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BitPerfect (was: Audirvana Alternatives)

post #1 of 774
Thread Starter 

Hi Gurus,

 

I've just discovered Audirvana, the OSX audio player. Compared to iTunes I'm noticing a definite improvement in SQ but a definite regression in convenience :)

 

Being an audiophile, SQ trumps convenience, but it would be nice to have both. Can you recommend any OSX players with similar SQ that include organizational features equivalent or superior to iTunes?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 774

.


Edited by WarriorAnt - 8/22/11 at 6:13pm
post #3 of 774

I think he means the first post of my thread listening all the current players here: 

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/539740/mac-os-x-music-players-alternatives-to-itunes/

post #4 of 774
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the link. I guess I should have posted my question in that thread, but I was specifically interested in players with similar audio quality to audirvana.

 

After checking out the other thread, it seems there is Pure Music and amarra. I just tried Pure Music, sounds pretty good. Being a developer, when I saw how it worked (just loading iTunes and intercepting playback events) I decided to take a stab at doing it myself and saving $CAD 132. If it works out, I might throw my work up on the App store for a buck or two :)

post #5 of 774

Go back to Windows 7 SP1 and use Fidelizer. Even foobar2000+wasapi can ourperform Audirvana with Fidelizer alone in normal OS.

post #6 of 774
Thread Starter 

Here's the "beta" of my music player, BetterSound. So far no flac support so you'll have to transcode to Apple lossless (m4a) to try it. I'm hoping to add flac support this weekend. When you run the app, it launches iTunes, you then play a track in iTunes and it plays through BetterSound, kind of like Pure Music does. Since this is a beta, most of the settings are defaulted to what seems to sound best, so there isn't much to play with. There is no UI, except for a preferences dialog where you can choose the output device.

Quality-wise I think it is comparable to Audirvana. I'm pretty sure I need a DAC or amp to hear any difference between the two (I'm using the line out on my Macbook Pro). I can clearly hear differences between BetterSound/Audirvana and iTunes, but not between BetterSound and Audirvana. I'm guessing Audirvana probably has the edge, it certainly has many more features and options, but I think I've distilled out the most important ones, like exclusive mode, and made them the default in my app.

 

Notable features/behaviour:

 - Exclusive access mode. BetterSound will *only* open the device in exclusive access mode.

 - Any upsampling/downsampling is done via CoreAudio with the best possible settings and 2x/4x ratios (no 44.1 to 96, instead 44.1 to 88.2).

 - Use max bit depth is a bit of a hack, it is there to support DACs that only have limited output bit depths. For instance, the Classé CP-800 only support 24-bit, so all 16-bit files need to be output in 24-bit. In a future version I'll probably get rid of this option and be more clever about choosing bit depth, unless you guys report improved SQ.

 - It uses two 128M buffers for smooth playback. 128M is good for about 3 minutes of 32/96.

 - The sound device is configured to use its maximum buffer size.

 - Gapless playback is possible, there is a 1 second delay between iTunes playing a file and BetterSound responding. That said, that also means BetterSound has only 1 second to buffer enough of the next track to ensure gapless playback. This works just fine when playing from the hard disk, but I'd imagine it would be problematic over wireless networks.

 

Notable missing features:

 - BetterSound only supports stereo tracks (I think!) and stereo output devices (for sure!). Furthermore, the output device has to be a "simple" stereo device. BetterSound should hide ineligible devices from the list on the preferences screen. If this doesn't hiding doesn't work, the audio output can be totally garbled. I'd suggest turning the volume way way down and  then slowly turning it up that way you don't risk your ears or your equipment.

 - BetterSound does not mute iTunes, so if you play through the default device, you might hear a short blip from iTunes before BetterSound takes control. I'll probably get around to fixing that this weekend.

 

Let me know if you try it!

 

In case you missed it above, here's the link (head-fi won't let me make attachments :() https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0Bzete4H47vr1YTdjODExMzUtZjFkZC00N2IxLTg1MzgtODA5YmRlM2E3NGQ4&hl=en_US&authkey=COyqkqsO.

post #7 of 774

So how exactly does BetterSound work? I mean, do I just open it up when I'm using iTunes and let it run in the background? If so, that sounds great.

 

Nevermind. I downloaded and started it up. Noticed a nice update in audio quality coming out of iTunes about a half a second after it started.


Edited by DougofTheAbaci - 5/22/11 at 12:27am
post #8 of 774
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougofTheAbaci View Post

So how exactly does BetterSound work? I mean, do I just open it up when I'm using iTunes and let it run in the background? If so, that sounds great.

