Just dragged a friend home after 'fixing the world' over coffee. I wanted to play him a couple of tracks comparing Oppo vs mR/Oppo. In the end I forgot to do a couple of adjustments on the Oppo so we ended up comparing:
1. Oppo in 5.1 mode playing stereo;
2. Oppo set up for just stereo; and3. mR/Oppo as DAC.
1 > 2: Sharper, more detailed;
2 > 3: Retains the advantage of (2) but also warmer.
Funnily enough when I made my observation above I thought about saying 'warmer' but that, for me, carries extra connotations so I switched to 'textured'. I discussed this with Rob and he agreed with me. For instance the Barbarolli/Du Pre Elgar Cello Concerto: Through the mR it retains the dynamics (I think) but you are far more aware of the inner detail, i.e. the bowing.
I find that once I hear an audio cue that previously passed me by I will notice it through the 'old' system. For instance, yesterday I was listening to Shostakovitch No 5 (Ashkenazy) via the Oppo. When I switched to the mR/Oppo I was immediately aware of how the performers in the opening of the 1st movement were leaning into their bows, and the movement both ways. Now if I go back to the Oppo I 'hear' it because I am listening for it.
Got home at 11:30am and just spent two hours going through a selection of music from Handel to Mary Black and Elgar to ZZ Top, the latter via Quboz.
Rob's final comment was that while he thinks (2) and (3) are clearly better he could easily live with any of these solutions. This probably demonstrates where a normal person separates from us obsessives!
Yet again I am gob-smacked by the quality of the Oppo 105D. I am looking forward to getting my repaired NS01 back and doing some comparisons using various combinations of the NS01/mR/Oppo/Bel Canto 3.5vb.
I am thoroughly enjoying the mR. With the IFI it is already giving me excellent results, be interested in what happens when I try the SBOOSTER, not to mention the Gustard U12.
Currently I am using LMS on my Synology, which provides a direct web interface and works well. The Quboz implementation is not as slick as the Sonos app but it works, and it is good to be able to easily mix and match between all my music sources. I do think the Sonos Connect is very good for the money but it is a bit frustrating that you are limited to 16/44.1, which rules out a large part of my regular music diet.