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Is it possible to ABX BitPerfect/PureMusic/Amarra
Atriya
post Oct 31 2014, 01:18
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I need a software player for both 24/96 PCM and DSD64 (through a Schiit Loki) playback.

I have downloaded the trials of BitPerfect, Amarra and PureMusic on a MacBook.

I'm inclined towards BitPerfect because it's cheaper, but I think I hear slightly better sound with PureMusic.

However, to rule out placebo effect, I'd like to do an ABX test.

Is there any software which can let me do an ABX? I've only used the ABX in Foobar2000 before, but that seems only to be able to ABX two different files, not the same file (possibly DSD) through two different software.

Thanks!

This post has been edited by Atriya: Oct 31 2014, 01:19
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DVDdoug
post Oct 31 2014, 05:37
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I don't know... You'd probably have to rig-up some sort of manual test with another person making randomized selections. It would take some care to perform a proper scientific, level-matched, double-blind experiment.

I'll just say that if any player software is messing-up your audio an any audible (unintentional*) way, it's defective!!!

As far as I know there is no way to modify DSD without converting it to PCM and back. I wouldn't expect player software to do that. Does the computer's volume control have any effect with DSD over USB? (Changing the volume digitally would require altering the DSD data stream which could be done by converting to PCM, and then back to DSD.)






* Of course, you can have volume or EQ adjustments, etc.
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Brand
post Oct 31 2014, 09:49
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Well, you could also turn the outputs into files by recording them. Either while they're still inside the computer (in digital form) or at the output of the soundcard (digital or analog).
Once you have the files it's easy to ABX them.

I agree with DVDdoug, though. If two programs produce audibly different results, I would assume something doesn't work right.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Oct 31 2014, 13:22
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Oct 30 2014, 20:18) *
I need a software player for both 24/96 PCM and DSD64 (through a Schiit Loki) playback.

I have downloaded the trials of BitPerfect, Amarra and PureMusic on a MacBook.

I'm inclined towards BitPerfect because it's cheaper, but I think I hear slightly better sound with PureMusic.

However, to rule out placebo effect, I'd like to do an ABX test.

Is there any software which can let me do an ABX? I've only used the ABX in Foobar2000 before, but that seems only to be able to ABX two different files, not the same file (possibly DSD) through two different software.


The trick is to somehow capture the signal after it passes through the software but before it goes through the hardware. Total Recorder is a package that claims to do that.

Or, do the capture in the hardware domain using hardware with an excellent ADC.

Some audio interface software allows you to record "What you hear", which would do the job.

Once you have captured the output of each software packages into separate files, you can compare them with Foobar.


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Atriya
post Nov 3 2014, 01:56
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Thanks for the replies.

QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Oct 31 2014, 11:07) *
I'll just say that if any player software is messing-up your audio an any audible (unintentional*) way, it's defective!!!


This seems to imply that unless some signal processing is intentionally being applied, all music-playing software should sound the same, and if they don't, something is being messed up. However, isn't the main selling point of software companies the fact that their product sounds better than the competition? For example, Amarra support writes to me saying:

"Amarra is known to be more transparent for its bit-perfect hi precision audio engine which was originally developed for the Sonic Studio soundBlade industry standard mastering systems. All Amarra products, including sQ, route the audio stream away from CoreAudio and directly to our audio engine. The success of the Amarra product line is a testament to improved integrity of sound quality when compared to the computer's built in audio handling. So a distinct difference of more clarity, openness and true uncolored playback should be heard by simply A/Bing the audio, even to the relatively untrained ear."


There are reviews which compare features such as the above "clarity, openness and true uncolored playback" of various software, such as:

http://www.headfonia.com/os-x-audio-player...and-bitperfect/

Everything is being played in 'bit perfect' mode, often using Integer Mode on MacOS. No EQing/etc is done.

All this seems to imply that some people think that all software doesn't sound the same? This seems to be in accordance with my subjective experience of Pure Music sounding slightly better than BitPerfect.


