Roon + Amarra player?

Am trying the Roon software out these days and must say that I really love it, the most beautiful software on the marked.
But I have one problem. For (me) Amarra audio engine just sound much better, has a more organic feel too it, some would call it analog, but I dont think that is the case, for me it just sound resolving and more musical.

Will Roon be coming out with an update to its audio engine, or can I expect in the future to be able to use the Amarra audio engine with the Roon software ?

Keep up the good work.

Roon streams a bit perfect untouched audio stream to endpoints. What you’re listening to using Amarra is a modified audio stream…perhaps you can achieve the same result using HQPlayer. Adding support for any 3rd party players is largely dependent on a sufficient user base warranting the effort and cooperation of the 3rd party to be able to accept the stream from Roon.

In addition to what @evand has stated, If you are using Amarra SQ+, you should be able to choose SonicStream as a endpoint from Roon’s audio settings (I confess I have not tried it myself). that said I had preferred Amarra Tidal over SQ+ and now prefer HQP over Amarra.

I have tried most of the software players for the Mac on the market, and to me, they sound all nearly the same, not much different, but somehow Amarra sounds more real to me!
Most players play the signal bit perfect these days, but all have different algorithm applied to there output.

Just would be nice if I was able to use them together :smile:

[quote=“Pall_Silvan_Ennigard, post:4, topic:8631”]
Most players play the signal bit perfect these days, but all have different algorithm applied to there output.
[/quote]Yes, Roon doesn’t do DSP, it passes through the signal unhanged, Amarra applies DSP and outputs the post processed stream.

Actually, according to Sonic Studio the supposition that “Amarra applies DSP and outputs the post processed stream” as stated in the above post is not correct:

"The simple answer is that NO DSP is done if it (sic) everything is turned off.
This somewhat basic to pass bit perfect audio, Native DSD ( over USB), and MQA.

The term “signal unchanged” is somewhat misleading.

On OS X audio needs to be sent to the Audio Device as a float value - so our software and all others convert a PCM value to a float - this does not change the audio. Even Native DSD (over USB) converts the DSD to float(s) and the DAC converts them back to DSD.

The key is that audio is bit perfect ( i.e. does not change even if it is converted)".

In other words, if one leaves the signal passing through the Amarra engine WITHOUT changing the sample rate (bit perfect) and NOT applying DSP, Amarra does NOT change the signal. This is not only my experience as a long time Amarra Symphony with iRC user, my understanding is confirmed by Sonic Studio.


Just reviving this old thread because Amarra 4 is out and some users are proclaiming that the sound quality has further improved dramatically from the last version (I have not tried V4 yet but may do so out of curiosity). And the current release of Amarra 4 has no DSP options, yet.

Needless to say, the idea that the baseline sound of a “bitperfect” player could change so much without any DSP being applied is nonsense. The fact that Amarra has always had a house sound leaning to the “organic” or “analog” has always made me think they were applying some baseline DSP to make it sound that way.

I only bring this up because it seems like a bit of a con-job/snake oil to me. That said, if you like the sound then go for it - I just wish Sonic Studio would be more honest as to why their player sounds different.

They do bypass core audio and use their own low level process so maybe they have some magical algo that removes all jitter and does the output math/rounding in some fashion that makes for a better sound … which of course is why Amarra doesn’t even support Mac OS Integer mode (which bypasses any floating-point math in core audio if the dac supports it) … call me skeptical.

I discovered computer audio in 2011 and purchased every player available at the time as my method for comparing them without being limited to a two week trial. And HDtracks was offering a ten percent discount when purchasing certain players through their website. Pure Music was the first. In fact, Rob helped me setup PM as I was new and found it confusing.

Sonic Studio’s Amarra (Full as it was named at the time) had been mercifully reduced in cost to $695 from $1000. I breathed in deeply and purchased Amarra Full as the third audio player out of several. With PM, Decibel, Fidelia (before the advanced edition), Audirvana (before Plus), BitPerfect, and, of course, iTunes and HQPlayer.

I quickly discovered after lengthy comparison sessions with all the players but without the press of a two week trial imposition, that Amarra Full in my discernment sounded the best of them (sensorily). In fact, I was so impressed with the SQ, I volunteered as a beta tester, and have acted as one since 2011. With access to the program, I always paid my way. With the introduction of Dirac’s iRC, customized for Sonic Studio’s Amarra Symphony, the expensive became dearer.

Amarra Full was renamed Amarra Symphony and over the years was innovated by the Oracles at Sonic Studio. It gave and it took. But for me, I encountered none of the problems other enthusiasts of computer audio had experienced. I even offered suggestions which in part were implemented. The consensus might have been described as a “love it or hate it” depending on One’s overall experiences.

