July 2014 Blog – Computer Audio is Getting Better!

07/17/2014 Paul Helvin


Actually more than just better.

In my recent research of how I can get (and learn) the intricacies of how a computer audio system can get close to other sources in sound quality such as my  OPPO BDP 105, I found a couple free demo trails from various computer audio companies that I couldn’t help but try out.

Now I am no “computer geek” by any means. Heck, I still love spinning the silver disk medium and putting a needle on Vinyl. But I will admit to the convenience of my 24inch IMac playing iTunes. My bedroom setup is a simple and humble one, I have a set of Kimber Kable PBJ’s going from my MAC computer into an ARCAM Alpha 7 integrated. It is 40x2 with a phono input. A Furman Elite 15pf with upgraded power cords doing the line conditioning and protection, a set of Sennheiser HD 600’s for serious music listening, and high quality bookshelf speakers when I want to hear anything other than music.

I am running Decibel music software with my MAC’s MIDI settings at 24/96. You can view it herehttp://sbooth.org/Decibel/

Decibel is a very cost effective way to better the sound out of your iTunes. At $30.00 it was no risk to try out and it did improve the sound of my setup albeit the integration with iTunes could have been more intuitive.
However, the past year I have enjoyed its use and can’t complain at the cost to performance value, but as you read on you will see there is better out there.

amarra (1)
First I tried a free trial of Sonic Studios Amarra ($49.95) http://www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/amarra_player.html . It was a nice and none intrusive interface with my iTunes, but to me the sound was simply muted, it played lower and everything seemed muffled. To other users it may work different, but for me I immediately moved on to something else since it worsened the sound compared to my relatively inexpensive decibel software ($30.00).

Now my next choice is unfortunately limited to MAC users since there is no PC version at this time, and that’s a shame since I have found Computer Audio heaven in this software!

Audirvana_plus (1)
It is called Audirvana Plus, and it is simply a pleasure to use and listen too. You can download a free trial here athttp://audirvana.com/.

Textures, details, warmth, openness & space, are just a few words that come to mind when listening through my headphones. I also love the user interface that looks like a component itself!

Yes you can buy a USB DAC to decode the signal to even higher levels, but just using my MIDi settings gave my computer a sound I never thought I could reach at this modest cost level of $74.00.

Computer audio at a reference level is finally here, and not so scary to figure out and use as it used to be.

And I hope it’s here to stay ?

Warm regards,

Paul Helvin
Audio/Video Specialist

If you are thinking about a headphone/computer audio system, and want to hear our DAC’s and headphones for yourself. Come visit us at Premiere Home Entertainment today!