic has nothing to do with the playback of prerecorded music files. When asked "THE" question, Jonathan of Sonic makes the point of saying that the Amarra software is based on the same tech as Sound Blade (used for studio mastering). He goes on to say that several of Sonic's pro audio customers have commented that Sound Blade sounds better than the other pro tools they've used, and that Sonic believes that this is because their algorithms and math are more precise when dealing with calculations and floating points. This is completely plausible and makes sense in regards to recording mastering, because you are messing with track levels, performing EQ, etc. which require calculations to be performed on the signals. Not so with prerecorded music files. All of these things have already been done, and there are no calculations to perform to get the data to the DAC. Either the software is passing along a bit-perfect signal or it is not. The only time Amarra's higher precision math capability would come into play is if you wanted to use it to upsample or EQ, in which case you are now no longer outputting a bit perfect signal.<br />
      <br />
      The one example Jonathan of Sonic uses to define the "better sound quality" offered by Amarra is a reduction in noise (again the result of higher precision calculations). Again, if you are mastering a recording, and tweaking all sorts of sound parameters to get the final sound you want, you don't want to introduce noise in the process, but I can say without hesitation, that there is NO noise (noise floor, hiss, grain, etc) at all in the output of my Mac Mini running plain old iTunes, so if this is one of the major benefits of Amarra, consider me unimpressed. OK, so Sonic did a comparison of the noise floor of a 24 bit file being played through iTunes vs. Amarra, and Amarra's noise floor was -128dB vs. -110 for iTunes, but when you consider that the ambient noise in most listening rooms is -55dB, the improvement Amarra offers will never be realized by the home user.<br />
      <br />
      In the end, Sonic gets no argument from me as to the potential benefits of using Sound Blade in the studio, but I'm still waiting for some solid and well defined reason to buy Amarra for playback of prerecorded music files.<br />
      <br />
    1. Wavelength's Avatar
      Wavelength -
      Tim,<br />
      <br />
      I would have to agree with you on this one.<br />
      <br />
      Ok if CoreAudio requires 32floating point for each sample and in the audiophile world we want input=output and merely want the sample rate to stay the same instead of getting resampled by iTunes or CoreAudio then what is it that all this stuff buys us?<br />
      <br />
      Anyone out there every do any iTunes plugin's email me. I think a no brainer would be a simple plugin for iTunes which auto sample rates and bypasses the volume and other eq methods. Heck I may look into this....<br />
      <br />
      Thanks Tim!<br />
      Gordon
    1. vortecjr's Avatar
      vortecjr -
      Gordon, I hate to sit on the sideline and just watch. I dont know much about programming except some Fortran Good old Fortran! I knew I would never use it....heheheh. Anyway, I am also a junior member of a forum on networked media tanks (networkedmediatank.com) and they are doing some very impressive apps on that site. I will try and find someone that can help, but not sure if its possible. The programmers seem to have a one track mind. I agree that there should be some kind of plugin fix. However, keep in mind that most people will sample rate convert with software and fell that that is some kind of new improved orignal. I think we need to stress that the files should be kept as they are or at least uncompressed into wav or aiff from flac and alac.<br />
      <br />
      regards<br />
      <br />
      vortecjr