QUOTE (Brand @ Oct 31 2014, 15:19) *
Well, you could also turn the outputs into files by recording them. Either while they're still inside the computer (in digital form) or at the output of the soundcard (digital or analog).
Once you have the files it's easy to ABX them.


I'm connecting my laptop via USB to an external DAC (Schiit Loki for DSD, Schiit Modi for PCM), which is connected via RCA to a headphone amplifier (Schiit Vali). Now, if I could connect the headphone-out of the amplifier to laptop's line-in, maybe I could record it? Unfortunately, though, my laptop doesn't seem to have a line-in (MacBook Pro 2013).


QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Oct 31 2014, 18:52) *
The trick is to somehow capture the signal after it passes through the software but before it goes through the hardware. Total Recorder is a package that claims to do that.

Or, do the capture in the hardware domain using hardware with an excellent ADC.

Some audio interface software allows you to record "What you hear", which would do the job.

Once you have captured the output of each software packages into separate files, you can compare them with Foobar.


Total Recorder seems to be Windows-only. I found similar Mac software (Audio Hijack Pro), but it can apparently capture only 16/44.1 PCM! Surely differences between Pure Music vs BitPerfect when playing DSD or 24/96 PCM cannot be ABXd by capturing and ABXing 16/44.1 PCM files? Or am I misunderstanding something?

This post has been edited by Atriya: Nov 3 2014, 01:59
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saratoga
post Nov 3 2014, 01:59
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 2 2014, 20:56) *
Thanks for the replies.

QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Oct 31 2014, 11:07) *
I'll just say that if any player software is messing-up your audio an any audible (unintentional*) way, it's defective!!!


This seems to imply that unless some signal processing is intentionally being applied, all music-playing software should sound the same, and if they don't, something is being messed up. However, isn't the main selling point of software companies the fact that their product sounds better than the competition? For example, Amarra support writes to me saying:

"Amarra is known to be more transparent for its bit-perfect hi precision audio engine which was originally developed for the Sonic Studio soundBlade industry standard mastering systems. All Amarra products, including sQ, route the audio stream away from CoreAudio and directly to our audio engine. The success of the Amarra product line is a testament to improved integrity of sound quality when compared to the computer's built in audio handling. So a distinct difference of more clarity, openness and true uncolored playback should be heard by simply A/Bing the audio, even to the relatively untrained ear."




Bit-perfect means that nothing is being changed. They're claiming that they sound good because they've correctly implemented everything such that there is no alteration.
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greynol
post Nov 3 2014, 04:04
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Sounds like snake oil to me. I bet they'll claim sonic superiority over other bit perfect solutions just like j-scam.

This post has been edited by greynol: Nov 3 2014, 04:04


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Nov 3 2014, 13:40
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QUOTE (greynol @ Nov 2 2014, 23:04) *
Sounds like snake oil to me. I bet they'll claim sonic superiority over other bit perfect solutions just like j-scam.


The obsession with alleged sound quality differences among bit-perfect digital players is no doubt due to the pervasive anti-scientific audiophile habit of sighted evaluations.
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Atriya
post Nov 3 2014, 14:24
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QUOTE (greynol @ Nov 3 2014, 09:34) *
Sounds like snake oil to me. I bet they'll claim sonic superiority over other bit perfect solutions just like j-scam.


QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Nov 3 2014, 19:10) *
QUOTE (greynol @ Nov 2 2014, 23:04) *
Sounds like snake oil to me. I bet they'll claim sonic superiority over other bit perfect solutions just like j-scam.


The obsession with alleged sound quality differences among bit-perfect digital players is no doubt due to the pervasive anti-scientific audiophile habit of sighted evaluations.


Weirdly, though, I actually think I'm hearing slightly better sound with Pure Music, rather than BitPerfect, though both claim to be 'bit perfect'.