 

Nevermind. I downloaded and started it up. Noticed a nice update in audio quality coming out of iTunes about a half a second after it started.



Yeah, the half-second delay is due to the way BetterSound works. It hijacks the output device once it starts playing, but there is a delay, so you hear iTunes for a bit first. I've got a few ideas about how to fix that but there are some higher priority bugs that have been brought to my attention :)

post #9 of 774
Thread Starter 

New version (0.12) available here.

 

Special thanks to DougofTheAbaci for the status bar and application icons! Also thanks to Doug and goldmbe for their feedback.

 

The new version includes:

  • BetterSound is now an "agent" application, it only appears in the status bar on the top of the screen (suggested by Doug.)
  • Status bar and bundle icons (courtesy of Doug.)
  • The bit depth is now intelligently selected. There is no need for "force max bit depth" unless it improves SQ somehow.
  • BetterSound stops playback and relinquishes exclusive control of the audio device when iTunes exits.
  • iTunes is muted on startup and unmuted when BetterSound exits. This masks the half-second of audio coming from iTunes before BetterSound takes over.
  • Systems with only 1 output device will now switch tracks automatically at the end of each song. The track switch supports gapless playback.

 

As always, let me know your questions/comments/requests/rants/raves/bug reports etc...

post #10 of 774

Ooo, have I got an interesting bug for you!

 

OK, so, if BetterSound is running and iTunes is open but muted HTML5 videos on YouTube won't play. Here's how to recreate:

 

1. Open iTunes and BetterSound

2. Either uninstall Flash or use a plugin (like ClickToFlash) to temporarily disable it

3. Go to YouTube.com in Safari and click a video

4. Watch it preload but never play, even if you toggle pause/play or use the seek function

 

My guess is you're hijacking QuickTime to do the controls, right? I think it's overriding all instances of QuickTime, or something to that effect.

post #11 of 774
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougofTheAbaci View Post

Ooo, have I got an interesting bug for you!

 

OK, so, if BetterSound is running and iTunes is open but muted HTML5 videos on YouTube won't play. Here's how to recreate:

 

1. Open iTunes and BetterSound

2. Either uninstall Flash or use a plugin (like ClickToFlash) to temporarily disable it

3. Go to YouTube.com in Safari and click a video

4. Watch it preload but never play, even if you toggle pause/play or use the seek function

 

My guess is you're hijacking QuickTime to do the controls, right? I think it's overriding all instances of QuickTime, or something to that effect.


Thanks for the bug report. Can you check if you have only 1 output device? Run "Audio Midi Setup", all the devices with speakers on the left are output devices. If you have more than one when BetterSound runs one of the other should get the two system default sound icons next to it.

 

My guess is, you have only 1 output device, so BetterSound hogs it. Now, when you try to play video, it is up to the video player to decide whether to play with no sound or not. Having done some video player coding I can tell you that is not an obvious choice. The speed of the video is often synced in someway to the audio playback, so it is quite possible that the browser just doesn't want bother playing the video if there is no sound.

 

If I'm right, installing soundflower or plugging in a DAC would allow video to play with sound going through some other device.

post #12 of 774

Yep, only one output device. I'll give Soundflower a look.

post #13 of 774
Thread Starter 

New version (0.13) available here.

 

Changes (bug fixes and minor improvements) include:

  • Fix crash when switching track in some cases.
  • Last 4 seconds of last song in the playlist are lost.
  • Fix slight hiccup when changing playback buffer.
  • BetterSound will stop playback in iTunes when it exits. This prevents iTunes suddenly playing when you were probably expecting silence.
  • Increment play count in iTunes when there is only 1 output device.
  • Stop playback at the end of an iTunes playlist (also relinquishes control of the output device.)
  • Added "Stop" option to status bar menu.

 

Next up integer mode and FLAC support.

post #14 of 774

Can't wait for the next version. Keep up the good work!

post #15 of 774
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the interest goldmbe... just for you, here's 0.14, starring FLAC support.

 

New version (0.14) available here.

 

Changes include:

  • FLAC support, see notes below for caveats.
  • More precise volume control (100 steps vs 20). Makes the OSX volume control GUI behave weirdly, but IMHO is worth it.
  • Some refactoring to set the stage for integer mode (the checkbox in preferences does nothing, yet.)

 

FLAC caveats. FLAC support was finished about 15 minutes ago... so I haven't properly tested it yet. There are a few things to be aware of.

  1. You need to install Fluke (http://code.google.com/p/flukeformac/).
  2. Fluke can cause iTunes to hang if there is no available output device, so if you have only 1 output device, install soundflower or something.

 

As always, if you give it a try, let me know. I'd love to hear from you, even if it is bad news :)

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