Mac OS X Music Players - alternatives to iTunes

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by currawong, Feb 15, 2011.
  1. Left Channel
    The fact that you got no answer for over a month probably is your answer. :)

    Plex will "direct play" or transcode automatically. You have no control over that or most other aspects of your system audio.

    Plex is all about convenience. I run it so non-technical family members can access our music/video/photos server via a simple interface in their Mac browsers or our TiVo and Roku boxes. I use different server and player software for myself.

    Plex may be enough if you jack headphones directly into your Mac. But with most external DACs you'll hear a clear difference using players that cost money. Mentioned most often on computer audiophile websites are Audirvana+, HQPlayer, JRiver, and, yes, Roon. Also Amarra, but it is a work-in-progress.Try the trials.
    rage3324 likes this.
  2. davidland
  3. rage3324
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
    Left Channel likes this.
  4. Left Channel
    Thanks for alerting us to Plexamp! That was fun to play with. WinAmp "Plexified". Too Plexy for most here I fear, but great for anyone listening directly out of their computer's built-in audio, and in a size optimized for laptop screens.

    As with Plex Media Player, the sound quality is inferior to software players that can be adjusted to work best with external DACs. To my ears there was a veil over the music until I switched to one of those players.

    This homage to WinAmp could be taken as a bit of an insult by some enthusiasts. WinAmp is much more customizable and tweakable. Windows users can install a WASAPI plugin. WinAmp has been available for Mac for a few years, but hasn't gotten much traction. Many Mac owners here bypass Audio MIDI, relying instead on features added by higher-SQ software players. Plexamp is not meant for those users. But it sure is fun, and I will install it for some of the family here.

    Edit: I automatically typed "PlexAmp" at first. Why no camel case in this name? Maybe their lawyers got involved. Corrected above: "Plexamp".
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  5. Allanmarcus
    I gotta chime in. While I’m sure many like the sound output of various players, to “truly” hear the DAC, one should send the music data to the DAC bit perfect. Putting aside various transports like USB, optical, reclockers, spdif converters, and decrapifiers, you can get simple bitperfect transport with iTunes simply by putting the iTunes volume to 100%. Sure, iTunes doesn’t do DSD, Flac (yet), or auto switching. You can add BitPerfect for $10 to get auto switching, as well as all sorts of upscaling options. Certainly my equipment is resolving enough that if there were a difference, I should be able to hear it. I’m incredibly lucky in that, for the most part, I cannot hear any difference between players. If I use bitperfect to max upscale, I think I can hear a slight difference. Not better, but different.

    A player is either sending data bitperfect, or not. Unless you have incredibly well trained ears and super hearing, most people would not be able to tell the difference between players.
  6. Left Channel
    Good example of a way to remove the "veil" of which I spoke. But talk about that to my Plex users here, and you'll just get blank stares. To most people, it's not worth the trouble. We're the ones with the problem. :)
  7. PierreC
    At home I listen Tidal Hi-Fi and MQA with my Shanling M2s plugged in my mac with Audirvana.
    But during my work, I only use Bluetooth connection between Audirvana and my Sony MDR-1000x.

    I understand that for my AAC library, the best bluetooth transmission is AAC, because there is no more encodage.

    However, to listen Tidal Hi-fi with bluetooth, I am a bit confused... between AAC and aptx. Indeed, I measured the transmission of both codecs (see both attached files), the aptx (yellow curve) seems to transmit at 430 Mbytes/sec (constant bitrate) and AAC (blue curve) at 270 Mbytes/sec (various bitrate).

    So at first sight the aptx seems to have a better transfert rate, but I red (I don't know where anymore...) that AAC encodage has a higher quality than aptx.

    What is your opinion about that? Which codec I should use to get the best quality as possible in my headphone (AAC or aptx) for streaming Hi-Fi Tidal music?
    Thank you in advance!
    Bluetooth_AAC.png Bluetooth_aptX.png
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  8. Allanmarcus
    If you can’t tell the difference by listening, it don’t matter.
  9. cloudkicker
    If you're streaming
    Is your Bluetooth device sending AptX? If not and it sends AAC only then use AAC. You can also stream/download TIDAL in non-HiFI as it's lower res is AAC and avoid the conversion to AAC to your headphones.
  10. PierreC
    Yes, the MDR-1000x send in AptX as well as AAC.
    My question was a bit more technical. I mean, regarding compression quality using the same bitrate, which one is better? If you know a link where differences between this two codecs are well-explained (with frequency test, comparison with audio sources,...), please let me know because I didn't find that on the web yet.
  11. PierreC
  12. KaiFi
    I still haven't found a good iTunes alternative for MacOS X. JRiver has potential, but right now it's too sluggish and messy. What I want is something like MusicBee (or just Music Bee itself). That would be great.

    Roon is nice, but it doesn't allow for the playlist-based listening that I do (I listen mostly to classical and organize everything into playlists by work). So I still end up using iTunes.
  13. PierreC
    I started to try Audirvana (3 weeks trial), you can manage playlist also.
  14. Allanmarcus
    I'm not sure what "playlists by work"
    Rune does have a way to creating smart playlists (sort of). It's not as good as actual Smart Playlists from iTunes.
  15. KaiFi
    Thanks. Never even heard of that one, but I just checked it out and it seems pretty similar to what I'm looking for. :)

    What I mean is that I create a new playlist for each classical work, i.e. a playlist called "Violin Concerto in A minor", then I put that in a playlist folder called "Violin Concertos", then I put that in a folder called "Vivaldi" (as an example). In other words, I like to have playlists for everything and group them into folders and group those folders into composer folders. iTunes allows that easily, but most of the other alternatives don't.

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