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Thoughts on 3 music server implementations (aurender, sonare, ps audio), help please

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(The Aurenders do sound good. UI/UX-wise, though, Aurender vs Roon: Roon is miles ahead, IMO, so lack of futureprooficity is already apparent.)

 

So I'm just curious, not having used Roon...but if your music library is accurate and has complete metadata (as needed, as mine is), what specifically would be the advantage of Roon?

 

Especially when considering its extra costs?

 

And also, David, to complete perspective, how much, how often, have you used Aurender's Conductor app?

 

Dave, who would note that since the Aurender units can be upgraded calling them not future-proof might be shortsighted


++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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So I'm just curious, not having used Roon...but if your music library is accurate and has complete metadata (as needed, as mine is), what specifically would be the advantage of Roon?

 

I'm pretty compulsive about metadata, too, so I hear where you're coming from. Besides the basic stuff, Roon pulls in additional metadata — photos, reviews, artist bio's — at this point, mostly from the AllMusic database. That's good, but what I especially like is that there's a lot of hyperlinking going on, so while you're listening, if you're curious about one of the musicians, the composer, the work, you can explore freely, thereby encountering additional recordings in which you might be interested. When Tidal's in the mix, this can be really great for purposes of discovery, but even when it's not, you discover connections between different works in your own collection, and if you're like me, you rediscover music that you have but you've forgotten about.

 

(More about what I perceive as Roon's advantages below.)

 

Especially when considering its extra costs?

 

There's no question that Roon ain't cheap. It's $119 for an annual sub and $499 for a lifetime membership. I know that for a lot of people, this is going to seem like an exorbitant amount to pay for software, but since I've spent a number of decades in Adobe-land (and QuickBooks-land and vertical-market-app-land), I probably don't experience the sticker shock in the way that others might. I do think the cost of Roon can offset some costs involved in other systems (like Aurender), and I also think it's so much better than what other playback software can provide in the way of UI/UX that's it's worth it, but that's a subjective evaluation.

 

And also, David, to complete perspective, how much, how often, have you used Aurender's Conductor app?

 

That's a fair question, and I've probably not logged more than an hour or two on the iPad using the app. (In my defense, I'Il say that I'm a software guy, both personally and professionally, so while I surely don't know all the fine points, I can take in the broad strokes pretty quickly.) I've had a chance to compare the Aurender, Lumin, and Auralic apps side by side, and I did think Aurender's was the best of the bunch. However, whether it's any of these or Apple's Music app on the iPad, or indeed, most of the desktop playback apps available, we're talking about the same overall deal, which I think of as the iTunes paradigm.

 

Roon represents a whole other way of looking at your library, and unlike all its competitors, it's not centered on album and track listings (although you can look at things that way if you want to). It's easier for anyone who's interested to download the trial than it is for me to describe it. There's a whole bunch of info on the Roon website, but really, the best thing to do is download the trial and fool with it. Another unique thing about Roon: The desktop app and the iPad app offer the same functionality in terms of UI. I've just not seen that before, in any context. (I haven't mentioned Roon's multi-zone capabilities, but that'll keep for another time.)

 

Roon's still a work in progress — the product has only been on the market for a little more than a year. There are holes in the AllMusic database (Roon is looking to fill in gaps and to add other sources of metadata), the "radio" function doesn't really work that well, there are issues with integrating your own metadata with what Roon pulls in (this is slated to be improved in a major way in the next dot-rev), and I could go on. The thing is, the Roon forum is very active, and the developers are very much present there. They've been very, very good so far about listening to users' concerns and addressing them, and they've been better than any development team I've ever seen about explaining what they're doing and where they're heading.

 

I'm pretty certain that everyone won't like Roon. There's something really straightforward and comfortable about the iTunes paradigm (I still use Audirvana Plus at the office, and I still use iTunes to deal with a separate library I maintain for my iDevices), but for me, Roon's a lot more fun and rewarding.

 

If anyone's still awake and reading, I should reiterate that I think Aurender makes really good stuff, but it doesn't offer the kind of flexibility I'm looking for, and IMO it doesn't offer anything like Roon' UI/UX. With Aurender, the hardware and software are inseparable; with Roon, the software is separate, and I prefer that arrangement.

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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OT...

 

Folks on Windows should check out MusicBee. It has somewhat similar functionality to Roon, gathers data and displays in the media player, from both Wikipedia and Last.fm. Not sure about Allmusic, have not used it in a really long time. But for the price of free, MusicBee is worth checking out.

 

Haven't tried Roon. From what I've read they don't plan any Raspberry Pi or ARM distro and having switched from a PC to a Pi and with the huge gains in SQ I'll never go back to a PC/laptop. Would have loved to try Roon though, if it was available for the Pi.


Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Haven't tried Roon. From what I've read they don't plan any Raspberry Pi or ARM distro and having switched from a PC to a Pi and with the huge gains in SQ I'll never go back to a PC/laptop. Would have loved to try Roon though, if it was available for the Pi.

 

You can absolutely use the Pi as a Roon endpoint, but it doesn't have the oomph to run Roon Core or Roon Server.