Maybe either of these two is happening -

1. My brain is deceiving me, since I know that Pure Music costs $130 and BitPerfect $10, and other reviews claim that Pure Music sounds better.
2. Pure Music is 'secretly' applying signal processing on the audio.

The first point is why I wanted to ABX in the first place. Any suggestions? Audio Hijack Pro seems to capture only 16/44.1, and hence would not be effective at ABXing 24/96 audio?

This post has been edited by Atriya: Nov 3 2014, 14:27
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Nov 3 2014, 14:50
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 3 2014, 08:24) *
Weirdly, though, I actually think I'm hearing slightly better sound with Pure Music, rather than BitPerfect, though both claim to be 'bit perfect'.


Not weird - totally expected. Perceptions exactly like those stated above is the big reason why I invented ABX.

QUOTE
Maybe either of these two is happening -

1. My brain is deceiving me, since I know that Pure Music costs $130 and BitPerfect $10, and other reviews claim that Pure Music sounds better.


As the saying goes, "Don't feel pregnant". If you are being biased this way your qualifications to claim to be a member of human race have improved by one small point.

QUOTE
2. Pure Music is 'secretly' applying signal processing on the audio.



Run an Audio Rightmark test on it.

QUOTE
The first point is why I wanted to ABX in the first place. Any suggestions? Audio Hijack Pro seems to capture only 16/44.1, and hence would not be effective at ABXing 24/96 audio?


24/96 has such negligible audible impact as compared to 16/44 that being restricted to 16/44 is not much of a limitation for listening tests or measurements.
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2Bdecided
post Nov 3 2014, 15:07
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I don't have a Mac, but proceeding on the assumption that you can't be the first person to ask these questions, I Googled and found...
http://archimago.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/me...audiophile.html

Hopefully that will save you some time, effort and maybe money.

Cheers,
David.
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Atriya
post Nov 4 2014, 16:46
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 3 2014, 20:37) *
I don't have a Mac, but proceeding on the assumption that you can't be the first person to ask these questions, I Googled and found...
http://archimago.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/me...audiophile.html

Hopefully that will save you some time, effort and maybe money.

Cheers,
David.


Very interesting. It does not include BitPerfect in the comparison, but the point the author is trying to make is very clear - all 'bit perfect' players are indeed 'bit perfect', and should sound the same.

But then, quoting Mike from the well-known headphone blog Headphonia -

When you use nine different players and really evaluate them over a
long period of time, do you really believe that these nine players,
created by different people, with different approaches to minimizing
jitter and optimizing data transfer, with different coding,
optimization methods and algorithms, will sound exactly the same?


Extremely confusing!

This post has been edited by Atriya: Nov 4 2014, 16:48
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greynol
post Nov 4 2014, 16:56
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Mike is either being disingenuous or doesn't know what he's talking about. You choose.


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julf
post Nov 4 2014, 16:58
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 4 2014, 16:46) *
Extremely confusing!


Indeed. Really hard to decide who to believe - the guy who actually measured and tested the stuff, and presented the results, or the one making an unsubstantiated claim based on false assumptions.
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Atriya
post Nov 4 2014, 18:29
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QUOTE (greynol @ Nov 4 2014, 22:26) *
Mike is either being disingenuous or doesn't know what he's talking about. You choose.



QUOTE (julf @ Nov 4 2014, 22:28) *
QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 4 2014, 16:46) *
Extremely confusing!


Indeed. Really hard to decide who to believe - the guy who actually measured and tested the stuff, and presented the results, or the one making an unsubstantiated claim based on false assumptions.


If it were really as simple as you present it, obviously I should be trusting the guy who has measured and tested the stuff.

But there's a complicating factor here. Which is -

My ears agree with Mike.

Agreeing with the measured/tested guy is essentially a fight against my own ears.

Now - I'm not claiming my ears are perfect. It could well be that my ears (in combination with my brain), are falling prey to some kind of placebo effect. That's why I wanted to do the ABX. So far, I only have tools to capture in 16/44.1 PCM, and this is unable to capture the DSD output of BitPerfect and Pure Music. All I get is noise. I'll still be able to compare the two when playing PCM, which is what I'll do, and post in this thread.

