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Music server


Amare Musica

Manufacturer: AMARE MUSICA
Price (at the time of the test): 6600 euro

Contact: Amare Musica Maciej Lenar
ul. Obrońców Tobruku 27, lok. 118
Warszawa | Polska


mare Musica is one of our own, Polish brands with an almost classic story behind it. It was founded by two guys who for years played in DIY area, participating also in life of Polish biggest audio forum - – Mr Maciej Lenar and Mr Marcin Sołowiow. This is a classic story, as many world's renown designers started their adventure in audio world just in this way - they started to build their own components for themselves, later usually also for their family and/or friends.
They start building their own devices either because they can't find on market anything that would satisfy their needs, or they find it but costing small fortune, or there is a third option – these are guys who like the challenge – they believe they are able to create some competitive products, maybe even better ones than those available on the market. I believe there is one more reason for building one's own audio components – satisfaction of enjoying performance of something built with one's own hands will always taste so much better than anything money can buy!

Those who visit AudioShow in Warsaw on regular bases might remember Marcin and Maciej from a few years ago, when they presented some of their products in the DIY room, with other enthusiast. At some point they realized that what they designed and built was so good that it was time to share with others. So they started a company – Amare Musica – and, if I remember correctly, they presented their first commercial products during AudioShow 2012. It was a tube preamplifier called De Forest and tube mono amplifiers Trinity (based on double EML 300B-XLS per channel). Not only the sound of this system (with Polish speakers Clockwork) performed really well, but it also looked hot! From their very first products these guys decided to offer only products looking (and made) as million bucks. They paid attention to every detail, used high quality elements including one of the best and most expensive tubes from current production (EML), and hand-made silver transformers.

Soon after their premiere I reviewed them for Polish „HiFi Choice” magazine and was able to confirm, that these components not only looked great but performed at equal if not even higher level. These two were the first products Amare Musica released and yet, they already offered high-end performance. Additionally it looked batter than most high-end devices, were better made using higher quality components, and it cost... less. Later gentlemen created and integrated amplifier - Entropy, that I reviewed for „High Fidelity” (see HERE). This also tube device and also I SET configuration, that aesthetically was as pleasing (and similar) as the previous products. This time designers used another EML triode - EML 1605. It is a less expensive, less advanced product and yet it still wowed me with its stylish chassis, highest make&finish quality and most of all with its remarkable sound. More or less at the same time Amare Musica added another product to their line-up – a power strip, that looked also as million bucks.

Some time later I visited one of these two gentlemen – Marcin, at his place. In fact we conducted a comparison of a few USB converters in his system. An interesting (for me) thing was a prototype of a D/A Converter that received signal from all USB converters. Obviously it wasn't a system I was truly familiar with (although I knew pretty well De Forest and Trinity), and we were comparing USB converters, but I couldn't help but notice, that this prototype of a DAC did hell of a job, too. It seemed that this would be Amare's next release. And yet, at the moment I am writing these words (so like more than a year later), DAC has been already announced but still not released (unofficially I know this should happen soon). In the meantime, during last (2014) AudioShow, Marcin and Maciej presented their brand new music server, called Diamond. As with any previous products they released, also Diamond wowed lots of people who visited this room. As always during shows, it was hard to assess the performance but it surely looked fantastic! Have a look at this solid, rigid, but also eye-catching aluminum chassis (with walls 10 mm thick!), anti-vibration feet manufactured by another Polish company - Franc Audio Accessories, brilliant OLED displays, abundance of digital outputs and equally solid and well made aluminum remote control. Also feature-wise Diamond, at least on paper, looked damn impressive. It played hi-res PCM and DSD (64 and 128) ones, too. And there was one more thing that caught my attention immediately – Diamond was supposed to be compatible with lots of different control software, for iOS, Android and Windows – that was what set it apart from almost all competitors who, like for example Aurender that offered an app only for iOS, Lumin that offered it own app also only for iOS (although allowed user to use other apps to play music, also for Android and Windows).

