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    Sonore Signature Series Rendu Review

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    I’ve been using the Signature Series Rendu for several months in combination with several audio system components. Whether I’ve connected the “SSR” straight to a DAC or to an integrated amp with built-in DAC, the results have been the same, steady and superb. The performance of the Signature Series Rendu has enabled my other components to really shine because they are receiving a very clean and I assume low jitter signal from the SSR. Not only this, but the SSR turns all my components into network capable DLNA devices. Superb sound and expanding the capability of one’s favorite components are what the Signature Series Rendu is all about. The SSR isn’t a jack of all trades, rather it’s a purpose-built Ethernet to S/PDIF or I2S converter. In other words a DLNA renderer built for a single purpose and built to accomplish its job as well as possible. Members of the CA Community looking for a way to use their favorite DAC or integrated as a network / DLNA device must consider the Sonore Signature Series Rendu as it has enabled the sound of my audio system to soar as high or higher than any component I’ve heard previously. [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

     

     

    What Is It?

     

    The Sonore Signature Series Rendu is a simple, yet very well engineered, device that converts an Ethernet signal into either S/PDIF (BNC) or I2S (HDMI). There is no wireless, no USB, no digital to analog conversion, no AES/EBU, no AirPlay, and no streaming service support with the Signature Series Rendu. The SSR is also known as a DLNA renderer to those learned in the world of UPnP/DLNA.

     

    I see at least three very solid use cases for the Signature Series Rendu.

     

    1. Users who don’t want traditional computers in their listening rooms.

    2. Users who want to add network / DLNA capability to existing systems without replacing other components.

    3. Users who have components that already support Ethernet / DLNA but want better performance than the native component interface provides.

     

     

     

    Users who don’t want traditional computers in their listening rooms will likely prefer a component such as the Signature Series Rendu due to its similarities with traditional audio components. It’s fanless, linear power, metal chassis design looks very nice next to many other components and wont’ pollute the room or the electrical system with noise. A typical system in this scenario would have a NAS or NAS-like computer, running DLNA server software, sitting elsewhere in the user’s house. The NAS would simply serve audio to the Signature Series Rendu via standard Ethernet or even power line networking.

     

     

    Users who want to add network / DLNA capability to existing systems without replacing other components are the largest group of potential users in my estimation, followed closely by the group in the next paragraph. When using my reference system I fall into this category. I use the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS DAC. This DAC doesn’t include an Ethernet interface, or even USB interface for that matter. It’s the best DAC I’ve heard and there is no way I’m going to replace it just to get a unit that supports Ethernet / DLNA. It makes no sense to me to get a lesser quality DAC just because I want network capability. Thus, the Sonore Signature Series Rendu comes into play perfectly.

     

     

    Users who have components that already support Ethernet / DLNA but want better performance than the native component interface provides are the second largest group of potential users of the Signature Series Rendu. By better performance I mean both sonically and functionally. When discussing DLNA I always like to call it the most non-standard standard. What I mean is that there are literally billions of DLNA devices on the planet yet most have a difficult time communicating with each other when it comes to non-trivial tasks like gapless playback. Members of the Computer Audiophile Community know full well that DLNA devices can have many issues, as evidenced by the frustrated PS Audio Bridge users. At the same time, it’s not simple to build a DLNA renderer / high end audio component. That’s where Sonore steps in with the Signature Series Rendu. The SSR is pretty much application agnostic, meaning that its users can control playback with any number of DLNA control points. I prefer using JRiver Media Center with the JRemote iOS application. This combo works terrifically with the SSR. In addition to users seeking better functionality with their existing DLNA capable components, users can also add the Signature Series Rendu in an effort to increase sonic performance. A good example of this is Ted Brady’s review of the PS Audio DirectStream DAC. Ted squeezed the best sonics out of the DirectStream by connecting a Signature Series Rendu to the unit via I2S. Ted reported that this increased performance sonically over the standard built-in interfaces.

     

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    My SSR Experience In A Couple Systems

     

     

    System One: My Reference

     

    Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS > Pass Labs XA160.5 monoblocks > TAD CR1 Loudspeakers.