This post has been edited by Atriya: Nov 4 2014, 18:29
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Wombat
post Nov 4 2014, 18:53
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 4 2014, 19:29) *
If it were really as simple as you present it, obviously I should be trusting the guy who has measured and tested the stuff.

I trust these results. When your experiments show differences in output you simply will prove to me your setup is wrong.


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Brand
post Nov 4 2014, 20:36
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By the way OP, there's already a similar discussion here regarding another "magically sounding" player.
And I also did some comparisons there by recording the analog outputs. You can try the same (skip the headphone amp), although you'll probably get cleaner results with capturing the sound inside the computer, even at 16/44.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Nov 4 2014, 23:09
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 4 2014, 10:46) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 3 2014, 20:37) *
I don't have a Mac, but proceeding on the assumption that you can't be the first person to ask these questions, I Googled and found...
http://archimago.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/me...audiophile.html

Hopefully that will save you some time, effort and maybe money.

Cheers,
David.


Very interesting. It does not include BitPerfect in the comparison, but the point the author is trying to make is very clear - all 'bit perfect' players are indeed 'bit perfect', and should sound the same.

But then, quoting Mike from the well-known headphone blog Headphonia -

When you use nine different players and really evaluate them over a
long period of time, do you really believe that these nine players,
created by different people, with different approaches to minimizing
jitter and optimizing data transfer, with different coding,
optimization methods and algorithms, will sound exactly the same?


Extremely confusing!


Speak for yourself.

The argument that 9 players coded by 9 different people 9 different ways can't possibly sound the same is entirely fallacious. If the output bits are the same, e.g. "bit perfect" that just shows that there are many roads to the same place.

It's a repeat of the fallacious argument that amplifiers using different circuit designs can't sound the same, or that amplifiers made with different parts can't sound the same.

None of this stuff is a big mystery to people who are well-informed about such things.

The above may seem intuitively clear to many who are poorly informed, but having built a goodly number of different amps from scratch based on my own (different) designs as well as being a programmer on both mainframes and micros and using high and low level languages, and coding both applications and operating system kernel code, I simply know better.
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2Bdecided
post Nov 5 2014, 11:33
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 4 2014, 15:46) *
Extremely confusing!
I don't know where you live, but here in the UK we have a public service broadcaster called the BBC. It tries to be impartial. Its news programmes often aim to achieve this by getting two people from opposite sides of any topic to argue with each other.

The BBC has been criticised recently in its coverage of science, because it adopted this approach to coverage of contentious science topics: find the two extreme opinions, bring them together in the studio, let them debate the topic, and leave the listeners to draw their own conclusions. The problem is that this approach pushes most people to assume that both views are equally valid, and that the truth is somewhere between the two extreme opposing views.

Most science doesn't work like that. There tends to be a consensus around evidence based yet incomplete truth. You can never prove a hypothesis, but you can disprove one. Scientific opinion clusters around hypotheses that have not yet been disproven, and that fit all available evidence.

Extreme views which sit far from the evidence based consensus rarely point to some hidden truth. They're just opinions, and there's a saying about what opinions are like. The "real" truth isn't mid-way between the evidence based consensus and some random opinion. It's very close to the evidence based consensus, and it moves when we find new evidence, not when someone posts their random opinion.

The reason you are confused is that you are listening to all opinions, weighing them equally, and trying to find the truth in the middle ground. You are looking in the wrong place.

Cheers,
David.
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julf
post Nov 5 2014, 12:39
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 5 2014, 11:33) *
The reason you are confused is that you are listening to all opinions, weighing them equally, and trying to find the truth in the middle ground. You are looking in the wrong place.


According to the latest poll, 2 + 2 is approximately 4.3, on the average.