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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If anyone's still awake and reading...

 

David, I have only one comment back for now:

Thank you much, entirely much, for your detailed, straightforward, and engaged response.

 

Dave, who will add a second comment by noting that all the extra info beyond the basic album-and-track metadata is something he often simply looks up with Google as he sits listening to music with the iPad in his hands which takes more effort perhaps than Roon and is more free-form but for now that's okay since the bottom line for him is the music itself and how it sounds although a trial of Roon is likely due for him sometime later this year


++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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You can absolutely use the Pi as a Roon endpoint, but it doesn't have the oomph to run Roon Core or Roon Server.

 

--David

 

Checked the site.

 

They don't seem to have anything Core or Server for a NAS either. I've a Synology with Intel CPU that would have been a nice fit.

 

Seems I need to bring in my Windows PC or laptop. Might try it over the weekend, but it defeats my purpose of eliminating everything PC and Windows from the chain.

 

The only other route seems to be with h/w like Auralic or Sonore.


Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Checked the site.

 

They don't seem to have anything Core or Server for a NAS either. I've a Synology with Intel CPU that would have been a nice fit.

 

There are some folks who've been able to get Roon Server running on a higher end Synology NAS. Here's a thread on the Roon forums:

 

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/synology-spk-package-development/9796?u=orgel

 

There's at least one other Roon thread on this. Chris Connaker has mentioned that he's been able to do it, too.

 

I should have mentioned that this is the most cost-effective Linux-based, commercially available box I've seen that runs Roon Server:

 

sonicTransporter – Small Green Computer

 

There's a thread about the sonicTransporter here on CA, in the Sonore forum:

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f26-sonore-sponsored/roonify-your-universal-serial-bus-industry-standard-cables-connectors-and-communications-protocols-between-computers-and-electronic-devices-drive-or-network-attached-storage-sonictransporter-28288/

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Checked the site.

 

They don't seem to have anything Core or Server for a NAS either. I've a Synology with Intel CPU that would have been a nice fit.

 

Seems I need to bring in my Windows PC or laptop. Might try it over the weekend, but it defeats my purpose of eliminating everything PC and Windows from the chain.

 

The only other route seems to be with h/w like Auralic or Sonore.

 

Roon is now being successfully run from some QNAP and Synology models. `i think there are links to how to do it both on this site and at the Roon community.


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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If by "w/o serious aurender experience" you mean I don't own one, that's correct, but I have spent a fair amount of time listening to a couple-few different systems using different Aurenders as a front end, and I thought they sounded good, as I said. Command Performance AV is an Aurender dealer and is within walking distance of my house. I think Aurender is a good choice for a lot of people, but I don't like to be locked in like that, and I really do enjoy the Roon UI and the ability it provides to explore connections within my library and Tidal's, as well as a way of discovering new music that works well for me.

 

I seriously doubt that Aurender can catch up to Roon in the UI/UX department (not to mention the whole distributed-computing/multi-zone thing) — because Aurender isn't primarily a software development enterprise — but if I'm shown to be wrong, I'll cheerfully apologize. Time will tell.

 

--David

 

David,

As someone who is on the fence about going the Aurender route vs your way (Sonicorbiter SE or microRendu) I'm wondering if you've been able to compare the two paths in terms of SQ. I haven't been able to find a thread on CA where someone has compared an N100 vs your method on their home system.

Thanks,

Les

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As someone who is on the fence about going the Aurender route vs your way (Sonicorbiter SE or microRendu) I'm wondering if you've been able to compare the two paths in terms of SQ. I haven't been able to find a thread on CA where someone has compared an N100 vs your method on their home system.

 

I'm sorry, Les, but I haven't been in a position to make that kind of direct comparison. The microRendu went on sale a few hours ago, and I assume that before too long, user reviews will start popping up, not to mention further installments of Chris's review. Maybe an N100 owner will decide to take a flyer on a microRendu, and you'll get the kind of feedback you're looking for. Candidly, I'd have to say that while the SOSE is working fine in my setup, it's really not up to the hardware standard of either the Aurender or the microRendu, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if, in an apples-to-apples situation (in this case, straight bitperfect with no software upsampling or filtering), the Aurender would sound better than the microRendu. (Of course, as you know, I'm smitten with HQPlayer, so straight bitperfect isn't really my thing.)

 

--David


Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I'm sorry, Les, but I haven't been in a position to make that kind of direct comparison. The microRendu went on sale a few hours ago, and I assume that before too long, user reviews will start popping up, not to mention further installments of Chris's review. Maybe an N100 owner will decide to take a flyer on a microRendu, and you'll get the kind of feedback you're looking for. Candidly, I'd have to say that while the SOSE is working fine in my setup, it's really not up to the hardware standard of either the Aurender or the microRendu, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if, in an apples-to-apples situation (in this case, straight bitperfect with no software upsampling or filtering), the Aurender would sound better than the microRendu. (Of course, as you know, I'm smitten with HQPlayer, so straight bitperfect isn't really my thing.)

 

--David

 

Chris would have already done that comparison.

 

On the Aurender W20...

 

The Aurender W20 has displaced the CAPS v3 Carbon server in my system and is without a doubt the best music server I've used to date.