     

    I added the Sonore Signature Series Rendu to this system by connecting its S/PDIF BNC output to the Alpha DAC RS S/PDIF BNC input. I used a CAPS v4 Cortes running JRiver Media Center as the DLNA server feeding the SSR over Ethernet and JRemote as the control interface on my iPad. The sound of this system as a whole was pure joy. I don’t have playlists long enough to support my listening habits when this system is in use. For example, John Martyn’s Some People Are Crazy track from his Grace & Danger album is just so smooth and has just such a good clear baseline that I couldn’t stop listening. The Sonore Signature Series Rendu enabled me to hear something on Sonny Rollins album Way Out West that I hadn’t previously heard in all my listening sessions with this album. During the second track, Solitude, I was able to hear some squeaking reminiscent of John Bonham’s foot pedal squeaking in Since I’ve Been Loving You from Led Zeppelin III. granted what I heard on the Solitude track wasn’t near as loud as Bonham’s un-oiled pedal, but now that I know a squeak exists I can’t not hear it. I like to hear all the warts and irregularities of recordings and I attribute this latest revealing to the Sonore Signature Series Rendu. In my reference system the Sonore Signature Series Rendu is as good or better than any server I’ve used previously. There’s definitely something to be said for linear power supplies, getting the right engineers involved, and a solid 75 Ohm S/PDIF BNC connection.

     

     

     

     

    System Two: Devialet

     

    Devialet 400 monoblocks > TAD CR1 Loudspeakers

     

    I added the Sonore Signature Series Rendu to this system not necessarily to improve sound quality, but to add DLNA capability to an already very advanced audio component. The Devialet 400 monoblocks feature an Ethernet input, however this input only supports Devialet’s proprietary AIR streaming method. Using this method I was able to configure applications to output through the Devialet AIR virtual device, i.e. JRiver Media Center and TIDAL HiFi, but I was unable to take advantage of any other DLNA software. Thus, I connected the SSR to the Devialet’s digital 2 input and I was soon streaming flawlessly to a DLNA renderer / Devialet system. Functionality of the Sonore / Devialet system was terrific. Sonically I can’t say I heard an improvement over the built-in Ethernet Devialet AIR streaming method, but that’s not why I connected the SSR in the first place. Adding DLNA capability where none previously existed is what this exercise was all about. That said, sonically the Devialet monoblocks with the Signature Series Rendu were superb.

     

    Note: Readers looking to save money in this type of scenario may consider the SOtM sMS-100 Mini Server that features Ethernet input and USB output. This little server would have functioned fine with the Devialet’s USB input, but wouldn’t have worked at all with Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS because it lacks a USB input. I was unable to directly compare the sonic differences of using this low cost Mini Server versus the Signature Series Rendu. The two have opposite design approaches, but would make an interesting comparison in the appropriate system.

     

     

     

     

     

    Conclusion

     

    cash-logo-black-thumb.jpgThe Sonore Signature Series Rendu is a purpose-built DLNA renderer. That’s it. What it does, it does very well. Both sonics and functionality on the SSR were terrific. During my several months of use I didn’t experience a single issue related to the DLNA capability of the Signature Series Rendu. That’s much more than can be said for most DLNA devices I’ve used previously. This thing is designed to be a renderer, and a stellar one at that. The possibility of firmware updates exists with the SSR, but none were released during my months-long review period. The Signature Series Rendu is perfect for users seeking to 1) Exclude a traditional computer from their listening rooms, 2) Augment a non-networked system with DLNA capability, or 3) Improve functionality or sonic quality of an existing network enabled component. Sonically the Signature Series Rendu is as good or better than the best sources I’ve heard, including my reference music server the Aurender W20, SOtM servers, all the CAPS servers, and the Auralic Aries. Thus, the SSR is C.A.S.H. Listed without question.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Product Information:

    • Product - Sonore Signature Series rendu
    • Price - $2,899
    • Product Page - Link

     

     

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    Associated Music:

     

     

     

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    Associated Equipment:

     

     

     

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    Regarding support for streaming services - Over on another post CA member Cebolla mentioned that a Windows software called StreamWhatYouHear could support streaming services to DLNA/UPNP renderers. I tried it with Youtube and my Tidal account and was able to stream to my Signarure Series Rendu. It only works with the MP3 configuration. The issue for me is that the software does not support FLAC streaming and does not appear to be actively maintained.

     

    Jesus R

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    Esimms86 - I contacted Richard and I'm coordinating with him so he can demo a unit.

     

    Distinctive - 45.1584/49.152 MHz

     

    Jesus R

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    Jesus and I just got Tidal streaming (lossless) working via the Signature Rendu (and BubbleUPnP control point on Android). Nice!

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    Jesus and I just got Tidal streaming (lossless) working via the Signature Rendu (and BubbleUPnP control point on Android). Nice!

     

    Special thanks go to BubbleUPNP for assisting us with Tidal lossless streaming on the Rendu series. Please support Bubblesoft by purchasing the pay version of the BubbleUPNP APP from the Google APP store.