So buying Diamond does not mean one has to buy iPod (like most audio servers manufacturers force their clients to), nor any other particular device to control the server. I know not all feel the same way, but I personally hate to be forced (mostly by Asian manufacturers) to buy some fancy device I have no use for other than control my audio device. As already mentioned Aurender gives user no option at all – one has to have or buy iPad to user this brand's products, Lumin offers its own app that allows access to device's setup also only for iOS devices (although one might use for example Linn's Kinsky to play music) and Auralic only just released beta version of the application that allows user to control Aries using an Android device. I hate to be forced to do anything, especially if it involves me spending my hard earned money on something I don't really want to have. Amare left the choice of controlling device and app o the user (they informed me they worked on their own app that should be available by the end of this year but it will be just another option for the user and not the only one). From my perspective that's a huge advantage of this music server, the one that made me even more eager to give it a try in my system. So already during AudioShow I asked for a review sample to be delivered to me as soon as it would be possible. They honestly told me that they already had so many orders from their distributors that would have to be satisfied first, so that review would have to wait a bit. I surely understood that sales came first and waited patiently. Finally they called me with the news – we have a sample unit available that we might deliver to you for a review. I tried not to be too enthusiastic confirming an appointment... :)

Amare Musica | co-owner, designer

Amare Musica Diamond Music Server is the first so advanced product made in Poland if not in the whole Europe. Shortly about the design. It is made in Poland. Starting from all elements of chassis that is precisely machined on CNC of 10mm thick aluminum, up to a remote control made of 30mm solid aluminum block.

Inside the electronics is divided into few sections. Ultra-low noise power supply section is based on discrete elements, the controller with the best OLED displays available on the market with high contrast and wide angles, a main board custom made for our server, a separate printed board with AES/EBU and S/PDIF inputs, AUDIO transformer made by and USB and LAN inputs/outputs.

Ceramic Disc Tablette – top quality anti-vibration feet from Franc Audio Accessories effectively separate device from external vibrations. The S/PDIF and AES/EBU use XMOS@500 MIPS processor with two ultra-low phase noise Japanese oscillators (NDK). Server allows to play all audio formats: WAV, FLAC, AAC, ALAC and also DSD. DSD is played via USB and S/PDIF and AES/EBU (DoP, DSD over PCM) 2,8 MHz, 1 bit. Server might be controlled via our remote or iPad, Android devices or PC. Server plays music via USB input from external drives, or from a LAN resources using Samba, UPnP or OH Media protocols.

Recordings used in test (a selection):

  • Natural jazz recordings, fonejazz, DSD64.
  • Thirty years in clasical music, fonejazz, DSD64.
  • AC/DC, Back in black, SONY B000089RV6, CD/FLAC.
  • Arne Domnerus, Antiphone blues, Proprius PRCD 7744, CD/FLAC.
  • Hans Zimmer, Inception, WaterTower Music B003ODL004, CD/FLAC.
  • Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises, WaterTower Music B008645YEE, CD/FLAC.
  • Isao Suzuki, Blow up, Three Blind Mice B000682FAE, CD FLAC.
  • Kate Bush, The Whole Story, EMI/Toshiba-EMI TOCP-67822, CD/FLAC.
  • Keith Jarret, The Koeln Concert, ECM 1064/65 ST, LP.
  • Leszek Możdżer, Kaczmarek by Możdżer, Universal Music 273 643-7, CD/FLAC.
  • Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington, The Complete Session, “Deluxe Edition”, Roulette Jazz 7243 5 24547 2 2 (i 3), CD/FLAC.
  • McCoy Tyner, Solo: Live from San Francisco, Half Note Records B002F3BPSQ, CD/FLAC.
  • Michael Jackson, Dangerous, Epic/Legacy XSON90686F96, FLAC 24/96.
  • Michał Wróblewski Trio, City album, Ellite Records CD/FLAC.
  • Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro, dyr. Teodor Currentzis, MusicAeterna Orchestra, Sony Classical B00GK8P1EG, CD/FLAC.
  • Mozart, Piano concertos, Eugene Istomin, Reference Recordings HRx.
  • Pavarotti, The 50 greatest tracks, Decca 478 5944 CD/FLAC
  • Rachmaninow, Symphonic dances, Etudes-tableaux, Reference Recordings HRx, 24/176, WAV.
  • Renaud Garcia-Fons, Oriental bass, Enja B000005CD8, CD/FLAC.
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela, 11:11, EMI Music Poland 5651702, CD/FLAC.
  • The Ray Brown Trio, Summer Wind, Concord Jazz CCD-4426, CD/FLAC.
  • Tri Continental, Live, T&M 020, CD/FLAC.
Japanese issues available at

To be precise Diamond Server visited me not just once but twice. During its first visit it played paired with (I mean except for my own system) recently reviewed system (DAC + mono amplifiers) from Lampizator. Second listening session (that lasted another two weeks or so) was performed using a Taiwanese D/A Converter COS D1 (9000$) and with another Lampizator, but this time Big 7 instead of Level 7. Server is delivered in a very solid case with Amare Musica logo on it. It again shows an approach of Amare to everything they do – they offer top quality product and customer is supposed to know that from the very first moment, very first contact with the product – an the first thing he lays his eyes on is... the packaging. Looking at this case, no matter if it was brought personally by manufacturer to a customer leaving in the same city, or traveled to the far end of the world, new user will feel assured that nothing could have happened to his new purchase while in transfer.