 

On the microRendu...

 

After all this, I can unequivocally say that with the microRendu in place, my audio system has never sounded better than right now.

 

Even if both perform on par (unlikely), but even in that scenario the microRendu would win on the price point.


Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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I hadn't considered the microRendu, but it seems to fit the bill for what I/m looking for. Amazing the number of mind-boggling options there are out there in this space.....

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So the microRendu sounds better than the Aurender W20? now there's a cost saving.

 

However unlikely that scenario is, I suppose it is a possibility (some clarification is required around whether there were other system changes in order to arrive at "my audio system has never sounded better").

 

?

 

Bit of a shame that if it is better it will have little or no presence in the rack (my system would look totally out of balance being 'sourced' by a cigarette case)


Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

Control:

*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

Playback:

2 x Revel B15a subs (balanced) > ATC SCM 50 ASL (balanced - 80Hz HPF from subs)

 

Misc:

*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

LPS: 3 x Swagman Lab Audiophile Signature Edition (W4S, Intona & FMC)

Storage: QNAP TS-253Pro 2x 3Tb, 8Gb RAM

Cables: DIY heavy gauge solid silver (balanced)

Mains: dedicated distribution board with 5 x 2 socket ring mains, all mains cables: Mark Grant Black Series DSP 2.5 Dual Screen

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Whenever I read anything about servers these days my question is always... But do they run Roon? Roon to me is the end-all-be-all interface. I would like the likes of Aurender servers to offer the option to run Roon core instead of their own app.


mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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Whenever I read anything about servers these days my question is always... But do they run Roon? Roon to me is the end-all-be-all interface. I would like the likes of Aurender servers to offer the option to run Roon core instead of their own app.

 

the Sound Galleries SGM 2015, is optimized to run Roon and deliver the best possible sound quality using HQ Player to perform format conversion and upsampling to DSD512


Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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I would like the likes of Aurender servers to offer the option to run Roon core instead of their own app.

 

IMO, they will offer the option to run Roon or they will perish.

 

Matt

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I'm surprised nobody here has mentioned Auralic, as its (non-Mini) options are Roon-ready, and it seems to do the same as the Aurender does (ie, be a streamer that needs an external DAC).

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I'm surprised nobody here has mentioned Auralic, as its (non-Mini) options are Roon-ready, and it seems to do the same as the Aurender does (ie, be a streamer that needs an external DAC).

Yes, and I use an Aries with LPS as a RoonReady renderer. I think people haven't mentioned it because it's not a "music server" in the strict sense, ie it does not have storage per-se, it's not a self-contained solution.


mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock >

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

system pics

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Actually, i'm fine with a solution like the Aries. My initial plan has been to leverage a NAS. That said, I'm slowing down a little as a number of new products are hitting the market that appear to be worth exploring (the microRendu, sotm sms-200, bryston pi, etc....)...Head spinning options out there....

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One other suggestion is the lumin S1 and t1. They combine a music server and a dac in one and have received excellent reviews including here by Chris. They start at $5,000 for the t1, and $12500 for the s1. Be careful of DAC's with the Aurrender, I borrowed the N100h from my local dealer only to find it is not compatible with my DAC 8. It is Linux and my dac only works with a pc or Mac. Here is the link for the review of the A1 which is almost the same as the t1. Only difference is the chassis and no hdmi on T1.

Computer Audiophile - Lumin Network Music Player Review


Dave L

 

Main: CAPS 3 Carbon > Roon > HQ Player > ARC DAC 8 > ARC VSi60 > Vandersteen 3A Signatures

Cables: AQ Rocket 88 Bi Wired, AQ Columbia RCA, and AQ Diamond USB

Office: Macbook Pro > Roon > HQ Player > Burson Audio Conductor SL w/DAC Output > Adam F5 or HiFiman HE-500

Cables: AQ Carbon USB and Oyide RCA

Storage: Synology NAS 213+

Basement: in progress - Building a RPI 3 > Peachtree IDAC > Halide Bridge > amp? > Wharfdale 10.2's

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One other suggestion is the lumin S1 and t1. They combine a music server and a dac in one and have received excellent reviews including here by Chris. They start at $5,000 for the t1, and $12500 for the s1. Be careful of DAC's with the Aurrender, I borrowed the N100h from my local dealer only to find it is not compatible with my DAC 8. It is Linux and my dac only works with a pc or Mac. Here is the link for the review of the A1 which is almost the same as the t1. Only difference is the chassis and no hdmi on T1.

Computer Audiophile - Lumin Network Music Player Review

 

Aurender tends to work with most DACs that work with a Mac, no special software driver, so I think your statement may be inaccurate, and there is no need to fear its use of Linux given the way it is locked down and very secure.

 

One Lumin model has a DAC built in, while another doesn't. So the best advice is compare Lumin and Aurender, assuming your DAC doesn't limit your choices, which is unlikely.


Brian Walsh

Analog Expert / Showroom Manager

Music Direct

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"lumin"

 

I considered them, place I visit sells them, but I want the flexibility of a separate dac.

Then go for the U1.

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