A penny for your thoughts? Replacing a CDS3/555PS with a streamer

Foot tapper posted:
kevin J Carden posted:

 FT,

Whilst several forum contributors are very happy with it, my recent experience (see Melco thread) concurs with yours that Melco into NDS sounds dull. If you try NDS again, I’d strongly urge you to listen with a different server. I think you’ll get a very different result. 

Kevin

Good tip, thank you Kevin.  So Core into NDS/555PSDR it is.  Once again, we keep being reminded how everything makes a difference to the ultimate sound quality, even the upstream server (i.e. Melco via ethernet vs Core via ethernet).

Best regards, FT

A common feature of many of the threads on this forum is how expensive boxes can sound dull, but some other combination is so much better. I have gone through this myself, but the conclusion I have come to is that it’s not the boxes but the setup once you get to a certain price point. As Darke Bear has reported the spacing and relative position make a huge difference along with all the other setup things including dressing and cables. 

Another common complaint is that there are bad recordings. My experience is that when a recording is dull it is just a manifestation of the setup being non optimal. In my experience the setup is sometimes optimised on a group of favourite recordings to the detriment of others. The problem is that it’s easy to forget what the instruments sound like. 

I also read of the music being tiring. Again in my experience it’s the setup. 

Having visited the factory recently I am amazed that a Statement and 252/300 with an NDS/555 DR with SL speaker cable into £35k speakers can sound so uninspiring. Admitted the Statement was better. Using the Core instead of TIDAL was abysmal. Must have been a bad network day. My dealer also says he has been underwealmed in the past. It made the demo a disappointment for me as I really wanted to understand how much the boxes can improve the SQ. I left feeling my CDX2 into nDAC/XPSDR into 282/SCDR into 300DR into Sopra 2s all connected with SL is streaks ahead. It would not be if the setup is right.

Blackmorec made very interesting observations about distortion recently. The demo systems were distorting the signals. Anything that gets the timing wrong takes the natural sparkle, clarity and wow out of the musical notes.

Phil

French Rooster posted:

i would be curious to hear experiences of members with the antipodes servers, associated to the nds in upnp.  Some tried or have the innuos zenith, but the antipodes i don’t think....

The antipodes australian brand is very active and is improving its servers since many years now.  The antipodes dx reference is a serious beast, have very good reviews with dac connected in usb. But in upnp with a streaming dac as nds, it would be interesting to know how it performs.

Hi FR, my understanding is that Antipodes does not offer Ethernet outputs...only USB...so cannot be used with ND streamers or NDAC.

DrPo posted:
French Rooster posted:

i would be curious to hear experiences of members with the antipodes servers, associated to the nds in upnp.  Some tried or have the innuos zenith, but the antipodes i don’t think....

The antipodes australian brand is very active and is improving its servers since many years now.  The antipodes dx reference is a serious beast, have very good reviews with dac connected in usb. But in upnp with a streaming dac as nds, it would be interesting to know how it performs.

Hi FR, my understanding is that Antipodes does not offer Ethernet outputs...only USB...so cannot be used with ND streamers or NDAC.

However there are usb-spdif converters around, and good ones need not be expensive (Richard Dane was testing the Gustard U12 in this mode a year or so ago with initial favourable impression, though I don't recall seeing a conclusion. I had been impressed with it functioning as an isolator on a computer output.)

DrPo posted:
French Rooster posted:

i would be curious to hear experiences of members with the antipodes servers, associated to the nds in upnp.  Some tried or have the innuos zenith, but the antipodes i don’t think....

The antipodes australian brand is very active and is improving its servers since many years now.  The antipodes dx reference is a serious beast, have very good reviews with dac connected in usb. But in upnp with a streaming dac as nds, it would be interesting to know how it performs.

Hi FR, my understanding is that Antipodes does not offer Ethernet outputs...only USB...so cannot be used with ND streamers or NDAC.

Hi Dr Po,  the antipodes is like the uniticore: it can be used as a player with a dac with usb ( or usb/spdif converter) or as a nas ( like the uniticore in upnp mode with the nds).    The melco has 2 ethernet ports, one direct to the streaming dac ( like nds).  But with the nds, it is used also as a nas, the connection is just different.

So the uniticore and antipodes ds or dx are similar products.  

Hi FR, i checked again and you are right, the Antipodes user guide shows how to install MinimServer to act as UpnP server. I would also be interested as i am looking for a music-dedicated, completely silent alternative to my QNAP (it has to stay in the living room close to my rig) and the proprietary management of metadata in NAIM's Core is a turn-off or me. For some reason when first coming across Antipodes i thought they did not support Upnp.. Good to know..