     

    Jesus R

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    Special thanks to Jesus for pushing it to happen! :)

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    I just set up the BubbleUPnP / Tidal / Rendu. Works great. For those wondering, I have a regular Rendu and it works just fine.

    A couple of things:

    You need Bubbleupnp v 2.3.1. It was sitting in my android queue waiting for update approval. Otherwise Tidal won’t show up.

    You really need to set up the Tidal My Music stuff on the desktop Tidal App. I have been a Tidal customer since day one, so I already had that set up.

    This is a very big deal for me. I was using Airport Express / Airplay / Toslink and now can stream to my DAC through the far superior I2S port.

     

    BubbleUPnP is so far ahead of the pack. There is no DLNA android controller that can compare. And...the Auralic Aries has some competition since the Rendu is now functionally its equivalent.

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    I woke up in a weird mood to listen to Appetite for Destruction from Guns N' Roses. I didn't have it in my collection so Tidal to the rescue!

     

    Anyway, here is an example of how to stream network radio to the Rendu series. You need MinimServer and MinimStreamer. Download the playlist file below and drop it into your music directory and have MinimServer rescan the library. I made a new folder named Playlists because I like to us the folder view when searching my collection. The playlist files adds Linn Radio, Linn Jazz and Linn Classical for selection in your controller.

     

    http://www.sonore.us/Linn.m3u *You might have to right click and select download file

     

    Jesus R

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    Yep, thanks again Jesus. Now streaming Tidal and/or Linn radio stations via Signature Rendu. Very nice.

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    I woke up in a weird mood to listen to Appetite for Destruction from Guns N' Roses. I didn't have it in my collection so Tidal to the rescue!

     

    Anyway, here is an example of how to stream network radio to the Rendu series. You need MinimServer and MinimStreamer. Download the playlist file below and drop it into your music directory and have MinimServer rescan the library. I made a new folder named Playlists because I like to us the folder view when searching my collection. The playlist files adds Linn Radio, Linn Jazz and Linn Classical for selection in your controller.

     

    www.sonore.us/Linn.m3u *You might have to right click and select download file

     

    Jesus R

     

    Just set up Linn Radio, Jazz and Classical. Very nice. Thank you, Jesus.

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    Barrows, thanks for that. I know more than a couple folks who have heard both, and the sq differnces are enough that if you are anywhere close to the budget stretching justification, go for it!

     

    Just received my SSR, and I can attest that that the SSR does have more noticeable resolution than the standard one. Amazing, since the standard model was significantly better than my PS Audio bridge in my PS Audio DSD. The extra cost of the SSR, I think, is worth it, but it's also an example of diminishing returns.

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    Jesus, why isn't there an option for USB output so we can use SSR with a USB DAC? I'm aware of the rest of your product line, but why do you think USB is inappropriate for your high end product?

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    Jesus, why isn't there an option for USB output so we can use SSR with a USB DAC? I'm aware of the rest of your product line, but why do you think USB is inappropriate for your high end product?

     

    I think it has already been answered in this thread: the cost of making a USB device on the same level is substantially higher, ergo retail cost would be prohibitive.

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    Just received my SSR, and I can attest that that the SSR does have more noticeable resolution than the standard one. Amazing, since the standard model was significantly better than my PS Audio bridge in my PS Audio DSD. The extra cost of the SSR, I think, is worth it, but it's also an example of diminishing returns.

     

    Did we upgrade your standard Rendu?

     

    Jesus R

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    Jesus, why isn't there an option for USB output so we can use SSR with a USB DAC? I'm aware of the rest of your product line, but why do you think USB is inappropriate for your high end product?

     

    This product has a different focus and target audience. Also, to some extent I'm trying to prove a point:)

     

    Jesus R

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    Jesus, why isn't there an option for USB output so we can use SSR with a USB DAC? I'm aware of the rest of your product line, but why do you think USB is inappropriate for your high end product?

     

    I am glad things like USB and WiFi are excluded from the Rendu. An all out assault on audio quality! Otherwise there are plenty of mainstream ones available with screens, USB, etc.

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    Did we upgrade your standard Rendu?

     

    Jesus R

     

    Yes, it was. The SSR in my system is better, but not by all that much. Both the upgraded Rendu and the SSR are phenominal.

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    Yes, it was. The SSR in my system is better, but not by all that much. Both the upgraded Rendu and the SSR are phenominal.

     

    That was the intention of the upgrade and also to reward existing customers so they did not nessesarily need to buy an SIgnature Series Rendu.

     

    To be clear the upgrade was only offered on a limited basis and is no longer available.