With the introduction of iRC, Amarra Symphony took yet another SQ personna. Over the years, the other players were innovated such that Amarra Symphony distinguished itself for the most part not as the most innovative among the many players, but, IMO (no way to avoid the caveat), retained the status as the best SQ of them all. Obviously this is, at best, a subjective evaluation; and I was never interested in proving that discernment. I settled back and enjoyed the music with Amarra Symphony with iRC as good enough (not a compromise). I tried to stop chasing the technology. The more I resisted, the more I kept up with it to a point.

Enter roon. This “new” player’s edition, back when just offered for sale, persuaded me in less than two weeks to purchase a life time subscription. Not one regret since. Despite a superior UI and UX, again in my opinion, with or without Dirac’s Live implemented for roon, and with or without the HQPlayer/roon integration/association (I sought to promote Amarra Symphony as an option which was not to be), Amarra Symphony remained the favored SQ. And beyond SQ, roon offered far more in the offerings clearly manifested in its present iteration. 1.3 has now taken roon more than a few pegs in the direction of best all around.

As a beta tester for Amarra Symphony, I continued in that capacity with Amarra 4 in development for some time, as I have with Amarra for TIDAL, A4TwHIFIwiRC and AsQ+wiRC. The present iteration of Amarra 4 (hereafter A4) which ought to be regarded as the progeny of Amarra Hifi, for information, now officially released capitalizes on its SQ. A4 employs the “same” Amarra engine but without all the bells, whistles, and this’s and that’s. I would not pretend to know what is responsible for Amarra’s signature sound. I can discern it when playing compared to another program not only by its SQ but its FQ (how it makes me feel while listening). And, thankfully, iTunes is no longer a companion with Amarra/iTunes as it has been with Amarra less than Symphony, which I promoted for years and which has finally been realized. Amarra Symphony in Playlist mode also allowed for a dismissal of iTunes.

Rather late to the party, A4 delivers a modest UI/UX and features to match. No DSP. But 16 EQ presets. The overall look and feel is neatly essential and One’s library is articulated visually without any hoopla. To be fair to A4 and my long history for and affection with Sonic Studio, is a work in progress, not meant to compete with roon/Dirac Live/HQPlayer et al. But that’s merely my own opinion. What’s next on deck and when it will come to step up to the plate is not available nor would I leak that information if I was privy, is Amarra 4 Luxe, the intended replacement for Amarra Symphony and the flagship edition from Sonic Studio.

As to whether A4’s SQ has surpassed Amarra’s engine as it sounded in Amarra Symphony, yes, it’s different. It still retains that analog feel and the signature sound so distinct (for me) with earlier editions of Amarra retains many of the characteristics. Is it good enough? By that I mean to imply, it’s highly enjoyable and it’s the next iteration of the signature sound I have long favored over all the other players.

Given that our player’s name could lead one to a phonological ambiguity, roon is anything but a ruin. Closer to a rune. And, taken as a whole, there is no player that offers what roon started with then continued to improve on with a stunning UI/UX with high quality customer support, comprehensive development, an ambitious schedule for innovation and reliably open to the feedback of its user base which I imagine since I joined early on has grown in geometric proportions.

By contrast, the price points for Amarra 4 and Amarra 4 Luxe offer a the next generation of Sonic Studio’s family of Amarra players with a focus on delivering SQ at a very reasonable cost. As to the SQ that is delivered, however others choose to speculate about and characterize how Sonic Studio accomplishes what reaches your ears, we decide what that’s worth and what value it delivers. I remain a beta tester for Sonic Studio because it’s my way of showing appreciation for the enjoyment of music I experience from Sonic Studio.

In the same Spirit and in the pursuit of the enjoyment of music which remains my highest criterion, roon delivers that enjoyment in so many ways. Recently, I changed my Synergistic Research cabling for all Nordost at considerable cost. The result was predictable given I had borrowed a friend’s assortment of Nordost. The result was different, and the difference was better in my discernment. How Nordost accomplishes this, I do not know enough to persuade. Instead, I trust what I hear and what I feel about what I hear. The same is essentially true for Amarra 4 and roon. Lucky me.

Music’s the thing; the equipment seduces.



