Completing the final installment in my BitPerfect review has taken entirely too long. I’ve had a number of scheduling issues, a misdirected attempt at integrating a programming project into the review, and frankly not enough time sitting in front of my main system that I outlined in part 1 of the review. However, I have put in more hours listening to BitPerfect on a different system with a variety of music, so instead of leaving this review incomplete, I want to bring closure so I can share my results.
Most of the listening occurred with my more modest office system, consisting of a HRT Music Streamer, Schiit Valhalla headphone amp, and 600-ohm Beyer DT-880 headphones. Interconnects between the Music Streamer and the Valhalla were homemade twisted OFC crafted by yours truly. The computer was a Core2Duo Mac Pro with 8 gigabytes of RAM running OS X Lion.
Here’s where I’m going to become more informal about reporting my results. I originally laid out a number of tracks that I intended to listen to repeatedly, taking notes along the way. I hoped that over time my notes would converge in the effect that the BitPerfect made on the music and that I would be able to share those notes with you. Unfortunately, a variety of factors ended up making my original plans unrealistic. Instead I’ve listened to a wide variety of content through this system, typically ripped from CDs, purchased through the iTunes or Amazon stores, or for less-established artists, purchased or downloaded through BandCamp or SoundCloud. As of late, I’ve particularly enjoyed Zoe Keating‘s Into The Trees, so I made a point of listening to it from beginning to end several times.
First and foremost, can you hear BitPerfect’s effect in the playback of music? The answer is a resounding “yes”. I found it very easy to distinguish when BitPerfect was handling playback and when iTunes was in charge. BitPerfect’s influence was noticeable on my Wyred4Sound/Woo/AKG system and on the HRT/Schiit/Beyer system. I asked a non-audiophile friend to try BitPerfect with a pair of Sennheiser cans and my HRT HeadStreamer; he could also distinguish when BitPerfect was handling playback instead of iTunes.
Second, what is it that BitPerfect does? How does the music change? I’ve pondered how to answer this question since the first installment of this review. After some thought, I’ve decided to answer this question a little differently than most audio reviewers. I’m certainly not in Srajan Ebaen‘s league over at 6moons and I’m not going to be a poser either; I have no doubt that plenty of other reviewers will provide a much more detailed critique.
If you’ve read my music reviews, you know that I find the emotional impact that music makes on me is an important part of the experience. While a musician may be technically superb and have a world-class recording engineer, that really doesn’t matter to me if the music doesn’t effect me emotionally. Music needs to take me on a journey and when it’s over, I need to be moved by the experience. As I’ve listened to BItPerfect, I recognized that it changed the experience. When BitPerfect was handling playback, I consistently found the music more engaging, more moving, and it increased the emotional response the artist created in me.
Does all of this mean that BitPerfect makes the music sound more realistic? Actually, I don’t know. I do know that it made the music sound better for my ears on my systems. And, it did so consistently. I’ll leave it to the other reviewers to go through every nuance of BitPerfect’s effect, but for me, I could hear it at work and I consistently liked what it did.
How does BitPerfect compare against similar tools? I did spend some time comparing BitPerfect against Pure Music. I found Pure Music was more subtle and while it did increase my enjoyment of the music, it wasn’t as overt as BitPerfect. You may find Pure Music superior to BitPerfect, but I preferred BitPerfect.
Let me conclude my review with this: Give BitPerfect a try. It’s only a few dollars from the AppStore, so really, how much do you have to lose? You may prefer other players like Amarra or Pure Music, but they are much more expensive. Honestly, I preferred BItPerfect over PureMusic, but on your system and with your ears, you may disagree. For me, my ears, my systems and the music I listen to, BitPerfect enhances the music in a way I enjoy. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the software and the hardware, but don’t forget that in the end, it’s about the music. As long as you like the sound, that’s all that really matters.
April 7, 2012: A quick update. Since originally starting this review, BitPerfect’s price has increased to $9.99. Even with the price increase, my recommendation stands. BitPerfect remains an excellent value.