Computer Audio Playback:

Introduction

There are a few choices for playback using an Apple computer. Amongst these are programs such as Amarra, Decibel, or Pure Music as well as iTunes. Most players work in conjunction with iTunes, which offers interconnectivity with other Apple devices such as the iPad or iPhone and is easy to use. You may find instructions on setting up each player on the player's respective web page. Here, you may find instructions for setting up iTunes to offer optimal playback.

1. Launch iTunes from the Dock.


2. Choose “Preferences - General” from the iTunes menu.


3. Click the “Import Settings...” button.

Be sure to check the box “Use error correction when reading Audio CDs”. This is very important to ensure that the data transferred from your CD collection is accurate.

4. You will need to select a music file storage format from the drop-down list at “Import Using:”.

If you have plenty of hard drive space, choose “AIFF Encoder”, which stores the uncompressed audio data from your CD plus tags (“Artist”, “Album”, “Song”, et cetera) that are obtained from an internet database.

If your hard drive space is limited choose “Apple Lossless”, which will reduce the size of your music files by about 40%.


5. Then click on the “Playback” tab and make sure that the checkboxes for “Sound Enhancer:” and “Sound Check” are cleared. This will ensure that the data sent to your Ayre USB D/A converter is not altered in any way that might degrade the sound quality.


6.That's it! Now you are ready to enjoy high-performance music playback from your computer.

iTunes only has three foibles, and these are relatively minor for most users.

a) When playing high-resolution audio files, the playback sample rate of iTunes must be changed manually if you want bit-perfect output to your DAC. If you are playing a lot of high-resolution audio files you will definitely want to drag the “Audio MIDI Setup” application to your dock so that it is always handy. But there is a way to simplify this task even more with a script available from ComputerAudiophile.com.

b) There is no native support for the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Compression) file format. This format is commonly used when downloading high resolution (greater than CD) music files. The solution is to use an external program to convert the FLAC files to a format that iTunes recognizes. Convert the FLAC music files to either the AIFF or ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format, whichever format you have selected to use on your computer. Both formats will retain any tags present in the downloaded FLAC audio file. A great (free!) utility for this purpose is Max available from sbooth.org.

c) There is only limited tagging support for classical music. Although iTunes includes a “Composer” tag, it does not allow additional user-defined tags that are useful for organizing classical music.

Other music player software choices for Apple's OS X are somewhat limited. A promising program that is not quite ready for most users needs is Songbird, although it is an open-source effort (similar to Firefox) that is quickly gaining new features.


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