Hi there, I am a musician and an audiophile with a different twist! I moved to Nashville and worked in the pro field. That is I ran a company that integrated the top recording studios in Nashville like Warner Brother’s Loft, Emerald, Warner Chapple Music, House of Gold Music, Stargem Records, The Barn, RCA Studio A, RCA Studio B, Almo Irving Music, Mary Tyler Moore Music, and more I don’t remember right now, but after that I worked in 1986 for Mitsubishi Pro Audio Group as a regional Manager. In 1986 I was at the AES convention in LA doing booth duty. A couple of booths down from us was Sound Droids, a Lucasfilm company charged with creating the next generation DAW. It was amusing to me in a way, because they could not seem to get the droids working. I was witnessing why George Lucas jettisoned the druids. They became Sonic Solutions. Based in San Francisco, they were on the very cutting edge of the the digital transformation. By that I mean, they wrote the software for the very first computer based cd authoring system available. That means their systems were used at all the mastering rooms and cd pressing plants to “author” the masters that made cd’s. So every cd you have has passed through Sonic Solutions software on the way to becoming a cd. No one else can say that. Anyway, I have heard the same “involving” comments on the Amarra player and I echo those. There are things that happen in the transfer that are beyond “bit perfect” The digital filtering and upsampling parts are much more important than anything else. I have owned the HQ software and they are in the same realm. The digital filtering realm is an essential thing to understand about cd technology. An extension of what Philips developed with their quadruple oversampling digital filter is at play in this discussion. All of the high frequencies are interpolated. Look that up! That is just in the cd player DAC! What we are doing is furthering that process to do oversampling, a feature of both HQ Player and Amarra, and every other software that does this. So what they are doing is using algorithms to guess where the high frequency waveforms should be! Who do you trust? Which sounds best? We can’t measure you have to listen! Anyway I hope you can understand why I have gone round and round, and ended up back at Sonic Studio!.

Hello Allen, Enjoyed reading about your perspective, knowledge of the music presentation in replicating it for digital storage, playback and the convenience of what became computer audio players. Even before over-sampling became available with Amarra Full to Amarra Symphony to Amarra Luxe, something in the way Amarra moved attracted me like no other. Eventually, Amarra attempted to catch up with roon and HQPlayer, and Damien’s Audirvana as well as Pure Music which has always had a very different playback sound quality for me. Sonic Studio hasn’t developed as I had hoped it would. As I believed it could. As I thought it should. But then what do I know, really? The thing is, despite how well todays computer audio programs’ UI, UX, etc. de minimus is the Sound Quality. Given I have been listening to music through my KEF Reference 107s since 1986 when they debuted, I have developed an ear for what sound quality comes through that connects me with (as much as possible) the many years I spent as a teenager and in my early twenties attending the NYC Jazz venues to hear the greats of Jazz. As good as many of the players convey music played through them, only Amarra takes me back to third row center at the Village Vanguard with Eddie Gomez house left Bill Evans house right and the drummer greats off center usually to the left. I am most happy hearing through Amarra even with its production and development disappointments. But the Sound Quality though different depending on the build always shows up in either a previous build or consistent with a newer build. And when it doesn’t meet the Amarra Sound Quality, I just return to the last build that did. I’d be lost without Amarra. Appreciation goes to roon, HQPlayer, Audirvana. It’s been a while with Pure Music. Thank you Allen for bringing up the reasons we listen and enjoy

In 1987 I worked in some pals stereo store in Nashville. I was able to take $1000 cd players home to try out, and was not impressed. I had a high quality turntable and it clearly sounded better than the cd players. At the same time a colleague of mine named David LaBarre ( we worked with him on the Warner Brothers Loft studio) was modifying Studer cd players for pros. This involved upgrading the analog parts of the signal path. The Studer cost $5000 and LaBarres mods were $2000. This was all brought up by music producers in Nashville that took home masters and compared them with cd’s. Theoretically they should sound the same but did not. Masterfonics in Nashville retained LaBarre to find out why. He invited me over to his house to show me the results. What he was doing was attaching an oscilloscope to the output of players and playing a 20 kHz test tone. It should look nice and rounded and even, but it did not, it looked like a triangle wave. Then he attached a Studer cd player. The sine wave looked perfect but I told him I could not afford it. Then he attached a lowly Magnavox player. It looked as good as the Studer! He explained that the key was the Philips quadruple oversampling digital filter. The whole first generation of cd players sounded like crap. They used bucket brigade analog filters on the output that gave them the roll off at the expense of phase integrity. The high frequencies were literally hundreds of degrees out of phase. The advent of the the Philips digital filter fixed it. The problem is that as you go up in frequency the number of samples decreases to the point at 20 kHz there are only two samples for the entire waveform. If you position them at the top and bottom that leaves a lot of waveform with no samples. This is where the Philips technology worked. It used interpolation algorithms to fill in the missing data. This is much more important than being “bit perfect” What good does it do to be bit perfect if it doesn’t sound good? It is my theory that all of the players and daw programs use this technology to improve their sound. It is analogous to lens and filters in photographic equipment. Oh I bought a Magnavox for 199 and tweaked the analog as Labarre showed me, it easily outperformed the $1000 cd players! I was using it at the high fi store to sell speakers. One customer asked me what I was playing and I showed him the modified Magnavox. He asked how much it was and I told him it wasn’t for sale. He asked AGAIN and I said fine $500. He paid me on the spot. So that year I made some money selling modified Magnavoxes to recording engineers and audiophiles.

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