     

    Jesus R

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    Chris, I echo your review comments. The SSR is amazing. I am now using it, as you know, with I2S (Directstream) and have Minimsever/Bubble on my Synology NAS, so it is now an OpenHome renderer too (thanks to Bubble). Great job on the review, and great job Jesus and company.

     

    Ted --- I currently have a Synology NAS with my media files on it, feeding a Zuma via my LAN, running on Windows 8, with JRiver. From there, it goes to a Mojo Audio Mystique DAC via usb. The Mystique can be re-configured with an I2S input, so I'm thinking that the Sonore may be well worth trying. I had a brief chat with Adrian at Sonore, and they recommend using Minimserver on the Synology.

     

    I am contemplating taking this in 2 steps. First I'd like to set up minimserver on the Synology, to get a feel for the GUI -- I have an android tablet, and I guess I’d use BubbleUpnp as the control point. (great name, BTW. Currrently I’m using jremote). Chris said he used Cortes/Jriver combo as a DLNA server, which fed the SSR. For this preliminary trial, is there a way to use the minimserver as the player, while using my Zuma/Jriver as the DLNA renderer? As I mentioned, I’d like to see what it is like to use minimserver before committing to a Sonore or retrofitting the Mystique with I2S.

     

    It sounds like the goal would be a setup like yours - minimserver and SSR, with no other computer in the middle. This was the config Adrian said sounded the best. I take it you are very happy with it. Any advice on my plans would be gratefully appreciated. Thanks. – David

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    Daivd, Minimserver is only a music server. It has no client capabilities and relies on renderers and control points (remotes). So, to test its effectiveness try a trial of Jplay on your CAPS machine. That will let you see Jplaystreamer, a DLNA renderer, that then can be controlled by things like BubbleUPnP, Kazoo, etc. This will give you a feel for UPnP stuff, too, before springing for the SSR and/or the I2S upgrade.

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    Daivd, Minimserver is only a music server. It has no client capabilities and relies on renderers and control points (remotes). So, to test its effectiveness try a trial of Jplay on your CAPS machine. That will let you see Jplaystreamer, a DLNA renderer, that then can be controlled by things like BubbleUPnP, Kazoo, etc. This will give you a feel for UPnP stuff, too, before springing for the SSR and/or the I2S upgrade.

     

    Thanks, Ted, that's very helpful. The Zuma, with the JCAT usb card, and Mojo Audio Joule power supply, right now sounds fantastic. I would be very interested in your thoughts on whether the minimserver/DAC setup has the potential to sound better. -- David

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    Ted -- Sorry --- my last question should have read:

     

    I would be very interested in your thoughts on whether the minimserver/ SSR /DAC setup has the potential to sound better

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    Daivd, Minimserver is only a music server. It has no client capabilities and relies on renderers and control points (remotes). So, to test its effectiveness try a trial of Jplay on your CAPS machine. That will let you see Jplaystreamer, a DLNA renderer, that then can be controlled by things like BubbleUPnP, Kazoo, etc. This will give you a feel for UPnP stuff, too, before springing for the SSR and/or the I2S upgrade.

     

     

    Hi Ted -- I hope you'll forgive my bump "nudge" here. Your system has evolved in parallel/interesting ways to mine, so your thoughts on what might be achieved with a minimserver / SSR front end would be extemely helpful. -- David

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    David, yes the Minimserver/SSR/DAC combo, when used with I2S, is as good as I've heard. Is it better than an all-out assault on WS2012/AO/Jplay with JCAT card, etc etc? No. That setup is amazing, too...but a lot more work (but more flexible with USB as an output and all the Jplay and AO tweaks available). The SSR's SPDIF is no slouch but is not quite to the level of I2S in my system. YMMV. But all of this is very very high end musically. You'll be happy with any of these results.

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    David, yes the Minimserver/SSR/DAC combo, when used with I2S, is as good as I've heard. Is it better than an all-out assault on WS2012/AO/Jplay with JCAT card, etc etc? No. That setup is amazing, too...but a lot more work (but more flexible with USB as an output and all the Jplay and AO tweaks available). The SSR's SPDIF is no slouch but is not quite to the level of I2S in my system. YMMV. But all of this is very very high end musically. You'll be happy with any of these results.

     

    Ted-- Super, thanks. I plan on giving the minimserver/Jplay streamer configuration a try this weekend. As I've read more about JPLay streamer, I'm beginning to wonder if it will sound better than JRiver. It's my favorite kind of tweak --- free (as I already have JPlay) and easily reversible. Of course, if I keep it, it won't be free because I believe in supporting developers like Simon at minimserver. It's what i love about computer audio. Thanks again for the guidance. -- David

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