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Newbie with CAPS mZuma + Berkley Alpha DAC questions


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Hi all, I'm new at the forum and new at computer audio, but an "audiophile" for more than 20 years. I am looking at the options available to order a CAPS micro Zuma with SOtM USB card from SGC with and have a couple of questions.

 

First, the way the mZuma is spec'd, the only output option is USB. I'm seriously considering buying a Berkley Alpha DAC, is there any way to order the mZuma to connect directly to the Alpha DAC2? I'd prefer if I could avoid adding another box, but my main concern is getting the best sound possible.

 

Second, I understand the flexibility a server offers, but to those who have had a chance to compare the mZuma to an Aurender N100 or similar device, which sounds better?

 

Thank you and kind regards,

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It's unclear to me the purpose of the digital device. If you don't want USB and are considering a streamer like N100, you should consider Auralic Aries. The music files can be stored on a NAS or a desktop running in a different room (which you'll probably need even with N100).

 

I think it'll help if you can let us know whether you want one box for music storage and playback or whether you want a digital streamer for playback and you already have a storage solution for the music files on your home network. It'll also help to know whether you plan to use audio streaming services (Tidal/Spotify), digital room correction, Wifi (2.4/5GHz) vs Ethernet and what your expectations are for user interface. I think there are many great sonic solutions to your audio quest but it just depends on what you're looking for.

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It's unclear to me the purpose of the digital device. If you don't want USB and are considering a streamer like N100, you should consider Auralic Aries. The music files can be stored on a NAS or a desktop running in a different room (which you'll probably need even with N100).

 

I think it'll help if you can let us know whether you want one box for music storage and playback or whether you want a digital streamer for playback and you already have a storage solution for the music files on your home network. It'll also help to know whether you plan to use audio streaming services (Tidal/Spotify), digital room correction, Wifi (2.4/5GHz) vs Ethernet and what your expectations are for user interface. I think there are many great sonic solutions to your audio quest but it just depends on what you're looking for.

 

I will use a NAS - QNAP or Synology. Ethernet.

Tidal streaming is a must.

No room correction needed.

No interested in other media (like movies), this will be music server/streamer only.

 

In terms of UI I'm inclined to use JRiver, but I'm also following the development/availability of ROON.

 

As I stated, SQ is most important, but wihtout going overboard and start messing with AO, Win Server 2012 and the likes...

 

So the two things I'd like to get feedback on is:

 

MicroZumba vs Auralic/Aurender - Again main thing under consideration is SQ.

If going the mZuma route, how can I connect a Berkeley Alpha DAC to it?

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So for SQ, I think you'll be more than satisfied with Auralic Aries going into the Berkeley Alpha DAC 2. To be honest, I think you'll be blown away. If you don't want to mess around with a lot of software, there are a lot of advantages to using Auralic Aries over JRiver on a CAPSv3. As someone who runs a CAPSv3 Carbon, playing my own music with JRemote is great. But once I start using Tidal, I now have to Remote Desktop into the box (which is slower), run Chrome, have JRiver capture the sound from Chrome and select the Tidal music playback from Chrome. Having demo'd Auralic, I'd have to tell you it is way easier to use from a user interface standpoint. I'll probably give Kodi and the Tidal plug-in discussed in the other forum a try later today to see if it'll improve my user interface experience. The main reason why I use JRiver still (instead of buying an Auralic Aries), is because I have some room modes that I simply cannot correct acoustically so I use the parametric EQ in JRiver to fix it. So a small compromise for UI convenience to get improved sound quality.

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Forgot to answer the mZuma to Berkeley question. You'd want a USB to S/PDIF or AES converter. As you already know, Berkeley sells an expensive one (but it's fantastic). I own the Peachtree X1 for a cheaper, older system and it works reasonably well. I've plugged it and my old laptop into a friend's MSB DAC IV and it didn't shame itself. I personally think you get what you pay for in terms of USB to S/PDIF converter quality.

 

This forum has a long discussion on the topic:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/15-universal-serial-bus-industry-standard-cables-connectors-and-communications-protocols-between-computers-and-electronic-devices-spdif-converters-shootout-15327/

 

Anyway, another reason not to go for mZuma if you are set on the Berkeley Alpha DAC 2. Choice overload is hard to deal with.

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btw, to get similar SQ from the mZuma, you'll have to buy a separate linear power supply. But I'm not sufficiently familiar with the mZuma you want to know for certain it's power requirement. For example, HDPlex makes a good linear power supply but can only supply computers up to a certain amount of power draw. Aurender N100 and Auralic Aries already comes with the linear power supply.

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