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Mac App Store: BitPerfect $4.99 (Worth it?)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I purchased MacBook Air 13" (2011) today. I have never used Mac Os X before. Always used Windows.

I am now setting up programs and stuff. Before (on Windows) I've used Windows 7 > Foobar2000 > Wasapi > NuForce Icon HDP > AKG Q701. So now on Mac I was going to download Foobar2000 (if it is available for Mac) but after doing some search on forum, I read that iTunes on Mac is already BitPerfect. So I thought "Great! I don't have to download Foobar2000, I just need to convert some FLAC files to ALAC." Then after googling some more, I came across an app called "BitPerfect" which I believe is a plug-in for iTunes that creates BitPerfect sounds. Description and reviews describe it as the only way to get BitPerfect through iTunes.

Now I am confused. Should I get this app? Does iTunes really output BitPerfect?


Edited by dsp0704 - 1/3/12 at 1:40am
post #2 of 21

I have a G4 Mac and use the Play program.....Play has noticeably better sound quality than iTunes does....so there are better options out there for the MAC....Play development has stopped at version .3 but works great. It's a universal OS X program, so will work on the Intel Macs also. Play is free.....(Play adds aliases of your music files that iTunes uses to a listing at the programs bottom, and then you double click on the songs that you want to play and they form a lost at the top of the program....you can have the program keep that list at the top of clear it, when you quit the program. Play uses the Core Audio in OSX that iTunes does not access. Its much better than iTunes sound quality wise.)

post #3 of 21

I use Pure Music and Fidelia, but have read on the various boards that Bit Perfect works well.  Keep in mind that itunes on the MAC will output bitperfect by itself, as long as you have your advanced midi settings for your SPDIF out set correctly (or appropriate USB interface).  BUT, iTunes does not change setting for hir-ez files.  If you have straight redbook (16/44.1 from ripped CDs) then you have nothing to worry about.  If you have some hi-rez files in your mix, then these are not getting sent at their setting, but rather whatever you have set the send rate in the advanced midi settings screen.

 

Most of the "other" music file playing software enables automatic sending of the correct setting for each file, unless you instruct it to resample on purpose for your hardware.

 

In summary, I think Bit-Perfect, which is somewhat new compared to the others (Amarra, PureMusic, Audirvana, Fidelia...) and of course cheaper than the paid versions of the others, but a bit more than the free ones.

 

IMO - worth trying, and with little overhead.  As a plus, your keyboard music controls will work, as well as iPhone/iPad remotes.

 

Also, PureMusic, and (I think) Amarra will play the FLAC files without conversion to ALAC.

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the great tips. I will definitely try those iTunes alternatives since I have some (not much) 24/96.

I wish Foobar2000 worked on mac osx :(

post #5 of 21

I own an iMac and have been using Bit Perfect for the past month or so. In my experience, Bit Perfect is a decent upgrade from iTunes. You will notice the difference in sound quality immediately upon using Bit Perfect (as compared to iTunes). I would say that Bit Perfect is worth its asking price of $5 but not more than that. Recently, I downloaded the trial versions of Audirvana Plus and Amarra. Now imo, Audirvana Plus is a step up from Bit Perfect. It has a clearer, more detailed sound. But Amarra sounds the best to me - in terms of SQ, Amarra trumps them all but is the most expensive player at $200 for the Mini version. 

post #6 of 21

Good thread for you here

post #7 of 21

I too use BitPerfect and quite like it. Happy to leave it running in the background and have iTunes as my interface. And yes BP does make a difference to the sound when running. 

 

My only tip would be to make sure you have ample RAM. There have been some glitches reported in a long-running thread on another site that seem to only occur on systems with little memory. 

 

I use an early 2011 15" MBP with 8Gb RAM and it works perfectly for me. 

post #8 of 21

I just bought BitPerfect yesterday, and spent some time last night getting it running on a Mac Mini. I will eventually put this on a new MB Air, as well, but for now it's running very well on the MM.  I don't see how you can go wrong at the price, and you might just conclude (as I am leaning strongly in the direction of) that you don't need anything else.  I have fairly high end gear in my systems here, and I'm having a hard time believing the still buggy Amarra, for instance, could sound any better than this setup.  Remember the new LION OS is fairly new, and a lot of people are basing their estimations of iTUnes performance upon the older SL OS and hardware.  I think for five bucks, I'm going to wait and see how much better the new MACs with LION sound with products like BP before spending any more.  I've already found the 350 dollar USB Musical Fidelity VDac II beats a much more expensive DAC I've had here for years.

You will need a conversion program like XLD to convert your FLACs to ALAC format.  It's free!  Stuff is getting cheaper, and better, all the time...

post #9 of 21

Can someone explain to me how any of these alternative programs can sound 'better' than iTunes if one is (presumably) outputting a bit-perfect signal to a DAC from all of them.  The bits are the same, no?

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhenya View Post

Can someone explain to me how any of these alternative programs can sound 'better' than iTunes if one is (presumably) outputting a bit-perfect signal to a DAC from all of them.  The bits are the same, no?

