For those of you who are using Audirvarna, do you do so because you think you believe you get a better listening experience OR because you like the interface and the way it organises your music from your NAS/Tidal etc.?
I am currently trialing it, having downloaded it onto my iMac which then connects to a NAS and streams via UPnP and Ethernet to a n272 (hope that is the right description!) I’m enjoying it - but unsure what the benefits really are.
I am by no means the only one using Audirvana - indeed I first learnt about it through other forum members…
Anyway: I use Audirvana on a Mac Mini, using it as a renderer (player) - which is different from its use as a UPnP server, a relatively recent function it now offers. My reason for using it is sound quality - when I first learnt of it, it seemed to be widely reputed to be the best sounding renderer you can get on a computer. My only direct comparisons have been against: i) ND5XS as a renderer, into Hugo DAC (the Mac Mini through a Gustard U12 isolator to block RF from the computer, essential with that particular DAC as it doesn’t have galvanic isolation and is very susceptible) - MM/Audirvana sounded better. And ii) Melco N1A, into Dave DAC in a short comparison, when there was no evident difference in sound.
Audirvana’s library handling to me is just so-so. I prefer it to Roon, because it handles poor or missing metadata better than, and allows text list scrolling of artists as well as thumbnail images, which I find far more efficient, while I have no interest in Roon’s bells and whistles. But it does have limitations: the recently introduced sort by file location facility has improved it, but currently is not available through the Audirvana remote control app, but only on the main program - which I control remotely using VNC, and VNC control from a tablet or phone is not as streamlined as controlling with the app.
Audirvana also offers Tidal, Qobuz and HiRezAudio online streaming, Tidal with first MQA unfold if desired. (I use none of these).
I use Audirvana fully optimised for maximum sound quality, including what is termed ‘direct mode’, bypassing Apple’s core audio software and deprivers, outputting through a dedicated USB bus. This requires El Capitan IOS software, not later, otherwise requires a kernel work-around because Apple blocked the ability to use direct mode in later OSs. My MM is a ‘late2012’ model, the last that allowed user upgradeability, in which I upped RAM to 16GB and installed twin 1GB SSDs. It is dedicated to music play when in use for that, and runs ‘headless’, with no monitor or keyboard. It is a combined music store and player, with no network in use when playing music.
There’s so many servers , like the Naim one ( unitserve and uniticore), twonky ( i use it on Melco), Asset, Minimserver, Roon…
I feel there are more and more Roon users, but don’t read often Audirvana users. However it has a very good reputation from what i heard.
I do not use Audirvana because I don’t like its user interface. I find JRiver MC better in this respect. Sonically I cannot tell them apart in my Chord system. I would only use Audirvana with a USB DAC.
For UPnP I swap between JRiver and Minimserver. JRiver adds DSP functionality, but if you don’t need it then go for Minimserver.
JRiver does not support Tidal or Qobuz so if you need these then it may not be for you. It may support Amazon HD soon. JRiver will handled photos and films if that is of interest. I use it in Audio only mode. JRiver has an excellent remote which works on almost any device with a web browser. It supports zones and you can set parameters such as room correction for each zone.
If you can live with its UI or you use Tidal or Qobuz then Audirvana is a fine product. JRiver has more features, but you may not need them.
As a UPnP server the sound quality advantage of Audirvana as a renderer is lost, and the only thing thing it has going for it that few others have is the incorporation of Tidal, Qobuz and HiRezAudio online streaming, including first MQA unfold on tidal, for anyone interested in those. I wouldn’t use it as a UPNP server because those don’t interest me and there are others that deal better with poor or missing metadata, with which my collection is inflicted, including the free Serviio on Mac, or Logitech Media Server that I used when I ran from a NAS prior to the Mac Mini (Zyxel NSA325 NAS came with Twonky, but I didn’t lime that and found LMS easier to set up and more stable). And some people have reported a mismatch with Naim streamers and Audirvana as UPnP server, possibly because it is not a straightforward fileserver.
@Rjt36: I keep it as a backup, and benchmark, because it genuinely sounds great — better than the same Mac playing from iTunes. I play from backups stored on a USB-attached hard drive. Also, it’s insurance in case the NAS and its backup scheme fail.
Thanks ever so much to you all. I feel a bit out of my depth with all your extraordinary technical knowledge. But it sounds as if the set-up that I’m trying would be no better from a sound quality (and could well be worse) than using direct from the native Naim app. But the organisation and visual representation of the nas drive and tidal on the Mac is quite nice.
Is there a link or previous topic that might help me think about what I might need to do to get Audirvana to run as a renderer (in the way described by members)? My current set up is a nas connected to my router (via a Cisco switch), which is then via Ethernet cable to my nac 272 (in a different room). My iMac is close to the nas and router and again is Ethernet connected to the router.
As a UPnP server the sound quality advantage of Audirvana as a renderer is lost, and the only thing thing it has going for it that few others have is the incorporation of Tidal, Qobuz and HiRezAudio online streaming, including first MQA unfold on tidal, for anyone interested in those.
I still rate the SQ of Audirvana via UPnP over the usual alternatives (Asset, Minim, etc.) for both local and internet streaming. I run it on a headless Mac Mini into my N272. Also find that Tidal operation is typically more stable through Audirvana versus the Naim app (Android).
My point was that rendering is where Audirvana definitely excels in sound quality - and I don’t have experience of it as UPnP server so can’t comment, though I am unclear as to why UPnP servers might sound different from one another
I haven’t tried Audirvana in rendering mode but yes, seems this is where it gets most of its praise.
I’m also unclear why two UPnP servers running on the same device might sound different but if, as in my case, the servers run on different devices (NAS, Mac Mini etc.), then surely this introduces a whole set of new variables?
Why? Simply because when functioning as a UPnP server it is serving the file to the streamer, and the rendering of the file into a real time digital music stream is done by the receiving streamer, so Audirvana itself is not doing the rendering, and the quality of the rendered digital music stream as fed to the DAC is primarily due to the streamer not Audirvana.
Primarily, yes – but not entirely. As @anon42789223 says, even in UPnP mode, Audirvana applies a few specific tricks to minimise signal interference that are not available on other UPnP servers. Whether that provides any audible benefit is subjective, but it’s all marginal gains at this point anyway – just as it is with, for example, ethernet cables.
I don´t really understand the difference between using it as a renderer and something else? I tried it sending the audio to the NDX wirelessly. I used optimised sound in the settings and played Tidal. The NDX showed the songs as wav and not flac why I think it must have done some rendering. But I must admit, I might be wrong.
Nope, you need to select Audio Settings, there is a whole host of settings for UPnP mode plus others, from upsampling including DSD, 24 bit vs 32 bit, signal polarity settings, audio units, audio volume, upsampling algorithms, etc.