DrPo posted:

Hi FR, i checked again and you are right, the Antipodes user guide shows how to install MinimServer to act as UpnP server. I would also be interested as i am looking for a music-dedicated, completely silent alternative to my QNAP (it has to stay in the living room close to my rig) and the proprietary management of metadata in NAIM's Core is a turn-off or me. For some reason when first coming across Antipodes i thought they did not support Upnp.. Good to know..

yes, this antipodes seems interesting but i don’t know how it performs with naim sources.

You have also the innuos zenith, some have tried and appreciate....

While I have heard an NDS I've never seriously auditioned one, but a high end streamer is next on my list.  It's obvious from this forum that it's a well loved product but I would not buy a new one at the moment.  I'm obviously speculating, but Statement and Uniti make me think a new replacement product in the short to medium term is very likely.

...after many years of streaming and "DAC", I would not buy a streamer today (coming from Linn Majik, later KDS and Naim NDX and NDS). I went the route with a b$#€" good DAC and a great digital frontend (mR, Aurender,Auralic Aries femto, pimped Mac Mini). Why? It gives me the maximal flexibility in a very fast changing world of formats (dsd, flac, mqa) and services (tidal, qobuz, roon etc). If a new service pops up you I just change the frontend. So my tip: buy the best DAC you can have and use a flexible digital rendering unit. But be warned: source first rule stills apply- even here! One can not imagine how much difference btw. a frontend can be...crazy...it's just 0 or 1, right?

...my 2cents of course...good luck with your journey;-) that's a fun path to go!!

Ralf

I would also add IMO that building your own streaming solution makes the most sense the speed at which the digital music replay industry is progressing means that every couple of years major improvements are taking place.  Something like a 272 even pimped to the max with a 555DR will become outdated it will always sound very good and have a following but it will become dated. Alternatively you could buy an NDX, NDS which unlike the 272 can of course be brought up to date with a separate DAC but then you end up with a very, very expensive renderer.

So as T38.45 says an mR, Aurender ,Auralic Aries femto or pimped up Mac Mini into a top of the range DAC via a USB isolator and spdif converter is a much more flexible and upgradeable solution and at the price points you are quoting we are talking about a very, very good streaming set up and I'm sure that they are people out there who will put together a package for you.

I have been through a few streaming set ups with Naim UQ2 and ND5XS and then I added a Chord 2Qute which meant I couldn't justify what was in effect a £2,000 renderer so I traded the ND5 in and am now about to try a Mac Mini which can be upgraded to have a 1TB memory so a Network player and Nas rolled into one.

T38.45 posted:

...after many years of streaming and "DAC", I would not buy a streamer today (coming from Linn Majik, later KDS and Naim NDX and NDS). I went the route with a b$#€" good DAC and a great digital frontend (mR, Aurender,Auralic Aries femto, pimped Mac Mini). Why? It gives me the maximal flexibility in a very fast changing world of formats (dsd, flac, mqa) and services (tidal, qobuz, roon etc). If a new service pops up you I just change the frontend. So my tip: buy the best DAC you can have and use a flexible digital rendering unit. But be warned: source first rule stills apply- even here! One can not imagine how much difference btw. a frontend can be...crazy...it's just 0 or 1, right?

...my 2cents of course...good luck with your journey;-) that's a fun path to go!!

Ralf

My view is a little different. 

I too have a microRendu, in my case used in conjunction with a Hugo DAC in one of my systems. This combination is undoubtedly excellent value for money and punches well above its price point, and I am very happy with it from a sound quality perspectve. However, using a dedicated streamer (from Linn/Naim) has many advantages for the majority of people.

My Linn KDS/1 sounds better (to my ears) in my main system than my microRendu/Gustard/Chord Hugo combination, and no doubt the latest KDS/3 sounds even better. However the microRendu and similar rendering devices have a number of inherent disadvantages to offset its value for money:

- I have a background in IT and IT networks, and so although the microRendu was substantially more difficult to set up and get running reasonably reliably, I did succeed in the end. Others, with less IT knowledge or less patience may not have succeeded and may simply have given up

- although my microRendu based system is reasonably stable, it does have the occasional glitch (for no discernible reason) and it sometimes takes a little 'random noodling' to get back on line. I don't recall anything of this sort ever happening with my KDS/1

- more difficult to get access to Internet Radio stations.

Of course, there are some advantages too - support of dsd (Linn doesn't support the format), Roon support (I don't use the service but some swear by it) and the ability to replace the DAC if desired. However, the KDS (and to a limited extent the NDS with firmware) can also be upgraded, in Linn's case from KDS/0 through KDS/1, 2 and 3 .

