Developer: Audiofile Engineering, LLC
Requirements: MAC OS X 10.7+
Test Rig: 2012 MBA 13″, OS X 10.9.2, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
In a previous lifestyle, I was a composer and musician. One of my favorite parts of the creative process was mixing down my creation. A huge multi-track mixing desk with state of the art studio speakers. It was fabulous. You could feel the warmth of the guitar’s wood. Hear the growl of the bass strings. The endlessly ringing ping of a lightly struck cymbal’s bell.
Then, after spending countless hours mixing the song down to where it approximated what I heard in my head (you could never achieve what you had imagined), we then had to destroy it. Yup, destroy it.
You see, we knew full well that the average consumer wouldn’t have state of the art equipment to reproduce the sound that we had crafted. Instead, it would be played on a cassette through a boom box. And that required a remix because the boom box wouldn’t be able to reproduce the subtleties of the original mix. So, it had to be mixed to make the best of a boom box’s limitations.
That has always stuck in my craw, all of these years later. “You should have heard what the mix sounded like in the studio!”
Sidestepping the eternal argument of vinyl versus digital for this review, I want to tell audiophiles (yes, all of you who run up your credit card on sites such as HDtracks.com and such or create Apple Lossless versions of your CDs) that you can finally hear what the subtleties of your favorite songs, thanks to Fidelia by Audiofile Engineering, LLC.
“Fidelia is the high-definition digital audio player for the sophisticated music lover. By supporting a full range of digital formats, including FLAC, and offering a complete set of audio tools, from EQs to compressors to the FHX headphone modeler, Fidelia gives you full control over the listening experience.”
Fidelia was produced by a handful of professional sound engineers, musicians and artists out of Minneapolis. And they have placed at your disposal every sort of adjustment you would desire. Thinking equalizers? You haven’t ‘seen’ (nor heard) nothing yet.
This is a high-definition digital audio player for the sophisticated music lover. It supports a full range of digital formats (including FLAC) and offers a complete set of audio tools, from EQs to compressors.
You can easily import your iTunes library, as well as create your own playlists. Fidelia fully supports 64-bit Audio Unit plug-ins and provides immediate access to a complete set of OS X’s system Audio Units, including AUGraphicEQ. Also available are tools to enhance your listening experience, including (for a modest price) their FHX headphone processor, as well as iZoptope’s 64-Bit Sample Rate Converter and MBIT+ dither.
And should you prefer to listen to your music through that great set of speakers that you already own, that’s not a problem. “Fidelia supports AirPlay, allowing it to wirelessly communicate to any output device in your network.”
If you really want to go the whole nine yards, Fidelia for iOS (available at the App Store for US$10.00) turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a full-featured remote control for your player. Browse your Fidelia library and playlists, adjust playback volume and navigate between or within tracks from as far away as your wireless network allows.
It’s been a decent amount of time since I have composed or performed but I greatly enjoy kicking back and listening to music on my set of Sennheiser headphones. Because of limited funds, my lossless music is predominantly relegated to converting my ripped CDs to Apple Lossless. But every now and again, I wander over to HDTracks.com and pick up specific albums that mean a lot to me.
If you are really into hearing your music, this app is golden. As an example, I’ve listened to McCartney’s “Band on the Run” literally hundreds of times. (Really?!? How old is this guy?) Recently, I purchased it’s high definition/uncompressed version online. With this app and that file, I heard instrumentation that was buried subtly in the background that I had never noticed before! And the strange thing is that you may not consciously hear that one instrument distinctly but if it were not there, you would immediately notice that something was missing.
And looking forward, musicians are not only putting new releases out on vinyl but they’re also issuing their works in lossless formats such as FLAC, AIFF, ALAC and WAV.
Visually, the UI is very basic. You can view the player in any one of five sizes, suiting your available real estate. You have your volume control knob, a mute button, a display dimmer a combined waveform and timeline plus three buttons from which to access your collection of plug-ins. There’s also a mini-player UI if you are really cramped for space or are not interested in visually monitoring your music.
You can set-up numerous playlists as in iTunes withe the chief difference being that you can play an incredible range of sound file formats. Populating your playlist(s) is as simple as dragging your music file’s icon to your desired playlist. (Although, I must admit that I missed iTunes “Play Next” feature.)
You can use your current iTunes library, as well. “iTunes Library syncing is enabled after starting the trial (not to be confused with ‘Demo’ mode). Fidelia syncs to your iTunes-created .xml file that lists all songs from iTunes. Files are not moved or duplicated.”
As for support, they provide articles and forums. If you have set-up an account, you can “Open a Request” to ask for help with a specific issue.
You can purchase Fidelia from the Audiofile Engineering, LLC store. Once you’ve purchased a copy (Single User USD$19.99/Five Users USD$39.99) you can purchase add-ons such as Fidelia Advanced, Fidelia FHX and Action Pack.
I won’t kid you. If it isn’t obvious to you by now, just looking into the Preferences pane made my head spin. So much to learn. A lot to learn, to be honest. In the studio, all of this I left up to my sound engineers to deal with. But this is an incredible amount of power at an extremely reasonable price.
And I must admit that I missed iTunes “Play Next’ feature.
If you seriously listen to your music collection through headphones or have an incredible pair of desktop speakers, if you fall on the side on the ‘higher the bit rate, the better the sound’ argument and your music is more than aural wallpaper to you, you’ll most definitely want to check out Fidelia.
©2014 Frank Petrie