Despite being an audiophile with high demands when it comes to sound quality, I often listen to live concerts through YouTube or simply stream MP3 tracks from Spotify to my stereo system or STAX headphones. Even my kids occasionally want listen to the poor quality audio that they have purchased on iTunes. Unfortunately, the sound quality is generally lacking resolution and body, with high pitch notes ending up tinny in sound. It is a completely unenjoyable experience.
Here’s where Amarra SQ comes in! On your Mac, it registers itself as an audio output driver and omits Apple’s much-maligned CoreAudio engine which does all sorts of nasty things to audio playback. In other words, you simply set Spotify, Qobuz, YouTube, iTunes or whatever you may be using to route any audio signal to Amarra SQ.
What happens next is simply stunning. Amarra SQ vastly transforms even humble YouTube music videos. I can even tell the difference when I use Qobuz to send 16bit FLAC lossless audio to Amarra SQ rather than sending it directly through my M2Tech Hiface driver.
What’s more, Amarra SQ is a full-featured DSP with a fantastic paramentric Equalizer (presets for popular audiophile headphones included). I personally use a little bit of EQ to tame the top end of my STAX headphones which are slightly too bright for my taste. If you want to customize everything even further, get Amarra SQ+. On top of the standard features it comes with an Audio conditioner that can remove excess noise. You also get multiple filter types and an even more powerful Equalizer.
But Amarra SQ is not just limited to music. You can even enhance the clarity of Skype phone calls or Netflix videos, although, personally, I haven’t tried this yet.
You can try Amarra SQ and its more powerful sibling Amarra SQ+ for 15 days before purchasing it. I got Amarra SQ (not the + version) for $29.99 but I would try both and see which one better fits your needs. Please note that both are Mac-only products and won’t work on a Windows PC. If on Windows, I’d check out JPlay, Eqalify and Fidelify which are apparently similar to Amarra SQ.