The latest version of Audirvana was brought out over the holiday period with all the attendant excitement of a maintenance release. But on the contrary it has proved to be something of a major step forward, for this user at least, both in sound quality and usability. And much more so than the Ver2 to Ver3 ‘now we’ve got MQA’ release.
First is the addition of a new sample rate convertor in the form of SoX. Upsampling CD rips to drive my TEAC AI-301DA at 32/88.2 has made a massive improvement in sound quality. (Of course your mileage may differ.) The difference is to the note integrity, simple clarity and sheer listenability to my whole catalogue of CD rips – changes are not so great with true HD hi-res files but SoX has shifted the Redbook goalposts a major distance for me.
Some higher rate material has failed to play when upsampled to the theoretical 32/352.8 limit of the TEAC – the rate is shown as permissible in the SoX Preferences but no sound comes from the ampDAC unless I limit oversampling to a maximum of 192kHz. This is done in the Audio System Preferences section: ‘For bridge devices connected to a DAC’.
A second major feature is the ability to benefit from Audirvana conversions on an unconnected Mac. Audirvana Plus 3.2 can now play to UPnP/DLNA network players. So I can finally use Audirvana Remote on my iPad to drive Audirvana Plus running on my iMac to feed my Auralic Aries Mini switched to UPnP mode (i.e. out of Lighting DS mode). Looking forward to hear some if not all of the advantages of the SoX oversampling I was in for a bit of a surprise – life is not all that stable for this combination but I’ll put that down to no longer having the Aries running on wired Ethernet but working wirelessly. There were some advantages in terms of detail resolution – the multi-tracked vocals on Christy Moore’s Ride On for instance – but there was a surprisingly bass light quality to the whole sound. I’m not used to hearing frequency balance changes when tinkering digitally and this has given me such a start that I’ve gone straight back to using Lighting DS on the Aries as a familiar stopgap before I start this all over again when the Devialet arrives…
In my office system all is well with CD rips and the limits on upsampling – I’ve never heard the little Tannoys singing quite so well. Though their days too are numbered as some real bookshelf speakers are being lined up for 2018.