Finally, the KDS/1 (or 2 or 3) is a one-box plug and play (albeit expensive) fantastic sounding solution that to me is just a more relaxing proposition than the multi-box, multi-interface system that demands regular noodling or fine tuning. Perhaps if I was a little younger, I would have a different opinion.      

So in summary, I guess it's horses for courses. 

I am very happy indeed with my KDS/1 dedicated streaming device in my main system. I am also relatively happy with my microRendu renderer/cuddly toy psu/Gustard U12 usb to spdif converter/Chord Hugo DAC in my second system.

Bob the Builder posted:

I would also add IMO that building your own streaming solution makes the most sense the speed at which the digital music replay industry is progressing means that every couple of years major improvements are taking place.  Something like a 272 even pimped to the max with a 555DR will become outdated it will always sound very good and have a following but it will become dated. Alternatively you could buy an NDX, NDS which unlike the 272 can of course be brought up to date with a separate DAC but then you end up with a very, very expensive renderer.

So as T38.45 says an mR, Aurender ,Auralic Aries femto or pimped up Mac Mini into a top of the range DAC via a USB isolator and spdif converter is a much more flexible and upgradeable solution and at the price points you are quoting we are talking about a very, very good streaming set up and I'm sure that they are people out there who will put together a package for you.

I have been through a few streaming set ups with Naim UQ2 and ND5XS and then I added a Chord 2Qute which meant I couldn't justify what was in effect a £2,000 renderer so I traded the ND5 in and am now about to try a Mac Mini which can be upgraded to have a 1TB memory so a Network player and Nas rolled into one.

Bob

I think you were trying a Raspberry Pi solution back in the summer. Any feedback?

Phil

Filipe posted:
Bob the Builder posted:
 

Bob

I think you were trying a Raspberry Pi solution back in the summer. Any feedback?

Phil

Phil

SQ wise I found the Raspberry to be surprisingly good better than my current Google Chrome Cast but the programming side of it just wasn't for me I found the whole experience quite frustrating and it got a big fat thumbs down from SWIMBO which is the kiss of death round these parts.  

She is quite happy with the Google CC but of course it has it's limits SQ wise and so I will keep that for my other half and am now building a Mac Mini solution both of which can go into the 2Qute,  GCC optical and MM via a Breeze Audio USB>>Spdif  converter which I have just bought the MM however may have to wait until after Christmas in the meantime I can use my MacBook via the Breeze Audio.

Funny, I've been watching the "Hugo of Steaming" since it started, thinking that the RPi and microRendu might make for superb kit at very reasonable price, but though I am not averse to DIY setup, so far it seems that the main players there are continuing to experiment with different options (power supplies, cables, isolators etc), indicating that despite initial praise perfection was not there to begin with, and is still elusive, if now closer than it was. Some time there may be a definitive setup or very simple option choice, but I really only am interested in something I can buy and play with certainty, though I don't mind a few hours initial setup.

However, it really has to be something that once set up is stable and straightforward to use, and as with BtB this includes by SWMBO should she want to play music - she is not interested in anything with greater complexity than switch on/select/play. And with certainty that it will work every time,  with no fiddling about.  BTW MM can be powered off and back on using its mains switch without going throu any special shutdown, and as I have it set up it comes on with Audirvana loaded ready to play - in that regard the box is no different from any other bit of my Hifi kit. But there is one problem in this regard with Audirvana on MM - not hardware, which works perfectly, but the library, to which I have already alluded. I understand many Audirvana users are happy, just a small proportion not, seemingly depending on metadata.

So if your metadata is perfect Audirvana may be wonderful in all ways, and its own remote control give everything you may want. Unfortunately for me, significant parts of my music collection either aren't visible in Audirvana, or appear in the wrong place. Despite repeated requests over several years from a raft of users with similar problems, the simple solution of allowing browsing by file name/structure has still  not been implemented. I have a work-around, much of the time Using VNC instead of the Audirvana remote, and copy/paste files from my store into the player, which works fine but is too clunky for SWMBO. For this reason, and only this reason, I am keeping my eyes open for an affordable alternative, and persevere with what I have purely because of the great sound. There are more costly replacement options out there like Melco, Innuos Zenith etc., but they won't receive consideration for as long as the Mac Mini is itself working well - hence my watching interest in the more DIY solutions like mR.

Hi IB

My dealer uses the Sonore  Signature Rendu SE at his home which he says beats his turntable handily, even when using a modest DAC. (It is a uR + moded Signature ps in one box). He has got rid of his Total DAC /server and Lumin S1 as a result. I doubt that it is 'perfect' but perhaps of interest to you?