Inside the case one will find, apart from the server itself, a power cord, a remote control, and a manual. I almost forgot – there are, obviously, also these beautiful anti-vibration feet, that user has to screw on the bottom side of the device. I've been using Paweł Franc Skulimowski's Ceramic Discs for some years now, and I truly appreciate how effective they are, so I also fully understand and support Amare's choice for their product. I also like it very much, that two Polish companies, offering great products, work together. As I already mentioned (probably more than once) Diamond looks fantastic. Solid, perfectly made chassis, these two (placed next to each other) beautiful, so easy to read OLED displays, and this whole bunch of high quality connectors on the back build trust from the very first moment one lays eyes on Diamond and suggest that this is a top-class device (although the final judgment on that can be passed only after assessment based on listening session).

There are no manipulators on the front panel – Diamond is controlled exclusively via remote control, either with its own remote, or using one of many apps installed on a device (tablet, smartphone, computer) of user's choice. Rear panel sports power inlet with main ON/OFF switch, 1 GB LAN port, 4 USB ports (two upper ones should be used as audio outputs for USB DAC, two lower ones to connect external music storage, like HDD or USB pen), plus one of: AES/EBU, COAX and BNC outputs. The latter three provide PCM signal up to 24 bit / 192 kHz, and DSD64 (DoP – to play such files one need a DAC that accepts DoP DSD signal). USB might transmit PCM signal up to 32 bit / 384 kHz, and DSD64/DSD128.

User has to spent few minutes on a setup of the device before playing music. If and external USB disc is to be a source of data (presently it has to be a FAT drive, although Amare plans to release an update to the device's firmware that will allow users to use also NTFS formatted drives) one has to connect it to one of the USB ports marked as DATA USB, than within menu point it out as the source of data and finally update Diamonds database. The latter might take some minutes, depending on the number of music files but after it is finished, one might start to play the music.

Those who plan to use some device connected to their LAN (NAS) as a source of music need to connect Diamond to this LAN, than choose this device as a source of date in server's menu, input necessary data (IP, login, password), and finally update server's database. One more thing – those who use USB DACs that do not require 5V might turn it off in Diamond's setup. After that USB will deliver to DAC only data and no power. This often results in a better, purer sound, but it is always worth trying in a particular system.

I, as a source of music files, used my NAS (working as Samba server). As my primary control device I used an Android tablet with app called Mupeace (app for iPads is called MPaD, and for iPhone - MPoD). Diamond works also with UPnP clients, which allowed me to use also Kinsky (from Linn), and according to Amare one can also use other apps from Lumin or Auralic but also a Jremote (if one uses a computer with Jriver as the source of signal). This is a huge advantage of Diamond – user might easily find an app that will suit one best, instead of being forced to use one particular application prepared or suggested by server's manufacturer. The one and only option (offered by most competitors) is fine as long as one finds the particular app suiting, if one doesn't... Well, I at least, love to have a choice.

Obviously Diamond does not have its own sound – it reads data from music files and translates them into digital signal understood by DAC. To make things simpler though, I will surely write about how it “sounds”, which translates into “how this particular DAC sounded like when received signal from Diamond”. The best way to assess how good Amare Musica is would be a head-to-head comparison with top Aurender (for example) server. Diamond's creators boldly claim, that their device can compete with top competitors available on the market. I would love to do it that way, but I simply didn't have Aurender at my disposal. So I did the next best thing – I compared it to my dedicated passive, audio PC with Jcat USB card with Bakoon battery power supply (and latest Jplay). In fact this computer is my main (I mean apart from a turntable) source, so I know exactly how it “sounds”. With most DACs it sounded best when I used Berkeley Alpha USB Converter, but both, COS D-1 and Lampizator Big 7 sport really great USB inputs so Bada Alpha was left out of the equation this time.

I wrote down my first impressions when I replaced my PC with Diamond: even more black background, clearer, more distinct sound, more intense colors, even more expressive sound. I noticed these differences immediately and they were pretty obvious. I switch sources back and forth just to make sure, but result never changed. These improvements usually are result of a better, “cleaner” power – so my guess was that Diamond's power supply section was one of its strengths. After those first impressions, next followed. The “inner-coherence” of the sound got surely better, all elements seemed to fit better with others, worked better together. Presentation seemed “calmer” but still very dynamic and expressive.