 

I second this question. I use Audirvana Plus b/c it sounds better to my ears, but I don't understand what is causing that if I am not using upsampling and if iTunes supposedly outputs bit-perfect signal.

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhenya View Post

Can someone explain to me how any of these alternative programs can sound 'better' than iTunes if one is (presumably) outputting a bit-perfect signal to a DAC from all of them.  The bits are the same, no?

 

I know nothing about the technical stuff so I can't explain it to you.

But since all these players have a free trial except the really cheap BitPerfect, why don't you give them all a try and decide which one sounds best and if the difference is worth the difference in price?

 

I tried BitPerfect, Audirvana, Puremusic and Fidelia and will try Amarra Mini when it's fully Lion compatible.

PureMusic I had problems with and when I raised the volume in the player I had a lot of distortion, so that one got scratched off my list.

I feel Audirvana sounded a little better than BitPerfect but there wasn't much difference so it could have been psychological.

Fidelia though is in another league when it comes to SQ IMO, so that is the one I'm using now.
 

 

post #12 of 21
 
 
 


Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleheadMay View Post

 

I know nothing about the technical stuff so I can't explain it to you.

But since all these players have a free trial except the really cheap BitPerfect, why don't you give them all a try and decide which one sounds best and if the difference is worth the difference in price?

 

I tried BitPerfect, Audirvana, Puremusic and Fidelia and will try Amarra Mini when it's fully Lion compatible.

PureMusic I had problems with and when I raised the volume in the player I had a lot of distortion, so that one got scratched off my list.

I feel Audirvana sounded a little better than BitPerfect but there wasn't much difference so it could have been psychological.

Fidelia though is in another league when it comes to SQ IMO, so that is the one I'm using now.
 

 

 

I'm heavily invested in the iTunes ecosystem, and I will freely admit that I actually really like using it for managing my music.  Since it outputs a verified bit-perfect signal to my external DAC, I'm perfectly happy with the sound I get from it.  I just want to know what the justification is for all this conversation about other programs sounding better than iTunes, since most of us here are also interested in bit-perfect.  Both statements can't possibly be true.
 

 

 
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhenya View Post

 
 
 

 

I'm heavily invested in the iTunes ecosystem, and I will freely admit that I actually really like using it for managing my music.  Since it outputs a verified bit-perfect signal to my external DAC, I'm perfectly happy with the sound I get from it.  I just want to know what the justification is for all this conversation about other programs sounding better than iTunes, since most of us here are also interested in bit-perfect.  Both statements can't possibly be true.
 

 

 


iTunes is capable of bit-perfect playback as long as crossfade, sound check, etc., are turned off, and the volume is maxxed.  But there are reasons for using a 3rd party music player with iTunes:

 

1.  Players like BitPerfect (which I use) can bypass the Mac OS audio mixer, which means only your iTunes music is audible; no other alert sounds, beeps, pings, etc. are heard.  The entire audio stream is 'hogged' by the player, and dedicated to iTunes output.  

 

2.  BitPerfect and similar players can load the upcoming audio track into RAM, and play it back from memory, rather than from a noisy hard disc.  This can mean quieter, smoother playback, since the hard drive is doing less spinning and grinding.

 

3.  Finally, with BitPerfect and other players, it is possible to have bit rates and sampling frequencies change automatically from one track to the next.  In order to do this while using iTunes only, you would have to shut down iTunes, go into Audio-Midi setup, change your bit rate and sampling frequency for the track you want to play, then reopen iTunes and play the track.  When you want to change back (from 24/96 to 16/44.1, for example), you'd have to do this all over again.

 

So, even though I don't believe these 3rd party music players actually make better sound, they are able to do things to optimize music playback, which can, in some cases, result in better audio.  If you want to upsample all of your tracks to the same bit rate and sampling frequency, play your music directly from a noisy hard disk, and hear an audible alert for incoming email while listening, then iTunes on its own will work fine.

 

I also own Pure Music, but I wish BitPerfect had been available sooner.  Both of these programs improve the sound in a small way, and equally, to my ears.  BitPerfect costs $5.00, and Pure Music costs $129.00.  Other players are even more expensive.  For me, BitPerfect does everything a player can to optimize music playback on the Mac, is easy to set up, has no interface to clutter up iTunes, and is the cheapest, so it's the one I use.

 

 

 

post #14 of 21

Thanks.

 

I am aware of having to re-load iTunes to change the bit-rate, but I own very little high-res music, so it doesn't bother me.

 

As for the hard-disk vs. ram, I'm not sure I follow how that matters much.  It's still outputting the same bits to the outboard DAC and amp, so why should the source matter?  I could see this if you were listening to the headphone out of the computer, but then who cares about that level of detail if that's your output?

post #15 of 21

What I meant was, if you were sitting very close to the computer, as I do with my Mac Mini, particularly if you are wearing open headphones, you can hear the hard disk spinning and grinding sometimes.  Especially in between tracks.  Totally silent when using a player with the memory play feature.

 

Otherwise, you're right; once the signal hits the DAC, there shouldn't be any difference.  So I'm talking about actual noise from the computer itself, not a degraded audio signal.

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