For those who have long since waved Auf Wiedersehen to CDs but are not (yet) interested in networked audio, where real world server placement often demands that wireless data transmission be deployed, going hardwired from PC or Mac to DAC is one way to be dodge dropouts and allergies (like those that affect the Ebaen household at 6moons).
For OS X, the three biggest hitters are John Reichbach’s Amarra, Rob Robinson’s Pure Music and Damien Plisson’s Audirvana+.
Presumably the tyranny of distance is what keeps Plisson away from the US shows – he lives in France – but Munich is a hop and a skip by train or plane.
I met with Plisson on the Saturday afternoon of High-End 2016. It’s not as easy as one might think to find a quiet spot to talk at this show. Your conversation but battle it out with a hundred others. The sound of business being done.
Taking a table at the unusually quiet cafe/bar in Atrium 3, I sipped on a jet-lag suppressing double espresso whilst Plisson sipped on water.
The man from Audirvana+ is set to release 2.5.1 of his player. The latest version will pile more big news on top of Plisson’s recent TIDAL integration (and before that, independence from iTunes).
The next significant feature to land on Audirvana+ will be DSD up-sampling. Useful for those with only a Schiit Loki to hand (unlikely) but especially those who prefer the sound of DSD over PCM on their hardware. Some DACs are un/wittingly designed to be more proficient with bit-streamed material than they are with ye olde PCM. And others are not. You’ll have to find out for yourself but it’s nice to have choices, right?
Industry big hitters like Michal Jurewicz of Mytek Digital and Rob Darling of Roon tell me that they’ve heard recordings done straight to DSD that cast all else into the shade. And yet, the music industry at large shrugs its shoulders at the format. Hardly surprising when one remembers that DSD files are too large to be streamed.
Relegated to the niche that is the classical market, in-software DSD up-sampling offers another subtle herb with which we might season our listening experience. With the Resonessence Labs Herus I found DSD delivered transients with greater tenderness and less overt attack than PCM; that’s useful if one’s system sounds overly caffeinated in the presence region. Just like yours truly at Munich High-End.
During our brief sit down, Plisson also explained that minimising CPU activity when audio data is sent out over USB to the DAC is one significant reason why his software player sounds far superior to iTunes. It’s why we see Audirvana+ buffer content before we hear the sound of music.
Plisson also tells me that despite developing music software for a number of years now, Audirvana+ only became his full-time job in July 2015. Oh – and there are zero plans for a Windows version.
The OS X version of Audirvana+ sells for US$75 and the DSD up-sampling update comes free of charge to existing licence holders.
Further information: Audirvana+