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Atriya
post Nov 5 2014, 17:43
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 5 2014, 17:03) *
QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 4 2014, 15:46) *
Extremely confusing!
I don't know where you live, but here in the UK we have a public service broadcaster called the BBC. It tries to be impartial. Its news programmes often aim to achieve this by getting two people from opposite sides of any topic to argue with each other.

The BBC has been criticised recently in its coverage of science, because it adopted this approach to coverage of contentious science topics: find the two extreme opinions, bring them together in the studio, let them debate the topic, and leave the listeners to draw their own conclusions. The problem is that this approach pushes most people to assume that both views are equally valid, and that the truth is somewhere between the two extreme opposing views.

Most science doesn't work like that. There tends to be a consensus around evidence based yet incomplete truth. You can never prove a hypothesis, but you can disprove one. Scientific opinion clusters around hypotheses that have not yet been disproven, and that fit all available evidence.

Extreme views which sit far from the evidence based consensus rarely point to some hidden truth. They're just opinions, and there's a saying about what opinions are like. The "real" truth isn't mid-way between the evidence based consensus and some random opinion. It's very close to the evidence based consensus, and it moves when we find new evidence, not when someone posts their random opinion.

The reason you are confused is that you are listening to all opinions, weighing them equally, and trying to find the truth in the middle ground. You are looking in the wrong place.

Cheers,
David.


I know what you mean. I was recently watching such a debate, between Richard Dawkins, and a Cardinal, on the existence of God. It had the opposite effect though. Although an atheist, I came away rather thoughtful about some of the Cardinal's arguments, though by no means all of them.

But, as you admit, a scientific hypothesis must 'fit' experimental evidence. The 'experiment' to me is listening. And the result of that experiment is that one 'bit perfect' app sounds better than another. Mike is just another guy who performed the same experiment and obtained the same result. So, how are the measurements science, if they don't fit the experimental evidence?

But yes... I realize the experiment must be performed by many many people using a scientific method (say, ABX) to be considered a valid experiment. I do realize that, no need to point it out. But then again, since music is a personal experience, even if 99 other people were to perform the experiment, and their results were in disagreement with mine, their experiences would have no bearing on my own. It's not the same with science, which is not subjective. Gravity effects everyone the same, whether they like it or not.

I also realize that this isn't going anywhere, and I don't want to drag it out. In practice, I'm just going to stick with BitPerfect and save myself some money. Thanks to everyone who replied.

This post has been edited by Atriya: Nov 5 2014, 17:55
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2Bdecided
post Nov 5 2014, 18:33
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From early school lessons, everyone knows a scientific experiment has to be a fair test.

Slightly older school kids will further know that, in most simple experiments, you should only change one variable, otherwise you will not know what caused any observed change.

If the experiment is about what you hear, it doesn't need to be repeated by others. That's a red herring. But it should be fair, unbiased, and repeatable by you. The one variable should be what you hear - not what you see, expect, know, etc.


From reading about placebo and expectation bias, everyone here knows a sighted test isn't a fair experiment, and introduces multiple variables in addition to the sound waves that reach your ears.


What you do with this information is of course up to you. It should be fairly easy to perform a single-blind test if you can get someone to help. If you can be in a different room, and they can be careful, it can be "almost" double blind. It's not perfect, but it might help either way.

Cheers,
David.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Nov 5 2014, 20:59
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QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 5 2014, 11:43) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 5 2014, 17:03) *
QUOTE (Atriya @ Nov 4 2014, 15:46) *
Extremely confusing!
I don't know where you live, but here in the UK we have a public service

But, as you admit, a scientific hypothesis must 'fit' experimental evidence. The 'experiment' to me is listening



I think that almost everybody here agrees with that.

Problem is we have these strange people who confuse and conflate seeing with hearing.

Seems obvious enough to me. My eyes are on the front of my head and send images to my brain. My ears are on the sides of my head and send my brain representations of sound.

Why are there so many people who are confused about such simple things?
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