The mR is an excellent unit. With just a basic power supply setup it should improve the MM  SQ (IME).

The uR gives you more of the greatness of the mR and shines even when powered by its basic Mean Well smps.

I am retired and have lots of time and some spare money to tinker around. It stems from curiosity and enjoyment mostly, not out of dissatisfaction! My posts should be taken in that context.  Even if the product was 'perfect' I would still  tinker around!

ATB

B.

Thanks, Brilliant (great moniker BTW!) - it is good to know the context of some people's experimentation. Who knows, when I retire in the not far distant future I may extend some bits of my hobbies for similar stimulation and enjoyment.

Meanwhile I'll bear in mind your observations for if/when I am driven to give up on Audirvana. 

I have found the uRendu anything but difficult to set up as described above. 

All of 2 minutes, go to my Sonicorbiter.com and click manage to get to the rendu setup page. Then choose Roon, DNLA Squeezelite or whatever you’re having yourself. 

Obviously different people can have different experiences even with Naim gear but to suggest the rendu is inherently difficult to setup - generally- is incorrect I feel. 

.sjb

Sloop John B posted:

I have found the uRendu anything but difficult to set up as described above. 

All of 2 minutes, go to my Sonicorbiter.com and click manage to get to the rendu setup page. Then choose Roon, DNLA Squeezelite or whatever you’re having yourself. 

Obviously different people can have different experiences even with Naim gear but to suggest the rendu is inherently difficult to setup - generally- is incorrect I feel. 

.sjb

Thanks for the observation, which is useful, however I didn't get the impression settimg up was difficult, rather it is getting it optimised for sound quality comparable with the best alternatives - e.g which power supply is best, what isolation is needed, what to feed it with etc, as cited in the development over the past couple of years lin the H of S thread.

Hi FT, interested to hear of your exploits. Yes I prefer the Rob Watts DACs and implementation compared to AnalogDevices/Texas Instruments implementation Naim offer, good though it is.

As you might remember I use a NDX transport feeding a Hugo, and for me it gives me what I enjoy and have yet to hear it significantly bettered.

Unlike some on this thread, I would be wary of using low cost or enthusiast type transports... invest the best you can... in many ways this is one of the most critical components... I discussed this with Rob Watts recently and both he and I agreed on this and shared experiences of the distortions caused by inferior transports.... for example I love my Raspberry Pies and uses them as Ethernet media servers etc, but there is no way I would use as a transport... they just can’t compete and will be introducing a relative large amount distortion compared to a clean, precision transport... and given the quality you are used to would be selling yourself short..

There is the point however, that some prefer the distortion, and think the sound inferior without it, but that is another matter

Tony, from the points I am thinking of there is not much if any difference between a RPi and a Mac Mini.... in fact the RPi probably has several advantages over the Mac Mini. General purpose computes and delicate audio circuitry don’t make good bed fellowship and often require extremely careful decoupling... which to be fair the Melco does aim to achieve.

It clearly depends on many factors, and I don't pretend to know them all. Mac Mini with Audirvana fully optimised (including bypassing the MM's sound card), but without special power supplies, I found:

1) Through a Gustard U12 isolator it sounded better than ND5XS, feeding Hugo. (System Musical Fidelity P270 power amp  - IMF RSPM speakers)

2) Into Dave (without Gustard), it sounded indistinguishable from Melco N1A (though this was only a brief A-B comparison). (System Bryston 4BSST - PMC Fact 12)

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

... General purpose computes and delicate audio circuitry don’t make good bed fellowship and often require extremely careful decoupling...

Hi Simon, I understand how this has to be the case with low level analogue signals.  Is this also true with digital signals too?  

Is the concern RF interference, timing/jitter misalignments or something else?

Best regards, FT

Hi FT, with asynchronous digital logic not really, but when one introduces a synchronous clocked data stream then variations of that clock produce digital distortion with respect to time or digital noise... this can manifest itself itself in many ways from jitter/digital noise  to system crosstalk with intermodulation.

Yes, it’s not so much the buffering, but it’s the precision of the transport clock. Tiny amounts of frequency noise in the transport clock will cause intermodulation sums and products in the receiver’s electronics such as ground planes and power lines. These in themselves will modulate analogue Electronics  or other digital clocks... yes by tiny amounts, but that is what makes all the difference here... This is why transports on a precision setup can be one of the most important elements. Yes I believe the Melco aims to deliver this, just like the Naim streamers in dedicated transport mode.

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