The easiest way to describe the difference between the same material played from my PC via Bada Alpha and the one played from Diamond Server would be to say that the latter was even more... accurate. It was not about some dramatic changes/improvements of particular sound features, but rather about small, sometimes even subtle improvements of almost all of them. None of them was particularly important, worth much attention, but all of them together introduced a significant improvement of the performance, I could even say – they introduced a new level of sound quality. That is probably the best way to describe what switching my PC to Diamond Server really did to my system. It was obvious that Amare Musica product was a significantly better source then my, quite good actually, computer. It was clear already when I played a “regular” 16/44 PCM file with fantastic, solo concert of McCoy Tyner. His piano was, with Amare, more vibrant, sound, for a lack of a better word, was... deeper, also cleaner, with more air around instrument, with room's acoustic presented in a clearer way. None of this improvements was significant on its own, none alone offered a jaw-dropping experience. But each of them played its small role and together they created more natural, more palpable picture. Going back to my PC really hurt...

Difference was not that significant when it came to Jackson's Dangerous, despite the fact that this time I used 24/96 files. It was another proof that it is not just the resolution of the file that ensures higher quality sound. As for a pop album, which Dangerous surely was, it offered really nice sound quality, in our audiophile terms – let's say it wasn't bad. The improvements I observed this time included better transparency and I also thought that the presentation became more orderly. But there was something else, that I thought improved more significantly – dynamics and speed of the sound, especially when it came to these faster tracks based on a fast, powerful bass – these ones sounded really good.

Having learned how dynamic and how fast this presentation can be I decided to play an album of my favorites - Rodrigo y Gabriela. „Two acoustic guitars, really?” – some of you just asked… Well, I can't really shake off the memory of a fantastic concert these two gave in Stodoła in Warsaw. Each time I listen to one of their albums I look for this explosive dynamics and expression they presented during live performance using... yes, just two, acoustic (although amplified) guitars. Nothing matched live performance yet, that's obvious, and the best reproduction one might get comes from vinyl records, but it was obvious that Diamond paired with Lampizator offered the best “digital” version I heard so far. There was a lot of this amazing energy I experienced live, surely enough to not let me sit still in my chair and just listen, I had to react, participate, actively enjoy this intense, vivid performance. I particularly liked the way Gabriela's guitar used a percussion instrument, sounded like, being fast, powerful, just as I remembered it from the concert.

One of the best sounding files I have, the HRx from Reference Recordings, proved again their very special quality. It is true that they sound at least good on any system, but in this particular case this amazingly black background exposed, or emphasized how tuneful these recordings were, how much more expressive (comparing to playing them from my PC) they sounded. These features combined with this almost overwhelming dynamics I mentioned already a few times, allowed Mozart and Rachmaninow to sound so powerful, so vigorously as I never heard them before. Yes, I realize that such description might sound a bit exaggerated. And in fact described differences were not that big, but big/significant enough for me that after I switched back to my PC (that I'd enjoyed so much until this test) I thought something broke in a system, as it sounded flat, lifeless and so much less real.

Last but not least, DSD files – the ones that make Lampizator DACs so unique and so good sounding. Having tested both, Level 7 and Big 7 DACs I can tell, that even with PCM material converted into DSD they both sounded damn good, and when it came to original DSD files it got even better. Interestingly with DSD files the difference between playing them from my PC and from Diamond was smaller than in case of PCM files. I was under impression that there was a bit more air in the sound (at least in acoustic recordings), timing seemed to improve a bit too, but these were much less significant differences than before with PCM format. Why? I do not know. Maybe the separate circuit for DSD playback in Lampizator is less sensitive to the quality of input signal? Or maybe there was some other reason – it didn't really matter that much. It was important that also with DSD files there was some improvement in sound quality when Diamond replaced PC as a source of signal – in high-end audio every, even smallest improvement is important, right? I guess that your library, same as mine, consists mostly of PCM files and with them Diamond offers the bigger improvement. That lesser, but noticeable improvement offered for DSD files one should treat as additional bonus (and it might be bigger with other than Lampizator DAC).


This is not the first time I am mentioning this – we live in such times, when a music fan might buy almost complete audio system made in Poland, and not just any system, but a truly high end one. We have to wait bit more for top-high-end products but that day will also come. Today one can but all Polish components of a high end system except for a cartridge and headphones. Everything else is available.

