With the ability to listen to a Qobuz stream, use sound improvement plug-ins and the optional A+ Remote app for iPad and iPhone, Audirvana’s developer has once again raised the bar for audiophile listening pleasure for free. And there’s even more.
When your copy of Audirvana Plus updates to 2.3, you’ll get a new look for the library manager and some new icons. First of all, the library manager is brilliant. It synchronises automatically with your music collection and optionally you can have it sync with iTunes too. Until now, the library itself looked a bit common. In Audirvana 2.3, you’ll get a big heart icon overlaid on an album image to immediately turn it into a favourite. A big Play button allows you to start playing the album without having to open it, while three large dots give immediate access to other functionality when you click them.
Other library design improvements have been added too, such as a nice black title bar below the album cover that turns red when you click the Play button. Every track has also received some special attention: there’s now a Play/Pause button that appears next to the Title so you can instantly see which track is playing. Finally, there’s more information about your music and playing time all across the app.
Earlier versions already had the ability to add Audio Unit plug-ins for deep sound tuning. I think the idea of adding AU plug-ins works better than forcing users to pay for an additional room-based acoustics system — no matter how accurate that may do the job. The reason is that everybody experiences music in a very personal way. While purists will certainly find an accurate acoustics system of great value, I think I can make my music experience better by just trusting my ears and adding a bit of bass or creating different Equaliser curves for different music styles and instruments. Remember, even if you own an installation of several thousand Euros, your equipment never sounds perfect as it does in an acoustically perfect theatre!
My personal AU plug-in favourites are iZotope’s Ozone 7 (really a mastering app, but its dynamic EQ is awesome) and NUGENaudio’s SEQ-S, which allows me to actually draw the EQ curve to sculpt the sound to my liking. As there are multiple slots, you can use more than one plug-in, so I also tried adding NUGENaudio’s Stereoizer to change the stereo image of the music, but I ended up turning it back off as most tracks just don’t need it. If there’s anything to wish for in this domain, I’d vote for a plug-ins per track capability, but I’m not sure that’s even possible…
To round up, Audirvana Plus 2.3.x is the best audiophile music player available for the Mac. No matter whether you’re playing DSD files, an SACD ISO file or plain CD files, it will auto-switch sounding near-perfect. I’ve reviewed Audirvana Plus when it first came out.