Amare Musica Diamond Server is another element of this puzzle. With brilliant fit&finish, multiple control options it delivers highest quality signal to the D/A Converter of its user's choice. This product is surely addressed first of all to the users of high quality USB DACs that accept both, PCM and DSD signal. They will be able to use the full potential of this server. Nevertheless it is not a But having a USB DAC is not a must for Diamond user, as this devices offers a full range of digital outputs that will deliver a PCM signal up to 24bit/192kHz to any DAC, although again, the higher quality DAC the more it will benefit from quality signal from this server. Regardless of the choice of digital output what we get is a high quality digital signal and it is up to the D/A Converter to make the best use of it.

It is truly user-friendly device regardless of what app one uses and on which operating system. Server's software is under continuous development so it is and will be getting even better. During my time with Diamond I pointed out to designers a few thing I would change so the operation is even more intuitive – gentlemen wrote down my remarks and promised to introduce at least some of them. They told me also about their next idea – a state-of-the-art version with a separate, battery power supply for the most demanding customers. Another future model will probably sport hard drive(s) for music storage. It is obvious that these two guys have their heads filled with ideas and I'll keep my fingers crossed for the successful implementation of as many of them as possible/reasonable. We still don't have that many Polish audio manufacturers who's products are appreciated abroad. Diamond Server is another product of Amare Musica that surely will be noticed and appreciated not only in our country.

Amare Musica Diamond is a so called music server. Unlike, for example, Aurender, it sports no build-in hard drives for music storage (only a single SSD drive that stores device's operating system and logs of all events that might help in case of any troubles needing solving). It is designed to play music from external storage – data might be delivered directly from external drive connected to device's USB port or via Ethernet. The device is made in Poland.

The chassis is precision-machined of 10mm thick aluminum slates. This product is also a great example of a cooperation of two Polish brands, as Amare uses Franc Audio Accessories anti-vibration feet for their server. There are no knobs or buttons on the front of the device – just two, center placed OLED displays. The control of the device is carried out via (also precisely machined from aluminum) remote control, or via one of many apps available for Android, Windows, or iOS devices (tablets, smartphones, computers). I found these two OLED displays first of all really nice looking, and secondly easy to read even from some distance. User might change the graphic form of the information displayed (I mean choose for those available). Basic setup uses the left display to provide user with information on tracks title and artist, time of the presently played track and the whole album. The right one displays album's title, information about file's format and its parameters (sampling frequency). User may choose between three pre-defined ways the information is displayed, both displays can also be dimmed completely.

Rear panel offers an abundance of connectors. Next to power inlet with integrated ON/OFF switch and main fuse, there is a Ethernet (1 GB) port, four USB ports (two of them should be use to connect external hard drives and other two as outputs for a DAC – they are clearly marked so user won't confuse them), and one of coaxial SPDIF, BNC and AES/EBU outputs. Creators of this device decided to use Linux as an operating system for the server, which means (among other things) that there is no need for USB drivers for D/A Converters. I tried it out with few different DACs and had no problem with any of them. You can read as much information as designers want to disclose in the “A few simple words...” section.

Let me add that obviously the external design of the server seems to be very successful as some customers asked Amare Musica to prepare the same kind of chassis also for their preamplifier and amplifiers. Also the next products that will soon join the line up – DAC and phonostage – will sport a Diamond-like chassis.

Parameters (according to the manufacturer):

Inputs: Ethernet (RJ-45) 1GB, 2xUSB 2.0
Digital outputs:
- BNC SPDIF, RCA SPDIF, AES/EBU – delivering PCM signal up to 44,1 kHz-192 kHz, 16-24 bits, and1-bit, 2,8 MHz (DSD64) (assuming DAC accepts DoP signal)
- 2xUSB Audio Class 2.0: DSD/PCM (Ultra Low Noise Power Supply 2000 mA), deliver signal of: 16-32 bits/ 44,1 kHz / 48 kHz / 88,2 kHz / 96 kHz / 176,4 kHz / 192 kHz / 352,8 kHz / 384 kHz, and DSD×64/2,8224 MHz/ DSD128/5,6448 MHz
The main board is custom made for Amare Musica
Two OLED displays
XMOS processor working at 500 MIPS
Ultra-precise oscillators on a four-layer, gold-plated circuit board
Chassis made of 10 mm thick aluminum
Anti-vibration feet
Dimensions: 430 x 350 x 110 mm (with feet)
Weight: 14 kg (with case - 21 kg)